Warner Music Group's Matthew Walters-Bowens on How Musicians Can Keep Their Creative Work Protected

Future of IP Protection Podcast - Matthew Walters-Bowens

In this episode, Branddy speaks to Matthew Walters-Bowens, Senior Legal Analyst, Trademarks & Domain Names at Warner Music Group, an entertainment and record label conglomerate.

They talk about how the landscape of IP protection has changed over the past ten years, steps recording artists need to take to protect their work, and the challenges they may face in doing so. They also discuss the role of AI in the music industry, and Matthew gives his advice for how to succeed in IP protection.

Get in touch with your host, Branddy Spence.

Topics Discussed

  • How Matthew was drawn to IP protection as a day job to support his singing and theater endeavors, and what motivates him the most about it.
  • How the landscape of IP protection has changed over the past ten years, from a focus on tracking down physical goods to enforcement on the internet.
  • The challenges to IP protection, specifically in the music industry.
  • How music industry professionals can raise awareness around IP protection with their clients, and how to balance protection with creative innovation.
  • The future of IP protection and how AI will play a role in it.
  • Advice for increasing awareness around IP protection, including keeping risk, timelines, cost, and mitigation top-of-mind

Guest Quotes


"So the nature of IP is dynamic. It's always going to be fundamentally changing because it is what's supporting whatever commerce is in the day and age. So one consistent thing that has never changed is it's changing. Some things that have changed since I've started are, well, I started with physical goods. And now in addition to any physical enforcement that you have to do ... a lot more internet and electronic enforcement that you have to do." (6:07)


"Personally, when I make music, I like to not listen to music for a long time because you'll get sued for any little thing. You can unconsciously copy someone's work if you've been listening to it recently. So I like to just make spaces for my own creativity, quiet spaces where I can just have my own original ideas." (11:16)


"But with trademarks and IP and things that I already do, AI is affecting my work in a positive way, in a positive way, such as watch notices or just clearance searches. That is a form of AI, even though it's already older and less shiny than this new AI is supposed to be." (18:46)


"It's important to know what your jurisdiction is. Because we're like, 'We're a trademark, we're covered around the world.' No, you're not. I'm sorry. It's super expensive to be covered around the world. So look at where you really think your income is going to come from and protect yourself there first and then grow." (20:57)


"Sometimes when going over song lyrics, for example, does the artist or whoever is making the creative content accept the fact that there might be risk? And if your risks are large, then you need to have the budget for a large risk. And if they're small, nominal things, maybe you can not care and water off a duck's back, or you make a little bit of change to the lyric or to the title of whatever the play is. At least in my work so far, I haven't seen the IP and trademark talks stifle creativity. Frankly, I think they amplify it." (25:13)

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