Archive for April, 2011

Article: Ice-T On Soulja Boy Playing 2pac’s Role In The Movie Juice Remake! “At Some Point. Somebody Got To Stop It” + Dry Snitching & More [Audio]




Industry Tips & Advice: How To Write A Business Plan V 2.0 (American Idol Version) by Azox

So…you’ve seen the show, and want to be the star?! This how-to will help you build a career portfolio to become an American Idol (without the show!)


The American Idol show is the extreme version of how to make it in the industry … and as you might of noticed (Rubin, etc.) even winning A.I. doesn’t cement you in the industry. The first step is to get your demo together.

If you have a rough demo, you need to trash it, or polish it. You need a professional recording studio to track your voice, and to amp up any lacking parts of your beat. **See Warnings Below** If you don’t have a demo yet … you NEED to have one. If you don’t write your own songs, pick a popular song on the radio and make your own version (THIS IS NOT A SELLABLE ITEM).

Armed with your new (or revised) demo, you have the first piece of the puzzle. The music business is ALWAYS looking for talented people, you have to plug yourself in. Look into TAXI and pay the small fee for the job listings in the industry. This is instantly a way into the music industry. You can also hit the clubs for a home fan base.

If you hit the club, the BEST way to get a check is to do the show for free. All clubs will sit and listen to you if it is free entertainment. I have found the easiest way to get a gig is to attach a “Free Drink” coupon to the inside of the CD. Selling the CD’s for $5, and the club covers the drink cost (usually just a $1 shot).

Now you have LOTS of people with your music … the next step is to keep them involved with you … cue the internet noise. You want everyone to visit your site, your myspace site, your ehow site…

You get the idea. Put the site on the CD, or the insert … somewhere they will see it. ***See Tips Below***

Sending your demo into a company might produce results, but for the most part, many people now are looking for website clicks / youtube clicks, etc. They want Worldwide artists now, and someone who has all of their marketing done. You can start with the CD, maybe enlist a friend to tape a show at the club, and start to build a fan base online.

Use your click volume to build a business plan to continue your stability. The business plan should include an advertising budget (both selling and buying) and a completely functioning club budget you get on a weekly basis.

If this is your last step … and everything is moving for you, Congratulations! You really are a true American Idol!





Harlem rapper Jim Jones appeared in a New York City courtroom yesterday (April 26) and was arraigned on charges of driving with a suspended license.

He reportedly turned down a plea bargain is hopes to get the charge reduced.

Capo appeared jovial as he left the courthouse, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans after he exited the building.

Jones faces up to 30 days in jail if convicted of the offense.

As previously reported, Jones was pulled over last month and arrested after police discovered the rapper was driving on a suspended license, brought on by unpaid parking tickets. Lawyers for the Dipset emcee claim he was unaware of the suspension.

The last time Jones appeared in a NYC courtroom last December, he pled guilty to a third degree assault charge stemming from car crash after which he attacked the driver of the other vehicle. As a result, Jones was ordered to participate in a 10-week anger management course.

In 2009, Jones pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charger resulting from punching R&B crooner Ne-Yo’s road manager Jayvon Smith in a NYC Louis Vuitton store.



Article: Is Obama Really the Hip-Hop President? by Michael P. Jeffries


Young Jeezy’s “My President” was the anthem of the 2008 presidential election. The song captured the enthusiasm of a gaggle of young Barack Obama supporters, and elevated Jeezy to semi-prophet status, as he recorded the track long before Obama emerged as the prohibitive favorite in the general election. Jeezy steps out of his lyrical comfort zone, highlighting the faults the Bush administration and calling attention to the economic collapse. Nas joins Jeezy for a guest verse, delivering incisive political criticism in line with much of his previous work. More than any other performance or commodity, the “My President” cemented the association between Obama and hip-hop.

Another factor contributing to the Obama/hip-hop association is the tendency to commoditize and sell blackness as the mark of trendiness: Obama is young, and he is black/biracial, and he plays basketball, and he charismatic, and that makes him cool. And if he is cool, he must be down with hip-hop, because hip-hop is cool too. We can actually hear this happening in Jeezy’s “My President,” with its chorus, “My President is black, my Lambo is blue.” Obama’s race is what makes him stylish—his color serves the same function as the car’s paint job.

Roundtable: Eminem, Meet Obama
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Obama as the End of Hip-Hop Culture
Kevin Fallon: Obama’s iPod Playlist: Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, … Lil Wayne?

During his presidential campaign, Obama danced between the raindrops when the topic of hip-hop was raised, demonstrating pop cultural literacy without allowing himself to be cast as a representative of hip-hop culture. Despite “My President” and the fact that Obama’s name continues to find its way into rap music, the president’s public stance can be summed up in two basic statements, documented by legendary hip-hop journalist Jeff Chang. First, hip-hop deserves attention because it reflects and shapes reality, and we have to address the representations of sex and materialism that critics rightly object to. And second, though he might listen to rap on occasion, most of his “iPod probably is either jazz classics—Coltrane, Miles Davis—or it’s got the songs of [his] youth.” In other words, Obama is not deeply invested in hip-hop practice or identity.

For these reasons, those critical of the hip-hop/Obama connection have a right to be upset. We have to guard against the sloppy racial reasoning that fuels pop-cultural romanticism. But even though Obama does not claim a hip-hop identity, there are elements that both hip-hop and Obama share.

Hip-hop’s coolness is more complicated than mere trendiness, and it cannot be described as coolness in the traditional sense—unflappability. Part of what makes hip-hop appealing is that performances often embody contradiction, allowing for the simultaneous expression of vulnerability and pride, and trumpeting countervailing beliefs and desires. The worst commercial hip-hop glorifies sexism and conspicuous consumption, but many of the most popular rappers give voice to the dissonance within each of us.

Obama’s story fits within this paradigm, where exposing inner conflict is part and parcel of cool performance. In his two books, Dreams From My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006), Obama candidly discusses his struggle to reconcile his relationship with his absent father, arrive at a comfortable racial identity, accept Christianity, and manage his family life. He wept during a speech the day before the election, stricken with grief over his grandmother’s death. Where governance is concerned, it used to be fashionable to scoff at Obama’s penchant for considering multiple viewpoints at the same time, as liberals and conservatives alike chided him for trying to please too many people. But with the administration’s recent bipartisan policy successes and his riveting, perfectly calibrated speech about the tragedy in Arizona, Obama’s ability to speak more than one political language now enhances his glow.

This multiple subjectivity is everywhere in hip-hop—from Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac explaining why thugs cry, to Jay-Z’s raps about “Big Pimpin’” and the pain of a fatherless childhood, to Kanye’s self-loathing and naked arrogance, to Nas’s “I Can” celebration of American individualism, delivered with heavy with black nationalist undertones. It is more than coincidence that Drake’s cover art for Thank Me Later is a derivative of Shepard Fairey’s iconic “HOPE” poster from the Obama campaign. First and foremost, the designers were looking to capitalize on a saleable and widely recognizable image from popular culture. But the Obama connection is more than visual, as Drake’s music mixes lamentation and glorification of the trappings of fame with reflections about faded romance and his parents’ break-up.

Should we expect a guest appearance from Obama on Drake’s follow up album? No. Frankly, Obama may not utter a word about hip-hop for the rest of his presidency. But at their best, both hip-hop and Obama allow us to traverse those unsettled lands within us, and give us faith that we can make our way back to the world in one piece.



Industry Tips & Advice: How Music Royalties Work

Watch MTV or open a copy of Rolling Stone or Spin and you’ll be checking out some musical members of the entertainment elite. The clothes, the jewelry, the cars, the clubs, the houses… One might wonder where, exactly, all that money is coming from. How much does the artist make from CD sales?

Bars, clubs and coffee houses across the country are overflowing with fresh, talented musicians who want to join the ranks of these performers. But really, what are the chances of making it to stardom and retiring on music royalties?

Making money in the music industry is tricky. Recording contracts are notoriously complicated, and every big recording artist has a small army of legal representatives to translate and negotiate these deals. In this article, we’ll look into the world of music royalties and see how money is actually made in this industry.

Who Gets What?
The first thing we need to do is distinguish between recording-artist royalties and songwriter/publisher royalties.

In The Internet Debacle – An Alternative View, Janis Ian, a singer/songwriter, states:

If we’re not songwriters, and not hugely successful commercially (as in platinum-plus), we [recording artists] don’t make a dime off our recordings.
She’s referring to the fact that recording artists and songwriters do not earn royalties in the same way. Recording artists earn royalties from the sale of their recordings on CDs, cassette tapes, and, in the good old days, vinyl. Recording artists don’t earn royalties on public performances (when their music is played on the radio, on TV, or in bars and restaurants). This is a long-standing practice that’s based on copyright law and the fact that when radio stations play the songs, more CDs and tapes are sold. Songwriters and publishers, however, do earn royalties in these instances — as well as a small portion of the recording sales.

The only current instance in which artists earn royalties for “public performances” is when the song is played in a digital arena (like in a Webcast or on satellite radio), is non-interactive (meaning the listener doesn’t pick and choose songs to hear), and the listener is a subscriber to the service. This came about with the Digital Performance Rights in Sound Recordings Act of 1995. This act gave performers of music their first performance royalties.

We’ll go into more detail about the types of licenses and royalties later in this article. But first, let’s look at song copyrights.

Song Copyrights

Copyrights are very important because they identify who actually owns the song and song recording and who gets to make money from it. When songwriters write songs, the songs are automatically copyrighted as soon as they are in a tangible form (like a recording, or fixed as printed sheet music). In order to sue for copyright infringement, however, the song should be registered with the copyright office at the Library of Congress. Registration should always be done before the song is set loose in the public domain (available to hear on a Web site, etc.).

As copyright owner, you have the right to reproduce the copyrighted song, to create derivatives or variations of the song, to distribute it to the public, to perform it publicly, and to display it publicly. (Although we’re not sure how you “display” a song.) If you have recorded the song with yourself as the artist, then you also hold the sound recording copyright (a different animal entirely) and have the right to publicly play or “perform” that recording by means of a digital audio transmission.

Copyright licenses

By giving someone a license, you are giving him permission to use your song. Once the song has been recorded and publicly distributed, however, compulsory licensing kicks in and everyone who wants to cover (record) the song can do so without your specific permission. They are required by law to pay you a statutory royalty rate, however, as well as notify you that they’re going to release it, and send you monthly royalty statements. They are NOT allowed to make any changes to the words or melody or change the “fundamental character of the song” without the copyright owner’s approval. If the song is changed, it is considered a “derivative work.” Record companies rarely use compulsory licensing because they don’t want to have to provide monthly royalty statements. Instead, they go to the copyright owner and get a direct license so they can negotiate the terms more freely.

Shared copyrights

If you write the lyrics to a song and your buddy writes the music, then you each own 50% of the song. You don’t own all of the lyrics and your buddy doesn’t own all of the music — you each own 50% of the total song, music, lyrics and all. This means you can’t give someone exclusive rights to the song on your own if you have a fight with your buddy. And, if you make any money on the song, half of that money must go to your partner.

Other forms of shared copyrights come into play when you or your publisher (typically you give control of the song’s copyright to the publisher) sign over a portion of the copyright to another publisher for a sampled composition — a song that uses a portion of another song.

Transfer of copyrights

In most music publishing agreements, there is a requirement that the songwriter assign the copyright of the written song to the publisher. This is known as a “transfer of copyright,” or simply “assignment.” This, in effect, transfers ownership of the song to the publisher in exchange for the payment to the songwriter of royalties in amounts and time intervals agreed upon in the publishing contract. Typically, song copyrights are held by the music publishers, while sound recordings are controlled by the record companies.

Works Made for Hire
If you’ve written a song as a part of your job (maybe you work for an ad agency and have written a song for a commercial), you don’t own that song — the company does, because you wrote it as part of your job. This is also true if you’ve been commissioned to write something as part of a collective work. In this case, however, the agreement you sign will specifically state that it is a work “made for hire.”

The Major Players

Roman Candle performing at Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NCThe major players in the recording industry are:

Songwriter – The songwriter is the person (or people) who write the lyrics and melody for songs.

Publisher – The publisher is the person (or company) who works with the songwriters to promote their songs.
Publishers usually get either partial or total ownership of the song copyright, known as “assignment” or “transfer” of the copyright. They pitch the songs to record labels, television or movie producers, or anyone else who may be interested in it. They then license the rights to use the song and charge fees. Those fees are typically split 50/50 with the songwriter.

Performer – Anyone who licenses the song in order to publicly perform it is the performer, or performing artist. The performer doesn’t have control of the song (it’s controlled by the songwriter or publisher) or the recording (it’s controlled by the record company).
Recording company (record label) – The recording company creates, markets and distributes the recordings.

Performing rights organization (PRO) – A performing rights organization is an association, corporation, or other entity that licenses the public performance of nondramatic musical works on behalf of the copyright owners. The major performing rights societies are:

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
SESAC, Inc. (formerly the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers)

Mechanical rights agency: The right to record a song — mechanical rights — for most publishers is obtained through the Harry Fox Agency in the United States, or the Canadian Mechanical Rights Reproduction Agency (CMRRA) in Canada. These agencies issue the mechanical royalties for songs, keep track of them, make sure the users pay, and provide statements to the publishers. They charge a set percentage of gross royalty collections for their service.

Types of Rights and Royalties
Licenses and their corresponding royalties fall into four general categories:
Mechanical licenses and royalties – A mechanical license refers to permissions granted to mechanically reproduce music onto some type of media (e.g., cassette tape, CD, etc.) for public distribution. The music publisher grants permission for the musical composition to be reproduced. The mechanical royalty is paid to the recording artist, songwriter, and publisher based on the number of recordings sold.
Performance rights and royalties – A performance-rights license allows music to be performed live or broadcast. These licenses typically come in the form of a “blanket license,” which gives the licensee the right to play a particular PRO’s entire collection in exchange for a set fee. Licenses for use of individual recordings are also available. All-talk radio stations, for example, wouldn’t have the need for a blanket license to play the PRO’s entire collection. The performance royalty is paid to the songwriter and publisher when a song is performed live or on the radio.
Synchronization rights and royalties – A synchronization license is needed for a song to be reproduced onto a television program, film, video, commercial, radio, or even an 800 number phone message. It is called this because you are “synchronizing” the composition, as it is performed on the audio recording, to a film, TV commercial, or spoken voice-over. If a specific recorded version of a composition is used, you must also get permission from the record company in the form of a “master use” license. The synchronization royalty is paid to songwriters and publishers for use of a song used as background music for a movie, TV show, or commercial.
Print rights and royalties – This is a royalty paid to songwriters and publishers based on sales of printed sheet music.
In addition to these royalties, the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 brought about yet another royalty payment for songwriters and performers. This act requires that the manufacturers of digital audio recording devices and the manufacturers of blank recording media (blank cassette tapes, blank CDs, blank DVDs, etc.) pay a percentage of their sales price to the Register of Copyrights to make up for loss of sales due to the possible unauthorized copying of music. There are two funds set up where this money is funneled. One is the Sound Recording Fund, which receives two-thirds of the money. This money goes to the recording artist and record company. The other fund is the Musical Works Fund, which receives the remaining one-third of the money to split 50/50 between the publisher and the songwriter.

Foreign Royalties

The licenses we mentioned above (mechanical, performance, synchronization, and print) are also issued for the use of U.S. copyrighted material in foreign countries. The foreign agents, or sub-publishers, are responsible for managing the licenses in their countries and paying royalties to the songwriter and U.S. publisher.

Royalty Pie

Let’s look at an overly simplified example of how the major players we’ve talked about work together to produce the music you hear on the radio, buy on CDs, or download (legally) from the Internet.

A songwriter writes the lyrics and melody for a song. The songwriter records that song in his basement and sends the tape to the Library of Congress to register the copyright. Even though he knows it is automatically copyrighted when he set it in a fixed form (put it on paper and/or recorded it), he is registering it because he’s sure this song has the makings of a hit, and he wants to head off any infringement problems up front.

Now, although this songwriter has recorded his own vocal version of the song, he’s humble enough to know that it probably won’t go very far with his voice croaking it out. In walks the publisher. Our songwriter signs a single-song agreement with a publisher who will pitch the song to the record labels. Publishers are in the business of finding and exploiting new music by issuing mechanical licenses to recording companies or others who want to use the song in some fashion. In exchange for this “administration,” the publisher gets 50% of the mechanical royalties for each recording sold (minus several things they have to pay for first, which we’ll talk about in the next section).

Let’s say that a major record label likes the song and has the perfect recording artist to sing it. They fill out a mechanical license agreement through the Harry Fox Agency and obtain rights to record the song. The song is recorded and is promoted heavily. It becomes a hit. Now, who is making money? The songwriter and publisher split mechanical royalties 50/50 for each recording sold, and the recording artist also gets a mechanical royalty for each recording sold (although that deal is set up differently).

In addition to the mechanical royalties, however, our songwriter and publisher are also paid performance royalties, which means they make money based on how often the song is played on the radio, in restaurants or bars, or in other types of broadcasts. These royalties are monitored, collected, and paid out by a performing rights organization like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC; our artist is paid by the organization with which he registered the song. For subscription digital “performances,” the recording artist now gets paid royalties as well.

Now, let’s say that a movie producer is working on a new movie and wants to use the song in a scene. Now the song is moving into the realm of synchronization royalties (where music is used in conjunction with video). When a songwriter’s work is synched with a scene in a movie, played over the credits at the end of a movie, or used in a television show or commercial, the songwriter and publisher are paid a negotiated fee to use the song in the movie as well as performance royalties when the movie is shown on TV or in theaters in foreign countries. If the movie uses the specific recording of your song (known as a “master”) made by the artist who made the song famous, then that artist will receive a regular royalty percentage from the fee the movie company negotiates with the record company as well as mechanical royalties if there is a movie soundtrack produced. The songwriter and publisher will also receive mechanical royalties from sales of a soundtrack.

So as you can see, a lot of people are making money off of our songwriter’s creative efforts.

Mechanical Royalties
Record companies and recording artists, as well as the writers and publishers, all make money based on the sale of recordings of their songs. How those royalties are calculated, however, is about as intricate and controversial as everything else in the music industry.

Writer/publisher mechanical royalties

First, there is the calculation of mechanical royalties for writers and publishers. These royalties are paid by the record company to the publisher. The publisher then pays the writer a share of the royalty (typically split 50/50).

In the United States, the royalties are based on a “statutory rate” set by the U.S. Congress. This rate is increased to follow changes in the economy, usually based on the Consumer Price Index. Currently, the statutory rate is $.08 for songs five minutes or less in length or $.0155 per minute for songs that are over five minutes long. So, for example, a song that is eight minutes long would earn $.124 for each recording sold.

As in most areas in the business world, however, there is room for negotiation. It is not uncommon — in fact, it is more the norm — for record companies to negotiate a deal to pay only 75% of the statutory rate, particularly when the writer is also the recording artist. (See the “Controlled Composition Clause” below.) Although there is a statutory rate, there is no law against negotiating a deal for a lower one. Sometimes it is in the best interest of all parties to agree to a lower rate.

Recording-artist mechanical royalties

Recording-artist royalties (and contracts) are extremely complex and a hotbed of debate in the music world. From the outside, the calculation appears fairly simple. Artists are paid royalties usually somewhere between 8% and 25% of the suggested retail price of the recording. Exactly where it falls depends on the clout of the artist (a brand new artist might receive less than a well-known artist). From this percentage, a 25% deduction for packaging is taken out (even though packaging rarely costs 25% of the total price of the CD or cassette).

That sounds simple enough, but there are many more issues that affect what a recording artist actually makes in royalties.

Free goods – Recording artists only earn royalties on the actual number of recordings sold — not those that are given away free as promotions. Rather than discounting the price to distributors, many record companies give a certain number away for free (about 5% to 10% depending on the artist). Recording companies also give away many copies to radio stations as “promo” copies. There is also a reduction in royalties made for copies of the recording sold through record clubs.
Return privilege – Recordings in the form of CDs or cassettes have a 100% return privilege. This means that record stores don’t have to worry about being stuck with records they can’t sell. Most other businesses don’t work this way, but the music industry has to be more flexible and timed to demand. What’s hot today may be forgotten tomorrow… This leads us to reserves. The recording company may hold back a portion of the artist’s royalties for reserves that are returned from record stores. (Usually about 35% is held back.)
90% – Back in the days of vinyl records, there was a lot of breakage when record albums were shipped out for distribution. Because of this, recording companies only paid artists based on 90% of the shipment, assuming that 10% would be broken. Even as vinyl was phased out, this practice continued. Today it is gone for the most part, but there are still a few holdouts.
So, here is how it looks so far. Let’s say a CD sells for $15. Right away we deduct 25% from that for packaging, which makes the royalty base $11.25. Now let’s say our artist has a 10% royalty rate and that his CD sells one million copies. That sounds great! The artist would earn $1,125,000! Except 10% of those were actually freebies, so we really have to calculate that royalty based on 900,000, which makes the royalty $1,012,500, and of course, there are few costs we haven’t talked about yet.

Advances and recoupment

Typically, when recording artists sign a recording contract or record a song (or album), the record company pays them an advance that must be paid back out of their royalties. This is called recoupment. In addition to paying back their advance, however, recording artists are usually required under their contract to pay for many other expenses. These recoupable expenses usually include recording costs, promotional and marketing costs, tour costs and music video production costs, as well as other expenses. The record company is making the upfront investment and taking the risk, but the artist eventually ends up paying for most of the costs. While all of this can be negotiated up front, it tends to be the norm that the artists pay for the bulk of expenses out of their royalties.

Let’s see what these recoupable expenses do to our artist’s $1,012,500 royalty we calculated earlier. Suppose the recording costs were $300,000 (100% recoupable), promotion costs were $200,000 (100% recoupable), tour costs were $200,000 (50% recoupable), and a music video cost $400,000 (50% recoupable). That comes out to:

$300,000 + $200,000 + $100,000 + $200,000 = $800,000

Suddenly our artist isn’t making a million plus, he’s making $212,500. But don’t forget there is also a manager to be paid (usually 20%), as well as a producer and possibly several band members. The artist won’t see any royalty money until all of these expenses are paid.

Controlled-composition clause
So far, it sounds like the money isn’t in making the music, it’s in writing it. While this is a true statement, controlled-composition clauses make it less fair to folks who are both the songwriter and recording artist of a song.

They’re BROKE?

Multiplatinum artists like TLC and Toni Braxton have been forced to declare bankruptcy because their recording contracts didn’t pay them enough to survive.

Florence Ballard from The Supremes was on welfare when she died.

Collective Soul earned almost no money from “Shine,” one of the biggest alternative rock hits of the ’90s, when Atlantic Records paid almost all of their royalties to an outside production company.

Country music legend Merle Haggard, with 37 top-10 country singles (including 23 #1 hits), never received a record royalty check until he released an album on the indie punk-rock label Epitaph.

Source: Courtney Love’s letter to recording artists

A controlled composition is a song that has been written and/or is owned by the recording artist. Because mechanical royalties paid to songwriters and publishers are not recoupable by the record company, meaning the record company can’t deduct any expenses from them, record companies usually negotiate into the singer/songwriter’s contract that the mechanical royalty rate he will receive as the songwriter/publisher will be 75% of the usual amount. In other words, as the writer of a song you record yourself, you get 25% less royalty money than you would get for writing a song that someone else records. But you’ll get performance royalties when the song is played on the radio, TV, etc.

Internet royalties
With the explosion of the Internet and the ease of downloading music onto your computer, a whole new royalty arena has opened up in recent years. Record companies usually treat downloads as “new media/technology,” which means they can reduce the royalty by 20% to 50%. This means that rather than paying artists a 10% royalty on recording sales, they can pay them a 5% to 8% rate when their song is downloaded from the Internet. In the case of downloaded music, although there is no packaging expense, many record company contracts still state that the 25% packaging fee will be deducted.

An alternative to this royalty payment method also exists for Internet music sales. While it is most often used by Internet record labels, it may still catch on as recording artists begin to push harder for it in their contracts. This other method creates an equal split of the net dollars made on music downloads between the record label and the artist. This net figure is arrived at after the costs have been deducted, including costs of the sale, digital rights management costs, bandwidth fees, transaction fees, mechanical royalties to songwriters/publishers, marketing costs, etc.

Performance Royalties

.nicofiends. during a recording session at Osceola Recording Studios. How are performance royalties tracked and calculated? Remember that performance royalties are tracked and paid out by the performance rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and SoundExchange.

The royalty trail begins when the song is registered with one of the three performing rights organizations mentioned above. Once a song is registered, it becomes part of that PRO’s collection and is available to all of its users. Most of those users have a “blanket license” to use any or all of the PRO’s music, however some users license on a per program basis and only pay for the music they actually use. (This is good for users who don’t use that much music.) The PROs deduct money for their operating expenses and the rest goes to the songwriters and publishers.

PRO customers include just about anyone who plays music in a public place — even those who play “hold” music for their business. These include television networks, cable television stations, radio stations, background music services like MUZAK, colleges and universities, concert presenters, symphony orchestras, Web sites, bars, restaurants, hotels, theme parks, skating rinks, bowling alleys, circuses, you name it — if they play music, they have to have a license and pay royalties.

Tracking the playlists

The difficult thing to imagine in all of this is how these organizations track all of that music to get an accurate record of how much royalty money needs to be paid to which songwriters and publishers. Each of the PROs use a slightly different system for calculations; we’ll use the ASCAP system as an example. ASCAP uses two methods for determining performances: it either counts them or does a sample survey.

For television performances, ASCAP depends on cue sheets that program producers provide them, as well as program schedules, network and station logs, and even tapes of the broadcasts. ASCAP developed its own computer program to help studios and program producers report performances.

For radio performances, ASCAP does a sample survey of all radio stations, including college stations and public radio. To do this, it uses a digital tracking system, station logs provided by the radio stations, and recordings of the actual broadcasts.

For live performances, ASCAP reviews set lists provided by concert promoters, performing artists, and others. In the case of symphony performance information, the printed programs are submitted.

Licensed Internet sites, circuses, theme parks, etc. provide ASCAP with their own music use data.

Others that use music, like restaurants and bars, are not surveyed and simply pay a flat rate that is distributed based on trends in local radio stations (based on the type of music).

Show me the money!

ASCAP’s royalty calculations are based on a system of credits. Here is an example of how the money is calculated based on the ASCAP system.

First, some general information: ASCAP weights different factors in order to come up with a song’s total “credits” and a fair royalty calculation. For example, the song is weighted based on the type of performance (theme, underscore, or promotional); this is known as the use weight. A song that is featured and sung by a recording artist on TV or radio gets more weight than one that was played as background music during a radio commercial. The licensee (radio station, TV station, etc.) is weighted based on its licensing fee, which in turn is based on the licensee’s markets and number of stations carrying its broadcast signal. There is a weight applied to the time of day the music is performed (particularly in television). Music played during peak view/listener times receives more weight.

ASCAP also uses a follow the dollar factor, which means that songwriters and publishers are paid based on the medium from which the money came. For example, money paid out from radio stations is paid for radio performances. A general licensing allocation is figured for fees that ASCAP collects from bars, hotels and other non-broadcast licensees. These fees are distributed to songwriters and publishers based on similar radio and TV broadcasts of the individual songs. In other words, they estimate that restaurants and bars are playing the songs at a similar rate as the local radio and TV stations.

Here is an example of the calculation that ASCAP uses to determine the number of credits a song title has:

Use weight
Licensee weight
“Follow the dollar” weight
“Time of day” weight
“General licensing allocation”
Any radio feature premium credits (bonus credits for top played songs that reach a specific threshold within a quarter)
Total number of credits

The total number of credits is multiplied by the shares for the song (how the royalties are split between writers and publishers). This number is multiplied by the credit value for the song. The value of one credit (credit value) is arrived at by dividing the total number of credits for all writers and publishers by the total amount of money available for distribution for that quarter. For example, if there are a total of 10 million credits for a quarter, and there have been 35 million dollars collected for distribution that quarter, then the value of one credit for that quarter is $3.50.

The final number is the royalty payment. Here is how it works:

4,000 Credits
50% (.5) Share
$3.50 Credit Value
$7,000 Royalty payment

Royalty payments are made quarterly.

These calculations are quite difficult and vary somewhat between each of the three PROs. Visit their Web sites (links are the end of this article) for additional information on how these royalty payments are calculated.

Internet royalties

For Webcasts and other digital performances, SoundExchange was formed to collect and distribute those performance royalties. Just as in traditional media, broadcasters of digital performances of music must pay royalties to the songwriters and publishers of the music they play. Because of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, however, they must also pay royalties to the recording artists. SoundExchange collects electronic play logs from cable and satellite subscription services, non-interactive webcasters, and satellite radio stations. They then distribute the royalty payments directly to artists and recording copyright owners (usually record labels) based on those logs.



Article: What Are the Performing Rights Organizations Doing To Protect Songwriters and Musicians? by Walter McDonough

The New Digital and International Marketplaces

The last few years have been a roller coaster ride for the music industry. As stories have moved from Arts & Entertainment to the Business sections of major media outlets, the public has become aware of the new realities facing the industry. Whether it’s the challenge of the internet, or increasing globalization, everything seems to be up for grabs. Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) have been at the center of a lot of these controversies. Although most musicians and songwriters are familiar with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, what do these organizations do and how are they positioning themselves and their clients for the future? Another problem that needs to be addressed is whether America’s different approach to the collection of performance royalties will create opportunities for organizations to collect new royalties that heretofore did not exist or were somehow unavailable.

The best place to start looking for answers to these questions is in copyright law. United States copyright law protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works. In music, two distinct copyrights prevail, the first protects the sound recording, the recorded performance (sometimes called the master), and the second protects the underlying musical composition, (i.e. the actual work being performed). One other important right that US law gives to copyright holders governs public performance. When someone plays your music publicly, they must license the use of that music or they would be committing an unsanctioned use of the work (i.e. copyright infringement). Potential licensees would include radio and television stations, nightclubs, or other venues where music is played such as concert halls, sports venues, and even restaurants. In America, this right is only available to songwriters and their designees who control or administer their music compositions.
Because of broadcasting industry opposition, the US enjoys no such thing as a performance right for sound recordings in traditional analog or non-digital transmissions, although this right is common in most of the world. So when you hear your favorite songs on the radio or television in America, the songwriters are eligible to receive performance royalties but not the musicians, producers, or record companies who were instrumental in the recorded performance of that particular song. For songwriters, one of the most compelling aspects of PROs is the so-called writer/publisher split. Even if a songwriter has entered into an agreement with a music publisher, he or she can never theoretically receive less that 50% of the performance royalties that their songs have earned. The PROs then pay royalties directly to writers after they deduct their overhead, known as administrative fees.

Because it would be a virtual nightmare of transaction costs for individual licensees to attempt to license musical compositions from all of the songwriters, there exists an economic need for central clearinghouses to administer this process. This is the purpose of ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC who compete with each other to attract songwriters. This is in contrast with the rest of the world where one organization always represents the interests of all songwriters, composers, and publishers for an entire country. In Canada, for example, the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) is the sole PRO for all parties. ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC charge licensees who want to perform music publicly “blanket licenses” that cover the fees associated with the use of the songs written by the songwriters that they each represent. Blanket fees can be based on a flat fee, the number of subscribers, gross revenues, net receipts, or any number of criteria that pertain to the entity paying the blanket license.
Sometimes, PROs issue more specific licenses predicated on the use of music used in specific programs. Traditionally, radio and television broadcasters have paid the overwhelming majority of the blanket licenses but what are the PROs doing to seek additional income from new sources? With new media players like internet webcasters and satellite radio poised to take a larger share of the broadcasting pie, what are the PROs doing to face the volatility created by a potential paradigm shift in the way that Americans listen to music? Without addressing the issues of which PRO is best, or how one becomes a member, it’s important to look at what each one is doing to solve these concerns.

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is the oldest and largest of the three organizations. Founded in 1914, ASCAP is a nonprofit organization that currently has 120,000 composers, songwriters, and publishers as members. In 2000, it collected almost $440,000,000 with a 15.6% administrative fee. ASCAP has traditionally earned more money overseas than the other two American PROs. It also has been aggressive in enforcing the rights of its members and seeking new income domestically as well. In the past year, ASCAP increased its members’ income by settling a royalty dispute case with Viacom and its cable networks MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET, Nick at Nite, TNN, CMT, TV Land, MTV2, Showtime, and the Sundance Channel. ASCAP has also been highly aware of how the Internet and new digital uses of music will impact the performance rights of it members.

Besides attempting to facilitate the licensing of music on the Internet, ASCAP also announced that it will work with International mobile services company, Sonera zed US, Inc., to license ring tones based on the musical compositions of its members. In one stroke, ASCAP demonstrated that it could face the challenges posed by both the digitization and globalization of music.

Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) is another nonprofit that was started in 1940. It currently represents 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. In 2000, it collected close to $407,000,000 with an administrative fee of 16.6%. During the past year, BMI has protected its core income by negotiating new agreements with ABC, CBS, NBC, and the National Cable Television Association. At the same time, however, it broke new ground by singing agreements with MSN and Yahoo thereby recognizing the significance of these new media. BMI also entered into an interim license agreement for radio stations streaming their over-the-air broadcast signals on the Internet.

On the international front, BMI has entered into a joint venture with PROs from Germany, France, Spain, and Italy to build a collective database that would share data and expedite payments to songwriters from country to country.

The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) was founded in 1930 and was first dedicated to collecting on behalf of, European composers. Unlike ASCAP or BMI, SESAC is a private, for-profit company that does not publish its gross revenues or administrative fees. Although much smaller than the two other American PROs, SESAC is a niche player with special expertise in college and religious radio as well as television scores and episodic music. As a for-profit organization, it has an incentive to seek out all possible income for affiliated songwriters. SESAC has been a pioneer in implementing technological solutions to maximizing income from traditional sources and it has taken this expertise into the digital and international realms.

Without question, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC have militantly fought against the post-Napster progeny. They have also worked with mechanical licensing organizations, particularly the Harry Fox subsidiary of the National Music Publishers Association, to resolve the issues surrounding licensing music on-line. But one of the major ironies of the past few years may be that while our national media was transfixed on Napster, a whole host of international issues were being created that, ten years from now, will probably seem, in retrospect, more important.

The three PROs are all working diligently on the international front. All three are members of the Confederation of International Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), the umbrella organization that represents all of the world’s PROs and their affiliated organizations. CISAC is working towards a common system of song identification that would utilize shared databases and tracking to help accelerate payment of performance royalties internationally. But the knowledge gained by this international collaboration has made US organizations realize that the next great challenge may be to navigate the uncharted waters of conflicts between American and international copyright law.

A case in point is the controversy surrounding the Fairness in Music Licensing Act. Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, this bill in 1998. Despite protest from the music industry, particularly the PROs, the purpose of the bill was to exempt restaurants that are smaller than 3,750 gross square feet, and retailers smaller than 2,000 gross square feet, from paying performance royalties for their use of radio and TV music. During debate over this legislation, many commentators noted that the bill would put the US in conflict with existing international treaties regarding copyright law. But this didn’t stop Congress, and the President, from caving into pressure from special interest groups — namely the restaurant industry — and passing such a law.

The Republic of Ireland’s PRO, the (Irish Music Rights Organization (IMRO), filed suit with the World Trade Organization claiming that the Fairness in Music Licensing Act did just that. The WTO eventually determined that the law was, in fact, such a violation, and ruled that the US would have to compensate European songwriters and publishers financially for lost income in the US.

In December 2001, the US and the European Economic Community (EEC) agreed to a settlement under which our country will pay to subsidize efforts to promote the work of European composers. So, although American songwriters, composers, and music publishers will continue to feel the impact of lessened performance royalties due to the Fairness in Music Licensing Act, the US government is going to use taxpayer dollars to underwrite the promotion of foreign interests. This has obviously been a rallying point for the PROs and their constituency. But it also shows that the combined legislative and political efforts of ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC may be the most important thing that they are doing to protect songwriters in order to prevent anti-music business legislation from being passed in the Unites States.

Finally, although it’s still true that there are no such royalties for music played on traditional “terrestrial” radio in this country, such rights now exist for music that is digitally transmitted. In 1995, the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act was signed into law. For the first time, sound recording copyright owners would be given performance rights for music that is transmitted digitally.

For all intents and purposes, let’s say this will apply to the performance of music on the internet and through the emerging satellite music broadcasting industry. Over the next few decades, such new forms of media could replace traditional radio. This raises the question of who will collect what could be a potentially great source of performance income? The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) originally planned to start its own PRO called Sound Exchange to collect such monies. But this created debate when the RIAA resisted the idea of the writer/publisher split being put into effect for the payments of digital performance royalties for sound recordings. In other words, should a recording artist always receive a minimum share of these new royalties the same way that songwriters can never receive less than 50% of their performance royalties? Recently, the RIAA issued a joint statement with the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the International Music Managers Forum, the Recording Artists Coalition, and the Future of Music Coalition agreeing to not only to adopt this policy but also, among other things, to elect a board to govern Sound Exchange that will be equally comprised of recording artist and record label representatives. This is a major victory for recording artists.

Although these are complex issues, what remains clear is that the PROs have shown that they have consistently tried to meet the challenges in this new highly digitized and globalized music marketplace to insure that the creative community will not be pushed aside.



Article: Hip Hop tattoo storm lead to screaming tattoo craze by ader zhang

Hip hop tattoos lead to a big part of today’s screaming tattoo craze that is spreading among teenagers and youngsters of the hip hop addicts. The main reason why Hip hop tattoo becomes the world top fashion craze trend is that these tattoos are sported by many famous celebrities in the pop music industry. Youngsters copy the tattoos made on the body of their favorite rappers and hip hop artists. Some wear these tattoos just for the sake of fashion, whereas others have a specific meaning related to their tattoos.

However, in the past time when the Rock & Roll occupied the whole world music field, hip hop was not appreciated by tattoo craze .Some people claim tattoos are being marketed primarily to a white Rock & Roll generation. Hip hop and R&B artists – from 50 Cent to Eminem – have donned elaborate, detailed and beautiful tattoos even though tattoos are primarily associated with rock and bikers.

Then later, more and more contemporary musicians from heavy metal bands to hip hop artists and R&B artists have all gotten in on the act ; more and more people are getting tattoos simply because they idolize certain rappers or R&B artists. Once there is an famous tattoo artist said, “people want tattoos because they see them on rappers and R&B artists and figure it will look as good on them”.

While famous tattoos on Hollywood starlets are undeniably hot, we suspect there may be more meaning on the tattooed rappers strutting down the same streets. Check out the top ten most important tattoos in rap music.

50 Cent

50’s back tattoo is clear evidence of the over-the-top opinion he has of himself. He has his moniker tattooed the size of a Jansport backpack covering his entire back. This tattoo design appropriately fits a guy who just wants to get rich or die tryin’.

The Game has an LA tattoo just below his right eye, and if you actually listen to any of his music for about two minutes

Lil Wayne
Face with “Fear God” on his eyelids and a “C” in between his eyes which is the first letter of his last name and the first letter of his mothers name, Cita. It could also be “of” which would make “Fear of God”.

30 years from now, no other rapper’s lyrics will be studied more than the words put forth by Marshall Mathers. His words terrified the masses, and his exit from the game has left most fans and critics puzzled and yearning for more material. The reason for his absence can be seen on his right shoulder. There, you can find a picture of his beautiful little girl, Hayley Jade outlined with roses.

One of the things that Eve is best known for outside of her music is for the set of paw print tattoos placed unconventionally, and prominently, on both breasts.

Tattooing is becoming as much a part of hip-hop culture which is in turn slowly becoming part of mainstream culture and the MTV generation. Definitely, it will lead to the demise of negative stereotypes associated with both tattoos and hip hop culture.




The Music Industry is not dead! People just want to hear good music instead of the one dimensional form of music they’re being force fed..
Presently The American Real Estate industry is in dire straits. The Real estate industry has been flooded with an inferior product namely sub prime loans, which has resulted into a myriad of foreclosures and declining home values.

The phenomenon with in the Real Estate industry can be paralleled with the Music industry. The music industry is also in dire straits. This is especially the case for Rap music sales. Like the real estate industry, the music industry is being flooded with sub par product. Unfortunately for the music-buying public, the level of artistic quality inherent in the overall group of artists signed to major labels appears to be in a steep decline.

The major music companies have become publicly-owned mega-corporations that have abandoned artist development for bottom line, short-term financial results. The major labels are no longer in the business of producing music; Selling CDs is the primary mission. The hit driven majors have put quantity over quality. Nowadays, you don’t necessarily have to be a talented artist or musician to be successful. Hype or promotion can make a marginal artist appear to be talented. “The artist” has become a brand that is owned and operated by the label. The corporate labels have formulated a bland, one-dimensional form of Hip-hop to control and streamline their products and services.

The end result is consumer attrition or a declining consumer base. Music consumers have come to expect 1 or maybe 2 good songs on an album. Hence, they would rather illegally download a song or buy a bootleg of the album. In the past, rap music was something you heard and experienced – it was as much a social event as a purely musical one. Many Hip Hop fans are tired of the disposability of modern rap music . They want music with some substance and a product, which is free from the shackles of blind commercialism.The majority of today’s rap music lacks any social commentary.

(Moreover, If record sales continue to decline, the new paradigm will involve giving away music for free & revenue will be derived from sponsorships.)

In 2008, More than 115,000 albums were released, but only 110 sold more than 250,000 copies, a mere 1,500 topped 10,000 sales, and fewer than 6,000 cracked the 1,000 barrier -It increasingly appears that recordings will be more like advertisements for opportunities that actually do make money: live performances, merchandise, licensing to movies, commercials and video games, ring tones, etc.

What must be done to turn the music industry around:

1. Better Customer Service

In just about every other industry, the customer comes first. It is imperative that the major labels focus on customer service and give music consumers more options. In the case of urban music, there is a lot of quality Hip hop & R&B that is not being heard.The majors must let the consumers determine what is a “hit” song. This can be accomplished via contests, give aways, and marketing surveys. .The Music Industry is not dead! People just want to hear good music instead of the one dimensional form of music they’re being force fed..

2. Institute Creative Quality Control Measures as it relates to music releases.

There is a lost art of true musicianship and feeling for the music. The heart felt lyrics which were common place in the 50′s and 60′s are largely absent in today’s music market. Creative quality control is missing. There must be an emphasis on creating better crafted songs. The creative control must even extend to record stores and distributors. Record stores rarely listen to music placed there. They don’t care what the album sounds like; they only care if it sells.

3. Hire True Music Lovers:

Currently, the record labels are saturated with number crunchers who hide behind computers. The music industry is being ran by accountants and lawyers. The record labels must go back to hiring true music lovers and creative thinkers who are willing to take calculated risks.

4. Break the Radio Monopoly

The music industry is too radio driven. In the past radio stations were staffed with actual human DJs who played music they believed in. However, over the years the “true Dj’s” were replaced by personality jocks who push a button to start some Clear Channel playlist. The majors must abandon the payola system and work with grass roots organizations to bring diversity to the airwaves.

5. Embrace Technology

There is no doubt that the music industry must now embrace technology, because this is the only way that the existing industry leaders can stay competitive in the future. The rest of the world has changed and adapted – and the music industry must now step up and do the same.

6. Emphasize fair Dealing with Artists they Sign

The major record labels appear to be more interested in complete cost recoupment rather than fair dealing. And in an act of desperation, the majors have implemented 360 deals, whereby they will receive a cut of the artist’s merchandise, tours, CD sales, endorsements, etc.

The record company bankrolls the recording and handles the manufacturing, distribution, press, and promotion. The artist gets a royalty percentage after all those other costs are repaid. The label, in this scenario, owns the copyright to the recording.
Since artists share the costs of making the album, because these costs are recoupable from their royalties, they should also have joint ownership of the masters at some point.

7. Change Business Structure

The Record labels should move away from the CD format. The labels should move to an 80% digital distribution format, which will eliminate manufacturing costs. And as a result, they can pass the savings on to the consumers in terms of lower prices.

Obviously, the cost of these services, along with the record company’s overhead, accounts for a big part of CD prices. You, the buyer, are paying for all those trucks, those CD plants, those warehouses, and all that plastic. Theoretically, as many of these costs go away, they should no longer be charged to the consumer – or the artist.

The labels should only manufacture a limited number of special edition CD’s/DVD to be sold at concerts only. These special edition CD’s/DVD’s will contain bonus songs and behind the scenes footage of the artists. The price of the concert should include the cost of the CD/DVD, to ensure that each concert goer receives the special edition CD/DVD

Written By Jesse Atkinson. CEO of Urban Threshold Enterprises Inc. and Founder of The A&R Power Summit (www.TheARPowerSummit.com) and The Annual Underground Music Awards (www.UndergroundMusicAwards.com)



Industry Tips & Advice: 5 Tips On Better Branding For Aspiring Hip Hop Artists >> Industry Rule #4080

Often a Brand is a associated with a companies logo like the red and blue circle for Pepsi. But a brand is more than just a logo , when it comes to music it is the unified image you want to present to the world . It includes your public persona , your logo, a mascot if you have one, your press photos, and can include many other things. The important concept to remember in branding is to present a continuous and constant unified picture to the world of who you are and what you represent, to improve the chances that people will remember you. Below are 5 tips for building a better brand.

1. Develop a logo early in your career . have a professional Graphic designer do this for you. Stick with the same logo . if you change your logo often people will not remember you and that is the whole point of branding .

2. Be creative and think of gimmicks that people will remember . God examples would be T-Pain‘s top hat or the Roc’s Dynasty sign.

3. use a consistent color scheme and fonts. Using the same fonts and colors for your posters ,flyers, cd covers, and everything you use for promotion builds redundancy and will make you more recognizable and memorable.

4. If you dont have one consider adding a mascot. I know you dont think of mascots for Hip Hop but they are actually incorporated in a lot of memorable marketing campaigns . Think about how Kanye West used the Teddy Bear , or How Redman use to have the cartoonish Reggie character in the costume. Even Rick Ross‘s gold chains featuring his likeness is sort of a mascot.

5. Incorporate your website and social links into all your online and print communications. This will help people remember how to find you.

I hope this info was informative and if any of you have ideas for building better brands comment and share them I would love to share your ideas and comments in my book “Hustlin 101 : How to Make a Career in Hip Hop Without a Major Deal” which will be complete later this year.



Industry Tips & Advice: How to Pick the Right Manager For Your Music Career by Bobby Borg

IN THE CLASSIC CONCERT FILM The Song Remains The Same, there’s a famous scene where Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant, a 270 pound former wrestler from East London, is backstage screaming at one of the promoters at Madison Square Garden. Needless to say, the promoter is backed in a corner and shaking in his boots! Many artists may think that an intimidating personal manager is exactly what they need. But Jeffrey Jampol, who has managed artists such as Tal Bachman says, “The days of the Peter Grants in this business are over.” People in the music industry prefer to do business with nice guys.

A manager must be able to nurture and maintain numerous relationships while at the same time standing firm, being sensible, and demonstrating a strong knowledge of the business. (It’s a fine balance between ticking people off and not being a push-over.) If a manager walks into the record label and starts pounding desks, insisting that things get done his way, HE’S BOUND TO GET ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE!

So what are the most important qualities to look for in a manager? In addition to being powerful, well-connected, a good negotiator, enthusiastic, committed, and accessible, a good manager should be one who over-all inspires your TRUST AND RESPECT.

Trustworthiness is an incredibly important attribute to look for in a manager. Think about it, you’ve worked for so many years learning how to play your instrument and write your songs, and your band has been rehearsing and promoting its shows for years—AND NOW YOU’RE GOING TO TURN OVER A GREAT DEAL OF RESPONSIBILITY TO SOMEONE YOU BARELY KNOW! Sounds scary doesn’t it? Trust must be earned over time, but if a manager doesn’t at least show an initial caring, enthusiasm, and commitment for your dreams and passions, you may not have the right guy. Is your manager just interested in making a quick buck off of you—or perhaps just interested in having a romantic relationship? Seriously! You really need to follow your gut instinct on both these issues from day one.

I remember one very famous manager firmly saying to a group that he didn’t need to like or be passionate about their music in order to do business with them. Sounds rather insensitive, but because of his power and clout, the band decided to go ahead and work with him. As it turns out, the relationship ended in disaster. The band drove all the way across country in a van to perform a showcase, and the manager didn’t even show up—nor did any industry people! True story. Coincidently, after that, the manager didn’t even return the band’s phone calls. Nice! Perhaps he realized there was no quick buck to be made from the relationship? Who knows?

In similar situations, so many bands are promised that there’s a big tour or record contract right around the corner and that the labels are ready to ink the deal. One or two years later, the band is still playing the same dive clubs and are unsigned.

A manager can’t lie to his artists as some ploy to keep them under control, feel powerful, or to perhaps manipulate into a romantic relationship. Again, an initial feeling of genuine caring, enthusiasm, commitment, and over all trust is a major quality to look for in a personal manager. Without these traits, no matter how powerful and well connected the manager may be, you may end up with nothing more than a lot of broken promises.

A manager must also be someone that you can respect. We’re not just talking about the number of successful bands this individual has managed or how many gold and platinum records he has on the wall, we’re talking about morality and ethics. What does your manager really stand for? Is he/she well educated? Well groomed? Does he show a genuine loyalty to other business partners and associates? Does he show an interest in win-win relationships in other business ventures? Is he family-oriented? Does he do anything to give back to the community? Or is your manager all about making money and flash—big houses, expensive cars, and arm-piece girl friends at any expense? Is he a spoiled rich-kid or businessman who got into management to fulfill some show-biz fantasy? Is he a former drug dealer or dubious business person? Does he hang out and party twice as hard as you? Is he a bully? Hey, I’m not making these examples up! Surely, it’s not like you’re an angel looking for a saint, but overall a manager must maintain a level of authority and respect and perhaps even be somewhat of a father figure to you. Many bands, not that they’ll always admit it, want someone they know they can look up to and feel protected by. They want both someone who’s going to take them under their wing and keep everything under control—a super hero who can do no wrong, and someone who knows how to be down to earth and admit that they don’t have an answer to a particular situation.

Of course, you may initially be impressed with someone who makes a lot of noise, blows a lot of smoke, wines and dines you, and flexes a lot of muscle—but are you really going to trust your whole career to guy like this?

A manager must be secure, grounded, firm, confident, educated, and well respected—far above all the bells and whistles and shallow surface stuff discussed above. Without these positive and respectful attributes, your only building a relationship in a personal manager that is doomed to eventually fail!

Keep that in mind as you pursue your dreams.



Industry Tips & Advice: Money-making Music Strategies for Indie Artists by Jeffrey Fisher

I’m always amazed how many creative people ignore their need to invest for the future. Now my particular idea of investing goes way beyond merely saving money and depositing for growth in a bank, stock, bond, mutual fund, etc. (I’ll get to that in a moment). While I know that form of investing is crucial to real success as a music professional, there are a few other forms of investment to consider.

Since I advocate running your career as a business, the first place to invest is in your business. That doesn’t mean running out a grabbing more gear. The best place to invest in your business is making it grow. That probably means adding music products and services and also spending resources to promote them. The next pace to invest is in your relationships, both business and personal. Nobody achieves success in a vacuum. You depend on people to help you achieve. Today is the perfect day to start building those crucial relationships. Lastly, always invest in yourself. Make yourself a better person by mastering new skills and savoring new experiences. Making all these forms of investment a part of your daily life is the true path to success in your life.

Now the real money stuff …

Let’s say your humble music business pays you $50 a month, $600 a year. You would need $10,000 in the bank earning 6% interest to make the same $600 bucks in one year. It can be hard to save $10,000. Even socking away $100 a month takes 6.8 years. If your business nets you just $100 a month and you sweep it into an investment paying 6% a year, you will have your $10,000 in 6.8 years. That same $10,000 will now pay you $50 a month without further intervention on your part. You’ve accumulated a capital base that pays you a dividend of $600 each year. Add that to your $100 from your business and in less than seven years your business and investments make $150 each and every month.

Now nobody is going to get rich on $150 a month.

You are missing my point. It is the combination of earning, saving, and investing that creates a moneymaking music machine for you. You just need to make some money from your music, save it, invest regularly, and watch it grow. Take the same figures from above and multiply them by 10. Can you use your music career to make $1000 a month? Can you in turn save that amount? In the same 6.8 years you will have $100,000 paying you a whopping $6000 a year in interest. That’s $500 a month without touching the original 100-grand.

What choices do you have to make right now to allow yourself to both earn money from your music, save a sizable chunk of it, invest it, and ultimately reap the benefits of all your hard work?

One final thought: Spending some money can help you generate even more money. For example: Spend $25 on my “Moneymaking Music” book. Use the information you learn in my book to land gigs that pay you $750. You’ve earned a startlingly 30 times return on your modest 25 buck investment. You’d have to sock a whopping $10,000 in an investment paying 7.5% to get the same cash return.

Now you tell me: which is the wiser, more prudent investment? :)

I firmly believe that intelligent investing in yourself in a careful, controlled, and cohesive manner will often yield larger dividends than simply plopping the same cash in your savings account. Make sure you keep your perspective, though. Don’t become either a miser or a spendthrift. Yet when an expenditure helps you create more success (and more money), you might be better off to write the check.



Industry Tips & Advice: Why Serious Artists Treat Their Bands As Businesses by Bobby Borg

BEING IN A BAND is no different than being part of a professional sports team; a group of individuals united in achieving a common goal—each person playing a unique and integral part in achieving a dream. The motto—at least in theory—being, “All for one and one for all.”

But unlike the professional sports world, where athletes must meet extremely high standards before getting into a draft and being picked by a team, young bands often form with little more consideration than just being friends or sharing similar musical tastes. Unfortunately this criteria is just not enough for a band to succeed. Personality differences as well as opposing views of how business matters should be handled eventually rear their ugly heads. The results: the band calls it quits, a member is unfairly kicked out, the group suffers setbacks due to member changes, or everyone gets entangled in an on-going legal battle between them. This fate can be avoided, however, if a band maps out a simple business plan from its inception, ensuring that every member has similar expectations and goals.

Though playing music is supposed to be fun, being in a band is a business just like any other, and it should never be treated as anything less.

The Personality Test

Before getting down to the legalities of running your band, it’s important to consider the personalities and goals of the people with whom you’re about to get involved. When everyone is excited and eager to get things rolling, character flaws and differences of opinion are often overlooked—but when problems are left to be dealt with later, they always come back to bite you on the you know what. By asking each member a few honest questions up front, a band will know whether or not proceeding in business is even worthwhile. Questions may include:

· Are you ready to work your ass off and treat the band as a serious business?
· Could you relocate to another city and commit to staying there for a few years?
· Are you able to hit the road for extended periods of time for little or no pay?
· Can you deal with traveling across country in a small passenger van in the dead of winter?
· If you have a girlfriend, how serious are you about getting married and starting a family?

The questions are endless, but don’t look at them as an interrogation! Think of them as a screening process to ensure that your proposed business venture is a fruitful and long-lasting endeavor. No matter how good the musicianship is in a band, if there are too many opposing opinions regarding how the band should be run, problems will eventually occur. The last thing you want to do is fire someone, have someone quit or for the band to break-up after spending several months or years building up your band.

Getting Down To Legalities

Once you’ve got all of your members in place, you need to have a written agreement defining the terms of your business relationship. This document, called a “band membership agreement,” compels a band to deal with important business issues before they become problems. The terms of the agreement should include language stipulating:

· How the band will make decisions (for example, by unanimous or majority vote)
· How income, such as record royalties, music publishing, concert money, and merchandising will be divided
· What happens to a member’s share of assets acquired by the group (such as equipment) when he or she quits or is voted out of the band
· How disputes will be resolved (in a court of law or outside of the courts)
· Who owns or controls the rights to the band name and its continued use

Not all members of a band may have an equal level of control or an equal share of the profits. Sometimes the founder, the lead singer, or the main songwriter of a group are the only members who own the rights to the band name, or who control the vote and have the final word in making business decisions. In any case, the record company may consider these individuals to be the “key members” or those most important to the functioning of the band. If a key member decides to leave and start his own solo project, the record company may exercise their contractual right to drop the band.


A band membership agreement won’t stop a band from running into conflicts or breaking up, but it will avert any misunderstandings or confusion regarding compensation and control. It is much easier to discuss business while a relationship is new and everyone is the best of friends. Though rock n’ roll is supposed to be about having fun and being care-free, it’s also a business. Bill Wyman, reflecting back on his years with The Rolling Stones said it best, “It’s only Rock n’ Roll.”

Hmmm. Is it really?



iNDUSTRY tIPS & aDVICE: 20 Things You NEED To Know About Working With A Record Producer by Bobby Borg

YOU CAN SPEND YEARS developing a distinctive sound and style before finally getting the opportunity to record your first album professionally. All the hard work you’ve put into creating a unique, original sound, however, may not be enough to create a successful record. Producing a great album is an art form in itself, and it requires the assistance of an experienced professional producer—a producer can actually make or break your career. The right collaboration can take you to creative places you never imagined, but the wrong one can be a nightmare whose implications are far-reaching. Understanding a few things about how to choose the right record producer can therefore be vital to your career!

Below are twenty important tips to consider when choosing your record producer. Logically, not every topic can apply to both “signed” and “unsigned” recording artists, so pick the points that best suit your needs.

1) Get “Mutual Selection”

When a record company signs a new artist to a recording agreement, it will initially insist on having the final say in choosing an experienced record producer. After all, the record company wants to ensure that they’re getting the best possible product for its investment, which can sometimes run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Attorney Jeff Cohen of Millen, White, Zelano, and Branigan, advises, ”Since it makes no sense to have you locked up in the studio with a producer you’re unhappy with, most new bands can usually have their attorney negotiate that the selection of the record producer be mutual. Without this stipulation, the following suggestions may otherwise be pointless!”

2) Interpret Your Needs

Before even thinking about looking for the right producer, be crystal clear as to what you’re expecting to get out of the relationship. Do you have a well defined vision of what you want your album to sound like—or are you going to rely completely on your producer’s thoughts and ideas? Are you a proficient vocalist and/or musician—or are you going to need a great deal of assistance getting the right performances on tape? Are you confident in your songwriting abilities—or are you going to need a producer to co-write and/or find outside songs? “These factors,” comments producer David Brownstein of Fish Hook Productions, “are going to help you narrow down your choices for finding the best producer for your needs. Every producer has their unique gifts and specialties. If you haven’t given the above questions some thought, now’s a good time to start.”

3) Make A Wish List

Once you understand what you’re looking for in a producer you can begin making a wish list of at least five people with whom you’d like to work. This especially proves useful in the likely case that your first-choice producer is unavailable, too expensive, or simply un-interested in working with you. If you’re an unsigned artist, your choices are obviously going to be limited to local producers and word-of-mouth recommendations. Start out by asking some of the best independent artists in your area where their albums were recorded, and then listen to the production of these recordings to see what you think for yourself. “If you’re a signed recording artist, begin your search by reading the liner notes on your favorite CDs or top 100 Billboard albums, and then add the producer’s names to your list,” suggests producer/musician Jay Gordon of Orgy. “Of course, you’ll also have the benefit of speaking with your A&R person who will have some very definite ideas about whom should produce your album.”

4) Get In Contact

Resources such as The A&R Registry or The Recording Industry Source Book provide contact numbers and addresses for hundreds of producers nation-wide which are extremely helpful to unsigned artists. Dave Darling, producer for Brian Setzer and Meredith Brooks suggests you contact one of the few producer/manager firms in Los Angeles such as Terry Lippman Management or Steve Moir. Signed recording artists can usually rely on their A & R persons to make first contact with their desired producers. The label will send out demo recordings, lyric sheets and biographical information. If the producer expresses an interest, the label will even invite him or her to one of your live performances.

5) Record A Demo

Demos are important, but the quality may not be as important as you think. Producer Tom Weir of Studio City Sound says, “Don’t worry about the quality of the demos you send to producers if you’re an unsigned artist. As long as you have decent songs and the money to compensate him or her for costs and services, your demos won’t be overly scrutinized.” As for signed recording artists; they usually send the same demos that got them a label deal; which are typically good quality. Nevertheless, producers aren’t just enticed by demo quality, it’s the buzz about the band in the industry, the support the record company appears to be giving the group, and the songs the band writes. Producer Jay Gordon adds, “The artist’s live performance is also crucial. Does the vocalist strain to reach certain notes? Is she singing in the key that best for her voice. It’s all these factors combined.”

6) Spend Time

Once a producer has expressed an interest in working with you, it is extremely important to meet with him or her to review songs and to get a vibe for whether or not you can successfully work together. Mikal Reid, producer for Ben Harper says, “It’s important that the artist gets a feeling of trust with a producer before ever choosing to work with him or her. Take the time to get to know your producer first so that there won’t be any surprises or conflicting situations in the studio later.”

7) Prepare Questions

When meeting with the producer, get a feel for whether or not he or she truly ”gets” your vision by preparing a list of questions. Nard Berings of Freshbeat Productions in Venice, CA suggests, “Ask him or her what type of record he imagines you making? Will it be a slick, well-produced commercial-sounding album with a lot of sequencers and samplings, or raw and in-your-face? Does the producer imagine your band recording together in one room to achieve a more “live” sounding record, or will the tracks be layered one musician at a time while using a click track?” Indie artist a girl named jaen concludes, “If there are too many opposing opinions regarding how your album should be recorded, you’ll know right then that he or she may not be right for you.” The last thing you want to do is to have the recording process turn sour mid-way through a project!”

8) Choose “Right” Before “Might”

Don’t just pick a producer based entirely on what he’s done, but rather on what he can do for you. Arif Mardin, who’s produced numerous artists including Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, Ani Chaka Chan, and Norah Jones, continues, “Surely, a producer with platinum records on his walls proves he has talent, but you don’t want to sound like his other hit artists; you want your record to be unique to you. That said, no matter how well-known a producer may be, never be intimidated to ask questions and voice your opinion when first meeting with him. Always remember that it’s your record you’re talking about, not the producer’s record.”

9) Check-out The Studio

Consider the vibe and technical aspects of the studio your producer suggests using by doing a walk-through. Arif Mardin stresses, “The studio is where the artist is going to live. The comfort level of the lounge, whether there are televisions, whether there’s a coffee maker, etc; are all important factors to making a good record. However, the artist must be willing to make compromises in these areas based on whether the studio sounds great, has great equipment, and is reasonably priced.” Producer Tom Weir adds these technical considerations: the size of room, the musical instruments available (Hammond B3, vintage drum kits), the recording gear (analog versus digital), the processing gear (i.e., the limiters and compressors which effect the sound and texture), and the collection of microphones. Lastly, make sure there’s a reliable source for which to back-up your digital recordings or otherwise they may be lost. No matter how good the studio may be, all systems eventually crash.”

10) Know Expectations

It’s not only important to discuss the things you expect to get out of your producer, but also what your producer expects to get out of you. Producer Dave Darling says one of the major expectations he has for his artists once they make a commitment to working with him, is that they maintain the highest level of trust. “I like to push my artists to reach new creative heights and to get recorded performances they never thought possible. It’s hard work but it has to stay fun at all times. A positive working attitude is a must.” Arif Mardin adds, “Artists must always be on time, make sure that their musical gear is well maintained, and, if they choose to partake in certain substances, to make sure that it’s not going to diminish their musical capabilities—or otherwise I’m out of there!”

11) Establish The Fee

The producer’s compensation varies depending on your career status and the producer’s expertise. If you’re an unsigned artist working with a local producer, the fees may consist of an hourly studio charge plus an additional charge for production. The exact rates you can expect to pay at this level of your career are actually difficult to nail down, but studios can cost anywhere from $20 an hour into the hundreds. The producer’s fee can range from $50 into the hundreds per track. If you’re willing to work off-peak studio hours from 12:00 AM to 8:00 AM, or if you have a flexible schedule and are willing to work sporadically (i.e., whenever the producer is free from working with other clientele and can fit you into his or her schedule), you may be able to negotiate a lower fee. Producer Tom Weir agrees that studio and production costs are an open market. “You simply have to do your research and make calls to get the best possible product to fit your economic means.”

12) Understand Recording Funds

Most new artists’ recording contracts are structured as “recording funds.” This means that out of the advances you negotiate in your recording agreement, all recording costs must be considered including the producer’s fee. The fees typically paid to a mid-level record producer can be as much as $50,000 for recording a full-length album, and up to $8,000 for a single master. (Superstar producers can get much more.) So, if you receive a recording fund of $300,000, almost all of this money is allocated to your recording budget with anything left over serving as your artist advance—there goes that new car you were going to buy once you got signed! And if that wasn’t shocking enough, out of that $300,000 fund, one hundred percent of it must be paid back from future record sales before you ever make one dime in royalties. Ninety Seven percent of all bands never recoup expenses.

13) Pay A Record Royalty?

Unsigned artists are typically not asked to pay a record royalty for sales—unless the producer is working dirt-cheap or for free in return for a piece of the future pie. Signed recording artists, however, will almost always be responsible for assigning a record royalty to the producer. Most recording deals are “all-in.” This means that out of the royalty rate you negotiate with your record company, the producer’s royalty must be considered. Mid-level producers can receive up to four percent. So, if your label offers you a royalty rate of 14 percent, and the desired producer for a project requires a royalty of four percent, you’re now left with a “net royalty rate” of 10 percent. So before writing home to your friends and family about the whopping 14 point royalty you have, remember that you must always consider the producer’s share first.

14) Sign A Production Deal?

The record producer may also be part of an actual production company. In other words, the production company will sign and develop you and record your demo, and then enter into a recording contract with a major record company on your behalf. The record company then pays the production company a royalty for sales of the album, and the production company in turn pays you around 50 percent of the money it receives. Entertainment attorney Stan Findelle warns, “The so-called production deal scenario, as loosely described above, is one of the most potentially dangerous to a young artist’s career. Here is the situation where your recording rights are sold for a pittance to a scoundrel with a label in his garage. The so-called producer can then wholesale you to a major label and keep most of the profit. Always make sure to TALK TO AN ATTORNEY before signing anything.”

15) Give-Up Publishing?

Whether or not your producer is entitled to publishing rights really depends on the capacity on which he or she is involved in the songwriting process. When Alanis Morrisette joined forces with producer Glen Ballard, the team co-wrote songs that not only helped land Morrisette a major recording deal, but an album called Jagged Little Pill which sold over 30 million copies worldwide. In this instance the producer clearly owns a share. But other instances may not be so clear says Arif Mardin. “All producers will make modifications to the arrangements of your songs by adding or dropping four bars here and there, re-writing a pre-chorus, etc., but they’re hired and paid a handsome fee to do so and should not ask for publishing. Be leery of producers that are overly insistent on taking a piece of the publishing or getting involved in the songwriting process. Your publishing income can be the very money who live on long after your career is over.”

16) Inquire About Budgets

Most producers, especially when dealing with signed artists, handle a variety of administrative duties that include creating recording budgets. As previously stated, the record company allocates a recording fund from which the budget most be established. The budget can include everything from the producer’s fee, tape and editing costs, engineers’ fees, mastering fees, lodging, equipment rentals, and cartage. Signed recording artists typically have the assistance of their A&R person to make sure budgets make sense, however unsigned artists must especially be sure that the budget is reasonable to their economic situation. Also be sure that your prospective producer has the reputation for delivering a project within or close to its intended budget. You don’t want your record to end up costing twice as much as expected. Check your producer’s references no matter how famous he or she may be. As Madonna once said, “Time is money, and money is mine.”

17) Watch For Hidden Agendas

Though it’s the record producer’s role to oversee the recording budget, musicians may still have to be aware of how he or she handles recording expenses. As illustrated in Moses Avalon’s book “Confessions of a Record Producer,” the producer may be able to arrange deals with side musicians, tape vendors, and record studios, bill the expense at a higher cost, and then receive a payment in the form of a kickback. In other words, besides earning a fee for his or her services, your record producer may be able to scam additional money from your recording budget under the table. Though no one likes to think this, it’s been known to happen! Producer Mikal Reid responds, “Keep in mind that though there are definitely scammers in the business, most producers are also musicians, and understand musicians—we’re in it first and foremost for the art of making a serious record.”

18) Ask About Administration

In addition to handling the recording budget, producers are also known to handle a variety of important administrative duties that include renting studios, hiring session musicians, sending out bills, clearing samples, filing union contracts, filing compulsory or mechanical licenses (if you’re covering other artist’s songs), and seeking permission from other labels to use guest artists. “These responsibilities must not be underestimated,” says Mark Goldstein, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs at Warner Bros. Records. “If samples aren’t cleared in a timely manner, for example, it could lead to serious problems and even copyright infringement charges down the line.” Many producers even hire a “production coordinator” for assistance in these matters. These costs are factored into your recording budget. Be sure to speak with your producer beforehand to see what he or she has in mind.

19) Co-Produce It

You may be able to maintain more creative control and save money in producer’s fees by co-producing your record; it’s simply a negotiable matter if your an indie artist. Signed artists, however, will need to get co-production approval from their record label. The label will want to at least be sure that the producer is experienced in making creative decisions, and not just someone who will be functioning as an engineer. Remember, the label must protect its investment first and foremost and make sure you deliver a record that has the potential to meet its sales expectations. As for your saving money in production fees, established producers may be fine with sharing creative credit if your a capable enough producer, however they will typically not budge on their royalty or fee.

20) Get It In Writing

Always get the terms of all business agreements in writing! This will clarify the expectations of each party and provide protection in case there’s a dispute; people often forget what they promise. Even with a producer you trust, a written agreement is an essential tool for establishing a professional relationship and its importance should never be underestimated. More unsigned artists end up getting screwed from entering into contracts they didn’t understand. Don’t use the excuse that you can’t afford an attorney. There are a number of great resources available on the market today that provide everything from comprehensive legal advice, actual contact forms, and the phone numbers and addresses for some of the best attorneys in your area who may be willing to work on commission. You’ll be glad you did!



Industry Tips & Advice: Writing A Music Business Plan That Works by by Peter Spellman, Director, Music Business Solutions

One thing I would never do is invite friends to Boston without first sending them a map. More than most cities, Boston (for the out-of-towner) is an urban tangle with few rivals. I remember my first visit to the city back in ’77. It was a psychological and emotional roller coaster to say the least. And I had a map!

Maps – they lay out the land and point us in the right direction. A good music business plan is a lot like a map, though the “land” you’ll be dealing with here – the music industry – is both more tangled than the city of Boston and can end up pointing you in any variety of “right” directions at the same time.

A good music business plan is the map to the fulfillment of your goals. Whether you’re a band, soloist, production house or some other business, a plan can turn foggy notions into operational strategies, hunches into actions, dreams into reality.

Dreams. This is where it all begins isn’t it? For this reason I like to think of one’s business plan as a “vision/mission.” It starts with vision. Before your first gig you envisioned yourself playing it. Remember? Vision precedes mission and fuels it with the necessary energy to go the distance. Mission implements vision and provides the vehicle that moves you towards your goal. Together they’re unstoppable!

Why Write A Music Business Plan?
There are a number of specific benefits to writing a music business plan. A well-thought out business plan will:

Clear the way for creative thinking
Pinpoint strengths and weaknesses
Identify obstacles and problems
Expose hidden opportunities
Set proper priorities
Coordinate your marketing program
Take the guesswork out of budgeting
Allow for meaningful review and revision
Your business plan should never be viewed as a one-time draft written In stone but instead as a provisional guideline to help you take strategic and effective steps toward the achievement of your goals. It is never really complete because it parallels and reflects the dynamics of your own growth and development.

Besides the benefit of self-revelation, there is another important reason to draw up a business plan:

To attract investors and secure loans. No one needs to tell you how much it costs to launch a successful music career in the 90′s. Between equipment, insurance, taxes, travel, recording, mixing, manufacturing, promotion, advertising and various fees and commissions, today’s musicians and bands are left with little else to call their own. Enter investors.

Investors are willing to put up a certain amount of dollars to launch your music project with the hope and expectation of a return on their investment. The most important thing they’ll need in order to decide to invest in you or not is a well-thought out business plan. The same goes for seeking bank loans. A plan reflects professional responsibility to the lending institution and greatly increases your chances of securing a loan.

How to Structure A Music Business Plan
A music business plan will have six main components. They are:

I. A summary page II. A description of your business Ill. A marketing plan IV.An operations statement V .A project time-line VI. Financial projections

We will look at each in turn. You may want to make a rough outline for your own plan as you read this article. Don’t be surprised, however, if your complete plan ends up being forty pages long! This should be expected.

Would you like some free help drafting your plan? Then contact your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center). This is a federal program that is part of the SBA (Small Business Administration) designed to provide small business owners with counsel and resources. Your tax dollars pay this so use it! The SBA has a Small Business Answering Desk (800-827-5722). which can answer many general business questions including the location of the SBDC office nearest you.

While you may not find them to be experts on the music industry, they are experts in creating and developing small businesses, and you are one. Let’s first get an overall sense of where we’re going by displaying a complete outline of a business plan:

I. Summary statement

II. Description of your business or project.
A. History and background B. Management description C. Business structure

Ill. The market for your product or service
A. Market description 1. General market information 2. Specific market information 3. Competition profile
B. Marketing plan 1. Positioning 2. Marketing mix 3. Pricing philosophy 4. Method of sales/distribution 5. Customer service policy

IV. Operations
A. Facilities and equipment B. Plans for growth and expansion C. Risks

V. Project time-line

VI. Financial information
A. Financing required B. Current financial statements C. Financial projections

I. Summary Statement.
Here you want to answer the following questions as succinctly as possible: Who are you? What will you do? (goals). Why will the business be successful? How will it be financed? – and When do you think it will turn a profit? (Remember, a ‘profit’ is not how much money you make, but how much you keep). Be ruthlessly realistic!
It is also in the summary statement that you list the products or services being offered (e.g. CDs, tapes, performances, etc.) as well as the names and positions of all personnel involved. The summary should close with mention of anything that is unique about your project.

II.Description of your business or project
This secton begins to flesh out the summarization above.
A. Begin first with the history and background of your project. This provides the overall context in which to view your current work. List all data that pertains to the various facets of your present business. Don’t pad it with your whole life story, just the pertinent highlights that have brought you to the present moment.

B. A management description should follow next. How is your business project organized? What does the leadership look like? (it’s style and command chain.) How are decisions made and facillitated? What kind of ongoing business meeting schedule will be followed to insure smooth operation?

C. Decide on the business structure you will use (i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.). This is one of the first questions the start-up business person should ask. The answer to this question has many legal and tax implications, varies greatly from state to state and from time to time. Again, seek the advice of your small business advisor at your local SBDC office.

Ill. The Market for your Product and/or Service
Now we are getting into the essence of what you’re uniquely about. Marketing means selling and it is an absolute truth that unless a start-up business can sell its offering it will not survive. Getting orders – selling your recordings or performances to paying customers – is of crucial importance to a new business.
To compete successfully in the music business, then, you must follow the same strategy that every successful business person uses. You must:

Develop a product- in this case, your music.
Locate clients for your product – do market research.
Bring your product to the marketplace – use sales technique to convince potential clients to buy your music.
Does this mean you’re “selling out”? NO! Or I should say, it all depends on your attitude. If you have a killer recording or a hot performance to sell and you market it accordingly, then you’re not selling out. You’re simply bringing a desirable product to a ready audience.

If, on the other hand, you would sacrifice your mother for a chance to claw your way to the top, then yes, you’re probably selling out. Again, it’s attitude. And you have to determine this for yourself. O.K., now that we’ve cleared that up let’s look at some of the various facets of your marketing plan.

A.Description of the market for your product/service.
The first thing you need is information about your market in order to correctly position your product and find your own unique niche within it. This is called market research and, like all of your planning, should be viewed as an ongoing process. You will need both general and specific information about your market.

1.General Market Information.
The general market for musicians is the music industry. Without a general understanding about this larger market context you will have a difficult time trying to find your way within it. It is crucial, therefore, for today’s musician to have a grasp of such things as record company structures, music publishing, recording contracts, distribution and music media, and how all of these work together to bring music to people. You can learn about the industry by talking with industry people, taking courses and reading books and trade magazines (see free resource list offer at end of article).

2. Specific Market Information.
Here you will want to ask: What part of this larger market do I fit into? In other words, who are my customers? What is their general age, their sex, professions, lifestyle and interests? This information will prove crucial to the development of your marketing strategy.
In addition to your customers you’ll also want to describe your competition. Be as specific as possible. Gather information on three or four successful competitors, assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of each, and compare your product or service with similar ones in terms of price, promotion, distribution and customer satisfaction.

B. Marketing Plan
- Now that you’ve gathered information on both your general and specific market share, you’re now ready to develop your marketing plan or strategy. This too can be broken down into several component parts.

1.Positioning -
This is related to finding your market “niche.” No matter what products or services you provide, you can carve out a niche for them based on your experience, skills, and interests and then build up that niche as you work to serve it. Ask yourself questions like: What do I do best? Who needs that the most? Where can I provide that product orservice that will give me a chance to expand what I do to utilize my other interests? What do I have to offer that is special or unique? The answers to these questions will help you “position” yourself to most effectively promote what you’re selling.

2. Marketing Mix -
The particular combination of marketing methods you choose for your marketing campaign is referred to as your “marketing mix.” Methods can include news releases, sponsorships, networking, publicity flyers, contests and giveaways, classified ads, trade shows, radio spots, charitable donations and literally hundreds more.
When making your selection, keep in mind this fundamental rule of successful marketing: The measure of a successful marketing campaign is the extent to which it reaches at the lowest possible cost the greatest number of people who can and will buy your product or service. Generally speaking, the more of your time a marketing activity requires, the less money it costs you, and vice-versa. For example, networking costs almost nothing in money but plenty in time. On the other hand, advertising in a city newspaper costs a bundle while requiring little in time.

3. Pricing Philosophy -
How much you charge for your product or service will depend on many variables. Here is where your research about your competitors comes in especially handy. Undercutting your competition is one common way to gain market share. But there is another approach. Research has shown that buyers, when making a purchase decision, select what they consider to be the best value – all things considered. And this suggests that value is equal to the benefits they perceive divided by the price. Price, therefore, is only one part of the purchase decision process. If you want to increase your customers’ perceived value of your product, you can do so by either increasing the benefits or decreasing the price. It is almost always preferable to work on the benefits, both tangible and intangible, both rational and emotional, both large and small, that will make it possible to sell at a higher price.

4. Method of Sales/Distribution -
This is related to your marketing mix and details the methods you will employ in implementing the various parts of your mix. For a musician, one method might be the use of a booking agent. Another might be a record distributor or, perhaps, mail order.

5. Customer Service Policy :
When considering customer service it is always useful to ask yourself why you continue to frequent certain businesses. More than price more than product quality, you will often return again and again to these businesses because you feel taken care of. The people of those businesses go the all important extra mile to make you feel special. They anticipate your needs and provide for them in the various ways they deal with you.
See if you can translate elements of this customer service policy into your own. Write down your philosophy and then list all applications you can imagine related to your business. How can you go the extra mile with your clients? Find ways of distinguishing yourself from your competitors in this area and you will insure a faithful clientele for years to come.

IV. Operations -
This has to do with the overall physical and logistical manufacturing of your product or service. It typically has three parts to it:

A. Facilities and Equipment
will encompass such things as your rehearsal space, office space, studio, manufacturers you use, your instruments, sound and light equipment and vehicles you use to haul it all around. A brief note on equipment insurance should also be included here. Investors like to see the founders of a company have a cash investment in the buisness in addition to “sweat equity”.

B. Plans for Growth or Expansion -
Here is where you project your more general goals three to five years into the future, What will you need when you progress from local to regional success? Regional to national? National to international? Perhaps you’ll want to develop sub companies within your primary company. Maybe a publishing wing, or a video branch, or perhaps a recording studio. Think it through as clearly and completely as possible.

C. Risks -
This is another very important part of the plan. Not only does it show you’re being open and honest with your financing source, but it forces you to consider and assess alternative strategies in the event your original assumptions do not materialize.

V. Project Time Line -
Here you want to articulate the schedule for your goal achievement, both short-range (e.g., obtaining radio airplay, booking high-profile gigs, procuring management, etc.) and long-range (e.g., signing a recording contract, having your song performed by a mega-star, etc.). Think through the essential steps needed for the attainment of each goal.

VI. Financial Information –

No matter how wonderful your plan is it isn’t going anywhere without capital investment, whether it’s yours or someone elses. This final section of your plan should be broken down into three sub-sections:. The financing required, current financial statements, and a three-year financial forecast. Needless to say, this is the part of the plan potential investors and lenders will concentrate on the most. So the following is written primarily with seeking investors in mind.

A. Financing Required -
While your first thought may be to ask for cash exclusively, there may be other resources that would help you even more. Perhaps what you really need is some people power assistance, or a touring van, or a new computer. These can sometimes be provided more easily than cash.
Whatever you decide you need, make sure it’s based on a hard-headed and realistic assessment of the true costs of achieving your goals. A basic rule of thumb in estimating costs is to add 15% onto whatever figure you come up with. This covers all those additional “hidden” and unexpected expenses which inevitably accrue.

B. Current Financial Projection:
Financial projections are a key part of a businessplan. They provide the reader with an idea of where you think the business is going. Perhaps more importantly, they tell a lot about your instrinsic good sense an d understanding of the difficulties your company faces.
Often, financial projections are optimistic to an outlandish extent. They are usually prefaced with words like, “Our conservative forecast is…” Do not use the word conservative” when describing your forecast. Be careful also not to use the “hockey stick” approach to forecasting, that is, little growth in sales and earnings for the first couple of years followed by a sudden rapid upward surge in sales and totally unrealistic profit margins. Excessively optmistic projections ruin your credibility as a responsible business person.

Include monthly cash flow projections, and quarterly or annual order projections (e.g. for studio time, CO manufacturing, etc.) profit and loss projections, and capital expenditure projections (see your accountant for explanations of the above terms). In making financial projections it is usually a good idea to include ‘best guess,” ‘high side,” and ‘low side” numbers. Sensible investors want to know what returns they can expect and especially how they will achieve liquidity. Tell them. Again, include alternative strategies.

Don’t worry if you feel a bit overwhelmed by the avalanche of detail your business plan requires. Who wouldn’t? Give yourself time. It’s helpful to set yourself a goal for completing the first draft of your plan – say three months from now.

Begin with one section at a time and meet periodically with your small business advisor to review your plan’s development. He or she will be able to discern blind spots as well as affirm the plan’s overall direction. If you’re thinking of foregoing the effort altogether and just “winging” it, just remember that no planning inevitably leads to wasted time, money and energy – all three in short supply.

Remember too that the musicians you currently respect rose to their success with strategic planning and a keen sense of what “doing business” really means. Furthermore, today we are seeing the smarter bands being brought home because they know the inner workings of the music business and how to best organize their limited resources in order to penetrate it. How about you? Are you planning for success?

by Peter Spellman

Director of Career Development at Berklee College of Music, Boston, and author of The Self-Promoting Musician: Do-it-Yourself Strategies for Independent Music Success (Berklee Press). You can find him at Music Business Solutions.



Article: Soulja Boy Says Birdman Wants Him On Cash Money by Andres Vasquez

Mr. Tell Em says Birdman wants him to join Cash Money and says he’s “Bishop in 2011″ as he prepares to drop a “Juice” remake.

Home > News > Soulja Boy Says Birdman Wants Him On Cash Money; Reprises 2Pac’s “Juice” Role

Mr. Tell Em says Birdman wants him to join Cash Money and says he’s “Bishop in 2011″ as he prepares to drop a “Juice” remake.

According to Soulja Boy, Birdman has been trying to add him to the Young Money/Cash Money family. Soulja Boy recently revealed this much when speaking with The Boom Box, acknowledging that he’s “cool with Birdman.”

“Me and [Lil] Wayne, man. I talk to him, but I’m cool with Birdman,” he said of his relationship with the two leaders of Cash Money. “When I’m in Miami I be with Birdman. He’s trying to get me to come over to Cash Money. I’m cool with Birdman.”

“When I was down in Miami for a couple of weeks recording with Sean Kingston, Birdman reached out to me. He said, ‘Come and have a meeting with me.’ He told me, ‘Yo man, you’d go perfect with everything we got going on. Whatever you want, I want to bring you over to this family, bring you to Cash Money.’”

Currently, Soulja Boy still has contractual obligations to Interscope Records.

Fans of Soulja Boy may not catch him signing with Wayne or Birdman just yet but they can expect a mini-movie from the rapper. He has filmed a short film that is meant to be a remake of 1992′s Juice, a film that saw Tupac playing the role of Bishop. In the updated version, Soulja Boy will play Bishop and he says that he’s “Bishop in 2011.”

“Basically, it’s your boy Soulja and I’m Bishop in 2011, running around in the streets, man,” He told Vibe. “You know how the movie goes, but we’re flipping it and shooting in Atlanta. I want to show these people my acting side and me being creative — always giving them something new; that’s all.

The film will also be titled Juice and his mixtape of the same name is meant to be the soundtrack.

“The whole mixtape is the soundtrack for the movie,” he noted.



Article: Recently released FBI file suggests rappers 2Pac and Eazy E were threatened and extorted

ARTICLE: by Robert Rizzuto

A 122 page file recently released by the FBI suggests that West Coast rappers Tupac Shakur and Eric “Eazy E” Wright were threatened and extorted by a group considered a domestic terrorist organization by federal authorities.

In the file, FBI agents described an extortion scheme purported against the late hip hop legends in which they would receive death threats via an anonymous telephone caller at which point the Jewish Defense League, which is described by the FBI as “a violent right-wing terrorist group,” would step in and offer protection for money.

The FBI stated that the investigation began on Sept. 11, 1996, two days before Shakur would die in a Las Vegas hospital from gunshot wounds he suffered on Sept. 7, when an unnamed source came forward with information and enough evidence to start the investigation.

The file’s redacted portion leaves more questions than answers, as many released FBI documents do, but does make reference to a lawsuit involving Wright’s Ruthless records company. In the settlement of the lawsuit, an unnamed person received $1.5 million from the record label and according to the language in the FBI file, appears to have been tied into the alleged extortion scheme.

The investigation never lead to charges being filed against anyone and the file itself ends with clippings of several articles written about Shakur’s shooting and subsequent death in 1996.

Wright, who founded the hip hop group N.W.A. along with fellow artists Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and Arabian Prince, died of AIDS-related complications on March 26, 1995, only a month after he was diagnosed with the illness.

It has been reported that after Andre “Dr. Dre” Young left N.W.A. and Ruthless Records, Wright and Jerry Heller, manager/co-founder of Ruthless Records, enlisted the assistance of the Jewish Defense League in response to threats from Dr. Dre’s new record label’s CEO, Marion “Suge” Knight.

Shakur was shot on Las Vegas Blvd. just after 11 p.m. on Sept. 7, 1996, a short while after he left the Mike Tyson fight. He was seated in the passenger’s seat of Knight’s BMW and a larger convoy of friends and associates were in front and behind that car.

Shakur’s death remains largely a mystery despite several investigations into who was behind the homicide.

Christopher “Notorious BIG” Wallace, left, and one-time friend Tupac Shakur pictured before their relationship soured and both men were murdered in their 20s.

When the documents were released by the FBI this week, there were initially hopes that they would shed some light on the federal investigation into the murder. A week ago, the FBI released documents pertaining to the death of the Christopher “Notorious BIG” Wallace.

The heavily-redacted documents did reveal that Wallace was killed with rare Gecko 9mm ammunition which is only produced in Germany and sold in California and New Jersey in the U.S. The documents also revealed that when the investigation took the obvious angle of linking the March 9, 1997 murder to that of rival-rapper Shakur’s untimely death, the FBI learned there were some of the same people present at both murder scenes.

To this day, neither homicide has been solved or resulted in anyone being held accountable.



Industry Tips & Advice: How to Write a Music Business Plan by Kevin English

I could start a whole new blog around the topic of preparing a business plan, but, I think it is important to touch upon a few main points now. Writing business plans are my specialty, so I plan to revisit this topic in more detail, sometime in the near future.

The first two posts in my series on “”, spoke to the massive amounts of research necessary to prepare for what lies ahead. The logical next step is to put a basic plan on paper to make sense of all you have recently discovered.

Writing a business plan may seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you limit your plan to both sides of a bar napkin, it is better than not having a plan at all. The purpose is to map out your release from start to finish, so you can avoid any surprises along the way. No matter how much you plan, there will be unexpected events. Writing a plan before you release your record will only minimize these experiences.

In general your plan’s outline should include the following: Company Summary, Products and Services, Market Analysis, Marketing Programs, Management Summary and a Financial Plan. Below is an overview of each of these topics.

Company Summary- This section should discuss how your company is formed, whether it’s a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, C or S Corp or an LLC. The idea is to outline who is involved in your release and how each of you will share in the profits.

Products and Services- Briefly describe what you plan to sell. In this climate certain things are close to impossible, but I’m sure your market research has taught you that. Typical products and services should include digital downloads, merchandise, live shows, song licensing and physical CD’s.

Marketing Analysis- As painful as it may seem, it will serve you well to put down on paper, the troubled state of the music industry. Be as frank as possible. Explain that the only way to survive this music biz recession is to come up with something new and improved. Your ultimate challenge is to turn this negative into a positive. Hopefully your band is just the ones to prove it.

Marketing Programs- Take your time on this section, because these programs will make or break your release. Marketing is the act of raising awareness. If no one is aware, no one will buy. That being said, the majority of your total budget should be spent on a variety of marketing tactics that make you more visible to radio, press, live venues, retail outlets and on the internet.

Management Summary- This section is a perfect place to delegate responsibility to everyone on your team. You may or may not have a personal or business manager and that is OK. Instead you should focus on your fellow band members, web designer, publicist and other parts of your team. It’s important to map out who does what before you launch your plan. It will be much easier to know who is responsible for what before the shit hits the fan.

Financial Plan- Here is where you put your money where your mouth is. Once you determine what you want to sell, you need to allocate money to marketing these products. You will also need to flesh out ways in which you will obtain this money. Will you put in money from your 9-5 or ask a family friend or close relative?

Once you have put all of these ideas on paper, you will feel much more confident in what you can or cannot achieve with your release. My next two post will discuss, “” and “”.

You can now download the free PDF, “”, here

Industry Tips & Advice: Photo and Video Release by : Bruce Warila

When I had live video shot in the past, we hung large, dated signs up that clearly declared our ownership of the video. The signs also strongly suggested that anyone that did not want to be included in the video should please leave. We also had our camera crew shoot the signs right into the footage as ‘evidence’ if needed.

Here’s a video and photo release (below) you can use when you believe it really matters. Get an attorney to check this for you. Always try to get verified (check an ID) addresses and phone numbers on these releases.




Owner: (“Subject”) _____________________________________________

Subject hereby grants to (THE NAME OF YOUR BAND OR PROJECT) (the Rights Holders) exclusive rights to use the photograph(s)/ video footage depicting the Subject or any portion or component thereof, including image, voice, and sound, in the video project regarding (YOUR BAND OR PROJECT NAME) and for all advertising, merchandising or other purpose associated therewith in perpetuity and for exploitation throughout the universe, in film, video, DVD or other format. Subject acknowledges that the depiction of him/her in the Photo/Video Footage or Project may be duplicated and distributed in any and all manner and media throughout the world in perpetuity.

Subject agrees that the Rights Holders shall have the unlimited right to vary, change, alter, modify, add to and/or delete from his/her depiction in the Photo or Footage, and to rearrange and/or transpose his/her depiction, and to use a portion or portions of his/her depiction or character in conjunction with any other dramatic or other material of any kind.

The Rights Holders may assign the rights granted herein to any person or party, including but not limited to any company, distributor, successors, licensees, and assigns.

This agreement shall be construed in accordance with the laws (THE NAME OF YOUR STATE) applicable to agreements that are executed and fully performed within said State.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have signed this Agreement as of this _______ day of ________________, 2009.




Telephone Number:




Industry Tips & Advice: Why I Think Video LPs Are A Good Idea by Alan Lastufka

For Fans

For music listeners and fans, the Video LP (LP referring to “long playing”, the name given to 12” vinyl records in the 40s) is a great format for sampling an entire album before making a purchasing decision. It’s similar to streaming the entire album on my website, but better. The Video LP format allows for on screen lyrics and all of the liner note artwork typically associated with CD and record sleeves. You won’t find that on most streaming mp3 players.

Additionally, because each song is its own YouTube video, songs can be favorited, commented on, embedded and shared easily, in a format that listeners/viewers are already familiar and comfortable with.

For Musicians and Labels

For artists, the Video LP is a great way to share your music while being able to brand and monetize the entire experience. When fans embed mp3 players on other sites, you lose almost all branding, and definitely aren’t able to monetize those streams because they are happening outside of your website. This is not the case with Video LPs, as the embedded video can be visually branded, and, if you’re a YouTube partner, your ads remain inside the embedded video player, so you’re paid for every single stream of your song, whether it happens on YouTube, your website, or a fan’s blog.

While most musicians see free streaming as a loss leader, or necessary evil in marketing, the Video LP format could change that. Not only do you get all of the advantages of free streaming, but there are none of the disadvantages. The Video LP can now be added as yet another stream of revenue for artists. My Video LP received a total of over 4,000 views in just the first 12 hours. Every single one of those views was monetized.

Video LPs also have a much higher chance for discovery. Unless your website ranks incredibly high in Google search results for common keywords like “free”, “streaming” and “music”, your latest upload probably isn’t reaching too many new fans. YouTube, however, is the best kept secret in searching. YouTube is the second largest search engine – only beaten by its owner, Google – meaning more people search on YouTube than on Yahoo or Bing. That’s insane. It also means YouTube is the perfect place for your new music to be found. And with less competition from white hat and black hat SEOs, you may just find your Video LP clips placing relatively high in YouTube’s search results.

For those of you concerned with YouTube’s compression quality, if you stream my Video LP at 720p (or in “YouTube HD”), you’ll hear they are roughly equivalent to 256kbps MP3s.

The Main Advantage

The final main advantage I find is that, while I don’t have any hard data to back me up, I know personally I would subscribe to someone’s YouTube channel before I’d subscribe to an RSS feed for a blog. And given that I spend more time on YouTube than I do in Google Reader, I’m also more likely to see a YouTube update than a new blog post. This would allow for continued video updates about new tours, recordings and merchandise for sale.

I’m failing to find any disadvantages here,



Industry Tips & Advice: Great Marketers Aren’t Afraid To Annoy and Why You Need To Think Like Them by Hypebot

It is nothing new that this business of music is highly competitive, especially now. And at the end of the day, the best marketer will “win” – whether intentionally or accidentally. I don’t know about you, but I want to understand how to do things and get things done intentionally. So I study, observe, and pore over as much as I can. I’m always learning and applying things I learn. And the lesson in marketing that I’m getting ready to share with you is one that I wish I learned years ago. The lesson surprised me. But, better late than never.

Before I go into it, I first need to say that what I’m getting ready to share does not apply if you do not have a truly good product in your hands to bring to the public. I should also note here that a good product is automatically crappy when it is marketed/delivered to the wrong target audience. So, before any of what I’m getting ready to share matters, you MUST have a good product and you MUST know who your target audience is and market to them.

I used to be afraid of always talking about my music to people, whether it was online or offline. Mainly because I was afraid I would annoy and lose them. I found myself in a dilemma of sorts because the promotion of my music was inconsistent as result. And inconsistency doesn’t breed success. So I had to check myself. I was taking this music thing too personally. I needed to step back and be a bit more objective with my career. I needed to think like a businessman. After all, I’ve spent 6 years building my own marketing company up to that point.

As I understood business, when you have a good product, the main task at hand is to figure out ways to let your target audience know it exists and raise your product’s profile in their lives. That is your focus. You are the owner. You are the marketer. The success of that product is in your hands. And, being in music makes no difference. If I ever want to make this passion my “9 to 5”, I had better pull it together. What I’ve found is that it took just as much creativity to be in business as it did to make music. Both requires you to take what is seemingly nothing and make it into something. Except when it comes to the business side of things, your job is to make your music, which at the start is nothing in the mind of a consumer, become something meaningful to that consumer. And the key to great marketing is one word: frequency.

Great marketers know how to keep their products in front of their target audience constantly, especially when their market is a particularly competitive one. They have to constantly make an impression on their target audience – constantly making an impression on someone new and constantly reminding that person their product exists. Not only do they need to let people know about their product, but they needed to do it with frequency.

I came across a video interview with Miles Copeland (the man behind the success of I.R.S. Records and The Police) on ArtistsHouseMusic.org that really helped drive this home for me. In it, Miles talked about the importance of maintaining gross impressions. He shared a compelling account of how Coke decided to cut their ads because they thought it was unnecessary because everyone already knew who they were. The next day, sales dropped and Pepsi gained ground on them. Pepsi became more ingrained in people’s mind – their profile raised in the lives of the public because Coke dropped out. Miles Copeland goes on to say that when an artist manager talks to him about overexposure, he looks at them like they have two heads. Miles doesn’t believe in overexposure in this day and age. His compelling argument made me ask myself two very important questions. Has anyone ever gone out of business because of overexposure? Umm…I couldn’t think of one. Has anyone ever gone out of business because of underexposure? Plenty!

It dawned on me. I had been irrationally afraid. Afraid to annoy people. I was sucking at marketing my music as a result. Sure, like many of us, I thought I was being noble and a gentleman in how I’ve been communicating about my music. Now, I just realized I was being foolish. And foolish for two reasons: First, I was insecure. My music was too personal and I did everything I could to avoid rejection in any ways I thought unnecessary. Secondly, I did not understand human nature. Great marketers aren’t afraid to annoy people because they understand human nature (or better said, the nature of human response).

So I had been operating out of fear. And acting out of a bad emotion usually does not yield good results. The fear is understandable because we’ve all experienced someone unsubscribing to our mailing list or “un-liking” our Facebook fan page or “unfollowing” us on Twitter. And I don’t know about you, but it made me cut back on my communications for fear I was annoying people – for fear more would unsubscribe, unlike, or unfollow me. But, that fear was irrational. After all, the majority of the people were still with me. They didn’t mind my frequent communications. In marketing, you cannot afford to act according to the objections of a few, but only according to the behavior of the majority.

Then, there was also the non-responsiveness from people who received my emails or saw my posts. Automatically, I assumed they didn’t care and that I might be annoying them if I kept at it. So I stopped the frequency of my communications. This was all out of insecurity. Again, I acted out of a bad emotion and it yielded inconsistent marketing results. Because the truth in marketing is this: a non-response is not a negative response. In fact, it usually means that the people are still in their discovery and decision making process. Some people can follow you and be aware of you for a long time before they decide they are going to buy your product. Think about this as a consumer – you know you’re the same way.

“Wow,” I thought, “I’ve been stunted by my own irrational fear and insecurity.” How could I have let this happen? I own a marketing company! Let me tell you how. I didn’t think with my head when it came to marketing my music. Make music with your heart, but you need your head to market it correctly. You need to think objectively.

Act according to facts and not assumptions. And the fact of marketing is this: you must constantly remind people of your music’s existence. Everyone is busy with many things. Like any other product in a competitive marketplace, if you want a good shelve space in their minds and a place in their lives, you must with much frequency remind them you’re there.

Suppose you do annoy some people. Let me leave you with a known fact in the marketing and advertising world that surprised me: If you have a good product, after annoyance usually comes loyal acceptance.

Even those who leave you because they were annoyed will come back once everyone around them is raving about you. They’ll say, “Oh, I was there when they started. I always knew they’d make it!” You’ll wanna show them a pretty bird, but you’ll forgive them because you realize: It’s human nature. Great marketers know this. I want you to take a look at a graphic piece below that was part of a press kit for an advertising campaign I was considering doing with the Washington City Paper. It’s a piece of advice from a nineteenth century businessman that still holds true today. Big brands understand this. Coke paid the price for not heeding this. Great marketers aren’t afraid to annoy and you shouldn’t be afraid neither. Just how frequent do you need to make an impression on your target audience? You’d be surprised. But note what happens after the 7th impression (which is when they get a little irritated).



Industry Tips & Advice: One-Line Tips to Stay Creative by Alan Henry

If your job or hobby involves any type of creative activity, you know how difficult it can be to stay fresh and bring new and original ideas to the table every day. Thankfully this list of one-liners is worth keeping in your back pocket for the next time you feel run down or you’re suffering writer’s block.
Whether you write for fun or profit, do graphic design, paint, draw, or make music, you know it can be difficult to come up with new and original ideas every time you have to start a new project. Over at Paul Zii’s Tumblr blog, he has a list of 29 great one-line tips to help you stay creative or get inspired if you’re feeling the sting of writer’s block, or your muse hasn’t visited in a while.

Most of the suggestions are fairly esoteric, but they’re good to remember even if you’re on a creative roll. For example, surrounding yourself with creative people is always a great way to find inspiration through other people who are already inspired. Getting feedback is another great way to continue the creative process, and it’s highly underrated: getting the opinion of the people you look up to or the people who edit your work is a great way to find new areas to explore or challenging topics or material to try.

Another important thing to do when you’re trying to stay creative is to allow yourself to make mistakes. Not every article you write will be a hit, and not every painting you paint will be a masterpiece. Not every comic you draw will be funny, or stand-up routine a smash hit. Still, the important thing is to try new material fearlessly and learn from the experience if it doesn’t go well. That leads to another great tip on the list: Don’t give up.

The list has 29 specific tips, some of which are more helpful than others, but they’re a good read. What are some of your favorite ways to stay creative or motivated when you start feeling down or uninspired?



Music News: Eminem’s “Marshall Mathers LP” Reaches Diamond Status, Confirmed By RIAA by Allen Jacobs

Last month, Slim Shady followed-up his chart-topping 2010 with bringing his sophomore classic past 10 million copies sold.

It has been confirmed that Detroit, Michigan superstar Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP album has reached diamond status. Signifying 10 million copies sold, the 2000 Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records release remains one of Em’s most critically-acclaimed works. Website HipHop-N-More.com pointed out the milestone, as confirmed by the RIAA.

The Marshall Mathers LP, released on May 23, 2000, featured the singles “The Real Slim Shady,” “The Way That I Am” and Dido-sampling “Stan.” Guests on Em’s sophomore studio release included Dr. Dre, D12, Xzibit, RBX, Sticky Fingaz and the late Nate Dogg. Production on the album was handled by Dr. Dre, Mel-Man, The Bass Brothers and Flavor Unit co-founder 45 King.

Other diamond-certified Hip Hop albums include Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death.



Article: Wu Chess challenge – GZA takes on Liverpool fans by Andy Johnson

Wu Tang legend The GZA challenged Liverpool’s finest to a chessboxing bout with a rare treat for the winner, the chance to duel the Iron Mic MC on the 64 squares.

GZA, aka Gary Grice, co-founded the Wu Chess foundation with his cousin and fellow hip-hop icon The RZA and was keen to shake off a hangover and play the winner of a mini-tournament at Leaf, Bold Street.

Speaking before the gig, The GZA who counts himself as the best player in the Clan said: “I’m at home on the board. But I’m wondering about what happens if some Scally genius turns up and knocks me off my perch.”

The Liquid Swords rapper eyed up his competition during play, and even sat in between the finalists to psyche them out before playing Scouser Greg Evans for the crown.

Greg, fom Mossley Hill, said: “It was a great experience, the GZA was a lovely fella.

“I was a bit tired from playing the semi and then going straight into the match with him.

“It was also a bit intimidating having him there, watching the semi-final. His moves were fast and furious, you can tell he plays a lot.”

Event organiser and Fuel For Fire promoter Doug Wood said: “This was a great day and capped off a great gig.

“We were honoured to bring one of the Wu Tang to Liverpool and as soon as we mentioned the chess idea he was right on board.”



Article: RZA To Have Recurring Role On Californication by Luke Winkie

The RZA is a production-pioneer for arguably the most legendary hip-hop collective of all time. Californication is a libidinous comedy-drama that takes its name from a Red Hot Chili Peppers album and features the former Special Agent Fox Mulder in its lead role. Not the most obvious paring but Bobby Digital has scored himself a recurring role on the show as a “slightly dangerous hip-hop mogul who Hank (David Duchovny) considers writing a movie for.” The name of RZA’s character? It’s tentatively “Apocalypse.”

Of course the RZA has scored plenty of films (shout out to Ghost Dog) but this will be the first time he’s starring in a TV show. Honestly he’s never screamed “slightly dangerous” to me, but I guess Suge Knight wasn’t taking any calls.




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