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Songtrust Spotlight: Monika Tashman

Monika Tashman is a growth catalyst who goes beyond the obvious and customary to make creative and innovative deals in the entertainment industry. Her goal is to transform organizations, business models, and brands to achieve success and monetization beyond what has been previously accepted or expected.

As a strategic adviser to talent, entrepreneurs, and influencers, Tashman has a sharp point of view and delivers bold, differentiating ideas, and introduces important connections that help clients reach new audiences. Her legal background, coaching training, and entrepreneurial spirit are at the foundation of her ability to make smart deals that work with each client's unique situation. Among her strengths is her ability to understand when her clients need to continue, course-correct, or disengage from various business models, new opportunities, or strategic initiatives.

Monika Tashman works with a wide range of clients across the entertainment, media, and technology ecosystem including Talent, Independent Record Labels, Independent Music Publishers, Authors, Agencies, Entrepreneurs, Promoters, Festivals, etc. She assesses the feasibility of new deals, provides straightforward counsel, helps clients focus their objectives, and has a pragmatic take on risk management. She also proactively identifies new opportunities to elevate brand awareness/relevancy and sustainable revenue generation. She regularly negotiates all the customary agreements (i.e. recording, publishing, distribution, merchandise, appearance, joint ventures, asset acquisitions, talent, literary, etc.) and also those that have never been made before. In both cases- she focuses on creating value-driven deals.

Tashman is a Partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, and spearheads Manatt Entertainment’s transactional practice on the East Coast. She has earned a reputation for being on the leading edge of innovation within the industry and has been recognized by Billboard as one of the top music lawyers in the business (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018) and as one of the most influential Women in Music (2019) and by Variety in its Legal Impact Report (2019, 2020, 2021).


WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? 

My mother and father both played multiple instruments and we would have these great family music nights where they would play and my sister and I would sing and dance and run around. I loved to sing but I was the only one who enjoyed the sound of my voice. I also tried my hand at playing an instrument, but the instruments sounded so much better when others played them. I remember being so frustrated and confused during those years of “trying” but one day my mother said something that was probably meant to be consoling, she told me: that I was really spectacular at appreciating music. So with that as my guiding light, I set out to find a place for myself where my talent for appreciating music would apply. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AS AN ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER? 

Contracts that work. It sounds deceptively simple, but there is deep work at play. Every deal a client of mine enters into is negotiated so that the deal works “for them” instead of “against them,” so that my clients are getting the benefit of their bargain. They are set up to optimize and earn, and the parties that we enter into deals with are parties that are engaged to amplify what my clients have already built. 

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO HELP MUSIC CREATORS, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOUR CLIENTS?

Respect. I have so much respect for people who can look into the universe and pull out sounds, lyrics, melodies, and rhythms, and then mix them all together to create something that inspires, heals, soothes, motivates, etc. To me, that is just magic. The people who make that magic rely on people like me to appreciate them, advocate for them, make sure they are valued, look out for them and find the right custodians for their music.

It is not for me to define my clients’ success. They define it for themselves (sometimes with a little coaching) and then I design the deals around that definition.

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

In my last year of law school, I met this guy at a coffee shop while I was studying for finals and have spent almost 23 years with him by my side, being my biggest fan and supporter. When we had our son, he became a full-time stay-at-home dad, which allowed me not just to keep my career momentum going but also to take it to next level. He always encourages me to get out of my comfort zone, take the next big leap forward, be my absolute best and say “YES” to opportunities when they come knocking. 

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING, ESPECIALLY FOR MUSIC CREATORS. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF? DOES THIS MATCH WHAT YOU SHARE WITH YOUR CLIENTS?

I have to credit Alfred D. Souza for this perspective, as he has a great piece of wisdom about happiness being a journey, not a destination. The challenges we face in this industry/in this deal/ in life are not the things in the way of our life, our careers, our journey—they ARE our life, our career, our journey. They are the things that you will describe in an interview like this one, in a retrospective or reflection years down the road as the very things that make you who you are, that shape your character, that leads you to happiness and success—they might even become your proudest moments. If you can find the hidden treasure by looking beyond them, the small stuff won’t bother you. This isn’t just something I say to people, this is how I am able to deal with difficult people and get through contentious deals.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP INTO A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN MUSIC CREATORS?

I could write a book on this subject but will try to keep it brief for these purposes. From the ideological perspective, the implementation of Respect, Awareness, Intention, and Accountability in our interactions.

From a practical standpoint, I am working with Women In Music to create best practices for Women in the Workplace, and to create a designation of “Best Places to Work for Women in the Music Industry.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Own who you are. Grab ahold of what makes you uniquely you and cultivate it. Follow the things that call to you, not trends. The industry wants and needs great art, and will bend, change and grow in reaction to it. Find a platform that feels like a natural way to communicate, develop and meaningfully engage with your audience; get out of your comfort zone and pay attention to spikes in engagement. Appreciate the journey; you only get to start for the first time once—so savor it.

FROM YOUR VIEW, WHAT OTHER KINDS OF MARGINALIZATION AND ERASURE DOES THE MUSIC INDUSTRY NEED TO ENSURE WE DON’T ENACT IN THE NAME OF GENDER EQUALITY? 

For far too long, being a “career-minded woman” was code for “not having children,” which is just wrong-headed. Women have big choices to make as to whether or not to become a mother, and that choice should not impact their career trajectory. There is no such thing as a “Daddy Track” and it is disgraceful that the term “Mommy Track” even exists. That said, the reality of parenthood is that it is different for men and women; that has to be acknowledged and supported in the workplace by way of policies, procedures, and culture. 

WOMEN ARE BECOMING MORE EMPOWERED, NOT ONLY IN KNOWING THEIR VALUE BUT ALSO IN SETTING BOUNDARIES, GOING AFTER WHAT THEY WANT AND DESERVE, AND LIFTING UP OTHER WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS YOU?

I love this one by Anis Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2022?

Everyone out on the road and lots and lots of shows! Blondie, Papa Roach, Motionless In White, The Pretty Reckless, Modern English, The Zombies, Debbie Gibson, Our Lady Peace, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sevendust, and those are just the ones off the top of my head.

We have so much going on right now but only so much that we are able to talk about publicly, here are some highlights of things I am able to share: 

  • Blondie going out on tour. An incredible archival box set for release. A new photography book by Chris Stein. The Paperback Edition Of Face It.
  • A new Papa Roach record and lots of touring. A bunch of incredible, genre-bending collaborations. The Launch of Carl the Roach as the Band’s mascot.
  • The Pretty Reckless going out on a worldwide tour for the first time in close to five years. The release of the Get So High EP.
  • Modern English working on a new album.
  • Motionless In White’s new album.
  • Developing artist Jewels Gold is about to take the world by storm. Check her out on TikTok.
  • Anna Akana starring in 47 Ronin and a bunch of new music and content.

In addition to all of this, I also have a couple of very cool documentary films showcasing my clients’ incredible journeys in the works and a number of tech startups, indie record companies, and pub companies gearing up for explosive growth.

Keep up with Monika Tashman:

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