The Ten Commandments, for your music career, is the Top ten “to dos” list from the author of the so-called “bible” of the Canadian music industry – “Musicians and the Law in Canada and author of “Music Law Handbook for Canada”.
1. Get it in writing
I know this is a cliche, but I’m a lawyer and this really does mean something in practice. Even a simple agreement in writing can be more protective of your rights than an oral arrangement which is often hard to prove. Also, in some instances - a grant of an interest in copyright, for example, must be in writing to be valid.
2. “Know your rights”.
Yes the music business is complicated and it keeps getting more so, but in this day and age, information is often readily available. You can forearm yourself and with knowledge you can also assist your team. How? By being able to give informed instructions, you can save yourself money on fees. You don’t need to be up on all the details – that’s up your counsel and other advisers, but being able to get the big picture and give good instructions to your manager, lawyer and accountant will stand you in good stead in your career. For example, a lawyer well utilized can both make you money by negotiating better deals on your behalf and save you money by helping you avoid costly legal career pitfalls.
3. “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”.
Guess what? Almost everything is negotiable and is a negotiation. For example, even deciding where to go for lunch with a friend can be a negotiation. This one is a truism in law and in life. It is something that you can “take to the bank” and live by.
4. “Trusted advisers are worth the money.”
No one can succeed wholly on their own. It takes a team. You need a team you can trust and information that you can rely on. Definitely budget and spend your money wisely, but at the end of the day, whether it be good equipment or professional advice, you get what you pay for. Pay your team what they are worth. They are worth the investment.
5. “It’s always about the money”.
When they say its about trust, honesty, artistic integrity… that’s when … it’s about the money, because its always about the money.
6. “Actions speak louder than words”.
When you are confused, don’t listen to what the other side says, watch what they do. Pay attention to their actions. They may be confused themselves. Actions are where you get the truest sense of what someone one wants or is about.
7. “Have fun!” It’s the music business.
We live for the moments and the stories we live become us. If you didn’t want to have fun you could have done something that was more secure, lucrative and much more boring.
8. ” The basics apply”.
Always have. Always will. Great songs. Great performances. Great production. Apply the basics. Always.
9. “The facts are often 3/4 of the law“.
This is a quote from the late great Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India who was also a lawyer. So who am I to question this? Besides, I’ve found in practice this statement often affords very good practical insights into legal issues and legal problem solving. So get the facts.
10. “Know yourself. Be true to yourself“.
It’s been said “It takes 30 years to build a reputation and 30 seconds to destroy it.” Longevity is about integrity. Stay true to yourself and your vision as an artist and person. That way the success that you do achieve will be meaningful.
Submitted by: Paul Sanderson