Lawyers on Blues-L

Don Cicchetti dcicchet@LASIERRA.EDU
Thu Feb 29 12:13:58 EST 1996

Michael said:

>Since you brought up these issues, lets talk about them.
>>Only one big problem....
>>He did not have a good lawyer
>It is normal procedure for costs and expenses to be billed against
>royalties.  however, in this instance, here is my hypothosis:  The label had
>a bulk discount for the fancy meals, hotel, phone calls and limos.  So, for
>every dollar actually they spent, they charged triple or quadruple that to
>the Artist's account.

oh boyyy....  You know something, it's also normal procedure in human
relationships to TELL people this stuff.   But because it is buried in the
contract somewhere, and they treat the artist as an adversary, the artist
MUST have proper representation to advise him/her.

Obviously I am blending the law and morals here...   But I submit it is the
seperation of law and morals that has brought the legal system to its
present morass

>>Did they tell him that in "Nashville"?   What do YOU think?
>In almost all states, ignorance is not an excuse.  You are presumed to have
>read any documentation, regardless of the complexity (with some states
>excepting type that it too small), that you sign.

See above.   Remember that many young artists are wrapped up in their music
and actually trust these friendly big-shot types.   The artist's ignorant
naivety doesn't make it *right* to treat them so cynically and rapaciously.

>>A good lawyer would have:
>>negotiated a reasonable (lots less than 300,000.00) advance
>>(it's called an *advance* because you OWE it to them btw)
>I understand your thinking, but in fact, I would have done just the opposite
>- attempted to get a higher advance.  Only 20% of the albums produced make
>money. That means, for 80% of the artists, the only money they will ever see
>will be the advance.  You're right that the advance is chargeable against
>royalties, but it is NEVER (unless you really flub big) reimburseable from
>the dollars originally tendered.

Well I know several people who were sued by the label to recoup advances.

They ended up bankrupt.   Also, newly-rich artists often whizz away those
big advances on toys and two years later are suicidal.   Big advances, and
the lifestyle changes that often accompany them, often ruin careers.

Personally I would *refuse* a big advance and negotiate for limits on
returns, recoupables, and recording costs, and the right to renegotiate the
royalty rate on the second album.   I'm in it for the long run.

Imagine what it feels like to move back in with your mom after getting a
$300,000.00 advance two years earlier.   Does *wonders* for your state of
mind I'm sure, and that is bound to screw up your songwriting.

>>told him to *fly coach* to Nashville and stay in the dang Motel Six, rent a
>>Subaru to drive, and PUT THE MONEY IN THE BANK dammit!
>Sometimes, you can get the label to pick up certain charges, especially if
>they are courting.  This stuff should have been thrown in.

But it all comes out of the artist's pocket at some point doesn't it?

Walk into the meeting, tell them "I don't WANT the stupid limo, I don't
need the hotel".

Rent the Subaru, show up an hour early for sessions ready to go, avoid all
the high-life excesses, and grind their BUTTS off in negotiations.

Don't be a chump, make them take you seriously.

There is no free lunch.


Don Cicchetti
La Sierra University Library Media Services
Studio Production & Event Services

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see
An Eldorado comin' after me
comin' for to carry me home..

-- Dizzy Gillespie

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