If you’ve ever tried to learn how to play an instrument like the guitar or piano, you have experienced the frustration when you practice don’t seem to make any progress. We’ve all been there. You’re not alone.
It doesn’t just apply to learning to play an instrument. It also applies to any skill you are trying to develop, like touch typing or learning a new language. I remember when I was learning how to type by touch. We had classes where we’d practice, just like practicing the guitar or any other instrument.
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Today, kids learn their way around a keyboard before they hit junior high, but most of them use their index finger or thumb as they do on their phones. If you want to play a sport such as baseball or football or hockey, you know you have to practice. But, I digress. Learning any type of skill takes practice.
You’ve heard the term, “Practice, practice, practice.” But interestingly, it’s not just about sitting down with the guitar in your lap or sitting at the piano/keyboard or even sitting at the computer keyboard. We often assume that if we “practice” enough we will become perfect.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that you can “practice.” Or you can “practice smarter.” With the smarter practice, you won’t necessarily become perfect, but with smarter practice, your practice makes progress toward your goal.
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Tip #1 Don’t Give Up.
Too many kids and adults set out to learn a new skill, like playing guitar, but when it gets tough, their fingers hurt from the strings, they aren’t able to play with a band in the first week or whatever so they lean their guitar in the corner and say, “I’ll practice tomorrow.” Unfortunately with many people, tomorrow never comes. The guitar sits in the corner collecting dust, being neglected.
Tip #2 Take it Slow and Steady.
Many kids that start playing guitar think they are going to be an overnight prodigy being picked up by their idol band. They have a guitar, an amp, and a gung-ho attitude. They envision themselves walking down the road with their guitar slung over one shoulder and a backpack over the their shoulder headed for Nashville, Los Angeles, or some other city where they will be discovered. The dream of being an instant success obscures the fact that it’s a skill that has to be learned.
Instead of rushing through training as quickly as possible, slow down. Learn the basic fundamentals that will equip you to be that great guitarist that you’ve been dreaming about. Move from one lesson to the next, only when you have mastered the first one.
I hear some groans arising from the audience. Wait!! Wait for it!! The lessons don’t have to be boring exercises that don’t seem to move you toward your dream. Keep reading. Learning to play the guitar can be fun.
When I began to learn I taught myself from a book and by watching other guitarists on TV. Back then we did not have online video lessons. It was “teach” yourself or pay for lessons if you lived in an area where somebody taught guitar. Also, if I was lucky enough, I could learn something cool from a friend.
Tip #3 Make A Plan and Stick To It
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With a plan, you can get the maximum benefit from the time and effort you put into your practice.
Many beginning guitarists, especially ones who try to learn on their own, think that running through a couple of scales and playing a chord or two then jamming to a CD of their favorite band is practice. That is playing, it’s fun, but it doesn’t advance your skill level.
True guitar practice or any other type of practice involves deliberate practice and isn’t necessarily fun. It takes work to master and improve guitar techniques or any other skill that you are trying to learn.
It’s important to change your mindset of jamming and noodling around to practicing the lessons and exercises that will help you develop good guitar technique.
Several of the online guitar classes have practice plans that you can develop for your maximum benefit. TrueFire’s Smart Practice is one of those lessons.
You start by writing down your goals. They can be as simples as, “learn 5 new chords and a new scale by the end of the month”
or “learn to play a new song each month.”
Keep a journal so you know when you accomplished each goal.
After six months or a year, you can look back and see the progress that you’ve made.
As I stated above, I had to teach myself how to play. In 3 weeks I was able to play songs with 8 first position chords and 2 barre chords. After about a year some of my friends and I started a band to play in our high school talent contest. We played Tequila by the Champs. Being able to play in the talent contest was one of my goals and I accomplished it.
Tip #4 Three Step Practice Makes Progress
Step 1: Warmups and Drills:
Each time you start practicing warmup with exercises, scales, and simple chord progressions, things you know, nothing new. Work on playing these with good technique, properly and cleanly. Also, practice warm-up exercises and drills that work on muscle memory, such as:
Finger toughening (at first)
Hand and forearm strength.
Left hand, finger speed, precision, and flexibility (for swift, precise playing of scales, arpeggios, and sweeps).
Right hand, finger speed, precision (for swift, precise picking).
Step 2: Learning New Things
This is where you focus on learning new things, such as new songs, new scales, some theory, new techniques. Something you couldn’t do before. This is the area where you will spend most of your time. Jeff Sheetz from TrueFire tells his students to spend most of the time practicing things they can’t play or are just learning or not polished yet.
Step 3: Playing and Being Creative
This is where you get to have fun, playing with jam tracks or playing along with a song from your favorite artist. You will learn to improvise and be creative. This is also where you learn to write songs if you’re so inclined. This is the FUN ZONE.
It’s important to start your practice with Step 1 and Step 2. It’s very easy to start with Step 3 and never leave. In that case, you are having fun, but you aren’t advancing your skill and technique levels.
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Tip #5 Learn When To Call It A Day
This principle is important for anything you are doing. It’s very easy to start practicing one chord progression or strumming pattern for hours without making any progress. It seems like the more you work at it, the worse it sounds. It doesn’t matter if it’s learning to play a musical instrument, playing a sport, writing, working on a design project, it doesn’t matter. At some point, you get “brain dead.” When this happens it’s time to quit. Give your brain and your body a rest. Walk away for the day or night. Many times after walking away, you go back to it the next day and you can play it flawlessly. Sometimes your brain and your body just need a break. It needs some downtime.
Changes in the Music Industry are Making Opportunities for Indy Artists
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The internet has changed the music industry drastically. The change started in the 90s with the illegal downloading of music by Napster, which is now-defunct. The music sharing sites, like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and streaming services still have the industry in flux over issues such as the royalties to be paid to artists and labels.
Not all the changes are bad. Currently, more music is accessible to people around the world, but that has made it more difficult for musicians to make money from their music, the old fashioned way. At the same time, independent musicians have used the internet to reach a global audience without the backing or restrictions of the traditional music labels.
The Down Side Traditionally, people who have had a hand in making a record are paid in royalties. With the internet era, it has become easier to obtain music without the monetary exchange, which means royalties can’t be paid. Therefore, the music industry, in general, is struggling.
It all began with Napster founded in 1999 as the first peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software. The emphasis was on sharing audio files, usually music, in MP3 format. The company ceased operation because of its legal difficulties over copyright infringement. In essence, the music was considered stolen (pirated) when it was downloaded for free.
Outlets, like iTunes and Amazon, have helped to curb the trend of free downloads by offering individual songs for sale, without having to purchase the full album.
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Internet radio or streaming services like Spotify and Pandora offer a paid subscription for streaming music. Consequently, music sales, from CDs and Albums, are almost nonexistent. In the internet era, you can get all the music you want streaming onto your phone for $10 per month.
Spotify allows users to create a playlist, which can then be shared with friends by integrating their accounts using Facebook and Twitter. They are actually creating a new social media platform by sharing their playlist in their inbox on Spotify.
One benefit of streaming to the Indy Artist is that music is more personalized and much more accessible to people in any part of the world. Now, the music industry isn’t pushing the big names, like Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran. ALL artists, big and small, have more of an equal opportunity.
The streaming services are still disputed by artists and labels because the income generated is far short of the revenue from CD and Album sales.
This has brought a resurgence of vinyl record sales as collectibles. But, still, the revenue does not help the distressed music industry.
For the most part, new music is not selling because it is easier to stream music. Music sales are now virtually nonexistent, at least in the traditional sense.
Music can still be purchased in stores online, but the sales are far short of what they used to be.
The Up Side
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On the flip side, the problems for the music industry have created an opportunity for the independent artist (Indy Artist) who is not part of the “industry machine.”
Individuals can now create a playlist of the music or artists they like to listen to. Another benefit is that the streaming service will offer suggestions for new songs, based on the type of music in your playlist.
This allows the unknown artist to be introduced to individuals worldwide, a benefit not available in the music industry. The music industry only advertises and pushes the artists they have signed. The smaller artists are excluded.
The unknown artists, who fill out their profile on the streaming service with their songs and artwork attached, are one step closer to being heard by countless listeners that use the service on a daily basis.
When an unknown artist gets attention on YouTube or a streaming site, the music industry often takes notice, also.
DIY Recording and Publishing
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Is it easy? No, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. It might be easier to have a label record your songs if you can find one that will take you without you paying an arm and a leg.
There are many stories of record labels who have signed a singer or musician or band, cut the album, and then drop them without ever publishing the album.
Instead of trying to find a producer who can help you, get a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and start recording your music. You’ll make mistakes, but you will learn. It all comes with experience, training, and practice. You can do this.
It has never been easier to get your music in front of an audience than today with “Do It Yourself” publishing and online streaming. You don’t have to have a label or a manager or publisher help you become a success.
Another recording app is GarageBand which is a multi-track audio recording program. It is an Apple product but has recently developed GarageBand for Windows 10.
GarageBand’s user interface is intuitive and easy to use offering a wide variety of applications. An important issue is that it eliminates copyright issues associated with using pre-recorded songs, riffs, licks, or other software.
The software comes fully functional with a complete sound library, including voice, presets, and a vast selection of session instruments.
“It comes equipped with 100s of Hip Hop, EDM, and Jazz synth sounds, with built-in-lessons for piano and guitar. The insanely huge sound library on each instrument can create a huge number of permutations and combinations for you to choose from.
You are equipped with the ability to fix rhythm issues or autotune, track and mix your track with instruments, put effects like compression and visual EQ with just a click.”
The best part is that the software is FREE. GarageBand also gives you the option of sending the recording to them as your co-creator. They can then add, change, or manipulate whatever they think would help the recording then sent it back to you. A great solution if you need help in learning how to master your own recordings.
Social Media and Website
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You’re on social media, right? Everyone is on at least one social media platform. Most of us are on several.
Social media is just as powerful as the internet itself. Again, it does take work. You have to take it seriously to be effective. You must know where and when to post. You also must post regularly and interact with people online. Do your homework? Figure it out.
One YouTube channel hosted by Miles Beckler gives you step-by-step information on how to get started and how to be successful. And it’s FREE. He even has a complete course for FREE. You can’t beat that, now can you?
You do need to have a website where you publish your music.
If you aren’t sure about creating a website try a company like Wix or MailChimp where you can create an awesome website with drag and drop.Wixand MailChimp and other companies host the website for you and are available to help you with your creation.
You may be asking the question, “As a newbie in the industry, how are people going to find me?”
As mentioned above, streaming platforms make it easy to find new artists. TuneCore is a digital distributor and artist service. “It was founded on the philosophy of never taking advantage of an artist, ever. Sell your music, not your soul,” is their motto. “You Keep 100% of Your Sales & Rights.”
When you create an account with TuneCore.com, you enter your artist profile, as mentioned above. Next, you claim and verify your Spotify for Artist profile. Once your profile, music, and artwork are uploaded to Spotify you can edit your bio, add photos, pitch singles to playlists, promote your songs, and much more.
Once your TuneCore account is integrated with your Spotify for Artists page, you have complete control over your profile and you can engage with your fans. At this point, you become a Spotify verified artist. “Artist Pick” also allows you to highlight songs, playlists and promote your upcoming tours, gigs, shows, and/or pitch singles for playlist consideration.
Another very important feature is your listener statistics, which is also available on your artist page. No matter what you are doing on the internet, it’s very important to review your statistics so you can make modifications to your plan when needed.
TuneCore Social is a social media management tool for musicians. It allows you to streamline your online presence in one easy to use hub. You can connect all of your social media accounts so you can track your stats across all platforms. It also allows you to schedule posts across multiple platforms, enabling you to get more fans while spending less time.
One of the best parts is that TuneCore Social is free when you have a TuneCore artist account.
Licensing For Covers
TuneCore’s CoverSong Licensing, powered by Royalty Solutions provides licensing to record and sell cover songs by other artists quickly, easily, and legally. The licensing service does the research and secures a licensing agreement for any new covers you record or any that you have previously released.
All the pertinent information for all services is available on TuneCore.com.
The DIY Path
Image by Dena Warfield
Yes, the DIY Path seems harder than hiring a manager, publisher, and someone to record your music. But, you will pay a lot of money for things that you could learn how to do.
Yes, the 5000 things the music marketer has to do every day can be very overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. Focus on three things:
1. Making great music
2. Building a core audience
3. Growing your community.
Consistently focus on these three things
Batch tasks that need to be done in small batches
Learn the tactics to get the results and consistently grow your community
The essence of audience growth is like farming. Tend to and grow your audience like you would grow a garden. Just keep doing what needs to be done and it will happen.
In last week’s post, we looked at how Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift got their start in the music industry. Today we’re going to take a deeper look at what gave Ed Sheeran his biggest push towards stardom and how he developed his fan base.
Writing Your Own Music
Let’s do a short recap. Ed Sheeran started playing his guitar at an early age. When he was 11, he went backstage to meet Damien Rice who encouraged him to start writing his own music.
At age 14 Sheeran went to London for the summer to see if he could generate interest in his music. Then at age 16, he moved to London gigging continuously, sleeping on the fan’s sofas. He also began recording his songs.
How much it costs to cut an album? According to Recording Connection, an album takes between 60 to 100 hours to finish depending on the musician’s skill level. One song can cost from $50 to $500 with a full album costing around $2000.
The next question is “How much can you make gigging?” Payscale.com states that pay for gigging can range for $50 to $1000 depending on the type of gig. A local musician playing for a few fans in a coffee shop, restaurant, or bar can range from $50 to $250 depending upon the artist and if they’ve developed a good fan base.
Let’s look at this. Sheeran started seriously gigging in 2006. At the same time, he recorded an album, with another one in 2007, and the third in 2009. He also played 300 live shows in 2009.
I know prices were different in 2006 and 2007, but as a new musician on the scene, he had to develop his fan base to be able to start bringing in more money gigging. Most of what he made had to go towards his recording. He did not sign with Atlantic records until after he had been No.1 on the iTune charts.
Create Your Fan Base
The big question is, “How do you build a fanbase?” and “What’s the difference between a fan base and a super fanbase?”
It doesn’t matter “whether you’re a musician, a movie star, a celebrity chef or a health and wellness guru,” Lawrence Court of disciplemedia.com states that “building, engaging and retaining your fanbase is essential.”
Court states that you need to go beyond a fanbase and build a community, a community that is highly engaged and inspired. But, you must start with a fan base.
The first step is to get your first fan on social media. A good place to start is Facebook. You can create a page, not your profile, that represents your music or whatever you are trying to promote. Facebook allows you to invite your friends to like your page. You can also communicate with your friends through Facebook Messenger.
With all the content available, people have become blind to all the ads that we see on television, the internet, etc. etc. Ads today have to be exceptional to even get our attention. The new marketing style is called “Conversational Marketing” or “Relational Marketing.”
Conversational marketing is a one-on-one conversation, where you learn about your potential customers or fans and create a more human engagement experience. This is the approach we have taken when marketing LarrySWarfieldMusic.com.
We first created a website then a Facebook page connecting the two with graphics, images, and blog posts. Samples of Larry’s music was placed on both the website and the Facebook page. The likes increased on his page by increasing our friends’ list and asking them to check out his music. His page likes increased from 70 to 231 in about two weeks.
It was a challenge conversing with people worldwide, some of the people you talk to on Facebook have ulterior motives. You also need to offer something free for an engagement incentive. If you’ve been on the internet you’ve seen offers for free eBooks, free courses, free music, you name it and you can find it free. We all like to get free stuff, don’t we?
We put a sample of Larry’s song on his Facebook page with a free full MP3 for those who went to his website and registered, giving us their name and email address. The free MP3 is a limited time offer. When the song is released online then the free MP3 goes away.
Sheeran began building his fan base by gigging and putting videos of his performances on YouTube. In 2006, when Sheeran started gigging, Facebook had only been around for two years. Now, in the age of social media, there are many more options available.
Be Your Own PR Person
According to Court from disciplemedia.com, one of the most important things in building your fan base is public relations (PR). Establishing a positive public image is just as important as creating your brand, which we hear so much about today. Public Relations includes establishing contacts with the press and media to help get your name out to the public.
Turning Your Fan Base Into A Super Fanbase
Your fan base becomes your super fan base or community, however, you want to say it, when they follow all your posts or concerts, buy your albums and merchandise, but mostly, interact with you on a regular basis.
One musician on Facebook has about 400K likes but has a super fan base of around 40K. She interacts with them on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. She’s always putting out challenges or questions that keep her fans interacting with her. One important part of her interaction is email. She recently put out a new album. She started weeks before the release by asking questions, requesting suggestions. Her music is Celtic so she had a big release party planned in Ireland, I believe, where her super fans traveled to be part of her celebration. She is the perfect example of turning her fanbase into a tight-knit community.
Next PostI hope this has given you ideas to start pondering about how to get started building your fan base online.
In the next post, we will delve deeper into the subject of what is needed to create an online following to get your music heard.
by Dena Warfield
Many musicians have found that being a DIY Musician is the answer to getting their music heard.
The big problem is that many of us believe what the music execs tell us about having a successful music career. The advice given by the “music experts” is totally one-sided from their point-of-view, their “bottom line”. They do not consider the musician.
Yes, the music industry is in business to make money, all companies are. But, they are casting a wide net to see who they catch.
They are looking for specific people, with a specific image that they can use to make them the most money. Even in the songs, they are looking for specifics and if you don’t or can’t provide it, you’re out.
Do they care about the smaller fish in the big ocean of talent? No, not really. So the DIY Musician has to launch into the music business on his/her own.
They are looking for the person who can fit into their mold, the total package. How many times have we heard the story about a girl who tries out for a part and has the voice, talent, but won’t fit into the costume? It’s not exclusively about talent.
That’s fine, but what about the rest of the talented singer, songwriters, and performers? Are they just out of luck?
The Music Industry Is Changing
With the rise of the internet, the Music Industry, as a whole, is changing. More people are listening to music streaming, creating their own playlist on Spotify, iTunes, or YouTube. The day of the CD is dwindling quickly. Vinyl records seem to be making a reappearance but more for collectors.
Music is in the streaming.
This opens an even wider door for the DIY Musician.
What’s the catch?
DIY is not easy. It requires work. According to the Digital Music News DIY Musicians and Indy Artists often think that the internet and social media will eventually connect them with their audience naturally. That is also not true. It takes a lot of work to establish your brand and identity on the internet.
What do I need?
They say that a little knowledge can be dangerous. Well, a little knowledge about how the internet and searches work will not increase your name popping up in “long-tail” searches in Google.
These are things that you do have to have in place:
Social Media Marketing
PLUS Your Music – as good as you can make it
If you don’t know how to do these things, do your research online to see if it’s something you can learn.
“But I don’t want to take my time away from my music.” Then find someone who can help you. All musicians today, whether you are gigging in your local area, recording your own music, it doesn’t matter. You have to have a website or at least a Facebook page to begin building your fan base.
Even if you don’t have a website, a Facebook page is a way to connect with people who like your music.
No, it’s not easy but it is well within your reach as a DIY Musician. Stay Tuned. More Tomorrow.
Doing Everything And Getting No Place in the Music Industry
Since my youth, I dreamed of having a music career, performing on stage for thousands. People told me I was a better than average musician and singer-songwriter. But, I still had my doubts.
After many years of putting my songs on the shelf, I decided to take a risk and pitch them to some music execs. Living in Southern California provided the opportunity to personally go to Pitch Sessions in Los Angeles.
Every week for months, I’d spend an hour or two on the busy freeway to get to the weekly pitch. Every week it went the same.
We handed a lyric sheet and cassette recording (before CDs) of the song to the music industry exec. As the track played, the expert critiqued the song, writing notes on the lyric sheet. If the exec did not choose the song for further review the cassette and lyric sheet were handed back.
Occasionally, a song would be chosen.
This happened week after week, month after month. The drive home seemed to get longer and longer with each passing week.
Sometimes, I’d get a few encouraging comments, but I never had a song chosen for further review.
For that reason, I stopped going to Pitch Sessions. Instead, I began sending tapes to different music publishers and entering music industry contests. The Songwriter’s Market stated that the musician would receive feedback in a few weeks. But weeks passed without a word.
I had almost forgotten about the contest when a return package came in the mail.
I hurriedly ripped open the package and unfolded the letter that revealed their analysis with a list of changes that needed to be made. I immediately headed for my little studio, convinced they would pick up my song, and give me a recording contract.
The wait began again.
Finally, the long-awaited package arrived. I knew I had made the exact requested changes. With shaky hands, I opened the package and grabbed the letter that would reveal my next step to stardom. I knew there was a contract waiting for me.
My music career was about to launch.
I slowly slumped to the sofa flipping the letter over to see the back. I looked up at my wife standing in the doorway wiping her hands on a dishtowel.
She took a step closer, “Well?”
I sat stunned, then held the letter up for her to see.
“Thank you for submitting your song for evaluation. We regret it’s not what we’re looking for at this time.”
Still Accepting Demos
Some music publishers are still accepting demos. The Songwriter’s Market tells you how to submit a demo. They give you lists of publishers with the contact person, phone number, address, and specifically how to submit demos or if they accept demos. All the details are there.
Today’s musicians have more options than any other time in history. We can go the DIY (Do It Yourself) Way. We can take charge of our own music career, becoming your own recording exec.
We hear terms like copyright, music registration, licensing music, BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, and more. Let’s work through all these terms and see if we can make some sense out of all of it and understand how to get your music to the next level.
To complete Music Registration involves several steps. The first is to complete a Copyright with the government.
A Musical Copyright
The DIYMusician at CDBaby.com defines musical copyright as a “…designation of an intellectual property similar to a patent or trademark. Once an original composition has been fixed in a medium from which it can be reproduced (having either been recorded or written down in some fashion), the composer is granted exclusive rights to that piece of music, including, the right to:
reproduce the song
distribute the song
perform the song
create derivative works.”
When a songwriter creates a song the first thing that needs to be done is to obtain a copyright from the U.S. Copyright Office, https://www.copyright.gov/. There are two parts to the copyrights.
The first is the composition, the lyrics, and music, which is owned by the songwriter and/or the publisher. If you are a songwriter, composer, lyricist, or anyone who creates original music and have not signed a contract with a publisher, then, you own all the rights to the song, including the publishing rights.
If you have not signed a contract with a publisher you then have total control over how the music or composition can be used or “exploited” (to utilize, especially for profit).
As the publisher you should earn money every time your song is sung or aired, whether you have recorded your own record or whether someone is covering your song:
manufactured on CD or vinyl
played on the radio
synced to TV, film, commercials, games, etc.
The Sound Recording
With a sound recording of the composition, the copyright is owned by the recording artist or the label, which is called a master recording. The recording artist and the songwriter can be the same person.
Copyrighting Your Music
You have the right to copyright just the lyrics or just the music or both. Your song can be new or a new version or a new arrangement of the song. The song must be your creative work. If it is a collaborative work, all participating names must be on the copyright designation and all rights to the work are shared.
You cannot copyright a song title or chord progression by itself. A recording that includes the title and chord progression can be copyrighted.
Copyright your song gives you the following rights:
Make and distribute copies in any form
Exclusive right to make the first recording of the song
After you make the first recording then others can make recordings covering the song
A mechanical license required and royalties paid to you.
A synchronization license for videos or films required and royalties paid to you.
A public performance license required for someone to perform your song for an audience, with royalties paid to you, whether performed live, played on the radio, television, or live-streamed on the internet.
You have the right to make derivative works or new arrangements.
Display the song
Songwriters typically assign their songs to music publishers and recording artists assign their recordings to record labels instead of trying to track the song’s use and seek payment individually.
The next step in your music registration is to signup with a company that will collect and calculate royalties due to you. This is something that must be done before you begin marketing your music.
Mechanical Royalties are based on the number of records sold. Sound scan and other sales reporting systems determine the number of sales for each recording. In the US, mechanical royalties are calculated on a penny (Ȼ) basis per song, according to Free Advice Legal.
Recording artists receive pay according to the current minimum statutory penny rate, or a “reduced” penny rate. As of January 1, 2006, the US statutory penny rate for a record is 9.1 Ȼ per song.
Most US recording companies rarely pay the recording artist the statutory penny rate of 9.1 Ȼ per song because of a standard “controlled composition” clause, included in most contracts, which allows the record company to pay the artist or the publishing company a reduced royalty rate. Commonly they pay 75% (of 9.1¢) per song, with a cap of 10 songs, regardless of the number of songs on the album. Music publishers collect the royalties and pay the artists after subtracting fees and other withholdings stipulated in the contract.
Each quarter the US PROs (Performance Royalty Organizations), ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC calculate the gross receipt from all of the income streams and deduct any administrative fees or operating fees then pay the money directly to the songwriter. Each company uses its own method of calculating the royalties. For example, ASCAP uses the random survey and consensus method, BMI uses a scientific sampling method, and SESAC relies on cue sheets for TV royalties and cutting-edge methods of detecting radio play.
How To Apply For A Music Copyright
Step #1. Record your song on either paper, a tape recording, or a digital recording such as an MP3 or WAV file. You have to have something tangible to turn into the copyright office with your application.
Step #2. Create an online account on the Copyright.gov website. You can register your music by mail, but it will take much longer than registering it on their official website.
Step #3. Fill out the Copyright Registration Form. Once you have an online account with the copyright office you can fill out the registration form online. If you decide to process your registration by mail, your submission must be accompanied by a completed form just like online.
Step #4 Pay your registration fee. As of May 1, 2014, the online registration fee is $35 and the mail-in fee is $85.
Step #5 Submit a copy of your song. It is very easy to upload a digital copy of your song. You can submit tapes and paper copies by following the instructions with your application.
Step #6 The waiting begins. When you submit online it generally takes 3 to 5 months of processing. When you submit a paper registration it will take anywhere from seven to ten months to process.
Choosing to register your song is an important step in protecting your intellectual property. Without registering your song you will not be able to collect royalties.
Stay tuned! The next blog post delves deeper into getting paid for your music.
The Indy Artist Marketing approach combines some of the traditional music approaches, such as gigging, pitching your music, creating a fan base, whether online or in-person, and having CD’s to sell, with new Digital Marketing, approaches.
The term Indy Musician or the DIY Musician, as described in the first article, was coined in the 80’s short for “Independent Artist”. They were usually singer-songwriters or bands who recorded and released their own records independently of the music moguls.
The Indy Artist Marketer
The self-motivated Indy Artist doesn’t wait around for someone to tell them what to do or how to do something. The Indy Artist is a person with a Do It Yourself (DIY) attitude. They will employ the Indy Artist Marketing approach, take marketing matters into your own hands and getter done.
The Indy Artist isn’t one who will send out CDs or MP3s then wait for an email or a letter in the mail. CDs and MP3s are sent out while they are busy playing gigs, setting up their online presence, writing, or recording their next song. The artist is busy creating a website or getting someone to design it for him/her. At the same time, they are submitting their music to streaming companies like Spotify and Reverb Nation and putting a bio with music up on Bandcamp and anyplace else available. They embody the Indy Music Marketing approach to the fullest.
Goal-driven Indy Artists know where they are going and create a plan to get there. Quitting when the going gets tough is not an option. Indy Artists create their own opportunities.
The Music Industry Today
Today’s success in the music industry is much different than just a few years ago. Sending CDs, gigging, and perhaps touring does not guarantee success with the music moguls. It doesn’t happen as often in the age of the internet. Music Moguls are not the career makers like in years past. With the internet and modern technology, Indy Artists retain more control over their career and put more money back into their pockets.
In the early 2000s, Indy Artists began seeing success and making an income by creating a fanbase online. As technology expands there will be even more opportunities for the Indy Artists.
Gigging in Music City
Playing every night in Music City is not a guarantee that you will be discovered. In days past that might have been true. Artists could play at a club, be seen by an A&R rep scouting for the next artist to hit the Top 10, and be taken to the CEO’s office to sign a recording contract. That doesn’t happen much anymore. There isn’t as much money in the music industry as in the past.
Some think it is impossible to make a living as an Indy Artist because playing in Music City is for tips or free. For paying gigs, you have to get creative. Be ok with tips, or start booking out of the area. The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide states that most musicians that play in the clubs receive $20 to $50 base pay plus tips.
Many think they have to be the best before moving to Music City – not necessarily true. Music City is actually a good place to get started. There are a lot of opportunities that will help you perfect your skill: workshops, learning opportunities, people to learn from, and places to play and hone your craft. An important fact that you must know before moving to Music City. Every other musician who wants to make it in the industry is looking to move to Music City. Check out the Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide before you go. More often than not you can get your music heard right where you live with much less competition, while you’re working the online market.
Talent Still Required
Success today still requires talent and hard work. Remember when your teacher or your mother used to say – practice. Well, practice is still a very important element of success. Remember the old adage – Practice Makes Perfect. The artists that dedicate themselves to perfecting their craft will go further than the others.
On the music scene, you will find very talented artists and some mediocre talent all trying to achieve success. Some are looking for fame and fortune. Others want their music heard. Talent is not required to be noticed. But, you do have to be able to carry a tune, or write a good song, or play an instrument well.
Be An Indy Artist Marketer
If you are waiting for someone to discover you and make you a star, it probably won’t happen. Don’t put your success in the hands of someone else – make it happen yourself.
Your career and the path it takes are in your hands. If you want to be a big star touring the world, set your course, find out what it’s going to take to make it happen, and design a plan. If you want a career in songwriting or just playing your music, make it happen, book the gigs.
Create Your Fanbase
While you are learning and preparing, start developing your fanbase online and in your hometown before moving to Music City. Start a website, put your music on Youtube, and other Social Media Sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. Create your Brand. Get your name and music in front of potential fans. Every little bit helps to push your career forward – fans are fans.
The Indy Artist must market by selling CDs, MP3s, putting their music and merchandise online, advertising their name, creating their brand.
Some artists become licensed, others write for more popular singers, some play in bands or sing backup for different artists. If you’re a good songwriter look into writing jingles for advertising or songs for television shows. Check out Taxi.com.
Be creative. Keep your eyes and ears open. Go to auditions. Promote yourself.
To Succeed – Apply
Today, the Indy Artist that succeeds applies shoe-leather to his/her marketing. By that I mean, you go door to door promoting yourself. You audition, go to meetups, look for opportunities to get in front of an audience, or to get your songs in front of potential artists to sing them.
If you do apply shoe leather and if you’re good, there is a chance that somebody that matters will hear you. Still, you may need to earn a living in a different field while you perfect your music skills and applying shoe-leather marketing.
Don’t give up. Keep working at it. You have a much better chance of succeeding today than a few years ago. The Indy Artist Resource has information to help you get started.
Have you gotten your music played online yet? Will taking charge of your own music career, the DIY way, turn you into a well-paid music star overnight?
Probably not. Yet, it is possible. It takes a lot of motivation and sticktoitiveness. Most people don’t have that much, do you?
We’re going to look at two current musical stars. One gained his stardom online before landing a contract. The other traveled the traditional path with a contract. We will also recap what it takes, on a personal level, to achieve stardom.
According to Nielsen’s rating, Ed Sheeran was in the top 10 musicians in 2018. According to Biography.com, Ed started playing the guitar at a very early age. When he was 11, he met Damien Rice backstage at a Rice concert. Damien advised him to begin writing his own music. That night he wrote several songs, one entitled “Typical Average Teen.” At age 14, Sheeran, with a backpack of clothes in one hand and his guitar in the other, headed for London to gig for the summer.
At age 16 he moved to London, he began singing on the local circuit, while recording his music. He began to tour relentlessly, sleeping on fans’ sofas every night after his gigs. His first album, self-titled, was released in 2006 and a second album, Want Some, in 2007. It wasn’t long until Ed was opening for more established acts. In 2009 he performed more than 300+ live shows while recording his third album, You Need Me.
In 2010 Sheeran’s career took a big leap online. He knew how to use online media to his advantage by posting videos of his performances. For example, a rapper saw his videos and asked Sheeran to go on tour with him as his opening act, resulting in an even bigger online fanbase. Ed also produced 3 more albums in 2010.
Taylor Swift, one of the worlds leading contemporary recording artists, is also in the top 10 musicians in 2018. At age nine, Swift became interested in musical theater and performed in four Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. She also traveled regularly to New York City for vocal and acting lessons. At age 11, Swift and her mother went to Nashville and pitched cover songs to music producers but was rejected.
When Taylor was 12 she learned to play the guitar and began writing her own songs. At age 14, she moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. In Nashville, she began working with Music Row songwriters. She began meeting with one, Liz Rose, on a regular basis. Rose commented the sessions were “some of the easiest I’ve ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She’d write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she’d come in with the most incredible hooks”. Taylor was the youngest ever to sign with Sony/ATV Music publishing house. Her self-titled debut album was released in 2006.
Both Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift had the motivation to succeed in the music industry. Their minds were set at an early age to make it as a singer/songwriter.
Learn how to evaluate Song Clips as an expert by following our sampling tips. Sampling songs is very similar to the sampling of fine wine. First of all, you’ll need the right setting that is free from distractions to get the full flavor of the music.
The right environment enhances your listening pleasure. In contrast, a noisy or crowded room where kids or pets are romping and playing will make it difficult to hear and concentrate on the nuances of Larry S. Warfield’s Original Songs.
If you are one that enjoys the sound of the waves from the ocean or the gentle slaps of the water against the lakeshore, take your SmartPhone to the shoreline. Find a nice shady, comfortable place. Pull up the website and start the player.
Or perhaps you can shoo the kids and pets outside and curl up in your comfy place for a rewarding musical experience.
Many people view listening to music as a passive experience. In contrast, listening can also be an active process where much can be learned from different types of music. The lyrics also give you a glimpse into the songwriter’s soul, his life, his hopes, and dreams, his sorrows, and joys. Continue with the Listening Tips Below the player.
Once your listening conditions are as close to neutral as possible, your next step is to find a comfortable chair or recliner or by the lake as mentioned above where you can listen without distraction.
Start the audio player on the first song.
Close your eyes and picture the scene being described in the lyrics.
Feel the emotions.
Listen to the rhythm and melody of the Song Clips.
When all Song Clips have played, decide which is your favorite.
Furthermore, you may need to listen to the Clips several times to determine your choice.
I only met Kofi Burbridge one time, but it was perhaps the most encouraging experience of my musical life-time.
I was driving UBER and picked him up near the stage door after a Tedeschi Trucks Band performance at the TENNESSEE THEATER, in Knoxville about two years ago. He was relaxed and forthright in explaining who he was. I had heard Tedeschi Trucks Band before but was only familiar with Derek and Kathy. I was impressed and pleased to meet him. He was easy to talk to.
He saw the picture on my phone wallpaper of me playing a singer/songwriter showcase at the OPEN CHORD and asked what kind of music I played.
I explained that I write and sing original songs that are kind of jazzy pop, rocky soul. He said, “I got to hear some of that.” I always have a CD of test mixes in the CD player so I can analyze them for things that could be improved. When I played one for him he focused instantly on listening. Afterward, he was quiet for what seemed like a very long time. He asked, “Did you record that?”
I said, “Yes, I have a small studio in my house.”
He said, “Can you email me an MP3 of that one? I want our lead singer to hear it. I’ll text you my email.” He continued to tell me how much he liked it and spoke very sincerely about his interest in hearing more.
I was over the moon with excitement after I dropped him off, but I was also scared to death. Deciding to self-produce a 6-song EP or 12-song album to release on TuneCore or CDBaby, I had registered copyright for each song, they were all in some stage of un-mastered mix. But I was encouraged to keep pursuing the dream of putting out my music.
I sent “Falling in Love Again”, the song he heard, to his email address, and stepped up production on the other songs getting them ready to master… and WAITED. It was several months later when I finally got a voicemail message from Kofi.
He graciously apologized for taking so long to get back to me. He said he was learning some new material down in Jacksonville, Florida, but he wanted to get back with me to find out what I wanted to do with my music and hoped to hear from me soon.
Kofi, An Encouragement
WOW, he wanted to know what I wanted to do with my music!!! That question was still unanswered for me at that time.
I was struggling to get my songs in publishable quality, and by the time I thought I had two of them ready I read that Kofi had some serious health problems and had left the band to recover. A Get Well message had been sent, hoping to get some good news from him, but I never did.
Kofi, what I did get from you was great, professional-level encouragement; confirmation that my songs were actually worth sharing with the public. So, I have continued work to get them to market.
I have much to thank you for, Kofi. You treated a total stranger like a friend you felt could make an important contribution to the music world. You effortlessly demonstrated all of the wonderful comments and observations those who know and love you have shared.
Every so often I listen to the voicemail message you sent. Hearing it from your own voice always reminds me it really did happen and I can’t give up.
Thank you, again, for your kind helpful words. I wish I could have told you in person.
What a treat to see and hear the friendly, spirited interplay of two keyboard giants respectfully trying to blow each other away while switching from instrument to instrument in a challenging game of musical chairs that they both ultimately win.