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  • Rebecca Wells

Music Law 101: School is in Session [pt. 1]

Music Festival Season

Spring festival season is ending, but any music lover knows that summer festival season is just beginning to heat up. Music revelers know what goes into a festival, or even on a smaller scale, a simple concert – from marketing and ticket sales, to sponsorship, and stage set up, choreography, sound checks (and rechecks), as well as lighting and when its all said and done, the unfortunate job of cleaning up. Well, for simple concert that all taken in unison is tough enough, but when you consider the magnitude of a festival, multiply any efforts undertaken ten or twenty fold. If you want a clear example as to what happens when persons in charge of a festival fail to do their due diligence, just take a look at the spectacle that was supposed to be the Fyre Festival; and the backers for that nightmare are just beginning to feel the onslaught of lawsuits. But what about the back end of the entertainment industry?

From the perspective of an artist, promoter, publisher, etc. what are the legal implications of hosting a festival or concert? Or better yet, when its all said and done, who get paid from it all? In every musical performance, whether single concert event or full-fledged Coachella level festival, there are a multitude of rights in play; most you’d never ever realize.

Without giving any particular order, or exhausting the list – (i) musical composition copyright – usually owned by the publisher; (ii) lyrical copyright – usually controlled by the publisher; (iii) performance copyright – usually controlled by the label, if there is one; (iv) artist(s) right of publicity; (v) band owned trademarks; (vi) sponsorship / marketing / contractual rights – usually based on signage posted by the band or venue, posted on the ticket, or even the terms and conditions where video or audio footage is posted. Finally, the one that will always be present, licensing from ASCAP, where the venue has to get authorization.

This blog series will explore all of these rights, obligations, and liabilities as they relate to concert venue, artist, publisher, promoter, ASCAP, and to a lesser degree sponsors.


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