ALAS…poor artist.

My Shakespearian play on words doesn’t do ALAS “justice”, but as an artist, you may one day need their services.  ALAS stands for Artists’ Legal Advice Services, a not-for-profit service that has been providing free summary legal advice to artists, actors, musicians, performers, writers and filmmakers for almost 30 years.  ALAS assists with legal issues, such as contracts, copyright, trademarks, and royalties.

In January, 2018, I attended their music roundtable at The Rivoli.  The panel included lawyers, a booking agent, publisher, label rep, manager, music supervisor and an artist.  Here are a few things I learned.


  1. Copyright laws are complicated. If your song looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, be careful. If you are planning on releasing a song to the masses, and someone says to you, “hey, Sam! That sound like a Tom Petty song” there are ways to validate.  Here’s some sites that are great resources for licensing purposes.
  2. Whoo Are You? Who, who, who, who? Are you an artist performer first or a songwriter first? If you love to write but are scared senseless when you get on the stage, maybe you are a songwriter first.
  3. Music is a Business. If you want to make money at your craft, there is no magical wand to wave, and you should have down to earth expectations.  You also need to have an entrepreneurial spirit.
  4. Play lots and fail lots. Hardship and failure are important experiences which will build you as an artist and as a person. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (thanks, Kelly).
  5. Growth as an Artist. You need money and investments to create and produce great music.  At the same time, your life needs to go beyond sustainability.  Be cognizant of how you spend your money. Get a day job, bring your lunch to work, don’t buy overpriced coffee…you get the idea.
  6. Spotify and DSP’s (Digital Service Providers- I had to clarify that one! Lol) may not be such as good thing for an emerging artist.

For more information on ALAS visit