Written by Bob Golden, Vice President, Marketing - Carlin America, Inc. Originally posted (without internal links) on the Carlin America website in 2002. Reposted by permission.
In Person: Theodora Michaels - Copyright Attorney
Among the music veterans on the elite Carlin America staff is an accomplished lawyer and a bass guitarist and vocalist for one of the most visible NYC "downtown" rock groups. The fact that New York City native Theodora Michaels is both of these talented professionals makes her an even more valuable member of the Carlin organization.
"I've never had a job that wasn't in the music industry, and with each job I was always able to find opportunities to learn and do more than what I started with."
From her very first employment in 1987 as Direct Sales Manager for Spin Magazine (when she was still attending Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School nearby) to her present position at Carlin's corporate headquarters, Thea has always brought equal quantities of talent, intellectual prowess, versatility and passion to a constantly expanding professional life in the musical arts.
During her freshman year at Hunter College (where she juggled three majors - music, psychology, and the Thomas Hunter Honors Program - and a sociology minor), Thea resigned from Spin Magazine to devote full time to her academic pursuits but, inevitably, soon was hosting her own heavy metal show on the college radio station. Thea's "Hunter From Hell" became such a mainstay in the university's cultural life that she was asked to accept the position of Promotions Director for the station which resulted in a significantly increased and loyal listenership that enabled Hunter College Radio (which had previously been on the air only during the school season) to become a year-round broadcaster. Moreover, by the time she had made the Dean's List for three consecutive years and graduated magna cum laude in 1991, Thea had also interned at Infinity Broadcasting's FM radio powerhouse K-Rock, and was a regular contributor to a number of the local music publications on the NYC scene.
"After I graduated from college, I obtained a position in the Business Affairs office at Select Records which was part of the Atlantic/WEA label group. Because it was such a small company, I got to see how the other departments functioned and interacted. Also, I soon began assisting Select's VP of Business Affairs in preparing contracts for the label. He said I'd make a good lawyer and inspired and encouraged me to apply to law school."
In 1994, Thea left Select Records when she was accepted at the renowned Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law where she was an editor and writer for the University's Cardozo Law Forum and earned her Juris Doctorate after three years. During her second year, Thea began interning at the Reuben, Cera & Alter law firm which primarily represented estates of such American music luminaries as rock legend Frank Zappa and songwriting immortals Arthur Schwartz and Hoagy Carmichael. By the time she graduated law school, Thea was an employee at the firm. A year later, when she was admitted to the New York State bar, Thea joined the Carlin organization.
"I mainly do research at Carlin, determining who owns a song or certain rights in a song, by reading the relevant contracts, reviewing prior correspondence, searching Copyright Office records, etc. Intellectual property issues greatly interest me, and my present favorite research field are songs from the [Carlin subsidiary] Edward B. Marks Music catalog which extends back to the 19th century. Songs which are public domain in the United States may still be protected in other countries, so I sometimes have to go through the original contracts and index card files from over a hundred years ago. Obviously, with all the technological advances and the increase of related litigation in our profession, this is a very exciting time in the field of copyright law, and my work at Carlin gives me an unlimited opening to observe our industry and learn even more about its inner-workings."
Always looking to augment her musical involvements both professionally and personally, Thea, who lives in New York with her husband, guitarist Kevin Michaels, also sings and plays bass (with Kevin) in the popular NYC-based rock band Curse which will release their first album this year. A skilled attorney, musician and author, Theodora Michaels brings a vast and unique wealth of experience and accomplishment to Carlin America and continues to be a significant presence within the company as it expands its horizons and prominence.
"Carlin's catalog is so extensive, and our deals with other publishers and foreign affiliates are so varied, that I literally feel like I'm learning something new every day. And best of all, if I have a question about a particular deal -- even one from decades ago -- quite often the people who were involved in it still work here and can answer my questions. I don't think I've worked anyplace else where people are so knowledgeable, and also so willing to share what they know."