On Tuesday, November 17, students gathered on campus for an informative presentation by Kendall A. Minter, the founder of a boutique, Atlanta-based law firm specializing in the areas of entertainment, new media, and intellectual property.
A graduate of Cornell Law School, Kendall’s varied list of clients includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jermaine Dupri, The Backstreet Boys, Ying Yang Twins, Freddie Jackson, Peter Tosh and Ashanti, among many others. In addition, he is a co-founder of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, has served extended terms as a director of the American Youth Hostels and the 100 Black Men, and currently teaches Copyright and Music Publishing at Georgia State University.
“It was a very special treat to have Mr. Minter visit our campus,” says Victoria Hernandez, Department Chair for Full Sail’s Entertainment and Music Business bachelor’s degree programs. According to Victoria, the visit was orchestrated in part by Makisha Funderburke, a 2010 Entertainment Business master’s graduate who currently handles the social media and marketing for Kendall’s law firm.
The presentation, which was also streamed online for students via GoTo Training, began with a mini-lesson in publishing and music copyright law. “You can’t be in the music industry and be a serious player if you don’t know publishing,” Kendall said. “Records are sexy, but publishing is where the money is. An artist might have a three-year life span, but if you have a hit song, it’ll live for generations.”
Other topics covered during the session included merchandising, promotion, endorsements, and streaming revenue models.
“Consumption patterns have changed,” he said. “People stream music now, instead of paying for CDs or downloads. Services like Pandora, Spotify, iTunes and Sirius XM pay per-play royalties, but those royalties are tiny fractions of a penny. It can take a few million plays before you can fill up your gas tank a couple times.”
For this reason, and in an effort to support and protect artists, Kendall serves on the board of directors for SoundExchange, a non-profit organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties to artists and copyright holders.
Kendall also provided commentary on the current music industry model known as the “360 deal.”
“The record deal is still alive,” he explained. “In the old days, record deals were straightforward; artists received royalties after costs were recouped. But now, record companies are looking for artists that they invest in to create a brand, and a fan base willing to spend money on shows and merch.” Kendall describes this scenario in great detail in his new book, Understanding and Negotiating 360 Ancillary Rights Deals, which he signed for students following his presentation.
For those interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, he advised: “You really need to be a research geek about these things. It’s important, especially for students, to look at [music] as a business. If you only focus on the creativity and the fun stuff, you’re not going to get royalties or compensation – the things that actually sustain you.”