Title: Attorney at Law
Company: Morris Music Law
Job Descripton: Music lawyer providing comprehensive personalized services to music professionals such as solo artists, bands, indie record labels, music publishing companies, and film/TV/radio/web/new media entities.
Years in the record business: 7
Career Achievements: Founder of Morris Music Law, a boutique music law firm. Composed, produced, recorded, mixed, and self-released two LPs.
Professional Goals: Help clients protect their rights and enable them to establish the most possible revenue from their endeavors.
Motto: Comprehensive legal services for musicians and other music industry professionals.
Address: 475 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey, CA 90292
E-mail: jmorris AT morrismusiclaw DOT com
Web site: www.morrismusiclaw.com
Q & A with Jesse Morris
How did you get started in this line of work?
I am a musician and performer. I played music when I was in law school at UC Hastings in San Francisco, and helped on the business and legal side for my band and for musician friends. Later I clerked for the Superior Court in San Francisco. Musician friends called and asked me to do music law related work back in Los Angeles. I finished my clerking duties and moved back to L.A. where I am originally from. I decided to start my own practice to focus on representing musicians and music professionals because they need help to make sure that the contracts they enter into are good for them and that their rights are protected.
Describe your job, a typical day.
Every day is different. One day could be calling up a record label, negotiating a contract, checking in with the band, telling them what happened with negotiation, revising the contract and sending it back to record label. Another day could be going out to a show, seeing a new band, and talking with them. It depends on the client and the case for each day. It is primarily negotiating or drafting contracts, dealing with intellectual property rights or helping people set up music-related business.
The challenges are coordinating people and writing in a language that people understand because many people have a fear of signing contracts. Then there are the challenges of time. There is a lot of work and limited time, and you have to keep a balance between work and home life. There are the challenges of international law because laws are different within each country. I am optimistic about these challenges. It’s a new world with the Internet, there are so many interactive applications and opportunities for new revenues to access, not to mention new music.
Favorite part of your job?
To see the gratification of my clients when I have done a good job for them. When we sign a contract, when their music gets on the big screen, when there is a product of the negotiation. To see the final result, music coming out and being performed and played, that’s my favorite part, and to contribute to music getting into the world.
Hardest part of your job?
Coordinating people’s schedules and time. People are so busy.
What would make your job easier?
No traffic would make my job easier, especially in L.A.
How has the landscape changed in the music law sector in the last 5 years?
During the last five years so much more appears on the Web. The music Industry is constantly changing and we are experiencing a new era of popular music. There are tons of TV and film music placement opportunities for artists. I am glad that I’m in L.A. This was the first year that there were more sales digitally than physically. We are going to continue to see the trend move more towards digital, web, smart phones.
Which companies or people do you admire in this business?
Gary Greenberg is a music attorney and a solo practitioner. The Smeezingtons, which includes Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine. I enjoy the sense of humor in their songwriting and performance.
Where do you see opportunities in this sector? Threats?
I see nothing but opportunity in the music industry. It is open for people to make great music, contribute to great music, profit, and use the benefits of the music.
Are you hiring? If so, what qualities would the ideal candidate need to have?
I am looking for interns. Ideal candidates would be interested in learning about music law and representing musicians, bands and music folk in the industry. He/She should want to help musicians, bands and professionals. He/She likes to go to shows, and enjoys and appreciates good music.
What advice would you give to someone entering this area today?
Stay positive. Keep going, it is a lot of work. Follow your passions. Treat everyone with love and respect.
How has NARIP helped you and what more can we do?
NARIP has helped me to connect with other music industry people at NARIP brunches and other events. It’s a good place to interact with others in the business who are looking to network such as managers or songwriters. I have been able to connect with several people from NARIP events. I will continue to attend NARIP events which are useful in terms of connecting with potential clients and other people that could help my clients.
Any final thoughts?
I am excited and passionate about music and helping people in the music industry. A lawyer is an asset to a successful music team, and I plan on being part of championship teams.