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Music publishing administration explained

By Chris Robley
May 21, 2015{ No Comments }

How CD Baby Pro will help you collect all the publishing royalties your music generates

Last week we posted an article by CD Baby’s Director of Publishing, Rob Filomena, called “What is music publishing administration, and why do I need it?Read more »

CD Baby artist Sawyer Fredericks wins The Voice (season 8)!!!

By Chris Robley
May 20, 2015{ No Comments }
Photo from NBC.

Photo from NBC.

Wondering who won The Voice last night?

Sawyer Fredericks, the 16-year-old songwriter from upstate New York, was announced as the winner of  The Voice, NBC’s popular music competition show, now in its 8th season.

Fredericks has distributed his music through CD Baby and hosted his website via HostBaby for a while now, so we were psyched to follow his progress on the show.

Sawyer was the youngest contestant on The Voice this year but he seems to have an old soul, singing gritty blues and Americana inflected songs by the likes of Ray LaMontagne, The Soggy Bottom Boys, and John Fogerty.

He was humble about the victory. “I’m feeling great and I kind of want to get back to the farm just to have a little bit of a break from all of this, so I’m excited to get back home,” said Fredericks. “I do not want to move to L.A.!” Read more »

Sadat X’s DIY Musician Blog Takeover

By Chris Robley
May 20, 2015{ No Comments }

Sadat XA series of video interviews with the influential rapper

Sadat X, one of the founding members of legendary hip-hop group Brand Nubian, has put out 12 albums over the last 3 decades — and it was clear to us after his appearance at CD Baby’s official SXSW showcase earlier this year that he’s still one of the most unique and relevant rappers out there today.

He’s worked with hip-hop heavyweights like Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, and Common. Sadat X has even collaborated with pop-folk troubadour Jack Johnson. And while a partnership with the DIY Musician Blog might not be as high-profile as rapping alongside Hova, we thought we’d ask Sadat X if he’d be down to offer some of his wisdom in a series of video posts for CD Baby artists.

Every other week or so we’ll be posting a video episode (each about 3 minutes in length) with Sadat X talking about different aspects of a successful music career: social media, building your brand, booking shows and touring, etc. In the comments section of each post, we’d love for you to ask questions and Sadat X can answer his favorites in the followup video.

To kick things off, I asked Sadat X a handful of questions of my own:

* How important is a cosign from a more prominent rapper?

* Should younger artists even bother trying to get signed to a label?

* What’s changed in terms of album promotion over the past 15 years?

Read more »

How literate are YOUR lyrics?

By Chris Robley
May 20, 2015{ No Comments }

How literate are your lyrics?Studying the dumbness of pop music

When someone says “literate songwriting,” I think of Dave Carter, Kool Keith, Mary Gauthier, Elvis Costello.

But let’s think about it more… literally, as songwriting that requires the listener to have some level of reading proficiency.

If we printed out the lyrics for 225 recent #1 songs on Billboard‘s Pop, Country, Rock, and Hip Hop charts, we’d see that the “texts” of modern popular songs now average between a 2nd and 3rd grade reading level — which is down from a 3rd-4th grade level a decade ago.

Yep. Data now proves that music is getting dumber. Well, the lyrics of chart-topping songs are getting dumber at least. Plenty of contemporary songwriters are penning literate lyrics, of course. And you can write great lyrics, spin an imaginative metaphor, and stir emotions without using big words. But still… Read more »

Touring tips for DIY musicians: tweet-sized advice from the CD Baby community

By Chris Robley
May 19, 2015{ 3 Comments }
Photo from Magnet Magazine

Photo from Magnet Magazine

It’s springtime, so naturally touring is on the brain

CD Baby’s Twitter chat in April was all about touring.

Then Kevin Breuner and I had a discussion on the DIY Musician Podcast about our best touring advice.

In that same week Carlos Castillo sent me an article with tips on how to sell more merch on tour.

After all that touring talk, we thought it’d be a good idea to write a kind of summary article with lots of tweet-sized advice taken from those three sources (plus a few more peppered in for good measure).

There’s a lot to juggle when planning and executing a DIY tour. Some of it is common sense. Some of it isn’t. If you’re thinking about booking a tour, or just about to head out on the road, read through these quick tips. It’ll be a good refresher.

Things to remember when booking your tour

Read more »

YOU are a music publisher; do you know what your rights are?

By Chris Robley
May 18, 2015{ No Comments }

Music publishing breakdown

Music publishing is one of the most important — and least understood — aspects of the music industry.

If you’re a songwriter, lyricist, composer, or a member of a group that creates music collaboratively, YOU become the publisher of your music the minute it’s written. As such, you are granted certain exclusive rights regarding that musical composition.

Do you know what your publishing rights are? Do you know which publishing royalties you’re owed for the usage, performance, and duplication of that music? Do you know how to collect those publishing royalties?

Check out the articles below for details, or watch the brief video interview (above) with CD Baby’s Director of Publishing, Rob Filomena, for a good overview.

15 articles about music publishing, publishing royalties, and publishing administration

Read more »

Master your tracks in just two clicks with Landr

By Chris Robley
May 14, 2015{ No Comments }

Affordable audio masteringMaster your tracks instantly. Hear a preview in seconds. Only $9.99 per song.

Mastering — that final, elusive, and often expensive step in bringing your tracks to life. In many ways audio mastering serves as the bridge between the recording and distribution processes. It’s essential to releasing professional-quality music, and it can make a good mix sound great.

But did I mention it can be REALLY expensive?  Plus, talented mastering engineers are usually booked out weeks or months in advance. And that could push your release schedule back too far.

Skipping the mastering process just to hurry your release along is a bad idea, though. At CD Baby, we get hundreds of new albums and single song submissions every day, and we can really tell when an artist has had their music mastered and when they haven’t. The mastered tracks are louder, for sure, but they’ve also got that punch, shine, and clarity that the original mix might’ve lacked.

That’s why CD Baby has partnered with Landr to offer you a quick and affordable solution to audio mastering. And you can try it for FREE with any song before committing to purchase the final mastered file. Read more »

What is music publishing administration, and why do I need it?

By CD Baby
May 13, 2015{ 4 Comments }

What is music publishing adminstration?[This article is the first in a series by Rob Filomena, CD Baby’s Director of Music Publishing.]

Since taking on the role of Director of Music Publishing at CD Baby several months ago, I’ve spent much of my time learning about the company and listening to members, particularly interested in what they have to say about CD Baby Pro, our publishing administration platform that I administer directly.

I’ve looked through our customer service emails, read comments on the DIY Musician Blog, and surveyed the customer service team. I’ve spoken to members and engaged in dialogue directly with our partners at performing rights societies like ASCAP, BMI, and SOCAN to hear what their members were saying about CD Baby Pro. Where could we be doing better? What could we explain more clearly? How could we improve the service?

There are some consistent themes that emerged from these conversations that I wanted to start to explore and explain in a series of posts dedicated to CD Baby Pro and the work we’re doing with songwriters to get them paid their publishing royalties. Read more »

The real way to become a successful musician: advice from Andrew W.K.

By Chris Robley
May 12, 2015{ 3 Comments }
Photo of Andrew W.K. taken by Andrew Strasser.

Photo of Andrew W.K. taken by Andrew Strasser.

On this blog we’re usually sharing practical, actionable advice that can help you move your music career forward one step at a time: creating better Facebook events, booking smarter tours, recording an album on a tight budget, etc.

But there’s something that’s often more important to defining and achieving success as a musician: your mindset. In that department, Andrew W.K. has done my job for me this week, and I thought we could all crash his soul-deep self-help party!

In his advice column for The Village Voice, the “Party Hard” singer fields this question:

Since I was very young, I’ve always wanted to be a successful musician. I have practiced and played in many bands and done everything I can to get my music out there, but the dream of making it big just seems to get further away and more impossible. I feel like I should just give up, but I love music so much and want to succeed at it. How can I get there? How can I be a really successful musician?

Striving For Success

Here’s how Andrew W.K. begins his response:

The traditional modern concept of success — being the measurement of monetary income as the primary indicator of effort and mastery in a certain field — is essentially a scam, a con, and a lie. To equate success with an amount of money earned, or an amount of fame achieved, is at best an unfortunate miscomprehension of the very nature of success. At worst, it’s a malicious distortion. Read more »

Fox cancels ‘American Idol’

By Chris Robley
May 11, 2015{ 1 Comment }

Fox cancels 'American Idol'If there’s one thing I can reliably count on to provoke the ire of CD Baby artists, it’s ‘American Idol.’

For almost a decade I’ve heard your outcry (in emails, in podcast calls, in blog comments): the American Idol-ification of music is destroying true art!

Last year, when Shook Twins turned down an invitation to appear on the game show, more than a hundred commenters on this blog shouted “hooray” in independent solidarity.

Well, your day of vindication has come. Fox has canceled ‘American Idol.’ The show will not return after its final season in 2016. For eight of its fifteen year history, the music competition was the most watched program on TV. But lately it’s had to make due with a mere 11 million viewers. Read more »