19 February 2016

Chapter 31 – Contracts, contracts, contracts.

Finally things were beginning to move forward a little in regards to all the contracts I had in the air, and I probably spoke to my lawyer Stephen, more than anyone else in my life at this point in time. We were still thrashing out the contact with Jud (the producer), with Sony (the label), with Windswept (the publisher), and with Emily (the manager) and bearing in mind these contracts weren’t just a few pages long … some were thicker than your average bumper edition of vogue magazine, it was a hard (and expensive) task.

When I first went through the contracts with Stephen (who I always thought looked a bit like Hugh Grant – that’s not why I hired him mind, and it doesn’t really impact on the story, except to give you a nice visual) I would politely nod, and pretend I had the foggiest clue as to what he was rambling on about, so he wouldn’t think I was stupid. But I soon realised that with so much on the line (ie my future) this was no time to be coy, so I got him to explain everything, several times if necessary, because I, like most people couldn’t understand a single word of it. Trying to understand the language of law is like trying to get a 6 year old to decipher a Shakespeare novel – it’s written using English words but the words are jumbled into such random sentences they may as well be written in gobbledygook (yes, exactly). Why it’s necessary to do this? I don’t know. Perhaps if it was written in plain English we wouldn’t actually need lawyers! that’s how clever they are, they invented a whole other language just so we’d need them to translate it … genius really, clever little rascals.

Stephen was really helpful throughout, and very patient with me, as any good lawyer worth his salt should be. Some of the contracts were relatively straightforward – and the contract with Sony went smoothly enough, though it often felt a little strange battling out points that wouldn’t really come into effect for years to come. I was going to be signing to Sony for a 6 album deal. That blew my mind a little bit. It could also feel a little awkward at times, for example, meeting up with Emily (the manager) for a coffee while only that morning our lawyers were battling it out for some point or other, but of course neither of us would mention it. That’s business, it’s necessary and everyone involved knows it. That’s also the plus side of having lawyers, they can do the dirty work so Emily and I don’t have too, thus preserving an amicable relationship. But when things get messy, they can get really messy, really stressful and really expensive.

The contract with Windswept was a big one, aside from dealing with the present, much of the contract referred to the future … things like: if and when I left Windswept they would continue to own my music for 13 years – points like that are pretty standard, but as a young 21 year old who can’t really see into next week, it is vitally important to have someone on side that can see the big picture, thus safeguarding your future, because what might be a pain in the ass to deal with now will only come round to bite you at a later date … and it will bite you.

So having a good lawyer is vital and makes all the difference in these situations. However a good lawyer is also in it to win it (that’s what we pay them for after all) and when it came to my contract with Jud, there still wasn’t any light at the end of the tunnel, our lawyers had locked horns, and unless someone made a move soon, there wasn’t going to be a record deal. So I made a decision …
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