Music Law 101

Course Description: This online course provides an overview of the key legal concepts, rights, and strategies that independent artists need to navigate the music industry. It's designed to help artists protect their work, make informed business decisions, and minimize potential legal risks.


Module 1: Introduction to Copyright

  • Defining copyright and the elements of a copyrightable musical work
  • Copyright registration: the process and benefits
  • Understanding the different rights granted to copyright holders

Module 2: Music Publishing and Licensing

  • Types of music licenses (sync licenses, mechanical licenses, performance licenses)
  • Music publishing explained: How royalties are collected and distributed
  • Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) and their role

Module 3: Music Contracts and Agreements

  • Common types of music contracts (recording contracts, artist management, licensing agreements)
  • Key terms and clauses to understand
  • Negotiation tips for independent artists

Module 4: Collaboration and Work-for-Hire

  • Co-writing agreements and ownership splits
  • The work-for-hire doctrine and its implications
  • Protecting your rights in collaborations

Module 5: Trademark and Branding

  • Protecting your band or artist name with trademarks
  • The trademark registration process
  • Using trademarks to build a strong brand identity

Module 6: Music Sampling and Fair Use

  • Copyright implications of using samples
  • Understanding the fair use doctrine
  • Tips for obtaining sample clearances

Module 7: Music and Online Platforms

  • Copyright issues on YouTube, streaming services, and social media
  • Content ID systems and copyright takedowns
  • Best practices for using music online

Module 8: DIY Legal Strategies for Indie Artists

  • Resources for finding affordable legal help
  • Contract templates and self-help guides
  • When to seek professional legal advice

Module 9: Business Structures and Tax Considerations

  • Choosing the right business structure for your music career (Sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.)
  • Tax basics for independent musicians
  • Deductions and income reporting

Module 10: Building Your Team and Protecting Your Legacy

  • Finding the right entertainment lawyer, manager, or agent.
  • The importance of estate planning for musicians

Note: This is a foundational syllabus. Music law is complex, and regulations change. Artists are always advised to consult qualified legal professionals for specific advice regarding their situation.