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Tips for Getting In Contact With Influential People in the Music Industry

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Merely one person alone can only do so much for your career, for this reason, you’ll need to build a team of experts who all have a stake and interest in your career.

Your team should include a:

  • Manager: As the most important member of your team, your manager will oversee all aspects of your career. Look for experience and contacts.
  • Booking Agent: Your agent gets you live gigs and negotiates the best deals and guarantees. Opening for high-profile acts is highly desirable.
  • Entertainment Lawyer: Your lawyer ensures your contracts are in your favor and you are not getting stiff ended. In the music industry, lawyers also act as a gatekeeper and can pass on music to their influential contacts at record labels.
  • Business Manager: Your business manager handles the financials and business aspects of your career. Since an artist’s income usually comes from a variety of sources and royalty streams, it is not simple task.

A strong team of players mentioned above will help you get in touch and make deals with music publishing companies and record labels.

Getting in touch with music business higher-ups:

Conferences and Showcases: Attending, mingling, and showcasing your music at local and nationwide music conferences can connect you personally to some major music industry players. People like to meet face to face and making your case in person can do wonders. Look into South by Southwest and MIDEM. Stand out, make an impression they can’t forget, leave them with something physical in their hand, and follow-up with the contact after the conference.

Social Networking: It is a bit harder to get noticed over the internet, but in some ways, also much easier. You now can find contact information for your targeted contact via Twitter, Blogs LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Soundcloud and more. Post and record videos that attract a large number of followers and follow industry contacts as well. Interact with them slowly and don’t ask too much of them right away. Make sure your profiles showcase the best of your music and fan base so you impress the contact.

Doing Your Thing: Sometimes the best way to get in touch with a music industry executive is to keep doing what you do best and wait for them to come to you. If your music is great, you have die-hard fans, tours booked, albums selling, industry people will notice your success and want to be a part of it.

Location, location, location: Placing yourself in a music mega center such as Los Angeles, Nashville, or New York, will make meetings easier. You’ll be able to attend organizational meetings in your city, invite others to your showcases, and mingle where the contacts mingle. If you’re physically in the same area, it opens new opportunities for you.

In addition to the hard work it takes to create a music career, it is encouraged to always press on yourself, make connections, and keep improving your craft. With time and commitment, you may make the contacts you need to help your career.

 

ABC’s of the Music Industry

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Music is an art, however, when it comes to the music industry Music is about money!

If anyone or any company feels that your music will not make them money, there will be absolutely no interest in your music. That’s it in the nut shell. Remember, to always remember this. The Music Industry is about Money!

There are a few sources of money to be made in the music industry. They include but are not limited to:

· Record sales

· Songs played on the radio

· In movies and television

· Concerts

· Song writing

· Producing

· Merchandising

· Advertising

· CD-ROMs/DVDs

If you are an artist and want to get into the music business, you need 3 very important very good people in your corner batting for you on a daily basis. They include:

· Personal Manager – The most of important of the three. They should have contacts in the music industry, keep on eye on all your affairs, advise you on things to do, help promote your music, producers to hire, who to sign with when to go on tour, etc. The personal manager will receive 15% and 20% of an artists gross earnings and have good contacts with record companies A&R, Marketing / Sales, and Promotion departments.

· Music Attorney – A good attorney specializing in the music will know how to properly negotiate and structure the deals an artist makes. They should have good contacts and be trust worthy. Expect to pay between 100 and 200 per hour for a good music attorney. If an attorney thinks you will get signed, they forego a set fee and charge a percentage of artist’s earnings. In bigger cities, you’ll pay more than in smaller cities.

· Music Agent – Book concerts and special appearances. A Personal Manager will help the artist with selecting a good agent.

If you blow up and start generating the big money, then a good Manager / Accountant will be needed to handle your tax situation, review royalty statements, financing tours, offer invest advice and how to manage your money.

Getting recognized by mailing your demo to record labels isn’t impossible, however, 99.9% of the time your material will not get listened to. Even if you have the best song on the planet, it will not be listened to. Record labels want to limit their liability, so they do not listen to unsolicited music. Record labels don’t want to listen to numerous songs and then be held liable if someone claims their material was copied.

If you do decide to mail your CD to record label, send the “solicited” material. First get a contact, preferably an individual in the Artists & Repertoire (A&R) department. Call and first speak to someone. After sending your CD follow up to determine if the targeted individual received your material and another follow up call to determine if it was listened to. Submit 3 to 6 songs and send a bio and picture of yourself. Again this isn’t the preferred way to submit your material to major record labels.

Until you have music business advisors in your corner trying to promote you and there is a “buzz” going around about you, your demo will not reach the decision makers at the record labels. Record companies on a daily basis receive thousands of unsolicited CDs. Most likely your CD will be tossed into a bin located in a remote room filled with overflowing bins of CDs.

Record labels like to deal with artists who have a history of record sales. These are artist that may have produced and sold their own CDs locally or regionally. Record labels like to deal with artists who have performed their material and there is this “buzz” going on about them. MC Hammer, before he became famous, performed his own materials and sold his own records until a major record label signed him. MC Hammer had a lot of leverage in negotiating a good contract because he already proved on a local basis he could sell records.

Record companies want to limit their liability. If you are signed, you are considered an investment that will require some money and they want to see a premium return on their money invested in you. The more you can prove that you can sell record, the better chance you can get signed.

If you get signed to a record company, you the artist will go into the studio and record songs for the record company. The record company makes copies of the master recording and ships it to a distributor. The distributor is a wholesaler who then sells the CDs to retail outlets like Best Buy, Sam Goody and Tower Records. The record company then pumps money into marketing by advertising and promoting your music with hopes of selling records, thus making you a superstar and becoming rich!

It is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of hard work by a talented group of people. Everyone has to work together to make this happen. There are usually many people behind the scenes working to make an artist a superstar.

Record companies often categorized into 4 groups: · Major label record companies – have the recording and operating resources to complete all function to sell records. Major label record companies are integrated in that they can handle the promotion, sales, marketing, and distribution to sell music. Major label record companies are Arista, Atlantic, Capital, and Sony.

· Major label affiliate labels – have special agreements with the major label record companies, where the major label may fund the smaller labels recording and operating expenses in exchange for a portion of the smaller label profits.

· Independent labels – distributes records through major labels. Independent labels have few employees. They tend to find talent, sign the talent, sees to it the music is recorded and contracts with major record labels to perform the promotion, marketing, and other functions.

· True independent labels – Has no association with a major label and distribute their music through independent distributors.

The A&R (Artists & Repertoire) Department

The A&R department is the talent scout. They are in charge of finding new talents. They are the eyes and ears of the record company. However, not because you get signed to a record label because an A&R representative likes you it doesn’t mean your CD will ever get produced and released. Executives higher in the company could cancel your deal if they feel your CD will not sell. A record company will have to invest several hundred thousands of dollars to release your CD, so they will be extremely cautious on whom they release.

The Marketing and Sales Department

This department is responsible for getting the public excited about your music and first selling to retail stores the idea of carrying your CD. They are responsible for promotional merchandise, advertising your CD, in store displays, publicity, your CD cover, etc.

The Promotions Department

This department is responsible for getting your music played on the radio. The individuals in this department will visit the various radio stations to convince them to play your material. If your material doesn’t get played, no one will now how you are. People will look at your CD in the retail store and wonder who you are. There is also a direct correlation with CD sales vs. how many times a song for that CD gets played on the radio. More air time on the radio equals more CD sales for the record companies.

Remember music is art, but to the record companies, it’s about money. Keep in mind that it’s a business. Keep in mind everyone is out to make money. The minute people believe that you will not make money for them, you will be dropped and these same people will turn to seek other new artists that they believe will make them money. Unfortunately, the record business doesn’t believe in grooming people. If your first CD isn’t a success, you are out. There are rarely second chances. There are always other talented people behind you who what their shot at fame.

Distribution

Most major retailers such as Tower records will not carry a CD unless the record has a distributor. A strong distributor ensures that your CD will be available in enough places so your CD will sell to ultimately make money. Major labels use large distributors who are better able to get record stores stocked. After years of consolidation, there are only 5 major national wholesale distributors in the US who are owned by conglomerates who also own major record labels. They are:

· BMG (distributes Arista, BMG and RCA)

· EMI (distributes Capital and Virg.)

· Sony Music (distributes Columbia, Epic and Sony)

· Universal Music Group (distributes Interscope, Island/Def Jam, and MCA)

· WEA (distributes Atlantic, Elektra and Warner Bros.)

Distribution via the Internet Record labels and artists are increasingly using the web to distribute their music. Unknown artists can also use sites like this mZeus.com, http://www.mZeus.com, to generate buzz about their music. However, unknown artists will still have to work hard to get the buzz going about their music. Ultimately, signing a contract with a major record label is the way to go. The major record labels have the financial muscle and people to give you a good shot at becoming famous.

Let’s face it. It’s all about money! Yes, the entertainment industry seems fun and exciting, but people are in it to make money. As an artist the most important contract in the music industry is the record contract. The royalty is a portion of money from record sales paid to the artist for his/her music. The record contract which is a negotiated legal agreement between the record label and artist will state how much royalty an artist is entitled to among other things.

An artist should have a good understanding of how royalties are calculated. A good music attorney will help with this process by making sure the artist is paid what he/she deserves. A 13% royalty for one artist may be a lot of money, however a 13% royalty for another maybe “chump change”.

So this is how the numbers work. An artist successfully signs a record contract. The artist goes to the studio and work diligently to create a CD that the record company fully supports. The record company via its distributor sells the CD with a suggested retail list price (SRLP) of $17.99 to a retailer for about $10.99. The distributor will take 10% – 14% of the $10.99. Therefore the record company will get about ½ the SRLP of $17.99. Independent record companies may receive less than ½ the SRLP. Major record companies will pay artist royalty as a percentage of SRLP.

Rates will vary of each artist depending on how successful their record sells. For a new artist who never had a record deal or has sold less than 100,000 albums will get a typical royalty rate of 12% to 14% of the SRLP. For an independent record label it maybe 10% to 14% of the SRLP. For established artists who have a track record of selling 200,000 to 500,000 albums the royalty rate maybe 14% to 16%. For artists who have sold over 750,000 albums the royalty rates maybe 16% to 18%. As you can see, the more successful the artist is, the higher the royalty. Additionally, royalty maybe based on how well the record sells. For instance, the record contract may state that an artist will get 12% for the first 100,000 units sold, 14% for 100,001 to 300,000 units sold, and 16% for over 300,000 units sold.

But hold your horses. If you sell 500,000 albums and have a royalty rate of 12% doesn’t mean you will get 12% of 500,000 at a SRLP of $17.98 which would equal $1,078,800. This is because as specified in the record contract, there are deductions (expenses) that have to be deducted.

To start off the bat, the record company will deduct a “packaging charge” from the SRLP which is typically 20% for cassettes and 25% for CDs.

Second, more often the artist is responsible for paying the record producer a portion of his/her royalties. Typically a producer will receive 3% to 4% of the SRLP.

Third, in the record business, the contract may state that the artists only generates royalties on 85% of the unit sales. For every 100 albums sold, 15 albums sold, the artist gets no royalty.

Forth, the record company will hold a portion of the royalty money because the distributor typically has an agreement with the retail outlets to take back and credit the retail store’s money from unsold units. This is very important because a good portion of your album could be returned to the record company if the album doesn’t sell! The money that’s held back is called a reserve. Reserves may be held for 2 years before it’s paid to the artist. Typically a major record label will hold a reserve of 25% to 40% of the royalties.

Fifth, advances paid from the record company to the artist are deducted from the artist’s royalty. Advances include but are not limited to the:

· Recording studio expenses (new artists to an independent my get an advancement of $0 to $80,000, new artist to a major record label $150,000 to $400,000

· Hiring independent promoters to help sell the albums

· Cost of making a music video (promotions and an inexpensive music video can cost $150,000 to $200,000.

When money is made for record sales, these costs are deducted from the artist’s royalties. This is called recoupment. Therefore, if the artist’s record isn’t successful, the artist may never see a dime. If the royalties are less than the deductions, the artists may well owe the record company money by being in the red! This negative cost may be carried over to the next album release. A good record contract will not allow a negative cost from one album to be carried over to another album (cross-collateralization). If there isn’t another album the record company generally eats the loss.

There are many other costs that the record company will not charge the artists. This includes marketing and in-house promotions (free CD give away, etc.).

So how much does an artist make for a gold album (500,000 albums sold).

Check out the math:

CD (suggested retail list price SRLP) = $ 17.99 Less CD Packaging of 20% = $ -4.50 NET = $ 13.49 Times: Net artist royalty rate (12% – 3% to producer) = X 9% Gross royalty per CD (9% of $13.48) = $ 1.21 Times 500,000 albums = $ 500,000 SUB TOTAL = $ 605,00 Times: Royalty bearing % (15% o = no royalty) = X 85% Gross Royalty = $ 514,250 Less advances: Recording, promo, music video, tour = $ -350,000 TOTAL ROYALTY TO ARTIST = $ 164,250 – Reserves (35%) returned by retailer) = $ -57,487.50 (1) ACTUAL ROYALTY PAID TO ARTIST = $ 106,762.50

(1)Reserves will be paid to artist in 2 years if no CDs returned by retailer

Remember the artist still has to pay TAXES! Don’t forget Uncle Sam has to get his cut! Also, don’t forget the Personal Manger, the Attorney, the Accountant, the Agent and other numerous expenses.

However, there are many other royalties that an artist can acquire. They include, Record Clubs, Compilation CDs, Samplers (low-priced albums in which a few artists are featured), Premiums (albums sold with other products, such as cereal), Film Soundtrack Album, Music Video Sales, Greatest Hit’s Album, Foreign Royalties (song played in some foreign country radio stations pay royalties, unlike the US), Master Use License (music used in a movie, television, commercial, the Internet, CD-ROM and DVD), etc.

Of course, because of the Internet, the rules royalties are changing. Many people now buy their music via the Internet. Just think, no packaging required and no distribution to traditional retail stores needed. Some websites allow customers to buy individual songs as oppose to an album. Changes are currently taking place on how royalties are calculated because of the Internet. Many attorneys are pushing to have royalties be based on each song sold as oppose to each album sold. So stay tuned!

 

How to be Successful in the Music Industry Faster

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You want to be successful in the music industry. You say you want to be a successful music artist or music entrepreneur. I have an important question to ask you: what does that success look like to you?

When you see yourself as a successful music artist or music business owner, what do you see? What is your vision?

Why vision is the most important factor in achieving long-term success:

Vision helps you answer ALL of the questions you have as an artist and music entrepreneur: How do I market my music? What clubs should I play in? What record labels should I send my demo to? How should I promote my music? Who should I market my music to? What type of music business should I start? Figuring out your vision first helps you answer these specific questions.

5 Reasons why you need a vision for your music career:

1) Vision gives you direction.

Have you ever rode in a car with someone who had no clue where they were going? It can be frustrating and stressful, right? You are in the driver’s seat of your music career. Where are you taking your career? Where is your career going? Vision gives you the ability to know where you are going in your music career. It makes your goal of becoming a successful artist more attainable. You will have more focus, less stress and less confusion because you will know the type of artist you need to be and the kind of music you need to create to get the success you want in the music industry.

Vision can help you handpick a personal success team (i.e. your manager, lawyer, agent) who is best for the career YOU want to have! It can help you assemble a team that can get you where YOU want to go and not where other people want you to go.

2) Vision stops you from wasting time and MONEY!

Let’s go back to our car analogy. A driver who is lost and has no sense of direction, can waste time and burn gas by driving in circles. Gas costs money! Not knowing what direction you want your music career to go in, costs too. It costs time and money. When you know the end destination for your career, when you have a vision of where you are trying to go, you can determine the best and most direct route to get there, saving you time and money.

3) Vision helps you get success in the music industry faster.

Having a vision for your music career can help you get success faster by giving you a strategy, a route to success. It can help you figure out the type of people you need to get connected with to help you get to where you are trying to go.

4) Vision helps you determine a plan to get to where YOU want to be.

There is a quote that says, if you don’t plan, then someone else will plan for you. Finding your own personal vision for your career leads you down the path to a life that will be most fulfilling to you. You will be fulfilling the dreams that you had for yourself and not the dreams that someone else had for you. You will be happier because you are being the artist that you want to be and that you planned to be. You are making the music that you wanted to make and living the life you wanted to live.

5) Vision gives you a way to measure your success.

Vision shows you how far away you are from success. Back to our driver analogy, if a driver doesn’t know where he is going, how will he know how far away he is from his destination. Imagine the driver stopping at the nearest gas station and asking the gas station attendant to help him get to where he is trying to go. The gas station attendant asks the driver, “Where are you trying to go?” The driver responds, “I don’t know, but I’ll know it when I get there.” How can the gas station attendant help the driver if the driver has not taken the time to figure out where he is trying to go? Where are you trying to go in the music industry? How will you know how far away from the success you are? Having a clear vision can help you keep track of how far you have to go to success. For example, if my vision is to become a platinum-selling recording artist, then I have a measurable way to track my success. I can keep track of how many records I sell. Is your vision of success in the industry clear and measurable?

What is the vision?

Vision is a long-term view or mental picture of the music career that you want to have. A vision statement for your music career defines and describes where your career is going; it sets the destination. It states the type of artist you want to become in the future. It is a forward-looking statement. It defines what success in the music industry looks like for you and your career.

A vision statement answers these questions:

What will your music career look like 5-10 years from now?

What will you be considered the best at?

What would it look like if you were successful as a music artist or music entrepreneur?

 

How to Sell Music Online and Its Importance to the Music Industry Today

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Music is still one of the most lucrative and most alluring industries in the world. In fact, it can be said that most people across the planet want to do something related to music. Little boys and little girls across the world still try to sing and dance like their favorite musical superstars as they build their dreams of super stardom. It seems like every month or so, a young new artist is discovered or releases some material. Obviously, the music industry is still as dynamic, if not more, than when it started out. There are a lot more positions to fill, a lot more songs to write, a lot more opportunities to release tracks into the world, a lot more opportunities to make some money. This means, there are a lot of people to pay, publicity stunts to create, promotional strategies to conjure up, and other things to do that make the music industry go round; one current thing is the many way on how to sell music online and its deep impact on music industry.

Unfortunately, all these activities involve spending money, and we all know that record labels, at the end of the day, still have to pay up so their employees could provide some bread on the table. This is why record label execs now look at things differently as they did before. These days the music industry is more like an industry. This means, the people within the record labels have started seeing music as a product, and the artist, the manufacturer or the deliverer of that product. This is why more and more music industry big wigs look for artists that have already proven themselves to become really good investments. In other words, people who have already been creating music independently and selling them to other people are seen as better investments over relative unknowns. This is why, everyone who wants to be recognized in the world of music must do something proactive for the betterment of their future careers. That is, it is no longer advised that you sit at home and wait for somebody to discover your talents. What you can do these days is to discover your own talent and learn how to sell music online.

There are many ways to go about this. Some people have carefully crafted a “get famous” strategy by uploading videos on YouTube and in other media to gain a certain amount of fans that they could sell music to. Also, on the practical side, selling music independently really helps pay the bills or make ends meet. The key here is doing what you like, enjoying your music, and taking steps to ensure that you get noticed.

Basically, what you have to do is create a career by yourself and for yourself. This is one sure-fire way to catch the attention of record labels around the country who will be willing to make you a bigger star. In the meantime, work on getting a fan base, defining your music, compiling songs and learn how to sell music online to make your own star shine bright enough to gather some attention from the musical big shots.

 

29 Ways to Make Money in the Music Industry

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As an Assistant Professor of Recording Arts & Technology, one of the first things I’m asked by parents of prospective students is whether or not it’s possible to make a living in the music industry. Obviously, this is a difficult question. I can’t promise anyone that they’ll be able to make a living working in the music industry because they all have different interests and skill-sets. However, what I can provide is a list of what my former students are doing. So, here’s a list of 29 ways my former students make money in the music industry.

    1. Performer – Obviously, this is the one that everyone thinks of. Everyone wants to be a rock star at some point in their life. And everyone assumes they’re the ones making all of the money, which isn’t always the case. But that’s a topic for another day.

 

    1. Live Sound Engineer – This audio professional is responsible for making each live performance sound as good as possible.

 

    1. Recording Engineer – This audio professional is responsible for the first part of the recording process know as tracking. This is where all of the individual parts are recorded.

 

    1. Mixing Engineer – Once all of the parts have been recorded, they are handed over to the mixing engineer. The mixing engineer adjusts the levels of each part to create the final mix.

 

    1. Mastering Engineer – The mastering engineer is the last person involved in the recording process. They concentrate on making sure that all of the songs on the CD work well together, as a whole. Often times they have to adjust the level of one song as compared to another so that it isn’t jarring to the listener.

 

    1. Pro Tools Operator – This is a specialized type of recording engineer that only runs Pro Tools software. You can actually go to school for this to become a Certified Pro Tools operator, and if you do you might have me as your professor.

 

    1. Intern – This is how many people start out in the music industry. Sometimes interns get paid, sometimes they don’t. Either way, it’s still often the best way to get your “foot in the door”. Just be ready to clean a lot of toilets and take a lot of coffee and food orders.

 

    1. Teacher – There are music teachers at all levels of the music business from the guitar teacher at the neighborhood music store, to the band teacher at the high school, to the vocal coach of the stars.

 

    1. Manager – The manager is responsible for overseeing the artist’s or band’s career. They are like a head coach in that they advise the performer as they assemble their professional team of agents, business managers and lawyers.

 

    1. Booking Agent – This is the member of the artist’s team that is responsible for booking performances. Many people get the jobs of the manager and the agent confused. In certain states it’s actually illegal for managers to book performances for artists.

 

    1. Publicist – This member of the artist’s team is responsible for generating publicity, usually in the form of newspaper, magazine and TV coverage.

 

    1. Club Owner – This one is easy to understand. Basically, this includes anyone that owns a live music venue whether it be a club, bar or coffee house.

 

    1. Recording Studio Owner – Sometimes this is the same person as the recording, mixing or mastering engineer, other times it’s simply a business person.

 

    1. Graphic Designer – This visual artist is responsible for designing whatever artwork the artist needs ranging from CD covers to posters.

 

    1. Web Designer – It’s the job of the web designer to build and maintain the artist’s website. They may incorporate portions of the graphic designer’s work in the design of the website.

 

    1. Producer – The producer is responsible for overseeing the entire recording process. Traditionally, they chose the songs for the artist and hired the recording engineers and studio musicians. Nowadays, it’s quite common for the producer to also be a songwriter, performer and recording engineer as well.

 

    1. Songwriter – Some artists write their own songs. Those that don’t need new material every time they record a new CD. That’s where the songwriter comes in.

 

    1. Film Composer – Another one that’s pretty obvious. Film composers write all of the music necessary for a movie.

 

    1. Jingle Writer – This is a very specialized songwriter who writes music for radio and TV commercials.

 

    1. Publisher – The job of the publisher is to represent composers and songwriters and get their music used in movies and on TV.

 

    1. Merchandiser – The merchandiser is responsible for putting the artist’s likeness on an endless variety of products. Everyone that owns at least one concert t-shirt has a merchandiser to thank.

 

    1. Journalist – In the past, this job was limited to a few magazines and newspapers but now, with the internet, there are literally thousands of sites discussing every genre of music imaginable.

 

    1. Equipment Designer/Manufacturer – Someone needs to make all of the cool gear that the artists use on stage and in the studio.

 

    1. Equipment Retailer – I know from first-hand experience that you can make a really good living working for one of the larger equipment retailers like Sweetwater Sound, Musician’s Friend or Guitar Center.

 

    1. TV/Film Music Supervisor – This is the person that finds the perfect songs and music for each TV show and movie. They usually work very closely with the director as well music publishers.

 

    1. Record Label Owner – Nowadays, these are either multi-national companies (the major labels), or music lovers (the smaller independent labels).

 

    1. Entertainment Lawyer – The music industry is full of all different types of contracts. You need an attorney that is familiar with these specialized documents.

 

    1. Business Manager – Works closely with the artist to ensure that their bills are paid and that their money is well cared for.

 

  1. Rehearsal Space Owner – This may be one that many people don’t think of but there are rehearsal studios in just about every medium to large city.

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Music Industry

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The music industry itself sells recordings, performances, and compositions of music. This industry is not the easiest market to get into, but it isn’t necessarily considered the hardest either. There are a number of music industry jobs available to those seeking a career within the music industry including but not limited to:

Musicians – The people who compose and/or performs the music.

Music Publishers/Producers – Also known as record labels, this is where you would go to get a record deal. Music producers are a group of professionals who create and sell composed and recorded music.

Booking Agents – The booking agent is the individual that books (schedules), organizes and presents music performances live.

Business Managers/Talent Managers – These are the ones that assist in the musician’s career – helping them along the way.

Ultimately, there are four major corporate music labels that dominate in the recorded music business – Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, EMI and Warner Music Group. These four major recording labels all have several smaller organizations and labels working beneath them throughout the world in diverse markets.

The music industry is a tough industry to break into, but once you’ve got your feet wet, it becomes less overwhelming and less complicated. Remember that this industry is all about who you know. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when trying to break into the music industry.

Be Professional – While it is an obvious choice, being professional is necessary and is often overlooked by many.

Show That You Want to Work – The music industry isn’t just about non-stop partying and meeting other musicians. The music industry is full of hard work and requires a ton of motivation and dedication. Without this, you will fail.

Get Everything in Writing – If you are offered anything at all, regardless of how little it is, get it in writing. Without some type of signed agreement, you virtually have nothing. It’s even a good idea if there isn’t any money involved.

Ask for What You Want – Do you want an intern at Sony Music Entertainment? Maybe you want to work with a particular producer or maybe you want to open for your favorite band? You have to ask. No one can read minds regardless of how bad we want to. Ask – sometimes the answer will be no, but when you least expect it, you may just receive a yes!

 

5 Unused Ways To Get in the Music Industry

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Most newcomers will soon discover that making a successful career in the entertainment industry is a hard market to break into more so than any other market..It’s definitely not as easy to get into as working at McDonalds or processing insurance claims at Geico While this creates problems for most newcomers who spend their days and nights pouring their soul into their most finest masterpiece; the music industry’s “not-everyone-is-worthy policy” is largely a reason why the music industry is so successful- earning 40 billion annually.

History has always been a part of understanding and predicting new trends. In order to fully discover new ways to get in the music industry, it’s a great benefit to understand some of the history of the music industry.

Music has been around before most people living today were born. Before the rise of sound recordings, then known as phonographs, the sheet music publishers were the almighty force in the musicsphere, before it was dubbed the music industry. Today more than half of U.S. homes are wired with a high-speed pipeline to the net and seventy-five percent of Americans use the Internet for an average of three hours a day. This makes
easier access to information and new technologies which create new markets and opportunities for songwriters, singers, and producers to get their music heard.

The main components that make up the recording industry are the Record Labels, Publishing Companies, Licensing Companies, Artists, and Fans. Knowing fully how these components works together makes it easier to find new ways to enter the music scene. These different companies also have similar departments with leaders who know more than a few major contacts at any targeted major record label.

In addition to being separate entities, these companies are all connected at the level of being in the music industry. Most people will recommend internships and slowly climb the ladder from bottom until you’re able to reach the top. But that’s usually not good enough for those artists who have put everything into their music, lost or quit their job, and are clearly willing to work and have the music that deserves to be heard. So how do you use the different components to get into the music industry?

The answer invariably is research, plan, build, test, market, promote, prove it; rinse and repeat. You do not need to have infinite resources to get the attention of industry insiders if you are interested in you are willing to work hard at being different but following trends. There are 5 different approaches to consider if you are interested in getting in the music industry.

o Work as an intern (even unpaid) for at least 6months to a year at a record label to develop relationships

o Write and market songs to already established recording artists and bands and use that leverage to new opportunities

o Push your songs to major music publishers to sign a publishing deal.

o Build a presence at all the major industry functions and events

o Develop your song catalog to license film/tv music

At first glance, these seem a bit bleak, but you should be able to get in the music industry, so long as your music is qualified in terms of being unique, interesting, and sellable.

 

Five Music Industry Myths That Damage Your Music Career

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Music Career Myth #1: You can’t make it if you’re older than a certain age.

Reality: Companies and bands who are successful don’t focus on age. There are tons of professional musicians 30 and older in all aspects of the business. Your age only matters if you make it matter.

The music industry functions just the same as any other business. You can become successful at any age as long as you have a strong work ethic, dedication and a lot of value to offer.

Learn what the music industry seeks in musicians and begin strengthening these skills (more mentioned on this in a moment). This is what attracts people in the industry to you.

Music Career Myth #2: Fans don’t purchase music any more.

Reality: Fans do buy music these days, but old business models for selling it do not work. To sell music to your fans (and make good money), you must:

1. Know how the industry works right now (rather than how it worked decades ago).

2. Think creatively and outside the box. This will help you find new ways to sell your music to fans.

Music Career Myth #3: Before you can build a career, you must become an excellent musician.

Reality: There’s a lot more to becoming a great pro musician than simply having “great musical skills”. A lot of musicians in the music industry are not high level guitarists, singers, etc… and many highly talented musicians never build successful music careers.

What you need to learn here: work on both your musical skills and other aspects of your music career at the same time.

Note: Becoming a pro musician does not require going to university. Going to college for music only helps you build your musical skills. Doing this will not help you grow a career in music. There are tons of people who get music degrees and never make good money in music.

You can also find many other effective ways to become a better musician other than going to university. Taking lessons with a virtuoso guitar teacher will help you master the instrument much faster.

Question: “But Tom Hess, what if I get a degree in music business?”

Answer: Professors who teach music business usually are not successful in the music industry. They are simply educators. They teach you about the music industry, but not how to grow a career in the music industry. For instance, in classes for music business you might learn how contracts are made, how tours get promoted and how royalties work. This information is good to know, but it won’t help you:

*Actually get a record deal of your own.

*Go on a tour that makes money.

*Get deals for publishing your music.

*Join the band you want to be in.

*Earn a huge income through music.

*Sustain success in your music career for a long time.

You accomplish these kinds of results by working together with a music career mentor who has already achieved massive success.

Music Career Myth #4. You need to live in a “music city” to be successful.

Reality: This is a very dated myth that is not true. It’s not the city that matters, it’s YOU.

You can work together with music companies who live very far away from you. Learn the principles that grow successful music careers and live by them in your own career. This leads you to success regardless of your location.

Music Career Myth #5. You need good connections to achieve success.

Reality: Connections often do not lead down the path of music career success. If I introduced you to the lead singer of your favorite band, would this do a lot for you? Not likely… unless:

1. You have tons of value to offer above most other musicians.

2. You’ve developed a reputation in the music business for being someone who is loyal, hard-working, and trustworthy while also having a strong mindset for business. People in the music industry WILL inspect your reputation before they begin working with you in any capacity.

 

The Powers That Be – Is The Music Industry Pimping The Music?

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The music industry made up of several record labels is often given a “bad rap”. No, they do not force our children to listen to the negative music that they sell – remember we all have freedom of choice. However, what they are guilty of is flooding the market with the same types of music and turning a deaf ear to any music that does not fit into their profit margin. So, what you don’t hear – you won’t want to buy. The music industry has always done this, but even more so now that their profits are decreasing due to the popularity of online websites who offer a large library of music not only from artists we are familiar with, but new artists who have not been able to break through the industry road blocks. Music labels are notorious for keeping music that does not promote their interest off the radio stations by making sure that the music that DOES promote their interest is played in rotation – what kind of deals do they make? Is it payola? Not sure – that is for a legal mind to determine. The fact remains that only certain music selections are on the air – and we keep listening and buying the same song, different artist – just like the music labels want us to.

The Pimp Factor

Recording labels have even been known to contract with an artist, so that they can own the rights to their music – and then refuse to promote it – why? To control what you and I listen to on the .radio and keep the type of music that they want to promote in the forefront. In any other arena this action would be considered as “pimping”. This may seem like a harsh term – but what is a Pimp? According to the website EduQna “What Does Pimping My Ride Mean?”, the explanation fits pretty well “‘Pimp my Ride” is a phrase meaning the modification of (something), usually, impractical but very flashy way (think pimp-like). (making) modifications, etc. (something being) altered to achieve the appearance (something more media than real)”. I really love EduQna’s Rough translation: “Please sir, if you would kindly pull the cash from my pockets to make my (possession) appeal to my need for compensation.” If the word fits, recording labels should wear it. Many artists have complained that they feel “pimped out” due to the types of contracts they innocently sign just to break into the industry – the signing may be innocent, but the wording of the contract is by design – to control the music and the artist who creates it.

The music industry is really shooting itself in the foot and hemorrhaging slowly by not joining with online music sites whereby both can profit. However, in its effort to control the industry as it has in the past, they are missing out on a large opportunity to sell a larger variety of music to their demographic target – 13 to 18 year old listeners. But those listeners are growing up and due to their computer and internet abilities, they are “hacking” into an online market of music that the mainstream music industry can’t touch – Online Streaming Music.

Gently Down the (Music) Stream

In 1999, an 18-year-old college dropout named Shawn Fanning changed the music exchange forever with his file-sharing program called Napster. His idea (not the 60 hours of creating the computer code it took to create it) was simple: a computer program that allowed computer users to share and swap files, specifically music, through a centralized file server. His response to the complaints of the difficulty to finding and downloading music over the Net was to stay awake 60 straight hours writing the source code for a program that combined a music-search function with a file-sharing system and, to facilitate communication, instant messaging. Napster was born. But was Shawn patted on the back for his ingenuity? Are you kidding? The Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against Napster charging them with tributary copyright infringement, which means Napster was accused not of violating copyright itself but of contributing to and facilitating other people’s infringement. However, Napster argued with some success that because the actual files are never in Napster’s possession, but transferred from user to user, that Napster is not acting illegally. The issue in P2P applications (Peer to Peer) is that if Napster is guilty of copyright infringement, then the consumers of Napster are guilty too. Likewise, if the consumers are not guilty, then how can Napster be held responsible?

So Shawn and his tiny company of 50 employees in Redwood City, California was up against media empires like Universal, Sony and BMG. But what the music industry failed to see is that whatever the outcome of the Napster lawsuit, Napster had opened a proverbial window of possibility on the Internet and more companies would and did spring up over time. After a protracted legal battle the site would eventually be shut down. Years later, after being bought by Roxio, it would reemerge as a popular digital music service. Since that time, there are thousands of sites worldwide, that have grown from and perfected what Shawn started moved through the controversy, and now provide quality music to its online customers through a process called “streaming”. “Streaming” is a generic term in the computer world. It basically means that the data being transferred can be used immediately, without having to download the song in it’s entirety before it can be used. Audio (music) and video (that is a topic of another article) can be streamed successfully, and with a high quality result.

One of the most popular providers of streaming audio and video, of course is Apple Computers. With the introduction and popularity explosion of the I-Pod, which was created for downloading, transferring and playing music and now video, Apple created I-Tunes, a service where you can purchase individual songs or full albums, from an extensive library – from any genre you can think of – where customers can purchase tracks online for a nominal fee. This is due to the fact that I-Tunes and other streaming music companies have created partnerships through licensing agreements with some artists and some music labels. And now with the I-Phone gaining popularity, there is no end to what “streams” of media can be had by anyone with an media player.

Though technological progress has been made in this area, megalomania is still pervasive. There is still a large population of record labels and companies who have chosen not to partner with digital/streaming music companies. Why? Control – the music companies want and have control over the majority of music and artists of the music that you listen to.

Where the “Buck” Stops

A large majority of the music industry’s record labels still own around 75% of the world’s most well-known recordings, yes the world’s! All streaming music companies are clamoring for new media to sell its customers, and offers the recording labels licensing agreement opportunities that would allow wider distribution of legal music downloading and streaming – without a license for every single song they offer to the public – they now, after the successful ligation brought on by the Napster controversy – companies can be successfully sued. When the record label refuse licensing agreements, those songs or records cannot be offered for consumers like us to listen to or purchase online. This is the sole reason why you cannot find many of the most popular artists or songs you have come to love on streaming music sites. It is because the major recording labels have still not gotten around to agreeing to license these sites to offer their music. Who suffers? Really everyone. With declining CD sales, the music label suffers, we the consumer suffer and the artists as well, because they are missing out on the opportunity to be heard on the largest media network in the world – the internet. Though money is a major factor in why the music industry is not partnering up with streaming audio and video companies – more so it is about control. Fear of losing it, has compelled many to act unwisely, and unfortunately music labels are no exception.

So, until the major recording labels wake up and smell the MP3 (a fancy word for music file); and until artists either insist on contracts that include their right to sell their product through other mediums OR artists peddle their music online on their own, as many new artists are doing, and until the consumer stops purchasing music from the labels that don’t support the streaming music industry, our ability to increase our library of music selections will continue to be limited. The technology is here – but the music is being held hostage – with the ransom being a purchase of a CD wrapped in cellophane. There are thousands of new artists popping up every year, with new and exciting music of every genre, and hopefully these new artists will work with record labels who actually live and work in the 21st century and create a powerful partnership to distribute their music online.

So in conclusion, I guess that in one case at least, the Gangsta Rap artists did something positive, and delivered a line that fits this situation in a limited sense – until we “fight the powers that be” in the music industry, we will be forced to keep listening to the same song – with a different beat – over and over again.

 

How to Make the Right Contacts in the Music Industry

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Many musicians are aware that making the right music industry contacts is highly important for achieving a successful music career. The problem is that, most musicians really don’t know ‘who’ the right music industry contacts are, where to find them, how to actually transform a ‘first contact’ into a meaningful relationship, and what ‘having the right music industry connections’ really means.

If I gave you my complete list of music industry contacts (key industry people I have established relationships with over the last 20 years), do you think it would help you develop a successful music career?… NO! Why? Because a mere ‘contact’ is not worth anything. Music industry contacts need to become meaningful music industry connections. Meaningful connections are developed by building good relationships… More on this later…

However, even if you have good relationships with the right people, this won’t help you until and unless you work on having the right things in place which enables your industry contacts to feel confident enough to work with you.

So, who are the music industry people you should be contacting?… And when you get through to someone, what do you say to him/her? How can you make these important people pay attention to you if you don’t yet have a ‘name’ in the music business?

Let’s explore the first question “Who are the music industry people you should be contacting?” To answer this, you need to ask a series of other questions such as:

• Who are some contacts who have great influence and ability to help your career develop further?

• Who are the contacts who have the greatest number of key relationships with other music industry professionals and companies?

• Among the most important contacts, who are the easiest to find close to where you live?

• What contacts are the most approachable?

• Who are the people who you can help to solve THEIR problems and/or help them to reach their goals (thus starting to build a relationship with them)?

Is there a single “type” of music industry contact person or (company) who fits ALL the above criteria? The answer is ‘Yes’. And if you do not have music industry connections, this ‘type of contact’ may be your best place to begin… So, who is this type of person or company? Record label executives? A&R people? Producers? Publishers? Managers? Entertainment Lawyers? Famous bands? No… The answer may surprise you… it is “Concert Promoters”.

Serious concert promoters have massive power and influence in the music industry. They are the real risk takers of the music business. They deal with thousands of very important music industry people every year such as: well known bands, record labels, artist management, tour managers, entertainment lawyers, production companies, merchandising departments, the venues, booking agents, radio stations, the press, and more.

If you live near an urban area, you won’t have any trouble locating concert promoters who live and work locally (use Google). Unlike most other important music industry contacts, promoters are generally accessible and will be willing to talk to anyone who has ‘something real’ to offer them (that’s where you come in).

Generally speaking, concert promoters take on more risk than any other person or entity in the entire music industry. All promoters lose large sums of money every year (because some concerts lose money for various reasons). The successful promoters make (and keep) more money than they lose throughout the year (because they are able to promote other concerts with bigger bands which make a lot of money).

What every promoter wants is a reliable network of people to help make certain that the concerts/tours they promote make more money! Obviously, it’s expensive to employ a large team of experienced people. However, you can join their team (at least on a part time basis) if you are willing to, intern, earn a small salary or even work for free just to get your foot in the door and get the experience of working with a promoter. You may not yet know anything about promoting tours, but some promotion companies would be eager to train you if it isn’t expensive for them to do so.

Think about it from their perspective. If you were a big time promoter taking on huge risks, wouldn’t you want another person to work for you, for free or for a very low salary? Of course the answer is ‘yes’, even if that person could only work part time. If you can do that, they will remember you and relationships will start to develop.

Many musicians who want a music career are told to intern for a record label. The conventional wisdom is that when you do this, you will learn a lot about the music business. The reality is, most of these interns never get into a position where they can truly learn much at all as an intern. However working for a promoter, your ability to learn how the music industry REALLY works (at least on the touring and promotional side) goes way up because your level of access to what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ goes way up! In addition, the number of music industry contacts you can make are 200 times more than what you would likely make working at a record label. And compared to record labels, there is a lot less competition for internships or jobs with a promoter.

As excited as you may now feel, knowing that you CAN actually do this…. there is a catch… a big one. In order to have any real chance of pursuing this opportunity and using these music industry contacts to help launch your music career, you must work on having the right things in place which enable your music industry connections to feel confident enough to work with you. The truth is, nothing in this article will help you until and unless you do take this critical step.