New Q&A; Responses to “August – Ask me a music related question – Music industry Q&A”

November 4, 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!

If you have a question to submit for next month’s email, send it on over!


Define success.



That’s a great question and a trick one at that!

Webster’s says success is : favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

Yet, everyone defines success differently.

For some artists, success might mean selling millions of CDs and touring the world and winning awards.

For some other artists it might simply mean writing and recording a CD and pressing up 1,000 copies.

To me, success truly is something you define on your own.

Personally, I don’t think you need the physical things to be considered “successful”. I haven’t sold a million CDs or had an artist on MTV (yet) but as friends of mine have pointed out, they consider me very successful (I’ve spoken on numerous industry panels, have been written up in countless magazines and newspapers (including the NY Times), been interviewed on the radio, and had my artist’s songs placed in many TV shows and films while they also performed in front of thousands of people, been courted by Presidents of labels and major publishing companies, etc). I don’t think money defines your success as much as your own happiness with what you’re doing.
Hope that helps!



Hi Jennifer…Thanks for the e-mail. Nice Q&A…

Just today I’ve been scratching my head about major labels/ publishers.

With certain music listings, I mostly concentrate on the smaller label acts because they’re not too big yet not to receive song submissions.

I learned back in 1975 the “no unsolicited material” drill while in Nashville and that you can’t get published if you’ve never been published.

But this week I went ahead and contacted two majors.

One was a producer and to my surprise I got the okay to submit tunes.

The other was a label and the answer was the same “no unsolicited” thing.

And it occurred to me, much like Detroit (GM), the major music industry is still in the past, operating in the same, incestuous fashion and the music is stale and blatantly pandering because of it.

And I wonder why?

Why can’t I just send an A&R person a mp3, or post it on myspace or a song link to be viewed?

There’s so many talented writers I’ve known and played with over the years and they’re just too “sensitive” to go through the industry gauntlet but it’s also what makes them wonderful musicians and writers.

Why do you think this outdated mode is still the norm?





Thanks for the great question Dan.

While the music industry may be accused of being in the past, I don’t think the “no unsolicited material” issue is an old school issue.

Most labels, A&R folks, publishers, managers, agents, etc. do not accept unsolicted material because the idea is – if you were good, you’d have representation.

And while of course this isn’t always the case – many bands get signed without a manager, for example, they are almost always the exception to the rule.

If I look at the people contacting me with music, of course the labels and publishers send me better music, in general, that unsolicited artists.

Of course, I still listen to everything but I do take an artist with representation a bit more seriously.

It’s also a factor of volume.

If a label or music supervisor accepted unsolicted material, they are opening themselves to getting literally hundreds (if not thousands) of demos from everyone on myspace who thinks they can sing. And more often than not, the quality of unsolicited material is not as good as music coming from a manager, agent, lawyer, etc.

Only accepting music from industry contacts is just a way for industry folks to weed out 90% of the bad stuff.

My advice to you is, if you’re good, put a team in place. Find a great manager or lawyer to represent you. (Just make sure the lawyer doesn’t ask for any up front money. Any decent music attorney, if they believe in you, will take you on spec. If you’re paying your attorney an hourly rate or monthly retainer, you are just lining your attorney’s pockets and wasting your money.)

And yes, there is the legal issue too – labels or publishers could get sued if they accepted work from people they didn’t know. Again, another reason why you need a well-respected manager, agent or attorney representing you.

But many artists make it on their own. Unfortunately, lots of talented songwriters and singers don’t succeed simply because they aren’t willing to go through the work and constant rejection to become more successful. It’s a shame but also explains why much of the music you may hear on the radio or MTV is “crap” – the truly GREAT artists may not want to put themselves through that. More mediocre artists will. It’s when talent AND ambition intersect that you have true greatness.

Hope that helps.


Dear Jennifer,

Thank you so much for the answer and for all information sent to me.

After 2 years of searching on the Internet I come to the conclusion that only a big showcase can launch my career.

Do you believe that a big manager, record label etc is looking for singers on the Internet?

In USA there are a lot of showcases (in Europe we doesn’t have these showcases) where people from the entertainment business come and see the talent. And in my opinion is it ok? I will pay quickly $1000-2000 to attend in this showcases because I know these persons are big names in music and I believe very much in my talent.

A few months ago I received an e-mail from a singer from NYC. She told me that she will never pay more then $20 to attend in these showcases. And in my opinion she doesn’t believe in her talent and her talent= $20.

Unfortunatelly I live in a country Romania where I need a visa to enter in USA so it’s a little difficult for me but one day I will arrive in USA and success will be mine.

I will never forget what you told me in one of your e-mail:

Motivation and determination is more important then a potential talent” and I will add something with lucky..

You know INFORMATION= WITH POWER..An informed person is a strong person..

Have a wondeful day,



Thanks for the question Liviu.

I must respectfully disagree with whoever told you that a “big showcase” would launch your career.

That sounds like a person or company who puts together showcases to make money.

You must be careful as there are lot of people who exist in the music business solely to make money.

I would ask them:

Who is attending this showcase? Do they have any confirmed big names? How long have they been putting together these showcases? How many people attend? Have you talked to other artists who have participated in this showcase before to see what their result was like?

Showcases are not important or meaningful unless you are shopping for a major record label deal. And these days, with music budgets shrinking, most labels are happy to go to your show and see you perform in front of your fans instead of paying for a private showcase. Sure, it still happens. In fact, one of the bands I’m working with was recently flown to NYC to showcase for a major label. But that was only after the A&R scout had flown out to 2 of their shows. One in their home town and one at a music festival.

And yes, managers and record labels look for bands on the Internet all the time. A good A&R scout or manager will be on myspace, facebook and youtube and music blogs looking for the next “big time”. Sure, U2’s manager isn’t probably doing a lot of scouting online himself but I bet his assistant is! Same with labels.

An A&R person’s job is to find the next big thing – that’s why they call them “scouts”. They go out and LOOK for new talent as the bands sending them music aren’t always the cream of the crop.

I’m glad you’re taking my advice to heart and hope it helps!

I wouldn’t pay $1,000-2,000 for a showcase. If you don’t have a manager and interest from any labels directly, it’s just not worth your time or money.

Hope that helps!


Here are some of the responses to the Q&A email that went out:

“….Only accepting music from industry contacts is just a way for industry folks to weed out 90% of the bad stuff.”

Only partly true. The primary reason is financial liability: I send “Song A” to Label X. Two years later, they publish “Song B” that I then claim is based on mine, and I sue Label X. By having a policy in place regarding unsolicited submissions, Label X has a solid legal basis for refuting my claim. In other words, since the A&R staff at Label X isn’t allowed to accept unsolicited submissions, they never could have listened to my song. Therefore, “Song B” could NOT have been based on my song, and Label X can legally tell me to #@$ off.



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

~Artist Management~Music Licensing~Music Publicity

“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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