5 minute read


Business Affairs: Legal And Business Affairs • Finance • Head Of Finance/administration


Those who work in business affairs are responsible for legal and financial management of the company's assets. They draft, negotiate, and approve contractual agreements, and are responsible for the acquisition and exploitation of assets. Business affairs protects against copyright infringement.


You should have a law degree or substantial legal background, with knowledge of worldwide copyright law. You should be proficient in finance and have the ability to strategize.


Larger firms employ legal counsel on a full-time staff basis and many also retain additional support from an outside law firm. Small publishers retain counsel or hire on an hourly or project-by-project basis for legal advice. Before finishing law school, try to find an internship in the legal department of a large publishing company, at a performing rights organization, or at a law firm with a music or entertainment department that works with publishing companies. Interning is a good way to gain experience and discover if publishing is where you want to focus your energy.



Employees in this area of creative affairs manage the administrative side of production. They formulate the recording budget and coordinate with record label A&R administrative department for spending limits, deadlines, label copy, and recording details. They book studio, musicians and engineers, and handle any other business details as directed by the producer.


Essential qualities include strong organizational skills, the ability to communicate well verbally and in writing, and a friendly personality.



“When you work for somebody that has an equal amount of respect for you, that's worth more than money. That is the kind of relationship I have developed with Don [Cook, his boss]. He's somebody that I love and respect; I feel like I have a second dad in him.”

Be loyal to the people you work for. Always have their back, and never say anything negative about them. If you do a good job, as they are promoted, they will take you with them. If you're disloyal, word gets around quickly, and people lose respect for you.

For Scott Johnson, a recording day begins the day before with a call to the studio to reconfirm the start time, identify the players, and note the time each will arrive. (The studio engineer is often familiar with an individual musician's preferences and can set up appropriately in advance.) He reconfirms arrangements with the caterer and assembles a package for the producer that contains lyrics sheets and demo tapes or CD copies of the songs to be cut. When recording is about to start, Johnson visits the studio and checks to make sure everyone is present and has what they need for the session. He returns at lunch time to ensure that the caterer has arrived and that everything is running smoothly. A half hour before the session is finished, he returns again to complete union contracts, time cards, tax forms, and necessary paperwork. Depending on how late it is (sessions can stretch all the way to midnight), Johnson will either return to more paperwork at the office, or take the rest of the night off.


Jobs working for a producer are limited, but they are a good way to develop skills and meet producers. Get a job or internship in the A&R administration department at a record label, where you can learn the business side of production.


After law school graduation, Scott Johnson came to the realization that the legal profession was not for him. Instead, he opted to combine his love of music with a career. Johnson enlisted his father to facilitate meetings with some of his friends in the music industry in order to solicit advice. “I wasn't asking for a job, I just wanted to talk with them about what I needed to do to get one.” Sony/ATV Music president/CEO Donna Hilley was one of the executives who consented to meet with Johnson. “She told me that nobody was going to hire me because I didn't know anything about the business.” But recognizing his genuine desire to learn, Hilley offered Johnson a deal: if he would work for her as an intern for six months, at the end of that time she would hire him if she had an opening, or help him find a job.

On the first day of his internship, a creative department assistant announced she would be taking maternity leave and Johnson was given the temporary slot. A month into the job of answering telephones, typing letters, and other administrative support duties, Hilley recognized his hard work by awarding him a permanent position. Once on the job, he became familiar with all the company's staff writers and producers.


“I like my job, there's nothing I don't like about it. I don't mind the hours, I don't mind the time.”


“The most exciting part of my job is being in the studio when a song is first going down. When the musicians are out in the studio rehearsing the track. The first time a singer sits down and gets to sing it. To be there in that studio when the song comes to life. When it's played back through the monitors. When you hear that song on the radio six months later and then you see it climb the charts to number one. That's one of the coolest things, to be there when the music is basically born.”

One of them was Don Cook, who was experiencing great success with his production of Brooks & Dunn. When Cook was offered a senior vice president of creative position with Tree International (now known as Sony/ATV), the person he wanted to work for him was Johnson.

When Cook formed his own production label, DKC Music, Johnson became the liaison between DKC and the joint venture labels who handle promotion and marketing. While Cook handled the creative process of producing records, Johnson took care of all the business affairs and financial transactions for the company, earning the title of general manager of DKC Music. Seeking new challenges and more creative opportunities, Johnson left Sony/ATV in early 2006 to work for mega-hit songwriter and recording artist Bob DiPiero and his company Love Monkey Music. A year later, he became a full-time production coordinator, servicing eight producers. “If you can find a job where you can combine something that you love with something you get paid to do everyday,” said Johnson, “that's the best thing in the world.”

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessMUSIC PUBLISHING - Executive Office: Chief Executive Officer • President • Vice President/general Manager (major Music Publisher)