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.

Singing tips for vocalists in any genre | Disc Makers

by DISC MAKERS

Singing tips from recording to maintaining vocal health to improving your vocal performance will help you on the road to being a better vocalist

Singing tips for vocalists - learn how to sing well.

Video: Vocal warm ups for your upper register (April 2014)
Learn vocal exercises for singers in our videos for vocalists series. Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific professor Daniel Ebbers explores the upper register in these vocal warm ups videos.

Video: Vocal warm ups for singing to connect breath, vibration, and resonance (April 2014)
Daniel Ebbers, voice instructor at the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, shares insights and vocal exercises for voice resonance and connecting the breath in our video series for vocalists.

Elevate your vocal performance: focus on rhythm and intention (April 2014)
In a standout vocal performance, how you end a note is as important as how you attack it, and rhythm and intention can be as relevant as note choice and intonation.

Producing great hip hop vocals (January 2014)
If you produce hip hop music and hip hop vocals, these production tips from Grammy-nominated Ken Lewis can help make your experience recording and mixing hip hop vocals and your final product a whole lot better.

Stop Shredding Your Vocal Cords (October 2013)
Veteran vocal coach Cari Cole talks about proper vocal care and five things you can do to avoid major vocal health issues.

8 Ways to Improve Your Vocal Health (September 2013)
Your voice is an instrument housed inside your body, and taking care of your mind and body is essential to optimal vocal health.

Improve Your Singing: Make Vocal Exercises A Morning Ritual (July 2013)
Daily vocal exercises will improve your singing and produce lasting results.

Singing Tips – How to Sing Better Right Now (May 2013)
Veteran vocal coach Cari Cole shares five singing tips to make your voice sound better.

Singing Tips – A Vocal Warm Up Is Key To A Great Vocal Performance (January 2013)
This excerpt from The Vocalist’s Guide to Recording, Rehearsing, and Performing focuses on the importance of warming up before a vocal performance.

Singing Tips – Don’t Tax Your Voice Before a Vocal Performance (November 2012)
Resting before a vocal performance is key, but environmental things, like being in a place where the decibel level is too high, can adversely affect your capacity to sing.

How To Record A Great Vocal Take (August 2012)
Capturing the ultimate vocal performance can require push and pull between the producer and talent, and the tact and technique of the producer plays a pivotal role in the quality of the performance.

Vocal Health Basics – How to Properly Care for Your Voice (January 2012)
Vocal health is often taken for granted, but problems can stop you dead in your tracks, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.

Creating a Great Composite Vocal Recording (February 2010)
We take a look at the techniques used to create composite lead vocal tracks, referred to as “comping” the lead vocal by studio engineers.

Read more: Singing Tips For Vocalists | How To Become A Better Singer– Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/05/singing-tips-for-vocalists-in-any-genre/#ixzz32M0hhGGP

The Pros And Cons Of Stereo Monitor Mixing |ProSound Web

Should we really want to create phantom images of instruments and voices?
image

Image courtesy of Meyer Sound
For a long time I wondered about mixing monitor wedges in stereo. I was sure it would sound good, so a while back I took the plunge and set up a pair of loudspeakers to see what it was all about.

For about a week I tried different things to see what I could find out. During afternoons on show days, I listened to various instruments and vocal mics.

In many ways the sound was better than listening in mono, particularly when a stereo reverb was applied to a vocal mic, or listening to the grand piano. (We have a 7-foot Steinway with three Barcus Berry Planar Wave pickups to choose from.)

I continued to monitor during shows, using my cue wedges in stereo and setting up a mix with EQ for myself, with real musicians playing real instruments during the performance. It was really no surprise that this set up was more pleasing to the ears, but was it actually a better stage-monitoring configuration?

All Things Being Equal
What I learned initially was that the equalizers being used must be set precisely in order to keep things where you place them in the stereo mix. I suggest using a stereo unit that tracks both channels with one adjustment.

The wedges (including their crossovers and power amplifiers) must be well matched too so that you have very consistent performance from both the left and right loudspeakers. This is essential for controlling the stereo field you are trying to create.

Differences in the frequency response between channels in this type of configuration will cause things to shift location in different ways within the field. For example, if you assigned the hi-hat to stereo wedges with the pan slightly to the left, the wedge on the left was deficient in reproducing the main frequencies in comparison to the right wedge.

In other words, the apparent location of this source when you listened would not be where the pan pot indicated! This in itself may not seem too high a hurdle, but consider an instrument that reproduces a wide range of frequencies like an acoustic guitar.

While it might sound “spacious” being played as a rhythm instrument by itself, you probably don’t want the guitar to pan from one side to the other as the guitarist plays a lead break that goes up and/or down a scale of notes. (Or maybe you do? To each his own…)

The addition of more instruments and more deviations at other frequencies soon presents the listener with an auditory mess. Remember, we’re trying to accurately monitor audio on a stage in a live acoustic environment.

Sometimes You Do, And Sometimes…
Assuming that you’ve been successful in setting up and tuning stereo wedges so that the spectral shift is not an issue, the approach can actually present good results in some applications.

Many keyboard players gain advantage in being able to hear what their rigs are doing in stereo. Even a guitar player with a true stereo set-up may like to hear exactly what he is sending to front of house.

Good players will use the stereo mix as a tool to make them even better. But these examples are different—they’re for monitoring a stereo instrument with an appropriate playback system, not trying to place mono instruments in a stereo field.

Yes, it’s possible to get a great stereo sound and a great mix going with the right console and some good loudspeakers. Guys do it at front of house all the time, right? But as noted above, we’re trying to create an environment on the stage where it’s easy for the band to hear what they want to hear.

So should we really want to create phantom images of instruments and voices in an area between two loudspeakers? In most cases, I don’t think so.

However…
All of this said, I’d like to add that with the right musicians, under the right circumstances, good results are certainly possible.  But it will require a musician who understands what he is listening to, and a willingness to experiment to achieve the desired results. (It won’t be something you just stumble on and it’s “right.”)

As for a one-off with a band… I won’t be trying it. When all of the experimenting was done, I made one simple observation that decided it all for me.

Yes, stereo instruments sounded better and effects were wonderful, but you know that sound when you’re listening to stereo program on your headphones and then you hit the mono switch? BAM! All of the sudden, the image is right in the middle of your head, and oh-so-balanced between your ears.

I experienced this same phenomena with two wedges in mono. With the loudspeakers placed properly in front of the musician, a mono mix puts the sound (particularly his own vocal) right in his face.

And if the object is for the musician to easily hear what he wants in his mix, especially in a difficult environment… then I’m going to mix audio the “old-fashioned” way.

Dan Laveglia is a long-time system engineer who has worked with Showco and Clair Brothers, working with top concert artists.

Everything you need to know about PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) | Diskmakers

By 

phonograph Everything you need to know about PROs (Performing Rights Organizations)

Ok, sure — if you’re going into entertainment or IP law, there’s plenty more to understand about PROs and the intricacies of music publishing.

But for your average independent musician, understanding the basics of performance royalties and how they’re collected/distributed should suffice. So let’s get started. First…

What is a Performing Rights Organization?

As you may already know, music publishing is one of the most important revenue generators for an artist that writes original material.

Performing Rights Organizations (or PROs) help songwriters and publishers get paid by collecting one of the most important forms of music publishing revenue: performance royalties.

[To read about the various kinds of publishing royalties you can generate through the usage of your music, click HERE.]

As a songwriter, composer, or lyricist, you’re owed a “performance royalty” any time your music is played on radio stations (terrestrial, satellite, and internet), used on TV shows or commercials, or performed in live venues.

Those performance royalties are paid by radio stations, venues, and TV networks to Performing Rights Organizations like ASCAPBMISESAC, and SOCAN (in Canada). The PRO then distributes the money to their affiliated songwriters and publishers.

[For a complete list of copyright collection societies worldwide, click HERE.]

Do independent musicians that aren’t getting played on the radio need to affiliate with a PRO?

“Need” is a strong word. But you SHOULD!

Some publishing experts claim that the amount of performance royalties distributed to songwriters and publishers each year accounts for as much as 30-35% of the total available publishing royalties — so there’s huge money being generated from the “performance” or broadcast of songs and compositions in public.

What constitutes an “in public” instance of “performance?” 

Well, you are owed a performance royalty any time a song you’ve written gets:

• played on terrestrial and satellite radio (Sirius, KEXP, etc.)

• used on network and cable TV shows, commercials, etc.

• played on internet radio (including customized radio such as Pandora)

• played on online music streaming services (Spotify, Rdio, etc.)

• performed in a live venue (either by you or some other act)

• played in a restaurant, bar, or other public establishment

Sure, you may not be generating significant income from any of these sources right now. But here’s the thing: if you DO start to take off in any of these areas — let’s say you get a song placed in a big TV show, or you have a breakout hit on internet radio — then you want to be prepared ahead of time to capture the most money possible.

And even if you never have a breakout track that gets tons of plays or high-profile sync placements, you may have a number of songs throughout your career that get modest plays and placements; and the performance royalties of all those songs together can add up to a significant revenue source.

How do PROs pay artists?

As mentioned above, the stations, networks, venues, and music services that benefit from the public performance of your music owe YOU performance royalties for those usages. But they’re not psychic, of course, and they don’t have time to hunt down every single songwriter they owe money to. That’s where Performing Rights Organizations come in.

Each PRO calculates and pays royalties to their members in slightly different ways. Detailed explanations of how they distribute royalties to artists can be found here:

ASCAP – http://www.ascap.com/members/payment.aspx

BMI – http://www.bmi.com/creators/royalty/how_we_pay_royalties/basic

SESAC – http://sesac.com/WritersPublishers/HowWePay/PaymentInfo.aspx

What Performing Rights Organizations do NOT do

So, we know that PROs collect performance royalties. But here’s a list of things they do NOT collect:

sync fees

* digital performance royalties associated with the creation of a master recording (paid by SoundExchange to labels, session players, etc.)

mechanical royalties

What is a mechanical royalty? It’s a fee that is owed to the publisher/composer of a piece of music (that’s you! — unless you’ve signed your publishing rights away to a publishing company) any time that song is sold digitally or manufactured in physical form (CD, vinyl, etc.). This fee is owed to you whether you are selling a recording of your own music or if another artist is covering your songs.

In many countries, any time your song is downloaded, you (as the songwriter/publisher) are owed a mechanical royalty. Any time one of your songs is streamed on popular services like Spotify or Rdio, you are owed a mechanical royalty.

Despite the fact that your songs are generating income in the form of mechanical royalties, PROs like ACSCAP and BMI do NOT collect them for artists. (They only collect performance royalties).

This means there is money out there waiting to be collected — money you’ve EARNED. But these mechanical royalties have traditionally been inaccessible to songwriters unless you’re represented by a major label, big publishing house, or had the muscle of an agency like Harry Fox on your side.

[With CD Baby Pro, you’ll be set up to collect all the mechanical royalties you’re owed. No more getting shut out from collecting YOUR OWN money.]

Mechanical royalties and sync licensing fees account for a huge percentage of the total publishing royalty revenues generated each year. That’s why it’s not enough to simply sign up with ASCAP or BMI and call it a day. PROs are helpful — even essential — for capturing performance royalties. But you don’t want to leave those other publishing royalties sitting on the table uncollected.

How do performance royalties get divided up?

For all publishing royalties that are generated from the usage of your music, 50% is paid to the songwriter/s and 50% is paid to the publisher/s.

If you’ve not signed a deal with a publishing company, you are considered both the songwriter AND the publisher. You are owed both shares (50% for the songwriter, and 50% for the publisher) of any mechanical royaltiesperformance royalties, or licenses that your songs generate.

The 2 most common mistakes musicians make regarding performance royalties

Indie artists don’t always get paid giant licensing fees when their songs are used on TV shows; but every dollar counts. If you’re lucky enough to get a song placed on a sitcom, documentary, a local TV news magazine, or any other program, there’s a good chance you’ll end up earning more money in the long run from performance royalties than from the initial licensing royalty.

But all too often musicians miss out on making this money (and any performance royalties they might otherwise be owed for radio plays) because…

#1- They have no PRO-affiliation

No PRO-affiliation, no performance royalties! That money would just end up beneath the giant couch-cushion in the sky.

#2- They didn’t list the actual songs with their PRO

Just like the venues and radio stations I mentioned earlier in this article, Performing Rights Organizations aren’t psychic. When you write, record, and release a new song or album, you actually have to go back into your PRO account and tell them about this new material! Otherwise, they have no idea what songs they should be collecting performance royalties for in the first place.

And to take things one step further, if you’re registered as both a songwriter AND a publisher, be sure the most current data (song titles, writer info, etc.) is listed correctly in both places. If you have co-writers on any new tracks, be sure they enter the info into their accounts too.

So, how do you collect YOUR performance royalties? 

If you’re in the USA, you’ll need affiliate yourself and register your songs with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.

Or… as a CD Baby Pro member, we’ll handle your ASCAP or BMI affiliation and song registration for you — saving you tons of extra paperwork. Plus, we’ll register your songs directly with many other collection societies around the world and make sure you get paid all the royalties you’re owed — not JUST performance royalties, but also mechanical royalties for international downloads and global streaming.

For more information about music publishing, download our FREE guide:

Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks | DiskMakers

shutterstock 170956478 Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks

[This article was written by Alex Andrews of Ten Kettles Development.]

The equalizer (EQ) is a very powerful tool that is EVERYWHERE. Seriously. Open up iTunes and click on the “Window” menu. There it is. As a musician, you’re going to see some form of EQ on virtually every soundboard and amp you play through. This is fantastic, because if you spend a bit of time developing your EQ skills, you’ll suddenly be able to bring a lot more control to your sound—no matter what venue you’re playing in. This article is for new bands looking to take control of their sound and bring it to the next level. Looking to get your head around the basics? You’ve come to the right place. Welcome.

Primer: what’s an EQ anyway?

There are many different types of EQs—graphic, parametric, semi-parametric, and so on—and though they’re each used a little differently, they all do a very similar thing: an EQ makes a group of frequencies louder or quieter. For example, think of the “Bass” knob on a stereo: it’s just a simple EQ that controls the low frequencies. Getting comfortable with the idea of frequencies is a great first step in gaining control of your live sound. 

iTunesEqualizer 1 Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks
The graphic EQ in iTunes controls 10 frequency bands

Let’s take a look at the iTunes equalizer (if you have iTunes, just click “Window” and then “Equalizer”). You’ll see a 10-band EQ like the one on the right. Those numbers at the bottom of each slider are the frequencies—e.g., the slider labelled “32″ controls the very low sound around 32 Hz. Our ears generally hear between around 20 Hz and 20 000 Hz (that’s 20 kHz), so this EQ has us covered!

Different frequency ranges have different qualities, different characters, different feels—and knowing this stuff is the foundation of your future EQ mastery! For example, too much volume around 1 kHz is going to sound nasal; too little 8 kHz will sound dull. Knowing this, we can just turn up or down the right sliders to fix the problem. We’ll hear some examples of this once we get to the video!

EQing the band: it’s a team sport!

Before we get into some specifics, there are two HUGE points often overlooked by beginners, and I can’t emphasize them enough:

1. Even if all instruments sound great on their own, they may not sound good together. EQing a group of musicians is about making sure they sound excellent as a unit. If you take a great sounding band and have one member play on her own, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t sound great: a bass may sound dull, a guitar or vocal may sound thin. That’s OK! All these instruments leave a bit of space in their sound so they can jigsaw together into one impressive band sound. At a show, you play together—so that’s how you should EQ too. EQing is a team sport.

2. To make one instrument sound its best, consider everyone’s settings. For example, if the bass guitar has its highs turned up loud, the guitar may not pop through. Just turning that guitar up—instead of tweaking the bass’s settings—could cause more problems.

So what do you do? A rule-of-thumb for beginning EQers is to let each instrument own a zone. In a classic four-piece (guitar, bass, vocals, drums), give the bass the lows below ~200 Hz (turn these down on the guitar and vocals), give the guitar the mids (up to roughly 1 Hz), and let the vocals pop by owning the high-mids (around 4 kHz). A simple way to cut high-mids on an electric guitar or bass is with the tone knob usually found on many electric instruments. And this can be quite a small change too — even just a 1/8 turn can do wonders.

The vocals: making them pop

To get a good vocal sound out of a basic soundboard, you can do a few simple things. (We focus on vocals here, but many of these tips will apply to all instruments.)

Turn down the lows. Women generally don’t sing much below 200 Hz; for men it’s 100 Hz. So, any sound below those frequencies that makes it into the microphone is probably not what we want. Maybe it’s the rumble of nearby traffic, or some low-frequency electrical hum. Let’s get rid of it!

The next step depends on your equipment. You’ll likely have at least one semi-parametric EQ for the vocal track mids. (Wait, what’s a semi-parametric EQ? It’s just two knobs: one for the frequency, and one for the level.) Now listen to the vocals (with the whole band playing), and pick the problem that’s most obvious: muddiness, a nasal sound, lack of warmth, or lack of presence. Picked one? Then follow the instruction below that fits. If you have four of these semi-parametric EQs, then you can move onto the other three instructions when you’re done. If not, you’ll need to choose carefully!

SemiParametricEQ Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks
A semi-parametric EQ controls the volume of sound at a specific frequency.

Turn up the presence range. Sometimes you put on a record or go to a show, and you can clearly hear everything: lead vocals, harmonies, guitar, bass, drums—it all sounds terrific. And yet, you find one particular instrument is highlighted—usually the lead vocals. While you hear everything, you find yourself listening to that one instrument above the rest. You can place an instrument at the forefront, just like this, using the presence range (around 4 kHz). For example, if you want the vocals to really pop through, turn up this range on the vocals and turn down this range on everything else. Changes of even 3 dB (that’s small) can do a great deal.

Cut the mud or increase the warmth. The muddiness/warmth region is around 250 Hz. If your vocals are muddy and the words just aren’t making it through, you may want to cut this region. On the other hand, if the vocals sound weak and need some warmth, you’ll want to raise it.

Reduce the nasal sound. The nasal region is around 1 kHz. If you find the vocals are getting too nasal, cutting this range a little can make a noticeable improvement.

Finding the frequency. Now that you know which frequency range to adjust, let’s improve that vocal sound! We’re going to assume you have a semi-parametric EQ control for mids (explained above). To start, crank the level knob most of the way high or low, depending on if you’re cutting (e.g., to reduce mud) or boosting (e.g., to increase presence). Then have the singer sing normally (not just say “Check.. 1… 2…”!), with or without the band, as you slowly turn the frequency knob around the frequency range you want to change. For example, scan from 2 kHz to 8 kHz for presence. Somewhere in that range the effect will really stand out—that’s the magic frequency, and it’s a little different for everyone. Bring the level back to something a bit more subtle, and you’re good.

Remember: when you’re EQing the vocal, your goal is to make it sound good with the band, not just on its own. Make sure you always do some EQing with everyone playing!

The caveats: EQing is great if

Building your EQ skills can lead to a giant improvement in how your songs sound to the audience. But, just like any effect, they aren’t a fix-all: songs still need to be awesome, and the performance should still be both engaging and tight. Music comes from the heart, makes its way through your instrument and sound equipment, and connects to your audience. Knowing your effects, like EQ, makes sure it gets there in one piece! And for you vocalists, know your distance to the mic! If in doubt and you’re using the usual SM58-style microphone that you’ll find in most clubs—stay very close!

Train those ears: enter hearEQ!

Developing good EQ skills involves building both knowledge and experience—and that practical experience can be tough to get at first. That’s where hearEQ comes in. If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you can check out the hearEQapp—a 99¢ app that teaches you about different frequency bands, and then helps you practice EQing using custom exercises—all on your very own tracks. Understanding how the different frequency ranges sound—so you can say “hey, sounds like the bass could cut the highs a little” or “vocals could be warmer, let’s boost around 300 Hz”—is a powerful skill and hearEQ helps you get there. We are super proud of this app, and we hope you find it as useful as we have. Check out our video below to learn more—it’s also got some cool EQing examples!

hearEQ: Ear training for musicians, engineers, and audio lovers from Ten Kettles on Vimeo.

Bio: Alex Andrews is an engineer (B.Sc. Engineering Physics, M.Sc. Electrical Engineering), active musician, and Founder and CEO of an app development company called Ten Kettles. After ten years working with some terrific research labs—from physics to music psychology to cochlear implants—founder Alex began Ten Kettles as a creative, productive, and thoughtful company. He is passionate about creating software and mobile applications that have a positive, meaningful impact. Based in Toronto, Canada, Ten Kettles focuses on apps for music and education.www.tenkettles.com

Do traditional tours still make sense for independent artists? | DiscMakers

shutterstock 180210833 Do traditional tours still make sense for independent artists?

[This article is written by guest contributor Jason Schellhardt, writer for the live entertainment concierge service Rukkus.]

Few things in the music industry are more romanticized than the image of the battle-tested road warrior. The old rock and roll narrative suggests that being a musician means going out on tour for months at a time, hitting any and every market along the way.

This used to be the most effective way to build a fanbase outside of your local scene, but like most other things in the music industry, the internet has changed that. Booking cross-country tours no longer makes sense for newer independent artists.

The advantages of social media have been well documented as it pertains to independent musicians. It has provided an unprecedented connection between artists, fans, media, labels and so on. Artists can record a track at home, post it on their SoundCloud account and share it via Twitter or Facebook without any other means of production or distribution.

While this has been a major coup for the independent artist, there is another major advantage to new media that is often overlooked. While it is great to know who is listening to your music or following your band, it is just as important to know where these people are.

Brett is a D.C.-based indie-pop band with a unique perspective on this issue. Though Brett is a fairly new band, all of its members have had experience touring the country in previous projects. They have seen the pros and cons to the lengthy, expensive traditional tour and the more cost-effective, targeted approach.

In an interview with DMVicious last year, guitarist Kevin Bayly and vocalist Mick Coogan explained how traditional tour schedules have become somewhat counterproductive for new artists.

“The whole concept of promoting your band by hopping in a van and touring the country is ridiculous. It’s backwards now. It used to be that way,” said Bayly. “We did that when we were younger, that’s how you had to get out there and meet people. Now it’s all online. It’s cheaper and you end up playing quality shows instead of Duluth, MN, on a Tuesday.”

“For the next year we plan on hitting [D.C.], New York City and Los Angeles. Those are the most important markets for us,” added Coogan.

By paying careful attention to the band’s online presence, Brett has pared down its most important markets and focused its attention squarely on audiences that have shown that they are receptive to the band.

The pros to this approach far outweigh the cons for a newer band looking to establish itself. Once a band has built a following online and in its targeted markets, national tours make a lot more sense. But, until then it is most often a massive drain on the band’s resources.

Here are a few geo-specific strategies to help you target your band’s prefered markets:

1. Build a strong social media presence and pay attention to every single one of your followers. This one sounds like a no brainer, but it is an invaluable resource. Figure out where your followers are located and if there is any obvious trend among them. If you notice a handful of fans in the same region, you are probably onto something.

2. Maintain your website and monitor the analytic data. Similar to the social media idea, using Google Analytics, or similar tools, to monitor your web traffic can tell you where each view is coming from. Many young bands forego their own websites in favor of maintaining their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but they are all equally important.

3. Keep track of any media coverage you may get. Another major factor in your band’s web presence is the amount of coverage you are getting from online media. Keep track of any blog or website that posts your music and find out if they target a specific geographic location. You can set up a Google Alert to make this easy to track.

4. Develop relationships with media in areas you intend to target. In addition to the last item, you should seek out blogs that are prominent in certain markets and try to arrange coverage for your band. This step would be most helpful once you have established a couple of areas you intend to target.

5. Pay attention to similar artists. Imitation is an age old tradition in the music industry. Find a more established band that is similar to your own, and look at the markets where they have had success. Chances are, you could find some success there as well.

Every band is different, and what works for some may not work for others, but this geo-specific strategy is a great jumping off point for any band looking to expand its audience beyond the hometown crowd.

If nothing else, this strategy will keep you from burning a ton of money and playing empty rooms in “Duluth, MN, on a Tuesday.”