#40: Radio, Pt. 3 – Independent Radio Promotion – The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

John and Bill continue their multi-episode discussion of Radio and Radio Promotion. In this episode they discuss Independent Radio Promotion and how it should and shouldn’t be done.

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As always, you can leave us a comment or question on our voicemail at 440-782-1Biz (1249), or email us at info@themusicbizworkshop.com

We’d love to hear from you!

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#39: Radio, Pt. 2 – College Radio – The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

John and Bill continue their multi-episode discussion of Radio and Radio Promotion. In this episode they discuss getting your music on college radio and how to break into the CMJ charts.

The Music Biz Workshop PodcastListen Here  
Subscribe via iTunes here
: The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

As always, you can leave us a comment or question on our voicemail at 440-782-1Biz (1249), or email us at info@themusicbizworkshop.com

We’d love to hear from you!

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How to Submit Your Demo to a Record Label

cd jewel case

So, you want to know how to submit your demo to a record label. That sounds like an easy task. Well it is.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Does Not Accept Unsolicited Material?” Ah…. Now it is not such an easy thing to do without having your song returned to you as unsolicited by your targeted record label.

So, what’s the best way to submit your material for consideration to a record label? First, answer these questions.

  1. Are you a member of a Performing Rights Organization?
  2. Do you have an entertainment attorney on retainer?
  3. Are you partnered with a music publisher?
  4. Do you have any direct contacts at the label that you are targeting?
  5. Do you have any relationships with artists who are signed to the label?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, then your job of song submission just got easier. If the answer is no, then you should start to think seriously about your career.

As a songwriter, why are you not a member of a performing rights organization? As a musician, why have you not retained an entertainment attorney? As a songwriter, are you actively pitching to publishers? If you are publishing your own material, what kind of action are you getting?

Hello? Is anyone home? If you are waiting for someone else to do your work for you, then you’re getting what you’re paying for… nothing.

My point is this… These relationships may be the way in. These relationships have other relationships. Help them to help you.

Publishers will help you because they have something to gain. Performing Rights Organizations will help you because they also have something to gain. The same is true with your entertainment attorney, manager and/or booking agent.

There are still numerous ways to submit your material for consideration by a record label executive. The music business is a business of relationships. Hopefully, you have cultivated a influential bunch of “friends” in the industry. If not, start now.

One good way is to attend music conferences and network. There are music conferences all over the globe. Find one near you. Certainly, one of the biggest in the U.S. is South by Southwest. It is held in Austin, Texas every year in March. Go.

One of the best ways to get the attention of a record label executive is to be successful at what you do, especially if you’re selling your own CDs. If you are charting on Billboard or CMJ (College Media Journal), then every label below you on the charts is wondering why you’re in their spot.

They want to know who you are. They want to know why you’re charting higher then they are. Believe me, these record label executives pay attention. So… Get their attention!

In today’s digital age, I recommend to start-up bands to release their own recordings long before you start shopping labels. If you can sell 20,000 units, you will have much more power when bargaining with a label. If you have sold zero, then your power is zero. If you owned a record label, wouldn’t you prefer working with a band who is already selling product? Yes and so it goes.

There’s even more info about all of this in our past podcast episodes on record labels.

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Understanding The Difference Between C-Circle & P-Circle Copyrights

In our never-ending quest to provide you with the info you want, when you want it, we’ve started putting together some short YouTube videos covering popular music business topics.  These videos are segments clipped right out of past episodes of our podcast.

In the first of these videos, John explains the difference between a C-circle copyright and a P-circle copyright.

So basically, every recording actually has two different copyrights attached to it.  There is the copyright for the song, known as the C-circle copyright.  And then there is the copyright for the actual recording, known as the P-circle copyright.

The C-circle copyright is usually owned by the songwriter and/or publisher.  The P-circle copyright is usually owned by the record company.

Still confused?  You can get more information on music copyright by checking out the full episode here.  And if you’re interested in more videos like this you can subscribe to our YouTube Channel right here.

Posted in Music Copyright, Music Publishing, Record Labels, Songwriting, Videos | Leave a comment

Should You Ever Have To Pay For A Gig? Two Artist’s Thoughts

It Pays to Play

The whole “pay to play” idea is very divisive.  I’m talking about the fact that in many cities bands and artists are required to sell a certain number of tickets in order to gain a slot in a show.

They’re told that the more tickets they sell, the better their time slot will be.  Some artists see it simply as a cost of doing business.  Others see it as an opportunity for club owners and promoters to take advantage of artists that are eager for a gig.

Recently, I stumbled across a rant on Facebook that was discussing this very topic.  Ignoring the obvious lack of English and writing skills, I was drawn to the writer’s argument here.  Basically he’s blaming the clubs and music promoters for his band’s lack of success.

I hear this all of the time from young artists.  They feel like the system is rigged against them, when in reality they just haven’t figured out how to work within the system.

Here at The Music Biz Workshop we are trying to help all artists and musicians to, “fight the good fight”.  I thought it might help you to not only read this rant but then to also read a response from an artist that has had a lot success working within the system.  I’ll introduce her in a minute.

So here is the rant, as it was published in Facebook.  All I did was change the name of the clubs and production companies to protect the guilty/innocent.  Please be aware that there is some profanity.

“ATTENTION LOCAL MUSICIANS!!!! IF YOU EVER WANT TO DO A SHOW, DONT (i repeat) DONT GO TO CLUB X.. THERE THE BIGGEST SKAM IN CLEVELAND.. YOU BUST YOUR ASS TO MAKE IT AND THEY JUST WANT TO KEEP YOU THERE TO EAT OFF YOU.. THEY NEED KIDS LIKE US.. IF THEY DDNT HAVE OPENERS THEN HOW WOULD THEY SELL HALF AS MANY TICKETS? BUT WUT DO WE GET? ONE FUCKING DOLLAR PER TICKET… EVEN IF ITS A 25.00$ SHOW.. S

O THERE FOR NOT ONLY DO U GET FUCKED ON MONEY BUT U GET TO PERFORM FOR 15 MINS.. AND DEPENDING ON TICKET SALES IS HOW THEY DECIDE YOUR TIME.. SO THEY PRESSURE U TO SELL 10 TICKETS AT A MINIMUM, BUT TO GO IN UR OWN POCKETS TO BUY MORE JUST TO ASSURE A GOOD SLOT.. THEY SMILE IN YOUR FACE MAKE PROMISES THEN BEHIND YOUR BACK THERE REALLY LAUGHING ON THE WAY TO THE BANK.. THE MAG X DID AN ARTICLE ABOUT PRODUCTION CO. Y AND HOW MUCH OF A SKAM IT IS.. WELL CLUB X IS THE SAME EXACT SKAM JUST A DIFFERENT NAME/FACE ON IT.. YOU CAN THINK IM WRONG, BUT EVENTUALLY YOULL SEE THE TRUTH. WE NEED TO STAND UP FOR OURSELVES AS MUSICIANS AND GET THE RIGHT TREATMENT WE DESERVE.. THEY DO THIS FOR MONEY WE DO IT FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC AND OUR DREAMS.. DONT GET CAUGHT UP IN THE SAME SKAM WE AT BAND Y BEEN FIGHTING FOR 2 YEARS NOW… FUCK PROMOTERS THERE NOTHING BUT LEECHES THAT WANT YOUR BLOOD SWEAT TEARS AND MONEY.. DONT BE ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE LOCAL “MUSIC SCENE”…”

 

After reading this I approached a colleague of mine and asked how she has had so much success even though she is working in the same exact system described above.  She sent me a very thoughtful response that I’d like to share with you.  Her name is Megan Poletti and she plays drums in the Cleveland band The Village Bicycle.

Here is Megan’s reply.  Again, I haven’t edited anything, all formatting is her’s.

“There is an injustice happening in Cleveland.  It’s happening in cities across the country, and it’s happening to people who deserve more.  People who are trying to be creative, work hard for something they truly want, achieve goals they’ve set for themselves years ago… All of these people just want to make their mark on the world through their music, and instead, they are being treated as fools.

If you are a local musician, listen up, because I have four very important words for you.

Never pay to play.

In our city, we pride ourselves on our artistic community.  You might be surprised at the amount of music to come out of the industrial neighborhoods and the suburbs and the basements across this town.  There are too many bands to count, and a lot of them practice in basements and rooms they rent out once a week.  The practice spots may smell like sewer water, or have 15-year-old dust on the floors, or have PAs that sound like garbage, but these spaces are where the young and the inexperienced turn into real musicians.  These spaces are a place for dreaming and writing and working and playing music.  Those of us who have a practice spot like this are lucky to have a place where time stops and all that matters is the music.

That DIY, garage band, rock and roll, underdog kind of mentality is an awesome mindset to possess.  It’s also a kind of mentality that is really easy to manipulate.

Really, how many of us are going to make it?  We’re all trying really hard to have something that makes us different.  We might not all want to be celebrities—but we do all want to be able to play music.  Ultimately, we want to pay our bills by playing music.  The big question is, how the hell are we supposed to get to that point?

Well, you start by playing shows, of course—but that’s a trick in itself.  And then it happens.  Your band’s myspace page gets a personalized message from a production company, telling you they love your band, and are looking for some great local acts to open for a great concert at a venue downtown.  Or maybe they want you to participate in a Battle of the Bands.

You’re just a local act and no one knows you, so that kind of offer is almost irresistible.  You agree to play a Battle of the Bands on a Wednesday night at Venue X.  Sure, it’s not the weekend, but you have no audience and you don’t have any other offers, so you consider this your first step towards success.

Pretty soon you’re informed that you need to sell tickets.  The production company—we’ll call them Y Productions—set up the show and rented the space.  There’s a minimum you need to sell, but if you sell less than the other bands on the show, you have to play earlier.  In order to insure a good time slot—some time where there may be people wandering in the venue, who have the chance to hear your music—you must sell more tickets.  But Venue X won’t give you more tickets, you have to buy them yourself.  Y Productions promises they are not a pay-to-play service, and their website looks legitimate, so you agree to fork over some cash with the promise that you will get it back if you sell the tickets.

Problem is, no one promotes these shows.  You’re an inexperienced band on a list with other inexperienced bands and often times, your bands don’t even sound similar or have any kind of cohesive qualities.  There might be eight other bands also playing that night, so you only get a fifteen-minute set.  Worst of all, hardly anyone even shows up to see you play.

Guess what?  You just paid a big chunk of your time and money to Y Productions and Venue X to play your music for nobody.  You may realize it, and you probably have a sour feeling about it, but you do it again and again.  Why?  Simple.  You are passionate about your music.  You want to be successful, and you are working hard to be a better musician, and you just figure you have to start somewhere, because how else are you supposed to make it?

 It takes a long time and a lot of work, but there is a better way.

I’m in a band.  I’ve been a musician almost my entire life.  I know what it is like to want success, so I understand where you are coming from.  The difference is, I would never set foot in a place like Venue X, and if Y Productions messaged my bandcamp page, I would have a few choice words to say to them, over and over, until certain letters on my keyboard stopped working.

I am enjoying success in Cleveland right now with my band, and we’re rapidly increasing our fan base after every single show we play.  People I don’t even know have come up to me and told me they love my band.  We have over 500 “likes” on Facebook and we are unsigned.  We play almost every weekend, with other local bands as well as touring bands, and often have to turn down shows.  The formula for our success goes a little bit like this:

1)   Practice a lot and get good.  Seriously, this is important to mention.  Please do not write seven songs, record them with the built-in microphone on your laptop, and figure you’re ready to rock.  You need to spend time rehearsing and playing and writing.  If you’re not good, chances are people are not going to care.

2)   Be unique.  Have something that sets you apart from the multitude of other four-piece indie rock bands that are taking over this city.  I’m not going to tell you what that something should be, just do something.

3)   Set up a few online profiles for your band.  Facebook, SoundCloud, and bandcamp are all good choices.  My personal favorite is bandcamp, because it allows you to upload tracks and artwork, and gives the option for people to download your product.  You can allow free downloads, but you can also set a price for the songs or albums, sync it up to a PayPal account, and start collecting a couple of bucks here and there.

4)   Whenever you can, put metatags on your online profiles. Bandcamp offers this option. In case you don’t know, a metatag is a word or phrase that links your profile, so that if people search that word or phrase, your band shows up on the search results.  For instance, my band’s metatags are words like “rock,” “punk,” “distorted,” “electromagnetic,” and “Cleveland.” I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been offered shows from touring bands who just typed in “Cleveland rock band” into bandcamp’s search bar and came up with our page.

5)   Go to shows at venues that you want to play.  If you start making friends with other local bands who are similar to your style of music, I guarantee you will start getting show offers.  If you rap, don’t hang out at rock shows—instead, go see other rap artists or groups.  If you’re an electronic musician, go see other electronic bands.  Hanging out at the venue makes you a familiar face.  Often times in Cleveland venues, the bartenders double as the sound engineers or the booking agents.  Talk to them, get to know them.

6)   Promote your shows, mostly online.  If you are walking around town handing out your demo to strangers or baristas or bartenders or bands, THEY ARE GOING TO THROW IT OUT.  I am sorry to yell at you, but you have to know this.  I’ve thrown out CDs more than I care to admit.  It just really bugs me when people I don’t know shove their music in my face, and it really bugs a lot of other musicians too.  Start by making your own flyer.  All it takes is a Google images search and Microsoft Paint.  Market yourselves to the right people, not just anybody.  You have to know who you want your audience to be, and target them specifically.  Don’t print out two hundred flyers and just post them anywhere.  Save your money, print out 10, and take them to places you hang out… then put the flyer up everywhere you can on the internet.  Use as many online resources as you can, because it’s free and it’s public.  Using social networking creates a word-of-mouth chain between friends, and your potential audience will tend to pay attention a lot more to their friends’ recommendations than a flyer on a telephone pole.

7)   Don’t do it for the money.  If that’s why you’re in this business, please quit now.  Remember how I told you that my band is enjoying some success here in town?  We are broke.  We don’t always get paid.  Sometimes we get a total of $20 to play a show.  But honestly, it’s not about that at all.  We’re meeting people and musicians from all over the country, and we’re building a fan base.  We’ve got a group of awesome people standing behind us, telling their friends about us, buying our CDs, and showing up to our gigs.  They are going to help us gain success outside of our city.

8)   Speaking of success outside of our city, go on tour.  Yeah, you have to leave town.  You need a vehicle, a couple of loaves of bread and some peanut butter, and a good chunk of money to do this, but it is so worth it.  I love Cleveland, but I highly doubt someone important is going to see me play here and sign me and show me to the world.  If you are going to spend money on anything, spend money to tour.  My band’s next plan is to take our beat up 200,000 mile Ford Envoy and hit the road.  We’re counting on the touring bands we played with here in town to help us book shows in their towns, because that’s how this whole relationship thing works.

9)   Be nice.  If you’re a conceited jerk, no one will want to help you.  One time after a show, my band got a rude message from some guy who thought he had the formula for success.  In the message, he said we should “play and bail.”  He thought bands were supposed to act high and mighty, and not mingle with the audience after their shows.  Well that is total crap.  What kind of fan wants their favorite local band to ignore them all night?  It is just really rude to act like a superstar, because you never know what kind of connections you might make.  And also, karma.

10)  Find the people who like you, who contact you for shows, and who want to have YOU on their stage.  If you’re getting a generic plea for a show, don’t do it.  This, again, is where the “forming relationships with people” thing works.  We know tons of bands, owners of bars, venue owners, booking agents, sound engineers, artists, graphic designers, radio producers, and music journalists, and we met them all in person just by hanging out in the local music scene.  At some point for all of these individuals, we played a good show, and we brought our friends and some new listeners, and now they all want to work with us again.  They have us on their radio shows, they write about us in their publications, they design flyers for us for little to no cost, and they are awesome.  We try to pay them back however and whenever we can, and it works out for everyone.  Every artist is trying to find a way to promote themselves, so why not help each other out?

I hope this advice helps you figure out how to get your music out in the world.  It takes a lot of work, and sometimes free shows, to gain success.  Keep your band money separate from your personal money, and only pay for goods or services that you directly benefit from (like buying CDs, printing t-shirts, or paying for gas).  Don’t ever forget the most important thing—you are an artist.  You’re one of the luckiest people in the world.  Respect your value, not just as a musician but also as a businessperson.  And please don’t forget to have fun.”

Well, there you have it.  Two completely different perspectives on the exact same music scene.  I know Latimer is also working his response to this rant so we’ll be sure to publish it as soon as he has it ready.

So what are your opinions on the “pay-to-play” debate?  I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Articles, Artist Development, Artist Management, Music Booking | Leave a comment

#38: Radio, Pt. 1 – An Overview – The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

John and Bill begin their multi-episode discussion of Radio and Radio Promotion.  In this episode they provide an overview of why radio is still relevant.  Some of the topics covered include:

  • Commercial vs College Radio
  • Setting up a radio promotion plan
  • Which radio charts to pay attention to
  • Billboard
  • CMJ
  • SoundExchange

The Music Biz Workshop PodcastListen Here  
Subscribe via iTunes here
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As always, you can leave us a comment or question on our voicemail at 440-782-1Biz (1249), or email us at info@themusicbizworkshop.com

We’d love to hear from you!

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#37: Recording, Pt. 4 – Fixing It In Post-Production – The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

John and Bill conclude their multi-episode discussion of the Recording Process.  In this episode they focus on the Post-Production phase, which includes these critical considerations:

  • Editing
  • Mixing
  • Mastering
  • Why the gear doesn’t matter as much as you may think
  • How loud is too loud?
  • Should you master your own recording?

***CORRECTION***
At one point in this episode Bill mentions a mastering engineer that moved from NY to Maine.   Of course, he mis-spoke when he said that this was Bernie Grundman rather than Bob Ludwig.  Bill apologizes for any confusion this may have caused.

The Music Biz Workshop PodcastListen Here  
Subscribe via iTunes here
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As always, you can leave us a comment or question on our voicemail at 440-782-1Biz (1249), or email us at info@themusicbizworkshop.com

We’d love to hear from you!

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#36: Recording, Pt. 3 – Understanding The Recording Process – The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

John and Bill continue their multi-episode discussion of the Recording Process.  In this episode they focus on the Recording phase, which should include these critical considerations:

  • Take lots and lots of notes
  • Define who makes the important decisions
  • Leave the posse at home
  • Consider a live recording rather than a studio recording
  • Recording basic tracks
  • Overdubbing individual tracks and parts
  • And many more…

 

The Music Biz Workshop PodcastListen Here  
Subscribe via iTunes here
: The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

As always, you can leave us a comment or question on our voicemail at 440-782-1Biz (1249), or email us at info@themusicbizworkshop.com

We’d love to hear from you!

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Starting a Record Label Company

Columbia Phonograph Company "Grand Prize" 78 rpm License Label, Undated (April 1906?)

Are you getting nowhere with your efforts to “get signed” to a major record label? Consider starting a record label company.

In today’s age of digital recordings, digital distribution and digital marketing, the time is ripe for eager musicians, songwriters and bands to start thinking of alternative ways to reach your audience.

How To Start A Record Label In 4 Easy Steps

Step 1 – Determine the name

The first step is to determine the name of the company. Consider names that are unique and make sure that it is not already in use. A fast way to determine your company name’s uniqueness is to do a search for it online via search engines. If you find the dot com is available, register it for ownership. GoDaddy is a good resource for this and it’s very inexpensive. (www.godaddy.com)

Step 2 – Check to see if the name is already trademarked

The second step is to check the US trademark office (www.uspto.gov) to ensure the name you’ve chosen has not been trademarked. You do not have to register your company with the trademark office… yet. This comes after you have created a logo…. or a “mark.”

Step 3 – Register with your state

The third step is to check with the Secretary of State for the state where you are planning to have your headquarters. The state’s offices are also online and easy to find. In Ohio, check, www.sos.state.oh.us. In other states, use the same format except replace the “OH” abbreviation with the two letters for your chosen state.

Before you register the company name with your state, consider the type of business entity that you desire. You may want to discuss this with your accountant as to weather you would prefer a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation. There are various risks and tax advantages depending on your selection.

Once you have determined that your company name is available and the type of business, register it with your state. This process involves sending a check and then wait a few weeks. You state will send you the confirmation that you are indeed registered as a business.

Step 4 – Obtain your Employer Identification Number

At this point, you have only to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov). This is easily done online. The IRS will supply you with a specific ID number that you will use on your tax forms.

The Employer Identification number supplied by the IRS will be required when you open your company’s bank account. So, open a bank account. With the bank account, you can now accept payments for your recordings whether at your merch table, or online though various services such as PayPal. (www.paypal.com). If you acquire a debit card from your bank or credit union, your monthly statements will be a good way for you to keep track of your expenses as well as your income.

OK… so now you are a record company executive. Do you have a plan for success? Many entrepreneurs have failed because they don’t have a business plan. Don’t make the same mistake. There are sample business plans online. I recommend finding one that is specifically focused for record label companies.

So, remember: starting a record label company is only a few easy steps and a fast way for you to get your music to your audience. Forget waiting for the “deal”. Forget the anxious moments of rejection. Focus on releasing your own material on your own label. If you do it right, the big boys will come knocking on your door. Who hold the power then? You do.

For more information about starting your own record label, go get the book “Forget the Majors… Launch Your Own Record Label” by John Latimer.

Posted in Articles, Record Labels | Leave a comment

#35: Recording, Pt. 2 – Pre-Production – The Music Biz Workshop Podcast

John and Bill continue their multi-episode discussion of the Recording Process.  In this episode they focus on the Pre-Production phase, which should include these critical questions:

  • What is the goal of the recording session?
  • What is the budget for the session, both financial and time?
  • Are the instruments in perfect working condition?
  • Who makes all critical decisions?
  • Are the songs well-rehearsed?
  • And many more…

The Music Biz Workshop PodcastListen Here  
Subscribe via iTunes here
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As always, you can leave us a comment or question on our voicemail at 440-782-1Biz (1249), or email us at info@themusicbizworkshop.com

We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Podcasts, Recording | Leave a comment