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Questions and answers about the music business (May 14, 2007)

May 14, 2007

Date: May 14, 2007 12:42:27 AM EDT
Subject: Questions and answers about the music business

This is a regular column – ask me your questions about the music business and I will answer them
and send them out to the list.

Question:

I just had a question…I’ve read “the steps on getting signed” in many
books and magazines. I’ve been writing good material, promoting our band
and have done tons of gigs all over, am on regular rotation on several
college stations, and send cds to management agencies etc. I understand
these things take time, but is there anything else I can do to get my band
out there and noticed?

Thanks,
Ahmer

Answer:

Wow, that’s quite a question.

I think you’re intentions are in the right places but if you’re purely looking at “what can I do to get signed?” you’re going about it the wrong way.  There is no answer to your question.

There is no “short cut” to getting signed or becoming successful.  In fact, you should write that down somewhere.

It’s all about HARD WORK.  The music business is a business and until you realize that, you will have a hard time.

Talent is only part of it, maybe not even 50% of it.  Maybe 25%.

Most artists that have gotten signed have been relentless in their pursuit of their dream.  It sounds like you’re doing all the right things, but know that thousands of other bands and artists are also doing these things.

So, what can you do?

Make sure your music is as good as it can be.  Get OBJECTIVE feedback from people in the industry – after all, your family, friends and fans may think you’re “great” but does anyone in the music business think so?  i.e. managers, agents, club bookers, radio programmers, music critics/journalists, labels, publishers, etc?

Also, make sure your vocals are on key and you are connecting with your audience at shows.

If your audience isn’t growing each week, you’re probably not connecting with yours fans as well as you could.  Figure out why.  Videotape your live show and watch it.  Analyze it.  Are you engaging with the audience?  Talking to them?  Is your music on key?  Good?  Catchy?  Heartfelt?  Rinse and repeat.

Every single person that succeeds in this business is ridiculously persistent.  NEVER give up.  I see a LOT of very talented artists who never make it because they are too lazy to do the work that it takes to “get to the next level” or they eventually get older and realize music was just a hobby for them and it’s easier just to settle down with their girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/dog/cat/bird, etc.  That’s fine and probably way more sane than pursuing a life in the music business.  But know that the ones that you see on TV and hear on the radio didn’t have this attitude. They had to “make it” and never gave up until they got there.

Know that most artists take 7-10 years to “get signed” and become an “overnight sensation”. So, be patient.  If you’re truly talented and truly working your butt off 24/7, you will get there.

Question:

What are some particular themes and feels that are constantly asked for?

Answer:

This is no doubt in relation to songs for film and tv.

It’s really hard to say.  I am not asked for the same theme over and over again.  Of course, love songs are always popular but the best thing you can do as a songwriter is write about “universal themes”.  Try to write lyrics that are very broad and that many people can relate to.

Why do you think that Daniel Powter song “Bad Day” became such a huge hit?  Because just about everyone in the free world can relate to having a “bad day”.  And when Katherine McPhee sings “I’m So Over It” I know every girl in the world can relate to having that feeling at some time or another about a guy in her life.

If you write about intensely personal things, that’s fine too, but it better be so poignant and touching that people can relate to the song even if it’s about something they have never been through.

Question:

Hello Jennifer,

Thanks for all your hard efforts, they are appreciated.

Quick question:

My music is recorded in a home studio. It is not mastered, or a professionally recorded song. I have refrained from submitting up to this point for that reason. Should I continue to wait until I have it recorded at a professional studio? Do I need to be signed to be considered? Or is I have them protected under SOCAN is that sufficient enough?

Thank-You for your time…

Shy-Anne, Canada

Answer:

Well, that’s a great question.  To license a song for TV, the recording quality is not as important.  I’ve licensed mp3s before as long as the sound is clear.  But the song still must sound good and be mixed properly. i.e. the instruments should not overpower the vocals.  It can’t sound like it was recorded underwater.  If you think it’s not up to par, it probably isn’t.

For feature films and other big projects, recording quality is a bigger issue.

In general, it’s always best to present the best quality product you can.

If you can afford to master your tracks, you always should, especially for a CD release. But if it’s just a demo, I wouldn’t bother.  You do not need to be signed to have your songs considered for film or TV.  In fact, in many cases, being signed to a record company or publisher will prevent your songs from being licensed because they won’t want to go through the headache of clearing it with your label and publisher.  It’s all about easy clearance these days.  I do not know much about SOCAN or Canadian copyright law but here in the states, your recordings are your own as soon as you put pen to paper.  Just make sure you copyright them and register them with your performing rights society.

Question:

What do you think of Sonicbids? They sure want your money!

-Kimberyle

Answer:

I get asked this question quite a bit.  I have not used Sonicbids so perhaps some of you reading this newsletter would like to respond with your experience using “Sonicbids” and I will post the answers back to the list.

Question:

What do you know about the American Idol songwriter contest for the finale song?

-Kimberyle

Answer:

I know you wrote this question a while ago and they are already down to choosing between 20 songs. Sadly, in most of these contests, the agreements are 100% in favor of the company.  You sign away a lot of your rights in the hopes of getting “discovered” or having a song chosen as the winning song in a contest.  Yes, it sucks and I’d always read any online agreement very carefully before clicking on “I accept” as you may unknowingly be signing away many of your rights away if you aren’t careful.

American Idol” is so huge, they could probably ask for a songwriter’s first born in exchange for even entering the contest and they would get it.

Do what you think is fair.

If the terms are not fair or acceptable to you for anything, do not partake.

Also, it’s always best to have an experienced music attorney review ANYTHING before you sign it or click “accept”.

Question:

Jen,

Hi, how are you? We spoke briefly about getting into the college market
as you mentioned that a good video is the way to go and a powerful piece of
material. I’m told that my music would do well in the college market as it
is often compared to John Mayer, Jason Mraz, G-Love and Jack Johnson. I
guess my main question is what is the best way to attack the college market?

~thank you ahead of time~
-Erick

Answer:

I’d look into naca.org

Also, contact any local colleges and universities and play there.  Sororities and fraternities may have events.  There are millions of school sponsored events where they need artists and bands to play.  Just know that for most schools, they prefer a “wholesome” image so none of the students are offended.

***
Do you have a music, management or related question you’d like to have answered in the next column?

If so, email it to me and I’ll include it next go round!

I’m not an attorney so I cannot give any legal advice but if it’s a general question about music or music licensing, I’ll do my best to answer it.

http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

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