What is Music Law?

Music Law

What is Music Law?The law that impacts the music industry is known as music law. In the US and globally, music is commercially bought and sold. Any law that affects how the music industry conducts business is a part of music law. 

Music law includes laws of any type that are applicable to the business of creating, selling, performing, and listening to music. Music law forms a part of entertainment law.

Attorneys at SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) law firm provides professional legal advice and services to clients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and surrounding locations.

Who does Music Law affect?

Music laws affect most individuals in society in one manner or another. This area of law impacts people who write music as well as the distributors who buy the rights to sell and perform music. In addition, music law affects performers who must be legally allowed to perform music. 

Business entities that are seemingly unrelated to music law, such as restaurants, must make sure that they are in compliance with these laws when they conduct operations. In fact, even consumers must comply with music laws. 

Federal, State, and Local Laws may apply

Music law can be federal, state and local. There are various federal laws that affect the music industry. Also, state laws may differ between states. 

Even a local authority such as a municipality may make a law that affects the music industry. Music lawyers must meticulously look at all sources of law to advise their clients appropriately. 


A crucial area of music law is one that is applicable to broadcasting and live music performances. There are various entities that broadcast music. Television stations, radio stations, restaurants, bars, and even schools broadcast music or perform it live. 

There exist music laws that establish what an individual or group must undertake to broadcast or perform music.

The creator of a musical work receives copyright for the work. Therefore, individuals who want to perform it live or broadcast it typically must have a license from the owner. 

But there are some exceptions to this rule. Music lawyers may offer their clients advice on whether they require a license for what they do. 

Live Performance

Purchasing the sheet music alone does not give a consumer the right to perform a musical work. Rather, the buyer will require a license to perform the work live. 

The exceptions to licensing requirements are known as Fair Use. The courts assess fair use exceptions on a case by case basis for establishing if the performer is in violation of licensing laws by performing the musical work without a license.

Contract Law

At the heart of the music business are contracts. Songwriters, artists, distributors, producers, and consumers rely on contracts to create, sell, and listen to musical works. Many event producers and performers are independent contractors. 

Music producers depend on distributors to sell their work. Contracts are a vital tool for people in the music industry to ensure that all people involved have clear expectations. In fact, in the music industry, even consumers use contract law. 

An individual who purchases a subscription to a music service or buys a concert ticket has some association with music-related contract law.

Lawyers at the SBEMP law firm serve clients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and nearby locations for a range of legal practice areas.

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; New Jersey, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

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