MUSIC'S HOTTEST LAW FIRMS: ZIFFREN BRITTENHAM LLP

There’s a reason iconic music figures such as Michael Jackson, Berry Gordy and Carlos Santana developed their own term of endearment for John Branca—deals closed by the Ziffren Brittenham music boss have shaped the modern music publishing industry.

Branca’s longtime representation of Michael Jackson and his Estate include landmark deals like Jackson’s acquisitions of ATV Music and The Beatles catalog, and then representing Jackson in creating the merger of Sony/ATV, which included a seat on the board of directors.

He represented Sony/ATV in the $2.2 billion acquisition of EMI Music, creating the world’s largest music-publishing company, and handled for EMI the divestiture sale of Virgin Music. Branca also represented legendary music publishing catalog sales from Berry Gordy’s Jobete Music, Leiber & Stoller Music and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.

More recent deals include the sale of the Michael Jackson Estate’s interest in Sony/ATV for $750m and the sale of the Jackson Estate’s interest in EMI Music for $287m. Also, Branca closed IP/catalog deals for clients Brian Wilson and Leonard Cohen, along with Primary Wave’s acquisition of James Brown’s catalog, Enrique Iglesias, The Doors, Limp Bizkit, and Barry Gibb and the Bee Gees.

All told, Branca’s recent IP catalog deals exceed $4b.

Branca, David Lande and David Byrnes oversee the firm’s music practice, which represents a diverse lineup of clients spanning all genres. Diversity is also reflected in the makeup of the department, which is 50% female and comprises members from varied cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Founded in 1979, Ziffren Brittenham also has a renowned film and television department that provides excellent support to all of the music clients who decide to use their creative talents in film and television.

Lande is a senior partner and member of the management committee of the firm. He specializes in providing business and strategic counsel to a broad group of artists, actors, writers, producers, investors, companies and entrepreneurs. Lande’s talent clients include Beyoncé, Olivia Rodrigo, ROSALÍA, SZA, Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Shakira, Linkin Park, Miguel, Becky G, Weezer, Chicago, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Hudson and Grace VanderWaal.

Byrnes is a partner at the firm, whose practice focuses on a broad spectrum of talent in the biz, ranging from globally recognized superstars to notable independent artists, and includes top-level producers, songwriters, and executives. He has also developed an expertise in sales of well-known music assets and catalogs and the representation of iconic estates. Byrnes’ clients include Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Beyoncé and Parkwood, Travis Scott, Linkin Park, Pentatonix and the estates of Eazy-E, Kurt Cobain, Mac Miller, Tom Petty and The Ramones. He’s negotiated multimillion-dollar recording and publishing catalog sales for chart-topping country stars, a Producer of the Year Grammy winner, and a legendary ’60s rock band, among others. He also had the honor of being Emmy-nominated as executive producer on the Kurt Cobain biopic, Montage of Heck.

Go to the complete Ziffren Brittenham spread here.

See all 2023 Law Firm profiles here.

Mitch Tenzer

A veteran of the firm, Tenzer met with Ken Ziffren and Branca decades ago, when he opted to leave Sony Music and Wall Street for the Golden State. Tenzer’s knowledge of the finance world complements the firm’s team of “smart, ethical people who are great lawyers,” as he put it. As a Partner, Tenzer works closely with Branca and Lande on major clients, including Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Blake Shelton, Shakira, Olivia Rodrigo, ROSALÍA and Pharrell, while overseeing new associates in the department.

Kelly Vallon Ciccotti

With music in her DNA, Ciccotti arrived at the firm in 2016 and was named partner in 2021. Ciccotti works closely with ZB partners on various firm clients. She’s been busy this year working on milestone deals like The Doors’ catalog sale to Primary Wave, Pharrell’s pact with LVMH to become creative director and clearing the way for Beyoncé’s highly anticipated Renaissance stadium tour.

Irina Volodarsky

Reading about Branca’s historic MJ deals years ago inspired Volodarsky to pursue a career in the music business—she then “finagled” her way into A&M’s publishing division, Almo Sounds, while still in high school. She now assists the partners with day-to-day matters for clients as a service attorney, with the recent boom in asset sales requiring plenty of attention. A self-proclaimed “music nerd,” Volodarsky earned her law degree while working at Rondor.

Mehreen Ahmed Chaudry

Chaudry has been practicing entertainment law for several years and recently joined ZB in 2022. She works on various Latin, country and hip-hop clients for the firm. Matters pertaining to ROSALÍA, such as her performance at the Louis Vuitton Fashion Show, South American festival runs and a new EP, have recently taken up most of Chaudry’s bandwidth, while collaborating on Travis Scott, Pentatonix, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Rick Rubin. Raised in Pennsylvania, Pakistan and Colorado, Chaudry shifted her focus to entertainment once she settled in Los Angeles for law school.

Juliette Browne

A new associate at the firm, Browne joined ZB fresh out of law school in 2021. Browne is grateful to have been thrown immediately into legal representation at one of entertainment’s elite firms—the “warm, collaborative environment” at ZB has helped alleviate the steep learning curve of music representation. Browne graduated from Georgetown before attending USC Law School, where she gained valuable music law internship experience.

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