- Book author
- Ann Harrison
This essential and highly acclaimed guide, now updated and revised in its eighth edition, explains the business of the British music industry.
Drawing on her extensive experience as a media lawyer, Ann Harrison offers a unique, expert opinion on the deals, the contracts and the business as a whole. She examines in detail the changing face of the music industry and provides absorbing and up-to-date case studies.
Whether you're a recording artist, songwriter, music business manager, industry executive, publisher, journalist, media student, accountant or lawyer, this practical and comprehensive guide is indispensable reading.
Fully revised and updated. Includes:
· The current types of record and publishing deals, and what you can expect to see in the contracts
· A guide to making a record, manufacture, distribution, branding, marketing, merchandising, sponsorship, band arrangements and touring
· Information on music streaming, digital downloads and piracy
· The most up-to-date insights on how the COVID-19 crisis has affected marketing
· An in-depth look at copyright law and related rights
· Case studies illustrating key developments and legal jargon explained.
When I started work in the music business I had very little idea how it worked. Record and publishing companies were a mystery to me. I looked for books that might help me but there weren’t many around. Those were mostly out of date or applied to the US and not to the UK music business. I had to learn from my colleagues as I went along. I was lucky in that they were very knowledgeable and very generous with their time.
Now there are many sources of information available on the UK music business and there are many good media and law courses available to give you a head start. To accompany these, I felt we needed an easy-to-read guide to how the business works from a legal viewpoint – one that explains what a publisher does, for example, what copyright is and what are the potential traps if you want to release your own material. Many of the books on the music business are written from the US perspective. I wanted to write one based on the UK music industry which could be read as a road map through the industry. Where I’ve used technical expressions, I have tried to give a non-technical explanation alongside. This book is not, however, intended to be a substitute for legal textbooks on copyright, other intellectual property rights or contract. There are many good examples of these sorts of books around.
The music business is a dynamic one and each new edition involves a reworking of most of the chapters. This latest edition was no different. I began writing it during the pandemic at the end of a year which without any doubt was the most challenging period for the music industry (and of course all other aspects of society) since the start of the modern music business in the 1950s and 60s. Every aspect of the business had to adapt and some, like the live sector was initially paralysed with many people being made redundant or furloughed. When some live work became possible around three to four months into the pandemic, we saw an extraordinary shift or pivot in order to give people an ‘as live’ experience in their own homes. Chapter 10 on Live addresses these changes in more detail.
As a consequence of the collapse of the live business secondary ticketing, which had been a big issue in the last edition, faded into the background. Although early in 2021 ticket resale company Viagogo was forced to sell off the non-North American parts of the StubHub business it had made a deal to acquire for an estimated $4 billion in 2019 after a referral of the proposed acquisition to the Competition and Markets Authority. Between them these two companies had 95% of the secondary ticket market in the UK and CMA ruled that if Viagogo wanted to continue with the purchase of StubHub in order to expand the business in North America, the other parts of the StubHub operation had to be sold off.
The shift from ownership to consumption of music on demand via streaming services also served to focus debate on the liability of online service providers for the content of websites and the proper remuneration of songwriters from streaming services with a report on a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport investigation imminent as I write.
In many respects though technology saved the music industry during the pandemic as it did many other areas of commerce. Law firms who had previously insisted on all staff working from the office suddenly had to manage teams of people working remotely. Teams, Zoom and Google Meet became our go to, and remote signature of contracts became the norm. Of course, these new means of doing business brought with them unique challenges: motivation, teamwork, training, supervision and compliance all had to adapt rapidly.
Marketing changed significantly – records were still released, indeed some companies like Warners made a virtue of this but the question then was how to promote these records without a live tour or summer festivals? Innovative solutions were found as outlined in the revised Chapters 7 and 8 dealing with social media, marketing and distribution. Making of adverts and videos was impossible for a time, with lack of insurance being a bar to filming taking place. So how did the brands get their message and their product to the consumer? They went to Instagram, to YouTube and to TikTok and branding and sponsorship deals exploded. The chapters on branding, sponsorship and endorsement have therefore also been re-written to reflect this shift.
Even before the pandemic and restrictions on our personal freedoms we were seeing significant changes in how recording artists got their music to their fans online – the DIY movement continued at a pace and throughout lockdown. Artists recorded whole albums remotely. In the same context we are starting to see some subtle changes in how an artist puts together their team. The role of the lawyer as deal breaker has expanded and the role of the manager is evolving in some cases to one of business partner in DIY ventures.
The chapters on publishing, sampling and plagiarism have been rewritten as a result of some interesting new cases and legal developments particularly in the US. Chapter 15 dealing with the usually arcane world of collection societies has also undergone significant changes with new players on the scene. In truth there is barely a chapter which hasn’t seen significant reworking.
Wherever possible, I have tried to illustrate points with practical examples. I must add a health warning that the examples produced and the guidelines given are mine alone and others may not agree or may have had different experiences.
We’ve all been fascinated by newspaper reports of artists in court over disputes with their ex-managers, record companies or even other members of the band. Are these reports accurate? Do these cases have any long-term effect? Do they matter? The facts of some of the more important cases have been highlighted, details given of what was decided and the effects of these decisions on the music business. I’ve included several new cases throughout this edition, particularly in the area of sampling and claims of copyright infringement.
There have been fewer changes in the law since the last edition. There have been new regulations in the area of data protection, but a proposed EU Digital Copyright Directive which would have begun to address some of the liability issues around Internet service providers will not now become law in the UK, but its key points are addressed. The biggest legal shift has been the consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. The trade deal announced on Christmas Eve 2020 will give UK business more certainty on how it affects intellectual property generally but many of the details are still missing. Broadly speaking the biggest changes are in the area of Trademark and Patent Law. Copyright, being a global concept governed by international treaties, is largely unaffected but details have been added to the relevant chapters throughout the book. The live industry, already struggling, will have welcomed the trade deal but without a doubt it will be less easy for an artist to tour the continent for the foreseeable future and there will be more red tape involved. Some details, as known as at the date of writing, are set out in Chapter 10 on Live.
What I’ve tried to do is to let you in to some of the things I have learned over the last 37 years in the music business. There is, however, no substitute for legal advice on the particular facts of your case. Chapter 1 deals with choosing your advisers. Please read it. Good advisers will help to save you from what can be expensive mistakes. Most artists only have one chance of a successful career in this business – make sure you don’t lose it through poor advice.
In writing this book I hope I will be able to convey some of the excitement of the music business to you.