John Branca Attorney, who specializes in media and entertainment legalities, has a curriculum vitae reflecting 30-some household names, including his personal heroes like Elvin Presley, The Doors, and Michael Jackson. Practicing law since 1975, he’s seen several musical fads set and promptly forgotten, as well as being in the room for historical music sessions. From John Branca’s attorney career, here are some important lessons as well as contemporary challenges future music counselors should get acquainted with.
What Does a Music Lawyer do?
Academically, a music lawyer attends law school to learn to provide services to players in the global music industry. According to John Branca, his position traditionally requires sporting many hats:
- Advising music label/artist contract agreements
- Brokering intellectual property deals on behalf of artists
- Recovering royalties
- Representing clients posthumously
- Settling copyright disputes
What Should Music Lawyers Expect?
Not all day-to-day situations call for studying case law. In an early board meeting with his first clients, The Beach Boys, and in front of the label’s Board of Directors, John Branca tried his best to resolve a management dispute among the band. The advocate began a democratic group vote even while the deciding voter laid summarily asleep on the conference room table. The clip below explains why after this meeting Attorney John Branca concluded “they don’t teach this in law school.”
How has Music Law Evolved?
Today’s music-oriented attorneys are not only knowledgeable in litigation and the appellate process but they must also know alternate trade practices including financing major deals, selling publishing catalogs, and counseling musical acquisitions. John Branca compares a remarkable amount of his work to that of an investment banker. He likewise suggests adding a few business classes to one’s law schedule so as to get a leg up on the competition. Contemporary legal eagles must deal with the revolution of digitization, creating new legal pathways for clients to create and distribute their published music while also receiving due compensation for their work.
What Legislation Regulates the Music Industry?
The statutory and common laws surrounding music entrainment have an ever-growing list of legal stakeholders. Formerly the Bills of Rights upheld the critical framework for judicial conflicts involving music. As time passes, more and more music doctrine has grown into a mixed bag of federal and state laws as well as arbitrator decisions made in the court of law:
- The First Amendment
- The Copyright Law of 1976
- The Federal Trade Commission Act
- The Clayton Act
- State interpretations of newsworthiness and publicity
Many rules exist in the field of entertainment law and it will be the responsibility of tomorrow’s music attorneys to ensure future litigation can successfully navigate the conflicting framework of laws to the benefit of their clients.