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Publicity is kind of a first cousin to record promotion. They often parallel each other in both time of occurrence and mode of operation. In fact, the line separating the two is often clouded. See Cross-links: PUBLICITY, PUBLICIST, PRESS KIT, PRESS RELEASE, PRESS, PUBLIC RELATIONS, IMAGE, RECORD PROMOTION, RECORD PROMOTION-A CLOSER LOOK, CONCERT, RIGHT under "Right to Publicity."

Record promotion is the act of providing support through advertising and publicity to ultimately reap a profit from record sales. Publicity, one could deduce, is a part of record promotion. However, since publicity is advertisement or action designed to attract public attention or interest in the artist and in his products and services, others could conclude record promotion is a part of publicity! Actually, from the overall perspective, publicity has the wider scope. Publicity operatives are utilized to "sell the total artist"--from CDs, music video DVDs, T-shirts, concerts, biographies, motion pictures, and TV appearances, to fan club memberships! Publicity is centered around the "visibility" of the artist and concentrates on press and other mass media vehicles.

To zero in even more on what publicity is, one other area often confused with publicity needs to be defined--public relations. Public relations, like publicity, aims at drawing attention to the artist. But unlike publicity, its main purpose is not to sell products and services. The main purpose of public relations is to create, build, and sustain a favorable reputation or public image of an artist and to enhance the growth of his career. The image promoted is often a multi-dimensional one. The intent is to capture an audience or following of a wide variety of people, i.e., to induce mass appeal.

A public relations (PR) campaign will try to influence or form a positive public opinion toward the artist. A publicity campaign, on the other hand, is launched to sell a commodity. A PR campaign is generally a national or worldwide "process." A publicity campaign is more often a local or area "event" (although it can, in some cases be a nationwide or worldwide "push"). PR and publicity campaigns are often run simultaneously by coordinating the various people and agencies involved, e.g., where the record company synchronizes efforts with the national PR firm and the artist manager.

Public relations is almost always handled by a PR firm. Often, especially with nationally known artists, publicity campaigns are also implemented by a company with nationwide contacts. But, for many artists, it is possible for their own manager to do much of the publicity work--especially if it is local or in a targeted area. See Cross-links: PUBLIC RELATIONS.

Publicity, as can be seen, is a very important part of an artist's career. A well organized and correctly implemented publicity campaign is often the difference between profit and loss in the sale of the artist's products and services. Many untalented artists have been monetarily successful because of their prudent publicity undertakings. Conversely, many talented artists have dropped by the wayside because they were reluctant to, or unable to, implement solid publicity programs.

To properly plan and carry out a publicity campaign the publicist must know the legal and substantive aspects of publicizing an artist. He also needs to have the procedural or tactical expertise. He must have or find the proper contacts and outlets to access the public.

Legal Aspects of Publicity

The legal factors concerning publicity center around what is called the "right to publicity." The right to publicity is the legal exclusive right of a person (or his heirs) to commercialize the character and substance of himself. This right is granted by state civil statute (in some states via criminal statute), or case law. See Cross-links: RIGHT under "Right to Publicity," and "Right to Privacy."

Another right that often becomes involved is called a "merchandising right." A merchandising right is a right, under state common law, to exploit and market the name, signature, picture, image, likeness, biographical material, and/or success of a person by any means, e.g., on T-shirts, posters, in editorials, books, movies, cartoons, etc.. See Cross-links: RIGHT under "Merchandising Right," CONTRACT--RECORDING CONTRACT clause #25.

A third right that applies here is called a "name right." A name right is the right to legally use a name. This right is protected by state common law, the Lanham Trademark Act, and in some cases, indirectly by the federal copyright law (e.g., when the name is embedded in copyrighted material). See Cross-links: TRADEMARK, TRADEMARK-A CLOSER LOOK, NAME under "Name Rights."

In summation, the law basically gives the artist the exclusive rights to his name, likeness, and substance if the operation of these does not infringe on a right of another who has previously established such rights (in rare instances, depending on jurisdictional laws, a court of law may rule against someone who actually established use first if a second party's later use is more widely associated with the name at the time of litigation).

In general, rights to a name are established by use and by the existence of public notoriety. In other cases the rights may be established by procedure in accordance with law, e.g., with the Lanham Trademark Act. Since these rights (for the most part) fall under the jurisdiction of civil law conflicting claims or uses must be resolved by litigation (as opposed to police action) and court judgment carried out under criminal law.

The law then, prohibits…

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