Every now and then, we hear of artistes splitting from their record labels due to contractual differences, with either party interpreting the legal language differently.
To forestall the risks sometimes associated with signing a label, publishing or management deal, Ghanaian-South African entertainment lawyer, Adwoa Ankoma, is urging artistes to consult a lawyer at the beginning of their careers to review contracts, anticipate various possible outcomes, and make sure they are protected.
“I would advise that from the beginning, artistes get in the habit of hiring a lawyer. One who regularly works in the entertainment or creative industry to review their agreements before they sign them.
“It may be that, at the beginning of your career, you will have to make concessions in order to have the benefit of a good recording, publishing and management deal.
“It may be that you will renegotiate for a better deal once your value as an artiste has been proven. It is important to have a lawyer to at least tell you what you are conceding to, for how long and when you will be able to renegotiate terms.
“Once you accept consulting a lawyer as a cost of every deal you make just like taxes, then you place your career on a winning track,” she explained.
Right legal counsel
Adwoa Ankoma encouraged artistes to engage lawyers who specialise in the creative and entertainment industry because they “will know about laws and market practices applicable” that artistes probably didn’t know about.
The lawyer, she said, would constantly be on the lookout for risks while anticipating how to mitigate said risks.
“With every contract, agreement, transaction, having a lawyer with the right knowledge on your side will better inform your business strategy. Once you accept using a lawyer as a cost of business, same as insurance or accounting, there can be no question about the value of legal service,” she added.
A holder of a Master of Laws (LLM) in Entertainment, Media, Sports and Tech from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and a LLB and Bsc from Rhodes University, South Africa, Adwoa Ankoma has worked in legal, public policy regulation and compliance roles since 2014.
She is the founder of Creatives Represented, an agency providing legal and policy consultancy services for stakeholders in the African entertainment and creative industries.
Adwoa Ankoma has worked with organisations including The National Film and Video Foundation, an agency of the South African Department of Arts and Culture as a legal, policy and compliance officer as well as the Norton Rose Fulbright and Arterial Network South Africa as its Deputy Chairperson.