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


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:

Guide: Make More Money From Your Music

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.”

Pre-production tips for recording drums | DiscMakers


Every studio recording should begin with pre-production – here are tips to help you prepare for a drum recording session

pre-production and recording drumsThis post on pre-production tips for drummers originally appeared on Cakewalk’s blog. These tips apply to drummers, producers, and engineers preparing for a session recording drums. Reprinted with permission.

1. Practice to a click track
If the drummer in a session isn’t rehearsed, you will either spend a lot of time in the studio or a lot of time editing drums. Spending time in the rehearsal room practicing to a click track is much easier than spending hours and hours behind an editor. Sit in on rehearsals and even record them to get an understanding of timing and how proficient the drummer is. Here are some solutions for drummers who have a hard time playing to just a click:

• Have someone else in the group play along with the drummer
• Use song demos as guide tracks
• Record in shorter sections, instead of longer sections
• Try different percussion as click tones (e.g. cowbell, woodblock)

2. Demo songs before you record them
Prepping for a studio recording is the only way to successfully take advantage of the time you have and cut the best performances of your songs. Practice recording yourself playing your band’s songs to understand how your tracks will come together in the recording studio. Review your recordings and focus on the group and your parts to understand where improvements need to be made to lock down the tracks. Take the time to finalize specific drum fills, hits, and patterns.

Techniques vary from drummer to drummer: some play behind the beat and others will play ahead of the beat. Sometimes drummers do not realize how hard they need to be hitting the drums to get a proper sound for recording. As an engineer or producer, you want to eliminate all the possible surprises before entering the studio.

3. Find the right type of drum head for the music you are recording
Different jobs call for different tools, and pairing the right drum head with a music genre is an important factor in the final sound of any record.

Single ply. These are some of the most common drum heads. Their sensitivity is perfect for light hitters. Single ply heads produce high-end frequencies when hit, and their pronounced tone and sound can be useful in arena rock shows as well as quiet jazz ballads. Single ply heads are typically made from one layer of 7 mil Mylar and are considered the thinnest of all types of drum heads. Unfortunately this means their durability can be sacrificed if they are hit too hard.

Double ply. Double ply heads have two layers of Mylar and can vary in thicknesses, the most common being two 7 mil layers. Double Ply heads do not produce as many overtones and frequencies as single ply heads, and the two layers of Mylar provide more attack and better control of the sound. Double ply heads are typically easier to record in studio applications.

Coated. “Coating” a drum head means that some degree of dampening has been applied. There are many variations of this, but the goal is to soften up the sound of the head so that it produces a warmer sound. Drum heads that are coated are sprayed, covered with Mylar film, or have some sort of other substance applied to make the drum sound warmer and less like abrasive.

Pre-muffled. Eliminating overtones and resonant frequencies from a kick drum is common practice for many styles of music. Rock, metal, pop, and country typically keep the tone of the kick drum from ringing in order to achieve a blend of the “thud” of the drum and “thwack” of the beater against the batter head. Pre-muffled heads come pre packaged with foam or other damping features to suppress unwanted frequencies, which can be important in a recording studio setting.

Once you’ve found the head you want to use, start the session with new and seated (broken in) heads. Make sure to have spares on hand.

4. Tune your drum heads, and continue to tune them as you record
Drum heads always need a good tuning before any recording. They start to change in tone as they are played or left idle and should constantly be re-tuned as you record for long periods of time. Drum tuning does not necessarily mean the drums are tuned to a set of pitches. They are usually tuned so to sound compatible when played in succession. Each size drum head has an optimal range for its tone, and tuning your drums outside of this range can result in strange aliasing or cause other drums to be pushed out of their own optimal tuning range.

5. Prepare in advance for tempo and time signature changes
Tracking a session that has multiple tempo and time signature changes can get complicated if your metronome track is not set up in a way that makes sense to the drummer. Once you get your hands on some demos of the group, tempo map the songs so you can give the drummer a decent click track to practice to before entering the studio. Getting used to multiple tempo changes and time signature changes can be a tricky task, and you do not want to break the drummer’s spirits by surprising him or her with a confusing or inefficient click track while they are trying to record. Prepare a track before you enter the studio with cues and count-ins.

6. Consider using triggers
A trigger is a transducer that is placed on the head of a drum. Once the drum is hit, a signal is sent to a sound generator which sends the programmed sound of a drum or MIDI information. A drum trigger can come in handy regardless of what style of music you are recording. You can record the MIDI information of the drum for easier time adjustment, to enhance the acoustic sound of your drums by blending the two, or to use the information to better understand where the attacks of each transient are. In music styles that are kick-drum centric, a common practice is to use a trigger to level out the differing hits in order to achieve an almost inhuman sound. As an engineer, the use of triggers has not handicapped my session flow or drum editing at all. In fact, it has made certain situations a bit easier.

7. Be prepared
Here are a few items that you as an engineer or producer should always have on hand with you when tracking drums.

• Moving blankets. Use these to isolate kick drums, cover hard/reflective surfaces, and change the acoustics within a room.

• Spring camps. Helpful for holding loose cables and moving blankets.

• Bungee cords. For tying up blankets, loose cables, etc.

• Counterweights. Counterweights are useful when working with inexpensive microphone stands that can fall and lose their placement.

• Extra tuning keys. Tuning keys always get lost. Purchase a few of these to keep on your keychain.

• MoonGel. This is a blue dampening pad that you can buy to place on drum heads during recording. It reduces the ringing and decay of a drum.

• Measuring tape. When setting up overhead microphones, you need to make sure the distance from the snare to both overhead microphones are the same distance.

• Gaffers tape. This tape is great for the studio because it is strong and does not leave a residue when removed.

• Acoustic foam. It is always good to have extra foam on hand if you need to muffled drums.

• Pillows. Removing the front head of a kick drum and stuffing it with pillows can reduce resonance and bring out more attack from the drum.

• Cinder blocks. Placing one of these in front of the kick drum can keep the whole set from moving forward in a room with a slippery floor.

• Camera. Take pictures of the mic placements to save for the future in case you need to re-track.

• DI box (triggers). Most trigger outputs are quarter-inch jacks, you will need this patch into a tie line box that only has XLR inputs.

• Spare snare head. 14” coated snare head. A broken snare head can bring a session to a sudden halt.

Read more: Pre-production tips for recording drums – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/03/pre-production-tips-for-recording-drums/#ixzz31hIT592b