Originally from Detroit, MI, EJ Lee is the founding attorney of EJLee Law Practice, LLC located in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Lee is a graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, MI. She obtained her J.D. with an emphasis in Intellectual Property-Copyright & Trademarks. While in law school, Ms. Lee served as President of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society. Ms. Lee is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, National Association of Recording Industry Professionals (NARIP), Georgia Music Partners, and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA).
While her legal practice primarily focuses on music law, she also services fashion designers and book authors. She prides herself on treating each client with care, consideration, and aims to fully empower them to be both creative and legally savvy while navigating the Entertainment industry.
Table of Contents
3:09 – If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
5:35 – Tell us more about your practice, how you got started in it, and share with us a common problem you see with artists
11:58 – Can you share with us a story about helping an artist get on the right legal track with their music?
13:38 – Do you prefer working with younger, up-and-coming artists, or more established artists as part of your practice?
16:00 – How does it work for new clients?
22:05 – Three things artists should be doing today to move their careers forward
If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
R&B music. I absolutely love R&B music. One of my favorite artists right now is an artist/songwriter called Ne-Yo. Funny thing, about a week ago I found out we have the same birthday!
Tell us more about your practice, how you got started in it, and share with us a common problem you see with artists
Some of the things that I’ve noticed that artists don’t necessarily understand is music publishing and how they can be licensing their music on their own. A lot of times, artists are looking for deals, but deals are not coming like they once did. And so you have to make your own opportunities. And there are so many different resources out there these days where you can do that on your own. And after a while, the deals will start coming to you.
But at the same time, artists don’t always work on the paperwork before they start working on a song. I had an artist who wrote a song, she wrote the lyrics, but there was an issue with the track and she never made sure she owned the copyright. Later on, we found out that she did not own the track and she wasn’t able to utilize the song after she had worked on it, and had it mixed and mastered. It was a mess. And she had spent a lot of money getting that track.
If she had a lawyer involved initially, she probably could have avoided spending as much money as she did. We’re talking in the thousands for just one track that this particular producer didn’t even own. When we located the actual producer for the track, they wanted an additional $5,000 just to use it. It’s one of those things where I think artists are so busy being creative, and the just want to focus on the music, but they forget to take care of paperwork first.
Can you share with us a story about helping an artist get on the right legal track with their music?
There was one artist, he was more of a session musician and we were able to clear up some things. He had worked pretty heavily on some tracks with another artist, and I was able to draft some documents to make sure that he was compensated properly. And I was also able to understand a little better about how they differ from someone that has written the music vs. playing on the music.
He was younger, so he really didn’t understand it at first. But I explained to him that the more that he grows in his career, the better terms that you are able to negotiate vs. just taking a flat rate and that’s it.
Do you prefer working with younger, up-and-coming artists, or more established artists as part of your practice?
I really don’t have a preference per say, I just look for people who are serious about doing business. Artists that are serious about learning how this industry works, and not just focused on the creative.
That is why my motto is to be creative and legally smart. Business is what makes this whole thing go, and if you don’t understand that, you are going to get taken advantage of.
How does it work for new clients?
I don’t turn down any reasonable budget. Usually I’ll start with consulting for a flat rate and discuss goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to stay independent, or are you trying to sign to a major label? Or are you going for a publishing deal? Whatever the goals are, we have to start from there.
Three things artists should be doing today to move their careers forward
- Artists should be on some form of social media. That’s just the day and age that we are in, you have to use social media. It could be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and use them directly connect with your fans.
- Artists need to understand their audience. Who would you like listening to your music? If you don’t understand your audience, how could you ever hope to put together the proper marketing?
- Artists need to network and meet people. You have to get out there. You can’t sit at home and expect deals to come to you. You have to be looking for opportunities, and you need to be ready for these opportunities when they come to you.
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