Music Industry Contracts and Negotiations With Attorney Mark Gray II

Music Industry Contracts and Negotiations With Attorney Mark Gray II


hey guys welcome to another episode of
the acoustic silk show with us today we got a very very special guest one of my
good friends in life actually here but he’s an attorney and he has agreed to
come on to the show and he is attorney Mark gray and he’s had a lot of
interesting work that he’s been doing in the music industry lately so I wanted to
bring him on and have him talk to you guys about that and provide as much
value as he can and today specifically we’re gonna be talking about contracts
so welcome to the show mark hey I know good to see you man appreciate you
inviting me onto the show you know looking forward to providing any sort of
information that I can again thanks for everything yeah thank you so much for
than this time so before we go ahead and get into it I like to let you get an
opportunity to provide some of the information maybe your email address
phone number that people can like reach out to you if they had the questions
we’re going to this interview or if they want to get some of your consulting
services with them so you have that information yeah I mean probably the
best way to just get a quick contact the most simple way is probably just go to
my website mark feel great to number to calm and I’ll also make sure to give Chi
you know my contact information you could probably put it in the description
of the description part of the the page so but yeah the easiest way project you
visit my website mark feel great number two calm and you know just contact me
through there and you know we can get started okay perfect perfect all right
I also put that in the overlay on the video too
so you’ve been proud you have been a practicing attorney for a while now can
you go ahead and give a little short bio so people know a little bit more about
you which is what you’re about and what you do on a day to day yeah I mean the
my predominant practice is not it’s not predominantly in the music industry they
predominate revolves our own personal injury a little bit of civil criminal
matters but I do have a passion for you know sports and entertainment obviously
music is the main part of that entertainment and contracts is a big
part of that and you know as a result me having a passion in it me having a
knowledge in it and some experience in it as well you know I do offer those
type services a but a normal day I mean honestly you probably start out in court
you know have to you know chop it up with the DA’s you know every now they
have to go in front of a judge you know just move cases after that hopefully
around noon I’m back in the office doing more civil work more office work and you
know that’s kind of where the entertainment part of my practice comes
into place you know the office side of things all right so dig digging more
into digging more in depth there what kind of stuff have you been involved
with in the music industry I know you’ve you’ve had some interaction with my
channel in the past just because me like sending you stuff to listen to so
obviously we have a lot of up-and-coming artists that you could listen to my
channel or submit music to be featured on the channel so I’m really structuring
this interview for them to provide as much value for them as possible so you
know what could what kind of stuff have you been doing in the music industry
yeah I mean the major function that any attorney can really do especially you
know it kind of depends if you want your attorney to act as just that an attorney
or if you really expect him to be more him or her to be more of an agent type
type role and currently you know as I pointed out them you know pretty busy
with other areas of practice that I do so it’s kind of at this point of my
career it’s difficult to be a full-blown agent so the primary you know service
that I do or at least have done recently is contractual work I review contracts
help people negotiate their contracts so that they ultimately can get the best
deal for them a lot of times there’s a lot of times there’s you know standard
contract language you know of course that’s going to be included but
at the end of the day you know amount of money percentages you know a lot of that
stuff can be negotiated so I try to you know especially you know when the
manager or an artist they have a client or you know the artist is the client
they just want to help negotiating their contract and then want somebody to look
over to make sure they’re not signing a bad deal you know especially in such a
when they’re starting out that sort of you know make-or-break period for them
so it’s very important for them to you know have someone to kind of look out
for them of course I was just you know looking on
before it before we got started here about the whole like Lil Wayne
Birdman situation and how Lil Wayne you know finally got free from that deal you
know maybe that could a whole situation could have been avoided if he had the
right attorneys looking over that deal in the beginning so you know like you
said a lot of times artists in their early stage of their careers end up
signing bad deals that can hamper their career for a long period of time and
they not even realize it until later on down the line when they they’re trying
to make a move or do something you know better their lives in that way so from
your perspective how how should an artist look for an attorney or like what
makes a good attorney how can they vet an attorney for it to you know help them
um I would probably say the first thing is finding an attorney who you know you
believe to be straightforward I think a lot of times in our industry you can
kind of get a feel for when someone is kind of a BS or just the the way they
talk how they interact with you that ultimately they’re just trying to get
you on the door just because you’re a client in general that you perspectively
might pay the money but at the end of the day I mean you should know try to
use your I guess common sense ability to to determine whether or not someone
sounds as if they’re trying to look out for you and I think that’s the first
step then once mighty who might have a passion for it or at least you know has
had experience or has interest in it that way you know they’re trying to
perfect their craft as well obviously when I’m doing this type of work you
know I’m trying to get better at the same time so
so you know obviously I’m gonna take a little bit more time or a little bit
more effort to make sure that I can do it as best as possible rather than
someone who’s you know it’s just you know another client they’re just trying
to you know make money push another case through or push another you know
transaction through you know just get a feel for that you know I think it’s also
somewhat important if the attorney I’m not saying that it’s necessary but it is
probably beneficial if they have an interest in the type of music that you
make you know so you know long story short or just ultimately I just think
that finding someone who is engaged in the work that you’re that you’re
bringing to them and actually wants to do that work and you know you can tell
when people are asking questions about what you’re looking for they’re probably
helping you out if they just tell you what the fee is you know you show up you
show up and reserve a time you know then they’re probably looking at you as a
transaction so that’s a good point there’s a good point so you mentioned
earlier about you know negotiating deals better like making sure that the artist
has the best deal best deal or I guess the best deal on the table for both
parties involved all right so what in your your experience would make the best
dealer or how can an artist know that they’re signing a good deal well I think
the and I I’m the most recent one I was working on one last Friday I’m a young
artist our manager you know wanted a contract looked over before an investor
and a production company started putting her out there and one of the main things
I wanted her to be aware of was that you know contracts they have durations
usually two to three or five years is the contract term but a lot of times
they don’t have a termination clause and the termination clause is important
because it can really say anything you wants and that’s and that’s actually
kinda just like a contract 101 whatever you sign is what the contract is I mean
the contract could be you know on every Thursday you make me a PB&J well you
signed it as we gotta do every Thursday right okay
the contract can be as stupid or as complex as it as anything as long as you
know willfully signed II know that that’s contract so you just have to make
sure that you add stuff that protects you because if you’re an artist you’re
young you’re you’re you know starting out trying to build your career trying
to build your name you know you opportunities are
incredibly important for you if you’ve got someone who’s supposed to be
promoting you who you know doesn’t really seem to be bringing you
opportunities it’s not helping you to be locked into a contract for three years
if you’ve only gotten you know like one chuck-e-cheese performance in that time
you know it’s it’s so you gotta have something like that to put into the
contract so that you know if you’re not satisfied with the work or with your
opportunities or you’re not just getting any opportunities at all you can leave
you can walk obviously there’s gonna be you know some notice you got it maybe
give them off notice saying I’m not happy and maybe give them the
opportunity to you know correct those things but you know little things like
that are important because you know whether it’s athlete and a sponsorship
deal or artist and a promotion deal or you know anything they need to have the
ability to walk if they’re not getting anything out of it so that’s a major
thing that I look for but a lot of times it’s its standard language you just want
to make sure that little things like that you know what all that they’re
providing if it is a company that’s being you know financially beneficial
for you I think for example they’re paying for flight paying for you know
making sure that your your appearance is on point get you a hotel everything I
mean got to make sure that they actually do it every time so I think another
thing is that really people who perhaps are in a difficult position or maybe not
even difficult but more so it’s the word I’m looking for there
I mean difficult fine they’re desperate really is the word I’m looking for
Destin yeah and so as a result they’re like no I’m just gonna make this work
and they don’t really think about the options that they have available to them
and a lot of times there’s a breach of contract and people really don’t know
that once there’s a breach you know you’re not obligated to perform under
the contract anymore right okay interesting point there how
long does this whole process take I mean so if this is like a manager have like a
contract and they bring it to you for you to look over or are you making them
from scratch like can you provide a little light on how that typically works
yeah well me know I’ve done both you know I’ve done contracts between
managers and artists you knows because they need obviously because a lot of
times the companies of production companies record companies they just
have a contract with the artist and they’re in no way obligated to the
manager so the managers the hardest have to have all also have to have a contract
that’s there so that there’s a bond between them as well illegal buy okay
but so I’ve done them both where I’ve created contracts and then ones where
the companies provide wine someone says hey once you read over before I sign it
you know perhaps change a few things that are more in my favor so I mean it
really just depends on on what they’re looking for if they’ve you know
collaborated with someone who already has provided them with the contrary okay
can you all right so is there is there a difference as like one better than the
other or that you know just basically the same thing pretty much I mean oh
definitely say a scratch from scratch is better because it’s really everything
that you the two parties can perhaps have a meeting all at the same time with
the attorney and go over the things that they want included and we can kind of
talk them out from the beginning whereas if it’s a contract that’s already
provided you know the person who who initiated the contract might be a
stickler for certain points and not doesn’t want to budge on certain things
so it’s definitely better if it’s from scratch obvious
you know things you can really create it how you want it gonna be tailor-made
then it’s correct okay so like you know different artists are in different
phases of their career you know when when should an artist
really look out to an attorney to have to help them there’s specific timeline
you give artists or I mean have you even told people like hey you probably need a
contract right now before it work well yeah actually the same one I was working
on yet the other day you know the manager was asking me about a retainer
whether or not she should retain my services
or you know later work she might need for me to do for okay but I told her she
shouldn’t she shouldn’t put me on retainer because there at the building
stage and see in in the building stage you know it’s really not that important
that the attorney is looking at so he’s usually you just have one contract with
the company and they’re the ones also acting as your promoter once you become
more of a star and you’ve got maybe in small endorsements or large endorsements
or people trying to ask you to do more
events that’s what an attorney might be more beneficial because there’s more
stuff to look at when you’re building it’s really the artist and you know
their talent their relentless pursuit of you know achieving their goal and you
know just the music speaking for it so you know I don’t think it’s beneficial
for them to have an attorney on retainer if they’re not really able to utilize
those services yet because obviously the first step is you know becoming a star
and at that point that’s when you want the attorney to help you remain a star
or maintain the star because you know once you become a star there’s so many
more things involved with your career that you do need somebody else’s help
but at this point you know if you’re just started now you just want to go out
there perform drawing fans you know put put out as much music as you can in
obviously good music and this hope that the you know that your fanbase bills and
your name just continues to grow okay that’s that’s a fair point obviously you
know you’re you you had to go to school for this you’ve had to have you know
lots of practice of this so I’m sure your services aren’t cheap so for those
artists that you know are coming up in the game you know a lot of these people
are working you know two jobs at once you know make it music off their laptop
got a cheap mic you know download software off piratebay
and using that to crank out music so these people aren’t exactly rolling in
money yet but they but they may want to you know have have some representation
or you know have something down in contract form how much can these
services often cost can you give us a range you don’t have to say like your no
your exact price unless you want to but can give us like some ranges of how much
these services can cost I mean for most of these type of things especially
contract people charge by the hour you know with some cases a personal injury
case it would be a contingency fee with you know if it’s a traffic ticket it’s
just a flat fee usually for contract stuff it’s by the hour you know the
amount of time I spend reviewing the contract editing you know and whether or
not you keep sending me more and more to look at each correction when the other
person sends something back so really it’s just time and you know it the
hourly rate could really just depends on lawyers I would probably say on the
lower end 200 on the higher end you know you might have people charging 800 to a
thousand an hour so you said 100 200 an hour yeah I would say low-end is 200 and
now we’re okay and high-end you know thousand an hour those are problems that
some of the top dogs okay so so we’re saying it takes part like a few hours
for this for this to get done so maybe yeah look like more five hundred six
hundred dollars on the low end yeah we’re talking yeah I mean if it’s six
page contract I mean you know we US lawyers we had to read a lot in school
so we can read fast and that’s really what it comes down to
is you learn specific contractual language in law school so really when it
comes to years and years of experience that comes more into the negotiation
phase because you learn the words in school okay it’s not like you just you
don’t really reread the definitions of those words every year right so once you
know what it means you know what it means and you know what to look forward
you know but I would say experience comes more into play when it comes to
actually negotiating contract not necessarily reviewing and understanding
what it what it’s really saying okay excellent
yeah just just what I always like putting a price on things people to kind
of know what they’re getting into here you know if they need to like save up to
have this done or anything like that but I’m sure you know once once it comes
down to that I mean who’s really paying for this is the artist the the label the
manager who’s really paying for this maybe both um generally speaking it
would be the manager but it could be the artist it really depends on where the
artist is at they can afford a manager then you know the manager would probably
pay that cost but a lot it really just depends I’ve had an artist I’ve had
producers you know come in and if they had a contract with the production
company that wanted them to be a producer for them and he just wanted to
know how much he was getting in the royalties you know was he able to work
with other artists or other companies little things like that it really just
depends based on the the type of contract you know what all is involved
so it can kind of depend but it’s definitely not a long process
unless the contract is only really the the length is what it is so I don’t know
if I really answered the question but yeah are there any common themes that
you’ve noticed between all the work you’ve done that maybe like artists
typically want in their contract or maybe like the other side like the
companies one on their side of the contract well
obviously the most important part is the cut you know what percentage
am I getting what percentage is the company getting and I think you know
most people are aware of music you know the the company the the record company
usually makes most of money on CD sales right and I guess in in today’s world on
streams whereas the artists usually makes most of the money in performances
so you know that’s really the the main thing that people are concerned about
but as I brought up earlier you know they’re also concerned about if they can
walk if you know that’s not working out for them so that I would also say
another thing people look you know try to add is the ability to work with other
people you know is you don’t want to be limited in their growth right but
obviously the you know the more outside opportunities could be perhaps
intimidating to the companies because they don’t necessarily have full control
of you know the artists in their image so I mean it it mostly just comes down
to the freedom and the money okay that’s fair that’s that’s what it is man I
think that pretty much covers it what I have for you on contracts there any last
things you want to say about contracts maybe you know some things are just want
to think about before they you know think about getting it getting a
contract or anything like that um you know I would just say that it’s it’s
important to be realistic with where you’re at when you’re just starting you
know you really just need to be on the grind getting your music out there
getting your name out there getting your image out there you know whether that’s
through social media through through posting stuff on YouTube through having
an account through iTunes and people have been a streamer stuff through Apple
regardless of the platform you just got to get that out there you got to get
your name out there good attention towards yourself and
you know the rest will come you know I I think the best way I can think about it
or compare it would actually be with sports you know a lot of times you’ll
see a athlete who’s not necessarily the best but they might be on attaining them
that’s winning you know and as a result now they have new endorsement
opportunities just because they’re winning even if they’re not that great
so at the same time put yourself in a place to win and the other opportunities
will come to you don’t force it because when you force I think when you force
things before it’s ready it just doesn’t work out right you know one of the best
of some of the best advice that my mom gave me and you know me being an
ambitious person my mom had always bring me back down
saying you know it has all happened at once and the thing the same thing could
go could be said for for artists producers managers you know everybody in
the music industry you know it’s important that they allow
things happen naturally but of course you know like you said they might be
working a couple jobs or you know doing this or that on the side just to make it
of course they’re you know trying to get it done of course so it but you know
don’t don’t rush it because sometimes you try to do it too soon and if people
aren’t ready for it and people don’t support it so put you put your name out
there you know grind get the music out there get music sounding as good as
possible and you know if it sticks it sticks there it is mark can you give
your contact information one one last time just in case you didn’t catch it
the first time around yeah yeah yeah I mean the website to go to goes look at
some information about myself is Mark BL gray too calm that’s the number two you
can email me at mark at mark v/o great ooh calm and those probably the best
ways to get in contact with me and again like I said I’ll make sure that that guy
over here has has all the information available for you all all right thank
you once again and they can schedule some time with you on that website also
I mean it I don’t know if there’s a the capability of selecting a ton at least
not on that website I do have illegal website but that’s a little bit
kind of separate from the entertainment side but yeah I mean they can certainly
we can go back and forth and then figure out a good time to meet or whether it’s
due through Skype or FaceTime or in person if they’re if they’re in North
Carolina and I’m a North Carolina attorney based out of Charlotte so you
know I’m more than happy to help anybody who’s looking for some help and like I
said it’s an area that I’m interested in too so you know I’m also helping myself
when when I you know I’m able to do the work with it
alright anyone over the anyone all over the country can reach out to you please
do okay baby you won’t put it on my family I feel like I feel like kids more than I
should but I’ll do what this guy was the plan my thinking you know he went any Sam

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