Archive for March, 2009

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Ask me a music related question – Music industry Q&A

March 27, 2009

Every so often I like to send out a list of artist questions about the business. I then answer them and send them out to the whole email list!

Question:

Hi Jennifer,

I have a quick question for you…do you think it’s necessary for an artist to live in Los Angeles to pursue a music career seriously? I know New York, and other big cities are options too, but just wanted to get your opinion.

Thanks and hope you are having a great one,

Melinda

Answer:

Of course it’s not necessary to live in Los Angeles to pursue music.

In fact, I think it’s much better for most artists to be a “big fish in a small pond” than to move to LA and be a “small fish in a big pond” – because if you’re having a hard time creating a name for yourself in a smaller town or city, it won’t get any easier when you get to LA.

That being said, LA is the music capitol of the world and if you play even the diviest of dive bars here in LA, you never know who will be in the audience. Also, we definitely support artists and there are more musicians and producers in this town than anywhere I know outside of Nashville.

I think a lot of it depends on what type of music you make. If you’re a country artist, being in Nashville or another city that supports and likes country music is key. If you’re in a hard rock band, perhaps Florida or Vegas is for you. Singer/songwriters do great in LA and Portland. But that being said, if you’re the best country act in New York you may just stand out! Do what makes sense – and also live where you can afford to.

New York is a bigger city than LA but it’s also even more expensive. As is San Francisco. There are millions of people in bigger cities and therefore more fans. Just know that you’re going to have to put on a kick ass show every night if you perform in NY (or any other big city) because on any given night you’re competing with a million other shows and things to do!

If you’re in a small town or small place, you can tour and be the biggest thing in Omaha.

Hope that helps.

Question:

Jennifer-

It seems as if whenever I hit my down point… or that confusion state of what in the world am I doing, you always bless me with one of your articles which I always find very uplifting.
I have devoted everything I have to this profession of music/songwriting/etc. I have a crowd of 200+ at my shows… the question is, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT FINDING those missing pieces?

How do you get the top management, and get heard by the best booking agents?

These are areas that are far more difficult then anything else. I understand it starts from the right song, but let’s be honest. Radio, especially in hip hop, is filled with terrible songs.
Knowing the business aspects of the Music Industry, seems to be the missing block, that is VITAL to the success of anybody.. The worlds greatest SONG would be nothing without the proper representation, just as the WORLD’S greatest basketball player would be nothing without a great agent.

I’m hanging on by a thread… I must figure this out… it’s tough booking hip hop gigs, help me narrow my thought process… WHAT SHOULD I WORK ON?

Album… Single/Radio… Management…Shows??

I NEED YOUR HELP 🙂

MIKE

Answer:

Well, first of all, thank you so much for the compliment. It’s always smart to compliment someone if it’s done in genuine way.

Wow, that’s great that you’re drawing 200 people to your shows. Now, are these 200 people actual fans? Or friends and family? Because when you start drawing 200 people, real fans, to each show you play, you’re definitely doing something right!

If you’re drawing that well, believe me, good managers and agents will find you. In fact, I recently met with a top booking agent who told me he’d love to hear of any band drawing 500 people to their show every month, consistently. So, when you hit that 500 mark, hit me up. I can probably get you a great agent!

As for managers, a real manager is tapped into clubs and bookers will tip them off when an artist really starts drawing a lot of people to their venue.

That being said, you can always contact managers who manage acts in your genre and see if they’d like to hear your demo. But know that most “big” managers are busy with their superstar acts – i.e. think U2’s or Kanye’s manager has time or any interest in taking on a baby band or an artist without a following? I think not…

Also, be wary of people who approach you after shows. This is often where the shady characters come out and promise to “make you a star” if you “only sign here….”

And yes, promotion is key. That is why so many artists seek out label deals and great management.

Focus on writing great songs. And promoting your shows. Radio is a long shot if you’re doing hip hop unless you’re signed to a major label that can afford the payola to really get you a lot of spins and a music video.

Hope that answers your question.

Question:

What is a “Work For Hire Agreement”?

-David

Answer:

For my purposes: Any songwriter who has a singer sing their song on a demo, etc. and wants to take that demo song and license it should get what’s called a “work for hire” agreement. It will state that you hired/paid the singer to sing that song, so they have been fully compensated for their time and they have no ownership in the song you wrote (and are not owed money if you take that song and use it). The “work for hire agreement” should also give you the full authority to license it at your will. I won’t pitch a song sung by an outside singer unless the songwriter has a signed work for hire agreement from the outside singer.

Here is more info on work for hire:

http://songwriter101.com/articles/14583_0_6_0_M/

Question:

Suggestion for a topic – Dealing with mean and/or degrading so-called professionals in our industry…Any coaching or tips that you might relay would be most appreciated…Thank you!

-Don

Answer:

Wow, that’s a great idea for a topic. I’m not sure I understand exactly what you want me to cover here. I mean, if someone is mean or degrading to you at a show, I would do my best to ignore them. If someone is rude to you on the phone or in person, just forget about it. This isn’t someone you want to be involved with.

If you also want to know how not to get taken advantage of, I can cover that also:

1) Well, for one, always do your research on a person or company. Even if they have impressive “credits”, always ask for references and call the references!

2) Google the person’s name AND company name. You’d be amazed at what you can find out by a simple Google search.

Of course, you have to take what you read with a grain of salt. Look at how successful record labels are – yet everyone out there has a bone to pick with them, right? A lot of people may write negatively about someone out of petty jealousy so take the source into account and be opened minded. Sadly, I’ve had jealous artists go write negative reviews of me simply to be spiteful. Ok. That’s fine. The more negative press I get the more it validates that I’m succeeding and sadly, angering people in the process who aren’t doing as well. It’s a very sad part of the business for me but I also know that the more successful you get, the more people there will be that have issues with you, mainly from jealousy.

3) Always go with your gut instinct! If you feel like someone’s shady, no matter what their job title or how impressive their credits sound, GO WITH YOUR GUT! Some of the sleaziest people run major corporations and have impressive credits and resumes.

4) Be wary of anyone approaching you after a show, contacting you online or through your myspace or facebook, etc.

5) Never sign anything without having an EXPERIENCED MUSIC ATTORNEY carefully review it.

Question:

How are you doing today? Hope everything is good with you and that you are achieving every goal that you have set for yourself. Presently I am working towards mine and love every difficulty I encounter and I love when I overcome even more. It’s a beautiful feeling to succeed.

Right now I’m in search of management and have one question that I need answered if you can.

Do you think that an artist should pay a manager an initial fee to secure his management services while still given a percentage commission of 25%? I would very much appreciate your opinion on this as I am in this very situation. Thanks for your time.
-Keen

Answer:

Well Keen, that’s a great question. Typically managers work on commission. However, in the past, there were some nice advances (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes a million or more) being paid out to artists and bands from major labels and major publishing companies.

However, with CD sales falling at a rapid rate and thus, publishers also being affected by falling mechanical royalties, these big advances are just not around anymore. Major labels are shedding staff members like there is no tomorrow.

So, how does a manager get paid in today’s music climate?

Good question.

A few superstar artists still sell millions of CDs – but an artist like Dave Matthews, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, etc. all make millions in touring and merchandise so a manager can still make a nice paycheck from commissioning those dollars.

If you’re an indie artist? Well, good luck. It’s a whole new world out there and most every friend I had that used to manage indie bands got out of the business, even if they were doing it part-time. Why? Because as much as they loved it, there’s just no money in it.

Ok, that’s not true. There is money to be made but you have to be good. No, you have to be GREAT. And your artist has to work their butt off. Maybe the artist can make a few hundred thousand dollars from licensing their songs. Or touring if they again, tour for years and grow that fan base.

In fact, managing a band or artist can be expensive! In time and promotion.

Would I pay a manager to rep me?

Depends.

Who is the manager?

How much money do they want?

Who have they managed before?

What have they accomplished?

How many artists have they worked for like this?

Talk to others who have paid them and see what their experience is like.

I wouldn’t want to be the guinea pig for this person.

It could be a way for them just to make money off you.

Or they may be providing a legitimate service.

A publicist friend of mine works with a lot of artists who pay their manager.

If they can actually deliver, go for it!

DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Don’t just make a decision based on what they tell you.

See what results they’ve had and verify those things actually happened.

Also, it might make sense to give a manager a larger piece of the pie these days since the pie is shrinking. After all, many indie labels pay for the recording and marketing of a CD, then split all net proceeds / profit with the artist 50/50. That is fair.

If the manager has a track record, maybe you should work out a deal like this with them – if they want to be your label, that is. Just make sure you hire a great music attorney (I know a few here in LA) to negotiate your deal.

If the manager is just starting out then it’s hard to say.

I was once a young, inexperienced manager who did amazing things for her clients.

There are great managers out there and there are many that have no idea what they are doing.

Ask them for references and what they plan to do – but above all, see what results they DELIVER, not what they promise you.

Anyone can promise you the world.

It’s their actions that really matter.

Do a 90 or 180 day trial run and see how it goes before you sign anything or give them any real money.

Think of it as dating before you get married and sign those papers.

In general, be very careful about anyone that wants up front money from you. My first impression from reading your question was to say no. But again, I don’t know who this “manager” is. It might be ok. It might not.

Hope that helps!

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

~Artist Management~Music Licensing~Music Publicity
www.truetalentmgmt.com

“More than eighty percent of self-made millionaires in America began with nothing or in many cases, less than nothing.”
— Brian Tracy

“You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.”
— Malcolm Forbes


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Marketing and promoting your music – the # 1 mistake most artists make

March 27, 2009

This is a really interesting article and it addresses exactly the # 1 mistake most artists make.

They spend all their money making their CD – recording, mixing, pressing. Sure, that’s the “fun” part – the creative part.

But what’s the # 1 mistake artists make?

It’s that they don’t allocate and spend enough time and money marketing and promoting their CD.

These aren’t my words.

They are the words of CD Baby founder Derek Sivers.

Read here for more:

http://www.taxi.com/transmitter/0803/qandl0803.html?src=NL080307TH

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

~Artist Management~Music Licensing~Music Publicity
www.truetalentmgmt.com

“Anything worthwhile in life requires time, patience, and persistence.”
–Cheryl Richardson