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CreativeFuture Releases ‘The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher’ Written By Dae Bogan

CreativeFuture Dae Bogan DIY Musician Starter Guide

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the honor of working with and supporting many DIY musicians in the development, launch and growth of their music careers. As an artist manager, indie label owner, music publisher, music retail executive and music tech entrepreneur I’ve directly contributed to the creation, promotion, release, administration and monetization of hundreds of releases.

It is from these experiences working with DIY musicians (and indies) and through my advanced education having earned a master’s degree in music business that I operate today as an entrepreneur, educator and advocate for DIY musicians.

I try to assist DIY musicians make sense of the music business through articles and insight, workshops, courses, webinars and now a short ebook.

I am excited to present The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide to Being Your Own Label and Publisher

The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide to Being Your Own Label and Publisher was written to (1) help DIY musicians become better advocates for themselves by demystifying some of the confusing concepts behind how the digital music industry operates, (2) to address and offer solutions to many of the challenges that DIY musicians face in their careers, and (3) to educate DIY musicians on the processes with which they must become familiar to increase the possibility of being properly compensated for the
use of their music across the digital music ecosystem.

In this guide, you will learn about the basics of music copyrights and the business implications of the difference between compositions and sound recordings. You will learn what it means to be your own label and publisher and the four different hats you wear in the world of music royalties. You will also gain practical knowledge and steps
for asserting your rights and capturing the royalties that your music earns across the digital music industry.

Get it FREE here.

Ask Me Anything About The Music Business, With Dae Bogan

Ask Me Anything

Ask me your music business question and I’ll attempt to provide you with an answer or direct you to a resource with a better answer or guidance. I cannot provide specific legal advice, but I can discuss general music business practices. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or DaeBoganMusic.com. Simply drop your question in the comments section wherever you see the above image.

5 Tips For Making, Marketing And Monetizing Holiday Music This Season

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Happy October! It’s officially holiday season. Over the next few months thousands of holiday songs will be streamed and downloaded by millions of consumers around the world; especially in Washington D.C., but not so much in Idaho.

The holiday season is pretty much the only time of year when arrangements of public domain works are highly rotated in commercial music. Cover songs are also very popular as music consumers enjoy classic and updated renditions of their favorite holiday tunes from their childhood. And for the most creative among us, original new holiday songs can also have a huge impact this season.

Whether you decide to release a rock version of Silent Night, an R&B cover of Silver Bells, or an original new pumpkin spice rap record, here are a few tips to help you along the way:

1. Song Selection – From a legal standpoint, there are three options when it comes to song selection: original songpublic domain song, or cover song. If you plan to write and record a completely original song — original music, melody, and lyrics — then you will own the copyright in all of its components and can release it just like any of your other original song. If you want to create your own arrangement of a public domain song (e.g. Jingle Bells), you will own the copyright in your sound recording, but not in the underlying composition (unless you create a completely original arrangement; in which case you could own the copyright in the arrangement). However, you do not need to secure a mechanical license to record and distribute the public domain song, nor do you need to secure a synchronization license to use the song in a video that you would upload on YouTube. Public domain songs have fallen out of copyright protection and are freely available to perform and monetize by anyone without seeking permission and paying royalties to the original author(s) of the public domain song.

5 Royalty Streams Every Indie Artist Should Know

Cover songs (e.g. Feliz Navidad) are new versions of songs that are still under copyright protection. Therefore, you must obtain a mechanical license in order to record and distribute the song and you are limited in how much you can alter the song lyrically and stylistically. If your performance of the song you’re covering is drastically dissimilar from the original, you begin to navigate into the realm of derivative works and your mechanical license would be in jeopardy. You’d have to get permission from the copyright owner instead of being able to utilize the compulsory mechanical licensing process, which does not require permission per se, but rather a notice and payment of royalties. You would also need to get a synchronization license directly from the copyright owner (e.g. publisher) to use the song in a video to upload to YouTube, or risk having your cover version taken down.

How To Legally Record And Sell A Cover Song In 3 Steps

Whichever you choose, make sure to know what obligations you have for your song. CD Baby put together this awesome quick-read on public domain vs. cover songs.

2. Release – Depending on your song selection, you will be required to complete several or few steps before you’re able to release, as far as securing proper licenses. Once you’re cleared to release, create a single release campaign. In addition to the release, consider giving the song away to friends and family as a holiday gift. I like that CD Baby now offers physical on-demand. This may be a good way to get physical CDs with nice artwork available without the upfront cost of having to get them pressed up on your own dime.

10 Steps To Building A Single Release Campaign

3. Marketing & Promotion – If your holiday song is great, it could land on a holiday playlist on Spotify or Apple Music or, if submitted in a timely manner, it could end up on a Pandora channel or Music Choice holiday channel. I personally like to listen to a holiday channels on Pandora from November 1st through December 31st.

pandora holiday channel

R&B/Pop Holiday Radio on Pandora

There’s also placement on retail radio. Hundreds of millions of shoppers will hit their local shopping center and mall this season; especially during the weeks leading up to and  immediately following Black Friday (Black Friday is a shopping day for a combination of reasons. As the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas, it marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Additionally, many employers give their employees the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Wikipedia). Background music and in-store music video networks are good opportunities for exposure; especially if you’ve delivered your song to Shazaam and SoundHound. When I owned my in-store music video network, I programmed holiday music for 150 youth-targeted retail stores. Every major retail chain plays holiday music, so submit as soon as possible to services such as PlayNetwork and Mood Media.

4. Performing – Performing small live shows can be an income-generator during the holiday season. Coffee shops, shopping centers and malls, hotel lobbies, retail stores, restaurants, and other non-traditional venues could be great to perform for a small talent fee plus tips. Many communities organize community events during the holiday season. Reach out now to your local city council’s office regarding performance opportunities. The exposure on their event posters, newsletters, website, and social media could be good for you locally and add to your electronic press kit going into 2018. (Tip: If you are performing original songs, make sure to submit your set list to your PRO — ASCAP, BMI, SESAC — to potentially earn performance royalties in addition to your talent fee and tips). You may also wish to host online concerts via YouTube or Facebook Live; or a platform that enables tipping, like YouNow.

5. Merchandise – Consider hiring an graphic artist to make a really good cover art for your song, then use a made-on-demand merchandise service such as CafePress or Merchify to sell coffee mugs, tote bags, postcards, and more with your cover art. Because there is very little upfront cost besides the designer fee, this additional component to your holiday campaign could add significant extra income. (Tip: Make sure to have your designer sign a work made for hire agreement and transfer the copyright ownership in the artwork to you OR give them a royalty on merch sales to reduce your upfront design cost.)

In conclusion, the holiday season is a great time to create and release music that makes people feel good. Whether you select a recognizable favorite or choose to explore your hand at writing holiday music, if done well, you just might make the Billboard Holiday 100 charts while making some money along the way.

Here’s a little treat: Durand Bernarr‘s Silver Bells (2015)

Featured photo by leonie wise on Unsplash

 

Ask Me Anything About The Music Business, With Dae Bogan

Ask Me Anything

Ask me your music business question and I’ll attempt to provide you with an answer or direct you to a resource with a better answer or guidance. I cannot provide specific legal advice, but I can discuss general music business practices. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or DaeBoganMusic.com. Simply drop your question in the comments section wherever you see the above image.

Ask Me Anything About The Music Business, With Dae Bogan

Ask Me Anything

Ask me your music business question and I’ll attempt to provide you with an answer or direct you to a resource with a better answer or guidance. I cannot provide specific legal advice, but I can discuss general music business practices. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or DaeBoganMusic.com. Simply drop your question in the comments section wherever you see the above image.

How To Auction Off Your Future Royalties When You’re A Back-up Singer Or Session Music

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Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

It is very important for background vocalists (and artists who provide background vocals on the side) to understand that they earn money BEYOND the studio session in which they performed. Billboard published an article on how a back-up singer on Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” featuring Charlie Puth put up 100% of his U.S. digital performer royalties for auction on Royalty Exchange with bids starting at $30,000. These royalties are collected by SoundExchange and administered by AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund.

This is a great example of how a background vocalist can leverage his/her equity in a hit song to get paid big bucks, today! This also applies to session musicians.

#MusicBusinessMonday: Session Musicians

Royalty Claim has thousands of records of unclaimed royalties due to non-featured performers (session musicians, background vocalists, etc.) from recordings performed on digital radio (e.g. Pandora, Music Choice, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, and more). Royalty Claim also provides data on ‘address unknown’ NOIs filed under the Section 115 compulsory mechanical license for services such as Amazon, Spotify, Apple, Google, and many others.

Read more about the auctioning your future royalties in the Billboard story here.

Learn more about Royalty Claim at http://www.royaltyclaim.com. Royalty Claim will pre-launch on August 10th. This is for anyone who pre-registered at www.royaltyclaim.com/comingsoon. Those who’ve pre-registered will be able to secure a life-time subscription to Royalty Claim for only $150. Royalty Claim official launch will be September 1st. At that point, anyone can join for free or choose any of the premium plans.

Ask Me Anything About The Music Business, With Dae Bogan

Ask Me Anything

Ask me your music business question and I’ll attempt to provide you with an answer or direct you to a resource with a better answer or guidance. I cannot provide specific legal advice, but I can discuss general music business practices. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or DaeBoganMusic.com. Simply drop your question in the comments section wherever you see the above image.

10 Random Thoughts On The Business Of Music Videos

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I don’t discuss music videos often enough. Here are 10 random thoughts. Feel free to add to it (or ask questions) in the comments:

1. If you’re going to monetize your music video (make it available for sale/download), you should consider getting an ISRC for it. Yes, videos can (and should) have an ISRC. This ISRC is separate from the ISRC of the track being performed in the video.

2. You’d be surprised to know this, but music videos still earn significant reach on broadcast and OTT (over the top) platforms. Check out YANGAROO DMDS for pitching to MTV, MTV U, BET, NuVo, CMT, and more. Your video needs to be broadcast quality WITH closed captions.

3. There are many websites where you can monetize and set permissions for your music videos, including social media and discovery sites like DailyMotion. Check out Vydia for managing the distribution of your videos across your socials.

4. If you haven’t joined a Multi-Channel Network to monetize music on YouTube, you should read up on them. Fullscreen and INDMUSIC are two of many MCNs that will help monetize your music in other people’s videos and increase the ad sale amounts of ads on your own channel. These are master side “master use royalties.”

5. Audiam will help you collect composition side “sync royalties” from YouTube. In doing so, they also claim to unlock “performance royalties” paid to you by your PRO.

6. Pitch your music videos for plays in retail stores. Mood Media, PlayNetwork, Inc., Shoplifter In-Store Radio Promotion, and several others can help get your music video playing inside retail shops and malls reaching millions of shoppers. I own Maven Promo, so you can always consider pitching to my small network of 130 retail stores.

7. Sometimes bands can’t afford a full production music video. Lyric videos are great promotional tools as an alternative to nothing at all. I actually place lyric videos on my network often. Here are some great resources to have lyric videos made.

8. If your song is explicit, make sure that you have a clean cut version of the music video. Don’t wait until you land an opportunity for placement or a feature to get it done. Your editor may not be available to cut the clean version in a timely manner. I deal with this every month.

9. The three copyrights associated with a music video: 1.) the copyright in the composition (requires a grant of synchronization right), 2.) the copyright in the sound recording (requires a master use right), and 3.) the copyright in the motion picture itself. If your artist doesn’t own and control all three copyrights, make sure to have paperwork drawn up with whomever owns and controls a particular copyright granting the artist the rights, before distributing.

10. I don’t have a 10th thought, but it would be weird to end at 9.

Ask Me Anything About The Music Business, With Dae Bogan

Ask Me Anything

Ask me your music business question and I’ll attempt to provide you with an answer or direct you to a resource with a better answer or guidance. I cannot provide specific legal advice, but I can discuss general music business practices. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or DaeBoganMusic.com. Simply drop your question in the comments section wherever you see the above image.

How To Legally Record And Sell A Cover Song In 3 Steps

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This post was originally written for and published on Dozmia’s blog.

If the popularity of user generated content (UGC) platforms, such as YouTube and SoundCloud, has taught us anything about the music industry in the Digital Age, it is that aspiring artists from anywhere can amass huge online audiences and earn global reach by putting out cover songs that spark a reaction.

Success stories like those of Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly, 5 Seconds of Summer, Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, and Ed Sheeran are no longer rare phenomena. Talented unsigned artists like Jade Novah and Austin Mahone have earned tens of millions of views and plays across their UGC accounts. Previously undiscovered talent have gone on to land brand sponsorships, live performances with major recording artists, appearances on TV, casting in commercials, and more– all without the backing of a major record label.

However, while recording and uploading cover songs to UGC platforms can be a great first step to building a fanbase, monetizing those songs on traditional digital music services can be a legal nightmare if not done correctly. Furthermore, knowing when, where, and how to capture all of the royalty streams that your cover recording earns will put you in a better position to reap all of the rewards from releasing a cover recording that takes off.

Here are three steps that you should take if you plan to legally record and release a cover song:

Step 1: Secure the proper licenses to reproduce and distribute the original composition.

The U.S. Copyright Act grants copyright owners six exclusive rights including the right to reproduce and the right to distribute their compositions in phonorecords. When you record a cover of an existing song, you are effectively using someone else’s copyrighted work and they must be compensated for the use when you distribute the recording in physical and/or digital media.

The law includes a provision that enables anyone to reproduce and distribute a composition by following the specific requirements set out in the compulsory license. These requirements basically state that you must notify the copyright owner of your intent to use their song and you must account to (provide reports and statements on usage) and pay statutory mechanical royalties to the copyright owner for each use.

The term “mechanical” refers to when songs were mechanically reproduced in phonorecords. The statutory mechanical royalty rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Board.

Currently, the statutory mechanical royalty rate for physical formats (CDs, cassettes, LPs) and permanent digital downloads (e.g. iTunes) is 9.1¢ for songs 5 Minutes or less or 1.75¢ per minute or fraction thereof for songs over 5 Minutes.

Harry Fox Agency (HFA), Loudr, and Easy Song Licensing are just three of the resources for securing a mechanical license.

HFA is a membership-based mechanical licensing agency owned by SESAC. HFA represents and issues mechanical licenses in the U.S. on behalf of their U.S. music publisher members. HFA’s website claims that they currently represent over 48,000 music publishers. This makes it easier for you to go to them for most of the top popular songs released in the U.S. HFA’s service for obtaining a mechanical license is called SongFile.

Through SongFile, you pay upfront for the number of physical or digital phonorecords that you project to sell. For example, if you will sell 1,000 CDs, then you’ll pay 9.1¢ x 1,000 = $91 per cover song, which will then be paid to the publisher(s) to compensate the songwriter(s). You can also secure a license for interactive streams. However, in the United States, some interactive streaming services already pays the mechanical interactive streaming rate, so you do not have to when releasing to these platforms in the United States. Spotify, for example, pays HFA for the mechanical license for songs used on their platform in the United States, so you do not have to worry about securing a mechanical license if you’re only releasing to Spotify.

The rates for interactive streams (e.g. Spotify) and limited downloads (e.g. offline mode) are determined by a formula that takes into account the service type, license type, whether or not it’s ad-supported, amounts paid to labels, and other factors. Spotify’s rate comes out to about $0.0007 per stream. Again, they pay this to HFA so you don’t have to!

Loudr and Easy Song Licensing are independent services that charge a small service fee (about $15 per song) to secure a mechanical license for any song that you’d like to cover. This is awesome because if you’re covering some obscure song from an indie band in Wyoming or an international songwriter from France, you wouldn’t be able to license the song through HFA’s SongFile, which only represents and licenses U.S. publishers.

When you’re getting a license through Loudr or Easy Song Licensing, do not select interactive streams. Like I mentioned above, Spotify is already paying this to HFA and other services are paying Music Reports, Inc. (MRI), which is a rights administrator that represents a number of digital music platforms. Outside of the U.S., digital services pay local collection societies, who then pay the publishers.

So, definitely secure a license if you’re releasing a cover song on a physical format. Definitely secure a license if you’re releasing a cover song as a digital download. If you’re releasing only to major interactive streaming platforms, then you may not have to secure a license because most of these companies pay HFA or MRI already.

Step 2: Get a unique code to distinguish your recording.

If you’re planning to do a cover of a popular song, chances are that many other artists have or will cover the same song. With multiple releases of the same song to the global music ecosystem, it is important to distinguish your recorded version of the original song from all others. This is done with a unique identifier called the International Standard Recording Code or ISRC for short.

The ISRC code is a unique 12-character alphanumeric code assigned to each version/mix of a recording (ie. QMZTA1700001). For example, if you have a live version and a studio version of your cover song, each will need its own ISRC. If you get a dance remix of your cover or do a stripped down acoustic version of your studio-produced cover, again each of these versions will require a unique ISRC.

When you distribute music digitally, almost all digital platforms require an ISRC for each recording. Your ISRC can and should also be embedded in the metadata of your recording file so that when your recordings are released as a digital download or on physical formats, the ISRC is attached to the recording.

Be very careful to only purchase ISRC codes from official ISRC Managers. ISRC Managers appointed by the US ISRC Agency, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), are the only companies approved to assign ISRCs on behalf of the owner of a recording. These companies have guaranteed that they will abide by the Procedures for Assignment of ISRCs by ISRC Managers.

Other companies claiming to assign ISRCs on behalf of their clients are not authorized to do so and the ISRC’s they generate are invalid and risk collisions with codes issued by authorized registrants and ISRC Managers. This happens when fake ISRCs are issued or legitimate ISRCs are re-used. This results in erroneous metadata being disseminated across the digital music ecosystem, which can result in missing or misallocated royalties and disputes.

TuneRegistry is an all-in-one music rights and metadata management platform that’s also an approved ISRC Manager offering free and discounted ISRC codes included in its subscription plans. You can quickly and easily obtain ISRCs for each of your versions/mixes inside your account and immediately use the ISRC with any digital distributor to get your cover song distributed. You can view a complete list of approved ISRC Managers at http://www.usisrc.org/managers/index.html.

Step 3: Unlocking your royalties and getting paid.

The goal of virtually all aspiring artists is to have their music heard as wide and as far as possible. When songs are hits, earning national and even international reach can happen literally overnight. And even when there is slow momentum as buzz picks up across blogs and social sites, the right mention, the right placement on a playlist can break a song within a matter of weeks.

Whether or not your cover song blows up to international success, you may still earn and be due royalties for the exploitation of your cover song recording. Although you will not earn publishing royalties related to the underlying composition (remember, the original songwriter is the copyright owner and compulsory license enables you to record and distribute a cover), such as performance royalties that are paid out by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, you will own the master sound recording and will be able to collect master royalties.

Here are some of the income streams associated with the master sound recording and how you obtain the royalties:

  • Sales Income – This is pretty straightforward. You earn income when your recording is sold in physical format or permanent digital downloads. Sales are generally passed on to you through your distributor.
  • Interactive Streaming Royalties – When your recording is streamed on interactive platforms (e.g. Spotify), the service pays a streaming master use royalty to the distributor, who then pays you for the streams. The royalty rate is based on a formula that takes into account the type of use, the number of total streams, your share of streams, and territory.
  • Non-Interactive Streaming Royalties – Webcasters and digital services that broadcast recordings over the Internet (e.g. Pandora, iHeart Radio), cable (e.g. Music Choice), and satellite (e.g. SiriusXM) in radio-style programming where the end users/listeners have limited to no control over the selection of music pay a royalty for the digital performance of sound recordings to SoundExchange. SoundExchange then pays out 45% of the royalties to the featured performers on the recording, 50% to the copyright owner of the master recording, and 5% to a fund for background vocalists and session musicians maintained by AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. It is important that you register your track title, the performers, copyright owner (which will be you if you’re independent and not signed to a label), and ISRC to SoundExchange. This helps them to identify you and match incoming usage reports and royalties from digital services to you as the income participant. After joining SoundExchange, you can easily keep on top of registering all of your tracks directly through your TuneRegistry account. This way, you’ll never forget to make sure that you’re raising your hand to capture your non-interactive streaming royalties.
  • Master Use for Sync Fees – If your cover song gets licensed to a TV show, a movie, a commercial, or any other audiovisual media, you would need to obtain a synchronization license from the publisher of the composition. While you own the recording of your cover song, the copyright owner owns the composition and still give permission for the composition to be used in audiovisual media (this is a separate license from the compulsory mechanical license). The producer of the content will need to pay the synch fee for the composition and pay a master use fee for the master use license of the sound recording. These negotiations take place directly between the producer of the content (or their representatives) and the owners of the copyrights (you for the master sound recording and the songwriter or publisher for the composition that you’ve covered).

Now that you’re an expert on legally recording and selling cover songs, share the knowledge with your musician friends! No artist should be afraid to record and release cover songs — unless you’re releasing to YouTube, because that’s a different beast! The good news is, many publishers have opted-in to an agreement between YouTube and the National Music Publisher’s Association to earn a revenue share from advertisements placed on videos that feature recordings that embody their compositions. However, getting a license for YouTube could be down through We Are The Hits.

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