This one-man online help centre is providing an important resource for artists and other music industry professionals.
After Jay Kim was left stranded in the sea of unemployment many people found themselves in during the pandemic, he found intellectual engagement was what he missed most about his legal career at some of Melbourne’s top entertainment firms.
Kim wrote a research paper on the history of local and international music copyright for his doctorate degree and has gained experience working at firms such as Media Arts Lawyers and Studio Legal. Sidelined in the fight for musicians’ legal rights, he felt that he could still put his skills to good use, without the employment of a big firm.
“I’m also an artist, so I know first-hand that artists often lack the funds to seek legal help due to the nature of our industry, especially during times like these,” Kim says. “Since I have a lot of spare time and have had the fortune to study and work in entertainment law, I thought I’d use it to do something productive for a community I really care about.”
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Galvanised by boredom and unemployment, Kim created Soundlaw, an Instagram account that acts as an online legal advice hotline for local artists. Based in Melbourne, Kim hopes to allow artists to make more informed legal decisions as they navigate the changing industry.
Although Soundlaw may be a spontaneous and fledgling venture, Kim’s conviction and ambition indicate the hotline could have a big impact. Using the user-friendly Instagram as his platform, legal advice is only a direct message away.
“When it comes to the law, it can be difficult to get an answer to a question you have,” Kim says. “It’s even worse when you have to trudge through wordy websites, case law and precedents.
“I just wanted it to be as easy as possible for people to get the information they need about their rights.”
Despite being the only person behind Soundlaw, because of his extensive experience, Kim feels it’s just as easy for him to answer questions as it is for artists to ask. You can expect a 48-hour response time to enquiries, and while Soundlaw can combat anything from contract interpretation to tax returns, often it’s gig payments that are the prevailing issue in the local industry.
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Rather than smelling blood, Kim prefers to emphasise the importance of education on both sides.
“Sometimes employers simply aren’t aware of the law and need to be told in the same way artists do,” Kim said. “Those are my favourite [cases] since everybody gets to learn and do better moving forward.”
Even without a job and the opportunity to turn Soundlaw into a lucrative service, Kim maintains he will continue to do it simply for the love.
“Money doesn’t interest me all that much,” he says. “Just knowing that I’ve helped someone with their situation and potentially their future is what really makes me satisfied with my work.”
Is Jay Kim a future superhero of the Melbourne music industry? Has he thought about adorning a cape? Whatever the case, if you’re an artist in need of legal advice, Soundlaw could save your day.
Check out the Soundlaw Instagram page here.