‘Music: The Business’ with Ann Harrison  

1 April, 2016

Ann Harrison, music lawyer and author of the music industry bible, ‘Music: The Business’, returned to BIMM Manchester to give another insightful Masterclass.

As one of the UK’s top music lawyers, Ann’s knowledge is so extensive that the Masterclass was held over two sessions.

Hosted by Ann herself, Session 1 began with the history of her career and an overview of the current state of play in the UK music industry.  Ann gave her opinion on the big issue of music streaming and explained a way in which artists can in fact, make money despite only a 0.03 pence rate generated per stream.  She talked about how record companies distribute the income collected by Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc. to their artists.

Ann went on to explain another important issue – copyright and how to protect your work,  She also recommended PRS and PPL to all and said:

Before entering into the music industry. Be sure to protect your rights.”

Ann also emphasised the importance of preparation, before heading into a recording studio, explaining how agreements should already be in place between band members, including the rights of the performers, moral rights, and how consents are to be considered when recording an album with band members. She talked about the importance of understanding how different income streams are generated from recordings and songwriting.

Session 1 finished with a Q&A, where students were able to ask questions. Second year songwriting student, Kim Jenner raised the issue of free recording time:

“I was able to quiz Ann on dealing with free recording and how to be sure that the rights will belong to the band rather than the producer. Ann gave me great advice; I will get everything in writing.”

Session 2 followed, with Ann detailing the various options when releasing a record, clauses within contracts, advances, payment and more – making students aware of the complexity of contracts. She gave a useful distinction between the various deals available including, publishing and record deals, 360 deals, production deals, major versus independent record label deals, block-chain technology, indie label licences and exclusive record deals and also how to self-release your music.

Ann looked at brand issues, distribution and marketing – she discussed artwork and credits, data mining, marketing your website, approvals on social networking sites, etc.

Ann provided a branding checklist of all things to consider when looking at releasing a record. She also discussed merchandise and sponsorship deals, the role of managers, lawyers and booking agents and publishers – offering a useful distinction to all students hoping to start a career in the music industry. As she emphasised:

Marketing is essential. Any artist who wants to be in the market right now seeks to be a marketer. Try to find a unique brand name – to avoid confusion in the marketplace.”

Romario Bryan, a third year BA Vocal student, commented:

I found the advice to be invaluable; it’s fantastic to be able to hear information like this from such an established lawyer and author. I learnt a lot about topics I knew little about, like copyright and performance rights. This information will be useful to me at this stage, as an artist”.

Ann provided the students with a thoroughly enlightening set of sessions and gave them much food for thought.

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