Contract Disputes in Entertainment Law

Entertainment contracts are legally binding agreements that detail the terms of the deal between an artist, their manager or Service providers. Vulnerable individuals can be exploited without proper representation. They must draft contracts before they enter any business transactions.


Types of Contracts in the Entertainment Industry


The music industry is full of talented individuals who use their talents to make a living. It is important for artists to treat their creative works as business and should by all means be careful and protect their business.


Entertainment law majorly focuses on the contract. An experienced attorney plays a big role in ensuring their clients get the most out of their contracts by negotiating and executing them properly.


Commonly used contracts in the entertainment industry are

  • Agreements with record labels

  • Agreements on trademarks

  • Contracts with management

  • Contracts for the use of venues

  • Agreements for live performances

  • Contracts of sale

While many people rely on verbal agreements, formal contracts are often used to protect all parties.

Many types of contracts are also used in the entertainment industry to cover various aspects of the business. Due to the varying characteristics of the industry, artists must use/create contracts that are specific to their needs. This can be achieved by having an entertainment law attorney expert as part of the team.


An experienced entertainment attorney uses a combination of case and statutory law to create more durable contract agreements.


An interesting fact is that many creatives do not know that there are numerous provisions in a recording contract. As a result, record company executives may choose to include unfavourable provisions that are unfavourable to the artist.


Examples of Entertainment Contract Disputes


Chuck D vs. Universal Records


Def Jam signed Public Enemy to a deal before the advent of digital downloads, so their contracts did not explicitly include digital royalties. In 2015, Universal agreed to pay up to $12 million to settle Chuck D's claim.


Lil Wayne vs. Cash Money Records


Rumors of tension between Cash Money and Lil Wayne bubbled to the surface in 2014, with the latter filing a $50 million lawsuit against the former. Then, in 2016, Universal Music Group filed a $40 million lawsuit against the label.


Snoop Dogg vs. Death Row Records


In 1998, Death Row Killa released a song aimed at the label and its members, which led to various media reports about Snoop Dogg leaving the company. After a deal with Death Row Records, Snoop Dogg became one of the most prominent artists in the music industry. However, by 1997, he was dissatisfied with the label and started publicly criticizing them.


Dre vs. Ruthless Records


One of the first instances of artists and their record labels not seeing eye to eye was when Dr. Dre fought to get out of N.W.A. and Ruthless Records. Dre worked with the label for years, but he wanted to renegotiate his contract. He approached Suge Knight, the former NFL player and bodyguard of rapper The D.O.C., for help. The two would eventually form Death Row Records together.


Conclusion: How to Avoid Entertainment Contract Disputes


To avoid getting bogged down in legal issues, artists should always have an attorney who specializes in entertainment law on call to discuss their case. The great thing about having an attorney from the beginning is that they will create a contract that is both beneficial and favourable to the client. In addition, having a lawyer on board always ensures that the artist always gets the best deal.


Due to the nature of the business relationships in the music industry, frequent disputes can happen. An entertainment attorney can help both parties settle informal discussions. However, if the negotiations fail, a lawsuit or court proceedings may be necessary to enforce the contract's provisions.


We at S. Davis Law have a team of experienced entertainment attorneys ready to walk this journey with you. Feel Free to visit our website and book a consultation session with us.


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