Thursday, June 28, 2012



Yes, the entertainment industry is fun, entertaining, and glamorous, but with all that comes scandal, controversies, and lawsuits.  Professionals in the entertainment industry whether it is music, movies, television, or design have to be very careful when it comes to deal making.  In this blog I am going to discuss three legal controversies that I found to be very interesting, I hope you feel the same.

In the entertainment industry there is always something going on.  Being in the entertainment industry it is always best to know what legal liability issues that are going on.  Believe it or not, this is vital to creating your business plan and running you business. Issues that I found relevant to my business is cases such as “backing out of an agreement to appear for a show” working with celebrity talents with our show we run the risk of that artist not appearing as agreed which could result in refunds of ticket sales profit lost and cancellation of show. Perfect example:


In April 2011 “Gate Five” a video game developer filed a lawsuit against entertainer “Beyoncé” for backing out of an agreement to appear in the developer’s video game which resulted in Gate Five collapsing and the loss of 70 jobs.  Beyoncé’s attorney argued that the singer was well within her rights of backing out of the agreement because Gate Five did not meet their part of the agreement by meeting a November 10 deadline of gaining funds.  A New York Judge has ruled that the lawsuit will proceed.

In this case I’ve always felt that celebrities should not be treated any differently legally than a non-celebrity.  Beyoncé agreed to appear in this video game, that has not been denied, but she decided to back out because of funding. Know lets say yes the funding deadline did pass, but lets take into consideration the consequences.  I feel if the deal was good enough to agree too, than maybe Beyoncé could have funded the project herself, which would add something new and innovative to her well-established resume.  Beyoncé is such a huge name and influence, Nevertheless her backing out of this agreement caused investors to turn away which resulted in the company going under.  What happened to those people who lost their jobs?  It seems these people weren’t considered when the thought of backing out of this deal came to mind.

When it comes to deal making, every aspect should be taken into consideration.  If the deal falls through who will be affected?  Where is the funding coming from?  When are the deadlines?  What needs to be done everyday leading up to the deadline?  These are just a few questions that need to be answered at the deal-making table.

California band  “One Direction” sue Sony and Syco (Simon Cowell entertainment company)

Another industry liability is Trademark infringement with a name. Choosing a name for your company or band can be a crucial thing.  We often sit and brainstorm for a name that feels right and a name that represents what we stand for. Most of the time we do not realize the possibility that our chosen name could end up in a lawsuit. Unfortunately, it happens. For example a new and fast growing Britain Band “One Direction”.  A Federal lawsuit in California has been filed by a California band also called “One Direction” against Sony and Syco (Simon Cowell entertainment company) requesting that all promotional material causing confusion and damage to the California base band (Dumon, 2012).

Louis Vuitton sued Akanoc Solutions, Inc. for contributory copyright and trademark infringement under the Copyright and Lanham Acts

Louis Vuitton sued Akanoc Solutions, Inc. (January, 2012) ("Akanoc"), Managed Solutions Group, Inc. ("MSG"), and Steven Chen (the owner of both companies) for contributory copyright and trademark infringement under the Copyright and Lanham Acts, respectively. MSG leased servers, bandwidth, and IP addresses to other companies, such as Akanoc, who then operated the servers and otherwise ran the business. Louis Vuitton alleged that some of Akanoc's China-based customers directly infringed on Louis Vuitton's trademarks and copyrights. Louis Vuitton sent the defendants eighteen Notices of Infringement documenting the infringements occurring on websites hosted by defendants, yet the defendants were unable to identify any action taken in response to the notices sent by Louis Vuitton and the websites continued to operate. Louis Vuitton alleged that defendants had actual knowledge of the website's activities, that defendants knowingly avoided learning of the full extent of infringing activities, and that defendants knowingly enabled the infringing conduct by hosting the websites and permitting them to display the counterfeit products. A jury found that all three defendants were liable for willful contributory trademark infringement and willful copyright infringement. It awarded statutory damages on both claims for each of the three defendants.

What I have learned from this liability issue is to be sure to file the necessary papers to protect your business name/band name. There are many things we have to be careful about because as you can see you can be sued when you least expect it. When starting or running your business it is imperative that we take the necessary steps to avoid these types of infringements. We also have to be sure that our right are protected against anyone who uses our works, name and photos for financial gain without permission our approval.

The Escapist: News: Judge Okays Dance Game Lawsuit Against Beyoncé. (n.d.). The Escapist. Retrieved March 4, 2012, from http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114603-Judge-Okays-Dance-Game-Lawsuit-Against-Beyonce 

Dumon, M. (2012, April 11). One direction sued for trademark infringement. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/one-direction-sued-for-trademark-infringement

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP (January 20.2012): Louis Vuitton Sets A New Standard In Federal Trademark And Copyright Law

By Melisa Brown 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


One of the many skills required of a project manager is the ability to ask searching questions and persevere until a clear answer is obtained. Many of the pitfalls in projects could be avoided if questions were articulated fully and if the answers were given clearly and in detail.
Too often areas of a project that should be clearly defined are not. Assumptions are made about who is responsible for what and, even worse; assumptions are made about what exactly the business objectives are and what benefits the project will deliver to the organisation.In our enthusiasm to get started on an exciting new project it is easy for everyone, not just the project manager, to rush through the early preparation stages of a project and get on to the exciting parts. But in uncertain economic times every project should be delivering substantial business benefits that can be accurately measured. The benefits might be time or cost savings, but equally they might be aimed at maintaining a certain reputation (or rescuing a failing one) so they are not always easy to measure and cannot always be accurately predicted in advance. Nevertheless, the expected benefits should be documented so it is clear to everyone involved why the project is needed.

No list of questions is ever exhaustive, but here are 20 questions a project manager should always ask, whatever type of project they are working on in any type of organization:

• What are the business goals the project is aiming to achieve?
• What business benefits will these goals deliver if achieved?
• What will be the consequences to the business (financial, reputation etc) if the project does          not go ahead or fails to deliver the objectives?
• Are there any easy-to-implement alternatives to this project? Sometimes other solutions are available that do not require the cost implications of a full-blown project.
• Are there any disadvantages to implementing this project? Staff redundancies might be an obvious one, but there might be some that are less obvious.
• Who is the main stakeholder, with ultimate responsibility for driving the project forward? It is important that someone senior takes ownership of a project – that person should never be the project manager.
• Who is responsible for ensuring appropriate resources (time, people and money) are allocated to the project? This should be someone with the authority to allocate whatever resources are required.
• Who will be responsible for deciding whether the project goes ahead or not after the initial investigations? This will often be a group of people, sometimes with conflicting aims.
• Is the new project dependent on the successful delivery of a current project? If so, a full report on the status of the project already underway should be obtained before committing to the new project.
• What are the success criteria that will indicate the objectives have been met and the benefits delivered?
• Will new equipment/products be required to facilitate project delivery for example is new software needed?
• Will there be any necessary staff changes (redundancies or new hires)?
• Will existing staff require re-training, for example, to learn new business processes?
• Which individuals, teams or departments will be involved in the project?
• Who will be responsible for documenting the business requirements in detail?
• Who will determine interim and final deadlines? Projects where the marketing department, for example, decide on a deadline for an IT project have a far less chance of success than when informed estimates are made about the resources required.
• How much contingency will be available in the budget?
• Who will be responsible for making the decisions to include or exclude requested changes once the project is underway?
• Will the project deliverables need to be tested and, if so, by whom?
• Who will provide the final approval of the project deliverable?

There are many more questions that could be asked to ensure a project starts off with a good chance of success. But just as important as asking a question is getting a proper answer. The majority of people will have received appropriate training for project managers to help them develop a series of questions that is most relevant for their business. Asking these questions should not be a one-time event. As you progress with the project, these questions should be revisited often. If you don't get satisfactory answers the first time, that clearly shows that additional thought process is needed. The PM (Project Manager) can help coach the business through this thought process and ensure all are aligned on what the right answers should be and where there are gaps.

By Melisa Brown 

Friday, June 1, 2012



The reason I decided to write this post was because a few artists had recently approached me who asked me if I could connect them with good managers. There are a lot of misconceptions about what an artist manager does, and there are several types in the music business. I won’t go into all of them in this post. Most of them you won’t need until you’re touring and making some heavy cheddar anyway.  The two primary types are the personal manager, and the business manager.  Most artists who are trying to get their careers off the ground are usually looking for a personal manager.

Many artists look for managers before developing anything to manage. The more developed you are as an artist, the better your chances are of attracting a good manager’s interest. There are however, some of the major misconceptions about artist managers and what they do. Here are a few

1.     Mangers should invest lots of money into the artist. It’s not a manager’s job to pay the costs for your recording projects, travel, or promotional material. While it’s not uncommon to find manager that’s willing to pay for the needs of an artist, they are not obligated to. Some managers feel that dropping cash to help their artists become successful is a worthy investment.  Because this is not the manager’s role, he or she will usually make an agreement with the artist that this investment is repaid once the artist starts making money. This is outside of 15 to 20 percent commission managers already receive from the artist’s earnings. This commission is usually but not limited to, performances, merchandise sales, and in some cases money advanced by record labels.  It’s rare that managers make agreements to receive percentages of the artist’s song publishing or writing. You should avoid these types of agreements if possible.

2.     Another misconception is that managers should have lots of experience in the music business. While this is definitely an asset, it’s much more important that you have a manager that’s willing to hustle hard for you and be ambitious about learning the parts of the business that he or she doesn’t know. Your manager should be someone you have a tremendous amount of trust in because they will play some part in every facet of your music career. This is why it’s not uncommon to see artists with relatives as managers. Sometimes they are the best choice.

3.     Managers are not attorneys! Unless your manager has an entertainment law degree, it’s not wise to have them negotiating contracts that can affect you for the rest of your life! Get an attorney to look over any complicated contracts.

4.     Managers are not publicists. Publicists handle your PR (public relations), expand you visibility and help develop a marketing strategy for you.  Good managers will do some of this for you until you’re signed or able to afford a professional publicist. It a nutshell, good managers want to minimize the chaos that can surround an artist so they can concentrate as much as possible on their music.  Good managers are a trusted foot in your rump to make sure you make it to your appointments on time, and make sure that everything you need is there before your arrive.  My advice is give managers a few months trial before you decide to make a long-term contractual bond with them. This provides an opportunity for the both of you to see if there’s a chemist.

By Melisa Brown