35 Conferette Panels: Entertainment Lawyers Warn Musicians of The Dangers of Copyright Laws, The Benefits of Labels.

It's not always a glamorous life in the music industry. In fact, it rarely is -- because, like any other industry, it's closely tied with many legal practices and issues.

During yesterday's daytime panel conference, "Music Business Legal Check List: Five Things You Better Think About and Do," conference-goers were exposed to the less inspiring side of music creation -- the legal one.

Panelist Decker Sachse, of Sachse Law Group, kicked off the event with a description of who should be involved in an artist's career. Labels, he said, are highly beneficial in raising money for a band, by helping to finance touring, promoting the band, and distributing the band's music. Sachse further acknowledged the growing trend of bands releasing music online exclusively -- but insisted that, if they wanted their music in stores, labels were the right way to go.

He might be biased, though: Sachse works as the legal representative for Dallas' Kirtland Records. Fortunate for the crowd, then, that there were other lawyers on the panel as well.

As the conference progressed, moderator Tamera Bennett, of Bennett Law Offices, mapped out just exactly how many people would need to be paid in the process of creating and releasing music -- a staggering number that leads to the question of how any artist can possibly profit from making music at all (which, conveniently enough, is the topic of a panel on Friday afternoon).

And not only do musicians have to struggle for any sort of financial gain, but they also have to worry about copyright laws. Panelist and associate professor and director of the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at the Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Megan Carpenter, guided the panel's attendees through what constitutes copyright infringement -- which, basically, is pretty much everything.

As the group of panelists were mostly attorneys, their perspective on the music industry was a fascinating one, sometimes shattering the illusion of distinctive and spontaneous creativity in the process of making and distributing music.

It's hard to think of making an album as a legal process, but, at least in this panel's eyes, almost everything -- from the band name to the music itself -- can embroil an artist in avoidable legal issues.

A hard lesson to learn, but a valuable one for those who stopped by Thursday's opening panels.

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Chelsea Upton

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