Don’t commit this Instagram sin (or you might piss off a fan)

By Chris Robley
October 5, 2015{ No Comments }

A photo posted by Brett Bottorff (@brettbott) on


Why it’s still important to provide photo credits via social media

If one of your fans takes a sweet picture of you, posts it on Instagram, and tags you in it, of course you want to share it with your own followers right away. You’re excited. You look like a total rock star. BUT…

(Are you ready for some common sense advice?)

… slow down for a second and make sure to give the photographer credit!

Earlier this year, Taylor Swift was in the news for allegedly making a rights grab on photos taken during her concerts (and using them without attribution). But at the indie level, this sort of thing happens all the time, and in ways that can seem innocuous. Read more »

Get more gigs with GigSalad. For real.

By Chris Robley
October 5, 2015{ No Comments }

GigSalad: find more gigs

When GigSalad signed on as one of the top sponsors for CD Baby’s DIY Musician Conference, I decided it was time to finally try the service out.

What is GigSalad?

It’s a diverse online platform where entertainers can promote their talent. GigSalad has connected artists with over 850,000 event planners nationwide, and requests for musicians are increasing every day.

So put simply, it’s a way to get gigs.

Anyone who wants to book a band for their event can use GigSalad as a resource to find just the right act. GigSalad also serves as a go-between that provides certain protections for both parties throughout the booking and event-planning process. Read more »

Copyright basics of sync licensing

By Guest Blogger
September 30, 2015{ No Comments }

Sync Licensing: music libraries, exclusivity, & retitling“Sync licensing” is a buzzword in the music industry, fueled by dreams of big checks and mainstream media play. But once you start looking into it, you discover just how much of a learning curve there is, especially if you’re going at it as an independent artist.

If you’re serious about pursuing sync placements for your music, the best place to start is to understand the copyright behind the sync license, so that is what this article is all about.

After you master the copyright side of it, you can take the next step towards getting a sync license for your music by joining this free DIY Music Licensing Workshop. Kevin Breuner from CD Baby and I will be going through tips for getting your music in front of music supervisors, micro sync opportunities for indie musicians, and a whole lot more, so be sure to sign up!

What is a Sync License?

When you write or record music you automatically get copyright protection, meaning you and you alone can use that music unless you give someone else permission. When you allow someone to use your music, you’re giving them a license. Read more »

“Music is the language we use to say that we are civilized people.”

By Chris Robley
September 29, 2015{ No Comments }

The refugees in Syrian rock band Khebez Dawle play concert in Croatia

After their drummer was murdered, presumably by pro-government forces in Syria who objected to his active participation in protests, the remaining members of Khebez Dawle fled to Beirut where they were able to build a following and record their first LP (available on CD Baby), a post-rock concept album about a Syrian youth in the midst of violence and civil war.

Despite finding a musical footing in Lebanon, the band members were, according to this NPR story, “still refugees, stuck illegally in a tiny country.” They decided to make the dangerous — and expensive — journey to Europe in order to seek asylum. Read more »

Five ways to uncover content marketing ideas for music

By Guest Blogger
September 29, 2015{ No Comments }

Generating content marketing ideas for musicians[This post is an excerpt from Bob Baker’s book, The Five-Minute Music Marketer: 151 Easy Music Promotion Activities That Take 5 Minutes or Less.]

If you’ve spent any amount of time researching online promotion strategies, you’ve certainly come across the term “content marketing.” This is the act of strategically creating cool stuff to share with your audience online.

The content you create can come in many forms: the written word, the spoken word, music, images, and video. This content can be delivered via your website, email, social media sites, YouTube, SoundCloud, smartphones, tablets, computer screens, the telephone, and more.

This post features a list of quick ways to generate ideas for the online content you create. Use them to promote your music and transform yourself into a content creation machine!

1. Capture content ideas as they come to you

You know how this works with songs, right? You start humming a great new melody while you’re driving or in the shower. You vow that you won’t forget it. Then, a couple of hours later, you can’t remember how it goes, no matter how hard you try. Read more »

How to start a record label

By Guest Blogger
September 28, 2015{ No Comments }

Singer Ian Mackaye and drummer Jeff Nelson of The Slinkees / Teen Idles / Minor Threat founded Dischord in 1980 . Photo Malcolm Rivera / CC 3.0

The only guide you’ll ever need for starting a  record label.

[This article, written by Rory Seydel, originally appeared on LANDR’s Blog.]

You’re passionate about music. You know what’s good. You listen to tons of new stuff everyday. It’s time to start a record label.

But where do I start?

No worries, we’ve got you covered.


What do you love the most? What music do you know inside and out? The most valuable currency in the music industry is passion.

No matter what kind of label you chose to start, make sure you’re choosing something that you support 100%. Trends can come and go. If you’re serious about making it last, pick music that you can stand behind long into the future.

Picture yourself sitting on your porch when you’re retired. You’ve got your headphones on. You’re reflecting on the fullness of your life and all your most cherished memories. What are you listening to? That’s what you should be releasing. Whatever is timeless to you.

Read more »

Christmas is here (in the eyes of the music industry)

By Chris Robley
September 25, 2015{ 1 Comment }

Independent Holiday MusicHow to boost your music career this year with a holiday release

When the Biebs, and Ariana Grande, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Michael Bublé record new Christmas music, when do you think their labels really start gearing up to promote those releases? November? Wrong! Right now. (Actually, probably early summer).

And yet every year at CD Baby, we receive hundreds of new holiday-themed albums and singles from artists who want to distribute that music at the very last minute.

Even CD Baby’s own VP of Marketing, Kevin Breuner, whose band Smalltown Poets put out a Christmas single last season that was getting quite a bit of radio play, missed some opportunities to create more momentum for the song because they were late in launching their promo campaign (due to recording delays, I think). So yeah, it’s a common problem, artists not properly planning in advance for holiday releases.  Read more »

Does anyone even care about music discovery?

By Chris Robley
September 24, 2015{ 3 Comments }

What's the value of music discovery?

I have a couple friends that are obsessed with music discovery. For them it’s a 24/7 pursuit. All day, every day they’re listening to the latest releases and playlists, skipping over anything they’ve already heard. I asked one of these friends once when he was compiling his Year-End Best-Of list how many times he’d actually listened to his favorite album from the past 12 months. His answer was something like, “Oh, maybe two or three times at most. I just can’t go back and re-listen to things with so much more music to discover.”

Theoretically, I get it. He wants to be in-the-know, up on the latest trends, or to satisfy his inner collector. But emotionally, I don’t understand at all. I get obsessed with songs or albums that move me, not the process by which I discovered them or the promise that there’s more great music out beyond the horizon. When I fall in love with an artist, their CD stays in my car for weeks or months. Their songs are on repeat in my Spotify (and now Apple Music) player. Read more »

Is “Happy Birthday” now in the Public Domain?

By Chris Robley
September 23, 2015{ No Comments }
A 1922 copy of "The Everyday Song Book," containing lyrics to "Happy Birthday." (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)

A 1922 copy of “The Everyday Song Book,” containing lyrics to “Happy Birthday.” (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)

Have you ever wondered why the waiters at TGI Fridays sing their own unique, annoying song when it’s time to bring out the cake and embarrass you on your birthday? No, it’s not to demonstrate their wild and gregarious originality. It’s because, up until recently, everyone thought that Warner/Chappell owned the publishing rights to “Happy Birthday,” and restaurants didn’t want to have to shell out a ton of cash in order to sing that more popular birthday tune.

But yesterday a federal judge determined that “Happy Birthday,” which has passed from one rights owner to another over the last 80 years, should have been in the Public Domain all along — meaning nobody owns it, or rather, everybody owns it.

Sad news for Warner. Good news for restaurants. Good news for artists who are just itching to record and release their own grindcore or chiptune or symphonic versions of “Happy Birthday.” And great news for filmmakers, who’ve had to pay Warner thousands of dollars in the past to license the song for their movies. In fact, it’s been reported that Warner has charged up to six figures for the use of the popular song, which generates an average of $2mm per year in revenue for the publishing company. Read more »

“I’ve earned almost $600 in publishing royalties from streaming alone”

By Chris Robley
September 23, 2015{ No Comments }

Phillip Wilkerson - ambient electronic musicianYou don’t need a hit song to generate real publishing revenue.

Phillip Wilkerson, a prolific ambient musician and long-time CD Baby artist‚ recently told us about the additional income CD Baby Pro has brought to his music career:

“In the past three months, I’ve earned almost $600 in publishing royalties from streaming alone. That’s on top of my mechanical royalties for international downloads and the performance royalties I earn when my music gets played on the radio and on services like Pandora.

I wish I could point to a clear cause & effect‚ but I think it’s just the culmination of having many releases spinning out there in the universe. Those cumulative pennies and nickels really add up.”

For a busy musician like Phillip‚ enlisting CD Baby Pro to collect his royalties doesn’t just offer peace of mind knowing he’s earning every cent he’s owed; it also allows him the freedom to spend more time creating. Read more »