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You’re a musician… but is it a HOBBY or a “REAL JOB?”

By Guest Blogger
October 13, 2014{ 10 Comments }

shutterstock 150444227 Youre a musician... but is it a HOBBY or a REAL JOB? New IRS tax rules may benefit independent musicians

[This article was written by entertainment attorney and indie artist Christiane Cargill Kinney. You can follow her on Twitter for more helpful indie-artist tips.]

As independent musicians, there are many times when we have to work second jobs to make ends meet, and after you factor in the costs of recording, manufacturing, marketing, touring, and other legitimate business expenses, not to mention sharing any profits you may receive with your co-authors, managers, agents, labels and distributors, the fact remains: independent music does not always turn a profit.

When tax time rolls around every year, many of us receive the same lecture from our accountants: “You need to start showing a profit, or the IRS may consider this a ‘hobby’ and not a ‘real job.’” If you haven’t heard this lecture in the past, you should probably get a new accountant. However, for those of you who have heard it, your reaction may be the same as mine. Read more »

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What it takes to be a successful musician and entrepreneur: advice from Grimes

By Chris Robley
October 10, 2014{ 4 Comments }

Grimes original 433x650 What it takes to be a successful musician and entrepreneur: advice from GrimesGrimes, the experimental pop singer (and creator of one of my favorite synth-bass grooves EVER), did an interview for Rookie Yearbook Three, edited by Tavi Gevinson, where she talks about what it takes to be a successful artist and entrepreneur in today’s music industry.

Portions of the interview are excerpted in Elle:

Something I didn’t realize when I started making music was that any entrepreneurial endeavor involves hiring people, creating a company, and becoming a businessperson. So, while you may know me as a musician, in practice I am also a boss… This is simultaneously very cool and very stressful. I’m definitely not the best or most experienced boss. I’m also a young, female boss, which can present a very particular set of practical and emotional challenges.

Grimes then shares some tips for musicians that are learning how to “be in charge.” You can read the full interview in Rookie Yearbook Three (on sale October 21st, but available for pre-order now). For a sneak-peak, check out the excerpts below.

Tips from Grimes on how to be a successful artist and entrepreneur:

• You will never hear more people tell you that you’re wrong than when you’re succeeding. After my album Visions came out, I spent a really long time freaking out because people were telling me that in order to take “the next step” in my career, I would have to become a much better “musician,” that I’d need a backing band, etc. I now realize that (a) none of those people have music careers, and (b) I wasted a lot of time trying to do things I was told were “important for every professional musician” to do, without realizing that as a fan, I am far more interested in things that I’ve never seen before. The point is, listening to haters is pointless. People are judgmental about everything—often because they feel threatened. Ignore them. I think this applies to any business or creative thing, because tomorrow’s world will not look like today’s. Doing something different is probably better than doing the same things that other people do. Read more »

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Networking for musicians: advice from a professional sideman

By Guest Blogger
October 10, 2014{ 1 Comment }

Untitled Networking for musicians: advice from a professional sideman[This article was written by Lemar Guillary, an LA-based trombonist who has performed with artists such as Robin Thicke, Jennifer Hudson, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.]

Sociology of Musicians

A person is not merely a single subject distinguished from all the others. It is especially a being to which is attributed a relative autonomy in relation to the environment with which it is most immediately in contact. – Émile Durkheim[1]

It is imperative that a new musician looking to work his or her way up the ladder in the commercial pop music industry understands his or her role as it pertains to the group which he is campaigning to be a member of.

Identifying the behaviors of a social group is a skill set that is pivotal in your development. I will explore social, body language, and mentality theories to help sharpen the skills you need to be a successful networking musician. Read more »

How to play a successful – and profitable! – virtual show

By Guest Blogger
October 9, 2014{ 1 Comment }

Screen shot 2014 10 09 at 6.56.09 AM 1 How to play a successful – and profitable! – virtual show

[This article is a guest post written by Matt Thomas of Concert Window.]

Whether you’re an emerging artist or a seasoned professional, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of online resources out there these days, all claiming to be the best way to either engage with your fan base, reach new audiences, or make money. The virtual concert is a relatively new concept, but one that is growing rapidly and is proving hugely successful on every level.

A virtual concert is basically a show you broadcast online, allowing people to tune in from anywhere by mobile device or computer. It’s as easy as opening up your laptop and performing from your own home. Music fans around the globe can tune into the live show, pay for tickets, give tips, buy merch and chat with you, all in real time. Best thing about it is you only need to get dressed from the waist up.. . . . we’re joking…. No really, please cover up!

Below is a guide to help you create the best experience for fans and cash in at the same time! To skip the guide and jump straight in CLICK HERE.

Tech:

Broadcasting a live show on the Internet might sound like the biggest undertaking you have ever faced, and you may be thinking you will need to hire a team of pros equipped with cameras the size of Belgium. Truth is, broadcasting a live show doesn’t need to be that difficult. You’re encouraged to use the simplest setup you can. In the video below, Concert Window addresses how to go about setting up a broadcast using a USB microphone and an external webcam. This enables you to capture high quality audio and video without the hassle of plugging in lots of equipment. Read more »

How setting limits in the studio can lead to creative success

By Chris Robley
October 8, 2014{ 3 Comments }

shutterstock 153925208 300x300 How setting limits in the studio can lead to creative success5 ways to improve your recordings by setting limitations in the studio

In a creative space, endless options can drive us crazy.

This is especially true in the studio, where expectations run high and budgetary and time restraints amp up the pressure.  In this environment a limitation can be the very thing that keeps you sane.

Ever seen The Five Obstructions? It’s a great film, and a great illustration of how arbitrary obstacles can help us focus and push beyond our habitual moves.

If you’re about to head into the recording studio, consider some of these creative limitations:

1) Set a maximum track-count before the session begins — It’s not uncommon these days for Pro Tools sessions to have 100 tracks. Sure, if you’re Dr. Luke recording the next #1 single for Katy Perry, go for it. But if you’re squeezing in recording time on the weekends, do you really want to have to sift through all those tracks every time you open your session? Read more »

How to stretch your recording budget and get more for your money

By Guest Blogger
October 7, 2014{ 1 Comment }

shutterstock 16068823 300x200 How to stretch your recording budget and get more for your money[This post was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek of New Artist Model.]

Budgeting is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of planning for a new album or project. Compared to all attention you give to writing, recording, and marketing, budgeting can sometimes be overlooked entirely or hastily done. It’s just not as exciting as all the creative vision you may have for your next project, or the actual process of writing and recording. However, good planning may mean that more of your creative vision and ideas could become a reality!

If you don’t plan your budget out in advanced you will almost always overspend, taking away from the money you could have used to tour after the release, make a really great music video, get new band photos taken, or a myriad of other things you can spend your money on. And you will have no way of looking back to see if you were on track with your budget and how you can do better next time.

So before you jump into recording your next album or EP, whether this is your first or tenth, here are some tips to budgeting and managing your expenses. Read more »

Boost sales and build hype with a digital music pre-sale on iTunes and Amazon

By Chris Robley
October 7, 2014{ 2 Comments }

shutterstock 208122751 300x300 Boost sales and build hype with a digital music pre sale on iTunes and AmazonStart “selling” your new music before its official release date

A digital pre-sale (via iTunes or Amazon) allows your fans to order your music in advance of its release. All pre-sales will be credited on the official release date — so the more pre-sales you get, the higher your sales ranking for that day. Your pre-sale customers will then be able to hear/download your music on the release date.

A digital music pre-sale is a great way to build hype for your latest album, giving you an extra four weeks to create buzz before the music actually drops. And given the fact that both iTunes and Amazon are prime real-estate for music retail, those four weeks can have a big impact.

With a pre-sale, you don’t have to keep telling your fans about new music on the horizon with no retail solution in place to capture interested customers. Now — in the month leading up to the release — whenever you talk about your new music on social media, on your website, in your newsletter, or at a concert, you can tell your fans where to go RIGHT NOW to make a purchase. Read more »

Can you sing two notes at once? This woman can

By Chris Robley
October 6, 2014{ 1 Comment }

Want to be amazed? Listen to this woman’s polyphonic singing! 

I’m not just talking about David Lee Roth-style overtones here. Anne-Maria Hefele can control her voice so well that she’s able to create parallel, contrary, and oblique harmonies… all by herself. Read more »

A Guide to Getting Gigs: What to do before looking for gigs

By Guest Blogger
October 3, 2014{ 8 Comments }

 gigs before A Guide to Getting Gigs: What to do before looking for gigs

[This article was written by guest contributor 

Some do it for the thrill of being on stage. Some do it to see the world, while for others it is one way to make money as a musician.

Performing live is one of the best things about being a musician. However, for independent artists, who don’t necessarily have the support of an agent or manager, looking for gigs can be quite overwhelming.

What some artists don’t realize, and is the one thing that can bring in frustration, is that “gig hunting” is a marathon, not a sprint.

This 3-part series shows you what to do before you start looking for gigs, what to do while seeking shows and what should be done once concert dates have been confirmed.

This first part focuses on what musicians should do before you begin “gig hunting.”
Read more »

The 3 most common music publishing deals for songwriters

By Chris Robley
October 2, 2014{ No Comments }

shutterstock 130027265 The 3 most common music publishing deals for songwritersHere’s a story you’ve probably heard before: band makes it big, everybody gets rich, the songwriter gets richer.

Why does the songwriter make more money? Music publishing!

If you’re a songwriter, you could make huge amounts of money from your songs… IF you have a deal with a publishing company.

By performing a number tasks that are often too difficult (or time consuming) for songwriters to do on their own, music publishers can help open up lucrative opportunities for your songs.

But what do the different kinds of publishing deals that are out there look like? And what are the pros and cons of each?

Alex Badanes from Songtrust wrote an article called “The Three Most Common Publishing Deals — Learn Your Options!” which provides a nice summary of this topic. In that piece, he says:

The moment you decide that a song you have been working on for weeks is finally finished, you own a copyright and 100% of your publishing. This 100% is divided into two very important sections – The Publisher’s Share (50%) and The Songwriter’s Share (50%). It is imperative to understand that most publishing agreements only take a percentage of ownership of your Publisher’s share (50%). Unless you sign a work for hire agreement (See Below), you will never lose any ownership of your Songwriter’s share.  Read more »