13 February 2024 Conference

In the weeks leading up to TMW, we will be introducing some of our remarkable conference panellists in our “Speaker Spotlight” series. First up: Bertis Downs.

Who is he?
Georgia attorneys and a longtime adjunct professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. His speciality is entertainment law, and he has represented R.E.M. – as a band and as a business – throughout their career.

Career with R.E.M.

He originally provided legal counsel and then became both counsellor and manager for R.E.M., taking over from the band’s long-term manager Jefferson Holt.

Recalling the events on VH1’s Behind the Music, Downs said, “I thought they were great”. Downs was so impressed that he told the band that they would one day be bigger than the Beatles. He and the band immediately forged a friendship. “They started asking me questions about copyright issues, trademark issues. The first time they had a recording agreement they needed me to have a look a it”, told Downs.

Giving back to the community

Bertis Downs is also known for his work in the field of education. His main civic and charitable interest emphasises advocacy for our nation’s public schools. He is a member of the boards of the Network for Public Education and People For the American Way. His chief concern is the growing corporatisation of public schools to the detriment of teaching and learning. Downs has said that the most important thing the community can do for public education is to pay attention to teachers and help them help kids learn.

Bertis in his own words:

  •  “Hooking your star to a wagon and expecting that to be the right one — I mean, I didn’t expect it— and it was pretty unlikely then.”
  • “​​Adapting to new circumstances, that’s how music survives.”
  • “Good schools build a good community.”

3 reasons to come and see him at TMW:

  • To get some insight into the legal side of music
  • To learn how to stay true to your artist through thick and thin
  • To find out how to survive and adapt to the modern day

In addition to Bertis Downs, the speakers include Vice President at Wasserman Music Rob Challice, BAFTA-winning music supervisor Kle Savidge and Oscar-campaigning filmmaker Anna Hints. Read about the rest of the panelists here.

Tallinn Music Week 2024 Conference takes place at Nordic Hotel Forum.
PRO and DigiPRO passes on sale at shop.tmw.ee.