Industry Pro: Entertainment Attorney Sindee Levin

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This week’s profile subject grew up in Hollywood – a showbiz brat, sometimes the expression goes – but from her accomplished background and the number of hats she wears now, it’s clear she never rested on her family name or the doors her legacy might’ve opened for her. She is a passionate music industry professional whose hard work is an inpiration.

Current position:  Owner of Sindee Levin Music (Publishing Company); President of AMRA (Mechanical Rights Society); Attorney

College & degree:  BA, UC San Diego, Communications; JD, Loyola University (LA)

Internship: I had several. I worked in the newsroom at KCST in San Diego. I was a Stringer at Time-Life (paid internship) reporting on campus news for their local bureau office and working on congressional campaigns and coming up with articles about college campus activities. I was a Mademoiselle College Board Member, also.

First job in the entertainment industry:  Working for legendary agent and film producer, Freddie Fields, at CMA (which became ICM).

Big break:  Did production work for six years before going to law school and then when I got out, going to Wyman, Bautzer et al (a law firm which represented top industry business movers and shakers) and getting trained in being an entertainment attorney. I worked on licensing music for the film project, LA BAMBA.

Eureka moment:  There have been many – 1. Going to law school because I hated being on the set.  2. Working on LA BAMBA and realizing I love working on music in film. 3. Turning down several studio jobs because my children were important to me and I knew I’d never see them, then starting my own business instead.

Career path:  I left the entertainment law firm to be VP, Business Affairs at New Vision Pictures, Taylor Hackford’s company, and then got into music publishing through working on the movie MORTAL THOUGHTS. While clearing the song, “Kung Fu Fighting,” I met the publisher and ended up repping them. I also worked on music evaluation (looking for royalties and figuring out what rights they had) for Credit Lyonnais when companies they financed went out of business.

Describe a typical work day in your current position: The day starts very early reading and responding to emails from European clients. That usually takes anywhere for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Actually, I spend most of my day in front of a computer responding to emails, reviewing items I set aside the night before. Typically that’s researching various rights, or looking for necessary cue sheets. Then I go up to my office to see what my ‘people’ are doing and what they need help with. I rarely “do” lunch- eating at my desk instead. And then more sitting at the computer and answering emails. Later in the day, I may research various databases to find unclaimed royalties. Sometimes I will also follow up with potential clients.

Worst day in entertainment industry: My worst day is always when I am working on royalties before they are sent out. It’s very tedious, and involves going through paperwork and making corrections.

Best day in entertainment industry:  Whenever I find uncollected royalties for clients.

Best thing about your current job:  Flexibility. I can work from anywhere in the world. I also enjoy meeting new and different people throughout the world.

Worst thing about your current job:  I’m always working.

Secret of your success/advice to the newbie:  Follow a dream and a passion. Be willing to do anything (legal) for that job. Don’t have an attitude. Educate yourself and be interested in learning. It’s not as glamorous as it seems, it’s a lot of hard work. If you have connections, use them. If anyone on the inside is willing to help you, let them.

Next move:  Updating for today’s technology with royalty systems. Looking for “strategic” business alliances. Making AMRA truly competitive with (mechanical licensing giant) Harry Fox. Learning to delegate more so I’m less involved with day to day matters and more involved with bigger issues and client involvement.

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About JennyYM

Jenny Yerrick Martin is a veteran entertainment hiring executive with 20+ years in film, television, and music. She created yourindustryinsider.com to give students, recent grads and others a true picture of the layout of the industry, and how to break in, transition to a new area, or achieve more success on their current path.

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  • Sarah Auerswald

    October 7, 2009 at 6:39 am

    I have a question: I know some budding songwriters and they’re wondering how to break in and start selling the songs they write? Are there basic steps every songwriter needs to take? Do they approach recording artists first or music publishers? Pretend I don’t know anything about the music industry (which I don’t) — where should we start? Thanks!

  • sindee

    October 7, 2009 at 8:30 am

    You’re best bet is to find a publisher or a lawyer who will submit songs. Unless you ‘know someone’ it’s nearly impossible to submit songs blindly and you’re likely to end up with legal problems later.

  • Sarah Auerswald

    October 7, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for the response — that’s great advice! Now, how do we find one? Is there a book for the music industry like the LA 411, which is for the film industry?

  • sindee

    October 7, 2009 at 11:46 am

    There are various songwriter books and music publishing books that will list publishers that will tell you who will accept unsolicited materials. What part of the country do you live in?

  • Sarah Auerswald

    October 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks again for the advice. I’ll check the bookstores. We’re here in LA.

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