Archive for September 16, 2011

Industry Tips & Advice: The Effective Press Kit by Alex Wagner


Alex Wagner is the Executive Editor of The Fader magazine. She discusses what she believes is included in an effective press kit.



Article: Music industry banks on free in effort to get paid By Yinka Adegoke


NEW YORK (Reuters) – The future of the music business is social, free — and hopefully profitable.

After a decade when sales tumbled 50 percent, record labels cut thousands of jobs and more than 35,000 consumers got sued for illegal downloads, the industry is coming around to the idea of giving away songs as a way to get customers to pay.

This week MOG and Rdio became the latest U.S. digital music startups to offer online streaming access to millions of songs for free, hoping that the slick user-friendly interfaces and deep libraries will convince users to become paying monthly subscribers.

They follow London-based Spotify, whose 18-month-old streaming music service has taken Europe by a storm. After numerous delays, it entered the U.S. market in July.

Other digital services with free access to music will emerge in coming months. Beyond Oblivion, a start-up with backing from News Corp, plans the Boinc service, which will take a different approach by enabling free access to music for users who buy special devices.

The key to success for these services — and by extension the record labels — is the conversion rate to paid from free. Spotify has said it has more than 10 million registered users with 1 million now-paying subscribers, for a conversation rate of 10 percent.

Music streaming services typically charge $5 to $15 a month to play any song or album the user wants from a library of songs via computers and mobile devices.

The free/subscription trend comes as sales of downloaded songs have begun to slow down at Apple Inc’s iTunes, the No. 1 music retailer by far.

MOG and Rdio announced their new free features just ahead of Facebook’s developers’ conference next week in San Francisco, where sources have said the No. 1 social networking website will launch a music platform.

Those two companies, along with Rhapsody and Rootmusic, are expected to be a part of the launch, which is designed to make it easier to share music and hopefully win paying subscribers from Facebook’s 750 million users.

MOG’s free service gives users more songs as they engage other users, particularly if they log on using Facebook’s Connect platform.

“It allows us to reward the tastemakers and influencers,” said MOG Chief Executive Officer David Hyman, a former senior MTV executive.

Nervous about appearing to encourage the idea that music should be free, music executives privately argue these services are more limited than they initially appear.

“It’s not a shift to free,” said a label executive who requested anonymity because negotiations with the services were private. “We’re building a larger funnel and driving more consumers to a subscription service.”


Typically, the free portion of these services feature advertising, but revenue from that does not yet cover the licensing fees that major labels charge.

But Rdio is going a different route. It will not feature advertising and, unlike MOG, will not manage free music based on users’ engagement.

“We won’t ask users to spam their friends,” said Chief Operating Officer Carter Adamson. He added, however, that user engagement data will determine the number of songs a given user can access on its free platform.

The company’s founders, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, invented one-time music industry file-sharing nemesis Kazaa and communications service Skype.

So far, subscription music services have struggled to capture the collective imagination of everyday music fans. Industry sources estimate MOG and Rdio each have fewer than 100,000 subscribers.

Rhapsody, the biggest U.S. music subscription service, has been in business for 10 years and only has a paltry 800,000 subscribers, according to its last publicly stated numbers.

This week the company added a new social focus that makes it easier for users to follow each other and share music within the Rhapsody community and around the Web.

Rhapsody spokeswoman Jaimee Steele said the company would consider an advertising-supported service if the economics made sense, but added that there has been little evidence of that to date.

While free might appeal to users, it can be expensive for start-ups that could easily burn through all their funding by paying labels’ licensing fees.

“We have no intention of going out of business in six months,” Rdio’s Adamson said, emphasizing that the company will be careful not to give away free music to “serial abusers.”

“All of these services have VCs, investors and boards — all of whom expect some sort of return on their investments,” said a second record executive who isn’t permitted to publicly discuss private negotiations. “As a result, limited free tiers are being offered to get people in the doors. The emphasis is on ‘limited.’”

Meanwhile, major labels are starting to share the risk from innovative business models after years of suing grandmothers and children for illegal downloading, shutting down game-changing start-ups like Napster and demanding hefty upfront fees from entrepreneurs who tried to work with them.

Label executives are eager for music fans to sign up for subscription services, if only because these businesses promise steady guaranteed revenues similar to the cable television industry.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Peter Lauria and Lisa Von Ahn)



Article: Getting Your Promo Kit Together by Mike King

The music industry tends to be a jaded group to start with, and nothing raises the ire of these folks more than a poorly planned and executed press kit. A poor promo kit is sure to keep your demo or finished CD unopened and unlistened to, and the rest of your kit is sure to be sent to the circular bin ‘with a bullet,’ as they say. The good news is, the elements that make up an effective press kit are straightforward, and the essentials are not going to change much from band to band.

You’re going to want to create a press kit with several folks in mind, mostly club bookers, radio dj’s, and the media, and while the details may change very slightly, there is one thing that you have to keep in mind:

The goal of the promo kit is to have the kit itself forgotten.

When putting together your promo kit, the first rule of thumb is to put yourself in the shoes of the people that receive these things on a daily basis. The music writers at the major local papers like The Boston Globes and The Chicago Tribunes of the country receive dozens of promo kits a day, and the same thing goes for the popular clubs in your area. These people have seen it all, and while you may have the urge to create a leather-bound CD wallet monogrammed with your bands name that really ‘stands out from the crowd,’ I urge you to reconsider and instead let your music, bio, and press clippings do the talking for you.

Common Problems with Promo Kits

I worked at an independent record label for a while, and saw more than my share of press kits. And I’m telling you straight up that spending a day in the water of the river Styx in Dante’s Fifth Circle of Hell may be only slightly less preferable than going through amateurish unsolicited promo kits. Bad promo kits may make you mad, but really bad promo kits make you sad, too. Before we get to the ingredients of a killer promo kit, I want there to be no confusion on what makes up a bad one. For everyone’s sake, please avoid the following:

TOO MUCH information

Unless you are superstar category, there is no reason to have a dozen pages describing the conditions under which you recorded the record, your political leanings, what the songs are about, etc. The biographical information in your press kit should be informational and concise.

Poor Grammar

Misspelling the recipient’s name on your package or cover letter is a big problem. And while it may be cool to avoid punctuation and capitalization in your emails and My Space page, it is definitely not cool when you are writing to someone asking them to play your record or book you a gig. You may be an artist, but this is one place where you are going to have to exhibit some professionalism.

Over-Reaching Package

Again, unless you are on a major label or have the dough to send program directors promo items (and even then it doesn’t really matter unless the promo items you’re sending are American Express checks), there is no need to create some grand package to really “wow” the recipient. We got tons of tchotchkes at Ryko, and the truth is, if the music isn’t any good, it really doesn’t matter that you enclosed cookies in with your package (true story).

Not Enough Information

You covered all your bases, you demo is hot, you addressed it to the right person, you’ve got some momentum, and the writer/booker is interested in finding out more. But wait, who are you? Always be sure to put your contact info all over the package, Writers and bookers may not be the most organized bunch and things can easily get separated. Clearly mark your name on the CD, on the cover letter, on your bio – and if you can, even make yourself up some cards and drop a few in the package.

Poor Research / No Prior Contact

It’s fundamental that you send your kit to the right person. Never address your promo kit “To whom it may concern,” or “ A&R.” This is a sure fire way to get your kit into the trash, and many folks don’t take unsolicited kits anyway. Find out who the right person is through a phone call. Also, be aware of what kind of music the organization you’re sending your kit is into. Ryko may have been an eclectic independent record label, but it’s pretty unlikely that we would put out a collection of classical accordion covers.

Bad Tone

Another big turn off is a demanding promo kit. Remember, the goal of the kit is to present your band and your music in the best possible light, and the language you use is important. Be nice. I remember in particular a promo kit that came in from what looked like twin sisters who sang folk music. Not only was the cover letter off-putting in tone, they demanded we send the kit back after we reviewed it! Bad form.

So What Makes a Good Promo Kit?


Like many things in life, simple really is better. An effective press kit contains 5 key things:

• Cover Letter

• Bio

• Your Demo or Finished Product

• Photo

• Press Clippings

Cover Letter

Your cover letter should be addressed to the proper recipient, and attached to the outside of your kit with a paper clip. Tone, content, spelling, and grammar should all checked. You want this letter to be warm and relatively formal, quick and to the point. Explain what you are looking for from the recipient as concisely as possible.


In my opinion, the bio is not a place to get cute or overly creative. Present the facts – the history of the band, individual background/accomplishments of the members if they are interesting, highlights so far, and perhaps some key press quotes.

Your Demo or Finished Product

This is the most important part of your kit. No matter how good the rest of your kit reads and looks, if the music is not good or presented incorrectly, you’re sunk. If you’ve got a finished CD together, include a copy in with your package. If not, you should prepare a 3 or 4 song demo. And the song order is VERY important. You should absolutely lead off with the song that you feel kicks the most ass. And the song needs to kick ass immediately. No one has time to listen to a 2-minute intro before the song gets moving. If you are a rock band, you want Black Dog as an opener in this, not Stairway to Heaven. And as I mentioned above, it is incredibly important to have your contact info all over your kit, especially the CD.


The visual representation of your band. Again, be a bit careful about how artsy you want to do this. The photo should try to capture what one might expect from listening to the music.

Press Clippings

If you’ve had some past success with the press, your promo kit should include a “Paste-Up” of this media coverage. Format is important here. Any editorial you band gets should be cut out from whatever else surrounds it in the paper. Cut out the masthead of the publication, affix it on a piece of paper with the article below, and be sure to format it all so it looks nice on an 8” ½ x 11” piece of paper.


If you have an amazing tour schedule, it may make sense to include an itinerary of upcoming shows as well. If the recipient of your kit is not all that familiar with your band and they see you’re playing places like the 9:30 Club in DC or Yoshi’s in SF, they’ll know you are the real deal. Package all this up in a straightforward folder and you’re all set. Again, no need for over sized glossy kits. Keep it simple, baby. It’s easier for you, and I guarantee that even if they don’t say it, the folks that receive your kit are thanking you as well.



Industry Tips & Advice: Voiceover Careers In The Audio Market

Acquiring into the songs market can be a difficult road to journey, but if you are a voiceover artist you may possibly have the higher hand over your competition.

With the right expertise, education and learning, coaching and qualifications you can defeat your competition and turn out to be a DJ for a radio station, a radio broadcaster, an announcer covering the news, offer the voice for ads or even get a coveted placement internet hosting a new music exhibit on one particular of the biggie networks like MTV or CMT. It’s advisable that all voice expertise have representation from an agent and retain the solutions of a reliable and effectively-recognized voice company to market you.

Disc Jockey

It really is correct DJs play audio, but they do a great deal of voice function as well they report the news, sports, climate and talk about the local community, do the voice-overs for commercials, and speak with friends. Being a good D.J. normally requires talent, personality, and technical know-how. Most DJs have a qualifications instruction in communications, broadcast journalism and have had coaching in public talking, drama and voice. The job market place for this type of work is hugely aggressive. A lot of DJs have representation like an agent or voice business where they publish their profile and a voice sample. Bigger cities pay out a lot more than smaller ones. The pay out ranges from the lowest compensated 10%, who make less than .55 an hour, to the mid array paid out from to an hour, and the best 10% being paid out more than an hour. Most DJs do the career for the love of it, not for the pay out.

Radio and Tv Broadcaster

The broadcasting business is composed of radio and television stations and networks. In the , broadcasters perform for radio stations and networks and television networks such as MTV, VH1 and CMT. They host video clip exhibits or report songs industry news or have their very own audio associated reveals. This is another of those glamour work that appeal to a huge number of work seekers, so there is a lot of opposition. The market is searching for voice talents with a higher education degree in broadcasting, journalism or a related area and tons of voice instruction. Of course, large town careers spend more than smaller town careers. Reporters and correspondents average about .00 an hour. A large profile work will shell out much better and will draw in hugely experienced opposition.


Radio and tv announcers carry out a assortment of jobs they announce station plan info, examine public-service announcements and they introduce and close exhibits. They also go through commercials and supply ad-lib commentary on air, interview friends and reasonable panels. With opposition for these jobs becoming so large, a nicely-rounded schooling is a ought to-have. A diploma in communications, broadcasting or journalism and formal voice coaching is recommended. The median wage for radio and television announcers averages about an hour.

On-Air Voice Expertise

Voice abilities can offer providers on the radio this kind of as becoming a sidekick to a DJ on a radio present, offering the voice for commercials, narrating jobs this kind of as audio countdown reveals and interviewing songs performers. These employment are tough to get and need, like most radio function, talent, abilities, voice coaching and training. Schooling should be in communications, carrying out arts or journalism. The pay is the very same as other radio careers, ranging from to an hour with far more well-liked skills generating far more.



Music News: What Does Interscope and A Cocaine Ring Have In Common.

A narcotics ring that shipped large amounts of cocaine and cash across the United States used the offices of Interscope Records to arrange pickups and deliveries, reported on Thursday (September 15).

Federal officials say these are findings from a year-long Drug Enforcement Administration investigation, the same investigation that led to the indictment of Czar Entertainment CEO and Game manager on 18 felony charges that could result in having him sentenced to life in prison.

TSG further reports that while its unclear how the players in the narcotics ring had access to Interscope’s offices, the Game records on the label and his road manager has been named in the trafficking plot.

Rosemond is currently being held without bail in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan. —Jakinder Singh

Article: The Lucrative Side of Hip-Hop Beef – 10 Rap Feuds That Fueled Sales (8 of 10) by Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Biggie vs. Tupac
When Biggie and Tupac were murdered in 1996, their tragic deaths were seen as the culmination of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry in rap that had run rampant at the time. Biggie and Tupac were both big stars and young men who had built distinct empires through varied styles of rapping, with Tupac adding acting to round out his domain. But their deaths did not stop their kingdoms coffers from flowing. To this day movies and music continue to be produced based on both their separate legacies, and the mutual legend interwoven in their beef. The 2009 film “Notorious” is a prime example, with the Biggie-Tupac feud being a central element of the story’s drama. That film alone, and is just one piece of revenue in a stream fed by eternal interest in their former mutual hatred. While there is no winner in this beef, one good thing it has generated is the power to keep the memories of these rap legends alive for many generations to come.



Quote Of The Day

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