Industry Tips and Advice: Best Kept Secret For Advancing Your Music Career.


Let’s paint a scenario. Let’s say you’ve got some great music. You’re an up-and-coming independent. It doesn’t matter who you are – the songwriter, the producer, the artist, the manager, or the indie label owner. You’ve generated some pretty good buzz for that music. And, you happen to have $5000 to spend. What should you spend it on? What would really help advance your career?
A. Spend it on advertising
B. Spend it going on tour
C. Hire a publicist
D. Hire a lawyer
E. Hire a college radio promoter

And the correct answer is…

D. Hire a lawyer

Are you surprised by the answer? You shouldn’t be. Truth is, in the world of entertainment, the attorney is king in many ways. They are the silent force behind every deal and advancement. They are the music industry’s silent gatekeeper and its best kept secret (and probably safe to say, best weapon).

An entertainment attorney does much more than review paperwork, negotiate contracts, or sue people. Their interest is their client’s success within the industry. It means financial gain for them. They are well-connected. They are valuable and respected within the industry. Therefore, many of them are making career-advancing connections for their clients. They are also aware of many of the things that are happening within the industry. If a client of theirs has been offered a deal, they’re able and willing to solicit other offers for their client so that their client can get the best deal. They also help you re-negotiate for better terms if you’ve proven yourself to be a commodity with your work. The entertainment attorney is also one of the main go-to persons within the industry for career guidance and advice. Sometimes, more so than the manager.

I was at an ASCAP event where there were several great songwriters/producers on the panels (it’s obvious I’m an ASCAP member).  I remember one particular panel, during which “the secret” was leaked. The hit songwriter (I can’t remember his name) said that he didn’t have a manager and that you didn’t really need one. He went on to say that the key person to his career success was his attorney. He said, “the lawyer is king in this business.” When I heard this, I thought, “You can’t be serious.” But when another hit songwriter/producer backed his statement a little later on during the discussion, I had to pay attention. I haven’t forgotten it since. I went back and did more research and what he said was true. Why hadn’t anyone told me about this? All the countless reading I’ve done, videos I’ve watched, and God-knows-what. But, I was happy. At least now I know. And now, you know.

So, start doing some research and find the good ones. (There are grimy ones you want to stay away from.)  But, I’d advise you to be serious and make sure your stuff is actually great. Pay for some consultations and start building a working relationship with a reputable entertainment attorney. Every chance you get, work with your attorney. Get counsel. Get them to draw up some standard contracts for you. Become a regular client. Then, ask them to help you make some connections or get your music into the right hands. Not only will you be protected, but you’ll be connected into the industry through that relationship – one you should prioritize.

Lastly, I want to point out that those who take this route are generally those who are already very business-minded and organized in their efforts to further their careers, be it as an artist, songwriter/producer, or independent executive. It’s definitely not for everybody, but it’s one route that’s not discussed much, which is why I wanted to bring it up here.

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