Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Look, Buddy Get a Lawyer'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Look, Buddy Get a Lawyer'

Article excerpt

Now that you have a stack of sparkling compact discs, how are you going to get them played on the radio, or into major record label offices?

You can send your disc to a radio station. And maybe, just maybe, a programmer will choose it from among the hundreds that pour in and give it a spin.

More likely, it will gather dust.

Breaking in with a major label is even tougher. Few majors accept unsolicited material, meaning that your bright little disc gets filed in a trash bin.

So what is a garage band to do in the face of these obstacles?

Some local acts have decided to hire lawyers to guide them through the show biz maze.

Donna Frazier is a lawyer with the Clayton firm of Danna, Soraghan, Stockenberg & McNary, P.C.

She counts as clients some of the area's most popular bands, including Five of These, Vitamin A and Nine Days Wonder.

"I help people organize copyrights, trademarks, and review and explain contracts," Frazier said.

"Mostly, I help bands understand how the music industry works, how you can make money in it, what to do before you sign a contract, and knowing what to expect before going into a studio so you don't throw your money away."

Frazier, 28, got familiar with the local music scene as a student at Washington University.

"I got to know local groups really well. I went to all of Three Merry Widows' shows, Uncle Tupelo shows, you name it.

"I thought, `Wouldn't it be great if I could make my work something I like to do?' So I started learning everything I could about the music industry and the law involved in it."

Frazier's speciality is helping bands avoid such pitfalls as contest scams and bad contracts.

"Any contest where you have to pay money is probably a gimmick," she said.

"Another thing to look for is people who volunteer to shop your tape around for a 20 percent fee (of any potential profits)," she said.

"That's an unreasonable amount to expect just to shop a tape around. And if you do get a contract, you'll still need a manager and he'll want 20 percent, too. …

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