Music Law

From the outside looking in, the music business looks glamorous with its “party like a rock star” credo, but on the inside, the industry presents recording artists and composers with significant legal challenges. In order protect your rights and preserve your artistic freedom, it is essential to have an entertainment attorney in your corner. The Hay Law Group, PLLC helps songwriters, musicians, and producers navigate the complexities of the music industry such as securing copyright protection, negotiating recording contracts, and ensuring royalty payments.


Once music is recorded in a tangible medium, it obtains copyright protection, but it is still necessary to formally register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. One urban legend is that artists can mail work to themselves to secure a copyright, but this shortcut will not provide maximum legal protection. By obtaining a proper registration, songwriters and composers establish legal recourse to seek monetary damages and attorneys’ fees for copyright infringement.

Under federal copyright law, once a copyright is registered, the work is protected for 70 years after the artist’s death. Creators are also granted the exclusive right to reproduce the musical work, distribute it to the public, and perform the music in public.

Even with the legal protections of the copyright law, musicians are often victims of infringement. Proving a claim can be difficult because some similarities of musical works are inevitable, and it is necessary to demonstrate that the infringer had access to the copyrighted work. The Hay Law Group, PLLC has extensive experience in enforcing the copyrights of musical artists.

Recording Contracts

Even though musicians have more control over distributing their work today, whether through a website, YouTube or social media, many artists continue to sign recording contracts with indie and major record labels. These contracts can be quite complicated and typically include provisions that restrict artists from recording with other labels and grant the record company worldwide rights to their services. Recording contracts also establish how music royalties will be paid.

It is essential to work with an experienced entertainment law attorney in order to get the best possible deal. We have extensive experience negotiating many types of recording contracts, including:

  • Music Publishing/Administrative Deals
  • Synchronization Licenses
  • Live Performance/Appearance Agreements
  • Promoter Contracts
  • Distribution Deals (Digital & Physical)
  • Producer Agreements
  • Management Agreements
  • Photographer Contracts
  • Letters of Direction
  • Songwriter Agreements
  • Co-Writer/Collaboration Agreements
  • Model Releases
  • Festival Entertainment Agreements
  • Merchandising Deals
  • Artwork Releases
  • Music “Beat “ Agreements


Because songwriters and composers have exclusive rights to their work, they are entitled to music royalties or a percentage of the profit from the sales or commercial use of their work. There are essentially four types of royalties: mechanical royalties, public performance royalties, synchronization fees, and print music income. While these payments are determined by the contract between artists and the distributor, copyright law establishes how songwriters, publishers, and musicians should be compensated.

The Hay Law Group, PLLC works with musical artists to secure their rights under a variety of laws that govern the publishing industry, public performances, record deals and licensing. We routinely negotiate record contracts and royalty payments and handle a variety of related business and legal matters. Our goal is to protect your rights and ensure that you get paid for your work so that you can focus on making music. Call our office today for a free 15 minute phone consultation.