ROI stands for Return on Investment. To put it another way, it means what you get out from what you put in. You might think that a phrase like ROI is only relevant to stockbrokers and bankers but it definitely affects you as a songwriter or artist.
There’s a difference between songwriting as a hobby and songwriting as a a career. Here’s a way to look at the difference:
When you do something you don’t particularly enjoy and you get paid for it… that’s a job.
When you do something you love but you don’t get paid… that’s a hobby.
When you do something you love and you DO get paid… that’s a CAREER.
Can you see the difference? Your career is music, because that’s what you love, but it’s only a career when it provides some sort of income for you, otherwise it’s just a hobby. Yes, songwriting, for most people, begins as a part-time career, often supplementing the dreaded ‘job,’ but it is still your career, if you choose to make it so.
It takes more than talent
To have any kind of success in that career, it takes a commitment to invest in your God-given talent. Your talent is the raw material, the lump of clay, the pile of bricks. What you choose to do with that raw material is the element that determines your success.
“Effort without talent is a depressing situation, but talent without effort is a tragedy.” – Mike Ditka
I wish I could tell you that you can make it to the top on nothing but talent, but I can’t because it flat-out isn’t going to happen. Talent alone is not enough; it’s just the beginning.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a disgruntled parent say, “My son/daughter has much more talent than [insert star’s name here]. How come they made it and my kid can’t?”
A variation on that is the songwriter who is consumed with envy for “that lucky guy” who is getting all the cuts on the top acts.
Lucky? Okay, I’ll admit that sometimes luck does play a part in success. But one thing is certain: The better prepared you are, the luckier you’ll get.
There’s almost no such thing as an overnight success, at least not one that lasts longer than a flash in the pan. That “lucky” person, that “overnight success” had almost certainly invested in their talent so that when the opportunity presented itself, they were prepared and were able to confidently take full advantage of the situation.
Invest in your talent
As you develop your career as a songwriter, you will need to commit to making an investment in your talent. It’s an investment in both time and money, but the part to always keep in mind is the ROI… the return that you will reap on that investment of time and money in your career.
Make a commitment to go to Writers’ Nights, network with other writers, ask questions, read books, take classes, set up co-writing sessions and write, write, write!
(Note from Preshias: This is a ‘guest post’ from Adam Bernard, a New York-based music journalist. The article was originally posted at sonicbids.com and you can read the original article in full here. See the foot of this post for links to more of Adam’s articles)
Young artists bring a lot of raw talent to the table, but they also bring a naiveté about the music industry that cannot only make their lives difficult, but can totally derail a career.
While there’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer, it’s imperative to realize there’s a huge difference between a dream and reality. A young artist may have visions of signing a big contract and the world being at his or her feet, but if that’s what an artist believes to be the truth, a reality check is necessary.
In order to get a clear picture of that reality check, I spoke with 12 professionals in the industry, including publicists, artists, an artist management team, and a label owner who also runs a recording studio, all of whom have worked with young artists. They broke down the reality checks all young artists need to hear.
Talent does not equate to success
“To save yourself a lot of headache and heartache, please begin repeating to yourself now that your talent is not a direct correlation to your success – your effort and marketing are. My mom makes an amazing jar of homemade peanut butter, but without being marketed, how would she ever expect to compete with Jif or Skippy?” – Jake Palumbo, founder of SpaceLAB Recordings and SpaceLAB Recording Studios
Each step you take will require more work
“The second you hire a manager, a publicist, a team, that means you have to work 10 times harder than ever.” – Jen Appel, The Catalyst Publicity Group
Your career growth will take time
“A lot of young artists are misled into thinking that things happen more quickly than they do in reality. They’ll look at the near-vertical ascents of, say, Kreayshawn, or Kamaiyah, or Desiigner, and not realize that those artists are the exceptions, not the rule. Yes, every year there are a small number of artists that break extraordinarily quickly, but for every one of those, there are 100 artists that are growing organically at a slower and steady rate, and that’s totally okay, too.” – Michelle McDevitt, Audible Treats
Actually, everything will take time
“It takes a lot of effort, supportive friends and family, and a world of confidence to make it. Not the confidence that you are bigger and better and deserve everything handed to you, but the confidence that you are patient enough to try everything.” – Jen Appel
“My biggest reality check as a young artist who is now entering the music industry is that everything takes time, and nothing happens overnight. Sometimes the industry likes to portray certain artists as if they just blew up out of nowhere, when the truth is that hard work and dedication lead to success.” – Johnny Based (age 17) of the hip-hop group RAAA (Rebellious Against All Ahead)
You need a plan when releasing music
“Countless young artists will leave our studio, convinced they’ve made a hit, saying, ‘We’re about to drop this tonight!’ as they rush out the door, not realizing that to truly ‘drop a record’ involves a lot more than uploading it to your SoundCloud and sharing the link on Facebook and Instagram. There’s a lot of preparation, timing, prep work, targeted advertisement, and, frankly, money involved in making sure a record reaches ears that may be interested in hearing it.” – Jake Palumbo
“Because they’re kids, and they’ve never really worked in the real world, they have unrealistic expectations for how long things take to get done professionally or the right way. They’re young, so they’re very impatient, and they’re growing up in a hyper-instant gratification world with all the social media platforms where everything is out there in a second on Snapchat, which definitely adds to their sense of urgency to throw stuff out there before it’s really ready.” – Tiffany A. Wentz (Wentz Entertainment Group, LLC) and Richard Laurent (Laurent Enterprises, Inc.), co-managers of RAAA
“The biggest reality check about the industry that I’ve experienced is how crucial it is to make and release music at a certain time. I had always imagined that artists just create music and send it out to the world to hear, but now I realize things are much more complex than that.” – David Lee (age 17) of the hip-hop group RAAA
You have to learn the business side of music
“It’s been a bit of a wake-up call for me realizing that you have to have a really clever business model of your own to get your stuff out there. As an artist, I don’t enjoy the business side that much; I just want to create. I am starting to enjoy [the business side] more, though, as it is forcing me to brand myself, and explore things about myself as an artist that I normally would not.” – Brooke Moriber, singer who started as a child actor on Broadway
“Nowadays you have to be more than an artist. With social media and so many other platforms out there for us to brand ourselves, it comes to a point where we are 100 percent involved in how our image is portrayed.” – Ceddyjay (age 17) of the hip-hop group RAAA
If you want respect, you have to show respect
“There is a certain way to act and treat others around you. Whether it be your fans, your team, the media, agents, or even labels, nobody owes you anything. You should be grateful for any support you receive, and appreciative of the opportunities offered. Talent alone will not sell itself, and especially as a young artist trying to make it in the industry, an inflated ego is your worst enemy. You have to work hard, and give respect to earn respect.” – Stephanie Maksimow, The Catalyst Publicity Group
Cash rules everything around you
“Young artists typically have little to no concept of the value of a dollar. Not only do they lack even a cursory understanding of how exactly their talent is converted into currency, they don’t have any understanding or appreciation for how much it costs to maintain a career in music. Often, young artists will receive advances – which are likely to be dreadfully stingy as is – and then promptly blow all that money on creature comforts and non-necessities. Artists with poor finance skills leave themselves wide open to be taken advantage of.” – Andrew Wetzel, drummer for Nine Shrines
You need to connect with people on a real level
“Nobody owes you anything because you sound and/or look appealing. Give the audience a reason to want to connect with you.” – Rick Eberle, Rick Eberle Public Relations
Your small fanbase can play a big role in your career
“I think [young artists] tend to overlook the importance of nurturing the small fanbase that they do have, and converting those supporters into diehard fans for life. [Instead], they’re constantly looking for the next quick scheme to get in the game – pay-to-play, fake followers, etc.” – Jake Palumbo
You have a limited number of places where you can perform
“A lot of venues won’t allow underage artists to perform, so you have to get creative about where and how to create performance opportunities, whether that’s at private parties/backyards, high schools, community centers, warehouse spaces that don’t have liquor licenses, busking, etc.” – Tiffany A. Wentz and Richard Laurent
Staying at home is not an option
“I didn’t realize how much traveling outside of touring you need to do in order to make and keep up the connections you need. I am a native New Yorker, and always thought the industry was mostly here, but it seems to have shifted a lot to Nashville and LA, so I have been traveling back and forth a lot.” – Brooke Moriber
You need to have your own identity
“You break yourself into this wild industry by being creative and never giving up – by being different, and offering a brand and style that is undeniable.” – Jen Appel
You need great songs
“The internet has made it easy to gain followers and create hype, but you still need to be able to write great songs and/or perform them.” – Rick Eberle
There are no magical “right people”
“I need young artists to understand that the idea of merely being ‘heard by the right people’ to get your way in is a myth… as is the notion that paying to open up for famous artists, paying for fluff showcases with ‘industry judges,’ or merely bumping into a famous artist out and about somewhere will skip them to the front of the line.” – Jake Palumbo
After reading these reality checks, some young artists may now think their music industry dreams are over. However, while the dream of signing a deal, instantly being famous, and having a stress-free life is no more, if your dream is to be a recording artist, knowing these realities will only help you towards your goal.
Adam Bernard is a music industry veteran who has been working in media since 2000. If you live in the NYC area, you’ve probably seen him at a show. He prefers his venues intimate, his whiskey on the rocks, and his baseball played without the DH. Follow him at @adamsworldblog. You can follow ‘Adam’s World’ at www.adambernard.blogspot.com
Oddly enough, starting out on a career as a songwriter is somewhat similar to starting out to become a Realtor. Yes I know that sounds strange, but bear with me here.
A Realtor has a lot to learn, particularly at the outset. There are books to read, seminars to attend and legal aspects to become familiar with if she intends to be knowledgeable and stay out of trouble. In fact, successful Realtors never stop learning. They invest in classes to keep themselves up-to-date on developments in their industry and take advance training, such as attaining a GRI [Graduate of the Realtor Institute] designation. They learn about real estate law so they can communicate knowledgeably with lawyers when necessary.
But that’s not all. For the most part they are independent contractors… essentially self-employed even if they are affiliated with a brokerage. As such, they pay to promote themselves and their listings and realize that in some cases a particular promotion doesn’t result in a sale but another one will, so the investment makes sense.
The power of networking
Furthermore, Realtors don’t work in a vacuum. They may be independent contractors, but they rarely work alone. Quite often, they “co-broke” a listing, working with another agent to put a buyer and seller together and then share the resulting commission. Both of them share in the success.
If you know any successful Realtors, you know they are masters at networking! They constantly stay in touch with other Realtors, belong to associations where they can socialize with their peers and pick up tips from other successful colleagues.
It is not unusual for a successful Realtor to be earning a six-figure income (or more) after a few years. But at first, that Realtor puts in long hours studying, learning, honing skills, networking… investing in his or her future.
A songwriter – to be successful – follows a similar path as that Realtor. By now, I hope you’re seeing what I mean.
You, the songwriter, have talent and know that songwriting (and maybe performing) is your vocation. Now you begin to invest in your future, putting your talent to work.
There are many aspects of the music business about which you must educate yourself if you are to be successful. You need to know how to protect your creative work and make money from it. You need to understand royalties and how licensing works. You need to be familiar with at least the basics of how the Law affects your rights and obligations. No, you do not need to be an expert on Music Law. But you need to understand how it works and when you need to seek professional advice.
You realize that networking with other writers and artists feeds your creativity and exposes you to the skills and knowledge of those in your field who are more experienced. You attend Writers’ Nights and join professional organizations such as NSAI. And like the Realtors who increase their success by co-broking, you advance you career by co-writing with others.
Plays well with others
Realtors, to a large degree, are in competition with each other. But successful Realtors know the importance of building relationships with other agents, working with them, learning from them.
As an aspiring songwriter, go to Writers’ Nights, meet up with other songwriters, ask to write with those with whom you feel a creative connection; listen and learn! Every one of those networking experiences will add to your skill set and advance your career in some small way. Other writers will get to know you, you’ll get to know them and you’ll get to know the people they know.
Make a commitment to networking and learning everything you can about your chosen craft.
My monthly column, ‘Inside Track on Music Row,’ is published in magazines and on websites worldwide. To read archived columns, go to www.iknowcountry.com and click on the ‘Blog’ link. You can also find out about my new e-book, “I Know Country!” – a collection of 366 country music Q&As – and follow a link to where you can buy your own copy.
Send me music stuff, I love to get it! / Preshiaswriter@hotmail.com TN/USA. Google “Preshias”
VERSE OF THE MONTH
“When I am afraid, in you I place my trust.” – Psalm 56:4
John McEuen, the Grammy-award winning producer, songwriter and musician, has announced his plans to release his sixth solo album titled MADE IN BROOKLYN (Chesky Records). The 16-track collection was created in similar fashion to the landmark ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ that McEuen initiated in 1971. The new album is scheduled for a September 30, 2016 release. McEuen convened an exceptional group of musicians, all of whom have been instrumental in molding American Music in their own right, for a project produced to give the listener an “in-studio experience.” The album is part of Chesky’s Binaural + Series: the live performances were captured in high-resolution (24-bit/192kHz) with the single “Dummy Head” microphone system. The dummy head’s ear microphones are specially calibrated to recreate the spatial characteristics of human hearing to offer a spacious, lush and multi-dimensional listening experience. More at chesky.com
Without a doubt, Dolly Parton continues to be one of the most aggressive artists in music when it comes to marketing themselves, and the Country Music Hall of Fame member continues that trend with the upcoming August 19 release of her new disc Pure & Simple – with four different pre-order bundles to help promote the album. The bundles range from the Standard Bundle ($40) to the Commemorative Bundle ($400). Fans can go to shop.dollyparton.com for more information regarding the bundles. In other Dolly news, the entertainment icon has just released the title track lyric video, which can be viewed at dollyparton.com.
Many of the top nominees for the 2016 IBMA awards are among the featured guests on “Reno’s Old Time Music” show throughout the month of August. This year’s Entertainer and Vocal Group of the Year nominee, Balsam Range will kick off the month with a “Reno’s Old Time Music” full-performance show, followed by the “Queen of Bluegrass” and Female Vocalist of the Year nominee, Rhonda Vincent. Rhonda returns as to guest co-host the “best-of” series, “Hats Off to Bluegrass,” as does Sierra Hull, who is poised to be the to take home Album of the Year and Mandolin Player of the Year honors. To fill out the month, “Reno’s Old Time Music” has compiled all of the fan-favorite performances from its popular “Front Porch Gospel” series. For a full schedule and show times visit ronniereno.com.
Jimmy Wayne’s three-time New York Times best-selling book, Walk to Beautiful, has celebrated a milestone as it crossed the 100,000 sales mark for print copies. Jimmy’s memoir, released in October of 2014, has not only captivated readers, it has inspired positive change in the foster care system and compelled individuals to get involved in helping at risk foster kids. “I wrote Walk To Beautiful with best-selling author Ken Abraham after walking from Nashville to Phoenix to raise awareness for at-risk foster children,” says Jimmy. “When I was 16, I was given a home by Bea and Russell Costner, and I wouldn’t be here today if not for their kindness and generosity.” More at jimmywayne.com.
Shooter Jennings and BCR Los Angeles will re-release his 2010 album, Black Ribbons, in a limited-edition package that includes vinyl, cd and unreleased tracks. The reissue comes in at the perfect time for the genre-breaking, dystopian concept album… Election Day, November 8, 2016. Narrated by famed horror author Stephen King, Black Ribbons is a concept album set in the near future, when the U.S. Government has control over the airwaves, and a lone radio DJ vows to play the one band the authorities don’t want him to play. Along with the re-release, Jennings announced a limited series entitled “Beyond The Black,” which takes music lovers song by song through the story of Black Ribbons and how the concepts and theories behind the project still ring true today. Album info and tour dates at shooterjennings.com.
Kiefer Sutherland’s second music video, “Can’t Stay Away,” premiered during CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown in late July. The track is the latest release from Sutherland’s debut album Down In A Hole, which will be released August 19 by Warner Music Nashville/Ironworks Music. Down In A Hole will be available for pre-order August 5. Sutherland, who co-wrote every song on the upcoming 11-track album with producer Jude Cole just wrapped up a North American tour that included sold-out dates across the U.S. and Canada. Updates at kiefersutherland.com.
Reviver Records recording artist Michael Tyler is providing a glimpse of his Missouri roots in a CMT premiere of his debut single “CRAZY LAST NIGHT,” available now through digital retailers. The song was recently selected as one of Billboard’s Country Songs of the Summer Picks and is currently playing on country radio. Tyler, already a No. 1 songwriter, co-penned Dierks Bentley’s two-week No. 1 smash “Somewhere on a Beach” as well as cuts by Jason Aldean and LOCASH and the Aldean/Kelsea Ballerini duet “First Time Again.” See the video and check out tour dates at themichaeltyler.com.
CMH of FAME NEWS
The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will examine the life and career of 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Daniels in the exhibition Charlie Daniels: Million Mile Reflections, opening Sept. 23, 2016, and running through March 2017. Featuring musical instruments, stage wear, manuscripts, awards, childhood mementos and previously unpublished photographs from Daniels’ personal collection, the exhibit will describe his significant impact on American entertainment and explore the new musical style and image he brought to country music. Daniels moved to Nashville in 1967 at the urging of Columbia Records producer Bob Johnston, who hired him to play on albums by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Marty Robbins. See countrymusichalloffame.org.
Fans of American music superstars Dailey & Vincent will get an up-close and personal experience as the award-winning duo hits the road throughout 2016 with a jam-packed tour schedule which includes stops throughout North America. Fans will get the opportunity to meet the multi Grammy-nominated group during autograph sessions at venues and festivals. The Springer Mountain Farms sponsored tour kicked off earlier this year, with additional stops recently added. The dynamic duo will also host additional episodes of their hit music-driven television show, “The Dailey & Vincent Show.” The 30-minute program appears weekly on RFD-TV, which is available in 63 million households across all 50 states. For update tour dates and TV show info, go to daileyandvincent.com.
DVD NEWS & RELEASES
Music legend Brian Wilson and BMG, in collaboration with the groundbreaking television series “Soundstage” (PBS) have released Brian Wilson and Friends, a new live CD/DVD set and Blu-ray. Filmed live at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas on December 12, 2014, the 19-track CD and 26-track DVD/Blu-ray editions feature many of the top hits and fan favorites spanning Wilson’s 54-year career with The Beach Boys and as a solo artist. Brian Wilson & Friends originally aired on PBS nationwide throughout 2015. Details and track listing at BrianWilson.com.
Kenny and Amanda Smith have released the first single, “You Know That I Would,” from their forthcoming album, Unbound. The CD, the 7th release from the Smiths and their band, is set for release on September 23, 2016, and is available for pre-order now. Unbound features 13 remarkable cuts from some of today’s most prolific writers, including Ed Williams, Ronnie Bowman, Dennis K. Duff, Roger Helton, Barry Bales, Lisa Shaffer, Elli Rowe, Jason Burleson, Tim Stafford, Thomm Jutz, Kylie Sackley, Lacy Green, and Craig Market. The collection is described as “a warm and winning musical journey.” Kenny is a two-time IBMA Guitarist of the Year award winner, and Amanda won the 2014 IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award. More at kenny-amandasmith.com
Little Extra Music singer/songwriter Kelsey Waters has signed with booking powerhouse William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME) for representation. Raised in the 30-A region of the Florida panhandle, Kelsey was playing bars before she could even drive. She moved to Nashville at 20 and quickly began making inroads in the music scene. After signing her publishing deal with Little Extra Music, she was soon hard at work with some of her songwriting idols like Lori McKenna (“Girl Crush”, “Humble & kind”) and Tia Sillers (“I Hope You Dance”, “There’s Your Trouble”, “Blue On Black.”) She’s built a growing catalog of songs that are both universal and reflective of her unique slant on life. See LittleExtraMusic.com.
INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC NEWS
Hillary Scott & The Scott Family gathered with over two hundred of their closest friends and family at Nashville’s The Bell Tower, as they introduced music from their new album LOVE REMAINS (EMI Nashville). The album, a 13-track collection of faith-based songs, is a combination of hymns Hillary grew up singing in church, newly-written originals and songs made popular by other artists. With the help of producer Ricky Skaggs, the album blurs the lines between gospel, bluegrass, country and pop. It follows more than 11 million album sales worldwide for Hillary Scott as one-third of the one of the world’s most popular groups, Lady Antebellum. For more information on new music, a full list of upcoming tour dates and more, visit hillaryscott.com.
(UMG) Dierks Bentley has announced the extension to his 2016 SOMEWHERE ON A BEACH TOUR with the addition of arena dates following two nights at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre (9/26 & 9/27). Beginning Oct. 13 in Ft. Wayne, IN, the tour will continue through the end of October with Randy Houser and special guest Drake White & The Big Fire. Fans can now purchase presale tickets to first announced dates at Dierks.com. “We’re about 30 shows in so far, and I feel like we are just getting started…the songs from the new album are really connecting like nothing I’ve experienced before, the band and crew are in a great groove and we’re having the time of our lives out there,” said Bentley.
‘Noise’ set a milestone for Kenny Chesney when the song became his ‘most added’ first week single ever; ‘adds’ indicating a song being added to country radio station playlists. The song was co-written by Chesney with Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman and Jon Nite. Chesney’s album, with the working title of ‘Some Town Somewhere,’ originally scheduled for a July 8 release, has been pushed to October 28 due to a collaboration with Pink on ‘Setting the World on Fire.’ Additionally, Chesney announced a change to the title of his new album. It will now be titled ‘Cosmic Hallelujah.’ Chesney said that album titles are around for a very long time and he tries to have titles that give people a sense of what the music is, and what the album is all about. He added, “When I pulled back and listened: these songs are all about taking ‘The Big Revival’ to the next level; that level is Cosmic Hallelujah.” Tour info, etc, at kennychesney.com.
Songstress Caitlyn Smith has spent the last several years behind the curtain, penning songs for artists such as Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Cassadee Pope, Kenny Rogers, Meghan Trainor and more. She has now released five tracks from her Paul Moak-produced, full-length debut album, Starfire, expected early next year. The five tracks, each co-written by Smith, are a sampling of what’s to come from the expectant mother’s full-length album. The five songs, available everywhere digital music is sold and streamed. More at caitlynsmith.com.
When you win a whole mantle full of awards – from both fans and critics – you must be doing something right. In the case of the Trinity River Band, they’re doing a whole lot of things right. Now, the Trinity River Band have released their brand new album titled Things We Do For Dreams (Orange Blossom Records). The first single from the album, “Come Back Train,” written by Jerry Salley and Cassidy Lynn Alexander, has already entered the Bluegrass Today Top 20 Chart and the Roots Music Report Top 50 Bluegrass Singles chart. The new project presents the band’s popular mix of inspirational country, acoustic roots and bluegrass that has created a loyal following of fans nationwide. For a current list of tour dates and more details about their albums, visit www.thetrinityriverband.com.
Jason Aldean’s SIX STRING CIRCUS TOUR launched May 19th in Rogers, AR, with support from Thomas Rhett and A Thousand Horses (A few dates with DJ Silver). As the first-ever Country artist to take the stage at Boston’s Fenway Park, Aldean will route the tour to the home of the Red Sox on Sept. 9 to co-headline with multi-Platinum award-winner Kid Rock. The tour is a 27-city run. The last date listed to catch his 2016 show is October 1st in Bristow, VA. **MUSIC NOTE EXTRA** “Lights Come On” marks the 17th career chart topper for Jason. Landing the # 1 position on the Billboard Country Airplay and Mediabase radio charts, Aldean also announced his seventh studio album THEY DON’T KNOW (Broken Bow Records) will be available Sept. 9th (Same day as album drops) and fans can pre-order the album at all available digital retailers. Aldean is currently headlining his Six String Circus Tour. For more information on new music and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.jasonaldean.com.
Dierks Bentley’s BLACK will be released on vinyl, available on Aug. 12. Bentley’s most personal record yet has already delivered a one-two punch of critical and commercial muscle with the multi-week No. one smash of the summer anthem “Somewhere On A Beach,” and the provocative and vulnerable “Different For Girls,” featuring 2x Grammy nominated friend Elle King. “When we created this album, I kept imagining the flow of this record being told with an ‘A’ side and ‘B’ side,” said Bentley. “With BLACK, every little detail has mattered to me and I can’t wait for fans to hear the whole album this way.” Details at dierks.com
In every business, there are some things you just have to know. Your songwriting career is no different. Here are seven questions you should be able to answer. If you’re not sure of the answers, go online and search for the information before you scroll down to read the answers. By carrying out your own research, you are more likely to retain the information, adding to your knowledge of the music industry.
What are the 6 exclusive rights bestowed upon the owner of a song’s copyright?
What should you do after you have written (or co-written) a song?
True or false: A song has copyright as soon as you finish writing it.
Name the three Performing Rights Organizations (P.R.O.s) in the United States.
What is a P.R.O. and why do you need to belong to one?
What is the length of contract and termination requirements you would sign if you affiliated with one of the three P.R.O.s?
At what age can you start your own publishing company?
Ready to check your answers?
What are the 6 exclusive rights bestowed upon the owner of a song’s copyright?
Here are the six exclusive rights, as defined by the U.S. Copyright Office:-
[i] To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords. ‘Phonorecord’ is a legal term for material objects produced through sound recording, such as a CD, vinyl record, audiotape, MP3, etc.
[ii] To prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work. You have the right to change it around if you wish. Add lyrics, make a new arrangement, change the chorus, etc.
[iii] To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. (Remember, you are not selling the SONG which is your intangible, intellectual property; you are selling the CD onto which a copy of the song has been recorded!)
[iv] In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly. So, as the songwriter, you have the right to perform your song at a public event such as onstage or at a writers’ night.
[v] In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly. As you might guess, this right refers mainly to painters, sculptors, photographers, who would want to display or show their creative work.
[vi] In the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission. If your song is in a digital file on your computer, you have the right to ‘perform’ it digitally.
Note that you, as the copyright holder, can monetize those rights by licensing the use of your music (for example to a record label or artist that wishes to record your song).
2. What should you do after you have written (or co-written) a song?
Here’s what you need to do:
[i] Type up the complete lyrics (do not simply type “repeat chorus,” etc) and add your name and your co-writers’ names (if any) to the bottom of the sheet.
[ii] Be sure to include all info for all of the song’s writers (example: Legal name, their P.R.O. and names of publishing company).
[iii] Start a file of typed lyrics sheets.
[iv] Make and print a hard copy for possible future pitches, performances and cuts.
[v] In your file, make note of contact info of all the writers.
Note: If you said “Register the copyright,” that isn’t usually necessary immediately after a song has been written. See Number 3, below.
True or false: A song has copyright as soon as you finish writing it.
True. The writer[s] of a song own the copyright as soon as it has been completed, but you should be sure to include the writer’s information on the lyric sheet as noted above.
When you are ready to register your copyright you can do so online at http://copyright.gov/ using their ‘e-copyright’ (eco) form, which is faster and less expensive than filing a hard copy by mail. A copyright registration is considered to be ‘effective’ when it is received by the U.S. Copyright office, subject to review. You’ll receive a mailed certificate several weeks later. Whereas registering your copyright is not essential or even necessary unless the song is going to be commercially recorded or performed in public, registration provides ‘prima facie’ evidence that you legally own the copyright in the event of a dispute or infringement.
Name the three Performing Rights Organizations (P.R.O.s) in the United States.
What is a P.R.O. and why do you need to belong to one?
P.R.O. stands for Performing Rights Organization. A P.R.O. acts an intermediary between copyright holders and parties that use copyrighted music works publicly. The key word there is publicly, because a P.R.O. is not involved in any legal consumer purchase of works such as buying a CD from a retail outlet, which confers private performance rights. When music is performed publicly, the P.R.O. collects income owed to songwriters and music publishers. Such public performances can include radio, television, clubs and restaurants.
As an individual songwriter, it would be impossible for you to track down and collect the royalties due to you from all the radio stations and TV broadcasts as well as from clubs and restaurants playing your songs. Your P.R.O. is set up to perform that task for you and retains a small percentage of each payment they receive. There is a lot more you need to know before deciding which, if any, of the P.R.O.s you should join. Visit each of their websites, listed above, and do your homework!
What is the length of contract and termination requirements you would sign if you affiliated with one of the three P.R.O.s?
Each of the three P.R.O.s has different regulations concerning the length of your contractual commitment and how you, as a writer and/or publisher, can terminate your affiliation.
ASCAP: The contract terms at ASCAP are identical for both writers and publishers and affiliates may resign at the end of any year of the contract upon three months written notice in advance.
BMI: A standard writer’s contract lasts for two years and a standard publisher’s contract is for five years, but some writers and publishers have been able to negotiate shorter-term contracts. The contracts continue to renew for two years (writers) and five years (publishers) if the termination date is missed. Notice of requested termination must be sent by registered or certified mail no sooner than six months and no later than 60 or 90 days prior to the end of the contract term.
SESAC: For both writers and publishers, contracts last for three years and auto-renew for 3-year periods. Contracts may be terminated in writing not more than six months and not less than three months prior to the contract’s scheduled ending.
Note that – unlike ASCAP and BMI – SESAC membership is essentially ‘by invitation only’ and their website states: ‘SESAC requires potential affiliates or their representatives to have a pre-existing relationship with a member of the Creative Services Department. At this time, SESAC is not taking unsolicited affiliation applications.’
At what age can you start your own publishing company?
Because you can write a song at any age, technically you are the ‘publisher’ of the song that you have written (unless you have signed with a publisher), even if you are seven years old.
However, that doesn’t mean you can legally start a commercial enterprise such as your own music publishing business if you are a minor. Running such a business will mean you’d be initiating and/or signing legal documents and that would require you to have reached ‘the age of majority’ which is the age when a person is considered to be an adult, and it may vary according to state laws. In most states, the age of majority is 18, but in Alabama, for instance, the age of majority is 19.
However, there are many highly talented songwriters who begin writing before the age of 18. In many cases, the writer’s parents start a publishing company in behalf of their child and assume the legal responsibilities, at least until the writer reaches the age of majority.
All three of the P.R.O.s mentioned above have very helpful information about starting and operating your own publishing company that you can investigate at their websites.
Knowledge is power
The answers above are just an overview and by no means definitive and complete. I encourage you to do your own research at reliable sources online. A good place to start would be the websites of the three P.R.O.s listed above, and also at the U.S. Copyright Office website where you can find several downloadable ‘circulars’ that are informative and easy to read and understand.
Knowledge is power: Increasing your knowledge of how the music industry works will build your confidence and help you to make informed decisions when opportunities are presented to you.
Summer NAMM 2016 is finally history, and thousands of musicians and music industry executives filled Nashville’s Music City Center to browse the hundreds of exhibits and see what’s new. In fact, according to the show’s organizers, 14,055 industry professionals registered for Summer NAMM, a 1% increase over 2015 and 14% over 2014. Of that, international attendees accounted for 12% growth over 2015, and 59% growth since 2014, making for the largest number of international participants at Summer NAMM in over a decade.
The week kicked off with a pre-show party. D’Addario, the Farmingdale, New York-based manufacturer of guitar strings and other musical accessories, hosted their sixth annual invite-only pre-NAMM party at Soundcheck rehearsal studios in Nashville. With Tennessee BBQ along with beer and whiskey, authorized dealers and endorsers enjoyed music from Stephen Mougin’s Bluegrass All-Stars, resonator guitar virtuoso Rob Ickes and guitarist Trey Hensley, ambient looper William Tyler and the Andy Wood Trio.
The music continued on Thursday, when attendees were treated to a blistering set from the legendary Charlie Daniels Band, performing on the NAMM Nissan Terrace Stage.
As in previous years, Summer NAMM provided a robust platform for buyers, exhibitors and professionals to engage with the latest products, learn new business strategies, connect with other industry peers, and to position their businesses for a successful second half of the year.
The show counted a variety of new and returning exhibitors including Dunlop, Ernie Ball, Fender, Ovation, and Pearl, among many others, and with Summer NAMM veterans like Martin, Peavey, Roland, Sabian, Taylor, Yamaha, and Zildjian returning to showcase their latest gear. This year’s show saw a rise in exhibitors with 1,650 brands represented by 517 exhibitors, an increase of 5% over 2015.
On Saturday, the doors were opened to music industry professionals for a record-setting Music Industry Day with nearly 1,800 attendees, an increase of 1% over 2015. Early in the afternoon, country rocker and “The Voice” winner of season seven, Craig Wayne Boyd, performed for the day’s attendees.
Summer NAMM American Eagle Awards
In the Davidson Ballroom, the 33rd Annual American Eagle Awards honored Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and the Grand Ole Opry. The awards annually recognize individuals that have made significant contributions to music in America.
When it comes to new products, there were a great many to be seen in every area. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) showed several new additions to their industry-leading amplifier and accessories categories including of the ’57 Custom Tweed series of guitar amplifiers and the Bassman 800 amp. In addition, Fender debuted the ShawBucker 1 and 2 Humbucking Pickups and FTN-1 Tuner.
One of the more unusual items came from young entrepreneur Hunter Marlowe, a recent graduate of MTSU. It’s the Jambourine: the world’s first sound hole tambourine for acoustic guitars. It slips easily behind the guitar strings in the sound hole, allowing the guitarist to add an extra dimension to his or her picking or strumming.
AMV Sales showed a number of unique instruments, including a cigar box guitar and ‘Rozanna’s Butterfly Dream Fuschia’ student violin that can be customized with school colors.
Additionally, there were many other new items as well as familiar instruments, equipment and accessories from the world’s leading musical manufacturers.
Music industry pros are already marking their calendars for next year’s shows: January 19-22, 2017 in Anaheim, CA, and July 13-15, 2017 in Nashville, TN.
* * *
Note: Some information in this report originated in the official post-show summary found at NAMM’s website https://www.namm.org/summer/2016 where visitors can learn more about the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and their activities.
When Aaron Tippin sings about the life of a working man, he speaks from experience. This is a guy who has got his hands dirty working up a sweat to earn his paycheck while writing his way to a record deal.
Born in Pensacola, Florida, but growing up in South Carolina, he was earning his living singing in local bars and working on getting his pilot’s license. By the age of 20, he had already found employment as a commercial pilot. Flying may be one of Aaron’s passions, but an even stronger one is music, leading him in 1986 to Nashville with his eyes on the prize of a record deal.
Once in Music City, he began to develop his craft as a songwriter, landing a song publishing contract with Acuff-Rose in 1987. Before long he was co-writing songs for Charley Pride, Mark Collie and David Ball among others. But a publishing deal and cuts by well-known artists didn’t exactly mean Aaron was on Easy Street. As the sun went down each day, he was driving north to Logan County, Kentucky, working a night shift at Logan Aluminum.
Aaron did not give up on his goal of being a recording artist and he developed his stage skills in Nashville clubs and honky tonks while continuing to write and sing demos of the songs he’d written or co-written. One day, RCA’s legendary A&R exec, Mary Martin, heard his voice on a demo and asked who he was. She was told, “It’s that Tippin guy down there who writes for Acuff-Rose – the muscle guy.” Martin said she wanted to hear what else he’d got.
His first record deal
A few days later, Aaron met with RCA’s label head Joe Galante who signed him to a record deal, adding him to a star roster that, at that time, included Clint Black, Keith Whitley and the Judds. Aaron’s first RCA single release, “You’ve Got to Stand for Something,” (co-written with Buddy Brock) was an immediate hit, peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1991. The patriotic theme of that song led to Bob Hope inviting Aaron to join him on a USO Tour, the first of many.
Other hits followed both at RCA and later at Lyric Street, including “I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way,” “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With the Radio,” “When the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly” and “Working Man’s PhD.”
In 2016, Aaron is celebrating his twenty-fifth year as a recording artist. To mark the occasion, he has teamed with Stonehouse Winery (also celebrating their twenty five years in business) who launched the ‘Aaron Tippin Country Jam’ blackberry wine.
Aaron’s unflagging determination is an inspiration to aspiring artists who can begin to feel disheartened when their careers seem to be heading nowhere. It would have been easy for Aaron to throw in the towel, quit songwriting and maybe take that full-time position at Logan Aluminum. But he didn’t. He kept at it; stayed ‘in the loop,’ continued co-writing, performed at bars and clubs, recorded demos for himself and other writers.
Success takes time
Many aspiring artists – and sometimes their families – come to Nashville and assume that if they haven’t ‘made it’ in six months or a year, then they don’t have what it takes. What it actually takes is perseverance, and Aaron Tippin is the poster child for stick-to-itiveness.
He was in Nashville for four years – four long years, it must have seemed – before he sat in Joe Galante’s office and signed his first record deal. If he had quit after six months or a year, nobody today would know the name Aaron Tippin. But after a quarter of a century he’s still going strong, recording new albums and touring year-round. At his shows, after he’s performed for ninety minutes or so, he always stays around until everyone who wants an autograph or a hug and a photo has had a chance to meet him – another lesson on how build an unshakably loyal fan base.
Aaron says, “I’m the luckiest hillbilly that ever lived.” But he is one of those people who makes his own luck. Remember the saying: Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity.” Aaron spent years preparing: writing, performing, recording demos. When the opportunity to meet the head of RCA came up, he was fully prepared and was launched on a twenty five year recording and performing career.
The psychologist Richard Wiseman carried out a ten-year study into the nature of luck that suggests that, to a large extent, people make their own good and bad fortune, and that it is possible to enhance the amount of luck that people encounter in their lives. Wiseman states:
“Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”
If you are an aspiring artist, Dr. Wiseman’s findings are words to live by. And Aaron Tippin’s career path, his strong determination and his preparation to seize the opportunity when at last it was presented to him prove that luck is what you make it.
Visit Aaron Tippin’s website to read more about his life, his music and his tour schedule. And check out his new CD titled ‘25,’ a 2-disc album of his hits and brand new songs.
When Nashville was canceled by the ABC TV network, it was a gloomy day for fans who had followed four seasons of the television show. But it was also bad news for a lot of people (both business and creative) who had benefitted from the show.
So it was a ray of sunshine – on an already very sunny day – when three Nashville stars gathered onstage June 10 at the CMA Music Festival to spread the word that the popular TV series has a new home on CMT. Earlier in the day, CMT, Hulu, Lionsgate and ABC Studios announced that the critically acclaimed and fan favorite Nashville will return with a brand new season on CMT. Hulu will continue to bring fans the series by making all Nashville episodes available to stream the day after they air on CMT, according to a statement released by CMT.
Nashville star Charles Easten was performing on the Riverfront Park stage when he was joined by castmates Clare Bowen and Chris Carmack and CMT personality Coly Alan. They shared the good news with cheering fans as a banner rolled out to proclaiming the hashtags #NashvilleSaved and #NashvilleCMT.
But this was also great news for the Nashville business and creative communities.
The show began as the brainchild of Ryman Hospitality, a Nashville-based tourism and entertainment company that pitched the concept to ABC. The show has been syndicated to 100+ countries and is widely regarded as promoting Nashville as a tourist destination. In fact, the State of Tennessee and Metro Nashville viewed Nashville as a weekly hour-long commercial for visiting the city.
In addition to tourism dollars, Nashville has had a major impact on those employed in the local film and entertainment industry, providing employment for up to 500 people during the 200 days of filming each year.
It was great news for songwriters when Nashville got green lighted for a fifth season, too.
Nashville is a rarity among TV shows in that it regularly features new songs, mostly from Nashville songwriters, that are performed by the cast members. The show’s producers keep a stockpile of songs for each of the show’s characters that they can work into the storyline. When they are hunting for a new song, they’ll contact 25 or more song publishers and listen to a lot of demos.
Getting a song on a hit TV show like Nashville can lead to a nice payday for a songwriter. Even so, publishers are sometimes leery of granting a license to a TV show if they believe the song has a shot at being a big hit on Country radio for a major artist, because that’s still where the big paydays start.
The show has spawned around 16 soundtrack albums (all of which have been released via Big Machine Records) so in many cases songwriters benefitted from both the song being licensed to the show and the record release. Several of the soundtrack albums have peaked in the top ten on the Country album charts.
So the renewal of Nashville on CMT and Hulu is good news for the shows fans, Nashville-based film crew, the tourist industry and particularly for songwriters.
So… get in those Writer’s Rooms, familiarize yourself with the type of songs that make the cut to become part of the show, and get your creative juices flowing! Nashville is back in Nashville and that’s good news for everyone.
Kevin Montgomery will play for you, anywhere in the world
My dear friend Kevin Montgomery has to be one of most traveled singers in the world. As well as appearing at ‘normal’ music venues, Kevin specializes in house concerts. And house concerts are exactly what the name suggests: he will come to your house, anywhere in the world.
In his blog at his website, Kevin explains it like this: “16 years ago when I started doing house concerts I would get some strange looks, especially from artists that were on the more traditional path. Now, it seems everyone wants to do them. Why? Because they are awesome. I bring a small sound system, set it up in a living room, or whatever space is appropriate, and do a show. The host brings their friends, co-workers, family, etc …and we have a party… with a human CD player… me.”
He is prepared to go anywhere. He’s been as far as the Outback of Australia, where he traveled 13 hours (seven of it down a dirt road) to get to a farm where he performed on a flatbed trailer for folks that had driven from as far away as 250 kilometers. He went there after a fan bought his CD from Amazon and then got in touch with him about hosting a concert. He has performed frequently in all parts of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. I managed to catch up with him at a show in Maidstone, England, a few years ago.
“At this point I’ve probably done 300 house concerts,” he noted. “Four ‘50 States in 50 Days’ tours brings that number up to 200 alone.”
Kevin has a notable musical heritage, being the son of the late, great songwriter Bob Montgomery, who got his start in Lubbock, Texas, as half of a duo with Buddy Holly. Bob co-wrote a number of Holly’s biggest hits, including ‘Heartbeat,’ ‘Love’s Made a Fool of You’ and ‘Wishing.’ He also wrote the pop standard, ‘Misty Blue’ that has been a hit for various artists, including Eddie Arnold, Joe Simon and Dorothy Moore.
This summer, Kevin Montgomery will be remaining in the US for a while, but says he is open to literally going anywhere, if he gets asked to perform at a house concert. You can find out where Kevin is in the world right now, learn more about his house concerts, check out tour dates and listen to some of his music here.
Parton to Sell Ceremony Photos to Benefit Children’s Charities
If you see Dolly Parton, tell her congratulations of her recent wedding. Huh?! Well, not exactly a wedding, but the next best thing. Dolly and Carl Dean, who recently celebrated a sweet milestone of 50 years of marriage, will be releasing photos from their renewal ceremony to the highest bidder to benefit children’s charities. The couple tied the knot on May 30, 1966, and for their golden wedding anniversary, they renewed their vows during a private ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.
“If I had it to do all over, I’d do it all over again, and we did,” says Dolly Parton. “I’m dragging him kicking and screaming into the next 50 years. Wish us luck. In all honesty, the only way I was able to get Carl to do any of this in the first place was that it was a great opportunity for us to raise money for some very worthy causes.”
Carl Dean, a man who has stayed out of the spotlight for many years, will soon be seen by all. In addition to being photographed, Carl has also agreed to do his first interview, where fans have submitted questions and Dolly has asked the questions. This exclusive interview will soon be released to coincide with the photos.
“My first thought was I’m gonna marry that girl,” says Carl Dean reacting to the first time seeing Dolly at the Wishy Washy Laundromat. “My second thought was, Lord she’s good lookin’. And that was the day my life began. I wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for nothing on this earth.”
The country icon will be selling those photos, which include images of her rarely seen husband Carl Dean. Interested outlets looking to obtain rights to the images can email: email@example.com
Parton recently kicked off the ‘Pure & Simple Tour,’ her largest North American tour in more than 25 years. Just a week after Parton announced the first leg, many shows have limited tickets available and additional dates have been added through November. CLICK HERE to view an updated tour schedule, purchase tickets and VIP packages.