In the early years of your career as an emerging artist, you have to wear different hats and carry the weight of doing everything on your own – from ideation, development, execution, distribution, marketing, negotiating, and selling your projects. However, this may be counterproductive at times because the entertainment industry is highly protective and selective of who gets to break in and access opportunities.
Until you make a name for yourself, the best defense and most beneficial thing you can do for your career early on, that many artists underestimate, is to invest in an entertainment lawyer. Let’s take a closer look into the various factors as to why it’s imperative to have one in order to successfully get past the gatekeepers and navigate the politics of Hollywood.
The First Line of Defense
So, you’ve put in the work and got the material or project done. You spend countless hours knocking on people’s doors hoping that someone will get back to you. But sending unsolicited material to industry executives is a surefire way to be ignored. Or maybe someone will get back to you just to say to send it through an agent or manager. But to have an agent or manager, you should have at least made a name for yourself. But many do not know that there is a workaround to these endless mind games and that is through the power of an entertainment lawyer.
Entertainment lawyers are specialized and knowledgeable about the laws that govern the entertainment industry that include but are not limited to negotiating, protecting intellectual property, advising, and fostering connections with reputable clients.
“Entertainment attorneys will help a client draft a contract, negotiate deals, protect intellectual property rights, and litigate disputes in your best interest. You should not attempt to do any of this on your own or try to get a great deal on the price. When it comes to attorneys, you get what you pay for,” via SoCreate.
In the early stages of your career as an artist, you can ask a lawyer to represent you and submit the material to potential producers or studios with their help. By doing so, it reassures the people you’re sending the material to that they will not be at risk or liable for any damages in the future. The reason why unsolicited materials are frowned upon is due to the fact that if a studio or production company releases a project that is similar to the material you pitched, it could be used against them down the line and turn into a horrible dispute.
On the other hand, once you do get your foot in the door, having an entertainment lawyer is crucial to negotiate the contracts and deals that you will be offered. They know how to protect your interests from a legal standpoint that will ensure that you are getting the best deal, terms, and compensation that you deserve. Another important role of lawyers in your career is providing legal advice on specific matters such as union, labor, and guild laws as well as distribution deals and rights.
The entertainment industry is fueled by hundreds and thousands of intellectual properties that must be protected and respected at all costs. If you’re a creator, anything you produce is considered intellectual property. A lawyer can guarantee that your property will not be infringed upon by interested parties who would like to purchase, option, or license it. Copyright issues are notoriously common in the entertainment industry and you want to avoid getting into one from the beginning.
“There are no guarantees in a lawsuit, but having a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the law and court procedure will give you your best chance.”
Hiring an entertainment lawyer is not easy on the pocket, so it is crucial to research before settling on one. The most effective way to find a trustworthy lawyer is through referral; so ask friends, colleagues, or groups if they know one whom they have already worked with. It also helps to look into law directories and bar associations in your area. It’s important to know their background, area of expertise, experiences working with other artists as well as how your daily consultation process and fees work.
In a nutshell, entertainment lawyers serve as a fundamental part of your career as an emerging and veteran artist. They are responsible for negotiating the terms of the contract, defending you when somebody has violated your contract, protecting your intellectual property, advising on legal matters, and safeguarding your interests against people who might take advantage of you. Consult as many lawyers as possible and get a feel of who knows the current state of the industry, the law, and also how well they present themselves and communicate with you.