Welcome to the initial installment of Gavels and Guitars with Danny Alvarez, Esq., presented by idobi Radio and ReverbNation. Being that this is new, let’s establish some ground rules. This is NOT legal advice and should not be relied on to make major decisions. Instead use this as an educational forum to help guide you so you don’t get taken for a ride. My strongest advice is to get a lawyer! Nothing will ever replace that. Until then, read on at your own risk! We are going to cut it straight and speak in NON-legal terms. Finally, the only way this works is to ask questions…so send them in!
FROM THE BAND THE UPSET VICTORY
What is the importance and process like of [trademarking] a band name and band logo [logomark]?
Can you say VERY important? Why would you want to waste time and money branding yourself and building your reputation only to lose it all when someone else’s lawsuit comes a-knocking? Trust me it is not pretty and it doesn’t matter if you are signed or famous. At a minimum you could lose your name or that and have to pay damages! The first person to register the name usually wins. Before you ever even announce yourself as a band, you should do two things—check the state website for corporations and the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. While there, search for anyone using the name you want or a name close enough to it. While this is not 100%, you should be good enough to get started. Go ahead and file the name with both entities. It does cost you money, but once approved, you will have all the protections necessary to not have to worry.
Cincinnati, OH’s The Upset Victory pump out a driving, piercing mixture of rock, pop and alternative. Their latest release ‘Wall Street’ follows four successful releases since their formation in 2006.
FROM THE BAND SEVEN STORY FALL
Can I get out of a YouTube partnership publishing deal even if my contract isn’t up? I feel like I’m not getting paid a lot and I don’t think they’re doing anything for me. I believe I have 1-2 years left.
While I have not read your contract, I get this type of question all the time. First it is important to understand that contracts are law between the two parties. So what does your law say? First of all we are dealing with Google. I bet their contract is pretty tight, but that doesn’t make it bulletproof. If you think they have not met their end of the bargain, there may be a way out, but that really isn’t the most important question. If you think they have, then what are you willing to do about it? Sue them to prove it and get out of your deal? Get sued for abandoning the deal? Many times, people do bad things and get away with it, because the other side doesn’t have the cash to do anything about it. If that’s the case, and I clearly don’t know that Google is doing anything wrong, you may be looking at just riding out the deal.
In 2002 in Wayne, MI, Hunter Kennedy’s solo project Seven Story Fall was born. With 3 EPs & one full-length released digitally and thousands sold-out shows, Hunter and SSF is not new to the music scene and has been featured in many newspapers, magazines and on many sites.
FROM THE BAND PALM TREES & POWER LINES
Hey there! Thanks for choosing us for your legal questions column on idobi! We actually had a management company contact us recently which raised some questions. So this company tried to appeal to us by knowing and having worked with Pete Wentz. They had proof, so that was pretty cool, although they were still not a big company or very well-known. They came to us wanting us to sign a 3-year contract with them, and taking 20% of gross profits made at shows that they helped book, and we wouldn’t be able to engage in any other business efforts without their permission. It seemed like they could just book us at any show in the U.S. and we’d have to show up or pay them. It didn’t seem profitable to us, but is this standard in the industry? Do we even need a manager?
This is a great question and I could literally spend hours on it. First, 20% is within the norm. At this point I should disclose that I also actively manage bands. As an attorney though, I never let my clients go above 25% but the safe bet window I am comfortable with is in the 15% to 20% range. The way to see it is the newer you are, the riskier the proposition is for the manager to carry you on the roster while you are trying to break. During that whole time, he/she is not making any money. So to compensate for their risk, the percentage could be higher. One way to limit some of your risk is to a have a floor on where the percentage is applied. Try asking for the percentage to only be applied to all show guarantees above $150. A three-year contract is also normal. The manager needs to have a sense that there is a chance for him/her to recoup on their investment in you. NOW do you really need a manager? Well the reality is that only you can really answer that. Most folks believe a manager is going to be the salvation to their efforts but he/she is not. The manager is supposed to add to what you are doing. Your band should self-manage to the point that you are so busy and thriving that you NEED the manager. At that point he/she takes over and you concentrate on being you. This is the point where managers come scratching because they see the potential and see a chance for you both to monetarily succeed. Until then, learn your business and master it.
Formed in late 2010, the pop punk band from Jacksonville, Florida has recently released a new 5-song EP titled ‘High Hopes’. After recording with Paul Lapinski (The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Yellowcard) they are continuing to work on writing music and performing shows as an unlabeled band in hopes of getting signed and touring big.
About Danny Alvarez, Sr.
Danny Alvarez, Sr. is an attorney, music manager and business law professor based out of Tampa, Florida. He is the managing member of The Alvarez Legal Group, P.L. and President of The Vindicated Group, LLC. Danny has earned a Bachelors Degree in Journalism from The University of Florida, a Masters degree in Education from Troy State University, a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson College of Law and LL.M. (Masters in Law) in Estate Planning from the University of Miami School of Law. Danny focuses his legal practice on Entertainment, Business and Personal Injury Law and has clients as varied as actress/singer Brooke Hogan and bands such as Go Radio, Broadway and War Generation. Danny is also the full time manager for the up-and-coming band, Stages and Stereos. You can reach him at Dalvarez@alvarezlegal.com
This column, Ask A Lawyer with Danny Alvarez, Esq., is for for entertainment purposes only and is not to be taken as actual legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the columnist and/or the persons requesting advice, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of idobi Network or ReverbNation.