Legal Aspects of the Music Industry

author.full_name author.full_name author.full_name

Authored by Don Gorder, Valerie Lovely, Steve Masur


Course Code: OMBUS-380

Last day to enroll for September semester.
Enroll by 5 PM ET today. Limited spots available.

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


The business and creative sides of the music business are inextricably linked – no matter how proficient you are creatively, you need to think and operate like a business in order to remain successful. Music-related careers are affected by legal matters on a regular basis: from artist contracts, recording and music publishing agreements to copyright law, name protection and business organization. Legal Aspects of the Music Industry examines all the legal issues artists, musicians, engineers, and producers encounter when building their careers, and presents a focused look at the important legal changes that have evolved as a result of the shift in the music business landscape. The course takes a real-world approach to explaining the legal issues that individuals working in the music business face today, including learning what your different players and team members do and when you'll need them, how to set up and finance your own business, co-publishing and administration agreements, and digital rights management.

Read More

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand the legal issues that are of special concern to musicians and songwriters, with particular emphasis on copyright law, recording and music publishing agreements
  • Analyze a number of common contracts and agreements including producer, label and distribution agreements and club contracts
  • Understand the contractual relationships between artists and other parties, including managers, agents, producers, club owners, and investors, and when you'll need to involve them in your own plans
  • Learn the legal and contractual changes that have evolved as a result of the shift in the music business landscape
Read Less


Lesson 1: Introduction/Setting the Stage

  • What is Music Law
  • The Settings for Music Law
  • Attorneys and Lawsuits

Lesson 2: Setting Up a Business

  • Choosing a Name
  • Choosing a Business Entity
  • Financing Your Business/Project

Lesson 3: Managers and Agents

  • Manager's Duties
  • Personal Management Agreements
  • Talent Agencies
  • Business Managers

Lesson 4: Copyright Law

  • The Five Rights
  • Registration
  • Duration
  • Transfer and Licensing

Lesson 5: Copyright Infringement

  • Access and Similarity
  • Establishing Copyright Infringement
  • Remedies

Lesson 6: Music Publishing/Licensing

  • The Business of Music Publishing
  • Types of Income
  • Co-publishing and Administration

Lesson 7: Producers, Investors, and DIY

  • Record Producer Agreements
  • Independent Label Recording Agreements
  • Pressing and Distribution Agreements
  • Production Deals
  • Master Licensing

Lesson 8: Making the Music: Studio Rental, Engineers, Producers, and Songwriter Agreements

  • Single-Song Agreement
  • Exclusive Term Agreement
  • Soundtracks

Lesson 9: Performing and Marketing

  • Club Contracts
  • Internet Marketing
  • Music Unions

Lesson 10: Downloads and Streaming

  • Digital Performances
  • Digital Delivery

Lesson 11: Musical Considerations

  • Securing Major Label Deals
  • Major Label Contracts

Lesson 12: Artist Royalty Statements

  • Computation
  • Deductions and Recoupment
  • Audits and Lawsuits
  • Burn Your AIFF to a CD
  • Alternative Formats and Media


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Completion of Music Business 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Required Textbook(s)

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Don Gorder


Don Gorder, chair and founder of the Music Business/Management Department at Berklee College of Music, is an attorney, educator, and musician. He holds advanced degrees in law and music, has authored numerous articles on the music industry, and has spoken at many national and international music industry events. As an attorney, he has represented clients in matters of copyright and contracts, and he remains active as a trumpet player in a variety of jazz and commercial settings.

Read More

Don is Vice President of the NAMM-Affiliated Music Business Institutions, a past officer and Board member of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators' Association, and currently sits on the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. He is active in NARM, NAMM, and the International Association for Jazz Education, where he is a member of the Resource Team representing music business/management. Read Less

Valerie Lovely

Author & Instructor

Valerie Lovely is Assistant Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music and a practicing transactional music attorney. Her clientele is limited exclusively to musicians, songwriters, publishers, record labels, and others with music law needs. The firm provides various transactional music law services, such as contract drafting, negotiation and explanations, copyrights, trademarks, band business evaluation reports, and other music business and legal services. Attorney Lovely also hosts a free informational Web site, MusicLawInfo, that provides numerous music law articles of interest to today's musicians.

Read More

Valerie has been a guest speaker, panelist, and lecturer at a variety of events sponsored by legal- and music-based organizations (American Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association, Berklee College of Music, Blacksun Festival, etc.). She has taught copyright law to attorneys as a member of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts faculty.

Valerie has also been a musician for most of her life. She plays several instruments, has performed in rock bands, chamber groups, wind ensembles, and in studio projects, and has composed music in various styles and for use in a variety of media. Read Less

Steve Masur


Steve Masur is a member of Masur & Associates, LLC (MasurLaw). MasurLaw is a boutique intellectual property and business law firm at the forefront of the media, entertainment and technology industries. As a lawyer, board member and business advisor, Steve has served some of the most innovative new companies in the entertainment, music and information technology sectors in the last ten years.

Read More

He has helped organize, secure funding, draft contracts, do deals, negotiate successful exits, and work out solutions for a who's who of music industry clients. Firm clients have included: successful new music services like CD Baby, the Orchard, CDuctive, and Digital Club Network (now eMusicLive); multinational corporations like Yamaha; video game companies like PlayTV and En-Tranz; wireless content providers like Zingy, Vindigo, UPOC, and Chaoticom; and a wide variety of independent music, film, and entertainment and media clients, including Upright Citizens Brigade, the makers of Everquest, the nationally distributed newspaper India Abroad, and others. MasurLaw has worked with literally hundreds of innovative new companies with novel business model twists on advertising, publishing, media delivery, software, hardware, and licensing.

Before starting with MasurLaw, Steve was an attorney at Sabin, Bermant & Gould in New York, where he practiced corporate and cable television law, serving such clients as Advance Publications, Conde Nast Publications, Newhouse Broadcasting Corp., and Eastern Microwave. Steve received his J.D. from American University in Washington, DC and is a member of the New York and District of Columbia bars. Read Less


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

Get Info