Our music practice advises clients on a broad array of artistic, commercial, strategic, and technological matters encompassing recorded music, music publishing, live performances and touring, merchandising, artist management, Internet services, licensing, intellectual property, and strategic transactions.  We also represent individuals and private investment vehicles, such as venture capital funds and private equity firms, in transactions involving music assets, including investments, acquisitions, divestitures, and related due diligence matters.

Derek began his legal career as an in-house legal and business affairs executive at the Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, and, after more than 20 years, music remains the core of Derek’s legal practice. He learned the business from the inside-out, and in his 14 years serving as an in-house business affairs executive at UMG, and during his time in private practice, Derek has successfully negotiated and closed hundreds of deals and nearly every type of agreement in the music industry, including the full array of customary industry agreements (such as exclusive recording agreements, music publishing agreements, distribution agreements, and artist management agreements), as well as joint ventures, strategic corporate transactions, and various digital distribution deals.

With this comprehensive, insider’s knowledge of the music business, we are perfectly positioned to guide clients through the increasingly complicated industry contracts, and also to advise on the music industry’s new and complex digital landscape, including the consequences of these developments for producing, aggregating, distributing, and monetizing music content.

Digital Experience

Music increasingly reaches consumers via digital pathways, so parties using music within the digital ecosystem need legal counsel with a firm grasp of the related legal and commercial issues and a knowledge of the latest customary industry deal points and business terms.

Our music industry work includes extensive digital experience. We advise content owners, aggregators, and digital distribution services, including streaming, downloading, and “locker” services, on business and copyright matters associated with using music content. We also counsel “app”, interactive entertainment, and other software developers on music, technology, and copyright issues and help them secure the necessary rights for using music in their projects.

We have advised clients on, and negotiated and closed, a diverse range of matters and deals in the music industry, including the following:

  • Full range of music publishing and recorded music agreements, including: exclusive recording agreements; music publishing agreements (e.g., exclusive songwriter, co-publishing, administration, and sub-publishing agreements); “label agreements”; and manufacturing and distribution agreements (“P&D” deals)
  • Agreements with Internet services for distributing and monetizing sound recordings and musical compositions via the Internet and other IP-based services, including by means of downloading, streaming (including interactive, non-interactive, subscription, and advertising-supported services, with or without offline functionality), “locker” (cloud-based) services, combinations of the foregoing (e.g., portable and non-portable, mixed use, and bundles with non-music product), and for use as part of user-generated content
  • Strategic transactions, including acquisitions and divestitures of recorded music and music publishing catalogs
  • Joint ventures and profit-split agreements;
  • Artist management agreements;
  • Live performance and touring agreements;
  • Music video production agreements;
  • Synchronization licenses for motion pictures and other audiovisual content
  • Licenses for using musical compositions and sound recordings in software, such as interactive video games and “apps”
  • “Blanket” license agreements with each of the “major” recorded music companies
  • Public performance license agreements (for musical compositions and sound recordings)
  • Due diligence matters relating to music industry agreements, musical compositions, sound recordings, and associated copyright and contractual issues, including for investments and strategic transactions
  • Branding, endorsement, marketing, merchandising, and sponsorship agreements
  • Collateralizing the copyright ownership of musical compositions and sound recordings
  • Soundtrack album agreements;
  • Producer agreements;
  • Administering and managing copyright assets, including registering copyrights in musical compositions and sound recordings
  • Trademark matters, including acquiring and protecting domain names and other Internet identifiers (such as “user names” for social media services)
  • “Sample” and “interpolation” licenses for sound recordings and musical compositions
  • Licenses for “grand rights” of musical compositions
  • Composer and lyricist agreements for musico-dramatic works (such as musicals)
  • Agreements to compose original music for use in “apps” and interactive video games
  • As part of digital use licenses, preparing and submitting to content owners “white papers” on content protection and security, communicating ingestion and reporting specifications, and other digital asset requirements
  • Counseling on jurisdictional and rights matters relating to musical compositions and sound recordings made available via the Internet, including using geo-filtering technology and preventing access from devices that have a particular geographical internet protocol (GEOIP) address

The firm's music clients have included the following:

  • Recorded music companies (ranging from start-ups to joint ventures, and from established independent labels to the “major” multinational recorded music companies)
  • Music publishing companies
  • Internet distribution services and platforms (both digital downloading and streaming)
  • Physical record manufacturing and distribution companies
  • Recording artists, including singers, musicians, and musical groups
  • Composers and Songwriters
  • DJs
  • Producers
  • Artist managers
  • Talent agents
  • Software and “app” developers
  • Platforms for user-generated content
  • Social media services
  • Recording studios
  • Portable device (hardware) manufacturers
  • “Music video” cable and satellite television networks with programming consisting primarily of music videos, live music performances, music news and interviews, and pop culture matters