Tips from a cop to help prevent music instrument theft | DiscMakers

by GEARTRACK
A gigging musician – who also happens to be a deputy sheriff – gives advice on what you can do to prevent music instrument theft.

This post on preventing music instrument theft was written by Jerry Cress for GearTrack’s blog. Reprinted with permission.

When you buy music instruments and gear, three things you should do right away to help you recover your equipment if it is ever stolen include:

1. Have the original owner, if you buy from a private seller, provide you with documentation to this effect: “On this date (insert date), I sold (insert equipment), serial # (insert serial number), to (your name) for the amount of (insert price).”

2. Look into all the details of your home and car insurance policies. Our drummer bought a cargo trailer to haul all our stuff in. When checking with his insurance company, he found that the trailer was covered, as well as the contents inside that were his – but the rest of the band’s equipment wasn’t. Spend some money on instrument insurance, and get the stuff covered.

3. Make sure you keep a record of every piece of equipment you have. Everything! As a police officer, if I find your BOSS Delay Pedal in the back seat of a car, chances are the driver knows where your Strat is, too.

Lock your doors
Most thieves are, generally speaking, lazy. They go for the easiest prey. Therefore, a locked door will make most “amateur” thieves move on to easier targets, and in my experience, there are actually very few “professional” thieves. Most are what we call “snatch-and-go.”

Keep a clean car
Never unnecessarily leave your gear in a vehicle. As soon as you get to your destination, unload it. Don’t leave your guitar, drums, or keyboards on the back seat where everyone walking by can see them while you’re inside the bar looking for where all the power outlets are.

Stay out of the dark
Don’t park your van, bus, or trailer in the back lot of a seedy motel or club. Park it under lights, and as close to the venue as you can. Check on it occasionally. When you’re in the venue playing the gig and all your extra stuff is out in your vehicle, don’t park way out in the back lot to make room for patrons. The “bad guys” can hear you from the parking lot – they know you’re busy! Check on your vehicles during breaks.

Work as a team
Never leave your stuff unattended when loading or unloading for the gig. We always have one of our wives stand by the trailer and one stand in the venue while we load and unload. It only takes a couple of seconds for someone to walk by your trailer, grab a guitar case and be gone. Also, as a general rule, we don’t let bar staff or “fans” help us load or unload.

Re-think your rehearsal space
Think about where and how you practice. Sure it’s cool to be out in the buddy’s garage with the door open, jammin’ real loud and having some fun. But you’re advertising what you have and where you are. Everyone in the neighborhood now knows that there is a Marshall stack and a Gibson Les Paul right down the street. I personally know three garages in my district that have full PA gear, drums, and lights sitting in them right now, all because I’ve been to the house for noise complaints, or just drove by on patrol while they happen to be practicing.

Which brings up another point: Most garages are easy to break into. They usually have very flimsy locks and lots of windows with single pane glass. And the garage doors themselves aren’t usually locked. Automatic garage door openers will give under very little force. They’re designed that way in case of emergency.

If you practice in a garage, take the time and money to install good locks (deadbolts), and cover the windows. Don’t store gear in the garage. I know it’s a pain to haul all that stuff, but what would you rather do, haul the stuff, or not have it at all?

Cover your windows
Don’t leave your windows uncovered. Blinds or curtains can go along way in deterring theft. You don’t want people from the outside knowing what you’ve got on the inside.

Invest in lights and alarm systems
Burglars hate light. Outside lighting is one of the best investments you can make, and motion-activated lighting is very effective. Many alarm systems are pretty reasonable in price. I recommend going with a system that is monitored and notifies the appropriate agency if the alarm is activated. Outdoor lighting and alarm systems can actually lower your house insurance premiums. Check with your insurance company.

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.

 

Read more: Tips from a cop to prevent music instrument theft – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/03/tips-from-a-cop-to-help-prevent-music-instrument-theft/#ixzz2x03rcSw2

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Sustain your music career – nine insights to help you do it | DiscMakers

The Nadas have built a 20-year career in music playing shows, catering to their fans, and treating the business end of their band like a business

 

The Nadas career in music is built on touring

Mike Butterworth and Jason Walsmith in front of ‘Meatloaf,’ their tour bus.

It’s been twenty years since Mike Butterworth and Jason Walsmith met in college and forged a partnership that has withstood many tests. Since then, their Des Moines, Iowa-based band, The Nadas, have felt the exhilaration of performing for 15,000 people at a sold out arena shows to playing hole-in-wall bars for a handful of folks. Through playing hundreds of shows and releasing 11 records of (mostly) original material, the duo has learned what works when building a sustained career in music and an audience that spans one-third of the country. They recorded and produced their 2013 album, Lovejoy Revival, in a local warehouse. I spoke with Nadas co-founder Mike Butterworth (guitar/vocals) and dug up nine nuggets of wisdom that have helped the band not only survive, but thrive for two decades. 

1) Organic growth is long-term growth

How did the band come together?
I was a year behind Jason in college but had been playing in rock bands in high school, so when I got to college at Iowa State University, the first thing I wanted to figure out wasn’t my class schedule but who I was going to play music with. A mutual friend introduced me to Jason, who at that time was in a campus band. I auditioned and was asked to join, but before I could go to my first rehearsal, the rest of the guys in the band left school, so only Jason and I were left.

he Nadas career in music started with Lovejoy Revival

The Nada’s 11th CD, Lovejoy Revival (2013).
We picked up our acoustics and started doing an acoustic duo thing. We started getting gigs right away at coffee shops and frat parties around the campus, and that started us on the path of growing our audience organically, one or two fans at a time. That’s been the cornerstone of our success throughout the years. Fast forward a few years and we found that we were able to build our whole career on focusing on the current student, having them become fans, graduate, and then go out in the world. 

We discovered that, almost anywhere we toured, there were between 10 and 100 people who knew us from college and brought their friends to that show in the new town. It was 100% organic growth. The only market we had any help in was Chicago. There was an indie radio station in the northwest suburbs there called “The Bear” and they found out about our music and started playing it, so the first time we showed up to play in Chicago, there was a crowd of people to see us.

2) Steady communication with a call-to-action is key

You were a top draw in your college town. After each class graduated, how did you keep in touch as they spread across the Midwest? 
The Nadas circa 1990s
We had a website, but before we put together our first email list, we had an actual paper mailing list and every month we’d create a newsletter and we would write articles about what we were doing, we would snap pictures of each other and then put it all together and print it up, We’d print and fold them up, hand-write the addresses, put a stamp on, and then drive them over to the post office. It grew to the point where that mailing list was so large that it cost us a couple of thousand dollars every time we wanted to print and send out the newsletter. Soon the band had a computer database and mailing labels to save time. After a while, we also started to put a little order form inside asking fans, “Do you want a record?” and that really ended up paying for itself, because quite often people would send the order form back to us with a check enclosed.

People really looked forward to getting these newsletters and kept them around. For instance, we’d head out of town to play a show and after the show someone would invite us over to their house for an after hours get together and there would be that newsletter hanging on a magnet on the fridge. So we knew it was working.

3) If something works, repeat the formula

How else did you grow your audience?
We decided to go to the next college town over from Ames and start all over again, just playing a club, but we weren’t starting out with zero fans, because a few people had heard of us and our existing fans would tell their buddies in that new town about us. Eventually, we built a circuit through the Midwest of these towns that all had colleges and we would hit each city every month, over and over, and in time, that built up a loyal audience that would come out to support us.

 

The Nadas career in music continues

The Nadas have teamed up with World Bicycle Relief to help provide bicycles to women in emerging countries.

Now the circuit stretches from Colorado to Chicago, and from Minneapolis to Kansas City. There’s probably a total of 30 markets in that region, so we would make that circuit, but we’d also make time to take a week and do a swing down into Texas, or down to Arizona, or we’d set up a trip to go all the way out to California, and then return through Arizona. We even made a trip to Florida and another one to Maine. All of this we did driving, and all from our home base here in Iowa. We saved up enough to purchase a 40-foot tour bus, a 1985 Eagle. We named her “Meatloaf” because evidently he rented it when it was new and the marquee sign on the front still had his name on it. 

4) Build relationships with bookers and other bands

As your fans spread out across this region, did you develop relationships with club bookers so you weren’t just picking up the phone cold each time?
We were eventually able to say to a club owner with confidence that we had so many people in that area and many of them would come out to a show, so that helped us establish ourselves with the venues. Around that time we also started to work with booking agent Eric Roberts at Hello Booking in Minneapolis to help us out with making the calls to club bookers and in managing our calendar. He’s been with us now for more than fifteen years.

We also learned to work closely with other bands and really, we wouldn’t have had the success we have had without the help of a number of other bands. For example, in the Colorado area, which is still one of our strongest regions, we had been going out there for a couple of years and beating it down, and it just wasn’t going that well. Maybe there’d be 10 at one show and 25 at the next one, and it was costing us money to be there. So we got to the point where we said, let’s give it one more try and see if we can’t do better, and if we can’t, we’ll have to write off Colorado and head east to build Ohio, which is the same distance away.

The Nadas

Club gigs continue to form the backbone of the band’s touring schedule.

 

So we went to Colorado and we played with a friend’s band called Hello Dave from Chicago, they already had a couple hundred fans that they drew. Well, the very next time we came back to Colorado, we had a couple hundred people who showed up for our gig there. It took sharing a show for us to be exposed to enough new people to get our base started there. Now, when we go out there, we play theaters to audiences of around 500.

5) Treat the business like a business

Are the live shows the primary way you guys support yourselves?
Yes, we decided from the start to run the band as close to a regular business as we could. We decided to pay the players a set amount for each show. We set aside money for expenses and agreed we weren’t going to use credit cards to finance the band or get any loans. We take the money we make and cover all of our costs and if there’s anything left over, Jason and I split that. While it’s not enough to completely support ourselves, we’ve gotten to the point where we have a salary and we supplement that income with other things we each do.

6) Understand your fans

As you enter your 20th year as a band, have you retained some of the fans from your early days?
It’s great, because we kept hitting the same circuit, and a lot of it was college towns, we did that circuit the four years we were in college, then repeated it over the following eight years, so we had triple the time to build our audience throughout the region we were touring. This ended up giving us a roughly 10- to 15-year age range between our younger and older fans. Then, about five years ago we started noticing that some of the audience who used to come to shows and maybe have quite a few drinks dance on the table, they were now showing up to our daytime outdoor summer shows with children. And then the other wave of people who started coming to shows were the parents of some of our original college-age fans. So now, the age range at one of our summer shows is one to sixty five-plus!

7) Be willing to supplement your income

You’ve built your business model around touring the circuit you created while in college. What other revenue streams have you developed?
Jason and I also do a number of acoustic shows, just the two of us and our acoustic guitars, which brings in a little money without any overhead. He’s developed a clientele for high-end photography in addition to our music and I have a home remodeling business that I run, which has the unique feature of employing a bunch of working musicians who all need some supplemental income. I have seven musicians who work either full or part time with me. I have an open-door policy, so any time any of them have a gig or a record to make, they can get the time off.

8) Plug into social media with a plan

How have your fan engagement efforts evolved from the kitchen table and hand addressing newsletters?
The Nadas year in reviewWe’re plugged into social media, but our philosophy is that it’s not enough to just be active on those platforms. You need to do something to really engage your “friends,” so we like to have contests and giveaways regularly. In 2009, we decided to release a new song each month of the year, which ended up becoming Almanac, an album that was a sort of musical snapshot of that year. Our most recent fan engagement effort, which is also our most successful one to date, is we are making a 20-year greatest hits recording and we’re putting the word “hits” in quotes because they’re not actual chart hits, and we are re recording fan favorites the way we play them now.

We’re shooting for releasing it this spring. We did a Facebook campaign and asked our fans the simple question, “What songs do you want to hear on this upcoming CD?” And we got 18,000 views and nearly 300 comments, so we went through and tallied up all the votes and that’s exactly what the record will be. So the fans really curated our greatest hits release. 300 people took the time to pick their favorite song and one super fan even went so far as to suggest all 20, to come up with a playlist of their favorites.

9) Nurture your fan base if you want to succeed long-term

Looking back over your career, what advice would you give to an up and coming band about building their career from the business perspective?
Your fans are what’s going to allow you to have any longevity in your music career. So take care of your fans, respect your fans, give the fans what they want as long as it’s not selling out your artistic vision.

Put yourself out there and never stop working. Play your heart out at every show even if there is only a drunk guy passed out at the bar and a bartender that wants to go home. That scenario actually happened to us in Oklahoma but someone remembered the band because a few years later, we got a booking to return there and earned five grand for playing a private show. Every time you play, no matter how many people are there, you make an impact and you don’t know what the ripple effect may be down the road. So honor your fans and listen to what they say as you build your career. Go and play everywhere they invite you to play.

Visit The Nadas online.

Check out The Nadas video channel on YouTube.

Indie-Music.com review of Lovejoy Revival

Keith Hatschek is a regular contributor to Disc Makers Echoes blog and directs the Music Management Program at University of the Pacific. He’s also written two music industry books, How to Get a Job in the Music Industry and The Golden Moment: Recording Secrets from the Pros.

Sending Demos = Don’t Do This!!!

Dear Musicians,

Below you’ll find an email, presented without [much] editing, from one of your colleagues.  PLEASE DON’T EVER DO THIS! Unfortunately, this email is a great example of many I get daily.  I have not singled this group out for any reason other than they are one of many examples.  Worse than this email, are the constant tweets I get that attempt to get my interest in 140 characters!

Guys!  Read the email.  I have no idea what to do with it!  It never tells me what they want from me.  I do a lot of things: from production to management.  They haven’t asked me for anything.  You’ve got to send a question!  That question directs my understanding of what you need, or hope for from me as an industry professional.  Do you want me to produce your album?  Do you want me to manage your career?

Even more importantly, the lack of question shows me that you haven’t taken the time to learn what I do.  I am not a label.  I don’t do booking.  I don’t do windows (literally or the OS).  Why would I engage with anyone who doesn’t know what they need and hasn’t figured out that I am the guy to help them with it?

As it stands, emails and tweets like this simple say to me “Hey, we exist.”  To which I reply, “Yup.”

++++++

Good Day,

This email is in reference to submission for Blue-Shakespeare’s new Single “Ecstasy”
About Blue-Shakespeare
Rap and hip hop lovers looking for an artist who brings out the true essence of the genre should look no further than breakthrough artist Blue-Shakespeare, who mixes lyrical genius, a lot of old school style and a dash of new school together to create a thrilling style that has local critics buzzing.   Born on the island of Haiti in 1985, Blue-Shakespeare grew up in Spring Valley, NY with an innate love of words as an art form. Beginning with poetry, he soon graduated to writing his own rap songs at the tender age of five years. Blue-Shakespeare lists Jay-Z as his main influence, with Nas, KRS-1, Rakim, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. as close contenders.   Blue-Shakespeare hit the scene with his debut album, called Pre-Cum: The Mixtape, a 19-track album in 2012. Just two years later, Blue-Shakespeare is set to reveal the fruits of two years in the studio, releasing the Poetic Justice EP in Summer 2014, with the Fertile mixtape to follow in Fall 2014.   Blue-Shakespeare has already released four singles; Millions and Aroma from Poetic Justice EP, with Last Supper and Feel My Pain from Fertile Mixtapes. Check out Blue-Shakespeare’s music on SoundCloud and YouTube today and discover what the fuss is about!
Elansio Cesaire is better known as rapper Blue-Shakespeare, who has been performing since the age of 21 in NY clubs and venues. He is well regarded for his ability to tap into the lyricism of the 1990s, delivering powerful stories with witty punchlines to listeners. For more information, please visit his website.

EcstasyCVRPhoto

Copyright basics: exclusive rights, licensing lingo, and more |DiscMakers

by KEITH HATSCHEK 

It makes sense to protect and copyright a song if you hope to profit from its recording and public performance – but how do music copyrights work?

Copyright a songSo you’ve written a new song. It may have the potential to be a hit, but one thing is certain: it makes sense to properly protect and copyright a song if you hope to profit from its recording and public performance. How do music copyrights work? What is required to have ownership of your song’s copyright? Why should you register it with the Library of Congress? What are some of the common music licenses that generate income for songwriters?

What is a copyright?
According to attorney Don Passman’s authoritative book, All You Need to Know About the Music Business, a copyright is a “limited duration monopoly.” When the founding fathers first established copyright in intellectual property, the term of that exclusive control was fourteen years. Since that time, copyright duration has been extended, to the point that today, once you properly register your song’s copyright, you and your heirs will have exclusive control of it for your own life, plus seventy more years.

While most songwriters or their publishers copyright a song and register the copyright with the Library of Congress (LOC), due to the way the law is written, a copyright actually exists the moment you fix your song in any tangible medium. So by recording it, writing out a lead sheet, or simply typing out the lyrics and printing them, you have created a tangible copy and at that moment in time, your song is protected by copyright.

So why bother to register your new song with the Library of Congress? Because until such time as it is officially registered as a new work with the LOC, you have some, but not all of the various protections that copyright law provides.

The first and most important result of registering your song with the LOC is that a permanent and unequivocal date of copyright registration is established. Should your song be used without your consent, this date will be used by a court of law to affirm that the use or unauthorized adaptation occurred after you registered your song. Such unauthorized use is commonly referred to as an “infringement.”

Once your song has been registered, the full weight of copyright law can be used to protect your song, should it be used unlawfully. Penalties for using a copyrighted work without permission can be substantial, running anywhere between $750 and $30,000 for each infringed work. If a defendant willfully infringed, that is, he or she knew your song was protected by copyright, statutory damages can rise to $150,000 per infringed work.

One more benefit of registering your song is that if you have a valid LOC registration for your song and the court decides in your favor, the infringing party will likely have to pay your legal fees in addition to whatever statutory damages are required.

A copyright owner’s five exclusive rights
Once you have a song that you’ve registered with the LOC, you have the foundation to exploit your song to earn money. Song copyright owners enjoy the same five exclusive rights that any author of a novel, screenplay, painting, poem, or other intellectual work has. These include the right to exclusively:

1. Reproduce the work
2. Distribute the work
3. Perform the work in public
4. Allow a derivative work to be made
5. Display the work in public (applies mostly to visual media and artwork)

Anyone making unauthorized copies without a copyright owner’s permission, distributing unauthorized copies, using a sample without permission, or allowing performance of the work in public without proper payment of public performance royalties is in violation of one or more of these exclusive rights.

In practice, songwriters will often assign their song’s copyright to a music publisher in order to maximize the revenue opportunities. It then becomes the job of the publisher to develop as many licensed uses of your song as possible. Such uses may include cover versions of your song; placements in TV, film, and video games; use of your song in a commercial, greeting card, or on a compilation album. In exchange, the songwriter will normally share the revenue 50-50 with the publisher. Whenever your song is performed on radio or TV, it generates a public performance royalty that the three U.S. Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) – ASCAP, BMI, SESAC – monitor and then collect a royalty on the behalf of the songwriter and publisher. Each writer may only affiliate with one of the PROs.

Song vs. Master copyrights
Prior to 1972, the recording of your song was not protected by copyright, although the underlying musical ideas, usually represented by the lyrics and music that made up your song, were covered. At that time, Congress changed the law to extend copyright protection to sound recordings. This meant that for artists signed to one of the major record labels, the sound recordings they made in the studio usually became the property of the record label, based on the fact that in almost all cases, the label bankrolled these master recordings.

Record labels quickly realized these master rights represented a new stream of royalty income and began to exploit them. When you hear an original recording of a Motown classic such as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye in a motion picture, Motown/Universal has granted a master license to the filmmaker, while the songwriter’s publishing company, in this case Stone Agate/EMI Music Publishing, granted a song license to use the music in the film. So in this way, a recording of a song has two copyrights simultaneously existing: one in the underlying song, a second in the master recording of that song.

For the DIY band that has released its own album, they can simply send in a copy of their finished album to the LOC and register both the songs and the master recordings to receive full protection. Then, if a filmmaker wishing to use their song were to contact the band, they would be in a position to request a license fee for both the song use AND the master use, assuming the budget allowed for such fees. In practice, the filmmaker might have a limited budget, but remember that if you own your song and your master recording, you actually hold two distinct copyrights.

Licensing lingo
In the world of music licensing, there are various types of music licenses, each of which is referred to by one of more common terms. It makes sense to learn these basic terms so that if you are speaking with a music publisher or anyone wishing to use one of your songs or master recordings you are starting from a common point. Here are four of the more common terms used in music licensing.

Mechanical License. This is the permission to use your song to record, manufacture, and distribute a new sound recording of your song. Even if you are recording your own song for a record label, under the terms of your contract, the label will need to secure a mechanical license before making the records and offering the song as a download. (Yes, downloads count as a record and as such, the publisher or songwriter must give advance permission to distribute or sell a song online.) Mechanicals, as they are frequently referred to, are audio-only licenses.

Synchronization License. Any use of your song in support of a visual medium is a synchronization (or synch, for short) license. When you hear a song used on a TV show or motion picture, a synch license was secured to pay the publisher for that use. Depending on the importance of the song in the context of the film or TV series, such licenses may generate tens of thousands of dollars shared by the publisher and writer.

Blanket License. Ever wonder if Queen earns a royalty when you hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” blaring over the sound system at your local bowling alley on Rock ‘n’ Bowl night? They do. The three PROs typically secure annual agreements with any business or venue that features music playback or performance as part of its operations. The cost for such blanket licenses varies depending on the size of the venue and typical audience size. For example, the blanket license fees paid by Madison Square Garden to use music during a NBA basketball game will be proportionally higher than your local bowling alley pays. But both types of venues help add to the songwriter and publisher’s revenue streams when a song is frequently played.

Master License. This is the license needed to use a master sound recording in any commercial setting. Record labels often control most masters performed by top artists as they invested the money to record them in the first place. However, more bands are deciding to take the totally independent route, which will often result in the band retaining the master rights for their sound recordings. When such a band gains enough notoriety to attract the interest of a TV or film music supervisor, they may be in a position to profit from granting a master license and a song license if they also wrote the song in question.

Note: This article does not offer a complete explanation of music copyright and licensing matters. It’s best to get the advice of an experienced entertainment attorney or music licensing expert before entering into any binding music license agreement.

 

Read more: Copyright basics: rights, licensing lingo, and more – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2011/03/copyright-basics/#ixzz2viE0ITSq