Trend Or Fad? When Should You Invest In New Technology? | ProSound Web

Remember that the decision you make today will affect your business for the next five years or more…
audio businessI define a trend as a lasting change in the direction of a technology or market. Webster’s dictionary says, among other things, that it’s defined as “ a line of development.” A fad, on the other hand, is defined by Webster as “a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal.”

This led me to consider a “trend or fad” example in our industry: the line array. It’s true that these improved tools have taken the market by storm. But if you make all of your purchasing decisions by listening to hype alone, you’d replace all of your gear on a yearly basis. And how can you possibly afford that?

Clearly, not all new products warrant the investment necessary to join your inventory. Before jumping on any new technology or product, you need to make sure it will deliver on its claims, and further, will deliver a positive return for your dollar.

Loudspeaker systems, consoles, amplifiers, signal processing and wireless systems are all just as prone to dramatic shifts in technology, creating pressure for rental company owners to make new equipment investments to “keep up”.

The Drive To Profit
So how does the average rental company decide which products are the right ones to add to inventory? Tough decisions, indeed. Make the right choices, and you possess the gear the clients want to rent at a price that will be profitable.

But make the wrong choices, and you end up with equipment that is difficult to rent. More energy will be required to get someone to use this gear, and at a lower price (and therefore margin).

You might even be forced to “sweeten the deal” to the point that any hint of profitability goes right out the door. Thus making the right long-term equipment investments is key—perhaps the biggest key—to solid, long-term profitability.

A vital factor in play is the alliances that are built with manufacturers as a sound company grows and matures. We all know that having the right equipment is one thing, but making sure that the company who made it is around for the long haul is equally important.

Fad products that come from fad companies can be attractive in the early stages; but if the manufacturer is not around to support it, it can become expensive and even impossible to keep the equipment in service.

Who You Gonna Call? 
What to do? You need “cutting edge” gear that customers want, but also need to make sure that the investment will pay off in the long run. Here are some guidelines to consider when evaluating new products and vendors.

First, carefully gauge the demand for the product. Make a lot of calls to a lot of colleagues. Is the product listed on tour contract riders? This is critical. Also, who are the principal “name” designers, sound companies and mixers who are “endorsing” a product? These folks help drive interest in a product and, ultimately, get it on riders.

Second, meet with your accountant or financial adviser and calculate the return on investment (ROI) based on your anticipated rental rate for the product. I would further suggest deducting an additional 20 percent from the anticipated rental rate and see if it will still yield a reasonable return. This simple step is frequently bypassed with sometimes-tragic results.

Third, do research on the vendor of the equipment. In the investment community, this step is called “due diligence” and is crucial. Without a strong company behind the product, you’re setting yourself up for some nasty surprises. Don’t be shy on this step.

If the company is publicly held, ask its investor relations department for 10Q and 10K statements (quarterly and annual reports). Go over these with your accountant and make sure the company is profitable and has strong cash flow and cash reserves.

If a company is privately held, spend a couple hundred dollars and run a credit report on them. You can do this over the Internet through companies like Dunn & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian.

While credit reports don’t provide the same wealth of information as financial statements, they can indicate critical issues that will “red flag” impending problems. Look for issues with vendor payments; while all companies will have a few disputed vendor issues, companies should not have a significant number of them.

Don’t Get Caught Up
So many rental companies get excited about price, not value, when investing in new equipment. Remember that the decision you make today will affect your business for the next five years or more. Take your time; try not to get caught up in the moment.

Often, at the end of the year or a quarter, a manufacturer will be working hard to close equipment sales. Make sure this is a correct investment for you before acting on the temptation to jump on the discount. After all, what does it say about a manufacturer who is desperate to close a deal a few days early?

In the final analysis, making big investments in equipment represents a fork in the road for any rental company. Make the right choice and you get on the right path for long-term success. Make the wrong choice and you’re storing elephants in your warehouse while hampered by cash-flow issues.

Take your time and make sure that you buy the right products from companies that act as partners you can trust. It’s the best way to win in the “trend versus fad” wars.

Michael MacDonald is the president of leading production company ATK Audiotek in Valencia, CA, and has been involved in the professional audio industry for more than 35 years. Beginning as a freelance mixer/engineer in the 1970s, he transitioned to working for manufacturers and has been employed by, developed products for, and consulted with major companies such as Yamaha and JBL Professional.

Build a superfan base one video at a time | DiscMakers

by BEN SWORD

Engaging with your fans involves “check moves” – opportunities for positive interaction – and online videos are one way to build an audience on YouTube and beyond

build an audience on YouTube

This lesson comes from Ben Sword, founder of Music Marketing Classroom, with an excerpt from the “Superfan Building” module of their training. Click here for the whole shebang.

If you’ve done any research about music marketing, you’ve probably heard a lot of people telling you you need to be on social media “engaging” with your fans. Sounds good, but what does that mean? Good question! The mission of this lesson is explain what engaging means, give you practical steps you can do each day, and help you build an audience on YouTube and beyond in the ultimate quest to take your music promotion to new heights.

The “check move” theory

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure why I needed to bother engaging with fans until I discovered the “check move” theory. This concept tells us that the more positive interactions (or check moves) fans take with an artist, the closer the connection will be, and that will ultimately lead to more support – whether that be financial or with promotion bringing in new fans by word of mouth.

I think this is an especially powerful idea for musicians because it means we don’t have to hammer the fan base with slightly cheesy sales messages all the time, and can just focus on putting out super-duper stuff that they WANT to interact with.

It all starts with “capture”

In other words, get a smart phone and press record a lot, because often you can entertain your gang by just bringing them into your world and making content based around what you’re already doing.

The way this might look for a band on the road is that each member would be documenting the wild ride from their own point of view and posting it to Dropbox, and then your social media dude edits all the best bits for posting. (Of course, if you’re on a budget, the “social media dude” could simply be Bob the crazy drummer who likes playing with the computers).

But for some even that might seem like a little bit too much like hard work, so why not run a competition to have one of your die-hard fans come on the road with you to capture all the cool behind-the-scenes happenings? For an amazing example of this check out Ozzy Osbourne’s Facebook Page.

Seeing your journey from a fan’s point of view will mean they’re in a great position to know what’s going to be interesting and relevant. BOOYARR! You’ve just created a world class digital content strategy and it did not hurt one bit.

So how on earth do you set up a check move?

The mission here is to remove all the head-scratching from your social media marketing by giving you a set of tried and tested posts ready to go, and video is a great way to tell a story through more than just words. And you don’t need to just make a music video every week, there are dozens of ways to create video content that can help you engage with your fans. Don’t believe me? Here are 23 ideas to start with.

    1. Behind the music
      Let people in on your wild ride in the biz. Your first band, first song, first guitar, first love (or maybe not), challenges and setbacks, magic moments, and plans for the future. To do this, get a piece of paper and draw a picture of yourself as a just born baby on the left hand side, then draw a picture of yourself last week on the right. Now fill up the space in the middle with all the epic stuff that’s happened to you during that time. BTW, you don’t have to make a whole movie in one go. Bite-sized pieces will actually work better for holding interest.

 

    1. Interviews
      Interview every cool person you meet along the way – producers, managers, your crazy bassist, other bands, family, friends, fans, the sound man, tour manager and the driver who never seems to sleep. Here’s a good example to get you started. WARNING: There is a 93% chance this video will make you laugh, so if you’re at work maybe watch it later!

      how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 1

    2. Cribs
      Make a video to show folks around your home town and even your house if that doesn’t feel weird. Travel to important landmarks in your career like where the band got together, or where you performed your first successful stage dive. If you can’t be bothered to actually leave your house, you could do this using Google street view.

 

    1. Backstage
      Post dressing room shenanigans, the after-show party, and even that particularly tasty treat you got on the rider. And if Jimmy Page shows up and wants to play with you, film yourself getting ready for the gig!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 2
    2. In the studio
      Video yourself during recording sessions. This is an awesome method of keeping fans in touch while you would normally be off the radar.

 

    1. Live footage from your latest gig
      There is a cool tool called Switch Cam which will turn your whole crowd into one big massive film crew and then you can come back later and make a wicked movie using all those different viewpoints. It’s the future baby!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 3
    2. Tour diary
      Video diary updates when you’re on tour that include where you’re playing, how the shows are going, which band member is starting to make you crazy, what it’s like inside the van, and reviews of the accommodations.

 

    1. Sound check videos
      You might think this seems a little boring (and honestly I would agree), but folks outside of the biz love learning how things work from your perspective, and these kinds of music videos seem to get a ton of views. There could be interested people who will appreciate the look inside.

 

    1. Rehearsal footage
      Give your fans a sneak peek of brand new tracks from the practice room.how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 4
    2. Gear heads
      Show people around your gear and how you get your EPIC sounds. “This one goes to 11.”

 

    1. Music from your past
      Dust off those demos you made when you were a kid or in an early band. I think it’s cool to show people how you got to where you are now musically. Don’t be bashful about it!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 5
    2. Merch!
      Live from the merch booth meeting the fans and the people who run your table.

 

    1. Song-meanings and inspirations
      Share what you were thinking and feeling when you wrote a song, if that doesn’t feel too personal.how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 6
    2. Alternate versions
      Record yourself playing acoustic versions of your more popular songs.

 

    1. Covers
      Record yourself playing interesting arrangements of music you love. (Don’t forget to get a sync license if you’re doing this!)

 

    1. Covers by fans
      Post a little “guitar lesson” for one of your most popular songs and then challenge fans to come up with the best cover version on video and post it.

 

    1. Say thanks
      Make a real personal video to thank fans when you reach important milestones in your career. Jackie Chan did this when he got 50 million Facebook fans. Just look at the way he pops up. Classic!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 7
    2. Making of
      The “making of” your video with director’s commentary, like the extras on a DVD. This would basically be a couple of key players talking about how the whole thing came together.

 

    1. Answer questions
      Host an “ask me anything event,” online open mic session, or do what Noah Guthrie did and answer Twitter questions on video. It’s a multi-media bonanza!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 8
    2. Outtakes
      Compile outtakes and bloopers from your recording sessions and video shoots.

 

    1. Chat with a superfan
      Make someone’s day and make a video out of it.how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 9
    2. Shopping
      Go thrift shopping for stage clothes or props and document the whole adventure on video.

 

  1. Make a music video
    Every cool tune should have some kind of music video, even if it’s real simple. Here’s something I made with no budget in just a few hours. Moving forward, I’ll be making mostly “fans create the footage” music videos because then the check move factor goes through the roof!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 10

Here is your action step

OK so now we’re at the end of this lesson you’ve got two options.

1. Close this page and think, “Hmmm, ain’t that Ben Sword a cool and sexy mofo, he gave me a ton of ideas that I really should use one day and I must buy him lots of beer next time he’s in town. But then, ha ha ha! Look at those funny talking cats dancing on YouTube … what was I doing again?”

Apart from the thing about buying me beers, that ain’t going to do anyone any good, so the only option you should really consider is:

2. Pick one thing from this list, do it right now, and give yourself an hour to complete it. Often work will swell to the amount of time you allocate, so setting a short deadline means you’ll be really action focused and proactive.

Then if you’re feeling brave, do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and for the next 30 days, until you got the habit locked in for the rest of your career. Being that consistent will pretty much guarantee you’ll find an audience at some point. It’s like a law of nature or something.

Sure, what you produce at first might be crappy, and that’s totally cool – in fact that’s what’s supposed to happen. But after a while, making great stuff will be just like eating maple syrup and bacon pancakes with a thick Oreo cookie milkshake (i.e. EASY!)

Good luck, I’m rootin for ya’ and please contact me if you got questions because I’ll be making follow-up lessons.

Ben Sword is the founder of the Music Marketing Classroom, on a mission to help musicians create sustainable careers with a simple four level marketing philosophy. Learn more at MusicMarketingClassroom.com.

Read more: Build a superfan base one video at a time – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/03/build-a-superfan-base-with-videos/#ixzz2wPyiDord

State of the Industry: 18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money | Bandzoogle

Dave Cool

One of the biggest challenges facing musicians is generating income. Gone are the days when a band could rely solely on music sales and touring to earn a living.

Part of the reality of being a working musician today is the need to diversify your revenue streams. Although sales of recorded music have gone down significantly in recent years, there are new sources of income available to musicians.

A mix of traditional and more modern income streams can help today’s musicians earn a living. Here’s a list of 18 ways to generate revenue for your music career:

18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money

1. CD Sales: If you’re going to be playing live shows, having CDs on hand is still a good idea. They make great takeaway souvenirs that can easily be signed by band members.

2. Vinyl Sales: Vinyl sales surged 30% in 2013. Again, if you’ll be playing live shows, printing a small batch to have at your merch table can help generate extra income.

3. Digital Sales: You should be selling digital music through your own website to make the most money, but also through online retailers. Keep in mind that online retailers take a percentage of sales (ex. iTunes takes 30%, Bandcamp takes 15%). Some digital distributors that place your music in stores like iTunes and Amazon will take a cut on top of that.

4. Streaming: Although per-stream payouts from streaming services tend to be small, they can add up over time. Keep in mind that these services also help new fans discover your music, and shouldn’t be seen solely as an income generator.

5. Live Shows: Money made from live shows can vary greatly, but it’s still one of the best ways to earn income. Not only can you make money from selling tickets, but it’s also one of the best ways to sell merch. Be sure to read our blog series “The 4 P’s of Playing Live” to make sure you’re getting the most out of your gigs.

6. Physical Merch: Income from physical merch can depend heavily on the amount of live shows you play. If you go out on tour, be sure that you have some t-shirts, as well as smaller items like buttons and stickers that you can sell to fans after the show. For more tips about merch, read: Get Your Merch On: Generating Revenue from Merchandise

7. Digital Merch: You can also sell digital merch items like PDFs, videos, and images to your fans. Things like lyric books, live concerts, sheet music, exclusive photos, artwork and more. Check out this post for ideas of digital items you can sell through your website: Using the new File Download feature: 20 Items you can now sell

8. Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding can be a great way to generate income for your music career. A well-executed crowdfunding campaign can help you raise enough money to offset the cost of producing and marketing your album. Read this excellent post by Dave Kusek (New Artist Model) about how to approach crowdfunding: Crowdfunding the Right Way

9. Publishing Royalties: You should be signed up to a performing rights organization so you can collect royalties on your music. This includes public performance royalties (radio, TV, live venues), mechanical royalties (sales through retailers, streaming, etc.), and sync royalties (commercials, film, TV).

10. Digital Royalties: Whenever your music is played on services like SiriusXM radio, Pandora, and webcasters, they must pay royalties. Sign up for a free SoundExchange account to make sure you’re collecting those royalties.

11. Live Performance Royalties: When performing original material, you can earn royalties from live performances. Whether you perform at a bar, restaurant, club, or other music venue, Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) will pay royalties from those live performances.

12. Licensing: If you get your song placed in a film, commercial, or TV show, chances are they’re going to pay you a licensing fee. These fees vary greatly, depending on the budget for the project, and how badly they want your particular song.

13. YouTube: On YouTube, whenever your music is used in videos that are running ads, YouTube pays a portion of that advertising money to the rights holders of the song. Digital distributors like TuneCore and CD Baby can help you collect that money, as well as Audiam.

14. Sponsorships: If you’ve built up a fan base, some companies are willing to sponsor musicians to reach those fans. Sponsorships can range from cash, to free products, services, and gear. Read this excellent guest post from Dave Huffman about sponsorships: Musicians: How to Get Sponsored

15. Session Work: Another way to make some extra money is to put yourself out there as a session musician. As a singer or instrumentalist, you could do session work for other musical projects, or even in advertising.

16. Songwriting/Composing: If you’re a songwriter, you could write songs for other musicians, or compose music specifically for film and television.

17. Cover Gigs: Playing cover gigs at bars, restaurants, weddings and other private events is frowned upon by some musicians. But those shows can pay really well, and allow you to get paid to play your instrument. There’s no shame in that.

18. Music Lessons: Many musicians teach their instrument to others to help generate revenue towards their own career. This can be a nice way to supplement your income, and allows you to hone your craft at the same time.

Tracking Your Income

With all of these different income streams, it will be important to track your progress. This will allow you to gauge which ones are working best for your career, and where you should focus your attention.

To help keep track of your income, you can download our sample music marketing budget here.

Why indies should still care about radio | Disc Makers

shutterstock 1941665841 Why indies should still care about radio[This article was written by Erica Sinkovic, CD Baby’s Web Product Manager and general music enthusiast.]

Whether you’re an independent artist or signed to an independent label, you’re sure to have a lot on your plate already. Between booking shows, debating merch, planning your next big marketing move, juggling social media-insanity, oh yeah, and writing new material, the last thing you want to add to your plate is a radio campaign. Indies have all but abandoned this once-career-establishing source. Some say it’s because their audience isn’t listening to radio anymore, some say it’s because radio is only for Top 40 major label artists, and others simply don’t have time or resources to even consider it in their marketing mix. I’m here to tell you: don’t abandon radio.

Even though many people, particularly teens, are listening to music via YouTube and other on-demand platforms, discovery tends to happen through other channels. Just two years ago, in 2012, Nielsen reported that 48% of people surveyed discovered music most often through the radio (compared to YouTube’s 7%). Today, in 2014, Nielsen reports that radio listenership is on the rise from 243.7 million in 2013 to 244.4 million weekly listeners in 2014. They cite the localization of stations and their curated content as a key factor to becoming so easily interwoven in peoples’ lives…something to keep in mind come tour time.

I’m not here to tell you “drop everything and focus all of your time and money on radio.” I’m here to tell you that radio is not dead, DJs are still the tastemakers in every town, and radio still has the power to bring artists of all genres to the next level in their careers, at every level.

In my experience of working with incredible artists, labels and distribution companies, I’ve seen the difference that radio can make – taking unknowns to globally recognized names (yes, there are many more millions of people listening internationally). Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Childish Gambino, Robert DeLong, these are artists that Glassnote Records took way up the charts in both airplay and sales by focusing much of their efforts on radio in every single market (touring also being a major factor). You can’t turn on a college radio station or satellite radio channel without hearing Arcade Fire (#1 on Billboard), Grizzly Bear (#7 on Billboard), First Aid Kit (#12 on Billboard Independent), Passion Pit (#4 on Billboard) and so on.

Don’t give up on radio because there are millions of people still listening, still trusting and still anxiously awaiting the next “new thing.”

How do you get your music on the radio?

Depends on your resources.

1. Radio marketing services such as Pirate! or The Syndicate. Some publicists offer this service in varying degrees as well, but relationships are key here.

2. Radio mailing services offered through boutique distribution companies for an additional fee (single or album-based).

3. Print out a one-sheet, get a box of promos, and start looking up key stations (Will you be touring there? Do you have sales there? Is there an influential tastemaker station there?) to mail or digitally deliver your music to.

* Helpful hint #1: your one-sheet should tell readers immediately why they should care to listen to your music.

* Helpful hint #2: if you want to confirm that someone has listened to your music, pick up the phone and call them.

Have you gotten your music on the radio as an independent artist? Did you hire a promoter, or handle the radio promotion yourself? Let us know in the comments section below.

Music instrument insurance questions answered (in English!) | Disc Makers

by GEARTRACK

Does insurance speak make you cross-eyed? Give you a migraine? Scare the pants off you? Fear not, we’ve found a music instrument insurance translator.

 

Music instrument insurance questions answeredIf you’ve ever been curious about the ins and outs of musical instrument insurance, but don’t speak insurance, our friends at GearTrack can help act as interpreters. They spoke to Thomas Riley, a music instrument insurance expert from The Anderson Group, and here’s what they learned.

What’s the difference between musical instrument insurance and a standard homeowners policy?
There are several differences. $2,000 is the maximum value covered under homeowners policies and it doesn’t cover professional use. It also doesn’t cover flood damage, accidents, breakage, cracking, falling, earthquake damage or loss, nor “Agreed Risk” or replacement. Your deductible comes into play as well. Most deductibles are in the $500 to $1,000 range.

Translation: Your homeowners insurance is for your hobbies, dummy. And even if music is your hobby, there are all kinds of reasons to look into musical instrument insurance, like maximum value limits and damage and loss coverage.

Does music instrument insurance cover damage and repair?
It does, as a normal rule, though subject to the policy itself. As long as the damage is not listed in the policy’s exclusions, a musical instrument would be sent to a repair shop and the estimate sent to the loss adjuster. If the instrument suffered a loss in value as a result of the damage and its repair, this “diminished value” would be reimbursed (a very valuable part of this insurance).

Translation: In general, yes. Read the fine print about what types of damage are covered. Bonus: if your gear is damaged and loses value after the repair, your music instrument insurance carrier will pay you the difference!

How are quotes and values formulated?
The prospect fills out the application which goes to underwriting. According to the value (either by appraisal or documented information) and the exposure (for instance, a collector versus a performer), a quote is formulated (between $.525/$100 and $1/$100). Memberships in professional organizations and high value instruments earn appreciable discounts.

Translation: Insurance cost depends on how you use your instrument and how much it’s worth. They do some magical figuring and give you a quote. It doesn’t hurt a bit.

What documentation does an instrument insurer require?
Many times, if we have a serial number and pictures per our guidelines, no appraisal is requested. High value and vintage instruments need appraisals.

Translation: Insurers care about original and replacement value. The more expensive or rare your gear, the more documentation you should have.

How do I know if I need instrument insurance?
$150 per year covers up to $24,000 of scheduled items. It doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars on instruments and not spend the $.40 cents per day to protect them and have the ability to replace them.

Translation: If you use your gear to make money or if you have enough money in instruments (more than your low deductible), you should at least look into it. You’ll be surprised by how affordable it is.

What happens once I make a claim?
You file a claim stating “what, when, where, why, how, who” with dates of occurrence and a police report (if applicable). In the case of damage, an estimate from your repair shop is needed. Most claims can be handled when the repair is completed or even more promptly when a total loss or theft is involved.

Translation: After you follow the five Ws (plus H), all you gotta do is get yourself a repair estimate if necessary, and wait for the check to come in. But really, that’s why you get insurance. They won’t get it back for you, but they will replace it.

What if I get my instrument back after having made a claim?
It is the property of the insurance company; you may refund the indemnity check and keep the instrument if you wish.

Translation: Would you rather have a new instrument or your precious? Up to you. You have to give them their money back if you want your old gear.

Is music instrument insurance affordable? 
Sho ’nuff.

Translation: YES!

Image via ShutterStock.com.

GearTrack is an online registry that aims to deter music instrument theft and aid in recovery. Instrument owners can itemize their collections and victims of theft can send stolen alerts to the WatchDog network and access tools for search and recovery. Buyers and sellers can easily search serial numbers before trading and selling their gear. Learn more and register your instruments at Gear-Track.com.

Thanks to Thomas Riley of The Anderson Group for answering our questions. Anderson was started by a musician, for musicians. They know the difference between a violin and viola, and they understand what instruments mean to musicians.

Read more: Music Insurance | Musical Instrument Insurance – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/05/music-instrument-insurance-questions-answered-in-english/#ixzz330lhnIeQ

How to find, land, and work a music publishing deal | Disc Makers

by MICHAEL GALLANT

A music publishing deal can be an additional revenue generator for a songwriter, and we’ve got advice on how to prepare your material and get into the mix.

How to land a music publishing deal

For any indie artist, there are tried and true ways to earn a few bucks: sell albums, downloads, concert tickets, and merchandise. But what about the more elusive streams of income open to those who can craft addictive beats and melodies? Many independent artists may have heard the term “publishing deal” thrown around before, but the process of understanding, finding, solidifying, and earning money under the right sort of music publishing deal can be a mystifying one.

To help lift the shroud, read on for some hard-earned wisdom from Natalie Nicole Gilbert, a Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter who has worked in music publishing, broadcasting, and licensing for over fifteen years.

What exactly is a music publishing deal?
It’s a relationship with a publisher in which they represent one or more of your compositions, usually for a set period of time, and they take a percentage cut of any revenue you earn related to those compositions.

When should indie artists start to look for publishing deals?
It’s never too early to get this search on your radar — much like finding a good entertainment lawyer. On the other hand, it’s best to approach publishers when you have a collection, no matter how small, of tunes that are truly marketable.

It also helps to reach out once you have a set of materials that make it easy to demonstrate your marketability and level of skill and professionalism, items like professional-quality demos, headshots, cover letters, and ideally, your own website, including a hidden or password-protected spot where they can download digital copies of your available music. Even videos of your live performances can help.

So with that in mind, if all you have today is a very rough MP3 and your last headshot was taken ten years ago, take the time to update your assets before you start pitching to publishers and catalogs.

What kind of indie artist can benefit the most from a music publishing deal?
The kind of artist that benefits most from a publishing deal is an artist who performs out very little, if at all. Even as I say this, though, take note that I’m not saying a composer or songwriter should ever stop performing entirely. It’s important to stay engaged with fans and listeners to keep a sharpened sense of what resonates most with your audience.

For an artist who is especially shy, exhausted by performing too much, or has other obligations and interests in life that prevent regular touring, a publishing deal is a great way to lengthen the life and reach of his or her music so it can circulate with other artists and mediums like TV, film, or sheet music.

My friend Dean H. Anderson, who’s a fellow composer, has also pointed out that artists who are particularly prolific and have a large surplus of material, which they couldn’t possibly perform themselves, can really benefit from a publishing deal. For them, it can be great to utilize a publisher to find other artists who might be able to perform those surplus songs, so the compositions don’t just sit around and gather dust.

What about artists who do tour a lot?
Publishing deals can be a great way for touring artists and bands to expand their revenue portfolios, inviting multiple streams of income from the same songs and works they’re performing on the road — or even different works that aren’t as viable for concerts, but may be great for beginning piano books or backdrop music beds in a reality show.

Do all publishing deals look the same?
They’re not one-size-fits-all. Shop for the one that makes the most sense for your present compositions in today’s market. If a publisher wants to sign your work indefinitely, negotiate to either start with just one to five years, or give them just a few songs, so you’re not landlocked if they aren’t able to shop your work the way you’d hoped.

Much like your stock portfolio and general revenue streams, diversity is key — especially at the start. Over time, if you find one company that really seems like a good fit and your sense is that it’s the right time to put your entire catalog with them, go for it. But make that choice after you’ve had the time to do your homework and gotten to know the publishing company.

If it’s the right time for an indie artist to seek out a deal, what’s the best way to find, and approach, the right publisher?
Pick up a copy of the latest Songwriter’s Market and read through the listings. Pay special attention to the ways that different publishers request your materials. You may be surprised to find that some still request a cassette copy of your demo, or prefer a VHS tape of your performance over a CD copy or digital download.

There’s also a fine balance to strike between keeping it simple and giving them enough information at the start. Label absolutely everything you send with your name and contact information. Assume that the CD will be separated from the cover letter, the DVD, and anything else you tuck in the package.

Also, make sure your digital file metadata is clean, accurate, and plentiful. Even if they’re old school and request your info on cassette, VHS, and via fax, chances are their younger interns and associates are actually living in the digital age and will be smart enough to back it all up in a digital format. Make interacting with your materials as simple as possible.

What info should you include in your pitch?
It can be easier to demonstrate your value to a publishing company if you’ve already been generating some buzz and movement on your songs. Have you had great online sales via Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play? Include those sales numbers and a list of the continents where your music is downloaded the most, but again, keep it concise. Has your music been picked up in a reputable film or TV show or included on a worthwhile soundtrack? Have you won any recent music awards? Let them know.

Above all, don’t wait until you’ve signed with any kind of music representative before you start pitching your music to filmmakers and fellow artists. Pound the pavement yourself and learn everything about the business side of the music industry that you can. It will cost you far less to know too much than too little.

What are some of the most widespread misconceptions about publishing deals?
One of the most common misconceptions is how the chain interlinks. On top of my own musical pursuits, I also work with a large stock music library, and we get calls there frequently from composers looking to land their small collection of twenty tracks in our massive library of over 380,000 tracks. While there are various exceptions in every field, for the most part, it doesn’t work that way.

How does it work, then?
The artist composes and hands off music to a publisher, if the artist doesn’t have his or her own publishing company. The publisher then passes the music off to a larger publisher or a small library, or an artist or record label, who then may or may not pass it off to a larger conglomerate library where supervisors and editors can do mass music searches for everything under the sun.

It’s absolutely possible that a music supervisor may find an artist directly and be kind enough to negotiate with them for $3,000, all in, to place a song in a film project — and the more you widen your network with filmmakers and music supervisors, the better your chances of those direct licensing opportunities — but more often, it’s a messy third- or fourth-degree separation from the artist that puts your work on someone’s searching radar.

Does that lessen the amount of money an artist earns?
Yes, the larger those degrees of separation, the more cuts those middle men will take and the more likely that the end users’ cue sheet reporting will not be fully accurate, meaning that even in this digital age, you may not get paid everything you’ve earned. That’s why companies like TuneSat.com exist, to better track the use of your music. It’s also why you should be diversifying your portfolio, nurturing all of your connections, and maximizing the quality of your music, and your metadata, so it can travel further and be tracked with more accuracy. Register your work with a performing rights organization like ASCAP or BMI, with SoundExchange, TuneSat, as well as Shazam and Rumblefish, which is easily done via CD Baby, so your music is easy to track and find.

Can you elaborate on why registrations like that are important?
Your worst luck would be to finally make it to the ear of a great music supervisor who is ready and able to toss $5,000 your way to place your composition in a great film — but she can’t figure out which artist or publishing company owns the rights to the song she discovered online because the song isn’t registered with a PRO, the artist doesn’t have a website or searchable online contact information, or the metadata for the file she uncovered has no insightful story to tell.

Sit down with one of your MP3s and Google the lyrics or title and see what comes up. Are you findable? If not, start leaving an online footprint by posting your lyrics on lyric sites, creating artist and music profiles on popular sites like SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and make sure your music is in the most frequently-searched e-stores like iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. Also, be sure that every iteration of your song’s title is registered with your PRO.

Once you sign a publishing deal, what sort of work is expected of you?
This varies greatly based on the deal. If it’s a single song or work deal, the publisher will largely only need the assets pertaining to that one song and access to any related stems for the length of your agreement with that publisher.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you have a term writing deal with a publisher, they may want every song you write during the term of your agreement. That means that it’s wise to limit that term to just one year, so your options aren’t too limited. In the latter deal, they’re also more interested in your long-term output, so are more likely to pair you with other writers to strengthen the resulting collaborations during the time period of your agreement.

Once you’re in a publishing relationship, what are some tips for engaging in a sustainable, long-term way?
As with any business relationship, you want to stay in the forefront of your publisher’s mind without being a pest. Keep correspondences brief but consistent. Pay extra attention to specs on file type, length of recording, any notes on how to label files, and other such details. Don’t get too anxious if you don’t hear anything for a while. Set yourself up for success by having even a basic recording setup at home so you can create, or recreate, requested files as needed.

Above all, don’t assume that because you have a publishing deal, or any other kind of management or recording deal inked, that your work is done. No matter how large or small your team, it’s still incumbent upon you to keep your skills sharp, your product top notch, and your network well rounded. When and if things start to feel a bit stagnant or landlocked, start back at the beginning. Find a new source of inspiration or revisit one that always lights a fire under you, update your tools or take classes to sharpen your skill sets, and continually collaborate and expand your network by helping others.

What if the answer always seems to be “no”?
If a publisher isn’t interested in your work today, don’t lose heart. I’ve heard some publishers say that, until your music is making $5,000 a year or more, there’s not much point to their administrating it. This is because, with their typical fifty-fifty split, they would annually have to pay more than the $2,500 or less a year that they earn from working with you — just to maintain all the paperwork and assets on your behalf.

That’s not a fixed threshold, so if your music is only making $3,000 a year, don’t let that stop you from submitting demos and EPKs to publishers. It’s just a reference point to keep in mind and offer a little perspective on why publishers are able to accept some work — like the bubblegum pop you hear on the radio that only uses three chords but sells like hotcakes — but not accept others, like your masterpiece that uses every ounce of music theory you learned in college, but, alas, doesn’t yet have the audience or cache of a tune released by Justin Bieber or Lady GaGa.

Read more: How to land and work a music publishing deal – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/05/how-to-find-land-and-work-a-music-publishing-deal/#ixzz330k19R4W

So this guitarist walks into a recording studio… | Disc Makers

Here are 15 practical tips for recording guitar in any studio environment to help make the experience as smooth and trouble-free as possible

tips for recording guitar

 

Entering the recording studio can be a stressful task. Our friends at Cakewalk have outlined 15 basic tips to help you prepare for recording guitar before walking into a tracking session.

  1. Change your strings every 24 hours of play time

    Guitar strings can take a beating in the studio, especially if your plan is to record an entire album’s worth of material. To keep strings from becoming dull and bland, make sure to switch them out every 24 hours of play time. If you switch them right before a session, make sure to properly break them in before the red light goes on.

  2. Improve pick attack and dexterity

    One of the reasons you might struggle getting the sound you want when recording guitar is that your pick attack is not as hard as it needs to be. This will vary depending on the style of music you play, but much of the time in rock and heavy metal recordings, the guitar sound drives the song. If that sound is not the right tone and aggressiveness, then the track will suffer. In any genre, having dexterity and proper technique will shine through in your recording – and so will poor technique and control.

  3. Practice, practice, practice (with a metronome)

    Practicing your parts before recording guitar goes without saying, but it’s also a good idea to practice to a metronome and internalize the clicking. Don’t tap your foot or make noises to count the beat to yourself. You must feel the metronome in your playing or else you will have a hard time staying quiet in a recording booth while tracking.

  4. Practice playing full takes

    Recording full takes is definitely one of the hardest things to accomplish in the studio. To be comfortable nailing all the parts of a song or solo, practice the songs in their entirety – or even practice recording the songs. Sometimes recording part by part is a quicker task, but only if each part is practiced to perfection. If you must record each section part by part, the music may be out of your comfort zone.

  5. Practice with headphones

    The studio may bring many levels of discomfort, one being playing with headphones. Practicing with an amp can be useful when rehearsing for live shows, but little details about your performance could go unnoticed with that type of setup. The studio is a place where you are put under a microscope and are expected to play your best. Using headphones is part of the monitoring setup most recording studios. Do yourself a solid and pick up a pair to understand how you sound “under the gun.”

  6. Adjust pickups in case they are too far from your strings

    Electric guitars rely on the pickup systems to output a proper signal. Make sure your pickups haven’t sunk into the body of your guitar. The farther these are from string, the more the signal suffers in sound. The fix is easy for most pickups, simply take a screwdriver and adjust the screws that sit on the pickups. Count your turns so that each side of the pickup is the same distance.

  7. Get a new guitar cable plus a backup

    Brand new guitar cables are very important. Different companies make different kinds of cables out of all different types of materials. Take the time to make a few purchases to see what the differences are in cables. Check online reviews, and maybe even find out what studios recommend for guitarists. Check the cables that you are using between guitar pedals and make sure that they are all undamaged. Don’t kink your cables, and make sure you wrap them correctly.

  8. Make sure your intonation is correct

    This is one of the biggest issues in a sub-standard recording. An easy way to check your intonation is to tune your guitar’s open strings and then play octave chords above the 12th fret. If something sounds severely out of tune, then your guitar needs to be intonated. This is true for bass guitars as well.

    You should have your guitars setup with the change of every season. The weather can affect the wood severely and cause intonation issues. Getting your guitar set up will also help adjust things like your action and truss rod.

  9. Clean your fret board

    Use a flat-head screwdriver where the frets meet the wood. Make sure you do this gently, and make sure there’s no grime or residue in this area of the neck. Even a little bit of grime can make the guitar sound out of tune when it’s perfectly intonated and tuned. Fret board cleaners are also worth investing in, and a quick clean when you change your strings is a good habit to get into.

  10. Pedal maintenance

    If you are using effects pedals in the studio, make sure they are hardwired with AC or have fresh batteries. A dead battery can hinder the signal, create hums, ground loops, or process in a way that chokes the signal. Also make sure the pots and connections are dust free to limit static and unwanted noise.

  11. Make sure all the electronics in the guitar are working

    If you have noticed that you have a loose pickup selector, noisy knob, or a unstable cable jack, make sure you get that worked out well before your studio date. The last thing you need is for something to fall apart in between takes. Make sure you do not have any loose screws or bent hardware on your guitar. Sometimes this kind of damage can produce more problems.

  12. Ohm matching when using one or more speakers

    Matching impedance (measured in Ohms) needs to be done correctly. If not matched correctly, it could result in a blown speaker or blown head. Make sure to be particularly careful about this when working with more than one speaker or differing loads.

  13. Buy a backup pair of tubes for your amp head

    Make sure you purchase new tubes for your head before entering the studio. Blowing a tube during a recording can cost you precious hours in the studio. Make sure to purchase the same kind of tubes you had before. Different types of tubes can alter the sound of your tone.

  14. G-string constantly out of tune?

    If your guitar’s G-string constantly falls out of tune, here’s a quick fix. Take a #2 pencil and gently roll a bit of lead in the nut-groove where the G-string lies. This helps add a level of friction where the string and the nut meet and keeps the string from sliding around during your performance.

  15. Stay calm

    Don’t be afraid or intimidated by the recording studio if it’s your first time going in. Everyone makes mistakes their first time and the best thing you can do is practice your passages until you can play them cold. Read up on your favorite guitarists to see how they prepare for the studio, or talk to guys that you know record a lot.

Image via ShutterStock.com.

Cakewalk is the leading developer of powerful and thoughtfully designed products for the modern musician. These products include award-winning digital audio workstations and innovative virtual instruments. Millions of musicians worldwide – including Grammy® and Emmy®-winning producers, composers, sound designers, and engineers – use Cakewalk products daily to produce audio for the professional music, film, broadcast, and video game industries. The Cakewalk blog offers technical tips, tutorials, and news relating to their products and audio recording.