Industry Tips and Advice

Industry Tips & Advice: How Audio Post Production Works by Dave Roos 3 of 3

Sound engineers combine a film’s dialogue and sound effects in a post-production studio.

© Piotr Powlietrzynski/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images
Audio Post Production Systems and Software

Film and TV editing is an entirely digital world. No one sits around splicing film stock anymore. Even if a project is shot on film, it’ll be digitized for editing and laid back onto film for distribution. The same is true for audio post production. The nice thing about digital audio editing technology is that there’s a product and system for every budget and skill level.

For the home studio, everything can be done on a single computer without fancy control panels or consoles. You can buy a basic version of Pro Tools, Adobe Audition or a similar digital audio workstation (DAW) and do all your recording, editing, mixing and exporting using the software’s built-in functionality. Pro Tools doubles as a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) sequencer, so you can even record a soundtrack straight into the software using a MIDI controller or live instruments.

Professional audio post production studios add another level of control by using large digital editing consoles. All of the knobs and faders on the console control specific elements within a DAW like Pro Tools or Nuendo. For many editors, it’s faster and easier to manipulate knobs and faders by hand than to constantly be reaching for the mouse and keyboard.

Here are some features of DAW software for audio post production work:

Handles an unlimited amount of separate tracks for the same project. This is especially advantageous in mixing a big project with different Foley recordings, sound effects, dialogue, background noise, music, et cetera.
Tracks the audio to a built-in video feed. This is critical for timing the placement of effects and music.
Allows for tons of different automated pre-sets. Each separate audio recording session requires different levels on each track to create a balanced recording. DAW software makes it so you only have to set those levels once. Once they’re saved as pre-sets, you can just click a button and return to the desired settings. This works with the large consoles as well. Click a button and all of the knobs and faders will return to where they were two Wednesdays ago.
Cleans up bad recordings. Maybe a plane flew overhead when your hero was saying his big line, or the air conditioning unit in the grocery store was buzzing too loud. DAW software includes special filters and tools for cleaning up clicks, pops, hums, buzzes and all other undesirable background noise.
Endless plug-in options. Plug-ins are small software add-ons that allow for additional tools and functionality. They can be special effects plug-ins, virtual instruments for scoring a movie, or emulators that reproduce the sound of classic analog instruments and equipment.
Graphic interfaces for placing sound recordings in the 5.1 surround sound spectrum. By moving a cursor back and to the right, you can make it sound like a train is approaching from behind the audience.

And what’s the deal with THX, Dolby Surround Sound, DTS, Ultra-Stereo and all those other fancy terms? THX is a standard developed by George Lucas to ensure that how a film sounds in the studio is how it’ll sound in the theater. Both soundstages and theaters can be THX certified. The rest are technologies for encoding a film’s final audio, and each requires the purchase of a special license. Different encoding technologies allow for more surround sound channels and apply to either optical or digital soundtracks (for more details, check out How Movie Sound Works).

For more information on audio post production and related topics, check out the links on the next page.



Industry Tips and Advice: Promo Tips For Artist Pt. 9


Promo Tip #81 Attend music conferences, indie showcases, music festivals. Gain exposure and network.

Promo Tip #82 Be easy to work with and be flexible. A good reputation carries a lot of weight. Flexibility can also mean possibly adjusting areas of your work or image so as to get your foot in the door if need be.

Promo Tip #83 Have a cause. Create an event to promote that cause. Team up with other like-minded bands and make a news worthy event out of that cause.

Promo Tip #84 Business Cards – When talking to anyone, hand one out. You must include the link to your website. Consider your link as your online business card.

Promo Tip #85 Rolodex your contact list (some sites have contact managers in their member consoles). Make a list and keep it current of all the places online and offline that you need to post to when you need to send out reoccurring press releases of news and events. Be aware that many sites have limits in number and/or timeframes, be careful to not exceed them.

Promo Tip #86 Invoke your personality into your writings to make your invitations, announcements and introductions fun and effective.

Promo Tip #87 Clearly define what you are about – quickly, online or offline. People have short attention spans and are short on time – not just the music industry, but most people in general. This is very important! DonÂ’t waste words. Make anything you have to say about yourself or band enough to give the important necessary information and cut out the nonsense.

Promo Tip #88 Create a band calendar with some humorous photos of the various band members at various events.

Promo Tip #89 You heard it through the grapevine. Share “some” inside knowledge with other bands and songwriters in your area. Start your own information highway.

Promo Tip #90 Create an automated template for emails. Take the time to add the personÂ’s name with a personal tidbit, but save time with a readymade email guide. Respond to unsolicited emails with your own personalized marketing message and a link to your website.

Industry Tips & Advice: How Audio Post Production Works by Dave Roos 2 of 3

Boom mics record the actor’s voices, which are then edited during audio post production.

© Gregg Segal/Stone/Getty Images
Different Aspects of Audio Post Production

In film and TV, the audio portion of a project is recorded separately from the video. Unlike your home video camera, the film or video cameras used in professional productions don’t have built-in microphones. Instead, all dialogue is recorded with either a boom microphone (those long sticks with the fuzzy mics on top) or a tiny, wireless lavalier mic that can be hidden in an actor’s clothing. Most other audio — like ambient background noise and music — is added in post production.

Post production refers to all the editing, assembling and finalizing of a project once all the scenes have been shot. Audio post production begins once the editors have assembled a locked cut of the project. A locked cut of a film contains all of the visual elements — selected takes, special effects, transitions, graphics — that’ll appear in a film’s final cut.

With the locked cut in hand, the audio post-production staff can start spotting the film for sound. Different members of the post production team look for different things:

The dialogue editor examines every line of spoken dialogue, listening for badly recorded lines (too quiet, too loud, jarbled, et cetera) or times when an actor’s voice is out of sync with his lips.
Sound effects designers look for places where they’ll need to add ambient background noise (honking cars in a city, tweeting birds in the country), and “hard effects” like explosions, doors slamming and gun shots .
Foley artists look for places to fill in details like footsteps across a wood floor, a faucet running, the sound of a plastic cup being placed on a marble countertop, et cetera.
The music editor looks for inspiration to either commission original music or buy licenses for existing song use.
The composer, if he’s already hired, looks for places where original music would add to the on-screen moment.

If the dialogue editor needs to replace or re-record unusable pieces of dialogue, he’ll ask the actors to come in for an automated dialogue replacement (ADR) session. Here, the actors and editors synchronize the newly recorded dialogue with the lip movements on the screen and mix the audio smoothly into the existing recording.

Foley artists — named after the pioneering audio and effects man Jack Foley — use an eclectic bag of tricks to reproduce common sounds (a wooden chair for a creaky floor, cellophane for a crackling fire, a pile of audio tape for a field of grass, et cetera) .

Sound designers and effects editors spend much of their time collecting libraries of ambient natural sounds. They record the sound of Monday morning traffic and save it as a digital file for later use. They record washing machines running, children playing and crowds cheering. You can also buy ready-made libraries with all of these sounds. But some of the best sound designers like to create entirely original effects.

Ben Burtt, sound effects designer on the original Star Wars movies, used a distorted elephant bellow for the roar of a tie fighter. And the famous hum of the lightsaber? A blend of TV static and a 35mm projector .

The most important job in audio post production is the mix, where all of the sound elements of a project are balanced and blended together. Typically, this job is shared by a dialogue mixer, effects mixer and a music mixer . The final copy of the composite soundtrack is delivered either on optical film stock, as a digital file or both.

Now let’s look at some of the systems and software used in audio post production.



Industry Tips and Advice: Promo Tips For Artist PT. 8

Promo Tip #71 Give your fans insider, behind the scenes, back stage with the band info and videos. This is great info to include in newsletters – people that signed up to learn more about you on purpose.

Promo Tip #72 Take the good with the bad, and take it all graciously. You must keep your image clean or at least maintain the aforementioned image.

Promo Tip #73 DonÂ’t waste time, prioritize and go with the best bets. Put your energy into the correct market for YOUR music.

Promo Tip #74 If you can write well about a music subject, write and distribute articles. Always source the article back to your website. Let it be redistributed with the bottom author source info to spread your message and link.

Promo Tip #75 Gig swap with other bands from another area to widen your fan base.

Promo Tip #76 A music profile or bio, press kit and press releases should all be well written, free of misspellings, kept current, and to the point. Schedule updates of your various online activities.

Promo Tip #77 Find a business in your area that you can partner with for mutual benefit. If something about a song, style, or image would boost a local business, develop a cross promotional relationship.

Promo Tip #78 Respond to all your correspondence in a timely, businesslike, and correct manner – appropriate to the sender. Be considerate of your audience.

Promo Tip #79 Give people what they want. ItÂ’s all about the fans. If they come to your website, give them information that makes THEM feel good. If they come to your show, entertain them, thank them and thank the venue for the experience.

Promo Tip #80 DonÂ’t disappear. Once you have started building your momentum, it is a continuous onslaught.

Industry Tips & Advice: How Audio Post Production Works by Dave Roos 1 of 3

Films like Tim Burton’s Batman require extensive editing of audio, including voices and special effects.

© Terry O’Neill/Getty Images

Batman looks down from a Gotham rooftop into the dark alley below. We hear the sounds of the big city: cars whizzing by, sirens wailing in the distance, indistinguishable voices calling to each other from the street. The Joker and his henchmen enter the alley dragging a helpless Vicki Vale. We hear Vicki’s muffled screams, the Joker’s evil cackle and the scrape of Vicki’s high heels across the pavement.

The movie score swells as Batman dives from the rooftop. We hear the metallic whir of his zip line and his leather cape snapping as it cuts through the air. Then comes the fight — the punches, grunts, thumps and slams punctuated by blaring horns and sharp percussion from the soundtrack.

On the screen, this scene takes less than a minute. But behind the scenes, professional audio post production engineers worked hundreds of hours to make sure that every snippet of dialogue, every scrape of a shoe, every tiny detail of background noise, every sound effect and every second of the film score are perfectly blended to create a cohesive and powerful cinematic experience.

Audio post-production editors won’t ever be famous (they don’t even give them speech time at the Oscars), but the work they do is crucial to film and television productions. A screenwriter can come up with the funniest dialogue in the world, but who’s laughing if the audience can’t hear it? A digital animation team can design dazzling characters and expansive virtual worlds, but often it’s the audio details — the ruffle of the character’s clothes, the wind through the digital leaves and the subtle hints of the musical score — that make the world come alive.

The tools of audio post production can be as low tech as a fist and a sirloin steak (for the most realistic punches) or as high tech as a sprawling mixing console powered by the latest digital editing software.

What are the different roles and responsibilities of an audio post-production team? And how does digital technology help post production engineers do their work faster and better than ever? Read on to find out.



Industry Tips and Advice: Promo Tips For Artist PT. 7

Promo Tip #61 You will hear a lot of noÂ’s and negativity. That is to be expected as everyoneÂ’s taste is different. Hopefully someone will give you some constructive criticism. Learn from it what you can but keep moving forward.

Promo Tip #62 Develop yourself as a complete package. Record labels do not spend the money on A&R as in the day. Educate yourself as a well-rounded music artist and present yourself as such.

Promo Tip #63 Elevator Pitch – If you only have one shot to make an impression in 30 seconds or less, can you do it? You will need to, so practice it!

Promo Tip #64 Post your gigs on your website(s), class ads, Craigslist, Backpage and other sites for your location.

Promo Tip #65 Submit your music to songwriting competitions, musician competitions, singing contests – try out for American Idol, for gosh sakes!

Promo Tip #66 Do a free conference call to chat with fans using your website. Record the call and follow up by posting the MP3 on your site. Promote it for all its worth.

Promo Tip #67 Never release an inferior product, send out professional, and only your very best demos and new releases.

Promo Tip #68 Get testimonials and reviews from people that matter and start locally if you have to. Add them to your press kit.

Promo Tip #69 Make sure you make it easy for potentials sales to happen whether on your site or at a show. Make the payment process, safe, secure and EASY.

Promo Tip #70 Have a house concert. Invite the neighborhood to your backyard.

Industry Tips and Advice: Promo Tips For Artist PT. 6

Promo Tip #51 Create a music slogan of up to 8 words (less is better) that quickly, accurately and in a catchy manner describes your music in a real way.

Promo Tip #52 Give a review to get a review, honestly is the best policy, but never brutality. Many times someone will return the favor and it shows your knowledge, your twist, on the music created.

Promo Tip #53 Print up posters and/or flyers about your upcoming show and post them wherever your type of fans would hang out and include your web link, show date, name of CD, where CD can be purchased.

Promo Tip #54 Get into podcasting and videocasting yourself or making your music available for podcasting.

Promo Tip #55 Tag your MP3s with your name or band name, not just the song name. They need to know WHO did this material when they happen across it months later.

Promo Tip #56 Know who you are! Get into an appropriate category so that you can be found. People have to be able to identify your sound into a category that they can identify with. You may want to portray a new edgy sound, which is fine, but there are still general categories that people search on in record stores or online and you have to be found in one of them.

Promo Tip #57 Throw a listen-in. Contact record stores, coffee shops, book stores, malls, recreational areas, galleries, cool clothing stores or nightclubs that are willing to support local music. The free listen-in could have talk session and discounted CDs with coupons.

Promo Tip #58 Keep it simple silly, web sites that take a long time to load, are not easy to navigate, and are not interesting will not keep the viewerÂ’s attention long enough for them to get to know you. So donÂ’t make your personal website or any site that can be customized, so frilly that it turns a potential opportunity away.

Promo Tip #59 Join local communities and organizations and go to meetings periodically and pay attention. Listen for opportunities in what they are saying and perhaps volunteer. Help them and they will help you. Non profit organizations are likely to have access to media outlets that may give your some exposure.

Promo Tip #60 Check your public and local radio stations that play your type of music and try to get some air time.

Industry Tips and Advice: Promo Tips For Artist PT. 5

Promo Tip #41 Be outrageous or controversial. Shock value can work, but it can backfire too. Can you maintain the image? It has worked for many, but was a disaster for many more. Think this tip out.

Promo Tip #42 Create a fan club online and get them to spread your banners, links and provide content for them to spread.

Promo Tip #43 Who are the VIPs in your community – who are the popular people in your area? Get to know them, give them a free CD and invite them to your show. When they speak, others will listen.

Promo Tip #44 Create a video and get on YouTube. Place your video on all relevant video sites. Video Scrapbook (or Diary) your music bandÂ’s progress, accomplishments, and jam sessions. This could make for good clips in other projects.

Promo Tip #45 Have a CD, digital download and other merchandise for sale. Generate some sales so you have something to invest in other areas of your marketing effort.

Promo Tip #46 Have star quality, but donÂ’t be a big-head. Let people know you are professional and have the ability to be a long lasting star in this business.

Promo Tip #47 Never Spam email.

Promo Tip #48 Have a press kit ready to send out or email. Have it neatly organized with a brief bio, a short description (about 30 words or less) on what you sound like, full length bio, quality photos, music samples, current press releases and quality newsworthy items, song lyrics, radio airplay and chart position information, and detailed contact information.

Promo Tip #49 Join online music groups and newsgroups.

Promo Tip #50 Be a bit mysterious, hold back and leave them wanting more. Timing is everything for some info, releases, etc.

Article: Do’s and Don’t's of Social Networking – Know your fans to keep your fans! by KATEY LAUREL

So one of the main things I’ve had to learn this year with the rapid advance of social networking as a direct-connect to your fans is this:  DON’T make the mistake of overmarketing to them.
Fans become fans because they LIKE your music, but they are naturally curious about the person behind the music and the LOVE getting to know you even more than they like your music.  This is an incredibly important lesson to learn. Keep in mind that the same should be true for you in order for there to exist a genuine relationship between the two of you…be more interested in learning about and knowing your fans than SELLING to them.  They will buy your music if and only if you’ve established trust and interest with them as an independent artist.  Let’s face it – we’re not Taylor Swift or Beyonce who have had millions of dollars behind developing their brand that is mass-marketed to everyone.  We are independent artists with limited marketing budgets and time and genuine care will go a LONG way in your social networking strategies.

I was fortunate to have a couple wake-up calls from fans on Facebook letting me know that they were tuning out or leaving because “all you do is talk about your songs.”  WOW.  That hurts.  I thank them for being honest and opening my eyes and engaging me in a discussion that eventually earned back their trust.

Now, I take time to thoughfully formulate a status update that lets them see inside the window of my day-to-day existence, whether it’s a fall bike ride, or baking pumpkin pies or what kind of music I feel like listening to or playing.  After all, I’m just another person, not a music machine, right?  This keeps my fans engaged, “liking” my status and tuning in for when I have important marketing announcements to make.

I’ve noticed time and time again when I ask something about THEM (people love to talk about themselves) I get a lot more response than when I narcissistically post about myself all the time.  Get your fans involved with a small “survey” that is a “get to know you better” tool (like surveymonkey.com) and you’ll find out a lot of great things about that that may help you understand what they like more.  For instance, in the survey I conducted, I found out that most of my fans’ favorite season is Autumn…so guess who just put out a fall/winter single about saying goodbye to fall and snuggling up with a loved one through the winter?  It’s important to know what your fans LIKE.  After all, they are your best supporter and customer, right?

Find out if your fans are even interested in buying more music from you before you proceed with another recording!  This is worth its weight in gold.  If they are, what format do they prefer?  Digital download, CD, vinyl?  FIND OUT.  You need to be conforming your business model to what your market wants, or you will sell nothing and spend needlessly.  Maybe you’re riding the line between rock and country.  Find out if your fan base is more interested in one over the other.  This might sound like a sell-out technique, but remember, your fans are unbiased and they probably see the best in you before you do.  Some of the best advice I ever received was “The Market is always right.”  This means that if stocks go down and you’re long, you are broke.  It also means that the people buying your product will determine what sells.  It makes all the sense in the world, so LISTEN to your market.

Okay, that’s it.  A few tips that hopefully will help you connect with your fans more personally in this cyber-centric world.  Take care and keep making AND selling GREAT MUSIC.



Industry Tips and Advice: Promo Tips For Artist PT. 4

Promo Tip #31 Never mail your CD without a purpose or a contact person’s name on it and expect miracles. Far better that the contact person knows to expect your CD, his or her name is spelled correctly, and you are mailing it to a company that actually works with your style of music.

Promo Tip #32 Wear your band! Get a jacket, t-shirts (etc) and add your band name or logo on it. Wear it everywhere and be a walking advertisement. If you have a niche fan base, think of a merchandise item that they need that of course has your name on it!

Promo Tip #33 Create an interesting band logo. It can be a conversation starter or a potential contest question.

Promo Tip #34 Join a Songwriting Circle. This is a local idea (though it is possible through the Internet), to meet with other songwriters in your own area and share your songs. You can get feedback on your work, share ideas and tips, possibly collaborate on work, learn about what’s happening locally, help each other in many ways. If you wanted to start your own circle or look for one, you could use Craigslist for your Wanted or Needed post. Most ask that you be open minded and dedicated, with a willingness to listen and give feedback.

Promo Tip #35 Burn your best song as a single. On the CD and cover include ALL contact info, website, names, etc and distribute that CD wherever you go, for free.

Promo Tip #36 Have a custom vinyl car wrap created about your music/band and put it on your car. OR a use a magnetic door sign for your vehicle will work as well.

Promo Tip #37 Cross promote online on your web sites with local bands as well. You give them a boost on your site and they give the same back to you. Ask other people to LINK TO YOUR music site from their website!

Promo Tip #38 Introducing your band whether in person or online has a lot of similarity in speech writing techniques, in that you have to grab the reader or listener or viewer in the first 30 seconds. Your opening line needs to have punch, snag the audience and reel them right in. Remember the rock group KISS and “Are you ready to Rock?!!” Find your attention getting line and use it. Don’t fall victim to the less inspiring, “um, hi guys, um, we are the ‘Example’ band…”

Promo Tip #39 Use Internet class ads as well as local newspapers to promote upcoming events and possible collaborations with others. Print papers and magazines need advance notice so plan accordingly.

Promo Tip #40 Create an online newsletter, with content of value to the receiver. This is an invaluable way to keep fans informed on gigs, news, gossip, new releases and other great info. Send out your newsletter about once a month.

Industry Tips & Advice: How to Communicate With Fans So You Connect With Them (Instead of Bore Them to Tears) by BOB BAKER

In the same way that there is an art and craft to songwriting, there is also a craft to writing and using language in general and these word-related skills can play a big part in how effectively you communicate with fans – especially online.

In this article I’m going to quickly address something called “point of view” and why it’s so important — namely, when to use the First Person, Second Person, or Third Person perspective when talking about and describing your music.

You probably learned these things in school. But just in case you forgot the details, here’s a refresher on what they are:

  • First Person is when you write about yourself: “I just wrote a new song” or “We have a big show coming up this weekend.”
  • Second Person is when you speak directly to the reader: “You will really enjoy this new song” or “You should come to our show this Saturday night.” (The second example actually combines first and second points of view in both “you” and “our” terms.)
  • Third Person speaks from a more distant, observer viewpoint: “Suzy just wrote a new song” or “The XYZ band has a big show coming up this weekend.”

Great. You’re back on track with what these three things are. Now, how can you use them to more powerfully communicate with fans?

First, let’s consider the way a band might describe the music on it’s new album. Here’s one version written in the Third Person:

“On this new album, the listener will be swept away by the pulsating rhythms as his or her body is compelled to get up, shimmy and shake the night away. A perfect gift for the special dancer in one’s life.”

That’s cool, but it could be made much stronger with a simple shift in perspective. Here’s an alternate version of the same words written in the Second Person:

“On this new album, you’ll be swept away by the pulsating rhythms as your body is compelled to get up, shimmy and shake the night away. A perfect gift for yourself or that special dancer in your life.”

See the subtle difference? “YOU” is a powerful word. In most cases, speaking directly to your fans in this way (and actually helping them visualize how they’ll enjoy the music) is the best way to write about your sounds.

Now let’s consider how you might approach an artist bio, especially when it comes to putting a positive spin on what you do. In fact, I’ll use myself as an example here, because I just got some nice press coverage that I plan to add to my bio.

Here’s one way I could weave it in using the Third Person point of view:

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Bob Baker is “one of the most widely recognized authorities on music marketing. A prolific writer, indie musician and former music magazine editor, Baker is regarded as one of the industry’s leaders in helping musicians leverage online web and marketing strategies to boost their careers.”

Pretty cool, huh? Quoting a media source works pretty well here.

Now consider how that same information would feel if it had been written in First Person:

I am one of the most widely recognized authorities on music marketing. A prolific writer, indie musician and former music magazine editor, I am regarded as one of the industry’s leaders in helping musicians leverage online web and marketing strategies to boost their careers.

Hmm … awkward! Yep, that version would make me look like an egotistical baffoon. So when it comes to heaping praise on yourself, be cautious and consider quoting a fan, industry expert or media person instead of saying it yourself.

So, is there ever a good time to write in the First Person?

Of course, there is. First Person is great when telling personal stories and giving people a glimpse into your world, such as:

“You’ll never believe what happened to us when we stopped at a 7-11 in Biloxi , Mississippi. It was close to midnight and I had a sudden urge for a Slurpee ..”

“I’d love to tell you the surprising reason I wrote this song and why it means so much to me …”

So there you have it …

  • Use First Person when sharing personal stories and your inner most thoughts.
  • Use Second Person when describing your music, promoting shows, and encouraging fans to buy.
  • Use Third Person to quote other people saying awesome things about you.
  • Combine First and Second Person for even greater impact, as in “I want you to know how much I appreciate you and your support.”


Bob Baker is the author of “,” Berkleemusic’s “” course, and many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros. You’ll find Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips, and articles at  and .



Industry Tips & Advice: Best Kept Secret for Advancing Your Music Career by Minh D. Chau

Let’s paint a scenario. Let’s say you’ve got some great music. You’re an up-and-coming independent. It doesn’t matter who you are – the songwriter, the producer, the artist, the manager, or the indie label owner. You’ve generated some pretty good buzz for that music. And, you happen to have $5000 to spend. What should you spend it on? What would really help advance your career?

A. Spend it on advertising
B. Spend it going on tour
C. Hire a publicist
D. Hire a lawyer
E. Hire a college radio promoter

And the correct answer is…

D. Hire a lawyer

Are you surprised by the answer? You shouldn’t be. Truth is, in the world of entertainment, the attorney is king in many ways. They are the silent force behind every deal and advancement. They are the music industry’s silent gatekeeper and its best kept secret (and probably safe to say, best weapon).

An entertainment attorney does much more than review paperwork, negotiate contracts, or sue people. Their interest is their client’s success within the industry. It means financial gain for them. They are well-connected. They are valuable and respected within the industry. Therefore, many of them are making career-advancing connections for their clients. They are also aware of many of the things that are happening within the industry. If a client of theirs has been offered a deal, they’re able and willing to solicit other offers for their client so that their client can get the best deal. They also help you re-negotiate for better terms if you’ve proven yourself to be a commodity with your work. The entertainment attorney is also one of the main go-to persons within the industry for career guidance and advice. Sometimes, more so than the manager.

I was at an ASCAP event where there were several great songwriters/producers on the panels (it’s obvious I’m an ASCAP member).  I remember one particular panel, during which “the secret” was leaked. The hit songwriter (I can’t remember his name) said that he didn’t have a manager and that you didn’t really need one. He went on to say that the key person to his career success was his attorney. He said, “the lawyer is king in this business.” When I heard this, I thought, “You can’t be serious.” But when another hit songwriter/producer backed his statement a little later on during the discussion, I had to pay attention. I haven’t forgotten it since. I went back and did more research and what he said was true. Why hadn’t anyone told me about this? All the countless reading I’ve done, videos I’ve watched, and God-knows-what. But, I was happy. At least now I know. And now, you know.

So, start doing some research and find the good ones. (There are grimy ones you want to stay away from.)  But, I’d advise you to be serious and make sure your stuff is actually great. Pay for some consultations and start building a working relationship with a reputable entertainment attorney. Every chance you get, work with your attorney. Get counsel. Get them to draw up some standard contracts for you. Become a regular client. Then, ask them to help you make some connections or get your music into the right hands. Not only will you be protected, but you’ll be connected into the industry through that relationship – one you should prioritize.

Lastly, I want to point out that those who take this route are generally those who are already very business-minded and organized in their efforts to further their careers, be it as an artist, songwriter/producer, or independent executive. It’s definitely not for everybody, but it’s one route that’s not discussed much, which is why I wanted to bring it up here.


Minh is an artist, producer, and entrepreneur based in the DC area. His site is



Industry Tips and Advice: Promo Tips For Artist PT. 3

Promo Tip #21 Get online air play. There are a lot of indie radio webcasts, join sites and do what you have to do to get on the playlists.

Promo Tip #22 Create an interesting banner to drop in your forum signatures or other online locations. Many message boards will let you leave a link and/or banner in your signature, but donÂ’t like blatant advertising.

Promo Tip #23 Brand your name across the world and be ever mindful of the image you wish to portray whenever out in public or online. When itÂ’s in print, itÂ’s permanent.

Promo Tip #24 There is such a thing as overkill, in that it is better to describe your band/music as “we sound similar to the Beatles” rather than “we are the biggest thing since Led Zeppelin!” (or better than). So word your description accordingly.

Promo Tip #25 The music business is in the business to make money. If your career is in music, know when to be businesslike.

Promo Tip #26 Learn every area of the business you are in. Knowledge is power.

Promo Tip #27 You must network. Meet people, get out there, shake hands, listen to them as well and let them know about your music. Build those relationships.

Promo Tip #28 Be on friendly terms with other bands and artists in your area.

Promo Tip #29 Create a “street team”, online and/or offline…they are core people that wish to help you further your marketing efforts. Give away free tickets, CDs or merchandise to your street team as incentive.

Promo Tip #30 Announce every song, every CD, decent chart position, contest win, top sales on releases, announce anything and everything to stay in the publicÂ’s eye. If you canÂ’t write a decent article up for the press release, get someone that can. Write a review of every gig and get feedback from local VIPs, fans, whomever matters and include the best quotes. Is it news worthy? Write and promote it. Get the most mileage you can from your promotional tactics.

Industry Tips & Advice: How A Major Label Markets A New Artist by MINH D. CHAU

Recently, ASCAP’s Daily Brief included an article by David F. Carr entitled, .  I thought there was one paragraph in there that was extremely insightful that some readers may not have caught. It needed to be expounded upon. If you’ve always wondered how a major label goes about building a fanbase for a new artist – as far as their overarching philosophy on it – there it was!

The statement came from Eric Snowden, VP of Digital Creative and Technology at Atlantic Records (Warner Music). Here’s the paragraph:

The promotional strategy is also different for new artists than for established ones, Snowden said. “At the beginning of an artist’s career, we want to keep the barrier to entry very low,” he said, and that may mean publishing more free content and sharing it more widely. As an artist becomes more popular, “we ask a little bit more from fans and try to drive them to our own wholly owned properties more.”

For some reading this, it’s a “duh” kind-of-thing. But, I thought there are those out there for whom understanding this will help them become more clear in how to market their music. So the major label’s approach is two-fold:

  1. When you’re unknown, make it easy for people to engage (content is free, content is everywhere).
  2. When you become more popular, you can ask for more from people (content is paid, content is exclusive).

We usually are only aware of the process that takes place after a new major label artist has hit a critical mass point and is getting ready to be pushed into national recognition. It’s a funny thing. Think about it. When you hear about a “new” or “emerging” artist in the media, they’ve actually already reached critical mass, they just haven’t reached national recognition.

There are artists that reach that critical mass on their own and then sign with a major label. Then, there are artists that major labels bring to that point and then push them onto national recognition. I have a friend who has a development deal w/ a major and I’ve been following his process. And I’m seeing the overarching philosophy mentioned above at work.

When I read the article above, it also made me think about Drake’s (the rapper) early career and how the same overarching philosophy is applied (I’m referring to the method of releasing free mixtapes and having him everywhere to be discovered – even before his sound became fine-tuned – even before the So Far Gone mixtape). It also made me think of drug dealing.  First few hits are free. Once you’re hooked, it’s time to pay.

The more I learn about this music business, the more I realize how much common sense comes into play. It’s understanding basic human psychology and working it to your advantage, using whatever means and methods necessary (short of breaking the law, of course). It’s a real hustle. I’m sure many can attest to this. And when you hustle, understanding the philosophy above, you’ll eventually be big – given that you don’t quit and your product is good.


Minh is an artist, producer, and entrepreneur based in the DC metro area. His website is . 



Industry Tips & Advice: Increase Your Odds of Getting Signed By Bobby Borg

Most artists dream about getting signed to a recording agreement, yet few know anything about the record company personnel responsible for discovering new talent, what these people look for in an artist, and where and when they look to find it. You might just find that the first step to getting a record deal is to take a do it yourself approach to your career. A discussion on A&R can easily take up hundreds of pages, but here is a brief overview.

Who Are A&R Reps?

A&R representatives (an acronym for Artists and Repertoire) are record company personnel whose job it is to discover new talent and help develop careers. The further A&R reps can climb up the corporate ladder and the bigger their salary, the more stressful their job, and also the more fearful they become of losing it. They have a great responsibility to make money for their companies and to justify their career positions. For this reason, A&R reps often follow trends, look for “sure things” or wait to see what A&R reps at other labels are pursuing. Contrary to popular belief, most A&R personnel do not have “signing power.” Once an A&R representative finds a potential artist, they have the difficult task of getting the approval of their record company presidents-and getting approval is often the hardest part of the job! The average life-span of an A&R rep at a label is three years.

What Do A&R Looks For In New Talent?

A&R reps look for artists who have potential hit songs, a signature sound, a marketable image, long-term career potential (i.e., youthfulness and adaptability) and a great live show. A&R reps prefer business-minded bands that first help themselves. Artists who press and sell their own recordings, perform live, build a strong fan base, design their own websites, establish a strong web presence and have a very clear vision of their goals are far more attractive to record company representatives than those who don’t. Musicians who know everything from what sort of image they want to how they want their album cover artwork and videos to appear make an A&R reps job that much easier.

A&R reps also look for artists who have a great work ethic. Will the members of the band continue to work hard at creating their own opportunities once they get signed or will they rely entirely on their label to do everything? Will they have the endurance to tour relentlessly or will they burn out quickly? Do they have wives, kids, substantial bills, and other domestic responsibilities that may inhibit the pursuit of their goals? Simply put, record labels look for the path of least resistance to ensure that they’ll make a profit from their investments.

Where Do A&R Look For New Talent?

A&R representatives discover new bands through independent record labels, listening to college radio stations, searching the bins of mom-and-pop record stores, attending local club performances, reading reviews in local and national trade magazines, attending annual music conventions and conferences, surfing the Internet for MP3 music files, and keeping a watchful eye on Sound Scan reports (a service that reports album sales figures by tracking registered bar codes). They also rely on referrals made from established bands, record label scouts, friends and relatives of industry executives, reputable producers, managers, attorneys, and publishing companies.

When Do A&R Sign New Talent?

Pin-pointing the exact time of year that A&R representatives are most likely to sign new talent is difficult, however one thing is certain: there’s usually not many signings during the fourth quarter (October through December). During this period, most company’s financial budgets for new projects have likely been accounted for or depleted. Additionally, being that it’s the holiday season, most companies are focusing on pushing its major artists whose new albums are usually timed for release right before the holiday shopping season. Of course there are exceptions to the aforementioned; it’s possible for a really hot band in the middle of a bidding war to get signed in the fourth quarter, but generally October through December is really not a good time for new bands.

Final Thoughts

In general, A&R representatives don’t like to be approached directly by fledgling artists. In fact, most record companies don’t even accept unsolicited materials through the mail. Though there are exceptions to every rule, the reps philosophy is that when you’re truly ready to get to a recording agreement, they’ll find you! So be realistic about the music biz and your career goals, learn to be more proactive about your career, and just get out there be heard doing what you love best-PLAYING MUSIC!

Bobby Borg is the author of “The Musician’s Handbook: A Practical Guide To Understanding The Music Business,” which is NOW available by Billboard Books; available on-line at Amazon.com or in a store near you! For more information:  Mail to:bborg@bobbyborg.com.



Industry Tips & Advice: How To Reach Out To Industry Execs by MINH D. CHAU

Every now and then, I go on an open mic binge and discover new little spots and new artists honing their craft. There was this one girl who was absolutely amazing. I told her what I did and she started asking questions. Our conversation came around to how one can get the right exposure and further their career. I shared with her a lot of things, but one of them was about reaching out to industry insiders and building a professional network that will help propel her career forward. It’s not enough to play live. You have to also work hard at building your professional network in the music industry. Finding contact info is easy. There are directories and registries out there you can buy. However, there are some realities concerning industry people that you have to understand before you reach out to them. Or else, you’ll only annoy and alienate them. Here are those realities.


  • They each have very specific objectives and goals. And you have to fit into them.  Contrary to rookie belief, industry execs aren’t sitting around waiting for something awesome to drop in their lap (i.e. your awesomeness). They are business people. And business people always have something specific that they are looking for and are aiming to do. I read something interesting somewhere about Scooter Braun (manager of Justin Bieber and Asher Roth). He literally had a goal of signing and breaking a young boy singer, a white rapper, and a female singer. So he went out and worked toward that goal. He ended up with Justin Bieber (the young boy singer) and Asher Roth (the white rapper). I haven’t heard anything about a female artist, but I’m sure it’ll happen considering how driven Scooter Braun is. Point is, don’t be discouraged when you get rejected or ignored. It’s nothing personal. It’s business. Yes, sometimes, it’s because the music plain sucks (to them). But a lot of times, it’s because you simply do not fit into their objectives and goals. But, you have to keep reaching out and building your professional network until some relationships start clicking together.


  • Timing is everything. It’s not just about fitting into their objectives and goals. It’s about fitting into their objectives and goals at the moment. As with anything in life and business, there are times when you need certain things and there are times when you simply don’t. We work with what’s useful to us in a particular moment. Well, industry execs aren’t any different. If you’re not useful for the moment, they really don’t have time to deal with you. Really. They LITERALLY don’t have time. You’ll be amazed at how many things they are juggling at one time. I remember landing a film/tv licensing agreement for an album because one of my team members email that company at the exact time they were looking for music like mine. I can tell you, we were reaching out to people regardless of being rejected or ignored. Then, something clicked! Timing has a lot to do with persistent effort. Mainly because persistence will always catch up to right timing.


  • They have a special disdain for neediness. You know that vibe you get when you know someone just wants something from you. That look in their eyes? The things they say? It’s horrible. Most of us are uncomfortable with it. Industry execs aren’t any different. If you have something you want them to check out or listen to, keep it short and sweet and let the chips fall where they may. “Hey, I’ve got this new track. Will you check this out when you get a chance to see if it fits with anything you’re looking for or working on? Thanks! If you need anything, let me know.” Done! Move on.
  • They like gifts, but more so, givers. After all, who doesn’t? Really, it’s about how willing you are to be useful. Yes, to be used. Some say, “I hate being used.” I say, “Use me, please.” Then, I’d work hard to make myself indispensable. Whether you’re an upcoming artist or aspiring exec, be willing to be used. Russell Simmons, in his new book, Super Rich, shared an amazing story about the early days of Lyor Cohen (the much-respected CEO of Recorded Music at Warner Music Group). Lyor was doing concert promotion on the West Coast when he first connected with Russell Simmons putting together and promoting a hip-hop concert.  That show went well, but a little later on, his concert promotion venture basically failed. So, he got in touch with Russell Simmons wanting to work for him.

    Lyor Cohen flew out to New York to meet with Russell Simmons. During the meeting, a situation came up where the tour manager of a hip-hop group went awol, completely missing. And the group was supposed to leave that day for a European tour. Lyor, without hesitation, volunteered to do it since he could. He didn’t worry or care about being paid, didn’t even ask. Just volunteered. Russell agreed. Lyor, with his unpacked bags, immediately went to meet the group and took them on tour. He did such a phenomenal job that Russell had no other logical conclusion but to bring Lyor on as part of his team. Working with Russell Simmons led to the executive rise of Lyor Cohen to one of the most important posts in music today.

    The moral of the story is: Be a giver! Have the right spirit about you. Don’t have the grimey, needy spirit about you. If you worry more about being paid than being useful, you might as well quit now and stop wasting your time. Even if you have an ounce of a career, it wont last.  Industry execs love givers and hardworkers. Those kind of people are indispensable.

  • They’re not your filters. They are the industry’s filters. This is an important thing to understand. Too often, people reach out to industry execs with really sub-standard materials (music, marketability, career-advancement). Before you reach out to an industry exec, your stuff needs to pass with flying colors to your family, friends, and strangers who aren’t in the music industry. (Given that you demand absolutely honesty, even if it hurts, from them.) Hone your music, persona, and get some things going for yourself before you reach out to anyone in the industry. They’re not there to be your filters. They’re there to do what’s best for their business – they’re filtering for their business. Don’t use them to find out if you’re good enough. It doesn’t work that way. Prove you’re good enough by having a fanbase, by having things going for yourself. Have some real value. Then, see if your value can bring increased value to them and what they’re trying to accomplish.
  • It really is all about relationships. This shouldn’t be hard to understand. The music business isn’t any different from any other business. You want to succeed? Build your professional network. It takes years to have a significant, valuable professional network in any industry. When I first started out, the first thing I did (after making good enough music) was go to industry events – to “catch the spirit of the industry” and to meet people (those who are up-and-coming and those who are more established). When you’re an artist, it goes without saying that you should be playing out live (or having your dance music spun in clubs). But if you’re not also working to build your professional network, you wont have a real substantial career. I’ve shared this story before, but I’ll share it again.

    Moby was once asked why he succeeded in such a spectacular way while others did not. He answered by saying that while others were running around town promoting their gigs, he was out networking and meeting industry people that could propel his career forward. Build your professional network. This is second only to honing your craft. The relationships you have will make or break your career, whether as an artist or as an aspiring exec.

I’m sure there are more realities that could be covered, but I feel like these are the most important ones to understand. In the words of Dale Carnegie, “speak to the other person’s interests” in everything you do…especially when it comes to reaching out to industry execs. And in the wise words of Jesus, “the greatest among you will be your servant”. How well can you serve someone else’s purpose? The better you can, the better your career will be.


Minh is an artist, producer, and entrepreur based in the DC area. His site is. 



Industry Tips & Advice: Music Contracts

With all of the different record companies that are out there today you will notice that there are also hundreds of different contracts and contract styles.  Each company, whether it’s Warner or some small independent label, will have a contract for you to sign and most will have certain parts to it, but not all will be worded the same.  Also some may have added perks or requirements that others may not.  So be ready for pretty much anything, and be sure you understand what you are signing.

Reading and understanding the contract are two completely different things though.  If you sit down and simply try to read through the words on the page you will discover that this wasn’t written by normal people with normal English and grammar.  Sentences start to become full paragraphs and commas and semi-colons become few and far between.  On top of all of that, sentence start referring back to other sentences in the contract using a combination of numbers and letters (like: 1(A)3(c)(ii)) and before you know it you are just plowing through words that mean nothing to you.  At this point you will probably realize why so many other bands and songwriters have opted for an entertainment attorney.  This person will be able to read what exactly the contract is saying and explain it to you, so you can fully understand what you are signing.

Normally before the band sits down with the company to sign a contract, they have already laid some of the groundwork.  Things like how much they will be paid per album sold, how many albums they must produce and if there will be any money paid up front are all things that are normally things decided before hand.  The reason for this is these are the terms that companies use to get the bands into the signing room.  The perks will cause the band to be interested, that being said, be sure the contract includes the terms that you had previously agreed upon.


Every contract that any record company will have you sign will be an exclusive contract.  This means you will work for no one else but them.  You can’t sell your songs to someone else, or create an album for another company, you committed to the one company for whatever the term of the contract is.  These terms can be a year or many years, it depends a lot on the band and also on the company.  If they feel the band will be very successful they generally will try and sign you longer.  Doing this ensures the company that with all of the work they are putting into your band, they will eventually reap the benefits of your band at their peak success.  Normally there will also be an album amount on their as well.  It could say something about signing you for seven albums.  This does not mean that they are going to release seven different albums for you and your band.  Generally what the company will do is release one album, see how it goes and then make a decision from there.  If it does well, then they will release others, but they are not required to release a certain amount of albums for you.  If your album does poorly, they probably won’t release anything else and will drop you as soon as they legally can.  Another term you will probably see on the contract is the territory.  This simply means the area in which your contract is good for.  Generally the territory for your contract will be world-wide.  Basically saying that record company has control over your music everywhere, no matter what country you spread to.

If you’re like most musicians, your band simply wants to make good music and that’s what you are about.  When you hit the contract and record company stage, it’s about money.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad your music is.  If it sells and makes money you stay, if not you don’t.  This is the part of the music industry that makes it a business.  While you are in the business of making music, it’s all about making money.


Because making money is what this company is all about, the financial terms normally dominates the contract.  This means that over fifteen pages could simply be setting up the amount of money that the band will get, how much the company will get and how much the company will put in.  The majority of this section will be in discussing points.  These points are basically the percentage that the band will receive as their royalty rate.  It generally ranges from ten to fifteen percent with larger companies and nine to twelve for a smaller record company.

This royalty rate is just an easy way of saying the percentage of each full priced album sale that the band will receive.  Again, nine to fifteen percent is a normal royalty rate and it means that you will get that percentage of the retail price of the album each time it sells.  The royalty rate isn’t that cut and dry however.  The contract will probably state that this only applies when the album sells for retail.  Places like Sam Goody and other music stores will sell at retail, but what about the other places?  This will also be listed in your terms.  You will often only get a portion (about sixty to eighty percent of your normal royalty) for albums sold overseas and albums that are sold at a discount store.  You will also not get full royalty if the album sells at a record store, which normally sells at a lower rate and also if it sell online.  Each time a record is sold below the normal retail cost, it cuts into your royalty.

These companies will do all they can to make their royalty rates appealing to the artists.  They often will offer a huge royalty rate, but there are many other things that will come out of this money other than simple selling method and price.  Any CD that is simply given away as a promotion, you will get nothing for, which may seem obvious, but worth pointing out.  Also packaging becomes a huge issue.  Many record companies will expect the band to pay for the packaging and the taping of the album.  This will be taken out of your royalty rate and can be  up to thirty percent of it.  That means if you are receiving a twelve percent royalty rate and get a twenty-five percent packaging fee, you are only making nine percent now.  On top of all of those deductions, you still have to pay your producer.  Generally the record company won’t pay this and assume that your royalty pay is an “all-in” pay, both for your band and your producer.  After the producer takes his/her average three points, you will be left with about six percent of your original twelve.  On average, after all of the deductions and payments that need to be made, a band will make about one dollar per album sold at retail through normal channels, and even less than that when sold in other fashions.  Assuming the band is four people, each of them is only making twenty-five cents per album.  Because of all of these rules and conditions you can see why the financial terms portion of the contract can be a huge part.  Especially when they need to start addressing every possible way your album or record can be sold and determine royalties for each method.

An important part of any record contract that many bands seem to overlook or be surprised about is the fact it needs to be repaid.  Recoupe is basically a big word for pay back.  Essentially the record company puts tons of money into the band for any advances, studio time, promotional attempts and anything else the company did to help out the band before they were anything big.  All of this money needs to be paid back.  So, let’s say the company fronted $200,000 for studio time and advances and everything else.  That means the band’s royalty pay will actually be withheld until that money is made back by the record company.  If an album does really well, then the band will still make quite a bit off of it, but if it barely makes enough the cover the “loan,” then they may not make anything at all.  The first royalty check will be sent out after the debt is paid off.  However, let’s assume the album tanks, and doesn’t make even enough to recoup the loan the record company put out, the band pays nothing.  So in the end they won’t be paying back anything out of their own money, just postponing the money they will be making.

This recoupment phrase should be looked at carefully because it can encompass a whole lot more than simple CD sales.  While in most cases the band will be able to make money on their publishing rights while waiting for their royalty pay to come though, the contract may say otherwise.  There are some companies (normally smaller, independent companies) that will include any and all money the band makes in their recoupment process, called cross-collateralization.  Basically the band will receive no money at all until the loan is recouped and the company has regained its loses.  The good part about this type of contract is you won’t have sell nearly as many albums before you start getting royalty checks.  The downside is, however, you will get absolutely no money for anything that you do as a band, until you’ve paid the company back.


Advances will certainly be talked about in a bands meetings and contracts as well.  These used to be more of a signing bonus for a band.  Basically the record company would simply write them a check as sort of a “thank you” for choosing their company and also an incentive to join them.  The problem with this was, many band would then go way over budget when recording their songs and albums.  Of course record companies were upset about this, so they developed a new system of doing things.  Now, they will hand the band a check for recording, sort of a budget, but will have their bonus added to it.  That way if the band when over budget, it cut into their earnings rather than the companies.  It also ended up being a huge perk for the band to keep things under control and efficient in the recording studio.

Deciding on how much of an advancement you and your band would like can be tricky, but there are some things that you need to keep in mind while you are discussing it.  Remember, this advance is not for you to keep forever.  It will be part of the loan that you are taking out from the the company and will have to be recouped with your royalties later on.  This means that if the album doesn’t meet expectations and you’ve taken a large advance, the record company may be quicker to drop you because they lost a lot of money on you.  But also, you need money to live until your royalties and publishing checks come in.  It is definitely a balance and the right amount will depend on both the band and also the company you are working with.  Often times a smaller, independent company won’t be able to offer a huge advance, while the larger companies will use it as an incentive to join them.

In short, your contract with your record company can be huge, and can also contain tons of very important information for both you and your band to know.  The problem is it can also be “encoded” in “lawyer talk” and is very advisable to find an attorney to help you look it over.  Again, you will want to be sure that you understand what you are about to sign.  As trustworthy as many companies are, you won’t want to trust what they say, unless it is in the contract.  Remember, this is a business and the spoken word is nothing compared to the written word in the world of business.



Industry Tips & Advice: How a Publicist Builds Awareness of a Band in the Press and Public

Curtis Smith, the head of Maelstrom Music and Maelstrom Music PR, discusses the various types of press coverage that publicists can use to expose artists, and how each fits into a grand strategy of breaking an artist or band to the public.

Shoot Date: March 2008




Industry Tips & Advice: Tips on Writing an Effective Artist Biography by INDIEAMBASSADOR.COM

Indie Ambassador Resources Artist Biography

Written by Jem Bahaijoub

Album finished? Check. Tour dates? Check. Press photos? Check. Press release? Check. Biography? Urgh!

If you’re not a spectacular storyteller or wondrous wordsmith, then the task of writing or updating your biography can seem like an arduous task. However, a biography is an essential item in any musicians marketing tool kit. It positions your brand identity, communicates your key achievements and provides background info to fans and media alike. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way…..

Interview Yourself

If you’ve not yet put pen to paper, the best thing to do is put yourself in the position of a journalist. Devise a list of questions covering your career and interview yourself. Gain ideas and angles by reading up on blog Q&As, or identify interview questions you would ask a favorite band or artist. This will make the process of gathering your bio content a lot easier. While you are interviewing yourself, write down as much info as possible. You can edit this all later.

Plan Your Structure

Mumford and Sons

Your bio is not your life story. It’s a concise and well structured overview of your music career. This is why planning the format is key. Think carefully about what you want to include in each paragraph and keep the following in mind:

1. Define your key achievements. If you have performed with well-known artists or received awards or accolades, then now is the time to rave about them. List them according to their newsworthiness.

2. Your bio does not need to be chronological. In fact the first couple of paragraphs are often the most important as they’ll determine whether a journalist or fan will read on. Ensure that the beginning of your bio provides an effective summary of your sound. For example, the  conjures an image of their offering from the outset.

3. If you’re in a band, stick to writing about the band’s overall story, rather than each individual member in detail. It’s okay to dedicate some space to each member as long as the bio starts and ends with the band. Don’t kill the reader with detail – keep it focused.


Find Your Narrative Style


If you’re not a naturally gifted writer, than discovering your “writer’s voice” is one of the most difficult tasks. But don’t panic! If you write with passion and personality, you are halfway there. If you get stuck, utilize press quotes or even quote yourself.  is a good example of this.

Alternatively ask your friends and family to provide descriptors, and get feedback from them on your writing style. If in doubt, keep it short and simple. Balance style with substance.

Create a Work In Progress

Make life easy for yourself and write a biography that is easy to update on a regular basis. Adopt a style and format that is timeless and easy to add additional information to as your career progresses. Keep your bio as concise as possible — make every word count. If you struggle fitting all relevant information into one page, create both a short and long version that can be used accordingly.

Now get cracking….it won’t write itself.

Jem Bahaijoub is the founder of, a music marketing company based in Washington DC. Connect with her on  and 

Indie Ambassador Resources is an educational series produced by Indie Ambassador. Through our ,  and , artists and music professionals can educate themselves on general business topics, new technology and current industry trends.



Industry Tips & Advice: EQ Tips

From the “Hypnotic Audio Secrets-LIVE dvd.
How to recognize EQ frequency ranges for different instruments and voices. Get better sounding recordings and mixes by sculpting your sound so that everything gets heard clearly.

Industry Tips & Advice: Chuck D & Master P: Advice for Artists II

Part II where 1st week “sales” are broken down from an insider’s point of view. You’ll see how Lil Wayne sold a milli the 1st week. Raw game.

Industry Tips & Advice: Russell Simmons on Innovation and Business

For more CEO videos, go to www.wsj.com/video. WSJ’s Kelsey Hubbard asks music and fashion mogul Russell Simmons what it takes to be an innovator in business and juggle multiple companies. Produced/edited by Lauren Goode. (Nov. 14)

Industry Tips & Advice: How To to Publishing & Royalties Part 2 of 2

Industry Tips & Advice: Chuck D & Master P: Advice for Artists I

Chuck D and Master P give aspiring artists and producers some raw game on how to compete in today’s industry.


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