The one thing you have to understand to get more gigs | Disc Makers

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mic2 The one thing you have to understand to get more gigsNot all gigs are created equal: how to get the right gig for you

So you want to play more gigs.

It seems like other artists you know are performing all the time, so surely there must be a secret formula to getting gigs. That, or all the other musicians up on stage are friends with the venue owner or have a manager getting the gigs for them, right?

Maybe. But nine times out of ten the singer up there on stage has no insider information, no manager, and no friendship with the venue owner whatsoever.

So the burning question is….what is the Secret Formula to booking gigs?

I could reel off a few quick bullet points to whet your appetite, but to be honest that wouldn’t help you very much and here’s why: if you came up to me tomorrow and asked me how to get gigs, the first thing I’d say is, “What type of gig do you want?”

You see, not all gigs are created equal. Some gigs will pay well but won’t help you build a following; some gigs will pay next to nothing but will be massive fan builders; and some gigs… well they don’t get you fans or money but can still be valuable if used properly.

Confused?  I don’t blame you.

You see, before you can get gigs you need to understand the type of gigs that are out there and what each one can do for you. Once you understand this, it makes going after gigs a whole lot easier because you can look for a gig that is going to help you with your business (yes, you are a business) and is suitable for where you’re at in this phase of your career.

Have a look at the Gig Matrix below. These are examples of just some of the types of gigs, placed into a matrix that works on a scale of high versus low pay and high versus low fan building.

Gig Matrix 620x650 The one thing you have to understand to get more gigs

Note: This works for any musical genre; you just have to rename the gig slightly. For example, the musical theatre  equivalent of an ‘Open Mic Night’ is doing a community theatre show for free.

Bear in mind that this is not an exact science. The music industry is highly unregulated and I know that some musicians have done very well with ‘low pay/low fans’ gigs like busking if they go on a regular basis, however this is not always the case. To make things even clearer, let’s take a look at each of the areas of the Gig Matrix and find out what the benefits of each category can be for you.

Low Pay/ Low Fan Gigs

If after looking at the Matrix you thought that you would scratch Low Pay/ Low Fan gigs off your list straight away… well, think again. Every gig in the Matrix has its purpose and each is more accessible to you depending on what stage you are at in your music career.

For example, busking and open mic nights are a great way to test out new material or to gain performance practice when you are just starting out, and they are the easiest gigs to obtain; you can busk in most places by obtaining a simple busking licence and open mic nights take pretty much anyone.

In fact, I personally use both of these types of  gigs for this very purpose.  I’m currently working on some new folk material and am playing guitar for the first time (I’m usually a jazz performer and play piano and sing) so when I’ve got my material ready, I’ll hit up an open mic night to take my new songs and skills for a test drive.

Similarly, if you are in musical theatre, the best way to grow your resume is by doing free community shows. You’ll meet people in the industry and can work on your performance skills while you hunt around for new opportunities.

High Pay/ Low Fan Gigs

On the flip side of the Matrix  there are High Pay/ Low Fan gigs. These are what I call ‘Bread and Butter’ gigs because basically, they pay the rent. For contemporary singers, these might be bar/ club cover gigs where the venue pays you to play music their clientele will like, which usually means well known covers.

For me as a jazz musician, these are corporate gigs at some stuffy legal firm’s cocktail client night and I’m there to provide background music and look pretty. Yep seriously. Why else would they hire a band if they just want background music? It’s all for show. This is definitely not the place to pull out my massive ‘Nicola Milan’ banner, set up my merch stand complete with flashing lights and plug my CDs at the end of every set. You’ll be lucky if you get to hand out a few business cards during the break and get a quick thank you from the head honcho.

Use these gigs to fund the Low Pay/High Fan building gigs that we’ll have a look at next… and make the most of the free canapés while you’re there. icon wink The one thing you have to understand to get more gigs

Note: Some musos only want these types of gigs. This is when it’s not so much about building a name for themselves than it is making money as a musician without having to leave their local area (Which is totally fine by the way. I know plenty of very good musicians who make their living this way) — but for those of you who want to make a mark, raise your profile, and reach for what can happen when you do start becoming known (i.e. a higher charge rate, better gigs, a deeper connection with fans, getting your message out there, and all the possibilities that come with being a person of interest) then read on.

Low Pay/ High Fan Gigs

I love/ hate these gigs. I know they are going to be good for my profile but I also know I’m going to run at a loss and as someone who relies solely on income derived from music, the costs involved can bite.

Many support gigs with better known artists will fall under this category (initially at least.) As anything in the music industry, there will be exceptions but when you have no fans apart from your rent-a-crowd mates then you don’t really have much value (in terms of business dollars) to add to a gig and the opportunity to perform with a band that does pull a crowd is a good opportunity for you, because it means you get to play for fans of a similar sounding band. If they like that band, then they may become your fan too. However, it’s not such a good deal for the venue or the band with the bigger name.

The reason is because these type of gigs usually operate on a pay by door sales basis. If you have no fans then your ability to help with the door sales intake is going to be minimal and therefore you shouldn’t expect to be paid for something you didn’t provide. The catch here however, is this: if you are a singer who uses an accompanist or session musicians in your band, then you still have to pay your musicians and you will have to fork out of your own pocket to pay them. It is easier if you have a band dedicated to doing any gig they can to ‘break in’ but for singers, this is frequently not the case.

The good news is that if you make the most of these gigs, you should start building fans from the first gig and it does get easier. That, or you can do a heap of advertising to get people through the door… but that is a topic for another blog post.

The bad news is that every time you want to break into a new market (location) you will have to repeat the support gig process, unless of course you have a major radio hit and venues are clambering over each other to book you… and we all know this is definitely not the norm.

However, playing support gigs is the fastest way to go from zero to fans and get you one step closer to the juicy gigs we’ll have a look at next.

High Fans/ High Pay Gigs

Ah yes, now we reach the realm of the Rich and Somewhat Famous and I can hear you thinking ‘Now we’re talking. Ok Nicola, just tell me how to get heaps of these gigs, really well paying and in front of heaps of fans.’

My answer? “Patience, Grasshopper. They are not YOUR fans… yet.”

I’m not saying this to hold you back by any means because on average, festivals and promoted shows with advertising dollars behind them are hands-down the best way to get your name out there as an artist. The gig in itself would be enough, however most Festivals are accompanied by advertising dollars to spread your name further and have media salivating over the opportunity to get you on their interview list. Yes these are the best gigs to get, but they are also by far the most competitive.

Festivals are expensive to put on and so the Festival Promoter needs to ensure they will attract an excellent turnout each year. They do this by booking artists that they know will draw a crowd, which means that you need to be doing pretty well and have a solid following  to get one of these gigs (that, or be good friends with whoever is in charge.)

Don’t worry, there’s a catch to Festivals which is your secret way in. Create a list of the Festivals that support your type of music in your local area (and beyond if you can afford the travel costs). Most bigger Festivals don’t even accept artist applications so scratch those off initially. Your best bet is to target smaller festivals and then build up from there.

Keep an eye out for contests to play at bigger Festivals but realise the competition is going to be fierce. Some Festivals do offer busking opportunities which you can snap up if you perform solo and acoustic, then make the most of it; get your banner out, play loud and promote, promote, promote!

The other type of show that can sit either under this category in the Gig Matrix or under the Low Pay/Low Fans category is a show that you put on yourself. You hire a venue or agree to a split of the door sales and then it’s your job to book the support acts and get people through the door (this is where that rent-a-crowd friend base comes in handy).

These gigs are great for a reason to promote yourself in the local media and can be decent earners if your door numbers are solid. Do a good job and your rent-a-crowd might actually become true fans and bring more friends along next time.

So let’s go back to the start and revisit our original question: how to get gigs. Now that you can have a think about the type of gig that you want, doesn’t that make it easier to know where to start looking?

My advice is to pick the gig according to what your needs are as an artist. If you are just starting out, go for the Low Pay/Low Fan gigs where you can get some performance practice singing in front of a crowd. That way, if you stuff up, it’s not going to be such a big deal. If you’re past this stage, then have a look at the bands gigging in your local area that sound similar to you and reach out for a support gig.

Whatever the stage you are at in your music career, go for the gig that will benefit you the most… and once you have it, make the most of it.

—-

Author bio: Nicola Milan is a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist and vocal coach. On her website Singer’s Secret, she shares tips on how to improve your singing, gain confidence, and get gigs when you’re just starting out.

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Build a superfan base one video at a time | DiscMakers

by BEN SWORD

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

build an audience on YouTube

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

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

The “check move” theory

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

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

It all starts with “capture”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

      how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Here is your action step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Cool

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

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

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

18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracking Your Income

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

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

Why indies should still care about radio | Disc Makers

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you get your music on the radio?

Depends on your resources.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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.”