People & Culture Series: Daniel Rosen
When we listen to our favourite music - which is obviously Monstercat music (of course!) - we don’t think too much about what it took to get that song blasting through our speakers. The artists that made the music are typically at the forefront of our minds when we try to figure out what went into making the music. But what about all the other stuff? The agreements that were made, the rules put in place, the plans drawn up for its release? Well, there’s always a superstar waiting in the wings to help artists out with this process. And at Monstercat, that superstar is Daniel Rosen. Equal parts musician, lawyer, and contract genius, Daniel Rosen shares his insight on the work he does at Monstercat.
What do you do at Monstercat?
I'm the Head of Business and Legal Affairs. The Business and Legal Affairs team is responsible for dealing with the acquisition and monetization of Monstercat’s copyright assets, along with providing a lens of risk management for the business. Our department papers all the records and ensures that all of our agreements for licensing our music are in good shape, including to digital service providers (DSPs) like Spotify or to video games like Rocket League. We deal with all types of agreements that our company is entering into - some very simple, others more complex.
What initially attracted you to the legal space within music?
First and foremost, I'm a musician. I think many of us working in the industry are. But, what I really found I love doing on top of creating, is helping others navigate the music industry. My career started in artist management, and to this date, I still manage an artist on the side - her name is Danyka Nadeau, and she’s been on a bunch of Monstercat releases. It was actually when helping her through her deals, that I got really interested in the legal aspects of the music industry. I thought, well maybe there's something here for me. When you're a lawyer, you're this pathway between the law and others who are not so knowledgeable about the law. I help Monstercat navigate the complex world of the music industry, which is worldwide and consistently evolving.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different. It really depends on what the business is doing. For example, I just got off a call with Gavin, our Head of Gaming, to discuss some upcoming deals in the pipeline. On other days, it could be dealing with a trademark issue or helping our team properly contract a certain release. With Monstercat, there is never a dull day - there are always different types of business arrangements we are entering into, or thinking about entering into, and our company needs somebody who's a lawyer to be overseeing this part of our business.
What got you into making music? Did you always start with electronic music? What’s the story behind that?
I started as a piano player in grade two, and took lessons all throughout high school and university. In high school, I discovered the guitar and was in a couple of bands. Funny enough, my high school band recently got back together after 15-20 years, and we still play in my parents' basement. But, I’ve always gravitated toward sound recordings. Certain seminal albums have defined parts of my life, and I’ve always been fascinated by the record production process. I even went to school and completed a Masters in Audio Engineering. I’ve been producing for 10-15 years. Currently, I'm a trance producer, producing under the pseudonym Phillip Castle. I’ve released a few records on AVA Recordings, another Canadian label based in Vancouver, and my tracks have been played by some big DJs including Armin Van Buuren and Ferry Corsten. So, when the day ends at Monstercat, in addition to spending time with my wife Anna and my daughter Sophie, I often find myself making music.
Are there any interesting challenges in your role?
The challenge of being a lawyer and getting deals done is that you have to stand your ground and fight for your client’s position, while also keeping in mind that the deal needs or should get done. I really love finding creative ways to make those deals happen where everyone's happy, but where we have gotten the best deal for us. It is a delicate balance.
Do you have advice for musicians seeking legal help?
My advice to like artists is that it is really useful to understand basic copyright law. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand a contract. There may come a point in an artist’s career where they need a lawyer, perhaps when they are more established, but at the start it is time well spent learning a little bit about the legal aspects of the music industry. There are many community organizations that organize lectures, such as Artscape here in Toronto (where I live and work), and there are tons of YouTube videos and online articles to read.
How would you describe the culture at a place like Monstercat?
What's amazing about Monstercat is that the people are great to be around. Everyone really loves working for the company, because we're doing such cool things. Working for Monstercat is special, because over the last 10+ years, we have been one of the industry’s leading music companies, innovating and paving the way for others. It's nice to be a part of the journey.
Which of the company values at Monstercat do you resonate with the most?
Curiosity, for sure. At Monstercat, there is a lot of space for people to be innovative, to throw new ideas out there, and be curious about what we can accomplish. There are always thoughts in my head saying - well, what now? What else can we accomplish? How can I help the company get there? I think that being curious and thinking outside the box are really important here at Monstercat.
Learn more about our careers at Monstercat by visiting monstercat.com/careers