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Music Recording Studios Laws and Regulations

ByKristina Seleshanko, writer
May 18, 2010
Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
> Human Resources

Three vital areas of law every modern recording studio owner must understand

If you currently run, or dream of running, a studio, you need to brush up on music recording studios laws and regulations. Unfortunately, the world of recording studios isn't all about making music. There are some important legal issues to carefully consider and understand before you engineer even a single song. Some relate to basic business laws in your area, while others are specific to music production studios.

If you can, it's smart to talk to an attorney about the various legal aspects you should consider when running your music recording facility. If you're unable to do this, you must at least do some extensive personal research into the following areas:

1. Copyright law as it pertains to analog and digital recording studios, including engineer authorship;

2. Contract law for music production studios;

3. And basic business law, as appropriate for music recording studios.

Study copyright law for analog and digital recording facilities

Everyone running a recording studio should have a solid understanding of US copyright law. The average studio owner won't need to worry about obtaining copyright permissions, but neither should a studio flagrantly participate in infringing copyright law. In addition, there may be times when a recording engineer feels he or she should have the status of legal authorship over a recording and song.
U.S. Copyright Office offers a wealth of information about copyright law; click on one of the links on the front page, and a PDF file will open up, giving you all the facts about that particular aspect of the law. In Music We Trust explains some of the nuances of engineers with legal authorship. The Music Publishers' Association offers many links to useful information about music copyrights.

Understand recording studio information about contracts

It's always wise to use written contracts in the music recording studio field. Topics covered should include fees, timing of payment(s), who is in charge of paying the studio, refunds and a time line. Although it's smart to hire an attorney to draw up a standard contract for you to use, even a contract written by a layman is binding. Just make sure it's perfectly clear and signed by all parties.

Follow business law for your music production studio

Just like any other business, recording studios must ensure they are following local, state and Federal laws. Federal law insists you pay business taxes, and state and local laws require business name registration, operation only in certain locations and possible other restrictions. offers advice and information about state and local laws pertaining to businesses, including the use of business names. The American Bar Association also provides basic information detailing how to find out what your local and state government requires of you as a recording studio business owner.
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Kristina Seleshanko
Kristina Seleshanko
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