Archive for the ‘Q&A’ Category

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A MUST READ Music Industry Q&A – What’s the difference between….

June 23, 2015

PLEASE FORWARD THIS ARTICLE TO ANY ARTISTS THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTED!

***

From time to time, artists email us questions about the music business.

We reply to them – and share our answers with our email list hoping it will help you also!

Got a question about the music business to ask us?

Email us and we’ll include it in the next round of emails!

***

Question:

Hey Jennifer –

I’ve got a question. I’m curious to know if managers or publicists will work for a monthly income. I know that for the most part, they take a percentage of sales, whether it’s from shows or merch, right? But is it at all normal practice for a musician or band to hire a manager, booking agent, or publicist for a flat monthly fee? Just curious if you can help me with that. Thanks!

Paul

Answer:

Hey Paul-

Well, you’re asking me two entirely different questions here. A manager is nothing like a publicist. And a booking agent is nothing like a manager or publicist.

A manager works for an artist on commission and their job is to “advise and counsel” the artist. You know managers because you always read about them in the press. Justin Bieber’s manager is Scooter Braun, etc.

A manager does almost everything for an artist besides brushing their hair (although I’m surprised I haven’t had to do that) – ranging from shopping them for record and publishing deals to helping promote them in any way possible to their contacts in radio, film/tv, venues, etc. Some managers may even help book shows for you – but in the state of California and New York that is illegal so most reputable managers won’t do any booking in those states.

Managers work on a percentage of an artist’s income, which can often be pennies or Starbucks money in the beginning, hoping that act with get signed and strike it big.

Unfortunately, as you have probably noticed, over the past decade or so, major labels and publishers have consolidated and instead of artists getting 6 (or even 7 figure) advances, you hear of an act *maybe* getting a $50,000 advance…and that’s if they sign a 360 deal.

So, many artists have been telling me that managers now charge them a monthly retainer fee to work with them. This is illegal in some states, like California and no doubt New York, let even big high-profile managers do it because they are doing a lot of work for the artist and they have to get paid somehow.

***

Publicists are entirely different than managers. Some work in house at record labels. Some work at big (and small) PR firms. And still more work independently.

Most music publicists I know specialize in a genre – whether it’s country or indie rock or metal or singer/songwriters.

Publicists are hired on a monthy retainer, usually ranging from $3,000-5,000 a month for the high profile ones, down to smaller amounts for baby or developing acts. A three month minimum is industry standard.

A publicist’s job is to have relationships with and contact music journalists and bloggers and get them to review your album or promote your music or review your live show. Most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to hire a publicist unless you’re either 1) releasing an album/new EP/new music 2) are going out on tour 3) have something else newsworthy to announce – like you married a Kardashian.

Many artists get impressed by a publicist’s roster of name bands/singers but the truth is, anyone can do PR for Katy Perry or Taylor Swift. It’s finding a publicist that can get press for you when you’re unknown that’s the trick and most “name” or “established” publicists can’t do much for an unsigned singer or band. Also, do you really want to hire a publicist who is so busy with all their big, famous, touring bands that they don’t have time to adequately promote your new EP?

So, do your research and make sure you find the right manager or publicist to bring on board.

One final word about hiring a publicist:

Publicists also need 3-4 months lead time before you release an album or EP in order to secure any press. Music journalists often only want to hear an album BEFORE it’s released on iTunes and to the general public.

So, that means if your album is being released April 1, 2016, you need to hire a publicist NO LATER THAN by Jan 1, 2016.

Also, if you’re an indie artist, never release your album in the fourth quarter i.e. from Oct 1, 2015-Dec 31, 2015 as you’ll be competing with all major label acts and it will be difficult if not impossible to get press.

***

A booking agent is soley responsible for booking bands into venues. A big agent at William Morris or CAA, etc. would be booking huge superstars like Coldplay into venues like the Staples Center or Hollywood Bowl, while a smaller agent would be booking bands into mid-level venues or small clubs like the Troubadour or El Rey/Wiltern.

It’s very difficult, if not impossible to secure a booking agent unless you’re signed to a major label (or large indie label) as agents know a band’s chance of success on the road is greatly assisted by the tour support major labels give to signed artists. However, if you have done the leg work and build up a large following on your own, an agent won’t care about a record deal and will sign you….all you need to do is make enough money to pay them i.e. have hundreds and hundreds of fans in dozens of markets around the country.

Like managers, agents work solely on commission. Most agents charge 10%. As a result, it’s almost impossible to get an agent unless you’re making at LEAST $1,000 consistently per night as that’s only $100 for the agent.

***

Question Follow-Up:

So, what you’re saying is that even spending $3,000 – $5,000 monthly on a higher profile publicist will still possibly not be worth it if the artist is unknown?

-Paul

Answer:

Absolutely. I would say there is a 80-90% chance you will just throw that money down the toilet….if you’re an indie artist, you need a publicist who is good at getting coverage for indie artists…it’s easy to field requests all day for Taylor Swift….it’s not easy to get press for an unknown artist.

-Jennifer

Question:

Is it normal practice to find a successful indie rock band who sells out venues across the country, and pay them to open up for them on tour? That way, the band can make fans that are already there for the headliner band?

Answer:

I’ll give you the advice a headliner artist once told me when I asked her if my artist could open for her. She said, “FIND YOUR OWN AUDIENCE.”

Besides, buy-on slots like these are VERY expensive. Unless you’re signed to a label that can afford this, it’s just not going to happen. You need to build your OWN fan base…even if you tour with a band in your genre, 100% of the fans who bought tickets to that show are there to see THAT band, not you….you may garner a few fans from it…but I wouldn’t waste money doing that unless your rich uncle died and left you millions of dollars.

Bands do sometimes take out other bands on the road that they are friends with. The best advice I have for you is to be nice to the other bands you play with, make friends and hope they can swap gigs with you.

***

Note: If you need help placing your songs in film/tv, hire us! It’s a relationship business – and with 15+ years of film/tv relationships, we’re really your best bet for getting your music heard by the right people!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent PR ~ 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

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Happy Near Year! And a Question!

January 7, 2014

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope your 2014 is starting off on a great note!

As you know, I write hundreds of helpful advice emails and blog posts to help you with your music career.

However, I want to start off this new year with a question:

WHAT DO YOU NEED HELP WITH IN YOUR MUSIC CAREER?

I’m a music business veteran with over 15 years of experience under my belt and I’m curious…with everything going on right now with the changes in the economy and in the music business – what has changed for you?

What do YOU need help with?

I’ve offered many services over the years.

First, as a manager.

Then as a film/tv licensing expert.

Now as a publicist.

But I want to know, going forward, how are things going with your career?

What is going well?

What is challenging?

What do you need help with?

Please reply to me directly and also post your responses to my blog – www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com

I look foward to hearing from you!

(Please feel free to forward this email and this email alone to members of your band or other artists you know. But please do not post it on a web site or blog without asking permission from the author. Thanks!)

Copyright @2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without author’s prior consent.

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management ~ True Talent PR
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com
http://www.truetalentpr.com
http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business

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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!

Question:

Define success.

-Dominick

Answer:

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!

***

Question:

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,

Sincerely,

Dan

Answer:

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.

Question:

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,

Liviu

Answer:

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.

Regards,

Conrad

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

August 24, 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!

Question:

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,

Sincerely,

Dan

Answer:

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.)

Hope that helps.

Question:

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,

Liviu

Answer:

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!

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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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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Questions & answers about the music business – August 2007

September 2, 2007

Date: September 2, 2007 7:32:09 AM EDT
Subject: Questions & answers about the music business – August 2007

Every so often I answer artist’s questions about the music business and send them out to my email list.

I hope these emails can educate and inform you and also, serve as a bit of entertainment and fun reading material!

Feel free to send your question in and I’ll do my best to answer it next time!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA  90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

Question:

I read your reply about playing out, without it you won’t succeed.

How successful are cover acts?  If you are an artist/writer, is it better to perform covers with originals if you don’t have enough original material?  It is very difficult to perform original material live when nobody has ever heard of them or not on the radio, etc.

What is the best way to maximize yourself live when pushing strictly originals?

-Paul

Answer:

Be a great live artist/band.  Write great songs.

In answer to your other question:

There are a lot of successful cover bands out there.  In fact, many cover bands make more money than many original “live” acts, at least at the indie/club level.  Almost every huge artist I’ve seen live will do one cover song somewhere in their set (oftentimes in the encore).  It might be ironic, like Travis covering Britney Spears “…Baby One More Time” or it might just be a cover of a regular, popular song.  I’ve seen some acts do 1/2 covers and 1/2 originals in their live set.  Only you can judge if your live material is good enough but one band I know did exactly 1/2 covers and 1/2 originals and grew their fan base that way.  Which worked as a great compromise.

Ultimately, though, it depends on what your goal is.  If you want to make money and play out, being a “cover band” is the faster way to that.  But if you want to ultimately succeed as a original band, you’ll need to perform your original songs somehow!

The only way you can become a better performer is to get out there and perform. I recently met an artist who said she wasn’t very good until she’d done about 50 live shows.

And as for the music, the songwriting is key.  Write every day.  Rewrite.  You only become good by writing more and more.  Every day.  And ultimately, to succeed in the music business, you must be writing GREAT songs, not “good” songs.

Practice your songwriting craft.  Take songwriting classes.  Learn how to record at home using your computer and ProTools.  Seek feedback from other artists you like and respect and take their opinions into consideration and rewrite your songs until people really respond to them.  Cowrite with other artists.  Listen to the radio. Study the structure of “hit” songs.

Even if it’s just one guy in the bar – people should be tapping their toes, bobbing their heads, be into whatever music you’re doing and telling you so after your show.

Hope that helps.

Question:

Hi Jennifer,

I want to say that I enjoy these topics you send around, they are educational and informative, and it’s always nice to know what other bands are dealing with.  Thanks!

So – I’m replying to you on this topic because I have a big question regarding touring that I would like some advice and feedback on.  You said “Touring is a crucial part of becoming a successful artist/band”.  My question is why is touring such a big consideration?  Why does it even matter on an indie level?  Isn’t it supposed to about the songs first?  It seems that if a band doesn’t tour, labels won’t even talk to you.

Let me explain why I ask and give you a realistic, everyday scenario that an indie band will face – some artists, and I venture to say MOST indie artists, have no financial cushion to fall back on.  Not everyone lives with mommy and daddy (and therefore have no bills and a place to stay), and not everyone has independent financing.  This means you pay your own rent, your own bills, and have nothing to fall back on but yourselves.  The bulk of indie musicians live off of our measly day job paychecks, scraping by, not making enough money to save anything substantial to be able to live on.  Paycheck to paycheck is the way of the artist, so saving money for a rainy day, or a tour, is completely impossible.

Now consider this – to go on the road as an unknown indie band, you make no money.  You might be the biggest thing your home region has ever seen, but if you’re from NY for example, and you want to tour in Tennessee, it’s fair to say no one in TN has heard of you and therefore you’re not gonna be a big draw, and therefore you will not receive a big paycheck from shows on tour, if ANY paycheck at all.

So now you go on tour – you all hop in the van for a short 2-3 week tour.  You go to all of these venues in all of these towns that have never heard of you.  You play your heart out, you make a good impression on the people in the club, but the draw is light as expected.  This usually means you don’t get paid, or you get paid very little like maybe $50 for the entire band.  That, by the way, is a VERY accurate scenario as far as indie band tour pay goes, I know this from several personal experiences and the experiences of friends.

Now after your 3 weeks, you are hundreds of dollars in the hole.  You have not made a dime in profit, and you have spent far more than you made in gas, lodging, food, etc.  You get home.  For 3 weeks you have not worked, so you have no paycheck.  Now the bills are piling up.  The landlord wants the rent.  You might very well have LOST your job because you took 3 weeks off and now you face joblessness and homelessness because of your 3 week tour.

My point is this – HOW is an indie band with no money supposed to actually get on the road if they have nothing to fall back on, like mom and dad or some substantial savings?

If the songs are great, the hometown draw and hometown sales (also internet sales) are strong (we have thousands), maybe the band has some nice licenses under their belt (we have 14) and some big publicity (we have that too) why does touring make any difference at all, when you have no financial means to be able to actually sustain a tour?  Why is this a pre-requisite to getting a deal in many cases?  It’s almost as if the industry discriminates aganst the blue collar bands with no money, and this is a dilemma my band has faced for years.  If we go on tour, we will lose our jobs and our homes and wind up homeless living in the street.  My parents are both dead, I have no one to help finance me or to give me a place to stay, and I (as most of us) do not have the luxury at my job to just take weeks at a time off.

What recourse does an indie band have in this set of circumstances, and why is a tour necessary when touring is not a realistic possibility?

Thanks for considering my question, and please have a wonderful day!

-Vince

Answer:

Wow, that’s quite an email.

First of all, sounds like you are doing great.  So why do you need to tour and to get signed to a label?  Maybe you don’t.  Maybe things are fine as they are.

Not every band or artist needs to sell millions of CDs, be on the radio and on MTV/VH1/Fuse/etc.  In fact, the scenario you just described is far more realistic.

If you’re doing well locally, stick to what works.  Don’t go tour in Tennessee just because you “want to”!  Is it a good business decision right now?  Probably not.  Not unless you can get on the radio there or get some local press going and tour supporting a band that has a fan base there already.  Be smart about where you play out.  It only makes sense to tour far away if you can bring some people out and go back there again in a relatively short time frame to build your draw.  It’s about repetition.  Say you play to 10 people at some divey bar. But you are so great, next time you play, your 10 fans tell their friends and at the next gig there are 20-30 people there.  And then next time, 50. Then 70.  I think you get the point.  Is it easy?  No.  But this is about work, not just fun and games.  How much promotion did you do the last time you did a 3 week tour?  Jumping in a van and spending money on food, gas and lodging doesn’t make sense unless you’ve put a lot of effort into promoting those shows.  Did you look into playing colleges?  Colleges and universities will oftentimes pay bands and pay for their food, lodging, etc. in addition to money for coming to campus to perform.  But your music has to be pretty clean cut and appeal to the college aged demographic to do this.

But let me get back to answering your questions.

Touring is important for a number of reasons.  Traditionally, artists make 60-70% of their income from ticket sales and touring.  Touring sets you apart from the other tens of thousands of artists who sit at home, write a song or two (or an album’s worth) and throw them up on myspace.  Sure, a label may like your music but do you have a fan base?  How many CDs have you sold?  And who cares about labels, without fans, without people coming to see you live, how are you going to make a living with your music? Sure, film and TV licensing is a huge business and many artists make their living from it alone.  But to truly break through, if you really want to become “huge,” you must tour.  You have to start somewhere.

When you tour, you are out there, meeting and networking with other bands.  Great things can and have happened to artists on the road because of who they meet.

Also, performing live is just about the #1 way to sell CDs.  And while CD sales may be declining, it’s still a huge source of revenue for most indie artists.

There are a million reasons why touring is important.

You’re right, if a band doesn’t tour, a major label will not take that act seriously (unless that act is a pop act and/or can truly be broken from radio – in which case you better be writing songs as catchy and poppy as what’s on the radio today).  Now that’s not to say a band that doesn’t tour will never get signed.  Just no bands that I know of.  Sure, there are the Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne’s of the world who may not have toured much until they got signed. But they worked hard in other areas.  Britney on the Mickey Mouse Club and Avril had the whole “punk/goth” image and blonde hair going for her and claims to be more of a songwriter.  And once they did get signed, both toured shopping malls to get a fan base.  And consider that they were both very young (16ish) and very blonde when they got signed. And they make pop music.  Very different than most of you artists out there.

Is touring easy?  No.  Is it even harder when you get older and have responsibilities, like a wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/cat/dog/fish/kids?  Of course.  Why do you think labels have traditionally signed younger acts?  Well, for a lot of reasons (that I’ll save for another email) but one of the reasons is because the younger the artist, the less they’ll mind touring around in a van (yes, a van, not a tour bus!)  And they might live at home so that definitely cuts down on expenses like rent and electricty.  Besides, even if you somehow manage to get signed without a huge fan base, what are you going to do when you get signed? Make an album. And then get out there and go to radio and hit the road to tour (in a van) and promote it. A label is a thousand times more likely to sign a band who’s already been doing that on their own (that already has hundreds, if not thousands of fans and CDs sales already) than to take a chance with a band that doesn’t tour, doesn’t have a fan base and hasn’t sold many CDs.  I’m not saying it’s impossible but given the choice between signing 2 bands, one that tours and one that doesn’t, which band do you think the label will sign?

That being said, touring isn’t for everyone.  But it sounds to me like you’re making excuses.  It’s too hard?  Maybe to you.  But thousands of indie bands are doing it right now.  In fact, I was just talking to an A&R executive who has been following a band around as they tour this summer and he wants to sign them.

I’ve heard that cry before, “it’s not fair, I don’t have some mom and dad supporting me” as a reason why an artist “can’t” tour.

Is it hard?  Absolutely.   But buddy, life is hard.  Life isn’t fair.

Still, many poor and struggling artists have figured out a way to do it.  Your email really sounds like you’re playing “victim” and if you “play victim” you’ll never succeed.  Successful people figure out a way.  They say “I can do it” not “I can’t.”  Successful people don’t whine and complain that life is “hard” or that they were dealt a tough life.  Besides, I much rather represent a band that has no money but is working their butt off than a band that has a fat bank account but sits on their butt all day.  In fact, I used to manage an act like that, who never toured outside of his home state and he’s been incredibly unsuccessful.

The music business is very competitive and for every artist out their complaing that it’s “too hard” or “too much work” there are 10 that are out there touring and have figured out a way to do it.

Get some investors to back you.  Do more freelance work.  Start a graphic design or web design business.  If you’re a creative person, use your creativity to figure out how you can make more money and still get out there and tour!  If you really want to break into a new market, teach voice, guitar, drums or keyboard lessons to kids!

Why not take the money you’ve made from local CD sales and licensing your music to film and TV and use it to support your touring? And why not focus on areas closer to home instead of going on 3 week trips to random places where you have no fan base.  Also, you can use myspace and other bands to network with and promote to fans in the places you are going to.

Or, perhaps you are better off as a songwriter and sitting at home writing songs and licensing them to film/tv.  There’s a reason why that end of the business is booming.  Or, make some amazing concert videos, put them up on YouTube and try to promote to the fans that you have. See if you’re really that good that you can get fans virally.

Punk bands work a day job during the week and hit the road Thurs-Sat night, touring locally as much as they can and gradually working their way out from their home town or city.  I’m not advising to quit your jobs and just jump in a van. That won’t work. Be smart, build up a local fan base and then expand outward.  If you’re not doing well in your home town, chances are it won’t be much better on the road, unless you live in a place where your genre of music isn’t popular (say doing country music in New York city).  Touring regionally is a thousand times smarter than touring in random places.  Start in your home town. Then expand out 20-30 minutes in each direction. Repeat.

Most successful bands out there have figured out a way to tour.  Bands without rich parents or anyone helping them. They tend to be very driven and very motivated.  Perhaps some of the touring artists on this list will tell you how they’ve done it.

Listen, if you’re doing well playing locally and licensing your songs, who says you need to tour?  No one is holding a gun to your head. The whole music business is being turned upside down. You can be indie and do very well.  However, if you’re looking to get signed to almost any record label, it will be a thousand times more difficult without a fan base and having toured.

Here’s more info: http://www.taxi.com/transmitter/0405/tips0405.html

****

I’ll leave you with this piece of advice from a fellow list reader:

“The labels are in the business of SELLING RECORDS. (CD’s Downloads – whatever you want to call it).  They have one product and one product only and it needs to sell.”

Just wanted to expound on this and add a couple thoughts, being a manager/indie A&R/publishing company. I started as a wanna be rock star, stopped at 25, had already opened two recording studios, produced hundreds of indie records, then started writing songs for myself and others (yeah, a lot of them sucked too), took time off, and got back in as an indie A&R/publishing company as I saw the internet growing. I have raised over a million dollars from private investors for artists development in the past 4 years. Anyway, here’s what I have to say…(you may want to keep this to yourself, it might be too much for the general public:)

Actually, the labels now know that they can’t generate enough revenue from cd sales anymore. This is why they enter into 50-50 all encompassing deals with the artists now. They get a piece of everything….merch, touring, endorsements, etc. They become partners with the artists. Some see this as good, some as bad.

I think it’s great as the label has to work just as hard as the artist to be successful.

Artists need to realize that TV and film placement are really the new radio, with regards to breaking in to the biz. And they need to look at places like Starbucks and Nordstrom’s as places to get their product. They sell more CD’s then normal brick and mortar retail.

If you’re not out playing, you’re a loser already.

This business is not rocket science, and all the wanna be artists out their are so opinionated and jealous that they completely forget this is the music BUSINESS!

I, like you Jenn, trip over CD’s in my house, office, car, and I can’t believe the amount of money people spend on kits, pressing CD’s, etc. What kills me even more is getting a freakin CD that looks great, sounds like ass crackers, but there’s 10 pages of liner notes! Who freakin cares who you want to thank and love!

Write great songs, release a single, generate money from that to record more, one step at a time, pretend it’s the 50’s and early 60’s…single oriented, LP’s were not made until singles proved the artists viability in the market.

Bottom line is Get IT or GET OUT!

James L.

*****
Always keep doing what you’re doing because you do something that, well, actually, I don’t know anyone that could do what you do. With regards to time, patience, objectiveness, it’s very cool. I am sure you get major emails beating you up, but they’re wrong!

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F.A.Q. – Frequently asked questions about submitting music

August 23, 2007

Date: August 23, 2007 2:24:15 AM EDT
Subject: F.A.Q. – Frequently asked questions about submitting music

I get asked a lot of questions from artists about submitting their music.  I picked a few of the popular ones and answered them here.  If you have additional questions, please email them to me and I’ll answer them next time!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA  90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

Q:  Why should I care about these music requests you send out?  Why should I care about getting a song in a movie or on TV?  In a video game, or TV commercial?

A:  Well, as an indie artist, getting your music into film and TV is one of the best things you can do for your career.  Not only is it one of the few things that will actually PAY YOU, but it also exposes your music to millions of people.

Here’s one example:

As you may know, Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believin” was recently featured in the season finale of “The Sopranos” and afterwards rocketed to become the 19th-most downloaded song in the iTunes store, according to Forbes.  The song also saw a 153 percent spike in U.S. radio play compared to the prior week (source: Pollstar Magazine).

The litany of artists that have either broken or received major career boosts from having a song in a TV show, in a major film/soundtrack, video game or ad campaign is staggering.  Let’s see, on the film side:  Elliott Smith was Academy Award nominated for his song “Miss Misery” in “Good Will Hunting,” Aimee Mann also was nominated for an Academy Award for “Magnolia”; on the TV side: Gavin DeGraw’s opening theme song for “One Tree Hill,” The Rembrants might have one of the most famous placements as the theme song “I”ll Be There For You” for “Friends”; on the video game side: Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte have received massive exposure through video games and Fall Out Boy was signed in large part due to their following developed from their video game placement; on the advertising side: just about everyone has received tremendous exposure from Dirty Vegas’ song “Days Go By” broken by their Mitsubishi ad to artists like The Fratellis, Wolfmother, The Vines and Black Eyed Peas, to name just a few, that were featured and broken from iPod commercials.

With terrestrial (traditional) radio losing its audience and record stores closing left and right, film and tv placement has been called everthing from “the new radio” to “the best thing an artist can do for their career”.  In fact, one major advertising executive predicted we’ll soon see a song hit # 1 on the Billboard charts that was broken SOLELY THROUGH A TV COMMERCIAL PLACEMENT.

All this plus not only will placing a song pay up front money on the master/publishing, you’ll also receive performance royalties from ASCAP/BMI/SESAC (except for video games).

So money + exposure + more money + more exposure = SUCCESS!

Why should you care about these music listings?

Because the next request I send out could be the opportunity that breaks YOUR song and YOUR career.

Q:  Do you ever need instrumental tracks/cues?

A:  Sometimes.  But for any music request I send out, I ALWAYS want songs with vocals unless I specify “instrumentals ok” or “instrumentals needed”.  Most every TV show and film already has a composer on it so the music/song needs people come to me for are for songs with vocals, not instrumental cues.  Sometimes I’ll get asked for instrumental tracks (or a vocal track — but they also want the non-vocal version to make editing easier).  It all depends.  But as a general rule, ONLY send instrumental cues if I ask for them.

Q:  What does this placement pay?

A:  Sometimes I know the budget for a song for a particular music request.  Many times I don’t.  Asking me what something pays is a bit equivalent to being given a gift and asking the giver, “How much did you spend on this?”  i.e. It’s rude.

If I know the budget, believe me, I’ll tell you.

But if a particular listing doesn’t say, assume I wasn’t told.

Also, what a placement pays can all depend on the song too and how much they love it.

Many times the budget may be open depending on how much they like the cue, who the artist is signed to (no label, an indie label, etc). There are so many factors.

So when there is no number given, that’s usually a good sign in that they aren’t asking for songs for free or $200 a pop!  Because the smaller the budget, the more likely they’ll tell me “$ XXX is all I can afford.”

Q:  Why can’t you pitch music by an artist that I manage? Or that has more than one co-writer?

A:  I can.

But it’s more work for me.

In one word it’s all about easy CLEARANCE.

I need permission from all songwriters to pitch a song, especially if it involves exclusive publishing ownership if placed.

If you’re a manager, your approval might be ok initially — but I really need permission directly from the songwriters to pitch their material.

Same goes for a song with more than one writer.

So, if you have a lot of songs with more than one co-writer (or have a manager submitting music for you), you either need to hire me to pitch your music, or we need to put together a more comprehensive agreement for me to pitch your material.

And for the love of god, if you or someone in the band isn’t singing the song, be sure you get a “Work For Hire” agreement!  Oftentimes I’ll need this to pitch a song sung by an outside singer.

Q:  Why are you so picky in needing so much information for each submission?

A:  Again, it’s clearance.  Most of the work I do isn’t just finding a song that works for a spot.  The creative end of what I do is sometimes only 25%.  That “creative end” meaning, finding the right song that works for a particular request.

The rest of my job is like that of an attorney.  Clearing rights and making sure the end buyer has all the rights to air the song.

So, as a result, a lot of this responsibility goes back to you, the artist.

You need to be detail oriented and meticulous about reading my emails and following the directions because I have to be detail oriented and meticulous about the songs I submit.

It’s really not that difficult; you just have to want to do it.

This is the music BUSINESS after all, and while you get to do a lot of the “fun” things like writings songs and peforming, to be truly successful, you also need to master the BUSINESS end of things.  Which means reviewing contracts and reading things carefully and following directions.

A lot of artists do this and do it well.

Others don’t — and therefore miss out on opportunties to make money from their music.

Artists that don’t follow directions? Well, I just don’t take them that seriously.  I don’t listen to their submissions and their music doesn’t get pitched.  And they miss out.

Q:  Why is the tone of your emails, well, so harsh?

A:  I have thousands of artists on this email list.  I’d say at least 1/2 of them don’t follow directions.  Maybe 75%.

Imagine that you ask someone to go to the store to get you eggs, milk, bread and spaghetti.  They come back time and time again with just eggs, and a bunch of other stuff.  Or milk and bread, but not spaghetti and eggs.  How can you work with that?  You need all the ingredients to make this meal work.  Getting just 1/2 of them won’t do.

Now, would you trust this person to do another errand or task for you?

Would you hire them and trust them?

Probably not.

My job is not just creative.

A lot of it is clearance – making sure I have all the legal rights to pitch and license a song.

I’m not giving you a hard time for no reason.

I am picky because the people I work with are picky. They want the best possible songs at the best possible rate and they only deal with me because they know they can trust that everything I send them I can clear.

So that means I have to trust YOU and make sure YOU have cleared everything on your end.

That you are actually the one singing the song you send in.

That you are the only writer (or got permission from co-writers).

That you didn’t use any samples.

That you haven’t ripped off or covered someone else’s songs.

The people I work with work for very large companies – movie studios, TV networks, major ad agencies, corporations and video game companies. They don’t want to get sued.  And neither do I.  And neither do you.  Hence all the questions and verification.

Q:  Why do you ask for publishing on certain placements?

A:  Great question.  I’ve been asked this one a lot.  Times have changed A LOT in the music business, as you’re probably aware of if you read the trades or news.  CD sales are down 20% this year compared to last year.  While major labels downsize on a regular basis, yes, labels do still have A&R folks out there signing talent.

But how does this affect you and licensing your music for film and TV?

Well, do you want the good news or bad news first?

The bad news?

Ok, the bad news is that music budgets are shrinking. Everyone is looking for a way to cut costs and one of the first things they seem to do is cut the music budget (in TV, film, etc).

The good news?

Well, the good news is that that the demand for indie music is bigger than ever.  Perhaps the biggest demand in the history of licensing.  Why?  Because indie music is: 1) good 2) cheap and 3) easy to clear.  And these days, many of the indie labels and indie artists are churning out music that is just as good, if not better, than major label fare. So why pay for a major label artist when they can have a great indie artist, and for cheap?

The problem is that getting a song placed is no easy feat.  Everyone I know that pitches music understands this. The reality is, a lot of music supervisors these days are out of work. Between projects. Getting out of the business.  There is less work for them.  So, imagine, your job is to place songs with people who are now oftentimes, out of work.  The amount of work out there for music supervisors is shrinking and the budgets are coming down.

Yet, many supervisors I know are gainfully employed and busier than ever.  It’s a greater and greater divide but there are seismic shifts going on right now, that’s for srue.

Again, the good news is that film, tv, video games and commercials want more and more indie music.

Now, from my perspective, I need to get paid.  And since many artists have “no money,” if I’m working for free, and then responsible for getting your song in major ad campaign, video game, TV show, film, etc. and helping break you as an artist, I should be entitled to ownership of that song. That seems only fair when I’m working 100% on commission, doesn’t it?  Well, it does to me as many days, weeks, or months may go by as I pitch songs and they don’t stick and I don’t get paid.  Can you imagine going to work this week and not getting paid?  How about next week?  Next month.  Don’t cash your paychecks for a month and see how it feels. Then cash one.  Then repeat the cycle next month.  It’s not an easy life nor an easy way to make a living!

Also, know that a particular spot may go through 50, 100 or more songs before choosing one that works and gets licensed.  It’s a creative decision, so if you’ve ever had even one song placed, know that’s a major accomplishment!  It’s a bit like throwing darts and getting a bull’s eye.

And realistically, how much is your song worth?  I know, that’s a bit like placing value on one’s children as your songs are like your children.  You’ve worked long and hard to create them and you love them dearly. But using this analogy — imagine I am responsible for helping that child get his or her first job in the business world.  The kid is fresh out of college (or high school) and has no experience.  No one has paid this person to work for them before.  The kid has obvious talent, but no real world experience.  A recruiter would get paid to place that kid in his/her first big job.  And paid very well, thank you.  The kid may be making an entry level salary but he/she has his “foot in the door” and that’s what counts.

As a song plugger and music placement person, I need to get paid too, just like that recruiter.  And oftentimes the money involved in placing that song isn’t that much.  So I ask for song ownership for one song.  It just seems fair.  And really, a song is not worth anything (in the music BUSINESS world) unless someone is willing to pay money for that song. And it has demand.  99.99% of songs don’t.  Not until I come along anyhow.

Sadly, most artists out there will not get signed to a record deal.  Or publishing deal.  I’m not saying this to be mean but let’s be realistic here.  An artist’s chance of getting a record deal are actually much higher than getting a publishing deal, from what I’ve seen.  Many, many artists on my list have been signed to major record labels, while I know of just a few that have been signed to major publishing deals. And publishing companies are downsizing and merging now and laying off staff, just like their major label counterparts.  They are selling off their catalogs and songs to other investors.  It’s just the way things are now.

So, if I’m responsible for getting your song, your career, a major PUSH, when there are literally MILLIONS of artists and songs out there on myspace and in the world, shouldn’t I be paid accordingly?  You still keep writer’s share, I keep publisher’s share, and it’s only one song.  You have 10 more songs. 20 more songs.  Hopefully dozens more.  You’re an artist.  You can write more songs.  That’s what you do!  Sometimes you have to give up something to get something!  And in reality, giving up publishing on one song is still a 50/50 split.  You still own the master.  You keep writer’s share.  We are getting an equal amount of money and ownership.  You wrote the song and spent time and money recording it.  I spend time and money marketing it and finding a home for it.

Everyone in the business is doing this.  Want a song in a video game? Great, now the video game companies want to own your publishing in exchange for the exposure. Same with the ad agencies and songs in commercials.  What I’m doing is pretty much industry standard.  So I put forth my time, oftentimes free of charge for days, weeks, months and maybe even years looking for that one opportunity to break an artist or song. And if I get it, it’s a bit like winning lotto. All I want is 1/2 the winnings from that lotto ticket.  That’s fair, don’t you think?  Especially since I picked 1/2 the winning numbers.  And drove to the store to buy it!

(And if for some reason, you still think “no, it’s not fair” — well that’s fine too.  I am more than happy to work entirely as a paid hand.  Pay me $3,000 a month to pitch your music, just like what a music publicist would charge.  Hmm, now giving up publishing on one song doesn’t sound like such a bad deal, does it? 🙂

Q:  What’s your favorite color?

A:  Great question.  Depends on the day.  Sometimes it’s blue, red or purple.

LOL.

What’s yours?