Music licensing in the United States is made possible by the protection that U.S. copyright law provides for artists. According to this article from the U.S. copyright office: The copyright code of the United States (title 17 of the U.S. Code) provides for copyright protection in sound recordings. Sound recordings are defined in the law as "works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work." Common examples include recordings of music, drama, or lectures. Copyright in a sound recording protects the particular series of sounds "fixed" (embodied in a recording) against unauthorized reproduction and revision, unauthorized distribution of phonorecords containing those sounds, and certain unauthorized performances by means of a digital audio transmission. The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, P.L. 104-39, effective February 1, 1996, created a new limited performance right for certain digital transmissions of sound recordings. So a sound recording is just that -- a recording of sounds. There are several things that can be copyrighted in any sound recording for a song. There are the actual sounds themselves -- the performance of the work. There are the notes that the musicians play to create the song -- they could be embodied in sheet music. There are the lyrics for the song -- they can be written down on a sheet of paper. According to the the U.S. copyright office, copyright protection extends to the contribution of the performer(s) whose performance is captured. According to the the U.S. copyright office, copyright protection extends to the contribution of the performer(s) whose performance is captured. For example, let's say I sit down and I write a piece of music and entitle it "Electric Snik". I record it onto a tape using an electronic keyboard:
Let's say that I also come up with lyrics for a song called "She's So Incredible" that I sing to the melody of "Electric Snik". Now I play "Electric Snik" and I sing "She's So Incredible" while recording it on a tape recorder. If I send the tape to the U.S. copyright office with the proper forms and the registration fee, I will own copyrights for the song, the lyrics, and the actual performance recorded on the tape. Technically, the registration process with the copyright office is not officially necessary in order for me to own the copyright. I actually own the copyright as soon as I create the song and write it down. However, to enforce the copyright in court, registration is required. Once I have the copyrights, I can sell rights to the song if I choose to, and I can also prevent anyone else from using the music, the lyrics or the actual performance of the song. I "own" the whole song and all the rights to it. I can license the song in any way I choose. 1 2 3 … 7
In the case of a "real song", like something you would hear on a top-40 radio play-list, there are several different parties involved with the song: The label owns the actual sound recording -- the performance of the song as recorded in the label's studio. The publisher works on behalf of the song's composer (the person who arranged the music) and songwriter (the person who wrote the lyrics). The composer and songwriter probably own the actual copyrights for the song, and the publisher represents them in all business dealings. If you want to use a song for any reason, you have to somehow obtain rights at least from the publisher, and possibly from the label as well (if you are planning to use a specific performance). Here are just a few examples of when you need to obtain rights: You own a radio station and you want to play a song on your station. You own a restaurant and you want to play songs as background music. You are making a commercial and you want to use a song in the commercial. You are making a toy and you want it to play a song when a child pushes a button. You are making a video production and you want a song as background music. Perhaps half a billion dollars trade hands every year through licensing fees. ASCAP and BMI If you own a radio station or a restaurant and you want to broadcast or play music, what you need are public performance rights-- the right to play music that the general public will hear in one way or another. Obviously, if you own a radio station playing 300 or 400 songs every day, you would go insane if you had to obtain public performance writes from every label and publisher. Therefore, public performance rights licensing is now handled by two very large companies named ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) that simplify the process. Each one handles a catalog of about 4,000,000 songs. A radio station will typically purchase from ASCAP and BMI what are called blanket licenses to broadcast music. A blanket license lets the station play anything it likes throughout the year. ASCAP and BMI decide how to divide up the money among all the rights owners. Any establishment that wants to play music that will be heard by the general public needs a license as well. If you go to the Forms section of the BMI Web site, you can find a list of dozens of forms to cover every different type of establishment that you can imagine. Let's consider this example -- a skating rink that wants to play music for its skating patrons needs to fill out this form. The schedule of fees is right on the form. If you own a rink that has 15,000 square feet of skating area and you charge customers $5.00 to skate, you own a class 6B establishment and you need to pay BMI $205 every year. You would need to do the same thing for ASCAP. Technically, anyone performing music publicly anywhere has to pay: If you are in a marching band playing in a parade and the song you are playing is an ASCAP or BMI song, the band or the parade organizers have to pay. If you are an aerobics instructor using music in a class, you have to pay. If you are a street musician, you have to pay. If you do not pay and you get caught, you can be sued. Beware, the fines are pretty steep -- sometimes thousands of dollars.
If you want to use a song in a TV or radio commercial, you need a Master Use license from the label (unless you are re-recording the performance) and a Synchronization license (TV) and/or a Transcription license (radio) from the publisher. According to the book "All you need to know about the music business" by Donald Passman, "The fees for synchronization licenses are really all over the board, and they vary with the usage and the importance of the song." For example, Passman's book mentions some fee ranges: Low-end TV usage (e.g. -- music is playing from a jukebox in a scene, but no one in the scene is paying any attention to the music) -- free (for exposure) to $2,000 for a 5-year license. In a film, the fee would be $10,000 in perpetuity. A more popular song is worth more, perhaps $3,000 for TV and $25,000 for film. A song used as the theme song for a film might get $50,000 to $75,000. Commercials fetch even more money: "a song can command anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 plus per year. The typical range for a well-known song is $75,000 to $200,000 for a one year national usage in the United States, on television and radio." Generally you would obtain the licenses you need through some sort of clearing organization that handles licenses on a daily basis. For example, see LicenseMusicNow.com.
The song "Happy Birthday to You" is an example of just how interesting the world of licensing is. Think about this song -- it is only 6 notes. Yet it is one of the best known songs in the world. It was written in 1893 by Mildred and Patty Hill and first published with the words, "Good morning to you". The words "Happy Birthday to You" were first seen in print in 1924, although the author is unknown. Copyright was registered in 1934 in a court case involving a musical called "As Thousands Cheer" by Irving Berlin. The Clayton F. Summy Company became the song's publisher in 1935. Through a series of purchases and acquisitions, the song now belongs to AOL Time Warner. ASCAP represents the song for public performance licensing. The copyright to "Happy Birthday to You" should have expired in 1991, but the Copyright Act of 1976 extended it, and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended it again, so the song is protected until 2030 at least. "Happy Birthday to You" brings in about $2 million per year in licensing fees according to this article. If you ever hear the song in a movie, TV show or commercial, a licensing fee has been paid. Any manufacturer making a toy that plays the song pays a licensing fee. The manufacturer of any musical card playing the song pays a licensing fee. And so on... This 6-note song is big business!
There are many other situations where you need a license to use music. Here are several examples: You want to create a new song that uses samples of other songs. Even if you are using just a few notes, you need to obtain licenses through an organization like LicenseMusicNow.com. Otherwise, you will end up paying even more in penalties when the song is played in public. You want to play music in your lobby, elevator, restrooms, etc. You either need to obtain performance licenses from ASCAP and BMI, or you need to contract with a company like Muzak, which handles all the licensing for you. You want to play music in your small restaurant. You have three choices. Technically, you can play the radio. But in that case your customers will be listening to all the commercials, which they may not appreciate. You can play tapes or CDs. In that case you need to file with ASCAP and BMI for blanket licenses. Or you can contract with a commercial music services firm like Muzak. You are making a yearbook DVD for school, a wedding video, etc. and you want background music. You cannot legally use songs off a CD for these purposes. That forces you to look for production music -- music produced by companies specifically for these applications. The simplest example of production music is the kind of music you get when you buy sound effect files and music clips on a CD. A place like Music Box offers complete songs in many different styles. To see how particular things can get, consider this example: Let's say you have a cheerleading squad at your high school and you buy a CD from a place like Power Music for your practice sessions. Now you want to play the CD while your squad performs at a basketball game. The school should have waivers for ASCAP and BMI for that, but you need to make sure. If a local TV station wants to broadcast the game, there is a problem if you perform to the music because that is a retransmission of the music. Then if you want to video tape your squad performing to the music and sell the video tape, you have the same sort of retransmission problem. There are so many problems, in fact, that Power Music offers a FAQ on it. In the FAQ it says, "Over the years our writers and producers have created hundreds of songs that are available for video license. Since we own the recordings and the compositions we can grant you the license to manufacture videos with music from our catalog." In other words, about the only time you do not have to pay to use music is when you are sitting in your home or automobile listening to the radio with your family. And in that case, the radio station paid for you to hear the music with blanket licenses from ASCAP and BMI, and you pay by listening to the station's commercials. Every other possible use of music legally requires the payment of a licensing fee.
By: Marshall Brain | Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Realize that no one is waiting for your music. If people are going to become fans of your music, you must approach the promoting of your live shows and the promotion of your CD releases with the same planning and professionalism as the artists whom you admire have promoted their music. Marketing music has changed radically in the age of the Internet and social media. That technology has the potential to take your music to the world. But knowing that it is up to you to let the world know about your music, is an important first step to take as a responsible independent musician.
Avoid telling people in the music business that your music is "good". It is a much overused and weak word. A&R reps, music directors at radio stations, the music press, and buyers at distributors and stores presume you think your music is "good," because you put it out to begin with! When they listen to it, they will decide if it is the kind of "good" music that they feel can get behind and be proud of supporting from their position of power in the music industry. And let's face it, it is the public who will ultimately decide if your music is “good” by buying it or not. That’s not say, you shouldn’t talk up your music. But use your words; shape an elevator pitch that accurately reflects what you and your music are about.
Use the Internet and all its tools to your advantage. Besides having your own domain name and website where you promote releases and shows, you’ll probably want a presence on the main social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But don’t over-commit your time. If you spend all day working on social media, what happens to your music? It’s better to skip some social media rather than do a poor or infrequent job of staying in touch with your fanbase. And of course, you’ll want to make access to your music easy through YouTube, SoundCloud, iTunes Store, CD Baby and the like. Last, but definitely not least, build and use an email list to stay connected with your fans. Permission-based marketing using emails to your fanbase is a proven winner—these are folks who said they wanted to stay in touch!
Thank people who help you. You might be surprised how often music reviewers, DJs at college radio stations, and club bookers don’t get thanked by artists. So, make their day by sending a card, a small thank-you gift, or simply by giving them a shout out on the tray card of your next CD. Some artists tend to feel they are owed something because of their talent. Guess what... they aren't. Being grateful and thankful are essential qualities for success. Cultivate them and watch the doors open.
Play gigs outside of the usual clubs that cater to your genre of music. Branch out a bit, consider gigs at schools, fairs, festivals and perhaps parks in the summertime. So many artists think that the only valid venues to play are the clubs. Look around, start noticing where you see performers playing music, and ask yourself if that venue isn't a valid one for you. Give your fans more than one place to see you perform while finding new followers. And at every gig, be sure there is an email signup sheet. Did I mention staying in touch with fans via emails is golden?
Listen to other kinds of music beyond your own particular genre. There is much to be learned from other styles. All music offers a vast reservoir of new melodies and rhythms to experiment with, and to incorporate into your unique sound. If the future of music promises anything, it is the ongoing mix of old and new styles coming together in profoundly new ways.
Remember that the record labels don't know what they are looking for, but with any luck, they will recognize it when they hear it. Work on developing your own signature sound rather than trying to shape something to please A&R people or future fans. Strive to find your own true identity through your music. And don’t feel like that once you’ve established a musical identity that it need be set in stone. Great artists such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young have continually reinvented their personas and music throughout their careers.
Create great graphics. How many logos do you have in your brain right now that are recognizable symbols for legendary bands? You want to build the same kind of “brand awareness” for your music by creating a memorable logo and graphics. Make sure the logo is legible/identifiable in a wide range of sizes and that you use it everywhere your name appears: posters, flyers, press releases, letters, business cards, stationery, websites, and CD covers.
Stop making the same foolish mistakes over and over. Insanity has been described as repeating the same habit continually while expecting a different result. As a musician you may find yourself not wanting to rehearse, yet frustrated that your musical abilities never progress. Or, as a songwriter, you may get upset when you keep backing yourself into a corner with an awkward rhyme scheme, yet find yourself continuing to use it. All of us at times get trapped in creative dead-ends, but the way out is not through repeating the same moves that got us there in the first place. Challenge yourself to find new inspirations, and develop at least one new creative technique a month.
Don't ever stop making music. One sure way to gain some level of success as a musician is simply to not stop being one. There is no one timetable or path to success. Most artists termed "overnight successes" are in reality years in the making. If you find yourself approaching the creative act of making music as a chore, what is the point in that? Some of the most successful musicians out there are people who simply never stopped making their own music, performing it regularly, and finding a comfortable way to go about doing the business of their music. They could not not make music. Are you that passionate? Would a part of you die without your being able to make your music? If so, just keep doing it, the rest will follow.
By Christopher Knab
Gigging Musician & The Pandemic
If you’re a gigging musician, you’re probably hurting right now. Your livelihood depends on travel and public events, neither of which are advisable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts and governments are encouraging “Social Distancing” (avoiding non-essential contact with larger groups) to fight the spread of the virus.
Weeks ago that meant enormous festivals and conferences were being cancelled — things like SXSW and the ASCAP Experience. But now we’re being asked to avoid even small public gatherings, which means musicians are cancelling house concerts, club appearances, or even playing music at the local coffee shop.
Wherever you are on the spectrum between nonchalance and panic, it’s clear that Coronavirus will drastically reshape the way we live for the next few months at least, and that’s something to take seriously. Gigging musicians have either chosen or been forced to accept a huge financial loss on behalf of the larger public good. There’s no getting around it: That reality absolutely sucks.
While it’s difficult to paint much of a silver lining on the situation, we do want to offer resources, advice, and encouragement where we can, in hopes that your unexpected downtime can be used in other productive and helpful ways.
Also, check out our most recent episode of the DIY Musician Podcast that recaps some of the things
Nothing can replace the live gig experience, but online concerts can be entertaining in their own way.
Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard has decided to go live from his home studio every day for the next few weeks. Thousands of other musicians are doing the same.
If you have a sizable following you could even do a series of private live-streams, one for every tour date you cancelled. If you’re an emerging artist, I’d advise you to make all your live stream broadcasts public just to build on whatever engagement is happening.
7 things to remember about live-streaming
Having a YouTube Channel as an Artist is a way to share your music, live performances, , vlog to build a larger fan base & more. With YouTube being the largest content creating platform in the world, having a successful channel could take you to the next level.
There’s no denying it; video marketing has been on the rise over the past few years, growing ever more popular and accessible for brands. And while popular sites such as SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even your own website are great places to invest, YouTube remains the giant in the space, with individuals spending a billion hours each day watching videos on this platform.
Often referred to as the world’s “second largest search engine,” YouTube can help your content be found quickly and engaged with thoroughly - if you know a few tricks. Here are 10 effective ways you can grow your YouTube channel.
1. Build Videos Around a Single Keyword/Topic
It may seem obvious, but building your video around a single topic/keyword is the best way to get the traffic you want and grow your audience. Many people who are unaware of SEO best practices skip this step, but it’s crucial if you want your videos to get the maximum amount of viewers. Try using a keyword tool like KeywordTool.io, which is specific to YouTube, to look for the most searched keywords in the niche you’re looking to target.
It’s important to pick your keyword before you even build your video content because it helps you construct the best information around that specific topic. It also helps you remember to include your keyword naturally throughout the content so YouTube picks it up when closed captions are added. Once you’ve chosen your keyword, check out the videos that are currently ranking for that topic to make sure you’re on the right track in terms of intent, and don’t forget to optimize your title and descriptions. Despite popular myths, the most successful videos on YouTube are typically less than 5 minutes long, so don’t feel you have to make a film or write a novel. Keep it short and sweet.
2. Reformat Existing Quality Content
Of course, the easiest way to grow your channel is to build great content. But that content doesn’t always have to be built from scratch. Some of your best videos can be built from engaging, valuable, useful and actionable content you’ve already created. Many people go to YouTube to find answers and how-to tutorialsfor the issues they’re facing, so content that solves problems is a great fit. Look at the blogs, guides, and other high-performing pieces you currently have and think about how to make them into cool videos.
3. Engage with Your Audience
It's important not to overlook the fact that YouTube is a social media channel, and therefore demands social interaction. If you’re just posting videos without encouraging comments and discussion, you’re missing a trick. YouTube rewards channels with great engagement, including overall time spent on channel, watch time, likes and dislikes, and most importantly, comments. Try to respond to every comment you receive (if possible!) and ask users to engage with audio/visual prompts.
4. Get Branded
So your content is great. But is your channel itself visually appealing? If you want visitors to take your YouTube channel seriously and subscribe to your channel, you need to look professional. Branding your channel will also help users immediately recognize your content. If you have a blog or website, you probably already have some sort of look and feel you use to differentiate yourself from other individuals and/or companies, so it only makes sense to carry over that branding to your YouTube channel as well. Here’s an example from fashion brand ModCloth.
In addition to visual branding, don’t forget to add custom URLs to your channel header - and to write an interesting bio about who you are and what your videos are about.
5. Promote Your YouTube Videos on Other Social Channels
One of the beautiful things about social media is that you can cross-promote content on different channels. Promoting your YouTube videos on your other social channels is the easiest way to grow your audience. What channels are you on? Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest? There are many from which to choose. And if there’s a channel (such as Facebook) on which you want to post videos directly, you can always do a teaser for the full-length video on YouTube so that you have optimum engagement on all channels. Don’t forget about your blog; you can post your videos there as well!
6. Show Up
If you’re running YouTube by yourself or as part of a small organization, it can be extremely beneficial to put your own face on screen. When you put a face to a brand, your audience can more easily connect with you as an individual. This is especially important for bloggers; fitness, life, or business coaches; and solopreneurs. Every video you make doesn’t need to include your face, but you should reach out personally to your audience every few videos or so. Additionally, if you are this type of YouTuber, use a photo of yourself on your channel (not your logo). See the example still from marketing guru Adam Erhart below.
7. Post Great Thumbnails
They may seem like a small thing (because they are), but thumbnails can have a big impact. YouTube advertises other videos via thumbnail in its sidebar, so you want yours to stand out among the pack. The same goes for YouTube search. Videos with a catchy title and appealing thumbnail usually rank higher, even if the content itself isn’t as valuable, because they have a higher click-through-rate (CTR). To get your CTR where it needs to be, try using tactics such as highlighted areas, arrows, large text, and unexpected or unusual images. See the example below from Neil Patel.
8. Leverage YouTube Cards
We’ve already discussed the fact that YouTube rewards channels that keep viewers on their pages longer. These longer average watch times mean people are truly engaged with your content. (You can see how long people are staying on your videos by using YouTube analytics). By adding YouTube cards, you can add additional recommended videos at the exact point where users are currently dropping off. Though they may abandon that video, users will be taken to your other content and stay on your channel, increasing your channel’s ranking.
9. Push for Subscriptions
One of the ways you know for sure that viewers are engaged with your channel is when they “subscribe’ to see any new videos that are posted. Ask viewers to subscribe to your channel in each video that you upload, and keep engaged with your existing subscribed users. (You can see your list of subscribers, here). Never pay for subscribers. This will only bring down your engagement and hurt the authenticity of your account in the long run. Remember, if you don’t ask your viewers to subscribe, you may be missing out on a lot of potential followers.
10. Increase Your Uploading Frequency
This tip may sound intimidating at first, but to grow your audience, you need to increase your posting frequency to at least one video a week. Don’t worry; you don’t need a design firm or fancy advertising budget to get this done. Today’s smartphones offer excellent video recording ability, and tools such as Animoto make editing videos easy for anyone. Consistency is of the utmost importance. Try to post at the same time each day or week (depending on your frequency), and keep your subscribers updated about when new videos will arrive. Then stick to your schedule.
Remember, driving engagement with quality content is what develops engaged followers and subsequently. advocators of your brand! Be true to yourself and your brand, and communicate with your audience along the way.
by Digital Marketing Instit
“We are extremely pleased that the federal stimulus package will offer relief to America’s songwriters and composers, who are, in many cases, our nation’s ultimate small businesses. Thanks to the CARES Act, music creators who are independent contractors, sole proprietors or self-employed, will be eligible for small business loans, emergency grants, unemployment insurance, payroll tax deferrals and more, which will all help protect their livelihoods during this challenging time. We would like to thank Senator Blackburn, Representative Deutch, Representative Roby, Majority Leader Hoyer and the many music organizations involved in this effort, for their steadfast dedication to ensuring the needs of America’s music creators were addressed in this critical Act.”
Mike O’Neill, President & CEO, BMI
Below is an outline oBelow f the benefits that can help music creators and copyright owners:
Provides direct payments in the amount of $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples) to all U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples), with eligibility for an additional $500 per child. The payments would start phasing out for earners above those income thresholds and would not go to single filers earning more than $99,000; head-of-household filers with one child, more than $146,500; and more than $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
Includes nearly $350 billion in funding to create a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that will provide small businesses, sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million. Up to 8 weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees at their salary levels. Principal and interest are deferred for up to a year, and all borrower fees are waived. This temporary emergency assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury can be used with other COVID-financing assistance established in the bill or any other existing SBA loan program.
For a complete fact sheet and to apply for an application, see below.
Emergency Economic Injury Grants
Includes $10 billion in funding to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) within three days of applying for the loan.
Expands eligibility for access to EIDL’s to include Tribal businesses, cooperatives, and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees or any individual operating as a sole proprietor or an independent contractor during the covered period (January 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020). Private non-profits are also eligible for both grants and EIDLs.
EIDLs are loans of up to $2 million that carry interest rates up to 3.75% for companies and up to 2.75%for nonprofits, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years. The loans may be used for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses.
The EIDL grant does not need to be repaid, even if the grantee is subsequently denied an EIDL. It may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintain payroll, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments. Eligible grant recipients must have been in operation on January 31, 2020. The grant is available to small businesses, private nonprofits, sole proprietors and independent contractors, tribal businesses, as well as cooperatives and employee-owned businesses.
A business that receives an EIDL between January 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020, as a result of a COVID-19 disaster declaration, is eligible to apply for a PPP loan, or the business may refinance their EIDL into a PPP loan. In either case, the emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000 would be subtracted from the amount forgiven in the payroll protection plan.
The bill provides $562 million to ensure that SBA has the resources to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to businesses that need financial support.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
This provision would create a new program modeled on Disaster Unemployment Assistance that would provide unemployment benefits to individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to work because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will cover self-employed workers (including gig workers and independent contractors), part-time workers, and those with limited work histories. Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, workers are eligible for an additional $600, and an additional 13 weeks of extended benefits. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will be state-administered but fully federally funded. The program is effective through December 31, 2020.
Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes
The provision allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. The provision requires that the deferred employment tax be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount required to be paid by December 31, 2021, and the other half by December 31, 2022. The Social Security Trust Funds will be held harmless under this provision.
National Endowment for the Arts
The bill includes $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. This funding helps ensure arts music programs and education initiatives continue across the nation.
The U.S. Small Business Administration put together a guide for COVID-19 relief assistance under the CARES Act which includes information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advances, SBA Debt Relief, SBS Express Bridge Loans, local assistance and more.
Source: BMI News
March 30, 2020
Making your way as an Independent Artists
Not only are more musicians making their way in the business without the aid of a label, but independent musicians are actually the fastest-growing segment of the global recorded music business. A new report from MIDiA Research fielded in partnership with digital music distributor Amuse says independent artists generated more than $643 million in 2018, a 35% jump from the year before.
Diego Farias, the co-founder and CEO at Amuse, said this growing crop of independent musicians signals seismic changes to come in the music industry. With less of an adherence to labels, there will be new key players and new ways of doing business — think fewer managers and more short-term contracts.
"The majors are growing at a sustainable growth rate, but this part of the industry is just exploding," he said. "There's something happening that's going to impact the industry profoundly."
For artists, technological advancements that allow them to share their work with the world fuels their ability to make music and build their career at their own pace, and with their own style. Eighty-three percent of independent artists said it's important for them to retain creative control over their music, compared to 74% of label artists. Artists in both categories say they think artists have more control of their careers than ever before — and that kind of empowerment means that artists no longer see signing to a label as the road to success.
Despite the creative control that artists are retaining, earnings still remain a big obstacle for those who wish to make their living in music — the survey found about eight in 10 musicians do not earn enough from their music careers to not worry about their financial situation. About half of independent and label artists alike say they often have cash flow problems because their income isn't predictable.
The report also speaks to the reality that having a major label deal doesn't guarantee success — 59% of independent artists said they were frequently worried about their financial position, compared to 48% of label artists.
Average income paints a similar picture: independent artists earned an average of $12,860 a year off music, and label artists earned an average of $23,913. About three-quarters of independent artists earned less than $10,000 a year from music, compared to 61% of label artists.
That finding underscores a truth that working musicians already knew: being signed to a label, while it can be beneficial for sales and distribution, doesn't guarantee financial success.
"No matter what your status is, a lot of the artists in the report need additional income to be able to sustain their lives," Farias said.
To that end, Farias' company is trying to find new ways to get money to musicians for their work. Amuse, founded by music and technology experts, functions as a new kind of record label built on top of a free music distribution service. It allows its artists to retain 100% of their royalties and rates. The Amuse team is also working to find new ways to support this growing crop of independent artists: the Fast Forward program sends musicians up to six months of their future royalties based off of projections from the platform's data.
Overall, the industry is thinking about new ways to work with artists, Farias said. Younger musicians are not familiar with the concept of managers who help them skyrocket to success — but they have seen YouTubers or influencers who made millions off distributing their own product. And short-term contracts, as opposed to locking artists in for lengthy deals, are becoming a way to empower artists to be more in charge of their own work.
The MIDiA survey also examined the motivations and mentalities behind what musicians consider success in their chosen field — and there was some variation between independent or label artists. Both groups ranked achieving respect and recognition in their scenes as the top sign of success, but the response was greater among label musicians (87%) compared to independent artists (53%).
Half of independent artists said success looks like building up a fan base of any size, which only 35% of label artists said. Those numbers were almost reversed when musicians were asked if success looks like building a large global fan base —37% of independent artists agreed, compared to 52% of label artists.
Sources: Forbes, Melissa Daniels, Journalist
SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKING
There's no question that social media is the best way to communicate directly with fans, and it's not going away anytime soon. There are tons of different platforms and apps out there, and it's virtually impossible to keep up with all of them. It seems like "the kids" are into something new every day.
Though I certainly don't expect you to be down with all of them, it is important that you understand them all and the value they have for promoting your music and connecting you with the people who support it. Here are eight social media sites that can provide great exposure for your music and how to best take advantage of them.
Though the glory days of Myspace have come and gone, Facebook is here to stay. If you don't have a fan page yet, then you better get to it. With over 1.65 billion active users, you've got to take advantage of this vast network. Create your profile, add some music apps, create performance events, and start curating engaging content.
On Facebook, people love looking through photos, sharing posts they like, and discovering great new artists and brands. Create a timeline that tells a story of all the latest and greatest happenings, things you enjoy, and start a conversation. Every interaction counts.
Too busy to post? Don't fret – Facebook pages allows you to schedule out your content, too!
Bonus tip: The best days to post are Thursdays and Fridays, with the most shares happening around 1:00 p.m., and the most likes happening around 3:00 p.m.
Get more Facebook tips:
Twitter has been around for quite a while now. There are really only a few simple rules for becoming a master at this for your music: set up your Twitter page, start following relevant users that can help advance your career (think other musicians, labels, fellow music fans, journalists, blogs, and big industry names), Tweet thoughtfully and make it count, engage other users, and share content that encourages retweets.
Bonus tip: To encourage more sharing, @mention any individuals or companies mentioned in your posts, and try including "please RT" at the beginning of your posts; studies show this generates as many as four times more retweets!
Make the most of Twitter:
Instagram has quickly risen to become one of the most relevant social media tools for artists simply by being a vehicle for photos and videos with statistically more hits and reach over text posts on Facebook and Twitter. Use this app to capture engaging still images and intimate video footage of you living the musician life while also showing a personal side of the day-to-day grind.
Make sure to learn how to hashtag your content well, too, as that's one of the best parts of the app that allows for new fan discovery and increased likes, comments, and follows. Instagram also seamlessly allows you to connect your other social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr, which makes easy and consistent content sharing a breeze!
Bonus tip: Instagram is one of the only social media platforms that stays very active seven days a week, with the highest post activity happening between the hours of 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. on average.
Strengthen your Instagram game:
Though Snapchat used to have a primarily different purpose for the youngins, it has now grown to over 400 million "snaps" a day, with 77 percent of college students using the app daily. In a nutshell, Snapchat is a messaging app where the messages self-destruct after a certain pre-determined period of time. Users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients that can view them for anywhere between 1-10 seconds before they disappear forever.
Snapchat is all about honest, fast content that feels personal. That's what makes it such a great app for musicians, because it can be used as a marketing tool without making users feel like they're being hit with obvious advertising. One study even showed that nearly half the users surveyed would open a snap from a brand they hadn't heard of before, which is a great way to attract new fans!
Bonus tip: If you don't want your content to completely disappear after 24 hours, you can save your story to your phone to upload to a different social media platform later.
Get more Snapchat tips:
Vine is an app that allows users to share snippets of video in a super-digestible format. The video can be up to six seconds long and instantly plays on a loop once it's landed on or scrolled across. The main difference between this and Instagram is that Vine is for only videos, and it's mainly used to share life experiences with friends as they happen since all Vine videos can only be recorded in-app at that very moment.
It's also worth mentioning that as of the top of this year, Vine hit a record 1.5 billion loops per day with over 40 million users! Most users of this app also share interchangeably with other social media apps, specifically Instagram. Some great ways that musicians and bands utilize this quick video app are by capturing memorable studio moments, glossing over show marketing materials, shooting soundcheck or load-in video before a performance, showing off awesome gear, and sharing cool views from the stage.
Bonus tip: You can embed your Vine into pretty much any website; just check out these helpful directions here.
Learn how to get the most out of Vine:
This is a resource most musicians already take advantage of, so this point will be more about making sure you're taking full advantage of all YouTube has to offer to artists and bands. Branding your channel well is very important, and consistently uploading interesting content is equally important for continued viewership and subscriber growth.
Musicians should consider uploading different types of content such as professional music videos, interviews, and behind-the-scenes rehearsals. YouTube annotations also hold heavy value, as they provide "call to action" options to viewers, which can be linked directly to music purchases, your website, etc. It's also worth looking into YouTube's Partner Program and learning how to start monetizing your content to the highest capacity possible.
Bonus tip: The highest levels of engagement activity start on Thursday and continue through Sunday.
Recently purchased by Twitter, Periscope basically enables users to create a live audio and video broadcast from their mobile device anytime and anywhere. It also incorporates notifications and location features along with social sharing, live discussions, and feedback. It's a truly interactive experience, gaining a lot of traction with musicians, celebrities, and businesses alike looking to give fans an inside look into their world.
Bonus tip: Make sure to come up with a catchy title. This is key since unlike other similar live broadcast platforms, Periscope hosts the stream for 24 hours, so you'll want the title to draw as much attention as possible to result in the most shares for the stream.
Start streaming with Periscope:
Similar to the lip sync video app Dubsmash, Musical.ly is a creative tool that allows users to deliver an instant video experience. Users can not only make music videos with a variety of effects and lip sync voiceovers, but they can also take part in contests within the app, share to other social media sites, and are part of a full social network where they follow power users, musicians, and celebrities. It's a free download with 60 million regular users and counting.
Bonus tip: Use a combination of hand gestures, good lighting, and movement of the camera to create visually appealing videos that get you more follows!
Get more social media tips:
Christine Occhino is the founder and artistic director of The Pop Music Academy and has experience working at Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment, in addition to working as a performing artist for over a decade. She has a bachelor's degree in music business & management with a concentration in entrepreneurship and vocal performance from Berklee College of Music, where she was a vocal scholarship recipient and former editor-in-chief of The Berklee Groove. She is also the proud founder and CEO of Hope In Harmony, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that brings music to those in need.
music guidance, music career, music licesnsing, make money with your music
There are four different types of music royalties. Each music royalty type also has separate and distinct copyrights. The four sources of royalty revenue in the Music Industry are:
Royalties generated for the physical or digital reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works. This applies to all music formats such as vinyl, CD, cassette, digital downloads, and streaming services. For example, a record label pays a mechanical royalty to a songwriter every time they press a CD of their music.
Royalties generated for copyrighted works performed, recorded, played or streamed in public. This includes radio, television, bars, restaurants, clubs, live concerts, music streaming services, and anywhere else the music plays in public.
Performance Rights Organizations known as PROs often collect performance royalties. PRO organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC negotiate licenses for public performances and tracks their usage. They also collect and distribute the royalties generated to the rights holders.
Royalties generated for copyrighted music paired or ‘synced’ with visual media. Sync licenses allow the right to use copyrighted music in films, television, commercials, video games, online streaming, advertisements, and any other type of visual media.
Furthermore, a synchronization license does not include the right to use an existing recording with audiovisual media. A licensee will also need a master use license before using copyrighted music with a new audiovisual project. This is an agreement between the master recording owner such as a record label and the person seeking permission to use the recording. Any use of protected music in an audiovisual project, whether it’s a full song or short sample, will need a master license as well as a sync license. For example, you need both a sync and master agreement before syncing up the latest Jauz track with your wakeboarding video on YouTube.
Print royalties are the least common form of payment a copyright holder receives. This type of royalty applies to copyrighted music transcribed to a print piece such as sheet music and then distributed. Additionally, these fees are often paid out to the copyright holder based on the number of copies made of the printed piece.
Music royalties and copyrights is a complex subject. This guide outlines the basic rights and usages of musical compositions.
There are two sides of music copyrights: master rights and publishing rights.
Master rights belong to the owner of a master sound recording. A master recording is an original song or sound used for reproduction and distribution. Master rights usually belong to either the artist(s), record label, recording studio, or any other party that financed the recording.
Publishing rights belong to the owner of the actual musical composition. The publishing side of music refers to the notes, melodies, chords, rhythms, lyrics, and any other piece of original music.
The following roles either receive or distribute music royalties for the use of copyrighted music.
Songwriters are those who write both the music and lyrics for a song. They receive either mechanical, performance, or sync royalties depending on the usage of their recordings.
The publisher is the person or company responsible for ensuring copyright holders receive payment for the use of their music. For example, a music publisher will obtain the copyright from the songwriter in exchange for royalty privileges. They also issue licenses for the use of music they represent as well as collect licensing fees. These fees get split between the publisher and the songwriter.
Record labels are responsible for marketing and distributing an artist’s recordings. Generally, they issue contracts that allow them to exploit recordings in exchange for royalty payments over a set length of time. They also often have the master rights to a recorded song, but not the publishing rights. Moreover, record labels generate royalty income from mechanical and performance royalties. The artist then receives a percentage of these royalties.
A performing artist is anyone who performs the songwriter’s original work. Performers do not have publishing rights unless they are also the songwriter. Moreover, public performances of copyrighted music generate performance royalties for songwriters. These fees are often collected by the PROs such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.
PROs collect public performance royalties and distribute those fees to the songwriter and music publisher. These organizations also track performances and broadcasting of registered music played in public. The PROs in the United States include ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.
Mechanical rights agencies manage mechanical licensing rights for the music publisher. They also issue those rights to anyone reproducing and distributing copyrighted musical compositions. These agencies often charge a set percentage of gross royalties collected for their services.
Sync licensing agencies acquire the rights from record labels and music publishers to issue licenses for syncing music with visual media. They also distribute royalties for sync licenses to whoever owns the master recording rights.
Various music copyright usages generate royalties. New royalty streams emerge as the music industry and technology continue to evolve.
Additionally, every song has two copyrights. There are copyrights for musical compositions, which consist of the underlying music and any lyrics. The other is copyrights for the “master recording” used for reproduction and distribution.
There is a difference between licensing and royalties. A license gives the right to use a musical composition owned by someone else. While royalties are the payments generated for the use of those compositions.
In general, artists issue exclusive rights to a publishing company for the use of their recordings in exchange for royalties. The music publisher has the right to release the recording or issue rights to either a record label or mechanical rights agency. Additionally, artists can assign the master sound recording copyright to a record label. This agreement allows the label to reproduce, distribute, and license that recording in exchange for royalties.
Furthermore, all parties involved in the production receive a percentage of royalty payments. The royalty amounts are often negotiated up front and then defined in a legally binding agreement.
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