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The Straightforward Guide to the Music Biz

The Straightforward Guide to the Music Biz

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The Straightforward Guide to the Music Biz

238 pagine
2 ore
Nov 16, 2020


It's no secret that the music industry has changed substantially over the past several years, and will likely continue to change for many years to come. Now more than ever it's vital that musicians become familiar with the rights they have in their music and how they can make money in this digital world. "The Straightforward Guide to the Music Biz (An Entertainment Lawyer Breaks Down the Industry)" is a must-read for anyone looking for a clear, simple, and concise overview of how the music industry is organized and the typical contracts musicians will encounter.

Nov 16, 2020

Informazioni sull'autore

Kamal Moo is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Southwestern Law School. Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Miami, Florida, he currently resides in Southern California with his wife and daughter. Throughout his career, he has represented musicians from various genres of music as both personal manager and attorney. He has negotiated small indie deals and multimillion-dollar agreements, and everything in between. His clients include recording artists, producers, record labels, music publishers, and other figures in the entertainment industry. A frequent lecturer on the music industry, he has also taught music publishing at Southwestern Law School.

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The Straightforward Guide to the Music Biz - Kamal Moo


Chapter 1

I Realized I Could Make Money From My Music, Now What?

First off, congrats on being able to make money from your music! Very few people can say they are able to make any money in the music business, so it’s quite an accomplishment to make it this far. At this point, it’s important to understand what rights you have in your music and how to best protect yourself. That brings us to copyright law. Wait, I know your eyes are already starting to glaze over, but I promise this won’t be as painful or complicated as you might think.

A. What is a copyright?

When you create a work such as a novel, movie or photograph, you as the creator will automatically have certain exclusive rights in that work. For example, if I write a play, as the author I will have the right to decide who is allowed to make copies of my play, who can distribute copies, who can make adaptations, and who can publicly perform it. If someone violates these rights, I can sue them for what’s known as copyright infringement.

What can be protected by copyright?

In order to qualify for copyright protection, the work needs to satisfy a few requirements: 1) it must be in a tangible form (i.e., I need to actually write down my play, it can’t just be in my head), 2) the work must be original (i.e., I can’t just copy Hamilton and call it my own), and 3) you need to include what I like to call meat on the bones (i.e., my play just can’t be, A guy goes on a journey through the forest and says, ‘I hate life.’ The end.) You can’t copyright ideas. You need to have some more details in there – the characters and places should have specific names, and the plot should be fleshed out. Along the same lines, you can’t copyright short phrases, titles or names – you’ll need to consider trademark for that, which is an entirely separate area of law (more on that later).

What can I do with my copyright?

Once you’ve created a work that’s protectable by copyright, you then have the ability to sign contracts with companies interested in acquiring the rights to your work. Think of a copyright as just another type of property that you can buy, sell, lease, mortgage, etc. This is where the term intellectual property comes from. And, as we all know, if you’re gifted creatively, these contracts can be quite lucrative.

How long does a copyright last?

In general, a copyright will last for the life of the author, plus 70 years. So, if you write a song that is popular for a very long time (I’m sure you can name several Christmas classics that just keep coming back year after year), then your kids and even grandkids may reap the benefits. If the work was created as a work for hire and is owned by a company, then the copyright lasts for 120 years from the date of creation or 95 years from the date of publication, whichever comes first. But, it’s important to note that these durations apply to works created after January 1, 1978. Before that year, there was a different copyright system in place, which I’m not going to bore you with.

Should I register my work for copyright protection?

It’s important to know that, technically, you own the copyright in a work the moment you create it, but if you ever want to sue someone in court because you believe they used your work without permission (this is called copyright infringement, as I mentioned before), then you need to register your work with the Library of Congress. Go to for more information. I highly recommend spending the money to make sure your work is properly registered and

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