Rising 2L Christine Doelling is based in New York this summer, working in the litigation office of Universal Music, and at boutique music publisher Reservoir Media Management. Over the next few months, she’ll be reporting from the Eastern Seaboard, profiling alumni. Meanwhile, we asked her to share what keeps her humming.
What do lawyers not understand about the music industry?
There is a huge disconnect happening in the law and the music industry. Lawyers are just soldiers in that fight. Prior to coming to UC Hastings I received a Masters in media and communications from the London College of Communication. For my MA, I focused my research on the breakdown of the industry, new business models in the music industry, and modern copyright application. Intellectual property is tricky because it is an attempt to own something that is inherently intangible. It is an effort to build and maintain a social contract between creators and society as a whole. Creators receive a limited monopoly on their work, and theoretically, society benefits from the creation of the work. In the music industry, this social contract is no longer being upheld.
In the late 90’s we saw a huge infringement boom with the rise of file sharing. The law and the industry have been trying to catch up to the developments in technology ever since. What I think is missing from the conversation is the understanding that consumers stopped feeling that the music industry was holding up its side of the bargain -- we started to feel that the music was no longer of value. There is not a contract that can change this because the deeper issue is a shift in our cultural understanding. I believe it is our job to educate consumers while using the law to create licensing schemes that support artistic expression without destroying technological innovation. It is going to take a lot of patience and creativity from a few very innovative people to find the balance. I’m hoping to be one of them.
What doesn’t the music industry understand about lawyers?
The law is slow to change, and lawyers try to protect their clients. No one likes being told “No”. Without a lot of creativity, in the current state of the music industry often “no” is the legal answer. I’m hoping to be the type of attorney who normally says, “Yes, if…”
What’s the perfect NYC playlist?
That would have to be Jay-z’s first album “Reasonable Doubt”. It is my life anthem really. I listen to it before every single final. I even annotated my Criminal Law outline with the lyrics to make sure I understood the concepts! It is one my favorite albums, and it has been for a long time. I’ve been listening to it since I first got into hip-hop. The record gives Brooklyn so much texture, and it’s fun to ride the J-Z line home while Jay-Z describes the scenery.
Any music that is particularly good for studying?
There is a great “Beat” movement exploding right now. There are so many West Coast producers doing amazing things. If I am in the library, 80% of the time I am listening to the radio show and label “Soulection”. As the home base for the Beat movement, they serve a dual purpose: not only is their selection impeccable, but they are inspiring. They started out as a small college radio show, and now have over 100,000 likes on SoundCloud. Their influence on music is international, and they haven’t sacrificed their original sound. It would be an absolute dream job to work with them. Listening to them while I work reminds me that you can build anything if you’re willing to put in the hours and maintain integrity.
What are your personal listening genres?
I grew up listening to classic rock, and throughout most of my young life I was a huge Beatles nerd. To this day, I haven’t met my match when it comes to Beatles trivia. I was in middle school when I first heard the Fugees album The Score, and that’s when I fell in love with hip-hop. I was pretty late on the scene, so I had a lot of research to do. As I began exploring, I fell in love with soul, funk and disco samples. That said, often I feel like genres have less to do with the music itself, and more to do with our social understanding of who is allowed to make what type of music, and who has permission to hear it. I hate that part of the industry.
People have always found a way to break those rules and that is really where my heart lies. I love any music that takes uses an established form but changes or recreates it to share particular message for example, Fela’s Afro-beat. We’re lucky, because the internet has made this kind of fusion even easier. We have kids like RATKING totally changing what hip-hop means, what rock means, and what it means to be a young black artist. I loved Kanye’s last project and I think it was a good example of this crossover. To me, Yeezus said, “I am an artist. I am a musician. I don’t have to be confined to what the world wants Hip-Hop to sound like.” I appreciate that.
Doelling was profiled by Law Dragon. Read that piece here.