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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.

5 Royalty Streams Every Indie Artist Should Know

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

With the rise of music distributors and digital music aggregators, it has never been easier for an indie artist to release and monetize their music across the global digital music ecosystem. The Digital Music Era has significantly lowered the barriers to entry to the top outlets for music search and discovery; and startup entrepreneurs continue to develop and launch new platforms to innovate search, discovery, sharing, and access.

Today, music fans can easily access music from their favorite artists or discover new artists to fall in love with, pitting major established artists against their up-and-coming indie artist counterparts. And the music industry is changing for the better as a result (the Recording Academy now recognizes music released on free services for GRAMMY Award consideration and Billboard has accepted YouTube and SoundCloud streams for the purpose of charting).

Innovation in technology has made it possible for any indie artist with decent enough production tools and access to the Internet to record and release new music at any time. And with thousands of artists pumping out new music, it is no wonder that the industry has grown to over one million new tracks entering the global music market every month.

Each of these tracks begin earning royalties from its first play on any of the 400+ digital music services and 3,000+ webcasters operating around the world. And all of these royalties, billions of dollars of royalties, flow through a complex network of pipelines into various buckets of royalty collection with the ultimate goal of trickling down to the appropriate music creators and rightsholders. While this sounds straight-forward for a number of reasons this is far from a smooth process; and millions of dollars in royalties are in fact not making its way to the music creators and rightsholders to which they are due.

Part of the reason starts with you, the music creator. It is especially important for independent artists to understand the various income streams that your releases generate and the ways in which you must be setup to collect your royalties.

Here is an awesome infographic created by Future Music Coalition that visually breaks down how creators are compensated. Below it, I highlight five royalty streams that every indie artist should be setup to collect.

FMCmoneyflow

If you plan to release music digitally, you should be aware of and setup to collect all of the royalty streams that your music earns. Your music earns royalties for the use of two different copyrights. The first is the copyright for the composition (song). The second is the copyright for the sound recording (master). These two copyrights earn royalty streams that are collected and paid out by different sources to different income participants, as explained below.

Royalty Stream 1: Performance Royalties for Compositions

With few exceptions, virtually all uses of your composition earns performance royalties. Performance royalties are earned when your composition is played on digital radio-like services (e.g. Pandora), when your composition is accessed and played through on-demand streaming services (e.g. Spotify), and when your composition is performed in venues, bars, and restaurants. All of these companies have performance licenses from one or more performing rights organization (PRO). In the United States, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and Global Music Rights are the PROs who issue blanket licenses for the performance rights in compositions to digital music services. In return, these services pay royalties to these PROs. The PROs then pay 50% to the songwriter(s) of the composition and 50% to the publisher(s), in accordance with the publishing splits reported to the PRO by the copyright owners. In order to collect performance royalties, you must join a PRO and register your composition (your songs) and the associated ownership splits (for example, 4 Writers might have equal ownership (25% each) or varied ownership (Writer 1 – 25%, Writer 2 – 50%, Writers 3 – 12.5%, Writer 4 – 12.5%)) to the PRO in a timely manner. One of the reasons music creators and rightholders do not receive the performance royalties that their compositions earn is because they have not joined a PRO or have not registered their songs with their PRO.

Royalty Stream 2: Mechanical Royalties for Compositions

Mechanical royalties are earned when your composition is reproduced and distributed in phonorecords (a medium in which a sound recording is stored). This includes compositions embodied in sound recordings stored in physical formats (CDs, vinyl, cassette), MP3 permanent downloads (e.g. iTunes), and interactive streams (e.g. Spotify). In the digital music sector, streaming services secure mechanical licenses either directly from copyright owners or by utilizing the compulsory license as provided by copyright laws. Regardless of how they secure their mechanical license, the major services pay mechanical royalties to Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and Music Reports Inc. (MRI), who then pay the publishers of the composition. One of the reasons music creators and rightsholders do not receive the mechanical royalties that their compositions earn is because they have not registered their songs with HFA or MRI, who help digital music services secure the mechanical licenses. For unsigned indie artists, this can be much more difficult if you do not have a publisher because HFA only represents eligible publishers who’ve affiliated with them. MRI is a rights administrator and will issue notices to copyright owners if their digital music service clients intend to utilize the copyright owner’s composition in a manner that requires a mechanical license. Spotify pays HFA mechanical royalties for the compositions used in their platform. Amazon Music pays MRI mechanical royalties for the compositions used in their platform. (Note that in the United States, iTunes passes the mechanical royalty to the distributor, who then pays the label. If you’re an unsigned artist, then you receive the income since you are your own label. Outside of the United States, iTunes and on-demand services such as Spotify pay mechanical royalties to a mechanical licensing society in the territory represented by the society. In order to capture these foreign mechanical royalties, a publisher or administrator must affiliate with and register the compositions with the foreign mechanical collection society.)

Royalty Stream 3: Permanent Download Royalties for Masters

A permanent download is generally a sales transaction through a digital retail store (e.g. iTunes). This income is passed along to the distributor, who then pays the label (less any applicable commissions). If you’re unsigned artist, then you receive the income since you are your own label.

Royalty Stream 4: Interactive/On-demand Streaming Royalties for Masters

Just like a permanent download, interactive/on-demand streams (e.g. Spotify) of sound recordings generates master use royalties that is passed along to the distributor, who then pays the label (less any applicable commissions). If you’re unsigned artist, then you receive the royalties since you are your own label.

Royalty Stream 5: Non-Interactive Streaming Royalties for Masters

Unlike a permanent download or interactive/on-demand streams of sound recordings, non-interactive streams are not paid to your distributor. 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 (non-interactive) 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. One of the reasons music creators and rightholders do not receive the non-interactive royalties that their masters earn is because they have not joined SoundExchange or have not registered their tracks with their SoundExchange.

When you release music digitally, you should be aware of the various royalty streams that your music earns, where those royalties are collected, and how to claim your earnings. Your distributor is one source of income for two of the royalty streams mentioned. To unlock the rest of your royalties, you’d need a capable publisher and a record company or you’d need to stay on top of the administration yourself.

A great way to keep track of all of these royalties is a service we recommend called TuneRegistry.

TuneRegistry is an all-in-one music rights and metadata management platform for the independent music community. Easily organize and store your song details, recording metadata, credits and ownership splits, and release information in your TuneRegistry account. It’s your robust music catalog manager that’s accessible online, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down emails, storing through documents in various desktop and cloud folders, losing collaborator contact information, or any of the other messy issues that most indie artists face.

TuneRegistry is your one-stop source for keeping your music catalog in check.

The advantage of TuneRegistry over other catalog management systems is that we’ve integrated the registrations process directly to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports, SoundExchange, and many more. Save time, reduce errors, and unlock royalties with our integrated registrations module. We make it super easy to get your music registrations to the organizations and data services who need it.

Why United States Music Creators Earn Fewer Royalty Streams

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

Did you know that music creators in the United States earn fewer royalty streams than their international counterparts?

In the United States, there is no national performance right in sound recordings. The US Copyright Act sets out several rights for compositions (songs), such as the right to reproduce and distribute compositions in phonorecords, but thanks to a combination of outdated rules and tough opposition from lobbying organizations that represent broadcasters, the law does not include a performance right for sound recordings.

This means that whenever a recording is performed on AM/FM radio in the US, broadcasters are not required to pay artists or record companies any royalties from the advertisements revenue that they earn on the back of those performances. Considering that there are over 15,000 radio stations across the US performing hundreds of thousands of plays of music each week, US music creators and labels are potentially missing out on millions of dollars in royalties.

Virtually all other developed nations outside of the US have a performance right in sound recordings, which is known as neighbouring rights. When a US artist’s recording is performed on BBC in the UK, it earns neighbouring rights royalties for the US artist.

The fact that recordings earn royalties outside of the US is good news, right? Not so much.

Because the US does not have a national performance right in sound recordings (no neighbouring right), no recording earns these royalties. This includes recordings by artists from countries that do recognize neighbouring rights. So yeah, insert your favorite European band who gets high rotation on US radio.

As a result, the countries who do recognize neighbouring rights do not send the neighbouring rights royalties generated from the performance of recordings by US artists in their territory back to any of the US music rights organizations. They keep it or distribute it to the artists and labels in their territory.

Generally speaking, most indie artists who earn neighbouring rights royalties outside of the US will never see this royalty stream unless the US government makes a change to copyright law. Although there are some small companies who try to capture neighbouring rights royalties on behalf of US music creators, they tend to focus on a select roster of more established artists, leaving up-and-coming indie artists with no support.

So what now?

Well, now that you know US artists earn less royalty streams from their music than their international counterparts, it is really important to maximize the royalty streams that they do earn.

Many independent artists miss out on royalties that their music does earn because they do not properly register their songs, recordings, and releases with the various music rights organizations and licensing agencies who collect and distribute royalties. This is understandable, as it can be a pain to keep up with the many different registration processes across a number of organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports, Harry Fox Agency, SoundExchange, the Alliance for Artists and Record Companies, and more). It can be burdensome, time consuming, and often confusing to properly register a complete album. However, missing just one registration or filing registrations late can result in lost royalties, or even disputes over ownership.

This is where TuneRegistry steps in to help.

TuneRegistry is an all-in-one music rights and metadata management platform for the independent music community. Easily organize and store your song details, recording metadata, credits and ownership splits, and release information in your TuneRegistry account. It’s your robust music catalog manager that’s accessible online, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down emails, storing through documents in various desktop and cloud folders, losing collaborator contact information, or any of the other messy issues that most indie artists face.

TuneRegistry is your one-stop source for keeping your music catalog in check.

The advantage of TuneRegistry over other catalog management systems is that we’ve integrated the registrations process directly to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports, SoundExchange, and many more. Save time, reduce errors, and unlock royalties with our integrated registrations module. We make it super easy to get your music registrations to the organizations and data services who need it.

ETLA, The Research Institute Of The Finnish Economy, Publishes Report On State Of Digital Music Infrastructure – Calls For Transparency And Addresses “Black Box” Issues

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I had the honor of being interviewed by researcher and author, Derek Sellin, for his industry report “Digital Music Industry – Background Synthesis” for ETLA Working Papers No. 48, published by Elinkeinoelaman Tutkimuslaitos – The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.

Black boxes materialize for many reasons, including but not limited to: the inability to identify rights holders despite payments made for the use of their compositions; the lengthy time required for filing domestic and ultimately international copyrights, often begun only when a recording is actually released; multiple claims for the same rights exceeding 100% of ownership, resulting in indefinite disputes; international collaborations with less than all creators asserting their rights; international legal inconsistencies regarding what type of performances result in payments (most visible in the fact that radio play does not generate royalties for recording artists in the United States); and the slow and often manual processes to report usage and clear payments under international reciprocal agreements. – Dae Bogan

You can download the report at https://www.etla.fi/en/publications/digital-music-industry-background-synthesis/.

About ETLA
The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (Etla) is engaged in applied economic research with emphasis on topics that are important from the Finnish point of view. The main focus is on issues that relate to productivity and drivers of its growth, to the functioning of the labour market, as well as to challenges in maintaining a balanced macro economy including sound public finances. Etla monitors economic development, compiles forecasts as well as assesses economic policy and comments on it.

Etla is a private non-profit organisation. Its operations are backed by the supporting association, the members of which comprise the Confederation of Finnish Industries and the Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers (TT) Fund. The funding from the background organisations covers more than a third of the institute’s budget and forms a solid base for its operations. Read more.

10 Ways To Raise Funds For Your Next Music Project (Without Selling A Single Record)

FEATURED #MUSICHEAD: Blurring the lines between contemporary R&B and neo-soul, Jarell Perry is primed to join the likes of genre-bending heavy hitters like Frank Ocean, Miguel, and The Weeknd. Check out his LP "Simple Things" at jarellperry.com and the video for "Getaway" premiering on Russell Simmons' All Def Digital: http://youtu.be/LtZqxkS7bN0 Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarellperry | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jarellperrymusic | Instagram: http://instagram.com/jarellperry (Want to be the next FEATURED #MUSICHEAD? Send me a message on my Facebook Page for consideration)

FEATURED #MUSICHEAD: Blurring the lines between contemporary R&B and neo-soul, Jarell Perry is primed to join the likes of genre-bending heavy hitters like Frank Ocean, Miguel, and The Weeknd. Check out his LP “Simple Things” at jarellperry.com and the video for “Getaway” premiering on Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital: http://youtu.be/LtZqxkS7bN0 | Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarellperry | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jarellperrymusic | Instagram: http://instagram.com/jarellperry (Want to be the next FEATURED #MUSICHEAD? Send me a message on my Facebook Page for consideration)

Every indie artist has experienced setbacks due to budget issues. When your budget is tight–or nonexistent–every penny counts.

You’ve just wrote three songs but can’t afford to record, mix and master them properly. Or you’ve spent all of your budget on the recording process and now you have no funds to promote your new music. Or you’ve landed a few multi-city gig opportunities as a result of your promotional efforts–and solid release campaign–but have no budget to go on tour. Or worse; you’re just too damn broke to even write!

What do you do when you don’t have a label underwriting your career and you have to choose between paying your personal bills and paying a studio engineer, publicist, or rental van company?

You fund raise!

I’m sure you’re thinking, “yeah I know I need to fund raise, but that’s easier said than done!” And you’re absolutely right. It’s not easy being an indie. That’s why there’s a term called “grind”. Indie artists must grind and grind hard. You must give it above 100% on everything just to move the needle an inch. This holds true for fund raising as well.

To fund raise effectively, you need to make a plan. You need to know what avenues you’re going to take to raise funds, how much funding you’re trying to raise, and how soon you need to raise the funds.

Set a reasonable goal over a reasonable period of time. Are you trying to raise $5,000 in 30 days, $10,000 in 60 days, $15,000 in 90 days or $100,000 in two weeks?

Assess your known challenges and address these challenges in your fund raising plan. For example:

  • Do you have a full-time job or are you in school? If so, how many hours each day or each week can you set aside specifically for fund raising efforts?
  • Do you have transportation? If not, then most of your fund raising activities may need to be conducted from home.
  • Do you have dependents? If so, can you afford to put aside the monies you raise into your savings account specifically for your music career or do you have to share those funds with your expenses supporting dependents?
  • Do you have two or more members in your group? If so, how will you allocate responsibility for fund raising?

There are many questions to ask yourself. Try to be thorough, honest and reasonable. Your assessment will help you figure out what tactics to take towards reaching your fund raising goal.

I’ve put together this list of fund raising tactics that you should consider incorporating into your fund raising plan. It’s not an exhaustive list so I welcome readers to comment with other ideas. Also, if you’ve tried any of these tactics in the past, what worked for you and what didn’t work for you?

If you’re a band, I seriously recommend that you open a joint savings account at a local bank and agree to deposit monies raised for the band into this joint account. You should also discuss what should happen to the funds if a member leaves the band before the funds are used–I personally might be a bit pissed if I helped raise $5,000 and then am kicked out of the band because I’m a sucky bass player. You might want to write up a band fund agreement and have each member sign it and keep a copy.

Also, I recommend allocating 1 or more tactic to each member, and setting individual fund raising goals based on what you all agree is reasonable based on that tactic. An equal split may not work since some tactics may be much more difficult than others.

For the solo artists out there, you might want to consider asking a friend to help you fund raise. If you’re a songwriter, your producer might help if you guys have an ongoing collaborative relationship.

Once you’ve considered all of the above pre-planning details, the next step is to choose your tactics, set specific fund raising goals as a portion of the total amount of funds you need to raise and then set timelines for reaching the tactic-level goals.

To help you with planning, you might want to consider using a project management and/or collaboration platform. Here’s 30 of the greatest online project management tools to check out.

10 Ways To Raise Funds For Your Next Music Project (Without Selling A Single Record)

1. Donations From Family & Friends. Don’t let your pride get in the way; ask your family and friends for donations toward your goal. If you have a website, consider using PayPal’s Donation platform to facilitate credit card transactions. You can also post an app on your Facebook Page using FundRazr. By allowing family and friends to donate on your website or Facebook Page, you eliminate the anxiety or self-prescribed embarrassment of having to ask directly to their face. Instead, you can send an email or text blast.

2. Crowdfunding Websites. By now, if you haven’t heard of the story of Amanda Palmer–the singer/songwriter who raised $1.2 million dollars on Kickstarter–then you have a lot catching up to do in the world of crowdfunding for musicians. Basically, the way crowdfunding works is you set a goal to raise a specific amount of funds by a specific end date. Then, you create a campaign page on the service’s website to compel strangers–crowd–to fund your project–crowdfunding–in exchange for receiving something once you’ve reached your fund raising goal. Kickstarter and IndieGogo are both very popular crowdfunding platforms, but there are many others such as PledgeMusic, SellABand, FeedBand and Patreon. Check those out as well as others via a Google search. Make sure to understand the differences such as whether or not you get to keep the funds if you do not hit the goal–that’s a no for Kickstarter but yes for Patreon–or if there are restrictions on how the funds can be used. There are others out there, so search the web!

3. Get A Songwriter or Artist Royalty Loan (No Credit Check and No Monthly Fees). Lyric Financial is a special financial service founded by musicians for musicians. They claim to be a leader in providing songwriters, producers and artists loans–or an advance–on future royalties from your songs. You can draw cash immediately for royalties that have not yet been paid by ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, your publisher, or your label. You do not have to pay any monthly fees. You do not give up your copyright ownership. They claim that there is no qualification; no credit check. As long as you currently earn royalties, you may be eligible for a loan.

4. Sell Or Auction Off Your Royalties. If you are generating royalties each year from previously released songs, you can sell the rights to your works on an auction to cash out and fund your next project. Royalty Exchange is a marketplace to sell royalties. Unlike the Lyric Financial loans, you do give up your copyright ownership in the works. This is because the new owner will be the person purchasing your copyright and therefore collecting all future royalties.

5. Music Licensing Agencies. If you have songs recorded–released or unreleased–you may be able to get those songs placed on TV shows, commercials, movies, or advertisements. When songs are licensed to a production, you earn synchronization fees as well as public performance royalties collected by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. There are dozens of music licensing agencies out there. They spend their day contacting music supervisors, advertisers, and production companies to convince these guys to license music from their indie artist clients instead of major recording artists. And they are working; driving millions of dollars in licensing deals every year. You can sign-up for several at one time and check out their listings. Here are a few to consider: Music Dealers, YouLicense, Pump Audio, BeatPick, BroadJam,Ocean Park, LicenseQuote and RumbleFish. There are others out there, so search the web!

6. Random Side Jobs. Depending on where you live, there may be plenty of weekend and evening side jobs that you can do to raise money. Check out the “Gigs” section of Craigslist.org. You might also consider spending a few hours a week getting paid to take surveys. Companies seek consumer insight to help make business decisions. They often use market research companies to do outreach to a target audience to get their feedback on a product or service; and they pay you for your time. Check out SurveyMonkey and ConsumerSurveys. There are others out there, so search the web!

7. Make Your SmartPhone Make You Money. Did you know that there are apps currently available on the PlayStore and iTunes that you can download and make money from today? There are apps that ask you to go to a store, such as Best Buy, and then take pictures of a display. The reason the product manufacture pay you to do this is because they want to make sure their product is on display properly. There are other apps that asks you to be mystery shoppers. And apps that pay you to check-in at locations. There are quite a few and here is a detailed list of 10 mobile apps to consider.

8. Gig, Gig, Gig. There’s nothing better than making money when performing your own music. Playing shows and selling tickets is not an easy task; but hey that’s the business you’re getting in. Try to setup shows locally and see if you can charge $5, $10, $15 a person. Also check out websites that help you find gigs such as SonicBids, GigFinder, Indie On The Move, and MusicClout. There are others out there, so search the web!

9. Get A Part-Time Job. If you already have a full schedule, you may consider becoming a “weekend warrior” for a few months while you save money. A lot of retail stores hire additional staff seasonally to support an increase in business and store traffic. The months of October – December are heavy holiday shopping months, so retail stores may seek additional stock room employees or cashiers.

10. Mr. or Mrs. Investor. Getting someone to invest in your music career is incredibly difficult to do unless you’ve proven your worth through previous releases. But getting someone to invest in you as a human being and future impact-maker may be a different option. As far as an investor in your music, this can be anyone with deep pockets. An in investor would typically like to know how the money will be spent and what kind of a return on their investor they should expect. One way to structure an investment deal is to keep 100% of your copyright but give them 50% of your publishing and executive producer credits to your songs. Only do this for the songs they are investing in; not your entire catalog. You should also think about when their publishing split should revert back to you. If someone invests $20,000 to record and promote one song and then own 50% of the publishing, they could potentially recoup their investment in 24-36 months; enjoy residual income for another 36-72 months. But what happens if it’s a smashing hit and their $20,000 is now bringing in $200,000? Well, an investor would say the point of investing is to earn the highest return. So, keep all of that in mind in structuring an investor deal. In terms of seeking an investment in you as a person–and not just a musician–you should check out these websites that helps individuals earn investments from other individuals in exchange for future compensation: Pave, ThrustFund, and Prosper. There are others out there, so search the web!

….BONUS INFO….

11. YouTube & Website Advertising Revenue. If you’re earning several hundred to tens of thousands of views on YouTube, you should join the YouTube Partner Program to earn money when ads are aired on your videos. If you are earning tens of thousands of views or more, you may be eligible to partner with a multi channel network such as INDMUSIC–Read this interview with the founder, Brandon Martinez–or the big dog Fullscreen to increase your ad revenue share. If you have a website with lots of traffic, consider working with SKIPIT to earn money when visitors decide to skip an ad airing on your videos. You can also use Google Adsense to earn advertising money from your website or blog.

12. Promote FREE Streams For Small Bucks. If you have music currently released digitally that is no longer selling; drive fans and friends to stream the hell out of your tracks for FREE on Spotify or other services such as Rhapsody and Rdio. They stream your song for FREE–or part of their subscription plan–and you earn pennies on a dollar. But remember, every penny counts!

13. Still need more money-making tips? Here are 52 Ways To Make Extra Money by Philip Taylor

10 Steps To Building A Single Release Campaign

FEATURED ARTIST: Dree Paterson is a singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles. Dree describes her music as "Indie Pop with a Motown Feel meets Rock and Live instrumentation." Website: www.dreepatersonmusic.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/dreepatersonsounds | Twitter: www.twitter.com/dreepaterson

FEATURED #MUSICHEAD: Dree Paterson is a singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles. Dree describes her music as “Indie Pop with a Motown Feel meets Rock and Live instrumentation.” Website: http://www.dreepatersonmusic.com | Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dreepatersonsounds | Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dreepaterson (Want to be the next FEATURED #MUSICHEAD? Send me a message on my Facebook Page for consideration)

The music industry is full of mystery. From the complexities of royalty calculations to the fundamental theory behind algorithmic music discovery, there is so much we simply don’t understand or can’t put our finger on. And the so-called experts often speak in anecdotes–highlighting success stories that are often exceptions to the rule–leaving curious indie artists more speculative than before their inquiry.

Active indie artists spend hours surfing the web looking for “answers.” You read blogs–such as this one–and browse the headlines of the most relevant trades to try to figure it all out.

You attend networking events and engage in forums; trading old information for new ones. You’re determined, eager and anxious to get it right and to charge forward to the next level of your career. Besides, you’ve spent hundreds of dollars–if not thousands–trying to get it right before.

So here you are. You’ve written and recorded a new record. You believe it’s good; great even. And maybe you’ve tested it a bit with friends or at gigs and the feedback has been positive.

You’re excited; this is the one that can get the momentum building in your career!

You don’t have a major label budget so you have one shot to get it right. But you don’t know where to start, because one of those great music industry mysteries is the formula–the secret sauce–to successfully releasing a new single.

The truth is, there is no formula.

If there was a formula, major record labels wouldn’t be loosing revenues by the millions. If there was a formula, the term “unexpected hit” wouldn’t exist in music industry lingo.

As disappointing as that may sound, there are some basic principles you can apply to your single release in an attempt to generate exposure and potentially sell records.

The ten steps below are my personal recommendations to help you with your planning. This is not in exhaustive list; nor is it the perfect set of steps for every artist of every musical genre.

I welcome readers to contribute to this discussion; to chime in on what has and has not worked for you in the past. And I welcome my colleagues to add additional steps or elaborate on any of the ten below.

Before you read, let me set the tone. I wrote these ten steps with the assumption that you are an indie artist or band that is unsigned. Although this information can apply to an artist/band signed to an indie label, the idea here is that you are completely DIY with no label support of any kind.

10 Steps To Building A Single Release Campaign

1. Create Great Music. Let’s be honest here indie artists; consumers aren’t stupid. They may not be music connoisseurs, but they certainly have musical tastes and an absurd amount of music discovery apps and website options to chose from. However, studies show that music discovery continues to be dominated by the radio. And we all know major recording artists dominate radio airplay–thanks to promotion departments with big budgets. But we also know that independent artists are selling records and indie artists are winning GRAMMY Awards. This is because their music is cutting through the clutter. Not because a shit load of blogs write about it, but because it’s great music that incites a response. Bad music is shit. Good music is tolerable. Great music incites response; and the response is repeat streams, evangelical shares and downloads.

2. Do Your Due Diligence. Before you begin to promote your great music, you need to secure and protect your rights so you don’t put yourself in a shitty situation later on. There’s some legal work you need to do before going all gung-ho on your release campaign. If you have an attorney, great. If not, there are a number of websites with templates to cover this stuff. Basically, you need to have agreements signed between you and your collaborators–split sheet, producer agreement, collaboration agreement, side artist agreement, etc.–that details how copyright and publishing ownership will be split as well as sales revenue.

3. Set A Release Date & Schedule Distribution. One of the challenges indie artists face in building a release campaign is not giving themselves a sufficient amount of lead time to layout and execute the details of a plan. You need time to do all of the work involved with a release. Sometimes, you’re so excited about your new record that you post it up prematurely. This is fine if you have no intent to commercially release the record. However, if you do want to generate sales–and your fan base has not historically been quick buyers of your music–then you need time to start generating buzz and momentum. Most major labels spend no less than 8 to 16 weeks planning towards the release of a single. Sometimes they push the release date back if they have not reached certain goals by specific weeks (although this mostly happens for albums, and not singles). You should consider giving yourself no less than 6-12 weeks from the start of activating your campaign. Also, the release date you select can also be a factor in the success or failure of your release. Some parts of the year there are a lot of major artist releases. Therefore, radio play, blog features, press/media coverage is focused on these major releases. Holiday season (October-December) and Spring are two of the biggest seasons for major releases. However, there is discrepancy in the music industry on when is the “best” time for indie artists to release music. Some say that the Summer is solid, and that’s because of the major label hiatus (execs going on vacation) and the increase in music events such as summer concert series, indie music festivals, etc. While I agree that the summer months are much better than Holiday season in general, it’s a whole different story if you’re releasing a Holiday themed song. The bottom line is, selecting a release date is part smart and part timely. Once you’ve determined when you want to release, you need to schedule the distribution. If you plan to release a digital single only, you can use a service such as TuneCore to distribute your single to iTunes, MySpace Music, Rhapsody, Spotify, Rdio and many others. If you plan to release a physical CD and digital, you may consider CDBaby.

4. Register Your Works. Once you’ve scheduled your distribution–if you haven’t already done so–you’re going to want to register your song with your performance rights organization aka PRO (ASCAPBMI, or SESAC), as well as with the US Copyright Office, as well as with SoundExchange who pays the artists when songs are played on digital mediums. Additionally, if you’re really confident about how amazingly great your record is and you expect–or at least, hope–to earn a respectable number of digital sales, you should consider setting yourself up to be eligible to earn a placement on one or more Billboard charts. To be eligible, you should both register the ISRC of your song and register the title with Nielsen SoundScan. And lastly, if you’re super confident in your great song, you should read up on how to get your song certified as a Gold or Platinum selling single by the RIAA as well as how to be eligible to win a GRAMMY Award.

5. Set Reasonable Goals. Now that all the “administrative work” is complete, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, develop a plan and get to work. A good plan needs concrete goals. One of the ways to measure the effectiveness of a plan is to determine if you’ve reached or exceeded your initial goals. Too often, indie artists create music, throw it up on the Internet and are disappointed with the outcome. But, you may be selling yourself short by not setting reasonable goals in advance. In fact, you may have exceeded what the music ecosystem has determined as your demand/worth based on your existing support system. As an indie artist–even with no fan base–there are reasonable goals that you can set that have nothing to do with record sales. Your goal may be to earn X number of video views, or X number of music streams, or X number of shares, or X number of downloads (including free downloads).

6. Marketing & Promotion Planning. Once you’ve set your goals, you need to think about how you plan to reach and exceed those goals. There are a number of approaches. I am a huge proponent of integrated marketing approaches. That is, tactics that overlap and contribute towards the impact of two or more goals. For example, if you have a video on YouTube, at the end of the video should be a download link for the song that was just played (use YouTube’s video editing features to embed links in videos). If you print up flyers and posters to promote upcoming gigs, include your social media links. To reach a goal for shares of a song; consider creating a “Share And Win” campaign on social media. The basic premise is that by sharing your song or flyer, the action represents an entry for the chance to win something such as a pre-release or tickets to an upcoming gig. You might consider gift cards to a retail store like Target–yes, completely irrelevant to your music but incredibly relevant to the listener’s lifestyle–because the goal is to offer the most compelling incentive to reach your goal (a Target gift card may be more compelling than a free download of your music).  A cool way to promote your upcoming release is by giving away a previous release or a record you do not intend to release. Check out SocialUnlock, which is a platform that lets you setup a campaign to give away music in exchange for social interactions (such as “Likes” and Shares). Also, look into securing radio airplay on a number of the indie radio sites. You want your song on air no less than 4 weeks before the release. Also, check out IndiePower for resources.

7. Line Up A Few Gigs. When releasing new music, it’s helpful to perform the music in front of an audience prior to release. If the music is as great as you think, they’ll respond. If the response is not what you expect, you’ll have some food for thought in terms of continuing the journey towards a commercial release. SonicBids and Indie On The Move are good resources to find gigs. Reaching out to local coffee shops, bars & nightclubs, small concert halls with indie nights (aka “pay for play”) are also good ways to set up gigs. You also might be able to secure gigs by directly contacting medium sized tour management companies and booking agencies and talking your way into opening up for a bigger act that’s coming to your city. You should also consider doing presales of your single at these events. A savvy way to do it is to bundle your single with a ticket sale. When attendees purchase a ticket, they are also purchasing your $.99 single. Check out this article by ASCAP for some tips on presale.

8. Seek And Secure Publicity. There are an insane number of music blogs generating exposure for new music every day; connecting music lovers with indie artists. Here is a list of over 100 hundred of them. There are three basic types of publicity you want to secure and it’s a good idea to make this part of your goals. First, you want music reviews. If your music is great, the reviews will be amazing. If the reviews are negative, then you might have a rude awakening that will help you evaluate your music. Secondly, you want interviews. Often, music bloggers will simply send you a list of questions via email that you respond to and send back with a biography and discography and they take it from there. The third kind of publicity is features. Ideally, you want to be featured on the main page of the website/blog. Normally, the feature will include a photo and link to a post (either a review or interview). Most websites/blogs have a contact page. Find that page to submit your press release (oh yeah, you should probably write a press release) or click on the author of any given music post to locate the information of a specific writer. Another form of publicity is radio interviews. While it is incredibly difficult to get an interview with a mainstream radio station, it is not that difficult to get an interview with an independent or lesser known radio station. There are a number of independent terrestrial radio stations in and around major markets. Do some research and give them a call about setting up an interview. Also, many of the djs on mainstream radio stations have their own Internet radio shows. Reach out to them to see if you can set up an in-studio interview at their Internet radio show. The idea is to capture your interview on video and to post it on YouTube. Another publicity boaster is a Wikipedia page for your band. Hypebot explains how to get your band on Wikiepedia.

9. Review And Adjust. I know you may think this Step 9 is a cop out to providing some useful information, but the reality is reviewing and adjusting efforts in the remaining weeks or days before a release can be the difference between no sales and many sales. Have you reached your goals with two weeks left until the release? Have you sold any presales? Have you run out of energy and ideas? If so, read “Countdown To Maximum Exposure” by CDBaby.

10. Throw An Effing Party! You’ve worked your butt off. Celebrate with a single release party. You might offer fans a ticket to this single release party as part of the bundle when you’re gigging to raise awareness of your release. For example, Admission/Single/Future Admission For Single Release Party…all for $10. Pretty good deal.

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