Media Arts Lawyers Interview: When you should start thinking about legal help in music

Media Arts Lawyers Interview: When you should start thinking about legal help in music

Founding partner David Vodicka will be in Perth for WAMCon this weekend.

It's that time of the year when WAM takes over our fair city for the huge WAMFest, featuring live gigs galore along with two days of epic conference action - WAMCon. Taking over the State Theatre Centre Of WA this Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd of November, WAMCon features a huge variety of speakers covering a range of topics, including production, privilege, social media, radio servicing and heaps more. One of those talks, happening at 11:20 on the Friday will be Mind Your Own Business: "Taking a higher level look at starting and running a music business, this panel will discuss how to build a business from scratch and encourage growth using sustainable and ethical business practices, with advice from some of the best minds in the Australian music biz."

The pannellists are Susan Cotchin (IRR), Paul Clarke (Freshien Consulting), Andrew Maurice (SBDC), Susan Heymann (Chugg Entertainment), and Media Arts Lawyers' co-found David Vodicka. We hit up David to find out a little more about Media Arts Lawyers, what they do, and when you should start thinking about legal representation for your musical project - check it out below.

Scope the full WAMFest Program HERE, and head to the WAMFest WEBSITE to nab some last minute passes to the conference.

media arts lawyers David vodicka

First up just a quick intro of who you are, what you do, and your experience in the music industry?

My name’s David Vodicka and I’m founding partner at Media Arts Lawyers, Australia / New Zealand’s biggest entertainment law firm with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. Whilst I’ve been a lawyer my entire career, originally that work competed with my label Rubber Records for my attention. The label is still operating but mainly working with the acts that have been on the roster for a number of years. I still remain passionate about labels, so also fill up my time as Chairman of the Australian Independent Record labels (AIR) board and serve as a board member of ARIA and PPCA.

Who are some of the artists/organisations the Media Arts Lawyers look after?

We work with a lot of artists from emerging to established to heritage. I personally work with acts with Tame Impala, Gotye, Hilltop Hoods, Amy Shark, and Ruel. Across the firm the range is very broad.

To an emerging or young artist, something like linking up with Media Arts Lawyers might seem a little bit daunting – at what point should an artist be looking into bringing MAL onboard to help them with their career moving forward?

We like to meet artists early and establish a relationship, so they know who they might call when the need arises, or just to answer some of their basic questions. Generally the trigger point of engaging a lawyer tends to be when artists are presented a contract (recording, publishing, management) which should be reviewed so at least the artist is across what the agreement means and what their options are in terms of negotiation. Occasionally with the right artist, we work with their team to help secure the right deals domestically and
internationally.

What are some of your favourite success stories in the history of Media Arts Lawyers (be it artist successes, big clients you’ve helped, something else)?

There’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing talent you work with recognised, whether at awards, in the charts, or in the live arena. I think Tame Impala’s worldwide success, with over a million copies of Currents sold has been phenomenal to watch and an incredible story of talent prevailing – I recently had the privilege of seeing them headline one of the stages at Summersonic in Tokyo and Osaka – it’s a long way from seeing three teenagers belting it out at the Tote in Melbourne just on a decade ago.

What are some of the most important things young artists should be looking out for in the very early stages of their career (things like management cuts, booking fees, that kind of thing)?

Make sure you set some goals (achievable and aspirational) and figure out what you want to do. Assemble a great team in support of those goals.

Do you get to go out to shows yourself – who are some of your favourite Aussie acts?

Yes, and too numerous to mention. Am partial to the broad spectrum of rock, but interested in all genres – if there’s a spark live, that’s what makes it special.

You’ll be over in Perth for WAM, besides obviously speaking at the event, what else are you looking forward to on the trip west?

Enjoying Perth for a few days, and heading down south for a few more after!

If an artist wants to reach out to your organisation for more info, what’s the best way to do so?

Our WEBSITE has all the info, as does our various social media contacts. Personally I am a fan of email and the phone.

Check out the full WAMFest Program HERE, and head to the WAMFest WEBSITE to nab some last minute passes to the conference.

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