“If your goal is to make a living from your creative work – or even a lifelong career – then you must give thought to more than just being a creator.” ~ Andreas Kalogiannides

The upcoming professional development workshops are just one facet of BeMused Network’s effort to help the performing arts community connect in real life. Knowledge sharing is an important part of cultivating an independent performing arts career, “and these workshops bring together like-minded artists and domain experts in legal, business, and technology spaces,” says Margaret Lam.

Think to the conversations you might have had at the pub or at a gig – where you might have serendipitously mentioned a problem you were having to just the right person who had a solution. The workshops aim to give serendipity a hand, making connection facilitation an explicit goal.

Andreas_KalogiannidesThe first of our workshops is “Legal Fundamentals”, presented by Andreas Kalogiannides at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information on Wednesday from 4-6pm. He is the founder of Kalogiannides Law, a practice specializing in intellectual property law, with a particular focus on serving creative professionals.

The word “professionals” is very significant, Kalogiannides says: “If your goal is to make a living from your creative work – or even a lifelong career – then you must give thought to more than just being a creator.” As he puts it to all of his clients, “you are a business.”

“As much as what you’re doing is creative at its core, you have to market that product and make sure you have the steps in place to generate revenue. If you aren’t doing that, eventually you won’t be able to keep creating.”

It’s important to establish the right business foundation early on, he continues: “For people whose income depends on the copyright they produce – the vast majority of performing artists – decisions made today can still be impacting your business years and decades later.”

Kalogiannides offers the example of a client, a successful music producer in his 50s, who is considering selling his entire catalogue. “Any potential buyer will do their due diligence, asking, ‘do you have all the clearances for these copyrighted assets? I need to see all of the contracts and agreements you signed pertaining to these assets.’” According to Kalogiannides, some of those decisions were made when the producer was just starting out in the industry at the age of 17.

A common ground that BeMused Network and Kalogiannides share is the belief that business concerns should not take over the daily work of an artist. Two of the topics that Kalogiannides will discuss at the workshop are the pros and cons of the various ways you can structure your business in Ontario, and the fundamentals of Canada’s copyright and trademark law.

“I’m a big proponent of giving creative people the space they need to create,” Kalogiannides says, explaining that it can be worthwhile to reach out to professionals on specialized issues rather than doing everything yourself. “You need to focus on your craft. You do not need to take your focus away from the core product of your business.”

A third topic that Kalogiannides will address at the workshop is building a team, an integral part of building your business. There will be times where you need to hire an expert, whether an accountant, an insurance agent, or – yes – a lawyer. That said, Kalogiannides emphasizes that it’s important find the right people for your team.

Each expert you hire comes with a set of business practices and values, so you should seek out ones who are a good match for your business. This is especially true when selecting a lawyer, where the business relationship involves disclosing a lot of information, some of it quite private. “If you’re not comfortable with that person, it won’t be an effective relationship, so it’s important to be picky,” he says.

Some of you may be thinking right now, ‘that’s all great, but why should I care about finding the right expert when I can’t afford to hire one?’ This may be true – but then again, the services you need may be more affordable than you expect.

“Especially with law, I find people have a preconception that all lawyers are intimidating and cost $5,000 a month. Every lawyer is different and there’s a range of rates. It shouldn’t be scary. You need a lawyer sometimes, and that’s fine,”

If you haven’t put much though into the role of a legal professional in your independent performing arts career or organization, click here to register and join us at the workshop this Wednesday.

Got an idea for future professional development workshops? Leave us a comment below!