In conversation with Priyanka Khimani – Score Short Reads

We had a great conversation with Celebrity lawyer and former model-screenwriter Priyanka Khimani and the co-founder and lead partner of Anand & Anand &Khimani. Read on to know more about her amazing achievements in the Entertainment Industry. 

Tell us a little bit about how you started in the Music Industry and what you do

I can’t think of a single other person among my peers or age group who can say this – but I’ve been deeply privileged that Lata Mangeshkar was how I started in the music business! She was my first ever client who I advised and acted for during the very early days of my career as a lawyer. Over the years of my practice as an entertainment attorney, I’m so humbled to continue to have the privilege of acting as her advisor.

I run one of the country’s leading and often recognised as one of the best entertainment and intellectual property firms where my team and I advise a plethora of talent, businesses and services across film, tv, music and tech. We have a star-studded roster of artists, filmmakers, authors, actors as well as some of the most prestigious companies and businesses in the world who look at India as an important emerging marking in the content space.

Music is a large part of our expertise and we’re proud of the amazing work we’ve been able to do on that front ,right from the cross-border record deals for our artist clients, to leading market entry into India for key global players in the business, to having appeared in court in some of the most-watched industry disputes and controversies of our times.

Priyanka Khimani
Priyanka Khimani

How has the legal formalities in music evolved over the years according to you ?

It’s only gotten more and more nuanced over the years. It truly is a specialist’s job.The legal framework and what one is able to do within its boundaries is constantly and rapidly evolving with ever-changing technology and the speed and volume with which content is created and consumed.

It’s also quite incredible to see how much the rights and deal landscape has evolved over the years – on the artist side, I interact with clients who are getting increasingly savvy commercially and legally with great overall teams in place to get the best possible deal or outcome – be it a release plan or a marketing campaign or an endorsement– it’s such a rush to see all of us pull all stops to make things happen.

And on the business side, platforms, brands, record labels too are constantly innovating with how extensively and fruitfully music can interact with wider audiences, creating multiple income and revenue streams. As a lawyer though what remains irreplaceable for me is thorough knowledge of my subject and domain expertise.

And often, in my experience, this isa mix of knowing the law but also being totally tuned in to commercial practices and trends. Also, the role of a good advisor has evolved so much – it’s no longer limited to simply red-lining agreements.

In fact, it’s a disservice if that’s the only role a client sees you fulfilling. There’s so much more an advisor can bring to the table – strategising on construct of deals, disputes, crises, controversy, allegations ranging from one extreme to another, social media backlash, dealing with public facing outcomes and statements, the list is endless in my view. It’s easy to under-estimate how crucial a role a sound and adept legal advisor can play in shaping careers and businesses and steering conversations in the right direction.

What are some major issues that artists face legally in the industry? 

The most common ones would be enforcing their rights, having to navigate a complex legal system one really did want to pursue a claim and the associated costs of litigation, dealing with still a very disorganised sector, shortage of good managers (not someone who can book a gig but can truly manage a career) and lack of true and accurate information.

What are 5 pro tips you would like to give artists in the music industry? 

Don’t believe the numbers they say, they’re all inflated. Don’t DIY contracts – Just like music, it’s best left to the experts. Haste makes waste. Deals are a commercial exchange – if you’re feeling short changed, you don’t have to go through with it. Don’t mix relationships/friendships and business.

How has the pandemic impacted the scene according to you? 

There’s no doubt that the entire live industry has taken a huge hit and I think that’s a bigger loss than most can imagine – not just to the artist but to the crew, the production, the venue, platforms and the entire army of people that is connected to the live economy.

There’s unfortunately no relief fund for this one and it’s one of the biggest learnings for our music industry from this pandemic.

Hopefully, we’ll all come together and find ways to add more structure and support to this arm of the business that feeds so many.

Priyanka Khimani

Could you point out 3 advantages artists have in the industry from a legal point of view. 

Content is king! That’s all the leverage an artist will ever need. As an artist,

especially in today’s time, you have a voice and an influence, which the previous

generation didn’t quite as much enjoy to the extent that artists do today. In my view,

there is great power in this. In having reach, in building communities, in being able

to influence. The key is how one chooses to exercise it.

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