The Top Music Lawyers of 2021


It’s been an unprecedented yr for the world, and never least the music trade, the place the live-entertainment enterprise was flattened by the pandemic however different areas, notably streaming, publishing and recorded music, managed to thrive in hostile circumstances. And as with all enterprise, the place there’s motion, there are attorneys, and under are some of the trade’s greatest movers and shakers of the previous yr. Additionally honored for his or her work in music are Common Music Group’s Jeffrey Harleston, who’s the corporate’s normal counsel and govt VP of enterprise and authorized affairs and is the interim chairman/CEO of its Def Jam label, and energy legal professional Kenny Meiselas, who reps the Weeknd, Girl Gaga, Lizzo, Jhene Aiko and lots of others. Selection‘s Energy of Legislation occasion takes place nearly on Friday, April 9. See the total checklist of recipients right here.


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Courtesy of Marina Milosevic

Sasha Frid

Frid is understood for repping many of the largest names in music, together with Neal Schon in a lawsuit over the rights to the Journey band identify; Common Music Group in a case in opposition to ROK Cell over licensing charges; William “Smokey” Robinson concerning fee claims; and Korean hip-hop duo Tiger JK and Yoon Mirae over promised shares in a VPN firm.

The Roaring 2020s: “Folks have missed dwell performances, and it’s simply such a giant half of many individuals’s lives that when it really opens up it’s going to be unprecedented,” says Frid of a return to dwell occasions as soon as the pandemic subsides.

Christine Lepera

Christine Lepera

The New York-based Lepera litigates copyright and trademark instances, serving because the protection counsel in copyright infringement instances in opposition to the creators of Katy Perry’s “Darkish Horse,” Jay-Z’s “Paper Chase,” Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Goals,” Put up Malone’s “Circles,” and Drake’s “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2.” She’s additionally repping producer Dr. Luke in his ongoing defamation motion in opposition to Kesha, and the proprietor of the Skee-Ball trademark in a dispute with its licensee.

Look Out for Waves in DMCA Secure Harbor: “These behemoth ISPs that enable huge quantity user-generated content material to infringe with out taking the suitable steps, whether or not it’s filters and/or licensing mechanisms, could discover slightly extra warmth on their backs,” Lepera says.

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Leron Rogers
John Rose

Atlanta-based litigators and dealmakers Rogers and Rose joined Fox Rothschild in September 2020, on the heels of successful an appellate choice for rapper Rick Ross upholding the dismissal of a go well with by 50 Cent for Ross utilizing his tune “In Da Membership” on a promotional mixtape. The duo has additionally litigated instances for actors, musicians and media figures corresponding to Steve Harvey, Mo’Nique, Ok. Michelle, Lil Duval and Mizay Leisure. Additionally they secured main offers for his or her purchasers with such firms as Nike, Revolt and Savage X Fenty.

Pandemic Pause: “It simply slowed everybody down and allowed us to type of strategize and sit again and actually give you a ten,000-foot plan,” says Rogers.

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James Sammataro
Co-Chair, Media & Leisure Group
Frank Scibilia
Co-Chair, Music & Copyright Teams
Ilene Farkas, Benjamin Semel
Co-Chairs, Music & Music Litigation Teams

The litigators achieved dismissal for Luis Fonsi and Common Music, beating a copyright declare for hit tune “Despacito.” Sammataro works from Miami and Los Angeles; Scibilia, Farkas and Semel are in New York. Different purchasers are the nonprofit music Mechanical Licensing Collective, Sony Music, Common Music, Warner Music, Warner Chappell Music, Harmony Music Publishing, Nationwide Music Publishers’ Assn., Netflix, the property of Christopher Cornell (Soundgarden), Ariana Grande, Ricky Martin, Ed Sheeran and Howard Stern. Although the regulation hasn’t modified, Farkas notes that courts have change into extra skeptical in songwriter infringement instances. Courts are ruling “not all similarities are actionable similarities,” he says.

The Future Is Now: The pandemic accelerated transformational activations that remake the media panorama, Sammataro says. As an illustration, he finds that the music trade asks, “Can we use dwell streams to enhance and intensify the in-person live performance expertise in a post-pandemic world?”


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Lisa Alter, C. Katherine Baron

Alter and Baron have been on the heart the latest frenzy of megamillion-dollar music rights offers, dealing with greater than $1 billion in transactions over the previous 18 months. They repped Main Wave Music in its acquisition of numerous pursuits within the publishing and grasp recording catalogs of Stevie Nicks, Olivia Newton-John, the 4 Seasons, Whitney Houston, Burt Bacharach, Bob Marley, Tradition Membership, Air Provide and Elegant. Different purchasers embrace Reservoir Media Administration, which bought 16,000 copyrights from music writer Shapiro Bernstein; Steve Miller; Foreigner; David Gilmour; Ray Davies; and the estates of Ben E. King, Ira Gershwin and Syd Barrett.

Music Catalogs — To Promote or To not Promote: “We at all times advise vendor purchasers to care- totally take into account whether or not the acquisition value they’re getting immediately, which appears wonderful, goes to appear wonderful 5, 10 years down the road,” says Alter.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Altschul

Jonathan Altschul

Altschul has repped SM Leisure, described by Forbes as “the corporate that created Ok-pop,” for the previous 12 years and negotiated licensing and distribution agreements with the label’s U.S. companions. SM Leisure has produced dozens of Ok-pop artists over a number of a long time, together with present supergroup Shinee. He’s additionally labored on Past Reside, the label’s live-streaming live performance platform, throughout the previous yr. Altschul reps XIX, Simon Fuller’s administration firm, and negotiated agreements regarding Now United and suggested on different upcoming tasks.

Higher Than the Actual Factor: SM Leisure “has had some very profitable live shows with their greatest teams on [Beyond Live],” says Altschul. “I don’t assume that’s going away as soon as the pandemic is over.”

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Courtesy of Doug Davis

Doug Davis
Founder & Principal

Final yr the Davis Agency was concerned within the explosive success of webcast music competitors collection Verzuz, launched throughout the pandemic and created by producers Timbaland and longtime TDF consumer Swizz Beatz. The collection started as a digital DJ battle, with Timbaland and Swizz Beatz going through off by way of an Instagram Reside broadcast. Davis closed DJ Snake’s extension at Interscope Data, in addition to his Puma endorsement and signature line offers. Davis additionally managed Barry Manilow’s catalog take care of Hipgnosis. Moreover, via its growth into movie and TV, the agency dealt with the deal for DJ Cassidy’s “Go the Mic” with BET for a collection of occasion specials, and the platform growth deal for LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells” with SiriusXM.

Survivor’s Intuition: Davis, son of music mogul Clive Davis, was Selection’s 2018 Energy of Legislation Honoree, acknowledged for his philanthropic work to combat most cancers since being handled for and overcoming the illness over a decade in the past.

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David C. Eisman
Companion; Head of the Leisure Group
Glen G. Mastroberte
Senior Leisure Counsel

Eisman and Mastroberte have been within the headlines in October after they repped Shamrock Capital’s acquisition of the masters to Taylor Swift’s first six albums, a deal reportedly price $140 million. The following month, they helped shut one other high-profile music transaction, negotiating the sale of indie label Artist Companion Group to Atlantic Data. These are simply the most recent in a protracted line of large offers for the duo, which embrace Katharine Jackson’s sale of her late son, Michael’s, share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing to Sony for $750 million in 2016. They’ve a wealth of different high-profile purchasers spanning the movie, tv, music, digital media and expertise rep segments together with Alamo Data, the Jim Henson Co., Mythos Studios, Mission X Leisure, Tommy Mottola and Quixote Studios.

Why All of the Music Offers? “Music streaming has been one of the breakout hits of the pandemic, and it’s actually been driving lots of the expansion,” Eisman says.

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Courtesy of Benjamin Brooks

Dina LaPolt
Proprietor and Founder

LaPolt and Songwriters of North America, which she co-founded, efficiently advocated inclusion of impartial contractors and sole proprietors for the federal COVID-19 financial help. Her purchasers embrace Deadmau5, Iann Dior, 21 Savage and Steven Tyler. LaPolt, whose regulation agency contains 10 full-time attorneys, was a key mover of landmark federal laws Music Modernization Act of 2018, which cemented her legacy within the enterprise. She was named Selection’s Energy of Legislation honoree for 2020.

NFT Craze: LaPolt is stoked about non-fungible tokens as an rising revenue supply. Artists can problem crypto NFTs for his or her owned content material, and “each time an NFT is traded the music creator will get remuneration,” she says.

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L. Lee Phillips
Senior Companion; Identify associate, Manatt Leisure
Robert Jacobs
Chief, Manatt Leisure/Litigation
Charles J. “Jeff” Biederman, Monika Tashman
Music Companions, Manatt Leisure
Jordan Bromley
Chief, Manatt Leisure/Transactional
Gary Gilbert
Senior Companion, Manatt Entertainmen
Eric Custer
Companion, Manatt Leisure

Manatt’s music follow has finished extra than simply rating large offers for its big-name purchasers, who embrace Steve Perry, Peter Frampton, Jackson Browne, Wynonna Judd, Chuck D and Public Enemy, George Benson, Styx, Demise Cab for Cutie, Pat Benatar, Sly Stone, Michael McDonald, Courtney Love, Daniel Lanois, Tracy Chapman, Fall Out Boy, Marshmello, Debbie Harry and Debbie Gibson. It’s fought to ensure musicians of all stripes can preserve working. In 2020, Bromley was the lead negotiator within the effort to safe a complete music trade exemption to California’s AB5, a regulation that threatened to cripple the state’s “gig financial system” in music. The agency has additionally been making large offers shopping for and promoting music catalogs, with Phillips closing main financing offers for Burt Bacharach and Paul Anka with Main Wave Music, and Biederman finishing practically a billion {dollars} in transactions for purchasers within the area. The agency has additionally helped purchasers navigate the pandemic, with Tashman taking the lead in negotiating and designing frameworks for self-distributed releases and digital options to conventional live shows.

Reside Music on the Comeback Path: “We’re pondering by the third to fourth quarter, it’ll begin wanting good, then by 2022, will probably be just like the Roaring ’20s, persons are so desperate to see dwell music,” says Bromley.

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Paul Rothenberg, Jeremy Mohr, Josh Binder
Companions & Co-Founders

Based by Rothenberg, Mohr and Binder in 2018, the agency is understood for the cutting-edge, multi-platform offers it makes for its secure of music biz purchasers. For Rothenberg, latest highlights embrace negotiating Andra Day’s starring function in “The United States vs. Billie Vacation,” which earned her an Oscar nomination for lead actress; a publishing enterprise with Common Music for Kenya Barris (“Black-ish”); and Logic’s seven-figure unique streaming take care of Twitch. Mohr dealt with consumer Chloe x Halle’s partnership with Victoria’s Secret for his or her “I AM Sufficient” marketing campaign, and negotiated all of the agreements for Kehlani’s album “It Was Good Till It Wasn’t,” in addition to the deal for her new publishing settlement with Pulse Music Group. Binder closed label offers for Kendrick Lamar and SZA at UMPG, Khea with Interscope and music supervisor Moe Shalizi with Decide Six Data.

Not Hidebound by Custom: “We’re not saddled with a long time of insurance policies or politics,” says Mohr. “We’re younger sufficient to have the ability to pivot our enterprise and be nimble.”


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Courtesy of Michelle Katz

Michelle Katz
VP, Enterprise & Authorized Affairs

Katz dealt with administration offers for artists CL and Quavo; and authorized elements for Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande’s single “Caught With U,” elevating cash for the First Responders Kids’s Basis. She additionally gives outdoors authorized and danger administration for Bieber’s clothes model Drew Home. Ithaca is the media holding firm led by SB Initiatives founder Scooter Braun, and Katz additionally works SB Initiatives’ enterprise and authorized affairs.

Nimble: With the pandemic shutting down live shows, Katz says the music trade pushed live-stream live shows, sponsorships, partnership with manufacturers and merchandise for expertise. “It’s extra necessary than ever to maximise alternatives outdoors of conventional touring,” she says.

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Courtesy of Juan Patino

Clara Kim
EVP & Common Counsel

When stay-at-home orders have been issued on the outset of the pandemic, Kim and her crew aggressively sought out financial aid for ASCAP members, serving to the org arrange direct grants to songwriters and composers in want as half of the MusiCares COVID-19 Reduction Fund, and dealing with the U.S. Secretary of Labor to ensure that music creators, who’re largely self-employed, would obtain unemployment advantages underneath the CARES Act. On the similar time, they closed multi-year offers with a quantity of main music licensees.

Meet the New Boss: “Radio was probably the most dominant provider of public efficiency royalties, however I believe this yr streaming music providers eclipsed terrestrial radio as a class,” says Kim.


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Julie Swidler
EVP, Enterprise Affairs & Common Counsel; Division Head
Wade Leak
EVP, Deputy Common Counsel, Chief Compliance, Ethics & Privateness Officer
Stu Bondell
Government VP, Enterprise & Authorized Affairs, Worldwide
Jeff Walker
EVP, Head of Enterprise & Authorized Affairs, World Digital Enterprise
Susan Meisel
Senior VP, Company Deputy Common Counsel

As chief of the New York-based Sony Music Leisure crew, Swidler has been on the forefront of modernizing the corporate’s artist contracts and updating its royalties reporting techniques, enabling revenue members to gather earnings quicker. She additionally championed the corporate’s nonpartisan U.S. voter marketing campaign, Your Voice, Your Energy, Your Vote. Working alongside her, Bondell accomplished greater than 75 main artist, label and distribution offers throughout the U.Ok., Canada, Continental Europe and Asia up to now yr, whereas serving to finalize over 30 worldwide COVID-19 aid charity tasks. Walker focuses on the worlds of social media and gaming, working with digital service suppliers to create revolutionary exploitation fashions overlaying every part from dwell live shows to health courses. He’s additionally a key driver of the corporate’s social and racial justice activity drive, fashioned final yr. Meisel oversees firm’s investments, starting from merch, promotion and podcasting to labels and dwell occasions, together with the latest acquisitions of artist distribution and providers firm Human ReSources and U.Ok.-based music merchandiser Probity.

Idea of All the things: “We’re Rome within the sense that every one roads result in us,” says Swidler. “We become involved in every part, so it’s extremely necessary that we perceive the enterprise we’re working we’re in.


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Courtesy of Karl Fowlkes

Karl Fowlkes

Fowlkes’ purchasers embrace musical artist Blxst; Part 8, the producer behind Lil Child’s chart-topping single “The Greater Image”; and TikTok sensation 645AR. He additionally reps Producer Grind, a digital neighborhood serving music producers worldwide. Fowlkes based his agency in 2018 as a “regulation follow that’s each Black-owned and deliberately Black-operated,” and his purchasers boast music contributions in over 30 Billboard-charting albums. Inside the previous yr, Fowlkes has negotiated offers price over a mixed $10 million. He additionally serves as adjunct professor at Rowan and Drexel universities, serving to them construct out their music packages.


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