Don Franzen, lawyer to the stars: “Often artists earn a lot more from copyright”

21/03/18
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The Entertainment & Music lawyer from the United States said that the recording industry started to recover in 2017 thanks to streaming. 

Don Franzen, lawyer to the stars: “Often artists earn a lot more from copyright”

What type of business is hidden behind the music industry?  How much does an artist earn for each record they release?  Above all, what is the role and the future for a lawyer in this sector?  The lawyer Don Franzen, who is well-known in the world of entertainment, described his experiences to law and communication students and told them that “often artists earn a lot more from copyright”. 

Franzen indicated that artists tend to sign contracts with record companies such as Sony, Universal or Warner Bros and make a pact with them to ensure they earn between 10% and 20% of record sales.  At the beginning these earnings only cover their own recording costs and it is only once these have been paid that the artist really begins to make money.  

For that reason, he believes that beyond what they earn for singing, artists can earn a lot more as a songwriter.  “My advice is that if the artist can keep hold of the copyright, then that’s the best option”. 

Franzen explained that there are artists or groups such as The Rolling Stones, who have protected their name and converted it into a registered brand “so that no one can use it to sell things or do something that is against the artist’s wishes”. 

Recovery goes by the name of Spotify

The lawyer gave an overview of the current situation in the music and recording industries, and said that a recovery began in 2017.  He said that “for the first year since 2000, it began to grow a bit and more was sold via streaming than in 2016”.  This is mainly due to Spotify.  

This online music platform has become one of the most popular ones and its success lies in its extensive library of music. For that reason, companies such as Sony or Universal have licensed their catalogues to Spotify.  “Through streaming we now have a future that didn’t exist before”, said Franzen.  

The expert also explained to students what a lawyer does, since lawyers are key players in the environment of music stars in terms of their career.   Alongside lawyers, there are also managers, who earn around 20% of what the artist does, approximately 10% of total earnings.