The Briefcase Diaries

Book Review: “The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter, and Producer Should Know”


A Book Review of  “The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter, and Producer Should Know”

Steve Gordon, author of “The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter, and Producer Should Know,” is an entertainment attorney with over twenty years of experience in the industry.  He recently spoke at New York Law School as a panelist for an event hosted by the school’s Media, Entertainment and Fashion Law Association.

His book is a must-have for any law student that is considering a career in entertainment law, particularly in the music industry.  Contracts and negotiations lie at the heart of any business transaction. Not only does Gordon’s book provide sample legal contracts, but it also provides substantive information to help readers understand the core of each agreement.  Thus, the book helps future lawyers practice the essential contract interpretation skills they learned in their 1L Contracts course.

Here are a few aspects of the book that I found particularly helpful:

The book presents commentaries in several provisions of each contract.  These commentaries discuss any changes an artist, manager or producer could make to improve their side of the deal.

Advice for Artists
Artists look to lawyers for much more than reading and signing contracts.  They also seek crucial knowledge for how to navigate and succeed in the industry.  As such, the book provides information of fundamental aspects of the music industry, including royalties, distribution, and production companies vs. record labels.  No matter which side of the deal you’re on, navigating in the music industry can be tricky. While such details may not be covered in your law school courses, this book provides the necessary background information to get your started in a legal career in entertainment law.

Recording Contracts
Signing with a record label is a dynamic move for any artist.  The book discusses in detail the various types of recording agreements an artist can enter, from major to indie labels. Further, Gordon provides advice of what types of contracts that artists should avoid.  This is beneficial for future lawyers in order to understand how to best serve their clients.

Sync Deals, Copyright Law, and Music Publishing
Licensing an artist’s music for movies, TV, and commercials is a great way for artists to generate income and gain more exposure. These deals require knowledge of copyright law and the role of Performing Rights Organizations (PROs). The book provides important information that future entertainment lawyers must know to represent their clients in the best fashion when entering such deals.

Producers, Songwriters, Band Agreements and Music Videos
The book also highlights the role of producers, songwriters, and video producers.  As all parties should be acknowledged accordingly, the book provides information and samples of work for hire agreements, non-exclusive license agreements, and video production contracts.  In addition, the book provides guidance for creating split sheets for band agreements and/or collaborations.

Live Performance and Booking Agreements
The book also provides an interesting chapter about a lawyer’s guide to structuring paid music gigs.  Many artists structure their work and income around live performances.  The book provides helpful information for both new, emerging artists and more established artists who work with booking agents.  Moreover, the book provides interviews from promoters, publicists, and venue owners who discuss the kinds of artists they book and how an artist can make the most out of a gig.  While this may not sound like your typical “lawyer” work, this is exactly the kind of information that future lawyers need to know when it comes to advising and representing clients.

With the ever so changing industry, it is imperative for future lawyers to apprise themselves of the essential contracts that every music professional needs.  Check out Steve Gordon’s book, “The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter, and Producer Should Know” to get started on your legal career in the entertainment industry.

Available here on Amazon.


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