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


Gwendolyn Seale

Gwen Seale

Gwendolyn Seale is a 2016 graduate of SMU Dedman School of Law and practices entertainment law at Mike Tolleson and Associates in Austin, Texas. While at SMU, she interned at two music venues in the Dallas Deep Ellum district, Trees and The Bomb Factory, with responsibilities that included assisting with social media accounts, merchandise sales and reviewing performance contracts. During her final year of law school, she also managed a band based in Austin. Currently, at Mike Tolleson and Associates, she drafts and negotiates contracts related to music, film and sports entertainment, and assists clients with their copyright and trademark registration needs.

In addition to her practice, Gwen has published articles and presented Continuing Legal Education Courses on topics such as YouTube’s monetization policies, legal issues surrounding music festivals and the evidentiary significance of emojis.


  • Austin College, magna cum laude
  • SMU Dedman School of Law ‘16
  • Admitted to practice in Texas.


  • “More Than Words: The Evidentiary Value of Emoji,” For the Defense (DRI 2015) (co-authored with John Browning)
  • “Facebook Face-Offs: Artist Fights Over Social Media Rights and the Need to Address Page Roles in Contract,” State Bar of Texas (November 2017)
  • “Making Sense of YouTube’s Monetization Policies,” Entertainment Law and Finance (January 2019)


  • The DRI’s G. Duffield Smith Outstanding Publication Award for “More Than Words: The Evidentiary Value of Emoji”


  • “More Than Words: The Evidentiary Value of Emoji,” Texas Bar CLE Webcast (Jan. 2017)
  • “Lights, Cameras, Hashtags: Cutting Edge Social Media Issues For Today’s Entertainment Lawyer, State Bar of Texas Entertainment Law Institute (Nov. 2017)
  • “Show Me The Money: YouTube Monetization Policies Explained,” State Bar of Texas Entertainment Law Institute (Nov. 2018)
  • “Legal Aspects of Producing Entertainment Projects,” University of Texas (Nov. 2018)
  • “Creativity Meets Copyright,” Austin Music Foundation (Apr. 2019)
  • “Making Sense of YouTube’s Monetization Policies,” Midem (June 2019)
  • “When Good Festivals Go Bad and Other Legal Issues Surrounding Live Music Performances,” State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting (June 2019)

Professional Involvement

  • State Bar of Texas Computer and Technology Section – Section Council
  • State Bar of Texas Entertainment and Sports Law Section – Section Council