Archive for August, 2014

If you’ve affiliated yourself as a songwriter with a performing rights organization (such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) and registered all your songs, you’ve taken an important first step in collecting the publishing royalties you’re owed.

That being said, PROs such as ASCAP and BMI only collect one form of music publishing revenues: theperformance royalty.

In order to collect ALL of the royalties you’re owed, you either need to have a publishing rights administratorworking on your behalf, or spend hundreds to thousands of hours each year tracking down this money yourself (in every corner of the globe); oh, and you’ll also need to speak dozens of languages and be absolutely psyched about paperwork.

In case my sarcasm went undetected, I’ll repeat it plainly: it’s nearly impossible for independent artists to collect all the music publishing revenue they’re owed — while also having time to make music — without the help of a traditional publisher or a service like CD Baby Pro.

If you’re only signed up with a performing rights organization such as ASCAP or BMI, here’s what you’re missing:

1. Mechanical royalties for physical product (CDs, vinyl, etc.)

Performing rights organizations do NOT collect mechanical royalties. Yet every time a song you’ve written appears on an album that is manufactured for sale, you’re owed a mechanical royalty. If you’re releasing your own material, you’re essentially paying this royalty to yourself. But if other artists cover your songs, are you set up to get paid?

2. Streaming 

Every time your music is played on an interactive streaming service such as Spotify or Beats Music, you’re owed publishing royalties, in addition to the standard streaming license fee you receive per play. These publishing royalties from streaming services are comprised mostly of mechanical royalties, but there is also a small percentage of performance royalties that will be paid to your PRO. Again, if you’re only registered with ASCAP or BMI, you’re only getting paid a fraction of what you’re owed.

3. International download sales

As our friends at SongTrust explain: “Outside of the US, music retailers (iTunes, Amazon, etc)  are required to pay mechanical licensing societies (think Harry Fox Agency but in other areas of the world) around 9% of revenue earned from each download. This amounts to about 9 cents per digital download, owed to the songwriter. This money sits at the mechanical society until it is collected by a publishing administrator.” Without a service like CD Baby Pro, you’re leaving those uncollected international mechanical royalties on the table.

4. International Performance Royalties

US-based PROs such as ASCAP and BMI are great at collecting performance royalties within the United States. But with CD Baby Pro, your songs will be registered directly with international performing rights organizations around the world. We’ll collect your international performance royalties straight from the source. With our direct agreements, you’ll get paid faster and more efficiently than you would via BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC (who have reciprocal agreements for international performance royalties).

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If you want to make sure you’re set up to collect all the publishing royalties you’re owed, check out CD Baby Pro.

While conducting music business industry panels across the country, I’m often asked one question more than anything else: “How do I get an endorsement?” Other variations include “How do I get a sponsor?” or “How do I get free stuff?”

My philosophy is that if this is your point of view, you’re probably already doomed. Sponsors (whether music instrument companies, beer, or clothes, etc.) don’t care about what they can do for you. They care about what you can do for them – or rather, what you can do together. So to begin with, you have to switch the mentality from “What can I gain from this?” to “What can we gain from this relationship?” Below are a few things that I recommend in your approach:

Ask, straight up: There’s a saying that “the answer is always no until you ask.” In the music industry, there are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who wait for things to happen, and those who wonder “what the heck just happened?” Don’t wait for an opportunity. Create it by initiating contact, networking, or asking the right questions that will get you a lead, information on how to get a sponsor, etc. Don’t be afraid in emailing, calling, or scheduling an appointment to do an in-person presentation on why they should sponsor you. That being said…

The Approach: Find a way to be unique, succinct, and intriguing with your initial contact. My rep at the largest music instrument company in the world says that he gets 300-500 emails a week asking for endorsed artist information. So why did he pick my band, The Slants, out of all of those? Because we focused on the company, not ourselves.  We offered a new target audience that they weren’t reaching, we had a unique angle to our music and branding, and they would benefit from working with us. Find a way to explain why you are the “first, the only, the original” of what you do. If you need help, try 15secondpitch.com to help your approach.

Offer an Idea (or 3): Offer an idea right away that the said company could benefit from or that you two could do together to bring more business for everyone. If you are adding value to them from the start, they will be more inclined to listen to you. Make everything more about “we” than just “me.”

Try Untapped Industries: Getting sponsors/endorsements is like rolling a snowball:  once you get started, it becomes easier and more people will start to pay attention. Often times, if the sponsor you’re working with is happy, they’ll refer other companies to you. To get your start, try companies with less competition. For example, try local businesses that you already frequent and see if they’d be willing to do some cross-promotional marketing. Also, smaller indie music instrument companies are often untapped compared to the big brands you see at Guitar Center.

Use Existing Resources: Have everyone in your band or circle of friends create a contact list of everyone they know: where they work, what position, etc. Use those contacts as a start; their company might not be able to help but they might know someone who can. All things being equal in life, people would rather do business with their friends.

Make it a Sales Call: Treat every contact like you would a sales call, because essentially that is what you are doing. Same exact method because you’re selling your music, your tour, your band. If you want them to “buy” through giving your product or cash, then you have to give them a reason to. Create a list of the top 3-5 reasons why they would benefit from giving you what you’re asking for. Are you providing a good return on investment for them?

Don’t Expect Free Stuff: Most endorsed artists through Fender, Gibson, Pearl, etc. don’t get free stuff (unless you’re talking world class level audiences), they get discounted stuff. Even at that, it isn’t about just getting product. It’s about creating a lasting relationship where you can build an audience together with that company.

If you want some more tips or you have some to offer yourself, feel free to comment below or hit me up at simon@laststopbooking.com

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Simon Tam is owner of Last Stop Booking, a full service agency that offers tour booking and music consulting services. Simon has appeared on stage at over 1,200 live events and has traveled North America presenting ideas about the music industry. For more information and to see Simon’s blog on music industry advice, please visit http://www.laststopbooking.com

Did you know you only have to sell about 450 albums in one week to make the Billboard HeatSeeker Chart? Believe it or not, there have been many unsigned artists hitting the Billboard Charts in the last year. There are many ways for unsigned artists to sell their music online and even in retail stores. But is that all it takes to get you on the charts? No.

Here are the 5 Secrets To Hit The Billboard Charts:

1. Get a UPC code – Most CD duplication companies offer to put UPC codes on your CDs (some for free but most for a fee). It is worth the $30. You should not pay more than $30 for a UPC code. If a company charges you more than that, go to UPCexpress.com and get one for $29. You can give the CD duplication company your UPC code to print on your CDs.

2. Register for SoundScan – How does Billboard create the top album charts? Because of Nielson SoundScan. Every time you buy a CD at a store (most stores) or online, a computer system counts that CD purchase. At the end of every week, the top album sellers are released on Billboard. And if your CD does not have a UPC code, you don’t qualify for Nielson SoundScan. But even having a UPC code doesn’t automatically qualify you. You must register your CD and UPC code on the SoundScan site. Once you register, your online and retail CD sales will count towards the weekly charts. However, not all online or brick-and-mortar retailers report to SoundScan. Call or email the retailer to find out.

3. Set Up A Pre-order – What is a pre-order? It’s a period of time (up to 8 weeks) where fans can buy your CD before it comes out. They receive the CD the week of your CD release. But all the sales up to the release of your CD counts towards your 1st week sales. For example, if you sell 300 CDs in a 6-week pre-order period and sell 200 the week the CD comes out, your first week sales will be 500 which would be good enough to hit the Billboard HeatSeeker Chart (usually 450 albums will qualify for the Top 150 on this chart).

When you register your music for digital downloads through Tunecore or another site, set the release date for a minimum of 6-weeks in advance to ensure your EP/album will be out in time to correspond with your pre-order. Otherwise, your first week numbers will not include both your physical pre-orders and first week sales numbers.

***Again, make sure you set your pre-order up with a company who reports their CD sales to SoundScan. This is crucial. Simply email/call the company and ask.***

4. Bundles – Because of the downloading trend, a lot of people get their music for free online or only buy singles. Labels and bands are starting to “bundle” up their CDs with merchandise. Bundle up your pre-order CD with a Tshirt (CD/Tshirt for $15 etc.) and offer the CD seperately. Give your fans choices. But don’t only keep the bundle up during the pre-order. Keep the bundles up permanently! You can bundle up your CD with posters, autograph booklets, stickers, Tshirts and hundreds of other items. This will definitely increase your sales.

Websites that are good about helping unsigned bands set up pre-order bundles are SmartPunk.com andDistrictLines.com. And both companies report to SoundScan.

Give your fans a reason to buy your whole CD instead of just the singles.

5. Promote – I can’t say this enough. You have to promote your music and don’t stop. Reach out to as many webzines as you can to review your CD or just post about your pre-order. Post it all over your MySpace. Send out an email blast from your mailing list. Make banners and post it on all the websites that have your band profile.

Also, try to get front page coverage on sites like Purevolume during the week of your release. This extra exposure will definitely increase your sales. Offer these sites exclusive rights to stream a new song for a week in exchange for front-page coverage.

Other ways to help your 1st week numbers is to get your CD in your local Hot Topic stores during the week of the release. But you must coordinate this weeks in advance.

Use these tips and I’ll see your band on the Billboard charts!

Via Bandology