The following is an edited transcript of my video Trademark Protection for Bands and Musicians.
I’ve been blessed over the years to be able to work with a lot of clients that are in the music industry – whether they’re performers, producers, music labels, music websites—all different aspects of the industry – to help protect their brands.
Just like any other brand, the music industry brands can strongly benefit from trademark protection. Trademark registration is not a necessity, but it’s a real value to protect from someone else trying to come after the name, and gives you tools if someone else copies the name. We find that many musical artists overlook this step and fail to protect, and that can lead to problems. Since music today is so widely transacted online in social media and music platforms, the way people search for it and find the music is via a brand name, and having a registration makes it much easier and cheaper to do take downs on music platforms.
If you’re an individual artist, but you’re using a stage name, it’s very valuable to protect that name because that is a brand. That is the definition of what a brand is. Even if you’re performing under your own name and it’s not a stage name, there still could be value in registering and protecting that name, just like there is for an athlete like Tom Brady to protect his name in case somebody’s misusing it online or trying to profit off of it. The same holds true for Taylor Swift, Jimmy Buffett, Mick Jagger, or any musical band as we’ve discussed.
I wrote an article a couple years ago about the trademark empires of Jimmy Buffett and Taylor Swift taking advantage of trademark protection, but local musicians who are not nationally recognized yet, should consider taking advantage of trademark registration.
What about album names or song names? For super famous albums and songs like Pink Floyd, the Beatles and Jimmy Buffet, they’re going to turn those album names and some of their popular song names or phrases into brands where they sell apparel, posters or other merchandise. But for the vast majority of musicians and bands, an album name or a song name falls more under copyright protection. But every situation is unique, and that is why it’s good to work with an expert.