If someone told you that the “Internet” was (or would soon be) made up of “persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe,” you’d probably think they’d been reading too many science-fiction novels. Likewise, if someone told you that an eccentric billionaire running one of the world’s biggest social media companies changed the company’s name from “Facebook” to “Meta” and announced billions of dollars of spending on an online virtual “metaverse,” you still might think the same thing.
Yet here we are, collectively scratching our heads at all this “metaverse” talk.
In “Exploring the Metaverse,” the first in our new series of occasional programs delving deep into the legal issues underlying our digital futures, we’ll explore the metaverse with one of the most accessible mediums of artistic expression: music. We’ll hear from experts about:
- Why music labels are investing millions into video game companies—and why some game companies are starting their own music labels;
- Why Deadmau5, Travis Scott and Ariana Grande are performing in virtual venues like Decentraland and Fortnite;
- Who the players are in this new ecosystem and who’s trying to get what out of deals;
- What new challenges await lawyers advising clients seeking to join the future of musical performances in virtual spaces.
To help us answer these (and many more) exciting questions, we will hear from two in-house music experts at top game publishers: Melissa Bortnick (Epic Games) and Mike Spinelli (Take-Two Interactive), in a discussion moderated by Harrison Reynolds (Reynolds & Associates).
* * *Melissa Bortnick currently serves as Senior Counsel at Epic Games, Inc., the publisher of games like Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys. Her primary focus is on the production of in-game concerts, film festivals and experiences, engagement of talent and musical performers, and the integration of audio-visual content and music in the games. Ms. Bortnick's
prior experience includes video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., electronic music festival roll-up company SFX Entertainment, Inc., White & Case LLP, the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Office of General Counsel. She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a Certificate of Study from the Wharton School of Business. She also graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She is licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
Mike Spinelli is Director and Counsel of Music Business Affairs at Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., a leading developer, publisher, and marketer of interactive entertainment for consumers around the globe. He advises on music-related matters across the company, including those in connection with Take-Two’s videogames and marketing materials published and distributed through Rockstar Games, 2K, Private Division, and T2 Mobile Games. Prior to joining Take-Two, Mike worked at Sony Music in the Global Digital Business and Business Affairs Administration departments, where he enforced Sony’s intellectual property rights and drafted and negotiated catalog licenses with digital platforms as well as artist-related agreements on behalf of RCA, Columbia, and Epic.
As an entertainment lawyer in private practice, Harrison Reynolds has negotiated and drafted deals for television and film writers, directors, actors and producers, YouTube stars, recording artists, music producers, record labels, and AAA video game companies. His clients have included everything from A-list celebrities and Grammy-award winning artists to young talent just getting their start.