Music Business Law for Artists


Authored by Valerie Lovely


Course Code: OMBUS-381

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Having a better understanding of music business and music law will help you achieve a more successful career in the music industry. It also helps when you can recognize the ideal time to bring in the appropriate professional to support your efforts. The more you know, the better the results you’ll get from the people on your team.

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This course examines the business and legal issues of special concern to songwriters and musicians. Areas of study include setting up a business, copyright law, recording, promoting and releasing music, and emerging technologies that affect the music industry. The focus is on DIY and how to handle the various aspects of an artist’s career. It also looks at the relationships between artists and other parties such as managers, producers, booking agents, record labels, and music publishers.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • recognize the roles of music business intermediaries, record labels, and music publishing companies
  • describe and discuss intellectual property laws (e.g., copyrights, trademarks, etc.) as they relate to the music industry
  • identify the exclusive rights under Copyright Law, identify which licenses are derived from them, and link those licenses to their associated revenue streams
  • develop strategies for promoting artists’ live performances, distributing music, merchandising, and collecting revenue, and identify the connected legal issues
  • analyze music industry trends, technology disruptions, or changes in the law, and anticipate how these may impact the ability to do business
  • understand why businesses fail and the actions you may take to increase your chances for a successful business
  • identify the real legal issues behind sensational headlines regarding conflicts in the music industry
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Legal Issues in the Music Industry

  • Music Law
  • Attorneys
  • Conflict
  • Assignment 1: Disputes

Lesson 2: Business Basics

  • Naming Your Business
  • Business Organizations
  • Tax Obligations
  • Planning for Success
  • Assignment 2: Going Pro

Lesson 3: Performance and Promotion

  • Choices for Performances
  • Performance Agreements
  • Promoting the Artist
  • Assignment 3: The Merch Table

Lesson 4: Copyrights

  • Understanding Copyrights
  • Administrative Paperwork
  • Registering Copyrights
  • Assignment 4: Filing Copyrights

Lesson 5: Recording

  • The Producer
  • Right for the Job
  • The Paperwork
  • Producer Agreements
  • Assignment 5: Recording Music

Lesson 6: Copyright Licensing

  • The Licenses
  • Clearance
  • Placement Services
  • Assignment 6: Getting Syncs

Lesson 7: Self-Publishing

  • Music Publishing
  • Getting Started
  • Administration
  • Assignment 7: Royalty Calculations

Lesson 8: Distributing Music and Collecting Revenue

  • Legal Issues
  • Choosing a Distributor
  • Revenue Streams
  • Assignment 8: Publishing Revenue

Lesson 9: Intermediaries

  • Managers
  • Management Agreements
  • The Booking Agent
  • The Business Manager
  • Assignment 9: Management

Lesson 10: Deals with Music Publishers and Record Labels

  • When to Sign
  • Songwriters and Music Publishers
  • Artists and Record Labels
  • Assignment 10: Negotiating Recording Contracts

Lesson 11: Emerging Revenue Streams

  • Emerging Revenue Streams
  • Whether to Engage
  • Royalty Auctions and Sales
  • Assignment 11: Sold!

Lesson 12: Handling Disagreements

  • Conflict
  • ADR
  • Lawsuits
  • Settlement
  • Assignment 12: The Complaint


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music Business 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.



Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. 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


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 website, MusicLawInfo, that provides numerous music law articles of interest to today's musicians.

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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 studio projects, and has composed music in various styles and for use in a variety of media. Read Less


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

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