Whoever says, “starting a business is an adventure” has probably never started a business! When you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to get caught up in the fun side of podcasting—creating unique content, developing your brand, and finding better ways to tell your own story.
But for long-term success, it’s important to take care of the nitty-gritty details, including the protective legal strategies that will keep your podcast up and running for years to come. If you’re not sure how to protect your brand or when to pull in a business lawyer, there are a few basic things to keep in mind.
When Should You Talk to a Business Lawyer?
For many people, one of the main perks of starting a podcast is how easy it is. With little more than basic tools like a microphone and editing software, you can be on your way to a successful podcast!
However, if you’re starting a podcast as anything more than a casual experience (i.e., if you’re considering turning your podcast into a business or brand, not just posting for fun), it’s a good idea to chat with a lawyer before you get in too far. Just as you’d work with a lawyer to set up any small business, you’ll want to protect your podcast brand with a little legal help as well to avoid costly consequences down the line.
The line between casual and business can be blurred for some, but you can often tell when you’re getting in too deep: if you’ve started putting hours into your podcast like it’s a side hustle (or even a full-time gig!), you’ll want a little legal assistance.
How Can a Business Lawyer Help Protect Your Brand?
Below are a few key examples of topics to discuss with a business lawyer—but keep in mind that not every podcaster will need to cover all of these topics, depending on the type of brand you’re building.
Deciding on a Business Structure
If you’re creating a business, you’ll need to choose an ownership structure that makes sense for you. Most solo podcasters will probably be fine with a sole proprietorship, but this gets a little more complex if you’re starting the business in partnership with someone else. Ask your lawyer to walk you through your options in terms of liability, tax, ownership, and financing.
Checking Name Availability
There’s nothing worse than finding out you’ve thrown all your effort into building a brand based on a name that isn’t available in your state. A business lawyer can help you check existing register names, as well as register your new brand name with your state authorities.
Protecting Intellectual Property
If you’re developing logos, slogans, labeling, and packaging to associate with your brand, you’ll want to make sure these things are well protected. A business lawyer can help you take steps to register copyrights or trademarks as needed.
Whether you’re hiring employees or working with vendors on brand-related materials, you may find yourself in need of contracts to protect yourself. A business lawyer can ensure that your assets stay protected in the case of a contract breach or related issues.
It’s worth noting, of course, that you can tackle many of these tasks yourself, provided you’re willing to put in the time and effort of learning the legal ins and outs. However, a business lawyer can give you a little extra peace of mind if you want to be sure the job is done right in the first place—and it also offers a helpful contact if you need legal advice for brand-related issues down the line!
For more details on issues a business lawyer should help with—from protecting you against defamation lawsuits to avoiding trademark infringement—check out my podcast episode with entertainment lawyer Maggie Armstrong! The interview offers plenty of extra tricks of the trade that every podcaster should know. And as you continue to develop your brand and tell your story, don’t forget to check out our other posts for key tips you’ll need to grow your business.