Protecting yourself as an artist – Decoded


Prior to the release of her pop album ‘1989’, Taylor Swift publicised her latest bid to protect herself from being exploited by third party organisations. The move to trademark certain phrases such as “this sick beat”, “nice to meet you, where you been?” and “party like it’s 1989” has once again highlighted the importance of intellectual property in the music industry.

In her own words, there is no naïve country girl here. We all know how essential it is to prevent plagiarism of our own material, but how far does this go? Artists need to be aware of the legal issues around songs, lyrics and artwork, and copyright is the foundation of the music industry. Intellectual property laws can seem overwhelmingly complex however these laws exist for your protection. So, as a Spinnup artist, how can you protect yourself and why is it so important?

1. Your music: Picture this. You’ve finally released the song you’ve been dying for the world to hear and you’re starting to map out your career. As you are eagerly awaiting the response from the musicsphere, you find that another artist has copied your work and is selling it as their own. Copyright laws exist for this reason – to stop people copying your work, distributing it, renting it, performing it and putting it online. For more information, click here.   

2. Your band members: In the eyes of the music industry, band member agreements are always a good idea. Issues such as which rights belong to who, how royalties will be distributed if the band were to separate and incorporation contracts can be addressed and agreed upon in writing in order to avoid arguments later down the line.

3. Your image: Artists should also consider how the use of their lyrics or imagery on merchandise, for instance, can exploit their image. Paris Hilton famously trademarked her “that’s hot” phrase after a three-year dispute over Hallmark selling a greeting card bearing those two words alongside her photograph. Musicians have to be much more rigorous in protecting their image, work and trademarks so they don’t become an advocate of a product they don’t endorse or associate with. Rihanna famously won a court battle against Topshop for selling T-shirts with her face on the front therefore battling the right to control her own image. Click here for the full article.

Be savvy, protect yourself from exploitation and always get proper professional advice when dealing with any legal issues. For more information on copyright laws, check out the following online resources:


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