Beware of “boilerplate” contracts; nothing is boilerplate! Too often we find a client on the losing end of a deal because he or she believed that the person on the opposite side of the deal was treating them fairly or giving them a standard, non-negotiable contract. And although one shouldn’t automatically adopt a contentious or adversarial posture in his or her business dealings, clients should understand that in almost all circumstances the person on the other side of the table has only their interests in mind. Although many entertainment agreements contain fairly standardized language, the most important clauses and provisions in a contract benefitting the professional are omitted. As a result, it would be nearly impossible for an inexperienced person to know what reasonable phrases need to be added to a deal to protect his or her interests.
As an actor, artist or athlete it is important to consider forming a professional entity to protect your interests. Depending on your place of residence, this could be a professional corporation or limited liability company. These “entities” are used to contract with other parties and can reduce your personal liabilities or exposure to claims if a problem arises – whether it is your fault or not. Additionally, as a professional, these entities allow you to reduce your taxable income by subtracting your business expenses from your overall income. Over long periods of time, these deductions can be monumental to you and your family’s financial well-being.
Just like a great muse, coach or mentor, forming a professional team to support you in your endeavors is critical. Reliable and experienced agents, managers, attorneys and certified professional accountants spend their entire careers honing their crafts – just like you – and their value cannot be underestimated. Having a great team around you will let you focus on your creative endeavors. On the flip-side, weak, disorganized teams can end up dropping the ball by failing to negotiate the best deal or advise you on how to stay out of trouble or timely file your taxes. Each of these oversights are expensive to fix and can be incredibly stressful distractions. Our firm prides itself on working together with our clients to not only accomplish their legal goals, but to also ensure that the team around a client is working in unison towards a common goal: you.
One of the most dangerous common mistakes you can make is to fly solo on a deal or a project. Given that any particular piece of creative content can go viral or to the moon, it’s important that you work with experienced counsel or a strong team on all projects with significant upside potential. It is heartbreaking to hear when the driving force of a project, creative work or business deal gets the short end of the stick because he or she was unrepresented by counsel or unsupported by a strong business team.