Greetings World, Its’ me again Grace-C!

This week I want to blog about some very important topics that all artists should know about. No matter if you are signed to a major label, work with an independent label or if you aren’t even really sure what it means to be linked to a label, this information can be helpful and beneficial to you. If you have not been able to figure out yet, this blog focuses on YOU, the ARTIST! You may be a songwriter, a singer, a dancer, a producer, an actor, a model, or even a painter, but the bottom line is that you are an artist. As an artist it is imperative that you know and understand  the distinctions between your worth, what all is included as your property and what rights you are given. So please, even if you never read any of my blog posts again, just take heed to the advice that I have found and that I am about to share with you.

I listened to 2 podcasts on iTunesU regarding legal matters that dealt with intellectual property. As an artist our craft is usually defined under the umbrella of intellectual property, and in the legal world our intellectual property is what gives us a particular worth when legal matters arise.  The first podcast that I listened to was called CIPLIT visiting artist series featuring jazz musician Frank Catalano, by DePaul University’s College of Law. In the discussion they had Mr. Catalano and his lawyer as well as some of the college’s professors talking about legality issues they have encountered during the span of Mr. Catalano’s career thus far. They talked about the importance of having either a close relationship with an attorney or hiring an attorney before you make any legally binding decisions in your career (i.e. signing a contract). Mr. Catalano described an instance when he was just sixteen years old and he was just so excited to be noticed for his craft that he signed a contract without having a lawyer review it. Although he, fortunately, did not get cheated in the agreement that he signed, many times artists do get the short end of the deal because they signed their life away without reading the small print. By hiring an attorney that you trust, and that has your best interest in mind, you can avoid the risks of potentially giving up your entire life in one contract.

The next thing that I wanted to highlight was the importance of copyright registration. In the second podcast that I listened to, The Musicians at work forum- Intellectual Property and legal issues, given by the Chicago Music Commission they discussed this in great detail. The thing that you need to understand first and foremost is if you are a songwriter, or producer, and you make an original song, the minute that you put it in a tangible format it is yours and you own it, you own the copyright to it.  That is YOUR song. Now, where things get interesting is you need to register that ownership to the copyright office if you want to be protected under copyright laws. THE POOR MANS COPYRIGHT WILL NOT SUFFICE IN A COURT OF LAW. Register your song under the Form PA (performing arts) not sound recording Form SR. You only register it under Form SR if it is the final mastered version of your song that will be put out for distribution. Registering your copyright is one of the single most important things you can and should do as an artist, no matter your status. Registering the copyright is invaluable because that is what PROTECTS your valuable intellectual property and as an artist that is your greatest asset.
Lastly I want to highlight their discussion on performance rights organizations. After you have registered the copyright, you are advised to join one of the three major performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC). They are there to track any and all monetization owed you as the copyright holder. They keep track of if your song is played nationally or internationally and if it is, then they will send you money for it! Oh! The beloved “checks in the mail” that I know aspiring songwriters like myself dream of.
As an artist, make sure you are up to speed and knowledgeable about your rights and your business as a whole. The Music Business is MY business! Thanks for Reading. HUGS, LUVS, and BLESSINGS from Above!