Power Lawyers: 5 Music Attorneys to Know
Top stars (or their estates) now require added expertise as Cirque du Soleil shows and "American Idol" deals replace record sales.
This story first appeared in the May 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
1. John Branca, Ziffren Brittenham
UCLA School of Law
Why he matters: Once known for representing Michael Jackson, Branca has expanded his focus to touring, buying and selling companies and management. That’s in addition to handling the Jackson estate as one of its trustees.
Big deal: The Ferrari-loving Branca consulted on Sony/ATV’s June 2012 acquisition of EMI publishing for $2.2 billion and serves as executive producer of Cirque du Soleil’s immortal tour, which has passed $300 million in total box office. Other recent deals include Carlos Santana’s residency at Las Vegas’ House of Blues and a new joint venture for Rick Rubin’s American recordings label with Universal Music. A source of great pride for Branca is his co-management of the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion last year, which marked the first time founding members Brian Wilson and Mike Love performed together in two decades.
2. John Frankenheimer, Loeb & Loeb
UCLA School of Law
Why he matters: Founder of his firm’s music industry group, Frankenheimer represents both talent and record labels, emerging tech companies and storied publishing libraries.
Big deal: He recently negotiated the sale of Criterion music, bringing a catalog that spans seven decades of music — among its titles: “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” and Jackson Browne’s “doctor my eyes” — to Universal Music Group. “For the first time in many years, there seems to be a renewed interest on the recorded music side as opposed to just pub- lishing,” he says. “We’re a long way from fully understanding what the impact of streaming will be, but we’re seeing very encouraging signs.”
3. Eric Greenspan, Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light
Washington College of Law
Why he matters: As head of his firm’s music department, the onetime concert promoter handles major names such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Slash — along with his former cook, Food network’s Giada De Laurentiis, who for five years fixed dinner for his family three times a week.
Big deal: Greenspan ran point for the complicated, ultrasecret negotiations to bring Christina Aguilera back to NBC’s The Voice for the fall season. He notes, “It’s a process that lasted months.”
4. Kenny Meiselas, Grubman Indursky Shire & Meiselas
Why he matters: With clients like P. Diddy, Usher and Nicki Minaj, he’s helping several top artists graduate from mere pop stars to multiplatform giants. That includes putting Usher on The Voice, Minaj on American Idol and Diddy in the film Draft Day opposite Kevin Costner that’s due out in 2014.
Big deal: “This has become the year of electronic dance music,” says Meiselas, who represents three of the genre’s busiest acts: Avicii, Afrojack and Swedish House Mafia.
5. Don Passman, Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown
Harvard Law School
Why he matters: Aside from representing such superstars as Adele, Pink and Paul Simon, Passman is the author of industry bible All You Need to Know About the Music Business, which was released in an eighth edition in December.
Big deal: Client Mariah Carey scored a reported $18 million to judge American Idol this season. Passman won’t comment on the number, saying only, “our job is to maximize what our clients are able to get.”