The Urban Music Industry
The Business Team
If you are the artist and you are being courted primarily with bottles of champagne and jewelry, you may want to ask yourself why? Sure, you believe in your music, you think it's good and you can understand why anyone would want to work with you. But, why would you reason that someone who would induce you to sign with bribes is going to give you a proper disclosure of all your business affairs once you sign, let alone ideal representation?
Legal Representation: Lawyers
The use of lawyers in the urban music industry is the same as in the rest of the music industry-- anytime you are about to negotiate a major contract, you need a music attorney representing your interests. Now is a good time to review StarPolish's section dedicated to music attorneys, which outlines the role of the music lawyer, how to find one, how they charge, etc. It has been my experience that attorneys play very prominent roles in the careers of their clients. It's revolutionary how in recent years, entertainment attorneys have been able to drastically renegotiate and even void (!) the recording deals of their high-profile urban clients (think Prince, TLC, Miss Jones, etc). When you are an established artist with leverage and a demand for the product, your recording contracts and your publishing contracts carry enormous import as far as dictating what your future economic livelihood will be.
Booking Agents
Getting a booking agent at one point or another is going to be a necessity of the music business as well. If your act can't perform live, you're missing out a lot of potential revenue. Be shrewd and look and see who represents clients who play in the genre and style that you play. Are they represented by the major agencies CAA, William Morris, or ICM? Large booking agencies are extremely unlikely to sign you if you are not signed to a record contract. But you may find a smaller booking agency that will be willing to take you on. I have talked to artist development people at major labels who feel that getting a booking agent is harder than getting a record deal.
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