Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Want To Be An Entertainment Attorney?

The blog editors recently conducted a follow interview with Martin Frascogna to explore the daily routine of an entertainment attorney.  

Most musicians think the time to hire an attorney is not one minute before you absolutely have to. All too often, the artist finds out that they needed a lawyer much sooner than they thought—and sometimes that lesson is very expensive. We spent the day for an exclusive interview with Martin F. Frascogna, a lawyer who’s workingto change how—and when in their careers—musicians and lawyers come together.
5:30 am Mornings in the Frascogna house are a finely orchestrated kind of chaos. It would be easy to mistake this scene for just plain chaos, but turn up the volume, and you find that the routine is quite by design. As an entertainment lawyer who specializes in International Music, Marty Frascogna’s work hours have to accommodate half a dozen time zones on any given day.
On this particular morning, he has a 6 am call from Ireland with artist Senekah. They are discussing the previous night’s performance, progress on a music video concept, and Marty is briefing his artist on the strategy he’s using for the negotiation of a label deal. Frascogna usually takes his first call and gets through his first round of email at home, allowing him to be part of the family’s early morning routine of feeding dogs and changing diapers, and also be accessible to his growing family of clients.
9:00 With his day well under way, Marty heads to the office for his next round ofphone meetings. His days are always different, but this frenetic, time zone-leaping schedule is a constant. After a productive call to Paris-based Emily Gonneau to discuss a management deal with one of his newer clients, he catches up with Australia’s Laura Wilde, who is on tour with Ted Nugent. She gives Marty an update from the road, and they discuss possible non-traditional brand partnerships. This unconventional approach to finding opportunities for his clients, and his expansive view of the market set Frascogna apart from other lawyers in an important ways. Whether it’s connecting American artists like Dynasty Electric to an audience abroad, or finding Australian-Born rocker Wilde a channel to promote her music in the US, he uses every corner of the globe to pair talent with the best resources for them.
10:00 In between meetings and calls, Marty dedicates time to producing content to be shared with artists and industry sites. Entertainment lawyers are notoriously stingy with information, and Marty is passionate about sharing advice that will help artists avoid pitfalls in the industry. He’s writing an article about “The Anti-360 Deal” for MIDEM—the yearly International music conference that Frascogna considers the most important networking and educational event an artist can attend.  This is also a great time to brainstorm various projects with his older brother, usually over a game of paper football or some other antics. The two sons joined their father as attorneys at the Frascogna family’s entertainment law practice. The three men work together closely, and Marty sees the family dynamic as an important part of his growth.
11:00 The rest of the morning is spent talking with various partners and stakeholders. These conversations require him to play distinctly different roles, and the transition seems effortless. Marty moves from negotiating a contract amendment withAtlantic Records’ legal counsel to talking client endorsements and Festival opportunities with a PR firm in Los Angeles.
Noon. Before he goes home for a quick lunch with wife Lesley and son Frank, Marty suits up for a quick ass-kicking with his friends at Crossfit601. His drive time is dedicated to catching up with clients (hands-free and safely, of course). He updates Pennsylvania-based group Kingsfoil on details of their upcoming tour, and talks to
another about the status of her songwriting agreements. He checks in by text with another of his clients who are currently on tour, and can always be counted on for a funny story from the road. Seeing his passion, his accessibility, and how deeply involved he is in the details of his clients’ growth, it’s easy to forget that Marty is a lawyer. Ask his clients to describe his impact, and it’s clear that they see him as far more than their legal representation. 
The artists we talked to are passionate about having Marty in their careers. They describe him as truly different, and appreciate the time he takes to understand them as artists. They also appreciate his expansive view of the music industry,
and the vision he brings to his work. Singer/songwriter Dana Alexandra, who has worked with Frascogna for 2years says “It’s almost like the future of his artists flashes before his eyes when he chooses who he wants to work with or reach out to. Like, ‘oh, I see where this could go, I’m interested in working with this artist.’”
Whether they’ve worked with him for months or years, they got the chance to know Marty—and he them—through long conversations. They quickly came to appreciate having the luxury of discussing things with their lawyer. They see him as an important member of their team, an advisor who is genuinely concerned with their well-being. They also wonder aloud how his high-touch model hasn’t more widely adopted by entertainment lawyers.
1:30 Time for a quick lunch, and a chance to see his family for a few minutes.. A few minutes and a few emails later, he’s headed back to the office. 
2:00 Marty goes to a coffee shop for a creative meeting with a Spot On Productions. They’ve been discussing a video shoot for a client in Italy, and are now strategizing possible sponsors.
3:00 There’s music to listen to. Marty spends time reviewing client projects, and working out release plans. Today, he’s reviewing a new song by Abandon Kansas called “Turn To Gold”. The band have been in the studio with Nashville producer Dustin Burnett, and this is Marty’s first chance to hear their work. After a listen-or 5—and some yellow-padded brainstorming, he begins exploring how they can license the song for the 2014 Olympics. 
5:00 The final stop of the day is a local film studio, where Marty is shooting a new video about copywriting for his blog. He regularly posts these videos to his blog as a way to help artists learn more about various legal topics.
6:00 Time to head home. Tonight is pizza making and some well-deserved relaxation. He’s met with 12 clients in 3 countries and U.S. States. He’s lawyered, strategized, negotiated, and promoted. He’s moved the ball forward for his clients, and shared information with artists he’s never met.
If there is a constant that connects the variety of roles and work he manages, it’s Marty’s commitment to the well-being of artists. His commitment to his clients is impossible to miss; they line the walls of his office, they find him by phone, text, and email at all hours of the day. But his dedication to artists doesn’t end with his clients: he is determined to make legal help accessible to musicians everywhere. The unproductive relationship between lawyers and artists is one of the reasons Marty was determined to do things differently, and why he seeks opportunities to educate musicians on the role  entertainment lawyers can—and should—play . He saw how much money artists were losing, and how many messes were created by not having a lawyer as part of the team. “It’s absurd” he says. “We are in the position to help our clients avoid expensive mistakes, but we price ourselves out of their reach.”Rather than waiting for an artist to have the money—and a hornet’s nest of contractual nightmares—Frascogna engages his clients early. He makes it possible to have him as part of their team at a stage in their careers when most artists don’t want, don’t think they need, and can’t afford a lawyer. His clients love that Marty is a far cry from the slick-shittery of the entertainment law machine in NYC and LA. His lack of entrenchment in that model is not just cosmetic or economic: it has given him a different, expansive, and forward-thinking view of the industry. He combines that unconventional approach with his knowledge of the traditional landscape, and the result is someone who is perfectly suited to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of the music industry.
9:00 With dinner cleaned up and little Frank in bed, Marty and Lesley finish emails,and check in with clients one last time. Lesley, who is a floral designer and owner of Tulip, understands and shares Marty’s passion for clients. Their creative minds are a great complement to one another, and this is often a time they spend helping each other talk out new ideas, and bouncing things off of each other. 
Not bad for a day’s work.

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