What is your role at Studio Legal and how long have you been in the position for?
I am the sole principal and founder of Studio Legal. I set up Studio Legal in July 2011, so we have just turned 4! My role is extremely varied. I am a lawyer practising in entertainment, IP and commercial law. Being the sole owner of Studio Legal however, I am responsible for handling all management tasks at the business.
These tasks include:
– developing new business and relationships in the industry,
– hiring, managing, mentoring and training my staff,
– running the finances including creating budgets, setting pricing and paying wages
– create marketing plans and tools like new websites, social media posts, new business campaigns
– signing off on all legal work at the firm
– running a huge number of client files
– making sure my clients are happy
Tell us a bit about Studio Legal and what artists do you work with/ have worked with?
Studio Legal is a boutique law firm based in Windsor, Melbourne. I set up the firm to cater for the entertainment, fashion, hospitality and creative industries. My background is working in private practice in music and entertainment law.
I have also been working as a professional DJ since 2002. For the first good 5 or so years of my career, a track cost $20, there was no social media to promote yourself and and only a few dedicated people were working DJs. Things are quite different these days.
Through my involvement as a working DJ (for years I played 4-5 gigs a week around Melbourne and Australia with regular gigs at Onesixone, Revolver, Electric Circus, Rainbow Serpent Festival and 3 DJ sets at Falls Festival, Lorne), I managed to meet a heap of people in the music industry. Plenty of people became my clients, some of them went on to stage the biggest festivals in the country including Stereosonic and Rainbow Serpent Festival. It’s awesome how plenty of new clients call me up and start the conversation with ‘I used to come and watch you DJ’!
Because of my background, a lot of my clients make and promote electronic music. My clients include music festivals such as Let Them Eat Cake, Stereosonic, Rainbow Serpent Festival – clubs such as Onesixone and Billboards – labels such as Remote Control Records. Touring agents such as Waving at Trains and Thick as Thieves. I represent Kiss FM, which is an independent electronic music station. I have also worked on some big names such as Kimbra just before Somebody That I Used to Know was released!
My business is young though and we are currently building a roster of young emerging artists through many genres of music. Katie Besgrove in my office is heavily involved in the music industry having her own label Barely Dressed Records. Katie has been introducing a heap of new musical talent to the firm.
We are looking forward to growing our client base as our firm expands and grows too!
Describe a normal day in the life of Jennifer Tutty.
Haha, not sure if it’s normal but here goes. I am a mother of two (a 6 year old girl Amelie and 1 year old boy Oscar). I work 35 hours in the office a week and around 10 hours from home. I take Wednesdays off to have with my kids.
Alarm goes off at 7.30am, I push snooze for 30 mins – I am so not a morning person. The only thing that will wake me up is reading my email inbox. This gets the adrenaline pumping and I start thinking and planning the day. I drag myself out of bed and start the day with a banana and strong coffee. I then drag my 6 year old daughter out of bed (another night owl) so she can get to school at 9am. My little boys wakes up for some quick hugs, then Amelie and I rush out the door. I do the school drop off and rub shoulders with the other school mums. Then it’s business mode. I open the office at 9.15am, with another coffee. Check my emails and make a plan for the day. The staff arrive at 10am and we are officially open for the business.
Depending on what day of the week it is, I will have staff meetings, clients meetings and plenty of legal work to do. There is NEVER enough time in the day to get the things I need to get done. Before I know it, it’s 6.20pm and I have to literally run out the door to drive home and relieve the nanny. Luckily I live 5-10 mins away.
The moment I walk in the door, I’m immediately back into mum mode, where you try to overcompensate for not being there all day. Cook dinner (glass of pinot noir mandatory), bath the kids, read stories and put them to bed. Then it’s back on the emails to make sure everythings ok, then I try to get some quality couch time with my hubby Zok. Whilst I know my hubby would love me to be concentrating more on the TV and relaxing, its very hard for me to switch off from work and dreaming and planning how I can make Studio Legal prosper!
Every second Friday, I DJ at Onesixone. That’s really all the time I have now for DJ-ing unfortunately. I feel young and free when I DJ now!
While I don’t stop all day and it can get pretty tiring, I truly love what I do and am proud of my staff and business. I love walking in the office door in the morning, making sure there are fresh flowers and the front door is polished. It’s those little things. My six year old daughter knows what I do and loves coming to the office. She is also very much into music and even has her own spotify playlist
Who are your role models in the industry whether they be international/Australian?
I look up to females working in the music industry, who are great mums and performers/business people. I love and am inspired by people who are totally passionate about their brand and what they do.
How did you get your start in the music industry? Did you choose to work in music or did it choose you?
I moved to Melbourne from NZ after finishing uni in 2002. I was the girl still on the dance floor at 6am. I could not get enough music and knew I had to DJ. Part of moving to Melbourne was to follow this dream and get involved. I moved to Melbourne by myself knowing no-one who lived here. Within a year of moving and of not knowing how to DJ I had my first gig!
I worked at the Wall Cafe in Balaclava for 2 years and knew I had to start using my legal qualifications but it was so hard to get a job. One day I googled music lawyer and was super surprised to realise that such a thing existed. I emailed David Vodicka at Media Arts Lawyers and came in for a bit of volunteer work.
They hired me within a week as they had just got rid of someone! It was brilliant timing. At that point, it was David, Stephen and me plus the Rubber Records crew. Then the firm slowly started to expand. It was such an amazing starting point and I learnt so much. I learnt from the best in the business.
So I guess you could say initially the music chose me and then I realised that maybe I could make a serious career out of it.
My first job (where I did a placement at a top bank in-house in insolvency law), the in-house lawyer who was supervising me, sat me down and on no uncertain terms explained to me that ‘I cannot be a DJ and a lawyer’. ‘I had to choose one or the other’ as it ‘was just not going to work’.
I think back to that conversation a lot. I could easily have believed her as being young and new in a professional environment is super tough. You are so impressionable and have little life experience as a grown up. Being early 20s is also a challenging time as you go from being the top of uni into the bottom of the ladder in the workforce.
I am so pleased that I decided to follow my dreams. As it turns out (I have even surprised myself) that not only can you be a DJ / Lawyer but being a DJ can also help you meet enough people in the music industry to start an entertainment law firm. When you think about it, it is actually not that crazy a notion. Building a client base requires knowing lots of people. So it really all worked out perfectly.
Have you got any advice for people wanting to start a career in the industry?
Following on from my discussions above, for a start, do not let anyone tell you you CAN’T do anything. If someone tries to tell you you can’t do something, it’s usually because they are unhappy or projecting their own dissatisfaction about where they’re at. You need to always believe you can do it (whatever if it is). Then pinpoint what you want to do, create some goals and word hard every single day to reach your goals. Eventually if you work hard enough and believe in yourself, you will get a break in the music industry!
Of course in saying of all this, you do need a bit of talent in the area you want to pursue. So you also need to work out what you are good at and where your strengths lie.
I always wished I could sing but I suck. So if my goal was to become a singer, I would never have got there.
A great way of starting out and breaking into the music industry, is to offer volunteer services at businesses that inspire you. Offer to do whatever they need you do to. Hopefully you will get exposure to some genuine learning activities. The more internships and placements you do, the more attractive your resume looks and more motivated you appear on paper.
Also getting good solid qualifications is pretty important in this day and age where graduate recruitment is extremely tough. If you can find a mentor in the same field you want to work in, this would also be an invaluable learning experience.
What issues/potential issues do you think the current Australian industry face?
I think we are in an interesting time in terms of exploitation of copyright. Of course, piracy has been a huge issue and this has been circumvented to some extent with legal streaming services such as Spotify. It is yet to be seen whether these services are going to offer artists any significant revenue and I am sure artists are going to continue to question whether these services are beneficial or detrimental. It’s a great time to be in copyright law that’s for sure, lots of developments.
What tips would you give an artist trying to succeed in Australia? Is there a certain route they should take?
As an entertainment lawyer, I would recommend that artists think carefully about entering into the first deal they are offered, out of excitement and nervousness that another one will not come along.
It is also important to have all contracts you sign checked out by a music industry lawyer or a confidante who has experience in dealing and reading these sorts of documents. Lawyers can be expensive for young artists but if you go to a boutique firm like Studio Legal, you should get looked after with a reasonable fee and it will seriously be the best money you could spend (especially if you can split the cost between band members).
There are sooo many traps for young players within music industry contracts especially within management agreements, recording agreements and publishing agreements. Some of the critical issues that new artists need to be aware of is:
– length of the contract (how long is the deal? does the label/manager/publisher have an exclusive option to extend the term? What content needs to be delivered? How long could the contract go on for if you were required to deliver all possible contents and all options were exercised?)
– are you receiving royalties that are ‘industry standard’ or are you paying commissions to managers that are in line with industry practice?
– is the contract for ‘the world’ or a limited territory (such as AUST/NZ)? Rather than signing your rights for the world, maybe you should only sign for your local territory and save the rest of the world and sign these rights away when you get better and can secure a bigger advance and more exciting opportunities?
– do you have to assign (transfer ownership of) your copyrights to the label/publisher or other party or are you just giving them a licence to use them for a certain period? If you are assigning ownership, you want to make sure you are receiving a bigger advance. Ideally when you are starting out you retain ownership of your copyrights unless you decided based on advice from industry colleagues, lawyers and mentors that the deal is good enough and that the label/publisher will be able to do a good job for you
– what approval rights do you have? do you have creative control over creation of content? final edits? artwork? third party licence?
– do you have the ability to ‘terminate’ and exit the deal if the other side do not fulfil their side of the bargain and breach the contractual terms
What does 2015 hold for you? Any exciting things that you can tell us about?
The second half of 2015 is a really exciting time for Studio Legal. We have been working really hard over the past 18 months to really solidify what our brand stands for, developing our team and our office space. Everything is now ready to really take our unique boutique practice ‘to the market’ and tell everyone about us. Our new boardroom has been built and we have an awesome new custom board room table! We just launched our new website last month and have started blogging on helpful legal topics for our clients.
The Studio Legal team are all involved in music ‘extra curricular’ activities – Sean Mullins’ band, Tiny Little Houses has started doing really well and getting heaps of airplay, Mike Katz is a Dj/ Producer by the name of Harvey Sutherland and has been playing shows all around the globe including Splendour in the Glass recently. Katie Besgrove runs a management business and record label (Barely Dressed) and is super involved in the biz side of the music industry. And me? Well I am back dj-ing after taking a 2 year break. The Team is heading up to Big Sound to perform and talk shop, so we are excited about this.
Have you had to overcome any challenges/adversity throughout your career? If so, can you tell us about them and how you approached them?
I have definitely had a few key challenges. The first being trained in NZ and moving to Melbourne at 22, knowing no-one and with absolutely zero contacts (I literally had to start from scratch when I moved to Melbourne). Secondly being a young female with a law practice (I feel you have to work harder to gain respect and for people to trust you). Thirdly being a business owner and mum of young children. There is never enough time in the day to get everything done and it is not possible to ‘stay back’ and work late at the office, as your family always needs you.
I have really had to believe in myself the whole way and keep focused and organised. I have to keep remembering that Rome was not built in a day! Also the harder you work, the better you get at your craft.
How do you manage to juggle family and career? Any tips for women doing the same, or women wanting to to start a family and also continue with their career simultaneously?
It’s pretty damn hectic if I am honest. I turned my ‘out of office’ on the day before I gave birth with Oscar and managed to labour all of the next day which happened to be Labour Day! Wouldn’t you believe it. The one day workers are supposed to have a day off!
Then Oscar used to come to work with me for the first 4 months or so and pretty much sleep on me in the baby bjorn. It ended up taking me 5 hours to do 1 hour work, so I ended up hiring a nanny and started leaving him at home and going home to feed every 2-3 hours!
Luckily (and what makes it all possible), is that I have a really wonderful husband who works in hospitality, that does not work ‘9-5’ and wants to spend heaps of time with the kids and is really domestic. So between the two of us, we take care of the kids except for 3 afternoons a week. The kids get plenty of time with both their mum and dad so even though I work a lot, I know they are happy. It also helps that the kids love hanging out at the office and are always welcome.
Whilst working for myself was harder in the first year or so with a baby, there are so many benefits. The biggest one is the flexibility when you have to take a day off, go to a school concert, stay home if your kid is sick etc. I like being able to call the shots with my own life, it gives me a sense of freedom.
I also love my job and what I do. I feel excited to go to work every day. I am lucky in that respect, as leaving your kids can be pretty hard.
In terms of tips, apart from strong coffee to get you started in the morning and a glass of red to wind down at night 🙂 ….
Rather than working 5 days, I take Wednesdays off and work 9.5 hour days MON/TUE/THUR/FRI. I find this way I am never at work and away from my 1 year old more than 2 days in a row. It really works for me. I get together with some mums on Wednesday morning and really immerse myself in mum world. Also we hired cleaners when our second child was born and it is the best money we could ever spend. Being organised with shopping and making meals with leftovers for the kids for the next night is super important.
Also trying to find an hour for yourself here and there during the week. Whether it is going for a walk or sitting down and reading the paper with a coffee at a cafe. Lastly, getting some date nights in with your partner and girls dinners with your mates! Trying to get back in the moment and remember what life is all about.
My latest thing is not checking my work emails in the morning until I get to my office (rather than doing it to wake up). This way I’ll hopefully enter the day with a positive calm attitude, rather than already stressed out and worried about work stuff. I’m also trying not to check my emails over the weekend.
What is your go-to Karaoke song?
Time after time – Cyndi Lauper (along with a special Jen Tutty interpretative dance)