Creative Intell has raised $3 million in seed funding that includes some of music’s top industry veterans for a service that automates how legal contracts are written.
As everything from banking to project management has been revolutionized by online platforms, entertainment law remains the domain of Word, Dropbox and email. “This industry is absolutely behind,” says co-founder Steven Ship, who along with co-founder David Fritz of the entertainment law firm Boyarski Fritz is intent on making contracts accessible and understandable for independent musicians and producers while improving the workflow and efficiency of enterprise clients such as law firms.
The product is currently in private beta and is expected to roll out to a wider audience this fall. Creative Intell has not revealed its pricing, but Ship says it will cost “less than it would cost you to hire a lawyer for an hour.”
The New York-based startup is backed by a range of industry professionals who can advise the company and benefit from the technology, including Austin Rosen (Electric Feel Ventures, and co-management for Post Malone), Mac and Robert Reynolds (managers of The Killers and Imagine Dragons), Rimas Entertainment (the label and management home of Bad Bunny), Lucas Keller (of Milk & Honey Music + Sports, talent management), Ruttenberg Gordon Investments (1916 Entertainment & Rare Behavior, management and music production), Lucy Guo (Back End Capital), Richard James Burgess (president and CEO of the American Association of Independent Music), Barry Weiss (CEO of RECORDS, a joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment), Bret Disend (artist and producer management), Kevin Liles (chairman and CEO of 300 Entertainment and Elektra Music Group) and Lyor Cohen (global head of music, YouTube). Attorneys are also among the investors: Dina LaPolt (founder, LaPolt Law) and Robert Celestin (founder, Law Offices of Robert Celestin).
For an attorney like Fritz, a collaborative, cloud-based platform could help save time better spent doing low-value work. “If I can get done what I want to get done, I’m going to be that much more efficient,” says Fritz. “There are more important things to do. The documents are needed — that’s why people hire lawyers. But if you can condense the work to get them done and free yourself for other things, that’s the beauty of it.”
Today’s music industry is increasingly filled with independent creators whose need for legal representation is far outweighed by their ability to hire an attorney. Fritz points to the preponderance of beat purchasing — independent producers buy snippets of beats from online sellers when making a song — as a likely use case for Creative Intell. Lil Nas X famously purchased the beat for his smash hit “Old Town Road” online without knowing it included of a sample of the Nine Inch Nails song “34 Ghosts IV.” The sample wasn’t cleared until after the song blew up. “We’ll solve that exact problem,” says Ship. “You’ll have the correct paperwork.”