Mediation in the entertainment industry

Mediation can solve disputes in the entertainment and music industry quickly and confidentially.

The music and entertainment industry has good reasons to avoid big public court cases and the awful experience of litigation. And it already has a lower rate of legal actions than many other industries.

There are many reasons for this. Relationships in this industry tend to be long-term and close. People know one another well. Everyone wants to stay on good terms with everyone else. And, above all, a big public dispute can be both career-ending and expensive.

But if litigation does take place then the lawyers will end up running the show. It can get very high-profile, very exposed and it can be played for high-stakes.

What sort of disputes are common in entertainment and music?

Disputes between artists and musicians can be bitter and highly personal. For example creative disputes can arise when different members of a band have different artistic ideas. Or they may want to take a project in very different direction. The high-pressure lifestyle and environment of the industry can make it become very intense. Sooner or later, life on tour, where people are in close proximity for long periods, takes its toll on everyone. It can start to feel like the workplace, the neighbours and the family all rolled into one claustrophobic whole.

Disputes can arise when a long-standing but unwritten rule comes to be challenged. Which member of the band do the audience really want to see? Who wrote this song?  Melody or arrangement? Ownership of shared intellectual property – where all members of the band contributed to the writing of a song – can become a major and bitter argument.

The emotional costs of a dispute can sometimes outweigh the financial ones. Musicians and artists have a close and personal relationship with their work and they passionately care about it.

Which is why resolving disputes through mediation is so important.

The advantages of mediation

Latitude festival Lake stage

Privacy and secrecy

Mediation offers several advantages over litigation in the music and entertainment sector. Probably the most important of these is confidentiality and privacy.

The evidence and figures that make up the dispute will never be aired in public. The terms of the settlements reached remain strictly private between the parties. This avoids the bad-will, alienation and reputational damage that could arise in public hearings. Confidentiality is also important to avoid the possibility of setting precedents that others could take advantage of.

Speed of resolution

Another key point is the speed of resolution. Getting a case to court can take a long time. A long-running dispute can wreck a whole project, and hangs around draining energy and creating uncertainty.  On the other hand, mediation is much faster to organise than court cases. It can be arranged at a time and venue to suit the parties. Where timescales are tight, and deadlines need to be met, this can be crucial.

Informality of approach

The informality and down-to-earth nature of mediation is also an important factor. This is an industry that is inherently informal, unregulated and open to creative and imaginative thinking. With this in mind, the structure and format of mediation is also inherently informal and creative – infinitely preferable to the stuffy formality of the courts. 

Mediation and arbitration are sometimes confused with one another. In arbitration a neutral arbitrator listens to the evidence and makes a decision. On the other hand, mediation is a process where the mediator listens to both sides and then facilitates the parties in dispute to find a solution that works for them. Ultimately the solution that is reached can take many other factors into account. Each person can set their own priorities. 

Richard’s experience

Scarlet Mist ticket exchange

Richard has campaigned for many years against ticket touting, and in 2004 set up Scarlet Mist the first not-for-profit ticket exchange. He has lobbied for changes in the law and has helped change the attitudes within the ticketing industry.

He has spoken publicly at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) and at the University of Westminster Ticketing event.

“Where there’s a hit, there’s a writ”.

But when there’s a writ then mediation is the best way to solve it.

More information

A free 30-minute phone call could help you decide.

If you have no knowledge of mediation we can explain to you exactly how it works.