Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE — Changing technology is transforming the entertainment industry, so performers — along with their managers and lawyers — must change the way they do business to keep up.

Brooks & Dunn lecture
Brooks & Dunn lecture
Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn — who perform as the award-winning country music act Brooks & Dunn — were at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Law on Monday to discuss this and other aspects of entertainment law.

They were joined by entertainment lawyers Joel Katz (an alumnus of UT’s College of Law) and Bobby Rosenbloum, both of Greenberg Traurig LLP. They also were accompanied by their manager, Clarence Spalding of Spalding Entertainment. Spalding also is the president of the Country Music Association’s board of directors.

The event was part of the Joel A. Katz-Suntrust Lecture Series.

Kix Brooks said the question he’s most frequently asked — after how he and Dunn got together — is how illegal downloading is affecting their business.

Illegal downloading, he said, is a symptom of a bigger issue: how the industry must change to ensure performers, songwriters, record companies and others can still make a living when music sharing is so easy and so relatively unmonitored.

Although performers tend to make most of their money from live performances, songwriters have typically made their money from radio play of their songs, and record companies have profited from sales of record albums, cassette tapes or CDs.

Downloading — legal and illegal — is quickly taking the place of traditional music purchases.

“When ‘Boot Scootin’ Boogie’ came out, the only way to get it was to buy the ‘Brand New Man’ album,” Brooks said. “We’re not living in that world anymore.”

Spalding said such changes also have caused the recording industry to evolve dramatically. When he started out, he said, there were 20 to 30 record labels; now there are five. Radio playlists have gone from 50 songs to about 20 songs.

That, in turn, has changed the way new performers get to be known.

“Breaking talent (into the music business) now is so much tougher than it used to be,” he said.

The men also touched on the growing interest in “360-degree” contracts, where record companies — which can no longer rely on recorded music sales for their money — want to get involved in artists’ live music, merchandise and endorsement deals, too.

The men said speaking at the law school is important because today’s students are the ones who will have to navigate the increasingly complex world of entertainment law. To be successful in the field, students must keep up with emerging technology, learn the art of contract negotiation and be prepared to work in a global marketplace.

“It’s a very exciting — and scary — time (in the entertainment industry),” Brooks said. “There is a lot of need for good attorneys.”

A webcast of the event can be viewed at http://www.law.utk.edu/news/08brooksdunn.shtml.

** Cutline: Seated at the table are speakers Bobby Rosenbloum and Joel Katz of Greenberg Traurig LLP, Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn and Clarence Spalding. ***


Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu