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

Dave Cool

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

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

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

18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracking Your Income

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

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

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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

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:

Publishing 
Guide: Make More Money From Your Music

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

The Top 5 Melody Pitfalls—and How to Avoid Them | BMI

An exclusive tutorial from the renowned instructor of the BMI Nashville Songwriters’ Workshop

by Jason Blume

Many of the writers whose songs I listen to at my workshops work long and hard on their lyrics, striving to find unique, fresh ways to tell their stories and express their concepts. But they sometimes forget that we’re not writing poems, but songs—and if we hope to create songs that resonate with listeners, our lyrics need to be delivered on the wings of outstanding, memorable melodies.

It’s often easier to identify weaknesses in lyrics than in melodies. While it might be evident that a line of lyric is cliché and needs to incorporate a fresher, more original approach, it might be more challenging to diagnose the reasons why a melody fails to jump out of the proverbial pile or remain seared in the brain.

Following are some of the melody pitfalls I most often encounter—and their remedies.

1. Crafting Melodies That Sound as if They’ve Been Imposed Upon Predictable Chord Changes

Many of the songs by current pop and urban music hit-makers are crafted by creating a music track first. In these instances, a musical “bed” consisting of the keyboards, bass, drums and guitars is composed and produced prior to the melody that the vocalist will sing. A vocal melody is then crafted to work with the chord changes, beats and grooves that have been established.

While this approach to writing is not typical in country music, there are more instances of songs being created for the Nashville market by using this method. In country, Americana, roots and folk music, although a full musical track is not typically created prior to a vocal melody, chord progressions played on an acoustic guitar often precede the melody.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to write a great melody, and countless successful songs have begun with a chord progression. The problem arises when the vocal melody sounds as if it has been imposed on those chords as an afterthought.

In my workshops, I, too, often critique songs with melodies that sound as if they were created as the result of writers strumming predictable chord progressions on a guitar—then imposing melody that works perfectly fine with those chords. There’s no “rub”—no dissonance. So, you might ask, “What wrong with that?”

There may be nothing “wrong” with these melodies, but “nothing wrong” is a far cry from melodies that are unforgettable, fresh and original. No one walks down the street humming chord changes, guitar licks, drumbeats, grooves or bass lines. While these are all important components of successful songs, they aren’t enough.

Giving more attention to these components than to the melody that sits atop them is analogous to a builder spending the majority of his or her time and energy on a house’s foundation, then haphazardly slapping together the actual home. The foundation is crucial—but not more important than the house. Chord progressions, drum patterns, guitar licks and bass lines need to be paired with fresh, original, can’t-get-them-out-of-your-head melodies and rhythms for the singer to sing.

It can help to assess your melodies by singing them a capella, to be certain they stand up on their own. They should be memorable, easy to sing and should not sound as if notes are missing—or extra notes have been crammed in—to accommodate lyrics.

Remember your melody is critically important to your song’s success. Regardless of how a song is begun, when it’s finished, it needs a vocal melody that compels an artist, publisher, producer or an A&R executive to say “Yes”—and an audience to invite it into their hearts.

2. Settling for Predictable Rhythms in the Vocal Melodies

With the unprecedented amount of music available to listeners, it’s more important than ever to separate our songs from the competition. Songs with melodies that rely on stock, less-than-exceptional rhythms are unlikely to command a listener’s attention.

One of the best ways to elevate songs from “good” to “WOW” is to write vocal melodies that incorporate fresh, hooky rhythms. Taylor Swift is a master of this tool. A listen to the verse and chorus of her GRAMMY-nominated smash, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” (Taylor Swift/Max Martin/Shellback) reveals the enormous contribution of the rhythms within the vocal melody.

This technique typically includes syncopation—placing the rhythmic accent on a “weak” beat—and it can be heard in countless hits. Some great examples are: Rodney Atkins’ recording of “Take a Back Road,” (Rhett Akins/Luke Laird); Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” (Carly Rae Jepsen/Tavish Crowe); and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” (Rami; Carl Falk; Savan Kotecha).

Including syncopation and catchy, unique rhythms that push the envelope are among the best tools you can use to help separate your songs from the competition—regardless of your musical genre.

3. Lack of Contrast

A common melodic problem is the failure to clearly differentiate each section of a song (i.e., verse, pre-chorus, chorus or bridge) from other sections. While melodic and rhythmic repetition within a given section can be the proverbial glue that helps melodies stick in the brain, in order to sustain listeners’ attention, ideally, each section should be rhythmically and melodically distinct from the parts of the song that surround it. In simple terms, you don’t want the verses to sound like the chorus, or the bridge to sound like either the verse or chorus.

There should be no doubt when the chorus begins. You can achieve this by choosing from several different tools. One of the most effective ways to announce the arrival of your chorus is to use higher notes. The chorus often includes the highest notes in the song, and in many instances, these notes appear in the first line of the chorus.

Two exceptional examples of choruses that “jump out” are Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele/Paul Epworth) and Jason Aldean’s “Fly Over States” (Neil Thrasher and Michael Dulaney).

Another way to be sure each part of a song is distinct from the song’s other components is to vary the rhythms in the vocal melodies from one section to the next. For example, if a pre-chorus is choppy and rhythmic, as a result of including a barrage of short notes (such as eighth notes), the subsequent chorus might benefit from longer notes (such as whole notes). Conversely, a verse that relies heavily on long, held-out notes might be best followed by a chorus that incorporates shorter notes for a more “rhythmic” feel.

While many pop, country and adult contemporary songs include choruses that “lift,” urban and urban-influenced pop songs often differentiate their choruses from their verses with a distinctly different rhythm—as opposed to soaring high notes.

To keep your listeners interested, be sure to vary the range and/or rhythms from one section to the next.

4. Introducing Too Many Melodic Motifs

We tend to remember that which we are exposed to over and over again—and this certainly applies to melodies. If you want your melodies to stick in the brain, repetition, repetition and repetition are the top three ways to achieve this. Your listeners can’t latch onto a melody and remember it if it keeps changing.

When I critique work from developing writers, I sometimes hear songs that establish a melody (for example, a 2-bar motif)—then bring in a new melody, and yet another melody—all within an eight-bar section. But when I analyze successful songs in various genres, I typically find that within any given section of a song (verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge) there are rarely more than two distinct melodic concepts.

For an example of a song that incorporates this tool, listen to Norah Jones’ GRAMMY-winning “Don’t Know Why” (Jesse Harris). You’ll notice that the verse is comprised of a 4-bar “call and response” melodic motif. The rhythm established in the first two bars is repeated in the second two bars. This 4-bar melody is heard four times; there is no additional melody introduced in the verse. The bridge also uses this tool by establishing a 4-bar melodic phrase—then repeating it.

Another excellent example of incorporating repetition by limiting the number of melodic ideas within each section can be heard in the chorus of One Direction’s career-breaking song, “What Makes You Beautiful” (Rami; Carl Falk; Savan Kotecha). The chorus is comprised of a 2-bar melodic phrase that is heard three times. It is followed by the 2-bar phrase that accompanies the title. This fourth phrase is a different melody and rhythm—thereby distinguishing the title from the lines surrounding it. This eight-bar melody is then repeated. With the exception of one line, every line of the chorus lyric contains the identical number of syllables, allowing the melody writer to repeat the same rhythm, and almost the same melody.

Listen to your favorite songs and you’ll likely hear the same rhythms and melodies repeated over and over within each section. By incorporating this technique into your work, you can write melodies that listeners can’t forget.

5. Failure to Rewrite Melodies

What’s the chance that the very first melody that pops into your head is such perfection that you couldn’t possibly improve even one note or one chord— even if your entire career were riding on doing so? Our careers are riding on composing songs that include melodies that are not just “good”—but exceptional. Your melodies need to edge out those written by the writers and artists who top the charts— the song crafters who have their fingers on the pulse of the current music scene.

To unearth the very best melodies you’re capable of, challenge yourself to rewrite each verse and chorus at least three times. You might craft alternate melodies by placing emphases on different syllables, words or combinations of words. For example, if your title is “I Know I Can Write a Hit,” you could emphasize the words in boldface (below) by holding them out longer or assigning them higher notes:

KNOW – I Can Write a Hit
I – KNOW – I Can Write a Hit
I Know I CAN – Write a Hit
I Know I Can WRITE a Hit
I Know I Can WRITE a HIT

Explore different note choices—try ascending or descending notes; try different rhythms within the vocal melody—including long, legato notes and choppier rhythms. You might also see how your melody works at different tempos.

Yet another way to craft alternate melodies is to repeat some of your syllables, words or combinations of words. For example:

I Know—I Know – I Can Write a Hit
Know I Can—I Can—I Can Write a Hit

You might also try using nonsense syllables to create an added melodic hook. For example:

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh – I Know I Can Write a Hit
I Know EYE—EE-EYE-EE—EYE Can Write a Hit

For good examples of this tool being used in various genres, listen to Feist’s “1234” (Feist/Sally Seltmann), Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” (Stewart/Nash/Harrell/Beyoncé) and Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Bluejean Night” (Paslay/Altman/Sawchuk).

You can also try a variety of different chords to accompany your melodies. Sometimes, a new way of harmonizing your melody can be just the ticket it needs to bring it to life.

In some instances, the very first melody that flows from you will indeed capture the magic—but you can’t be certain of that until you’ve tried to make it even stronger. After you’ve explored a variety of melodies you can always go back to your first melody—if that’s the one you prefer.

Remember: If you don’t give the decision-makers and your listeners a reason to choose your songs over the competition—they won’t. Rewrite your melodies until they are distinctive, fresh and instantly memorable. Push the creative envelope while remaining consistent with the genres you’re targeting. Don’t settle for less than your very best. Your career is riding on it.

Jason Blume is the author of 6 Steps to Songwriting SuccessThis Business of Songwriting, and Inside Songwriting (all publishing by Billboard Books), and he has produced a series of instructional songwriting audio CDs. His songs are on albums that have sold more than 50 million copies, and he is among the few writers to ever have his songs on the pop, R&B, and country charts all at the same time. Jason’s songs have been recorded by diverse artists including Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, and country music stars including the Oak Ridge Boys, John Berry (earning a BMI Million-Air Award for exceeding one million airplays), and Collin Raye (6 cuts). He most recently had two top 10 hits in Europe with Dutch star, BYentl, and his songs have been included in top television shows including “Scrubs,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The Guiding Light,” Disney’s “Kim Possible,” and “the Miss America Pageant.”

In addition to developing and teaching the BMI Nashville Songwriters Workshop, Blume has presented master classes at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (founded by Sir Paul McCartney), and in Ireland, Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, Bermuda, Jamaica, and throughout the U.S., in addition to co-leading the Nashville Songwriters Association’s annual song camps. His latest book, This Business of Songwriting, Revised 2nd Edition has just been released and is available atwww.jasonblume.com, with e-books available at Amazon.com.

Have a very disco Christmas, everyone!

holiday-workout-music-

Understanding Preproduction: The Key To Making Meaningful Recordings | Gibson.com

Ted Drozdowski

Preproduction is the ultra-important process of getting everything in place to make the best album possible. It has an indelible impact on the recording process and the quality of the album that results. The sad fact is, it is overlooked entirely or in part by most new artists and by a shocking number of established recording and touring acts. That’s a major reason why so many albums suck. A lack of preparedness always results in mediocrity, whether you’re a garage band or Bob Dylan.
Cerwin-Vega cvm 1224_If you’re planning to record an album and you’re interested in creating something that has artistic value and integrity, consider this article a nudge in that direction. And remember one overall rule: if at all possible, do not rush any of the steps of the preproduction process. And if you need help making decisions along the way, seek it out, whether in the form of a producer or a knowledgeable friend with a broader grasp of the fundamentals of recording, arranging, songwriting and project management.

Another thing to consider is that there are no absolutes in preproduction other than the need to fully understand the artist involved and the nature and goals of the album being recorded. That dictates exactly what needs to be done for each project. Understand also that all of these elements are typically approached concurrently, which helps give a project momentum and establish a clearer overall picture of the final results.

This is complex, so let’s try to break it down into a few areas of discussion:

• The Artist: Every album that’s meaningful says something about who a band or artist is. Green Day’s American Idiot, for example, defines the group as thoughtful, socially committed individuals with an anti-authority attitude who use punk-rock-based music as a mode of expression. Tom Waits’ Bad As Me reveals him as a poetic writer and musical character actor with a wide berth of reference points on the search for new musical narrative forms – but with a strong foundation in established forms — and committed to experimentation. Nevermind defines Nirvana as a punk and classic rock fueled band, interested in examining the human condition and celebrating individuality, but in a way that is clearly accessible to more than a cult audience.

It’s easy to back analyze albums this way, but to really understand one’s own music and how it should crystallize in the studio requires self-examination, which means artists needs to have a sense about where their roots lie, what motivates them to create as they do, and other important factors.

A good producer can help an artist figure this out. And a good producer will spend time seeing live performances and getting to know a band or artist before entering the studio. Sure, there’s always the option to just go in and blast down a bunch of songs and hope for the best, but “the best” is easier to achieve when there is an attuned sensibility guiding the project that’s based on understanding the artist that’s recording. And that sensibility can belong to a producer or to the artist him- or herself.

• The Songs: If you’re doing two or three songs so you’ve got a demo to get regional gigs with or to get played on the local college station, there’s nothing wrong with going in and blasting those songs down. But if your goal is to make a good album that has artistic merit, material should be carefully culled and cultivated.

This process can be as simple as sifting through songs that have been written and demo’d in advance (making demos is important and educational, regardless of one’s experience level) or as complicated as soliciting tunes from outside songwriters, sifting through the recordings of other artists or finding a co-writer with whom to pen the necessary numbers. Only a genius should write songs in the studio, as the clock ticks and costs rise.

If you’re planning to make an album or producing an album for another artist, make sure you have more songs on hand than you need. And if you’re producing, you need to have songwriting chops so you can fix things that don’t work in lyrics and arrangements.

Ideally, start with 18 to 20 songs for a projected 10- to 12-song album, and winnow those down to the best. There’s nothing like playing songs in advance live to learn if they’ll stand the test of an audience or the studio. And if you’re producing, seeing a band live can provide fantastic insights for arrangements, rewriting and more — as can good demos on GarageBand or fully audible live recordings from the board or other sources. If a song doesn’t feel right for any reason, don’t force the issue. File the song away for later, since more performances or musical growth might reveal the improvements it needs to rise above the pack.

• The Experience Level: Not every band or artist is ready to make an album. If you’re not ready for the studio, don’t force it. Bad recordings exist on the Internet, on YouTube and on CDs for a long, long time. And they will be held against you. It’s best to wait until your playing is dependable enough to generate solid results. Try to be dispassionate in judging your or your band’s abilities.

Practice, playing live gigs and working on fundamental weaknesses can be viewed as long-term preproduction strategies, at a basic level. Doing demos on GarageBand or another simple hard-drive based recording system — or even live recordings on a Zoom or other self-contained, easy to use recording device — is a great way to prepare for the studio.

A good producer will level with an inexperienced band or artist, offer them some advice and be available later when they’re really ready to make an album.

• The Cast: A good producer or a self-aware band or artist will also know when to look outside for musicians in order to realize the best recordings possible. Think of the producer or artist spearheading the recording project — and there should always be just one person who is the ultimate creative decision maker — as a casting director. He or she needs to know who to call to play the right role in the recordings.

Always get the best players your connections and your budget afford. Always. And if you’re not sure who you need to play that Hammond B-3 organ part, or who the best local musical saw maestro is, ask friends and other artists for leads. These don’t have to be high-priced session musicians and perhaps shouldn’t be if you’re looking for something outside the box. They can be club players and mavericks, too — just like you.

A good producer should have a contact list that covers just about all requirements, including the phone number for the right engineer for a project, if that producer isn’t also manning the mikes and faders.

Thinking beyond the limitations of one’s own band is an important growth point for an artist. It is a sign that the music the artist makes has taken on a life of its own that extends beyond a comfort zone and regular reference points. It is a sign of creative maturity.

• The Studio: These days it’s possible to make cool albums in a bedroom. Tom Waits once used a metal Quonset hut in the desert as a makeshift studio. But it’s often hard to beat a professional or, at least, well developed home studio for big sounds, due to the design of live recording rooms and the selection of microphones, compressors and other cool gear that good studios should offer.

When looking for a studio, consider your budget for the project — including food, lodging and transportation for musicians; determine whether the cost includes the engineer and other personnel; you might want to investigate credit or payment terms; and if it has any meaning for you, look at the gear list. If you’re not technically informed, read the list of artists who have recorded there. That will be revealing, since each of them also went through the process of choosing a studio. And listen to recordings made in the studio. When the stars align, you’ll know.

Also, don’t go in over your head. These days very, very few indie albums recoup their recording costs. It’s simply the nature of the business and the times.

• The Goals: Know why you’re making an album before you start a recording project. Do you simply want a calling card for your band? Do you want to make an album that will take you to the next level? Do you want to compile recordings that might be ripe for film, TV and other synch licensing? Do you want to make a profound artistic statement?

All of these considerations may require different strategies — strategies that affect what kind of songs you’ll record, how you’ll record them, how many tunes will be part of the project, whether guest “stars” are appropriate, how you’ll mix… the list goes on.

Understanding a project’s goals – the “Big Why” in making an album — is very, very important. And many artists in today’s absurdly difficult music business environment haven’t answered that “Why” or even thought clearly about it.

For example, if you independently released an album 10 months ago that was never promoted to radio or marketed, sold only a couple hundred copies and is mostly sitting in boxes in your basement, why — in practical terms — would you consider making a new album? And yet so many artists and bands do, and slide down a slope of frustration and debt. Understanding why you’re making an album and analyzing the likely outcomes is a way to avoid both of those demons.