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A few attorneys who discussed this arrangement with Wheels view it as no different than attorneys outside of the music biz who represent corporations on legal matters while also having a hand in their growth and branding.
WHEELS & DEALS SPECIAL:
BARRISTER-BALLERS BLOWIN' UP
Band Lawyers’ Role Changing in
Evolving Music Industry
A hot topic going around industry social circles of late is the evolving role of the music attorney.

A number of lawyers are getting deeply involved in the development of unsigned talent prior to shopping a deal, with some even taking on management duties for their clients once signed, thus creating a new attorney-manager hybrid. This is nothing new, but it appears to be happening with increasing frequency as the marketplace changes.

Of course, it does make the music attorney’s job more creative, as well as more lucrative.

The hybrids are billing their artist-clients for management commission on all revenue the artist generates.

A few attorneys who discussed this arrangement with Wheels view it as no different than attorneys outside of the music biz who represent corporations on legal matters while also having a hand in their growth and branding.

Artists are mini-corporations, explained one barrister; their divisions being CD sales, publishing, touring, online ventures and merchandising—all of which generate revenue and require a creative business mind for growth and development.

Who better than an enterprising attorney, equipped to handle both the deal-making and the accompanying contracts, to pull this off? Of course, this structure doesn’t work for all artists, but it can appeal to acts who already operate independently, given that it can save them some dough, since they aren’t paying the standard management commission of 20%.

This type of arrangement brings a greater degree of mutual benefit, as well as more transparency in the business relationship between artist and attorney than the traditional setup, says one veteran lawyer.

Will this trend continue to grow as labels and new artists begin to structure 50/50 partnerships covering all of an artist’s various income streams? Clearly, the distribution of the income pie is changing, and as larger management companies have brought successful individual managers into their folds, will they soon be doing the same with lawyers?

On the label side, some industry insiders are wondering how the majors will restructure their companies to add value and justify said 50/50 deals. Will new models surface soon enough to resuscitate the industry?

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