Entertainment Lawyers, at the root of things, provide legal advice, counsel and representation to businesses and individuals in the entertainment industries, including the fields of theatre, television, film, music, publishing, and digital media.
Within the field of enteratinment law, lawyers typically focus on one of two “sides”: Transactional or litigation. Many entertainment lawyers subspecialize, focusing their energies on the music business, or just film. Others are generalists, bringing a wide range of expertise to deals that increasingly span the various sub-industries.
Breadth of Knowledge Required
An entertainment lawyer must be well-versed in a variety of legal fields. With so many possible problems and opportunities that the entertainment world presents, it’s important for a lawyer to fully understand the breadth and scope of the deals he or she is working on. For example, lawyers representing an actor or musician usually need to know the ins and outs of contracts, but they also need to know intellectual property law, labor and employment basics, as well as rights of privacy, publicity, not to mention the occasional foray into corporate law. Entertainment lawyers are called on daily to analyze and solve problems of all kinds that arise in connection with their clients’ businesses.
Transactional vs. Litigation
Transactional lawyers are usually involved in negotiating and drafting agreements, making deals, and making sure parties honor their obligations. On the other side of the fence, litigators are those lawyers who devote their attention to defending their clients against lawsuits, and pursuing court cases on their clients’ behalf.
Entertainment lawyers are frequently called upon to work on talent agreements and contracts; labor negotiations with union crews on television, movie, or theatre sets; equipment and space rental for the performing arts; licensing and regulatory issues; copyright protection; and production liability concerns.
A day in the life
A typical transactional entertainment lawyer likely spends most of his or her day on the phone or in e-mail with clients, colleagues and adversaries, negotiating deal points, and making notes for later inclusion in contracts. In between calls and emails this lawyer will be reviewing written agreements, drafting contracts, preparing organizational documents for corporations, and pursuing registration of copyrights and trademarks.
Glamorous? Not really.
Representing people and businesses in entertainment might seem a glamorous pursuit, but in reality, it’s a hard-edged business involving large sums of money and people with tremendous egos. Sure, we get to rub elbows with “the beautiful people”, but practicing entertainment law is a career marked by extreme stress, short deadlines, and numerous frustrations. It is, of course, also very rewarding, both financially, and in terms of personal satisfaction. The lawyer who strikes a smart, effective deal for his client, who later becomes a star or has a blockbuster film is justified in taking pride in being a part of that success.
A new profession
People are making groundbreaking careers out of the new phenomena of managing social media for others. In a recent interview on the Econsultancy website, Richard Jones of EngageSciences said that, “Essentially social marketing is about creating value from relationships … Frequency of engagement, rich content and attention to the needs of fans are the basic requisites to be successful.”
Firms gaining attention for social media management include the Audience, Crowd Factory, WhoSay, Digital Media Management, Sprinklr, This moment and others. Independent consultants are also getting into the business.
Why social media management is important
Social media managers provide a wide range of services for those in the entertainment, media and sports industries that may include:
* Continual monitoring for potentially damaging cyberspace chatter that could harm a celebrity’s reputation, image or brand is essential, as is determining appropriate responses.
* The Internet has become a venue for celebrity dialog with fans and this direct conversation can be carefully managed. However, the real voice of the celebrity needs to be heard to keep people’s attention, and the tone and content (written, visual and audio) must ring true and not contrived. Together the celebrity and social media manager must determine what the message will be.
* Social networking consultants must be sure everything is professionally done and attention is paid to important details like style, spelling and grammar.
* Social networking sites can be used for direct marketing and sales opportunities such as of movies, music, merchandise, tickets and more.
* Data, metrics and trends can be gathered, measured and analyzed.
In other words, a celebrity’s social networking power is becoming a highly lucrative and rapidly growing component of his or her portfolio that already carries significant weight in how much he or she can obtain in negotiations for involvement in any entertainment or media endeavor, as what can be done by him or her in cyberspace could also financially benefit those with whom deals are made.
The role of a knowledgeable attorney
An entertainment attorney experienced in negotiating agreements with social media implications is swiftly becoming an absolute necessity when a person or company’s social media brand is at risk. And that is especially so when attempting to tailor fit a celebrity’s relationship with a social media management firm or an independent consultant. The terms of a social networking management agreement must be carefully drawn, particularly as such agreements pertain to fee or profit-sharing arrangements.
And since celebrities are not always immediately available for purposes of generating or approving instantaneous social network posts oftentimes demanded in the social media ecosystem, skilled legal counsel can also assist by devising contract provisions that determine how much control the celebrities themselves will have over what is posted as opposed to how much independent discretion their consultants will have to post.