The Law of Life
There's a time in virtually everyone's life when legal advice becomes necessary. And virtually every time, the experience is less than pleasant. Thus, the plethora of lawyer jokes going around.
Before you pull up your best gem, let's take a moment to consider why these encounters are less than ideal.
In the music business, lawyers generally have the distinction of being ruiners of relationships, trashers of trust and quelchers of the creative process. Organic musical bonds and incredible professional relationships all but vanish when the big, bad lawyers step in and screw it all up. What choice do the innocent and good hearted have but to stop thinking as a team and start looking out for number one?
If you're not already laughing, or blushing, allow me to explain.
Just as your best friend can't talk you into or out of a decision that's certain, neither can a lawyer sway your opinion on issues you hold dear. If your band is committed to creative and economic equality, even the greediest lawyer in the world won't be able to shake your agreement. He might try, but he won’t succeed. Similarly, if your record label insists that they want to give you a fair deal but that the legal team won't allow it, look beyond the excuse into the eyes of the person who hired them.
Contracts aren't the reflection of the vision and desires of those who draw them up, but of those who sign them. And that reflection is crystal clear. All the emotional and economic stinginess we've been hiding behind our best foot forward becomes plain as day in the writing of a contract that- like dressing room mirrors- hides nothing.
It is these hidden aspects of ourselves, not the lawyers, that make legal negotiations so ugly. Seemingly great relationships are merely enduring a test of integrity- often the first one- that reveals whether the house we're building together rests on a solid foundation or one of sand.
If your foundational principles involve transparency and everyone getting a fair deal, legal negotiations will be a breeze. If not, the source of stagnation is only a glance in the mirror away.