Archive for November, 2007


Prince, Radiohead, Moby = music for free?

November 15, 2007

Date: November 15, 2007 4:49:24 AM EST
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>
Subject: Prince, Radiohead, Moby = music for free?

There is a trend that’s developed among superstar artists.

They’re giving their music away for free!

First Prince did it:

Prince also did it at his concerts.  He gave every single ticket buyer a “free” CD when I saw him live a few years ago.  Those “free” CDs somehow miraculously counted as “sales” for Soundscan (the cost was perhaps built into the price of the ticket?!?)– so because he had one of the biggest tours of the year, his CD charted so well, even though it wasn’t very good.

And then came Radiohead:

But, despite the hype, Radiohead decided not to remain completely indie but recently signed record deals to have their music distributed in physical CD format.

And now Moby:

Moby is giving away his music for free to independent and non-profit filmmakers, films students and others that need their music for independent, non-profit use.

Yes, the trend is that “music is free” – and if superstar artists are giving their music away, that’s fine. They have the right to do that. Just the same way that you do, as an indie artist.

What I don’t like is that it sets a precedent, yet again, that “music should be free” to the consumer.

So, no use in fighting it, right?  Consumers want their music for free. They’ll either go online and download it for free (on some illegal service) or they get it directly from the artist.

The problem is, the artists like Prince, Radiohead and Moby that are doing this can afford to. They have all made tens of millions of dollars when record companies were doing well.  They toured like crazy and made a lot of money that way. Tens of millions, if not more.  Moby licensed the $#@$# out of his “Play” album.

It makes me sad because I know indie artists aren’t in the same position. They don’t have tens of millions of dollars in the bank and the luxury of giving their music away for free.

But the future is just that – give away music for free.  License it.  Tour.  Get people to come to a show.  Maybe they will buy a t-shirt and CD at the live show, especially if you come out and sign for them after your set.

So, the future for many of you, because of everyone wanting (and getting!) music from superstar artists like these guys for free, is that you will have to figure out a way to compete.  You must learn to make music really inexpensively yourself by recording your albums at home.  Or in really cheap studios.  Calling in favors.  Getting producers to work at a reduced rate.  Because, at the end of they day, you want to make a living from your music, right?

It sure is hard to compete with free.

But you gotta do it if you want to survive these days.

So my question for you is – would you give your music away for free?
Why or why not?   (There is no wrong answer here – just curious to get people’s opinions).
If yes, under what conditions (if any) do you give your music away?

Maybe the future has been here for decades.  A great interview with Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) from the November issue of Spin Magazine:  “A long time ago, someone tipped Grohl off about the secret of a long life in rock ‘n’ roll:  It’s not about how many albums you sell; it’s about how many tickets you sell.  Ever since, he’s devoted much of his time to transforming the Foos from a solo studio endeavor into a well-oiled stage machine.”

“When I joined the band, we sucked live,” Hawkins recalls.  “And we’re still not Rush. We’re sloppy, rough around the edges.  That’s part of our charm.  But we’ve gotten really good, and I think on our best nights, we can take anybody.”

And if you think about it, TV shows are free to the consumer.  They are entirely paid for by advertisers.

Maybe that will be the future of music.

Only time will tell.

“Motivation and determination are 1000 times more potent than talent alone”
-Some guy online
“Be nice to everyone.  You never know if the intern will be the next president of your record company.”
-Michael Buble
“People have to learn they have to juggle everything until they get lucky. They need to work a steady job, make a living and make time for the band. They need to take all the money they make from the band and throw it back into the band”
–David Draiman, Vocalist for Disturbed, interviewed in Music Connection


Paying your dues in the music business

November 12, 2007

Date: November 12, 2007 2:03:51 AM EST
Subject: Paying your dues in the music business

Do you ever watch the Tonight Show with Jay Leno?

Often he’ll interview a very famous actor.

And then show some really embarrassing clip of them from when they were in a TV commercial or very cheesy TV show or movie from years and years ago.  Maybe they are 30 now and they did this commercial or project when they were 8 years old or a teenager.

In fact, if you look up any actor’s TV/movie credits on you will most likely see dozens of projects before they got their “big break”.

Let’s take Brad Pitt as an example:

I count at least 17 projects, including many bit parts on TV shows, before he got his “breakthrough” role in “Thelma and Louise” and then another 10 or so projects until “Legends of the Fall” made him a huge star.

Now I know you’re an artist and you’re thinking, “Great, but how does this relate to me?”

Well, if you’re a singer or in a band, instead of doing dozens of bad “B films” or cheesy TV commercials or sitcoms and paying your dues that way, your dues may entail playing gigs for years and years to small crowds.  Playing shows where the only people you know there are a couple friends or family members.  Or maybe no one at all.  Tori Amos played for many, many years (10-13) in hotel bars before getting her “big break” and getting signed.  And even then, her first CD flopped.  It wasn’t until she got to who she was at the core, as an artist, that she attained critical acclaim with her album “Little Earthquakes”.

Now why should you do this? A sane person wouldn’t do dozens (if not hundreds – or thousands) of these gigs before calling it quits and moving onto something more rewarding, right?

Well, all I can tell you is – YOU HAVE TO PAY YOUR DUES.

Nothing will make you a better performer than playing hundreds of live shows.

And yes, many will be great where there will be lots of fans there and they will be thrilled to see you.  Applauding and cheering loudly.  And then the next night you may play to the bartender, waitress and a couple of strangers.

But, like every successful actor, you must pay your dues.  It’s part of the process.

And what will get you out of it?

Well, hopefully you LOVE what you do.  Hopefully you love to perform.  And hey, even playing to 5-10 people is better than rehearsing in your garage or bedroom, isn’t it?

So just remember – the next time you’re having a bad day, or playing a show with a less than stellar turnout, remember:  everyone that is successful now had to take projects that weren’t glamorous in the beginning.  Everyone takes small parts, whether they be on TV, in a film no one will see, or singing for a crowd of just a few people.  It’s all part of the process.  Most people give up.

If you keep at it, no matter what, that alone makes you a success!

“Motivation and determination are 1000 times more potent than talent alone”
-Some guy online
“Be nice to everyone.  You never know if the intern will be the next president of your record company.”
-Michael Buble
“People have to learn they have to juggle everything until they get lucky. They need to work a steady job, make a living and make time for the band. They need to take all the money they make from the band and throw it back into the band”
–David Draiman, Vocalist for Disturbed, interviewed in Music Connection


Being easy to work with and negotiation tips

November 9, 2007

Date: November 9, 2007 11:24:34 PM EST
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>
Subject: Being easy to work with and negotiation tips

Recently I had to talk with 2 different artists about licensing their songs.

One manager I talked to was incredibly professional.  She used to work for a major label so she clearly knew the state of the business and knew that fees aren’t what they used to be.

She asked if we could do just a 75/25 split so the artist could keep their publishing on this track.  Because it was a regular placement and not a huge TV commercial or opening title song, I agreed 1) because those were the terms we originally agreed to and 2) because she was so easy to work with.  She came into the negotiation in a very pleasant and friendly manner.

The other artist referred me to their attorney.  I spoke with her and from the get go she was confrontational.  Which is fine, that’s what lawyers do.  But the problem is that I have several songs up for consideration for this project. And the attorney was trying to renegotiate the terms.  Right off the bat, she was confrontational and argumentative.  I am going to pull that song because this artist (or in this case – their attorney) is simply too difficult to deal with.

It’s so important in this business not just to be professional, but also to be easy to work with.

I can’t tell you how many people have said I’m someone they like and enjoy doing business with.  I get repeat business because of this.

Now, being “easy to deal with” doesn’t mean being a pushover.  When I feel a music supervisor is ripping me off, i.e. not wanting to pay anything for music… or only paying $200 a track, I simply don’t help them with that project.  But I’m never rude.  I never yell at them or give them a hard time. I simply say “Oh, ok, that’s all the money you have for this project?  I don’t know if I’ll be able to find anything at that price” and leave it at that.

Recently, I was meeting with the head of music at a major TV network.  He told me XYZ band (multi-platinum selling, currently HUGE, charting, mega superstar artist/band) had come into his office and wanted him to consider using their songs for TV shows.  So when he went to call the band’s manager a few weeks later, it took the manager 2 weeks to get back to him about licensing the song. Two weeks!  Songs many times need to be cleared THAT DAY, or in a VERY short time frame so taking 2 weeks to get an answer?  Despite this superstar artist/band’s being, well, huge, this executive told me he is NEVER GOING TO LICENSE THEIR SONGS AGAIN BECAUSE THEY TOOK 2 WEEKS TO GET BACK TO HIM AND WERE DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH!

So, it amazes me that artists who haven’t licensed one song (or maybe have licensed a handful of songs) think they can get away with this same behavior.

Go ahead, be demanding, rude, difficult and impossible to deal with.  Or refer me to your manager or lawyer who will do the same.

I guarantee that not only will I never work with you again, but you will most likely get very little work from anyone else in this business.

Remember those two artists I told you about at the beginning of this story?

Well, the one that was easy to work with – I bet their song is going to go through.

And the other one? Well, what do you think?

“Motivation and determination are 1000 times more potent than talent alone”
-Some guy online
“Be nice to everyone.  You never know if the intern will be the next president of your record company.”
-Michael Buble
“People have to learn they have to juggle everything until they get lucky. They need to work a steady job, make a living and make time for the band. They need to take all the money they make from the band and throw it back into the band”
–David Draiman, Vocalist for Disturbed, interviewed in Music Connection


How much does a producer matter? And Question and Answers about the music business

November 7, 2007

Date: November 7, 2007 2:17:21 AM EST
Subject: How much does a producer matter?  And Question and Answers about the music business

I’m constantly amazed at how demo versions of hit songs sound almost exactly like the final version that’s heard on the radio or MTV/VH1.

A lot of artists seem to think a “big name” producer will make them famous.

But really, the most important thing is you — the artist.

The song and music are truly what matters.

A great song will sound great as a demo – on acoustic guitar, on a simple piano recorded with vocal.

I see so many artists go crazy spending a lot of money to hire a ‘name’ producer to work with them.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Having a name producer can open doors.  A lot of doors.  Major labels particularly take interest when you have a producer attached to you that has produced other albums and artists that have sold millions, especially hit records that are charting Billboard’s top 40 right now.  This is what’s referred to as a “hot” producer.  Keep in mind, however, that there are dozens of these producers out there and many of them produce lots of indie artists and bands (not Timbaland but others).

My point is, hiring a “name” producer may open some doors — but it will ultimately only take you so far.

I’ve seen so many artists hire big producers and then sit back and think that’s all they need to do.  WRONG!

You still need to get out there, promote, promote, promote, play gigs, work myspace, network with other bands and people in the industry, do your own publicity, etc.

The trick is, these days, to make the best record you can for the LEAST amount of money.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  The LEAST amount of money.

Why?  Because whether you’re completely indie or signed to a label, the less money you spend making a record, the less you have to recoup.

And besides, when I’ve shopped bands, I’ve gotten just as much interest off the initial band produced demos (which were of course very, very well produced – thank you; they didn’t sound like they were recorded underwater or with 3 tracks and a drum machine) as I have when I’ve had big name producers attached.

So, if you get interest from a big name producer, and they’re willing to work on spec and give you a fair deal, go for it.  But if they want big bucks to work with you, right now, I’d say you should pass.  Because how on earth are you going to recoup that $20,000-60,000?  Only if you get a major label deal and/or sell thousands and thousands of CDs.  And besides, even if you sell 10,000 CDs and make $100,000, would you rather have paid $10K for your record or $50K?  If you spent $10K on your record, your profit is $90,000.  If you spend $60,000, your profit is only $40,000.

However, I will say that for placing songs, the recording quality is important but much more so with major TV commercials and films.  If a commercial is paying tens of thousands of dollars, your song better sound like songs you hear on the radio or MTV/VH1/Fuse in terms of singing ability and recording quality/production.  Why?  Because a big company isn’t going to plunk down $20,000 for a song that sounds like it was recorded in someone’s garage.

Now, on to some questions and answers that have been sent to me from artists!

If you have a question about the music business, especially if it relates to artist management or film/tv licensing, send it here and we’ll do our best to answer it next time!


Why should I have to pay you to pitch my music?  Either on a compilation CD or in general?  Can’t you just do it for free?


Ha haha hahahahahaha.  You are kidding (I hope!)

Ok, now that I’m done laughing, let me answer the question.

The short answer:

I run a business.  Businesses need to make money.

The long answer:

I do this full-time.

I know that some people in the music business will do things for free.  For example, as an artist, you’ll play a free show to get exposure, etc.

However, I am not in the business of handouts.

Would you go to your job if they weren’t paying you?  Think about that for a minute.

Coming to me and asking me to work for you for free is the same as your boss asking you to go into work every day and not pay you.  Would you do that?

I have worked for over a decade in this business and developed contacts and relationships that are incredibly deep.

So you can either do everything yourself (and see how far you get), or hire someone like me to do the work for you.


I understand but from our point of few we’ve been placing songs with you for over 3 years, paid to be in a compilation and have nothing to show for it.  If you had placed a couple of songs I gladly pay $30 a month.


Ever heard the expression, “You need to spend money to make money?”

Well, it’s true!

I understand your frustration.  Really, I do.  However, as in life, there are no guarantees.  Yes, you’re going to spend money promoting your music and there is no guarantee you’ll make that money back.  (Well, not if you just do it on a small scale anyhow.)

Listen, major labels easily spend a million dollars on each artist – between signing advances, making a record, tour support, marketing, radio payola, stylists, videos, etc.

And 9 times out of 10 they kiss that money goodbye.

Yes, goodbye to millions and millions of dollars.

Now why do they do this?

Because for every 9 artists that fail, one usually strikes it big.

How big?

Big enough that the one artist not only covers that million dollars, but also pays for the other 9 artists that didn’t get released – or that sold less than a million CDs and lost the label money.

So I can understand your frustration.  But you have to spend money marketing your music, especially in the beginning, if you ever have any hope of becoming more successful.  Why?  Because you have to do something to rise above the other million unsigned artists that are on myspace and playing local bars and clubs.  Every artist and band records a few songs and puts them on myspace and expects the music business will beat a path to their door.  It doesn’t work that way.  And for anyone that says that it does, they are just lying to hide the fact that the “secret” to them becoming successful is hard work.  If everyone knew that, it would make more competition for them!

And $300, are you kidding me?  You spent $300 and didn’t see any results?  Labels spend millions of dollars and don’t always see that money come back.  But if you believe in your music, if you believe in your artist, you will spend thousands and thousands of your own dollars and hopefully, one day, if the music truly is great, you will start to see that money coming back to you.

Spending $300 and expecting you’ll have made that money back is not realistic.  It can happen, and it has happened for artists that have put songs my compilation CDs.  Or if you happen to hit the right A&R guy at the right time.  Or the right music supervisor at the right time.  But this is a business where you have to be very aggressive in how much you promote yourself.  And keep trying and trying until you see results.

You cannot look at investing in your music career like you would a bank.  You don’t put in $1000 and get $1050 at the end of the year.  It’s a bit more like investing in a college education or a graduate degree.  It will pay off in the long run, but you have to have faith.  And you can’t do something once or twice and expect results.  Do you have any idea how many times I’ve been rejected?  Told that a song doesn’t work?  Thousands.  But still I plug away. Because for every 100 or 1,000 no’s, there will be one yes!

For bands that I’ve placed dozens of songs for, I’ve send out thousands of CDs.  Yep, thousands (4,000-5,000).  Now how much do you think that cost?  That doesn’t even include my time or other costs at all.

It’s like taking one business class at a community college (spending $300) and then whining after that it wasn’t worth it because you’re not the CEO of Microsoft.  It doesn’t work that way.  You have to be willing to invest a lot of time and money in yourself (or your band) and if you truly believe you have something special and work for many years on it, you will see that money come back to you.

Of course, if you’ve done some promoting to A&R or music supervisors and you haven’t gotten any bites you have to ask yourself – am I promoting music that’s popular right now?  Maybe labels aren’t looking to sign a reggae band right now.  Or maybe music supervisors don’t need your type of music right now.  It can take 5-10 years for things to happen.  But you have to work hard and plug away and believe in yourself (or the band you’re representing).

So, hang in there, and be patient. But don’t forget to look in the mirror at your songs and your band and see if they have what it takes. Because if 100 CDs go out to 100 A&R people and no one is interested, maybe it’s the wrong 100 A&R people.  Or maybe the music needs some work.  Stronger hooks. Better production.

Something to think about.

Hope that helps.

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA  90210

“Motivation and determination are 1000 times more potent than talent alone”
-Some guy online
“Be nice to everyone.  You never know if the intern will be the next president of your record company.”
-Michael Buble
“People have to learn they have to juggle everything until they get lucky. They need to work a steady job, make a living and make time for the band. They need to take all the money they make from the band and throw it back into the band”
–David Draiman, Vocalist for Disturbed, interviewed in Music Connection

You are receiving this email because you have either sent us music in the past or are an artist or band that we’ve heard great things about (or are otherwise involved in the music business as a composer, manager, attorney, record label, publisher, A&R, etc).

To unsubscribe from future event notifications, please email: and specify if you’d like to unsubscribe from True Talent’s database entirely or just from our music requests.  We certainly can’t imagine why you’d leave though since we’ve placed now over 50 songs in film/tv, including “Sex and the City” and “The OC”.

Jennifer Yeko has been a speaker on numerous panels for everyone from Billboard/The Hollywood Reporter to LAMN/National Association of Record Industry Professionals, etc.  She is a 10 year veteran of the music business, a member of The Record Academy (who puts together the Grammies).  She was featured as Music Connection’s # 1 film/tv placement executive (issue with the Killers on the cover).  Major labels, artists and managers have asked to be added to the list.