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Get it in writing: why your band should have a contract for bookings

By Guest Blogger
December 23, 2014{ No Comments }

Music ContractWhen you’re booking a gig, you can negotiate anything you want over the phone or face-to-face, but you or the other person might easily forget something that was promised or discussed.

A contract will outline in detail everything that is expected from the band and the person hiring the band — plus it will have signatures from both parties promising to fulfill those obligations.

Of course you won’t be able to use a contract for every show. Many bars don’t use them. A show at a coffee shop might not warrant one. But bigger events like festivals and corporate parties usually do use contracts, so it’s helpful to have one ready (on file) at all times to keep things simple.

So, let’s talk about items that are essential to a contract. Read more »

5 grassroots ways to create collective hype on social media

By Guest Blogger
December 22, 2014{ 1 Comment }

How to build grassroots hype for your band[This post was written by Brooklyn Doran and it originally appeared on the SonicBids Blog.]

Let’s face it: We all know the hustle. Sometimes we find ourselves trying to market our music more than we actually have the opportunity to play it. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? If we shout into the Twitter void, does anyone see it if we don’t have followers?

We’re in the age of “me” in which news feeds are saturated by bands all doing the same things. So, how do we fight Facebook algorithms and trending hashtags to be seen?

1. Team up with like-minded artists

What artists are similar to you? What other bands do you like? Make sure the musicians and bands you have decided to work with have a similar ideology about music and the world. Once you start working with someone, you become associated with that person – and therefore, if he or she gets into trouble, it reflects poorly on you. Read more »

What’s the difference between ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and SoundExchange?

By Guest Blogger
December 19, 2014{ 41 Comments }

The difference between ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and SoundExchange[This article was written by Dae Bogan and it originally appeared on his website.]

I received an email this morning from a reader who had read my piece, “Demystifying The Music Industry: What’s This About Public Performance Rights?.” He asked, “If SoundExchange was designated by the Library of Congress as the sole PRO to administer public performance licenses and also collect public performances fees for Sound Recording Company Owners, then why do artists still utilize the services provided by the other 3 US PROs (ASCAP / BMI / SESAC) – is [SoundExchange] not sufficient by itself?”

A lot of indie artists are confused about the difference between ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange. I’ll attempt to break down the most important differences between these groups and elaborate towards the end about other considerations and other royalty collection entities. Feel free to comment with any questions (or corrections). 

Traditional performance royalties vs. digital performance royalties

ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and SESAC are US public performance organizations (PROs) who collect publishing royalties (performance royalties) for the PUBLIC PERFORMANCE of musical works as stipulated by the U.S. Copyright Act. This includes fees paid by radio stations, businesses, restaurants, concert venues, bars, nightclubs, sports arenas, bowling alleys, malls and shopping centers, amusement parks, colleges & universities, etc. for performing music in the public (within the confines of their establishment). These monies are paid to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for a blanket public performance license that grants the licensee (the business) permission to allow music to be performed in their environment (this includes music over speakers and music performed live by an artist). The license fees paid to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are passed on to the copyright owners in the musical works (song) — PUBLISHERS (50%) and SONGWRITERS (50%) — as performance royalties for musical works.

[Editor’s note: ASCAP considers the publisher’s share and songwriter’s share to each be 50% of total performance royalties. BMI talks about these same splits as 100% for the publisher and 100% for the songwriter. It gets a little confusing, but they’re essentially talking about the same money split up in exactly the same way. It’s just that ASCAP uses percentages that are based on total performance royalties (thus 50/50), while BMI splits those halves FIRST, and then distributes 100% of each half to the appropriate entities.]

Read more »

How to sell more band merch in 2015

By Chris Robley
December 18, 2014{ No Comments }

Sell More Merch at ConcertsManaging merch sales isn’t the sexiest part of your music career, so I can understand if it keeps falling to the bottom of your to-do list. But with a new year approaching, it’s time to set some serious band merch resolutions!

Maybe you need to get rid of that ratty old suitcase you’ve been keeping your CDs in for years and construct a better merch display.

Maybe you need to finally get around to re-ordering t-shirts.

Maybe you need to recruit a superfan to go on your next tour to help out at the merch booth.

There are plenty of ways to step up your merch game in the coming year. If you’re wondering how, read on…

14 articles that will help you sell more merch at shows and online

1. Thirteen merch table basics for bands: if you’re not doing #5, you’re missing out on sales

2. Don’t go broke buying merch: a band t-shirt strategy you need to know

3. Four ways to accept credit cards at your next show Read more »

Rise above the plateau: how to take your music career to the next level in the new year

By Guest Blogger
December 17, 2014{ 2 Comments }

Rise above the plateau[This article was written by Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music book, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.]

Every single musician has experienced it at some point – the dreaded plateau. After seeing some great success you just feel stuck, like you don’t know what to do to step it up to the next level. It’s not all bad – you have built up a good fanbase, you’re selling singles and albums, your gigs are a success, but you still feel stagnant.

Luckily, with the new year just around the corner, this is the best time to break out of your box and step it up. In this article, we’re going to be talking about 3 ways to take your music career to the next level.

1. Try Something New

You’ve seen success. You know your current system works, but if you don’t try anything new – be it a new tool, a new social media strategy, or a new approach to your music videos – you’ll never know how much further you can get. In today’s music industry, there’s no one-size-fits-all model. A strategy that doesn’t work for someone else may be perfect for your music career. You never know unless you try. Read more »

14 ways to make money from one song

By Guest Blogger
December 12, 2014{ 2 Comments }

14 ways to make money from one song[This post was written by Bobby Borg and it originally appeared on the SonicBids Blog.]

As with any business, your products and services (whether they be your recordingstoursmerch, or anything else) are the stars of the show. They generate revenue and keep your music career afloat. This is why it’s so important to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity and find a variety of ways to satisfy your audience and make sales.

Take a song, for instance. It can be recorded and simply released as a single, but that’s not all.

Here’s how to turn a single song into 14 different money-making revenue streams:

1. If you remix it and take the lyrics away, it’s now an instrumental version that can be licensed to film and TV.

2. If you re-record it live, you can release that version as a live single.

3. If you re-record it acoustically, it can now be sold as the unplugged version. Read more »

Creating multiple revenue streams for your music

By Chris Robley
December 12, 2014{ No Comments }

Webinar: CD Baby tools for musiciansIn this exclusive webinar, Dave Kusek of the New Artist Model talks to Kevin Breuner, VP of Marketing at CD Baby, about many of the tools we offer and how you can use them to earn more money from your music.

Learn how to:

1. Earn royalties for the usage of your music on YouTube

2. Sell more music on Facebook

3. Sell new music using CD Baby Free

4. Get paid publishing royalties

5. License your music for film and TV

6. Grow your fanbase with Fanbridge

7. Fund your next album, video, or tour with PledgeMusic

To learn more about how CD Baby can help you grow your independent music career, check out this FREE webinar. Read more »

Spice up your Instagram profile with these tools (the best ones are FREE!)

By Guest Blogger
December 11, 2014{ 2 Comments }

Instagram for musicians (and its dirty secrets)[This article was written by guest contributor 

In episode 51 of the Jazz Spotlight Podcast I had the pleasure to welcome on the show #1 Instagram expert Sue B. Zimmerman,aka “The Instagram Expert.” One of the world’s leading social media and internet marketers, she has been featured on some of the most important websites in the field such as Social Media Examiner and Creative Live.

During our talk, she shared some incredible tips for SMART Instagram marketing. From what kind of profile picture to have, to her 3 tips for crafting a killer bio and how to deal with spammers, to how to become someone people want to follow (and eventually buy from on Instagram).

Yes, I said buy. That’s not a typo.

You can indeed use Instagram not only as a promotion tool, but also as a platform to actually drive traffic to a specific webpage where you are selling something.

If you are not using Instagram, you should definitely join today – just to let you know, you are missing out on an opportunity to join a social media that has 200 million users! And the podcast episode with Sue will help you in that it features everything you need to know to get started.

In case you are already on Instagram, the interview with Sue B. Zimmerman is a must-listen for you too, because she also discusses some advanced Instagram tips. Read more »

Why you need an honest critic in your corner

By Chris Robley
December 10, 2014{ 15 Comments }

Will your friends tell you when your music stinksWill your friends tell you when your music stinks?

Of course it feels great when people compliment your music, but do you have someone in your life you can count on to always tell it to you straight — even when their honesty hurts?

In an article on Pigeons & Planes called “The Most Important Person in My Corner,” one young rapper talks about how a friend of his who can be an outright jerk helped him mature as an artist by not pulling any punches when it came to criticizing the music.

Before meeting the critical friend (named Chris), the artist was getting praised by his friends and family, and believing every word of it. Here’s what happened:

This approval just fueled my confidence, and I started taking rap seriously. I started practicing, recording freestyles over beats I ripped off YouTube. Eventually, I was connecting with producers online and making original music. Years passed, and rap became a huge part of my life.

But even when I started promoting my music on YouTube and SoundCloud, I wasn’t gaining any traction outside of my friend group. In my little bubble, I was the dopest rapper alive, but the rest of the world wasn’t hearing it. What was going on?

When I left the suburbs for college, I started meeting people who weren’t as easily impressed (no offense to my high school friends—they meant well). That’s where I met Chris.

Read more »

4 ways for musicians to accept credit card payments at shows

By Chris Robley
December 9, 2014{ 3 Comments }

How to take credit card payments at showsYou’ve played a great show. Fans are lined up at your merch booth. You’re taking cash, making change, and signing CDs. Then a guy walks up and wants to buy a couple discs and a t-shirt — but he only has a credit card.

Are you going to turn him away? No, you’re going to process his credit card transaction right then and there, in the sweet, dank, dark-lit, beer-soaked corner of a basement rock club.

How to take credit cards for merch sales

Note: many of these credit card solutions are not available internationally, so if you live outside the US and know of a reliable way to accept credit cards in your country or region, please let us know in the comments below.

1. Square.

Probably the most widely-used solution amongst musicians for accepting credit cards on-the-go. Square will send you a mobile credit card reader that you just plug into your phone or tablet (iOS and Android devices). Swipe a card through the reader, push a few buttons, and the money will be in your bank account in 24-48 hours. Square takes 2.75% per swipe, and will process Visa, MC, Discover, and American Express charges. Read more »