Mike Tolleson is past chair of the State Bar of Texas Entertainment and Sports Law Section and currently the Director of the Entertainment Law Institute, an annual conference sponsored by the State Bar of Texas. He has been involved in much of the development of the music and film industries in Texas since 1970, and works closely with many clients and organizations throughout the entertainment industry.

Mike Tolleson founded and has been the director of the Entertainment Law institute since 1990, and was a co-founder and initial chair of the Entertainment and Sports Law Section of the State Bar in 1989. A graduate of the SMU Dedman School of Law, he has worked for over forty years as an entertainment attorney, concert producer, film producer and officer in various industry organizations.

Tolleson was a co-founder of the legendary Austin concert venue, Armadillo World Headquarters (1970 – 1980). He was also a co-founder of Austin public access channel (ACTV) and co-producer of the first Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic in 1973. In 1973, as a consultant to KLRU-TV, he brought Willie Nelson and KLRU together for the pilot episode and was the talent adviser for the first season of Austin City Limits, now the longest running music program on television.

Following a term as President of the state-wide Texas Music Association from 1983 – 1985, he was appointed in 1985 by Governor Mark White to the newly formed Texas Music Commission. He established the Texas Stand at the International Music Market (MIDEM) in Cannes, France, 1985, and has served as a Governor of the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy.

His clients have included such well-known artists as Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Little Joe y La Familia, Del Castillo, Band of Heathens, and many other Texas recording artists, record companies, computer game companies, authors, and film producers.

Areas of Experience

film — music — television — literary works — electronic games — book publishing

Entertainment Law
LicensingCopyright Law & Trademarks
Digital Rights ManagementCompany Formation
Publishing AdministrationInternational Law
Music Clearance


Significant Achievements
  • Co-founder, Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX
  • Co-founder, Texas Music Association, Austin, Houston, San Antonio Chapters
  • Co-founder, Entertainment & Sports Law Section, State Bar of Texas
  • Founder, Entertainment Law Institute, State Bar of Texas
  • Co-producer, 1st Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic
  • Consultant, Austin City Limits, pilot and first series
  • Co-founder, Austin Community Television (ACTV), Austin’s public access channel
  • Founder, Producer, Texas Stand, International Music Industry Market, Cannes, France
Professional Involvement
  • Director, Entertainment Law Institute (1990-current)
  • Past Chair, Entertainment & Sports Law Section, State Bar of Texas
  • Former Governor, The Recording Academy (NARAS), Texas Chapter
  • Past President, Texas Music Association
  • Commissioner, Texas Music Commission
  • Executive Producer, “Scary Movie”, (original independent feature film produced in Texas, 1990)
  • Executive Producer, “Deep in the Heart”, feature film
  • Member, Austin Film Society
  • Member, NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers)
  • Community Involvement
  • Founder and Past President, Swede Hill Neighborhood Association
  • Board Member, Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA) (1999 – 2002)
  • Past Board Member, Austin Community Television
  • JD, Southern Methodist University
  • BBA, Southern Methodist University
  • Admitted to Practice in Texas
Articles, Publications, Lectures
  • Chair, Planning Committee, Entertainment Law Institute, 1990-current
  • Speaker, Entertainment Law Institute, State Bar of Texas
  • Speaker, Entertainment Law Seminar, University of Houston
  • Speaker, National Association of Latino Independent Producers, San Antonio, TX (2003)
  • Speaker, National Association of Latino Independent Producers, Santa Barbara, CA (2004)
  • Speaker, Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts
  • Speaker, Professional Education Program, San Antonio, NARAS
  • Speaker, New Mexico Hispano Music Association
  • Speaker/Panelist, Music Business, Santa Fe, NM, NARAS
  • Author, Editor, “Balance in Perspective”
  • Author, “The Changing Face of Entertainment Law”, Texas Lawyer
  • Author, “Computer Games: The Convergence of Technology, Sports & Entertainment”, Texas Lawyer
  • Author, “Songwriter-Publisher Deals”, The Texas Observer
  • Author, “The Music Business: Who Pays the Piper”, The Texas Observer
  • Speaker/Panelist, Tejano Music Conference, San Antonio
  • Speaker/Panelist, National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), San Antonio
  • Speaker, Austin Music Foundation


Gwen Seale


Gwen Seale

Gwendolyn Seale grew up in Houston Texas, across the street from Robert Earl Keen’s childhood home. Throughout this period, she had two main passions, basketball and music.

She attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas for her undergraduate degree where she played basketball for two years, studied Political Science, French and History graduating magna cum laude. After four years in Sherman, she attended SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas, during which time, she rekindled her love for music and developed a passion for social media and its relation to the law.

During her second year at SMU, she began interning at two music venues in the Dallas Deep Ellum district, Trees and The Bomb Factory, where she did everything from assisting with social media accounts to selling merchandise for bands. She also managed a local Austin band during her final year at SMU. Amidst working for venues and a band, she was an editor on the Science and Technology Law Review, where she began writing about the implications of social media in different areas of the law.  This passion propelled her to take a social media law course with Professor John Browning after which they co-authored an article, “More Than Words: The Evidentiary Value of Emoji,” which received the G. Duffield Smith Outstanding Publication Award from the DRI in 2016 and later was structured into an online Texas CLE lecture.

Currently, along with working at Mike Tolleson and Associates, specializing in entertainment law, she helps some Texas-based bands with booking shows and improving their social media accounts.

  • Austin College, magna cum laude
  • SMU Dedman School of Law ‘16
  • Admitted to practice in Texas.
  • “More Than Words: The Evidentiary Value of Emoji”
  • Texas Bar CLE: “More Than Words: The Evidentiary Value of Emoji”


Of Counsel


I grew up in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, along the same mountain highway as Loretta Lynn, Dwight Yoakam, Ricky Skaggs, Billy Ray Cyrus, the Judds, and Patty Loveless. Music may not be in my voice or my fingers, but it is in my blood.

JOHN ABSHERBefore settling in Austin, I worked alongside entertainment lawyers in New York and New Orleans. I stay active as a member of the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers, the Recording Academy, the Latin Recording Academy, and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.

Modern technologies offer many unique paths that artists may take to success. I travel around the US and world to meet with professionals from all levels of the music industry. I use what I learn to advise clients about which paths best fit their goals. I help artists make thoughtful, practical decisions on how they structure their businesses.

Yo también trabajo con artistas desde México y Sudamérica. Le puedo ayudar en Español.

  • JD, Tulane University
  • BA, Harvard University
  • Admitted to Practice in Kentucky and Texas, including the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas




  • Entertainment Law (Music, Film, and Art)
  • Copyright Registration and Enforcement
  • Trademark Registration and Enforcement
  • Licensing of Music, Art, and Merchandise
  • Formation and Organization of Entertainment Companies
Professional Involvement
  • Member, Leaders In Austin Music, 2015
  • Speaker/Panelist, “The Business of Music,” 2014 Captivate Conference, Austin, TX