MUSIC & PUBLISHING. WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Starting out ?
Questions and answers that you may be asking yourself as an artist or songwriter starting out or just a bit overwhelmed by it all ?
1) I think I've got what it takes to make it, where do I begin?
Great, you’ve got what it takes, this is just the start. Have you got drive, passion, attitude, are you committed are you prepared for the ups and downs of the music industry?
Well if you think you are then let’s begin!
The music business is a multimillion pound industry. In 2010 119.9 million digital and physical albums were sold in the UK, and 161.2 Million singles were bought and legally downloaded over the year. And with all the money generated through song writing and performance on DVD, TV, Film and radio it is easy to understand how lucrative the music industry can be.
So where to begin?
Your first step. Well unless you win X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, the first step for the rest of you is to define your act, what are you? A solo singer, great, are you a girl or boy band a rock outfit? Brilliant .once you know this you need to let people hear you and see you, make a demo recording of your voice, songs or band then perform them live somewhere, could be at your school, one of your mates parties or your local pub. The importance of this is to get comfortable on stage and to make the public aware of you. Other promotional tools could also include a website or video. Remember no -one has ever been signed by just sitting in their room and hoping Simon Cowell will ring me up. So go on, get out there. Show them who you are and what you can do.
Your next possible step is to find a manager, the right manager really can make a huge impact on your career. A manager could be a friend or family member this has worked very successfully for acts like U2, Paul Weller and The Jackson 5 but ideally an established successful manager may be the better option. Having said this, it’s not essential to have a manager there have been many acts who have signed deals with no help from management.
Ok, now you're armed with a top manager, you've got three hit songs and your live performance is quite simply stunning, it is now time for you to enter the world of record and publishing deals and obviously, taking over the universe.
The Beginning: I want to be in a band or group what do I do?
Let’s set the scene. You've been dreaming of being in a band or group since you were born, you see yourself as part of the next One Direction or the guitarist in the next Cold Play, a sexy diva in the next Little Mix or are you a rapper in the next D12? Well you can't be in a group on your own, you need to find band or group members, musicians and singers. The most obvious way is to approach your friends and their friends, in all likelyhood there will be like minded people who share your passion, enthusiasm and musical talent. This worked for U2, Franz Ferdinand and Green Day. However the auditioning route has been extremely successful for many pop acts including Spice Girls, West life and Mcfly. If you take the audition route there are two choices, you can either place an advert yourself in local press, music magazines, the internet or even the local shop window looking for band or group members that share your vision or alternatively there are always plenty of bands or groups that are looking for people like you. When placing an advert it’s important to be as specific as possible. The age of your prospective band member is a factor you will have to consider. You wouldn't want a 40 year old in a band of 18 year olds. Mention your locality as you may not want someone having to travel down from Scotland all the time if you are in London. Another essential aspect is musical compatibility and ability. If you are a rock group with a high standard of musicianship, you don’t want a beginner who is into country music. the more precise you are the more time and money you will save.
2) I’ve answered an advert, I am going to an Audition, and what do I need to know?
Auditions can be a daunting prospect. What are they looking for? Will I be right? Have I chosen the right clothes, the right song? Do I have the right look? Do I have the X-factor? These are the questions you’ll be asking yourself.
Before we go any further, if you are under 18 its important that you are accompanied by a parent or adult even if you’re asked not to your parents can always wait outside .This is just common sense advice as occasionally there will be some unscrupulous people about.
The first point is to find out everything you possibly can about who is holding the Audition. If they are a management company are they established and reputable. Do they have other artists on their books .If an Audition is being held by a so-called record company, again try and find out as much as possible before hand, this could be done easily by typing their name into Google or any other internet search engine. If you have any doubts about it, don't waste your time and money, there will be plenty more auditions.
Be prepared before you go to an audition, Make sure that you fit into the style that they are looking for. Just because you can sing doesn't automatically mean you are right for the part. Make sure the song you choose is right for your voice. Too many singers try audition with the hardest song they can possibly find, even if you think you have an exceptional voice try to avoid songs by the great singers such as Maria, Whitney or Christina it’s unlikely you'll pull it off, and it may reduce your chances greatly of impressing at the audition.
Choose a song that you feel comfortable with and enjoy singing, it doesn't have to be very well known, but it can still showcase your voice .Try to avoid singing your own songs as you want to be judged for your voice and not your writing skills in most auditions. What should I wear? Well considering that you could be waiting around for hours before your turn comes around, wear something comfortable, yet appropriate for the type of audition you are attending.
Some unscrupulous companies will charge you for your audition, please remember, and this is very important, under no circumstances should you part with any money to take part in any audition. Genuine auditions should always be free to anyone who applies.
So how can I impress at the audition? Everybody going to an audition will be nervous, but some people are better than others at covering this up. Being nervous though is perfectly natural, all famous artists will confess that they still get nervous before performances or television appearances. It can actually be a positive as it helps you focus on your performance, gives you a natural adrenalin rush and hopefully you’ll perform at your best. The key is how to control your nerves, a few bits of advice that may help, firstly, before you go into your audition, go over your song, maybe find a quiet corner where you can practice, drink some water and take three deep breaths and as you enter the audition room, for goodness sake smile, you’d be amazed the difference it makes.
If you’re auditioning for a place in a band, most of what we have already said will apply, the only differences are that you will be auditioning your instrumental musical ability. You may be asked to play solo as to ascertain your musical level. You will also need to remember that they will be looking for someone who fits in with them.
So what now, it’s been a week since the Audition, I haven’t heard anything?
Well to be honest you haven’t got the part, usually if they want you will know about it immediately. But don’t worry and don’t give up, move on, there are plenty of other auditions to attend and anyway it’s there loss isn't it!
DEMO/PRODUCTION AND RECORDING?
I want to record a demo, how do I go about this?
Before you go into a studio you will need to think about a few things, what songs you are going to record? How many songs you will record? And of course, your budget?
The first thing to ask is, what are these recordings for and how many should I record? If you are simply recording for pleasure to impress your family and friends than obviously you can record as many songs as you can afford. If your recordings are aimed at gigging, finding a record or publishing deal or management than three to five songs will suffice. Always remember that it’s the quality of your songs and not the quantity that counts.
Choosing a studio. This can be tricky. How do I find a studio? The right studio. Recommendation is always the best way. You will be assured of the quality and know what to expect. If you can't get a recommendation there are plenty of other ways of finding the right studio, the best publications are: Music week directory, THE STAGE, NME and Sound on Sound.
Things to consider, proximity to the studio, is it convenient for you and your band or group member to get to, you may be working late at night, is there a bus or train home? Is there convenient parking how much does it cost. If you are a five piece band, then space is an important factor especially if you want to record as a live band rather than putting parts down individually, at least ensure that there is room enough for your drummer and his kit. Conversely if you are a solo singer or singing group than possibly a smaller or home studio will be right. These days you get amazing sound quality from small or home studios. Lots of studios can really look impressive with gold disks on the wall and flashing light all over the place, don’t be deceived by looks. To really find what you are paying for, simply ask the studio to play you material they have produced and recorded recently, that’s when you’ll know if it’s right for you. Another point is be specific. If you are a dance act, don’t let them play you their rock songs, you need to hear your style of music then you can make an informed decision. Also find out if the producer can play an instrument. It’s best to have a producer that does play instruments as he/she will have a better understanding of music, structure and arrangement. Of course you need to be able to communicate and generally feel comfortable with the producer, these are key ingredients to a successful recording session.
Studio prices can vary enormously, you may see advertised £20 an hour, £80 a day or £200 per song .This can be confusing. You should be able to find a studio that will suite your budget, but generally the rule is the more you are able to pay, the better quality of the recording. Some studios will have extra costs, for example any cods and mastering. Make sure you are aware of any extras before you book. Costs will also be incurred if you need to hire session musicians or singers.
You may ask, how long will a song take to finish? Well to honest it’s like asking how long a piece of string is. You should consider the following points: Vocals can take many hours even if the singer is good, singing in a studio environment is completely different to singing live and many hours can be spent on recording each phrase, getting the best take. Secondly, if you are a singer recording a cover version, you can save time by getting the backing track beforehand therefore not having to spend time on the music in the studio, producing up a backtrack can be complicated and can take a long time to complete. When you have eventually completed your demo, a few things to remember. Ask the producer or engineer for at least 3 copies on cd of the master recording with backtrack and Instrumental version and a cd copy of the song data, which is all your parts and vocal takes which may be useful if you need to re-mix or record at a later stage.
Remember, recordings that you pay for always belong to you, you have total control over them. Under no circumstances should you sign any agreements with the producer unless they have contributed to the song writing. Sometimes a producer may offer you a production deal, and help you with your music career. These are the key points to recording a demo, so good luck and get recording.
What’s Management all about?
So you need a manager, there are obviously some questions you should ask yourself. Are you ready for a manager? If you think you are, how do you find the right manager? What’s the best way to approach a manager? And what should I expect from a manager?
When you have reached a stage where you are gigging regularly, you have a quality demo and you feel and look like a star, now is the time to find a manager. Having said this, if you are that good, a manager will find you.
Finding a manager can be tough work, initially you may find it easier and more comfortable having a parent or friend taking on managerial responsibilities. This worked for Destiny’s Child and even Charlotte Church’s’ mother managed her for a while. On the other hand it may be better to find an established manager who already knows the ins and outs of the music business. But how do I find one you ask? well , firstly you’ve got to do your research, Talk to other musicians, read music magazines and record sleeves to find out which managers work with your style of music. Publications which are readily available even at your library are Music Week Directory and Showcase international, on the web you can check out www.Unsignedguide.co.uk you can also find a comprehensive list of managers on the Music Managers Forum website which is www.ukmmf.net. If you already have a music solicitor or booking agent, they will be able to help as they may already be working with other artist managers.
If your are thinking of managing yourself, this is a possibility, but do bear in mind you will have to make the calls, take the calls, get the deals, pay the lawyers, keep the agents happy, organise rehearsals and at the same time be producing and performing music, this could be a Herculean task but if you think you can do it, then go for it.
For the rest of you mere mortals these are the things that you have to do. After you’ve made up a list of potential managers, send your package or email , which would include a 3 track demo of your best songs, together with a good flattering photo and a short biography max one A4 page., include a list of forthcoming gigs and a website address if you have, and don’t forget to put contact details on the CD if you are sending one. Make sure your presentation is professional and clear, no manager has the time or patience to have to wade through lots of bad photos, untidy writing and unprofessionally recorded songs.
Give at least a week before you follow up with a phone call, good managers are busy people so be patient.
When a manager expresses interest, the first step will be to meet him preferably at his office, of course if you’re under 18 any decent manger would insist on your parents or guardian being present, meeting them at their office would be a good way to see them in their working environment. Subsequent meetings may lead to contracts being offered, bear in mind it is easy to get excited when you’ve been offered a contract by a manager but before rushing into anything here are some points to consider:
Has your manger had much experience in the music industry? if he has , what success has he had,? Has he got a good reputation within the industry? On a personal level do you and your band or group members get on with the manager can you imagine spending long periods of time with him/her when you go on tour?, do they appear to return phone calls and generally keep things organised ?if possible talk to other acts that he represents .Other points to keep in mind, is he/she serious and ambitious do they have great contacts, can they actually organise meetings with heads of record labels or are they all just talk .Realistically , how much time can they spend on you , do they have other personal or business commitments, being a manager is a full time job so don’t settle for second best.
What to expect from a manager?
In short, a manager will be responsible for every aspect of your music career, from getting you your first gigs in a local pub to negotiating that international record deal. He/she will ultimately be responsible for an array of duties which will include gigs, photo shoots, recording studios , putting you together with songwriters and producers ,developing your image , promoting you ,finances, lawyers, agents, publishing and record companies and also an invaluable friend. A manager can be the single most important factor for you and your success in the music industry.
So what is a record company?
Basically Record companies sign artists and market and distribute their records. There are 4 major record companies, namely, SONY/BMG, UNIVERSAL/EMI and WARNER. Within these Majors are smaller labels, for example, in the UK Kylies record label is Parlephone, which is owned by EMI. There are also what’s known as Independent record companies, such as and BEGGARS BANQUET. For a full list of record companies in the UK, which includes address and a general contact e-mail look in Music Week Directory or Showcase international or search on the net for Record Companies
Getting your music to record company.
Do your research, look for companies that specialise in your of style music, be it Rock, Pop, R&B, Hip Hop, Country, Folk or Dance. Approaching smaller independent labels may be an easier initial option than the Majors. Why , because by definition they are smaller and much more likely to take a more personal approach than the larger companies who have hundreds of employees and many established artists on their rosters.
Who do I approach?
The A&R department would be the right place to start. A&R stands for Artist and Repertoire. These people find acts, sign acts and look after them during their term at the record company. As a new act it can be very hard to make contact with A&R, it’s virtually impossible to get an appointment to see them and they will never return your calls, therefore you may have to be a lot more inventive to get noticed. For example, all A&R have e-mail, your agent or local promoter may have some contacts, if you are at stage school your tutors may have some leads to A&R. If you have a music lawyer, he will definitely have his own set of contacts within the record companies. Whatever you do, be persistent, keep pushing to get your music heard, have faith in yourself and don’t be disillusioned by rejection, this is all part of the industry, THE BEATLES were rejected many times before someone noticed them and they became the most famous band in the world.
What is a publishing company? Publishing companies deal with songs, like record companies they come in all sizes, from small independents to large Majors like Universal, SONY and WARNER.
What does a publishing company do?
Firstly they collect all monies that are generated by songs. Did you know that when a song is played on the radio or television the songwriter will receive a certain amount of money, these are known as royalties. Some Television channels will pay up to 300 pounds every time your song is played and radio stations up to 120 pounds per play this can be very lucrative if you have a hit song. Monies are also collected from record sales , live performance ,downloads and Synchronisations. Synchronisations are pieces of music included in an Advert , Film , television, Computer games and Mobile phones.
Secondly, a publisher will exploit your songs, which means they will be actively try to promote your songs. For example if you are just a songwriter than they will be sending your material to all the top artists who are looking for songs. If you are an artist yourself and have a record out, then it’s a publishers job to perhaps get your song onto a film sound track or theme tune for a television series. Like record companies some publishing companies will sign a singer /songwriter develop them further and eventually help them secure a record deal.
When you sign a publishing deal the Publishing Company will take a percentage of your song writing royalties, this can be between 20 and 40 percent.
Having a publishing deal can be very advantages to your music career, a good publisher will exploit your songs all over the world, they will arrange writing sessions with other writers , producers and also artists. they will develop your song writing skills and they will collect your royalties.
What’s it all about?
Yes you need to promote yourself, the industry is not going to come to you .you got to be noticed, you got to get out there. Promotion is vital for your success.
There are many routes, but no rules to promotion but the more creative you are the better chances you will have of being noticed.
But of course it isn’t always that easy. You are one of thousands trying to get the attention of the record industry, naturally you should have all your tools which would include a quality demo of your material, a well thought out and brief biography and some professional looking photos. You will also have a great website, functional and user friendly. Make sure all your best songs are there for people to listen to, your photos and your biog... It’s also really important to encourage a fan base, keep in contact with your fans, e-mail regular newsletters and gig information. There are also many internet sites that promote new music, and even compile download charts such as myspace.com, www.mp3.com and www.peoplesound.com.
There are a numerous amount of promotion companies who for a fee will devise the best promotional camping for you or your act. This is usually expensive and therefore it may be better to wait until you’re more established. Saying this occasionally some promotion companies will take on newcomers who they believe may be successful, therefore there is no harm in approaching them with this in mind. A full list of all promotion companies are listed in the music week directory or showcase international.
Others ways of promoting your act can include printing some flyers or posters to promote your gigs, perhaps getting a support slot with an act who has a record deal. This could ensure that their record company would see you as well. School tours are always useful to attract young fans, and this you can do on your own. Just phone the schools. You could even start your own tour with other acts.
They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, were not saying that you should break the law, but a good helping of local press can get you far. Approach all the newspapers in your area making them aware of you. You will be surprised how willing they are to give you valuable column inches, especially if you have something interesting to say or have a different angle to your music.
By the same token, get your music to the local radio station, who knows where this could lead if they like it?
Remember you need to be constantly promoting yourself throughout your career. It is the key to your success.
QUESTIONS YOU MAY BE ASKING YOURSELF?
I want to record my demo, what would be better to show off my voice, a cover song or an original song?
A good voice will always shine through. But be honest with yourself, if you choose to sing a cover song, are you capable of performing it better than the original artist? Yes, it may show your voice off, but you will always be judged against the original. The key to recording a cover, is to make it your own. For example if you choose to record HERO by Mariah Carey, for goodness sake, don’t try to sound like her, make it yours, your voice, your interpretation, your personality. You must remember Darius from Pop idol, who famously, sang, Brittany Spears ‘Hit me baby one more time’ in his own very unique style. This certainly got him noticed.
By the same token, choosing a bad original song can let you down. It’s depressing to think how many good singers have not been noticed because the A&R man didn’t have the time or patience to listen to more than 1 verse!
But by choosing a great original song, and singing it with conviction, style and giving it your own personality can make all the difference.
So overall, the deal demo should be a great original song sung by a great voice.
I know my voice isn’t great, can I still be a pop star.
You may not be surprised but the answer is yes. Being a pop star is not just about having a great voice, there are many examples of pop stars who would be the first to admit they are let say, vocally challenged. I’m sure the cheeky girls wouldn’t claim to have the best voices in the world, however what they did have was a hunger and desire to get themselves noticed. At the height of their fame, they were the biggest selling act on their record label. Their appeal obviously wasn’t their voices, it was the novelty factor together with catchy pop songs specifically aimed at a young audience.
Television has the undeniable ability to make anyone stars through reality programmes such as X factor and big brother.
A voice makes up just one part of the overall package, just as important are looks, sex appeal, the ability to dance, a novelty factor, great songs, personality, notoriety an undefinable aura that makes you stand out from the crowd as well as hard work, persistence and of course luck!
I've written most of the songs for my band do I have to share the song writing royalties with them?
Well you can if you want, but you don’t have to, although this issue can get complicated. We've all been there, you ARE going to be famous, you all have the same dream, and everything is equal, all for one and one for all. But the reality is not as simple as that. The songwriter will always earn more money than the rest of the band if the band is successful.
It’s important to remember if you are the original songwriter, that is, you wrote the melody, lyrics and chords, then you own 100% of the song and therefore you have total control to do whatever you want with that song. You could either keep it all as you have every right to do or you could share it with your band members or anyone you like to be honest.
There may be times when the band members feel that they have contributed to the creation of the song in as much as arrangements and parts to their particular instruments. For example the guitarist feels that he has created a guitar riff that makes the song into a hit. The fact is that jamming in a studio arranging parts for your song does not constitute song writing. So legally you do not have to give away anything.
If you feel that you want to give part of your song writing away for whatever reason it is advisable to deal with it properly at an early stage, and this may mean some form of written agreement with the rest of the band, if not it could create friction later on. Just ask the 80's million selling band Spandau Ballet, who landed up in court over exactly this issue.
When I am recording my demo what should I expect from a producer/engineer?
The long and the short of it is that your producer should make your songs sound fabulous.
A good producer should fulfil a variety of roles. Most importantly they are there to record you and your music up to an industry standard and help with your overall sound. What you don’t want is an A&R person throwing your demo into the bin because of poor quality production.
Before booking the studio session it’s really important to listen to examples of the producer’s works that are in a similar style to yours. This should give you a good idea of what your song is going to sound like when it’s finished.
Most producers will be able to play an instrument proficiently. They will be able to programme beats and grooves using music software. They will understand the art of song writing and arrangement, your producer will record your vocals, advise you on microphone technique and will be able to direct your vocal recordings helping you to get the best possible vocal takes. Your producer will mix down the end product and may even have an engineer to help with this process. Depending on how long you’ve spent at the studio, you will either leave with a good demo or a master recording.
A good producer will be a patient producer, he is used to working with all standards of musical ability, so never worry if you keep going around the same part again and again, he will be used to this, indeed, it is also in his interest for you to achieve the best results.
Make sure your producer is someone you can communicate with, it’s vital that they understand your musical needs.
Another thing to take note of is to realise that making a demo can take much longer than you expect. It’s not a question of simply recording your parts and miraculously a demo appears. There will be times when the producer is hunched over his computer programming and editing, making your song into a production. Be aware of this and be patient. By the same token, make sure he is efficient remember you are paying him, so if they are late or goes out for a coffee or a cigarette break every 15 minutes, either let him know that this is not acceptable or it's time to get a new producer.
Don't expect your producer to get you a record deal although he may be able to offer you some invaluable advice and tips,
Being in a studio is a lot of fun and if you get on with your producer the experience will be unforgettable.
I can't write songs, how do I get original songs for my demo?
It can be hard in the beginning to find new and good songs to perform, finding hit songs can be like finding a needle in a haystack. If you are still at school or college, put an advert on the main noticeboard there are bound to people who do write songs and who can't sing, they will be looking for people like you.
There are also many professional international publications and web sites where you can place adverts looking for songs in your specific style. The best ones are www.songlink.co.uk, www.bandit .com and www.hitquarters.com all these sites won't charge you to place an ad, and you’ll be very surprised at the response. There are some websites that do charge for the songs, but will provide you with a finished backtrack which may save you money when the time comes to record. Typically they will charge you approx. £50 per song.
You can also go the press route and place an ad in LOOT or NME, but this will cost you.
When enquiring about studios, it may be an idea to ask the producer at the studio if they may have any existing original songs or if they know people who do.
When writing your ad, remember you will be competing with many other singers and performers looking for that elusive hit song. When prospective writers and producers read your ad they will certainly be more attracted to adverts that have management or record label interest, or that you are already gigging with a band.
When you feel confident enough in your own abilities you can try approach Music Publishing companies. Most of whom will own many new songs and have many great hit songwriters on their roster. But bear in mind you will have to be very persistent and be able to convince them that you are the next big thing. Publishers tend to only work with signed artists and established acts. But there are exceptions to the rule and if you have got the talent it will surely be noticed.
I'm a songwriter, where do I start?
The key for any songwriter is to get your songs out there, get them heard, don’t be afraid, you need to get as much feedback as you can. A common mistake that most new songwriters make is thinking that their materiel will be stolen and copied. There have been the occasional, extremely remote cases of this happening but generally it’s not in the interest of anyone to copy songs. a) Because it could turn out to be very expensive legally and b) if there was interest in one of your songs from a publisher or record company it would make more commercial sense to sign the songwriter rather than stealing the song. A quick an easy way to protect your songs is to mail a cd copy to yourself through registered mail, obviously remembering not to open it up when you receive it. The professional way to register your songs is to have them registered with an organisation called the Performing Rights Society known as the PRS. Basically they will keep records of every song that is written. You can contact them at www.prs.com.
It's really important to get the best possible demo recorded of your songs, this can be quite expensive if you don't have your own recording studio. It may be advisable to invest your money in a home studio setup. These days if you already have a PC, setting up your studio is relatively cheap, possibly as little as two to five hundred pounds could easily get you going.
If you don’t sing yourself, then it is essential to find a good singer to showcase your song.
A really productive way of writing is to co-write, you may have a friend who can complement your skills. For example if you write great tunes and melody find someone who can write great lyrics or if you play guitar and write great chord progressions than find a writer who is good with top line melodies and lyrics, there are many combinations. If you don’t have a studio target writers that do. It’s all about complimenting your skills, getting the best out of each other and being brutally honest.
And here’s a really good tip, write with the act or the singer, they will be more likely to promote songs they have co-written which in turn helps you .And the more singers you work with the more songs will be promoted.
For all songwriters, How to divide the song writing.
As a songwriter, you should know that the money is in the songwriting.A hit record can generate an awful lot of income for the songwriters. Which would explain why it is extremely important to agree on song writing splits at a very early stage of the song writing process, possibly even before the song is written.
Agreeing on a split before the song is written makes life much less complicated then having to argue about who wrote what, when and with whom.
There are no rules set in stone regarding splits but here are a few guidelines to take on board which may ease what can be a complicated, frustrating process.
The simplest and fairest way to split song writing would be to agree before the song is written to divide song writing equally between all writers involved at the time. You may think that this is not particularly fair, but even one word or melody line can make a good song into a hit song. Most of the time in the music industry it’s better to give a little to gain a lot.
It’s a common misconception that a song is just melody and lyric, but without chords there is no song. There are many scenarios to song writing and accordingly just as many scenarios with the song writing splits. for example, you may go into a recording studio having written all the melody and all the lyric, the producer/writer may add the chord structure he is now a co-writer, in this case the producer will be entitled to at least 25% of the song writing, if the producer had written the song with you, i.e. the lyric, melody and chords then a fifty/fifty split would be fair. If you have written a song with 2 other people then again you would divide equally, all getting 33.33%.
You should be aware though that sometimes song writing splits can be very unfair, if a famous artist decides to sing one of your songs then they or their management may expect you to give up at least 50 % of the song writing. That’s crazy you may say, you would be right, but unfortunately it’s the way the Music business works, but 100% of nothing won’t make you richer, but 50% of a hit record will make your bank manager very happy.
Whatever you agree get it down in writing, date it and have all the writers sign. Or ideally fill in a pink PRS
How do I make sure no-one steals my songs?
Although in these days of digital technology, the internet, downloads and remixes its very rare that songs are copied or stolen.
If you are sending out your songs to Record or Publishing air, you probably don’t have anything to worry about, if they like your songs they will more likely contact you rather than steal them, it’s actually in their interest to be honest.
Protecting , or what’s known as copyrighting your song is a simple process, in fact as soon as your song is recorded in any form, be it on a Dictaphone or professional demo it is considered to be copyright. To prove this you can also send a cd copy to yourself a lawyer or a bank manager, making sure it’s dated and signed by the writers. So if the need arises you can always prove when the song was written, just please remember to keep the envelope sealed.
The professional way to protect your songs is to register them with the PRS, you don’t have to be a member to register your songs and it is free. For father info you can contact the performing rights society known as the PRS yourself on www.prs.co.uk.
Radio exposure is important, how can I get on the radio?
Yes you are right, radio exposure is important and it's certainly a lot easier than getting on television and remember you don’t need to have a record deal. Your first port of call will be your local radio stations who are always keen to promote and showcase new talent. There may also be pirate stations and online stations in your area. You can give them your cd to play or you could be a bit bolder and suggest you come in and do a live set, this may impress them more. Getting on any radio station will give you vital publicity making the public aware of you. If you are also selling your songs or record on your own website this could be a perfect opportunity to advertise it and make money out of your own music.
You can also give details of upcoming gigs and record releases if you have a deal.
You may ask yourself how I get my material to the DJ. You will certainly have to be persistent, make sure your recordings are of Radio Quality if not then go with the live performance angle. You may need to take the music into the radio station yourself instead of sending it by post., personal contact is always preferable, and creating a network will help you throughout your career. A good publication to get specific information about regional and national radio stations would be Music Week Directory and Showcase International.
I've been offered a publishing deal, should I sign it?
Whenever you are offered any deal your first port of call is your music solicitor. Lawyers are expensive, but your prospective publishing company depending how big they are may contribute toward these costs. If you are a member of the Musicians Union they offer free legal advice to all their members.
Having a publishing deal can be very advantages to your music career, a good publisher will exploit your songs all over the world, they will arrange writing sessions with other writers , producers and also artists, they will develop your song writing skills and they will collect your royalties.
There are a number of different publishing deals, the most common being an exclusive publishing deal, where you assign all your rights, giving the publisher control of your entire catalogue of songs past and future for an agreed time period, a single song assignment which you could be offered if the publisher wants to sign only one song this can be advantages to you as you are still in control of all your other material. A part catalogued deal would allow the publisher to control a certain number of specific songs that are being released on one album, or included in a television series.
There are many advantages to signing a publishing deal and the financial incentive is definitely a main factor. Advances can range from as little as £100 to millions of pounds. Obviously it all depends on your current status and success. If you are a talented new songwriter a publisher would probably only give a small or no advance at all. If you have records released and have a hit single your chances of getting a substantial advance are much higher. So bearing this in mind you may want to hold off on signing an exclusive deal until you have some commercial success.
How do I get my website designed, they are very expensive, do I really need one?
Yes, you really do need a website, it’s an essential marketing tool for you or your band.
Music companies are much more likely to click on a website these days, as it is so accessible. Therefore it it’s important to make yours stand out.
Websites can be very expensive a professionally designed website will cost upwards of £500 and that doesn't include maintenance and uploading charges afterwards. You may consider doing it yourself, this would obviously give you more control and be cheaper, but it will be hard work and very time consuming.
Before embarking on your website design have a thorough search on the net.
Check all the best sites and take ideas from them, they are the best sites because of their content, design and ease of use.
Ok, now you ask what should be on my site.
Things to include would be a concise biography, professional photos, and mp3 recordings of your songs certainly a news page outlining your gigs and appearances, this should be updated on a regular basis.
You could consider having a message or discussion forum whereby you and your fans can communicate.
At a later stage you could perhaps even sell your records and merchandise via your website.
The reality of the music industry is that 99.9 percent of acts won't get a major record deal, but having a great website, together with promotion and a growing fan base will enable you to make money selling your records on the internet.
Use Facebook as a social tool to talk with your fans. Add your tracks to Sound cloud and link them to your website.
I have tried everything, I know I’m good or even better than what hear on the radio, what else can I do?
Have you really tried everything?
There are no golden rules to making it in the music industry, even with talent your chances are quite slim, we know it can be very hard and frustrating, here are a list of key suggestions that will improve your chances.
We're presuming you've got your songs, your website is up and you are already playing gigs.
Music is ideally a full time job, you should be spending most of the day networking and promoting yourself. Who do you know? A great way of meeting people from the music industry is to attend events, gigs or conferences. Knowing the right people makes the difference. There are many music events throughout the year all over the world where music professionals gather. The larger ones include modem in Canne, IN THE CITY in Manchester, but there are also many smaller regular events and functions in the UK organised by PRS performing rights society www.prs.co.uk and BASCA British association of songwriters and composers www.bsaca.co.uk.
When networking you have to be confident, you are going to have to approach many people. Arm yourself with demos, and a card with all your details and always get their card and details. Be creative when promoting yourself.
You should be meeting decision makers or the people closest to them, these will be the A&R Directors in record and publishing companies who sign new artists or writers, influential journalists who would be able to write about you, film directors who could get your music on film soundtracks, television producers who need music for their programing, music producers looking for artists to developed or songs for their new acts.
No matter how good you think your songs are, they can always be better, try and write with hit songwriters, their name could carry a lot of weight.
It’s a fact that you don’t have to have a record deal to make money out of music, there are growing number of artists that are not signed who use the internet to promote and sell themselves all over the world. Take control of your own career, sell your records on your own website or on existing sitter such as www.itunes.com, www cdbaby.com or www.cdwow.com
Publicity can make all the difference to getting a deal, numerous amounts of television personalities have had record deals, make the public aware that you are around. Are you playing your gigs in the right venues to the right people, could you be supporting a more influential band? If you have a manager is he good enough to get you that record deal, does he have the right contacts and is he working in your best interests.
in short you may think you have tried everything , but you probably haven’t, constantly assess your progress, and if one thing isn't working try do it a different way, be tough on yourself, how badly do you want this, are you honestly doing enough?
My dad wants to be my manager is this a good idea?
At the beginning of your career having one of your parents as manager has many advantages. A manager is someone who you need to be able trust and who would work in your best interests, obviously your parents should fill both of these criteria if they were to be your manager.
Your parents would certainly get a lot of satisfaction and joy out of managing you at an early stage, but they would have to know how or learn how to organise a band and rehearsals, book gigs, set up photo sessions , arrange suitable studios and producers for demos, promote you and at the same time look out for your wellbeing.
However , problems may arise when you move up to that next level , at this point you may need a professional manager and the question arises , do your parents know how and when to let go of your career.
At some point you will have to deal with contracts, even with your parents, which may prove problematic as you can well imagine.
But starting out with your parents as managers may give you the confidence and motivation that you need.
My son/daughter are really talented we know nothing about the music industry, but we want to do what’s best for them, what do we do?
Yes you are right, as a parent you do want the best for your kids, and yes you do need to know where to go and whom to approach.
There is much to know about the music industry and there will be things that will crop up that you may not have thought about.
As a parent here are a few things that you should know.
Don’t sign any contracts or agreements until you've had a professional music lawyer look at it, it’s no good taking the contract to your family lower. Don’t be pressured or intimidated into signing documents that you are not happy with, any reputable company will give you the space and time needed to think things through.
Bear in mind the music industry is notorious for promising the world and not delivering, keep a level head and be realistic. If for instance you have an A&R executive saying he is INTERESTED in your son or daughter, remember he's probably used that phrase to 10 other bands during that same day.
To be honest it’s all about who you know, the right studios, the right record company people, the right publishers, the right lawyers and the right management etc. etc. .
You know that you son or daughter is very talented, unfortunately talent is only part of what they will need to succeed. For them to fulfil the potential that you know that they have they will need to be armed with the knowledge that can make the difference.
What do I go for first, record, publishing or management?
Most acts tend to start out with management, as a good manager will have access to good record and publishing contacts, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter, each one can help you secure a better deal with the other, for example a good publishing company can help develop a singer songwriter by recording and developing their song writing enabling them to be more attractive to a potential record company or top management and the same goes for record companies and management.
I've been offered a management contract, what should I know before I sign?
Before signing anything please consult a music industry lawyer he will know straight away if the contract is fair. If you are dealing with a reputable management company they should contribute to any legal costs, you will need to ask them to pay otherwise they won't offer. Things to consider: Do you think this is the right manager for you? Will he/she get you that elusive deal? What success has the manager had in the past? You can certainly get an insight into the success he/she has had by firstly looking at the other acts on his roster, even talking to some of the artists, look at the manager’s website, you could also enquire at the MMF
Music Managers Forum about them.
Bear in mind a management contract will tie you to the management for at least one year and possibly up to five years, so it’s absolutely vital that you are 100% sure that it’s the right contract to sign.
Possibly before even signing a contract you can suggest a "getting to know you" period of 3 -6 months .You will both then have clearer idea of how it could work in the future , or not!!!
A common mistake is thinking that once you are signed to management they will do ALL the work, unfortunately this is not the case. You are now a team with common aims and goals, you will now have to work twice as hard.
A subject hardly mentioned is communication. It’s incredibly important that you and your manager know what each other is doing. It can be an emotional rollercoaster and like any other relationship if you don’t talk about things it will break down. Perhaps agree to speak to each other every few days, not to question or interrogate each other, but to discuss progress and planning. Resentment can build up very quickly if there is not the right amount of communication. Which may become unbearable if you are tied into a 5 year contract.
Be very careful when confronted with a contract by any manager. Don’t be pressurised into signing any document at any time. A good manager will give you enough time and space to let you make an informed decision.
How much do I earn from a hit single?
As an artist, the amount of money received from a single release will probably be a lot smaller than you think. When you sign your record deal you will, as a new artist, probably get a percentage of between 8 and 13 percent of record sales. If your single gets to number one and sells 100 000 copies. Yes there will be money made by the record company, but they will first deduct all expenses involved in releasing your single, this will include recording and production, videos, marketing and media etc. etc. etc. this will also include all your hotel bills, food, wardrobe and transport. When you do eventually get a cheque, don’t forget your manager, he/she will take 20% of your earning. A case in point is the 90s boyband Bros, who despite having massive hit records lead such an extravagant lifestyle ,ending up with a small percentage of what they could have earned. If you have written the hit single then things could be very different. As a writer you will receive not only mechanical royalties from record sales but also performance royalties, these are monies earned every time your song is played on Television, Radio, ringtone and live performance from all over the world . According to figures from 2004 if your song you had written was played on radio one FM you could have earned( £ 35 per minute) and if it was played on BBC 1 top of the pops your would have earned £26 per minute. This could add up to a tidy sum.
Do I need to have professional photos done? Or can my dad take them in the living room?
Generally photos taken by your dad in the living room are probably only good enough for your family photo album, unless he is a pro photographer with a studio?
In the long run it would definitely be in your best interest to spend money on a professional media photographer who has had experience in photographing bands and artists. Firstly you will get great stylish and contemporary pictures and secondly you will get great use out of them. It’s pretty hard giving an exact price that you would pay, but our best advice is to investigate. You can start by perhaps searching the internet, look in publications such as Music Week or SHOWCASE INTERNATIONAL or at the back of CD sleeves that you like, you may find a contact name .Once you have made contact with a photographer ask to look at their portfolio and get a quote. Discuss your ideas with the photographer and together you should come out with great photos.
If you don’t have a budget a great idea is to approach photographic colleges, you are bound to find a young photographer who could use you or your band as either work experience or a college project. This could save you money and also benefit the photographer who would be likely to want to spend more time photographing you than a professional.
Is television exposure important, how can I get on TV?
Television can certainly help your career but getting on television can be quite difficult to do, if you are lucky enough to be chosen to be in a soap or a reality show like X- factor or Big Brother then certainly it will raise your profile. which in turn would make you more attractive to the music industry.
If you do happen to get on television use it to your best advantage as it could be very short lived.