Law in Contemporary Society
During our first year of law school, all we received was exposure; the planting of these vague notions of what an area of law COULD be should we choose to pursue it. But this doesn’t translate to what a specific day in the life actually entails. There is no choice given to experience the reality of working as a lawyer; that comes later. Right now, the curriculum has been set.

Initially I came into law school hoping to be an “entertainment” lawyer- I didn’t really know what this meant, but I came to the conclusion that if I was going to law school and was interested in the music industry, that’s what I should be doing. But what did that phrase even really mean to me? It basically boiled down to the idea that I spent too much time listening and reading about music and felt I knew too little about any other field to be competitive in them. There may have been some interest in artists’ rights to their work or other aspects of producing, but very little understanding of what exactly was being done. In retrospect, it made absolutely no sense to want to go into a field without knowing what the actual day-to-day work entails.

I was told by a professor earlier this semester that if I wanted to work in an entertainment field, I should focus on copyright and employment law. There’s this general perception that if we are to practice law in a certain field, there’s only one way to do it. Types of lawyers shouldn’t be set into premade categories of what type of law (or even general knowledge) is applicable in the circumstance. If music has gone digital, then how that data is transmitted is crucial. And that may require knowledge of telecommunications that lies outside the law school. It may also not be helpful at all for what I want out of career, but no real thought is going to be put in to these issues if I study only along the lines of what every lawyer before me has studied.

I want my practice as lawyer to center around how we value art right now and how we can change that to a more sustainable model that involves as few parties as necessary to get the product, whatever it may be, to the consumer. The problem of finding a way to get the potential audience for a work to care about the work is important because the disconnect we see in the cultural value versus the monetary value we see in what we consume; we constantly hear reports on all types of media outlets about music and television and give it great weight in our discussions on significant cultural moments. But when the time comes to actually pay for the services, we’re content with not owning our copy of the content and instead paying for the license to enjoy the works so long as we have a subscription, be it tv shows, music, movies, or even digital copies of books. This system poses problems in two ways; first, it fundamentally undervalues the work but allowing access to immense quantities while paying practically nothing. Second, this places the onus on creators to court the favor of these gatekeepers of the industry, be it streaming services or record labels, instead of focusing on the audience directly.

The greatest discouraging factor for myself when trying to find a solution to this topic is that I see very few lawyers doing what I want to do. Working for a record label or clearing deals for them isn’t really something I want to be a part of because it leads to poor outcomes in the music industry; it incentivizes a zero-sum mentality that an artist’s featured placement is necessarily detrimental to others. As of now, there are too many factors at play here affecting how music is distributed and consumed when the focus should be on the music itself and the audience for it.

Other models have found success, however. Just over in Brooklyn, Anibal Luque is a lawyer that works from the ground up with various artists in creating unique approach for to succeed given their talents and constraints. From the admittedly small amount of information I’ve gathered on him, I can see at the very least an outline of what I would want my own practice to look like. Whether or not this method has proven successful is beside the point; Mr. Luque presents a system where he becomes indispensable to the artist by providing services that can only be done through a partnership with a client rather than simply taking care of their paperwork. Although I can’t divine his intentions or the motivations behind his approach, it nevertheless at least seems to care more about the individual needs of the client.

This sort of client-facing approach is how I would want to practice; understanding that for each artist, the way to create their art and still meet their financial needs is different. Finding the right audience, coming up with a plan of attack, and linking up with other creators in mutually beneficial arrangements are all methods of engaging with the artist in nonstandard ways. These alternative approaches can provide a way to succeed both creatively and financially for those artists that are not suitable for thriving in the current market for music. There is indeed a current pathway to success for musicians that exists and can lead to incredible amounts of wealth and fame, but only if you can fit into the mold of what a label deems profitable. The majority of musicians that play to smaller crowds or more niche tastes ultimately can’t succeed in that manner. But there are frameworks out there for how to find other routes to success, and I want to work on building upon those frameworks and creating an example of nontraditional paths to success through my work with clients.


Webs Webs

r3 - 22 Jun 2018 - 18:21:11 - AmmarMonawar
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM