Legal Blog

Saturday Side Hustle: Music Meets the U.S. Copyright Office

Last week’s article got me the most positive feedback I’ve received yet from the Side Hustle. I think it’s because the account I gave was more personal than usual, and I think a lot of people like that. Maybe it made some of you think to reconnect with someone you’ve been meaning to get back in touch with, or maybe you have a side hustle that has languished and you’re now thinking about reviving it. It’s like when you see someone you haven’t seen in a long time, and then once that happens they seem to appear more frequently. Cosmic, right?

Anyway, I mentioned at one point in my life I was a professional musician. I simply mean that playing the guitar with a group of guys on the road was my only source of income, so don’t be too impressed (I mentioned I went to law school once I ran out of money).

I often wonder if that venture would have had a better chance of success in today’s world of high-speed WiFi, social media and Internet marketing technology. It may be a coin toss. It is definitely easier to gain exposure for your creations, and there are concepts you can leverage to increase that exposure. There is also the possibility, especially if you aren’t diligent in your marketing efforts, that your work will get lost in a sea of competition.

In any event, I’d like to start talking about “creative” side hustles, and I’m going to start with – you guessed it – music! This is because I have always loved it. There are so many different ways that artists become successful in this space. Sometimes there is a seasoned business person behind the artist. Sometimes the artist goes from being homeless and playing in the subway to chance discovery. I think most of the time, like any business, it boils down to good old fashioned hard work, determination and a thick skin.

Back in my day, our group set up a limited liability company (LLC) that served to own the copyrights and publishing rights in our works, or at least so we thought. In retrospect, this was all through implied licenses that may or may not have been deemed valid if ever there were a creative dispute. Those of us who were the songwriters (“authors” under U.S. copyright law) did at least have sense enough to register copyrights in some of our works with the U.S. Copyright Office.

We tracked our capital contributions on a ledger, but our LLC never had an operating agreement (this was years before I went to law school). There are all sorts of hypotheticals I can think of today of how our venture could have gone south very rapidly if a dispute arose among us. I will venture a guess, however, that there are artists out there today who operate in a manner that is at least as loose as this.

That’s why I’m going to write about it.


For more information on this topic, please contact Scott Lloyd at


ABOUT SCOTT LLOYD | 301.575.0357

Scott Lloyd is a registered patent attorney who specializes in intellectual property counseling and commercialization work. He has served as a technology commercialization specialist and advisor to companies in a diverse array of markets, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, technology, and engineering. In addition, Mr. Lloyd spent ten years as in-house general counsel to small and mid-sized companies, where he managed corporate matters and resolved commercial disputes in addition to intellectual property strategy, and now serves in the same capacity for entrepreneurial clients. He serves as counsel to small and mid-sized business owners seeking to implement growth strategies and succession plans.

While in house, Mr. Lloyd has also contributed to the successful formation of international affiliates of domestic businesses as well as a $400,000,000 business acquisition.





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