FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ENTERTAINMENT LAW
revised and updated June 25, 2012.
FAQ 1: I am a High School/College student and I want to be an entertainment lawyer. What should I do and how should I prepare?
A: Concentrate on getting good grades and great scores on your LSAT. This will get you into a good law school. Its important to get great LSAT scores the FIRST time out. You do NOT want to take the LSAT more than once. If you score poorly, those bad scores are averaged in every time you take the exam over again. (and again) Do it right the first time. Take a good LSAT prep course so you can remain competitive with your classmates. Need another reason? Good scores can also equal scholarship dollars.
FAQ 2: Which law school should I go to.? I hear the University of Tierra-Del-Fuego Law School has a SPECIAL entertainment law program. Should I sign up?
A: No, not unless that is the VERY BEST school you can get into.
Opinions differ, but I believe that choosing a law school based on the quality and quantity of their entertainment law classes is a little like choosing the school because it has a good cafeteria - it is almost completely irrelevant. Just go to the best LAW school you can get into. If that school just happens to be near New York City or Los Angeles, it wouldn't hurt. Most law schools will offer courses on entertainment law anyway. The rest is up to you. If you can swing it, go to a great school and become the best lawyer you can. After that, you should be able to tackle any task you set your mind to.
FAQ 3: I am a musician and I am seeking representation. What should I do?
A: Have your head examined, then take your best songs and make a demo. Take your time and do it right. Make sure that your demo is the BEST POSSIBLE representation of your band, vision and material. Don't send it to anyone until you are SURE it's ready. If you have a full albums worth of material, that's even better.
If you are selling thousands of cds out of the back of your van, be sure to keep track of your sales. Keeping the proceeds in a separate account is a good idea. Another good way to prove sales is by getting a soundscan barcode to put on your cds. The goal is proving that you can sell records and fill seats. The Bottom Line is the bottom line - Record companies want to know that signing your band is a sound business investment, and nowadays that is tougher than ever. It takes more promotions dollars to reach out to a mass audience. Local radio has all but vanished except for college radio. Margins are thinner than ever. Why should they invest in you? Be ready to show them why.
FAQ 4: What else should I be doing?
A: This may sound obvious, but make sure that you are complimenting your studio work by playing REGULAR GIGS. Preferably, you should be playing many regular gigs over a WIDE geographic area. It is incredibly difficult to create a buzz around an artist who is not performing regularly. Also, if you are successful in creating positive buzz about your band, record execs need to be able to SEE YOU. If you are not playing regular gigs over a wide geographic, please do NOT send us your demo. Seriously.
FAQ 5: OK, I've made my demo and we are playing out regularly - what else can I do?
A: You should also prepare by getting a day job, eating right, and reading books on the subject. A great book is "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" by Don Passman. Written for everyone, this book will cover a zillion things that this page can't cover. It will also save you thousands in legal fees and mistakes that you WONT make.
See the bottom of this page to order the book. No, I have never received a penny for recommending this book, its just plain GOOD!
Be sure to get the NEW EDITION 'Revised and Updated for the 21st Century'with the blue grey cover.
FAQ 6: A 'record label' has made me an offer and they want a response right away. What should I do?
A: Tell them that the fastest way to complete the deal is fax the document to your attorney right away. Counsel will need time to carefully review the document. When you face a situation like this, they are generally bad deals. Major label execs know that hammering out a deal can take months. When I get these contracts in for review, 99% of the time, they are from a no-name indie 'label' and offer no money and a microscopic percentage in exchange for everything the artists owns, for ever and ever.
Resist such tactics and repeat after me ...my attorney is Dave Kapp. His fax number is (631) 265-0992 ... my attorney is Dave Kapp. His fax number is (631) 265-0992 ...
FAQ 7: How does it work when I hire an attorney to shop my demo?
A: Many different ways. The most popular arrangements are hourly, fixed and percentage (contingency). Every lawyer is different. Depending upon the relationship between the artists(s) and the attorney they might choose any of the following kinds of deals:
Hourly - You pay the attorneys hourly rate for every activity related to shopping your demo. This includes talking on the phone, traveling, peeing etc.. Rates vary widely, but can easily reach $350+ per hour, depending on the stature of the attorney and his/her contacts, past successes etc.
Fixed - A set fee is agreed upon for a certain project. For example, the attorney may get anywhere from $5,000 -8,000 to shop the band for a year. Attorneys often take set fees for smaller jobs, like negotiating offers from labels or licensing deals. Speak with several attorneys and don't be afraid to ask for rates.
Percentage/Contingency- Since all artists are (by definition) broke, this agreement is the one most artists are stuck with. They cannot afford to hire the lawyer to shop the demo, so the lawyer agrees to work for free and gets a percentage of future advances and profits, if any, if ever. Very few attorneys are willing to do this anymore - it's too risky. Even the best attorneys can spend years shopping artists and see no reward for their efforts. The lawyer takes a big risk working on contingency in this business.
FAQ 8: How do you work it?
A: Some law firms will take on anyone on as a client, as long as they can pay the fee. I need to sleep at night, so I insist on hearing all the demos first before any discussion of fee arrangement. I will not take on any client unless I can be 100% behind them. If I am not absolutely crazy about the music, I will not represent the client. This eliminates most discussions about the fee.
IMPORTANT POLICY CHANGE FOR OUR FIRM - While we have represented artists on a contingency basis in the past, this is no longer possible. Our law firm has grown exponentially in ther past 5 years. The amount of time and money spent on shopping your demo to the major labels has risen to the point where we can no longer provide the incredibly long hours of work shopping your demo without anything to show for it.
All artists must pay a minimum monthly fee to cover our time and expenses.
FAQ 9: What are my chances of getting your firm to represent me?
A: Statistically speaking, not good. I reject approximately 99% of the demos submitted. There are many reasons why, but the main reasons are:
(1) Not up to par technically - poorly recorded. I know this sounds obvious, but, be sure your CD works before you send it. Test it in someone else's machine first.
(2) Undesirable demographic - no we do not represent bag-pipers, yodeling cowboys or Mongolian throat-chanters. While I personally like all kinds of music, those recordings will never bring in enough money in sales to make it worth any lawyers time. We are looking for popular (and not just pop, btw) music that will sell records. That is what the major labels are looking for, as if they had a clue what they were looking for.
(3) Unoriginal material. We do not accept demos of cover songs.
(4) Just plain bad - poorly sung or played or both. Highly subjective.
(5) Artist is not gigging. You MUST be playing regular gigs over a wide geographic area. We will not consider any artist who is not playing out. You would be amazed at how many people are just kidding themselves. Newsflash - Nobody is going to discover you down in your basement studio. You have to be out there gigging and promoting yourself if you expect us to do the same.
FAQ 10: Hey Dave, what's the deal? Are you really a rich and powerful entertainment attorney? Can you get me in the door of the majors?
A: Rich and powerful entertainment attorneys neither need nor use web sites. I also maintain a general law practice where I do a good deal of non-entertainment work.
There will always be some acts that I will shop myself, however in recent years I have begun to work with certain reputable talent scouts who consult regularly with A&R executives at all the major labels here in NYC. If your music is great, we can get it to the right ears.
If your music stinks; no attorney - no matter how much clout they have - will be able to get you a deal. No reputable firm can risk bringing in horrible music and ruin their credibility. Not at any price.
I am very fortunate to have been involved with many different projects throughout my career. I have done a little bit of everything, some projects have turned out extremely successful and famous, some not.
Suggest you check my bio page (link below) for all the details.
FAQ 11: Your office seems to have certain areas you concentrate on like reggae music - why?
A: Because these areas, like reggae music are being BLATANTLY OPRESSED and DESCRIMINATED AGAINST by the government and the media in the U.S. and elsewhere. Important, legendary reggae artists such as Mykal Rose, winner of reggaes' very first grammy as a member of BLACK UHURU, was denied entry into the USA from 2001-2009 without any valid reason. We fought against this injustice for 4 years until the ban was lifted under the obama administration in 2009. Artists from EVERY other country in the world bristle at the DRACONIAN requirements that must be met in order to perform in the US.
FAQ 12: My band is on the net already via a social networking service. Should I pay some company to promote us on the net?
A: These services can be useful if you need to keep track of your huge following. However, no amount of hype or email will make bad songs into good ones. If you are a band seeking to build a huge following, and have little resources, best to plow that money into making better music an getting gigs. Good bands are being discovered all the time on YouTube for free.
Another reason is they are rip offs.
Here is an ACTUAL EXCERPT from a contract with a company called FanBridge. This is the section of the contract that includes FEES and payment. Read it if you have the guts.
3. Free Plan, Fees and Payment
3.1 Customers signed up for the Free level plan will not be billed for FanBridge services if 400 or fewer messages are sent each month.
*editors note - not bad so far.....
Once the free message limit has been reached, you will have the option to upgrade to a paid monthly subscription. If you choose to upgrade to a paid monthly subscription, you will be required to submit payment for Services in the form of a monthly subscription for Paid Services. Access to the Services will be disabled until payment is received.
3.2 Fees will be billed monthly for Services. The fees are based on your monthly subscription plan and any applicable overage charges based on account activity. You are responsible for reviewing the fee schedule from time to time and remaining aware of the fees charged by FanBridge. The fee schedule, including messaging levels and prices, is subject to change at any time in FanBridge’s discretion. FanBridge will attempt to notify you via email prior to any change to the fee schedule.
3.3 Payment for Services will be made by a valid credit card accepted by FanBridge. Fees are payable in US dollars. If the monthly payment option is selected or if you have previously provided your credit card for payment, you hereby authorize FanBridge to charge your credit card for such amounts on a regular monthly basis. If FanBridge is for any reason unable to effect automatic payment via your credit card, FanBridge will attempt to notify you via email and your FanBridge account will be disabled until payment is received. Amounts paid for the Services are not refundable.
3.4 You acknowledge and agree that you are responsible for paying Fees for all email messages sent through FanBridge, regardless of whether delivery of such messages to their intended recipients is prevented or blocked by any third party.
See any prices in there? Neither do I. At the time of this writing, there was no fee schedule and no link to a fee schedule either. Once they have you, they can change the price at any time to any number they want, and for doing what? Does any part of this service make your music better or get you more spins on corporate controlled conglomo-media media? Is it worth it? Not Likely.
FAQ 13: I just received an email from a company called AMMA that says they want to license my music internationally? Should I send my cd to them or is it a ripoff?
A: Its not worth the postage.
They sent me that same email. I sent them a cd all the way to Australia. They wrote back immediately to say how much they loved it, and which 3 songs were their favorites - all very personal. Then when the 'offer letter' comes, I am expecting an actual offer to license the music and take a percentage, but instead they sent me a rate sheet for their 'services.' They charge from $799 to $3200 and all they do is take your music, put it on another cd and leave a pile of them at the entrance to trade shows so people can take them for free. Don't fall for this scam. THEY ACCEPT ANYONE! You can achieve the same results by printing 3000 cds and throwing them into the ocean!
Bottom line: They are only interested in charging you a huge fee to do something you could do yourself, except that you can do it better, more directed, with better-looking cds, for way less. Don't be fooled!
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