By Billboard Staff

What Young Artists Must Ask Their Lawyer: “ ‘What am I signing?’ A lot of young artists come to me without a decent understanding of the contracts they’ve previously signed, despite being represented by other counsel for those deals.”

Neville Johnson
Founding partner, Johnson & Johnson

Johnson claimed a recent win in settling a class action suit for the Rick Nelson Company — the estate of the 1950s teen idol — against Sony Music Entertainment over deductions on foreign streaming royalties. A court filing in September put the amount of the settlement at $12.7 million. And Johnson has found strength in numbers with other class action suits. “This has been a tremendous boon to the music industry as the clients could not afford individually to vindicate the rights at issue,” he says. “As a result, tens of thousands of musicians have been helped.”

Most Lasting Legacy of 2020 Will Be: “The dominance of social media and new methods of promotion.”

Russell A. Jones
Attorney, Law Offices of Russell A. Jones Jr. and Associates

As the country looks forward to emerging from the pandemic, Jones sees 2020 as the year people learned “the importance of music in maintaining public morale.” Jones represents country stars Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Trisha Yearwood, and those artists have been among those lifting the public mood by continuing to entertain: Brooks and Yearwood took requests on their CBS TV specials; McGraw served up a musical call for unity in “Undivided,” a duet with Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard; and Keith has kept up fan morale with his Furniture Store Guitar Sessions, selfie videos where he covers a variety of well-known tunes.

What Young Artists Must Ask Their Lawyer: “ ‘What doesn’t the contract say?’ ”

Wale Kalejaiye
Associate, Sheridans

Since joining Sheridans in 2018, Kalejaiye, 30, has overseen global deals for trailblazing talent, including next-generation creators from Africa. Among the agreements he has guided: an international partnership between Universal Music Publishing Group and Spaceship Publishing for Nigerian Afrobeats megastar Burna Boy; a joint venture between Cruel Santino, another African superstar, and Interscope Records; and the appointment of London-based Nigerian fashion maven Mowalola Ogunlesi as design director at Yeezy GAP, Kanye West’s joint venture with the retail behemoth. His tip: an “obscene focus on treating each artist that I represent as a business.”