“We are building entire careers around producing this artistic product, but we so often fail to think about protecting it.” ~ Ben Dietschi

In this guest post, Ben Dietschi (Managing Artistic Director, Spectrum Music) shares his perspective as a participant in last week’s “Legal Fundamentals” workshop presented by Kalogiannides LawI hope that Ben’s reflection will bring you out to our next workshop on August 6 with NetGain Partners on “Growing from the Bottom Up”!

If you had sauntered into this workshop thinking that legal planning for artists was reserved for the likes of Bieber and Beyonce, you would quickly have been proven wrong. A relaxed, well-spoken and well-tailored Andreas Kalogiannides shed light on some of the most critical issues faced by individual artists and collectives. Protecting intellectual property (your art!), trademarking, artist contracts, planning for the future were just some of the things on the menu. For example, I learned that the trademark of my company Spectrum Music is protected by a common-law trademark in the region where we operate, even though we haven’t registered it formally.

“It’s all about managing risk in your career.” was something that I heard a few times which resonated with me. A career in the arts is probably one of the riskiest journeys that one can embark on; why on earth would I add more uncertainty by neglecting legal fundamentals! Save the excitement for the stage, not the courthouse.

It really makes sense if you think about it: We are building entire careers around producing this artistic product, but we so often fail to think about protecting it. The fundamentals communicated in this workshop gave me a basic understanding about what types of things I need to consider when my work is out there interacting with the for-profit world.

Case in point: Across the table from me was one of my favourite string quartets in town, who I had presented in a recent concert. We used my actual contract with them as a launchpad to discuss issues around digital dissemination of performances. Who actually owns the recording? The performance itself? How do I communicate these things to the artists that I work with respectfully and clearly?

My biggest takeaways:

  • It doesn’t matter how small or big your operation is, you’ve still got to be legally savvy.
  • A little planning goes a long way down the road.
  • For the most part, laws are there to protect creators.
  • Some lawyers are hip to what it actually means to be an artist.

This workshop was full of the kind of straight-to-the-point advice that you can only glean from an expert. Time incredibly well spent. It’s just one of many great things that BeMused is doing for the arts community in Toronto. I’m impressed. I highly recommend checking out the upcoming workshops; they’re free and an excellent way to get into the growing community of creative people orbiting in the BeMused Network.

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