From Beyonce’s Advisors to the Lawyer Behind Taylor Swift’s Masters Acquisition: The Top Music Attorneys of 2021

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With touring halted during the pandemic, these attorneys helped clients leverage streaming and sell catalogs.

Jordan Bromley

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
Brooklyn Law School

In 2020, the team Bromley leads negotiated over $1 billion in catalog sales — and, with clients the Eagles, Migos and Diplo, he helped secure benefits for entertainment workers and companies during the pandemic under the CARES Act to “help bring some light to a very dark moment in time.”

How did 2020 change music? “It brought us closer together. It created a common experience that everyone can relate to.”

What’s the next live show you want to see? “Odesza.”

David Byrnes

Ziffren Brittenham
UCLA School of Law

Client Beyoncé released Black Is King for Disney+, winning a Grammy for best music video for one of its clips, “Brown Skin Girl.” Byrnes also reps Blake Shelton, Travis Scott and the late Mac Miller and Tom Petty. His current outlook on music and live events: “It’s boom town right now.”

Rosemary Carroll

Carroll Guido Groffman Cohen Bar & Karalian
Stanford Law School

Among Carroll’s longtime clients are The Strokes, who won a Grammy for best rock album this year. “It was really an exciting professional moment for me,” says the talent lawyer, whose new client Phoebe Bridgers was nominated for four Grammys and recently started her own label, Saddest Factory. Carroll also executed Patti Smith’s first deal in the commercial space. Elsewhere, Carroll notes catalogue sales are among the most “buzzy” and “extremely lucrative” trends happening in music

David Eisman

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
UCLA School of Law

Eisman was involved in several of the splashiest music deals in the past year, including representing Shamrock Capital with its $300 million acquisition of the masters of Taylor Swift’s first six albums. He also repped the Carlyle Group in selling off its stake in Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, the previous owner of the megastar’s first six albums

Damien Granderson

Granderson Des Rochers
Albany Law School

Latin superstar J Balvin signed a multifaceted new deal with Universal Music Group, as well as a performance agreement with Fortnite and a documentary project with Amazon called The Boy From Medellín. Other clients include H.E.R., who took home a Grammy and an Oscar this year, ASAP Rocky, Ne-Yo and J. Cole. Granderson is thrilled by the changes in rights ownership within the industry: “I’ve always been an advocate of artists owning their art.”

How did 2020 change music? “The paradigm has shifted and artists have the power and flexibility to structure more equitable partnerships with labels, publishers and brands.”

The song that got me through the pandemic is … “‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers.”

David Jacobs

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks
New York Law School

“My jaw was just on the floor the whole time,” says Jacobs of Lil Nas X’s rollout of “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” With touring paused amid the pandemic, artists had to find new ways to capture attention for their music. While the budding rap star did it with a flashy video (and a short-lived Satan-themed shoe partnership), other clients, like Kali Uchis and Ritt Momney, had their viral moments thanks to TikTok.

The song that got me through the pandemic is … “My 2-year-old’s obsession with ‘Love Shack’ got me through in one piece.”

What’s the next live show you want to see? “Frank Ocean. All the Frank Ocean.

David Lande

Ziffren Brittenham
Penn Law

Beyoncé inked a deal with Peloton, which includes free two-year memberships for students at 10 HBCUs, while Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival, set for November, sold out in a day. “There is enormous pent-up demand. People want to escape and enjoy themselves,” says Lande, who also represents Shakira and Selena Gomez.

Dina LaPolt

LaPolt Law
John F. Kennedy University School of Law

One of the biggest challenges LaPolt is dealing with because of the pandemic has been tour postponements and cancellations. She notes, “Anything COVID related is not considered a force majeure, which is terrible.” Meanwhile, client Cardi B has an upcoming record, Offset will be a judge on HBO Max’s competition series The Hype, and LaPolt has been inking NFT deals galore for deadmau5. Then there’s her advocacy work, which includes co-founding Songwriters of North America (SONA) and helping to shepherd the creation of the website Music COVID Relief, a resource for information about unemployment benefits, small business loans, grants and more.

The songs that got me through the pandemic are … “‘Levitating’ by Dua Lipa and ‘Watermelon Sugar’ by Harry Styles.”

Doug Mark

Mark Music & Media Law
USF School of Law

Recent months have seen several sales of substantial master recordings and compositions, which are the “lifeblood” of his business, Mark tells THR. He says the landscape has spawned a “wealth of new outlets to put out your music to the consumer,” especially TikTok. Among Mark’s clients are Atticus Ross, who just won his second Oscar; Billie Eilish, who dropped tracks and videos during the pandemic and is “just cooler than everybody else”; and her brother Finneas, who has produced for Justin Bieber.

The song that got me through the pandemic is … “Box of Rain.”

What’s the next live show you want to see? “That Under the Big Sky Festival in Whitefish, Montana, looks pretty darn good to me.”

James McMillan

James E. McMillan PC
Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University

Client of seven years Machine Gun Kelly built out his recording, touring and film business with the help of McMillan. In 2017, the attorney partnered with Atlantic Records and started record label ART@WAR, signing artists including YBN Nahmir, YBN Almighty Jay and Cordae, who was nominated for two Grammys in 2020. The lawyer, who has even toured with clients, says his ability to see things as a manager and attorney gives him a unique perspective: “It’s difference maker, and it’s disruptive.”

How did 2020 change music? “By forcing those in the business to pivot and source alternate streams of income other than live performance. Live-streaming services became popular. They blew life into legacy acts who now found younger audiences through programs like Verzuz.”

The song that got me through the pandemic is … “Cordae, ‘Have Mercy.’”

Michael Poster

Michelman & Robinson
NYU School of Law

Poster also rode the music publishing purchases wave, making acquisitions of the Calvin Harris (estimated at $100 million) and Sean Douglas catalogs for Vine Alternative Investments. The head of his firm’s corporate and securities department is also overseeing Endexx Corporation’s joint venture with DJ Khaled.

How did 2020 change music? “The absence of touring and live performance revenue was — hands down — the biggest change, and this void had a number of ripple effects, including spurring the market for catalog sales and causing a wide-ranging examination of the economics of recorded music (particularly as it relates to streaming).”

What’s the next live show you want to see? “I would love to see the Black Pumas live. I have really gotten into their music over the last year, and I get the feeling they put on a great show.”

Berkeley Reinhold

Law Office of Berkeley Reinhold
Whittier Law School

In the live event space, Reinhold’s recent projects include Global Citizen’s Vax Live concert at SoFi Stadium. The former WME global head of business affairs says she uses that experience to view “all sides of the coin.” Reinhold recently consulted for nonprofit org NITO, which worked with Congress to enact a grant for shuttered venue operators, and other clients include Marc Anthony and Spencer X, a beatboxer with 52 million TikTok followers.

How did 2020 change music? “It gave the industry time to listen and reevaluate its own tempo.”

The song that got me through the pandemic is … “BB King, ‘Better Not Look Down.’”

Aaron Rosenberg

Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light
Harvard Law School

Rosenberg struck deals to bring Ariana Grande to The Voice and Jason Derulo to Atlantic Records, as well as “everything in and around” Justin Bieber’s new album, Justice. (He also successfully fended off a “bogus” infringement claim from EDM duo Justice.) Elsewhere, he did John Legend’s pact with Walgreens to promote COVID-19 vaccines and a soundtrack deal for Jennifer Lopez on her new movie Marry Me.

Bobby Rosenbloum

Greenberg Traurig
Harvard Law School

Rosenbloum is a go-to for digital licensing, representing clients like Snapchat and Spotify. He also landed Major League Baseball as a client, along with the Quincy Jones-backed OneOf, which he anticipates will be a leading NFT provider in the music space.

The song that got me through the pandemic is … “‘Illuminations: Reflections of Earth/We Go On’ [by Gavin Greenaway] because it represents the hope that humankind can always build a better future, and that we are able to persevere through the greatest of adversities.”

What’s the next live show you want to see? “Our client Brooks & Dunn at their residency in Las Vegas!”

Debbie White

Loeb & Loeb
NYU School of Law

White’s global client list features two of the Eastern Hemisphere’s biggest music entities: K-pop supergroup BTS and internet giant Tencent, whose Tencent Music service has about 850 million users and is commonly called “China’s Spotify.” White has been with BTS through its ascendance to the pinnacle of American pop culture — most recently via a partnership with McDonald’s, which begins selling the Korean-flavored BTS Meal at locations nationwide in May. Her client list also includes Citi, Bank of America, Uber, The Who, Duran Duran, Regina Spektor and Melanie Martinez

Source:theHollywoodreporter.com