When Esperanza Spalding won the Best New Artist award at the 2011 Grammy Awards last February, Clinical Professor Brian Price wasn’t at all surprised—he had long predicted that the former client of his HLS clinic would hit it big.
“She is super talented,” he says, “a fun-spirited person, exuberant but serious,” whose star quality was obvious from the moment he listened to sound clips on her website. Price, director of the HLS Transactional Law Clinics, and his then-student Kevin Mosher ’06 represented Spalding five years ago, just after she graduated from Berklee College of Music. A jazz musician who sings and plays the bass and other instruments, Spalding was looking to sign on with a management company in Spain and needed legal help with the contracts.
Price and Mosher worked with Spalding to review and revise the proposed management agreement. Mosher got experience in client counseling and contract drafting, while Spalding got legal advice that has stood the test of time.
When Price contacted Spalding to congratulate her, she emailed him back just days later, despite the media crush accompanying her win. “Wow, thank you for your generous help all those years back! I am still satisfied with my same manager (remember it was that contract you were working on!!!),” she wrote, with a smiley face punctuating her email.
Spalding, 26, has had soaring success in the past few years: Her 2008 album, “Esperanza,” was on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart for more than 70 weeks, and she’s had two performances at the White House. Price was watching the Grammys when Spalding won. “She’s truly a unique, once-in-a-generation artist,” he says.
Under Price’s supervision, HLS students in the Transactional Law Clinics and the associated student practice organization, the Recording Artists Project, assist about 30 musicians a year with recording, management, publishing, and licensing agreements plus endorsement contracts, company formation and related legal matters. The clinics also work with entrepreneurs and small businesses on a variety of transactional matters.