Quick Tips

Subscribe to
Free e-Newsletter

Feature Articles

Quick Tips

Ask Laura

Submit Feedback

Booking Information

Read Testimonials

Gift Certificates 


Quick Tips

By Laura Kessler

Free Legal Advice For Artists (Yes, Free!)

There comes a time for every successful up and coming artist to seek legal advice. Usually, this is something we classify in the category of "Good Problems" rather than "Bad Problems," however that doesn't necessarily make the whole process any less stressful for most people! Before opening up the phonebook and paying $250+ per hour to an entertainment lawyer or consultant for elementary questions, it only makes sense to exploit every possible free or low cost option at your disposal first.

Almost every major entertainment city has a program called Volunteer Lawyers for the Creative Arts, which is exactly what the name implies. Qualified attorneys agree to put their name on a roster to provide basic and simple (operative words obviously) legal advice to artists who otherwise could not afford legal counsel.

Contact phone numbers for Volunteer Lawyers for the Creative Arts in major cities:

New York: (212) 319-2787

Los Angeles: (310) 998-5590

Chicago: (312) 649-4111

Additional states and free basic advice can also be received from most performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC by simply calling and speaking to a representative. Members of the Songwriters Guild of America
are even entitled to a free basic contract review and many other excellent benefits.

Please keep in mind that the above free resources are intended as helpful advice centers rather than as a substitute for formal legal counsel, and that for a serious situation with high-stakes you will always need to hire your own entertainment or music lawyer.

Finally, before talking to any professional - volunteer or paid - you should always do your homework first. It definitely does not make a good impression to take up someone's time (or pay for it) when it is clear you have not researched the issues yourself yet. There is a plethora of detailed information on the internet and at colleges and community centers, so use common sense and remember you are always ultimately responsible for taking care of yourself.

Good luck!

Minimize the Effects of Summer Allergies on your Vocal Health

While Winter typically gets the bad rap for causing sickness and vocal problems, Summer brings just as many pesky problems with its high temperatures, humidity, dry indoor A/C, and old air conditioning filters that only put more pollutants into the air (just to name a few culprits!).

As is always the case year round - drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your vocal chords moist and not dry. However, drink extra water during high temperatures and when drinking caffeine, alcohol or beverages with high sugar or salt content. These beverages are generally okay in moderation, but do have bad dehydrating effects on your body and vocal chords that drinking extra water can help offset.

Try to minimize sudden temperature shifts as much as possible, i.e. going from hot outdoor humidity to cold, dry air conditioning. The body can adjust to many variables, however the constant, sudden shifting of temperatures is not something your voice likes very much. In particular, try to avoid cold air blowing directly close to your ears, particularly A/C vents while you sleep.

Clean your air conditioning filters every year and consider getting a good air purifier in any room you spend significant time in each day. Most people are surprised to learn that indoor pollution can be as bad, if not worse, than outdoor pollution. I personally feel that a good air purifier is a solid career investment for anyone who uses their voice to earn a living.

Above all else - don't self-diagnose. For most people, seasonal allergies are a nuisance, however this is your livelihood. See a pro - in this case, an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor) rather than your family doctor to discuss the best strategy for allergies so he/she can take into account other health issues you may have. Many vocalists find that anti-histamines like Claritin, Benadryl and Allegra dry their throats too much (keep drinking that water!), whereas nasal decongestants like Sudafed often do not do enough alone. Your ENT can advise you of the best over-the-counter treatment options or prescriptions that take into account your unique environment, career and personal health considerations.

Good luck and stay healthy this summer!

Insurance for Music & Art Equipment…
...Are You Covered?

You work hard at your craft and play out or work offsite often. You’ve accumulated a cornucopia of professional equipment over the years that cost a small fortune and would be financially devastating to replace, so don’t become one of the many artists who neglect unglamorous yet crucial details and become unfortunate statistics each year. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for your professional gear. “Adequate” here being defined as coverage for its REPLACEMENT value vs. its DEPRECIATED value since we all know electronics begin depreciating the nanosecond we purchase them.

Unfortunately, even if you have a renters or homeowners policy, it will probably still not provide enough coverage without the addition of an extra rider to cover the additional value. Don’t stress - these extra riders usually aren’t that expensive, and are well worth the price for your full peace of mind. Check with your local insurance agent and be prepared that you may need a separate business policy since any equipment you use to earn a living falls under a different category than private residential use.

Also discuss with them – and be especially aware – that your coverage will probably only cover your equipment while it is being used IN YOUR HOME, NOT OUT AT A GIG OR REHEARSAL. For insurance coverage for your equipment anywhere you may take it outside your home, including your car, rehearsal space, or someone else’s house, MusicPro (an ASCAP recommended company) offers $10,000 of coverage for only $100/year. Whatever you do, just make sure you have coverage both at home AND away. Remember, fires happen, vans crash, and luggage gets lost…and without proper insurance coverage a single unfortunate event can sideline your career overnight indefinitely.

Related links:

Copyright 2007 Laura Kessler. All Rights Reserved.