Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A 100 Question Test For You: Do You Know How To Get A Record Deal?

What Do You Know About Getting A Record Deal Today? A Test
(all questions based on material found in the book ‘Music Is Your Business’) copyright 2010 by Christopher Knab and Bartley F. Day

If you want the answers to these questions...Email:

1. If you INSIST on sending demo packages to A&R Reps, then those packages should contain exactly the same information that you would send to a club owner.
2. Many musicians and bands STILL try to shop their music to record labels in an era when that is no longer the best way to go. But, if you still believe that is the best way to establish your career, then know that A&R Reps will listen to a demo only as long as it keeps their attention.
3. Record Label A&R Reps participate in developing the marketing plans for their acts.
4. Good A&R Reps must study the current marketplace for musical trends on a regular basis.
5. Cover letters that you include in any kind of demo package are generic letters. So, you should send the same exact letter with the same content in it to all recipients.
6. The first paragraph of a Bio (whether it is part of an electronic press kit or a traditional press kit) should contain background information on the artist.
7. At most record labels A&R Rep help arrange the recording for an act they have signed to their label.
8. A&R Reps get paid by the artist from a percentage of their royalty rate.
9. An A&R Rep can assist in finding the right songs for an act to record.
10. When you register your copyrighted songs you are giving any potential licensees the rights to use your material for free.
11. The 4 key areas or ‘Fronts’ used to develop an artist’s career are: Product Development, Promotion, Publicity, and Performance.
12. When designing packaging materials for demo recordings, CD releases, or online website downloads it is important to remember that your cover art can help emphasize the music style you have.
13. The best way to establish a lasting career in the music industry is to send unsolicited email music attachments to everybody you can think of in the music business
14. According to Soundscan sales data, most new releases by aspiring artists fail to sell even 100 copies of those releases.
15. If an artist/band insists on recording and shopping for a record deal they should include at least 7 or 8 songs on the demo recording.
16. The best way to get a contract with a major label is to party with the stars of the music scene.
17. Designing stationary and/or any graphics with an act’s name and Logo design on it is an effective tool for presenting a professional impression to any gatekeeper in the music industry.
18. It is always a positive thing for an act to be involved in a "bidding war".
19. Because more and more artists and bands are building their own careers by running their music careers as a business, more acts are getting better deals whenever they occur.
20. ‘8x10 Black and White glossies’ are standard practice for traditional press kit photographs.
21. When a photograph is sent with a traditional Demo package, it is important to include contact information either on the front or back of the photo.
22. and other social networking sites are a waste of time for bands/artists these days.
23. It doesn’t matter who takes the photographs for your demo kits. Any person with a digital camera can do the job professionally these days.
24. The first sentence of a cover letter should introduce yourself, and the reason for the cover letter.
25. “Just because you CAN record, doesn’t mean you should”.
26. A controlled composition clause is a clause in a recording contract that deals with the fact that only 75% of mechanical royalties due to a songwriter and publisher of the songs contained on a recording will be paid by a record label.
27. A bio differs from a fact sheet in that the bio can elaborate on a certain fact or anecdotes about the artist, but a fact sheet must simply list those facts or anecdotes.
28. In writing a fact sheet, all the key information from the Bio should be in it.
29. EPKs are Electronic Photograph Kilobytes used by photographers.
30. Creating your own music business company or record label is now the most efficient and realistic way to get attention for your music.
31. These days it doesn't matter if a person can spell or write a coherent sentence, because in the music business all that matters is the music.
32. In a bidding war, it often happens that the labels bidding for the services of a certain act want the act solely because other labels are interested in them.
33. Sending unsolicited demos to the major labels is an effective method of shopping for a record deal.
34. Using quotes from music industry professionals in a bio can be less powerful than describing the music on your own.
35. A good Bio, like a good song, should always have a hook, or a specific angle to it.
36. The best way to get attention to your music in the beginning of your career is to give-a-way a few songs on your website so that people can hear your music as mp3 files.
37. Today there are fewer new releases coming out each week than anytime in history.
38. ‘Deal Memos’ from record labels are not legally binding as a recording contract.
39. The advances given to an artist in a recording contract are exactly like the loans given by a bank, and must be paid back, with interest, by the artist.
40. Getting your music on TV shows, into video games, and arranging other licensing deals can be much more effective these days than shopping around for a traditional record contract.
41. The subject matter of each paragraph in a bio is written in the following order:
1. History and band formation info
2. Comments from fans
3. Current summary of activity-what you are doing now
4. Additional Data and Elaboration, and
5. Summary/Closing.
42. It is easier today than any time in music history to get a distributor for your music.
43. An A&R rep’s responsibilities at an indie label are exactly the same as an A&R job at a major label.
44. For new and/or aspiring acts, getting airplay on commercial radio is the better way to go, compared to getting airplay on Internet stations, or non-commercial college and public radio stations.
45. If an artist has not filed for registration of their copyrighted songs, it is the job of the A&R Rep to take care of that job.
46. Most Major Labels know what they are looking for when they audition new talent.
47. Leaving out contact information on demo recordings and CD labels is a leading reason why many demos get thrown away in the trash.
48. When a recording contract is being negotiated, the only people directly involved with the legal negotiations are the label’s attorney and the act’s attorney.
49. Putting a short video of one of your songs on is a waste of times these days.
50. Which of the following is not the duty of an A&R Rep at a major label?
a. discover talent
b. book tours for the act
c. participate in marketing
d. be a liaison at the label for the act
51. Which of the following is not a reason why demos get rejected?
a. the music sucks
b. lack of musicianship
c. poorly recorded songs
d. lack of originality
e. none of the above
52. 54. Which of the following are not ‘gatekeepers’ in the music business?
a. fans
b. PDs and MDs at radio stations
c. Buyers at Distributors
d. Writers for blogs, magazines and newspapers
53. In a bio, concentrating on how good the music is, is the most effective thing to say.
54. When designing a fact sheet, one of the most important sections to include is ‘Musical Genre or Style’.

55. What type of information should not be included in a bio?
a. too much hype
b. marketing plan info
c. background info
d. music description
e. city/area if original
56. The 3rd and 4th paragraph of a bio should concentrate on the current activities of the artist.
57. The ‘purpose’ of a cover letter is most effectively stated in the first sentence.
58. Which of the following is not a good tip for writing a cover letter?
a. Tell the reader what you want
b. addressing an unknown contact by first name
c. keep the writing style natural, positive, and personal
d. reminding person of previous contact or reference
59. In a quote sheet, either in a traditional paper form, or as part of an electronic press kit…which of the following sources for quotes should be kept to a minimum?
a. music writers
b. radio station contacts
c. producers
d. fans
e. none of the above
60. Small press or internet Blog reviews should never be included in press clippings.
61. It is more effective to select ________ of the best press clippings:
a. 2 or 3
b. 4 or 5
c. 6 or 7
d. it doesn’t matter how many
62. The best way to assemble a traditional demo kit materials is:
a. in a 3 ring binder
b. stapled together
c. loose in a folder that has ‘pockets’ inside
d. bound
63. When in doubt what to send in a demo kit:
a. put everything in
b. presume what their profession needs
c. ask the intended recipient what they want
d. none of the above

64. When trying to phone an industry professional always check what time-zone they live in before calling them.
65. Today, when giving contact info, providing the media with email info is essential.
66. A quote sheet is the same thing as a press clipping.
67. A song is considered published when copies of the song have been distributed to the public by sale or by other transfer of ownership, and/or by rental, lease, or lending.
68. Legal proof of copyright ownership is accomplished by registering songs with the copyright office in Washington DC.
69. Mechanical rights and Performance rights are different names for the same source of income for songwriters and publishers.
70. A song that is used on a soundtrack for a film or TV show is called synchronization.
71. Artist and bands who establish their own careers, and demonstrate a strong fan following are more likely to be attractive to record labels in this day and age.
72. You ‘trademark’ songs and you file for copyright registration for your performance name.
73. A ‘hook’ is that part of a song that is most memorable.
74. If you have ‘investors’ willing to give you money to record and market your music, you do not need to have a written contract with them.
75. The business department at a record label monitors the funds allocated for the recording budget of an artist or band.
76. A&R departments at major labels do not contact any other departments at the label because doing so could cause a lot of problems for the rep and the artist.
77. One of the main reasons why so many artists/bands fail is they believe their music is so good that someone will come along and discover them and make them a star.
78. Which of the following is not important to remember when taking band photographs?
a. background objects that distract attention from the people in the band
b. clarity and brightness issues
c. using a professional photographer
d. artist or band’s image
e. none of the above is not important
79. Photographers do not have the rights to the photos they take.
80. The best way to find a competent photographer is to look in the yellow pages.

81. Which of the following is not one of the ‘myths’ that new artists believe:
a. people in position of power are never wrong
b. putting out your own record and building your own career is a good idea
c. a record deal means success
d. the best way to make contacts is to party with the stars
e. record labels know what they are looking for
82. The world of the A&R rep is very structured, and every rep is trained and disciplined to evaluate, search, and discover talent in the same exact way.
83. Booking agents and Artist Managers are easy to get for new bands or artists.
84. It costs more money to promote and market a recording than it does to record it.
85. Most attorneys charge their fees on an hourly basis.
86. As an artist career develops, a business manager is brought on board to handle the money.
87. For new acts, which of the following are rarely negotiated when a recording contract is offered:
a. ownership of the masters
b. recoupment issues
c. term of contract
d. exclusivity issues
e. recording budgets
88. Traditional record stores are doing better than ever in this era of downloadable music.
89. There are no governmental regulations or statutes that affect music industry contracts.
90. ‘Band Agreements’ of ‘Partnership Agreements’ are essential for any band to have if they are serious about making it in the music industry.
91. Barcodes are not necessary when releasing your own CD.
92. A music publishing company is another name for a record company.
93. ASCAP and BMI are known as Performance Rights Organizations.
94. If you have a Facebook or Twitter page, you don’t need to bother having your own website.
95. “Artist Development” is a term that means the same as ‘Product Development’.
96. Independent Labels are more likely to offer some kind of “profit split” deals these days.
97. SoundExchange is the first organization to represent labels and artists in negotiating fair licensing deals in the new digital age.
98. Program Directors at radio stations do the same job as a Music Director at a station might do.
99. Today, music oriented radio stations receive between 700-800 new recordings a week that they have to listen to and decide whether to play any of them or not
Last Question:
100. Today, most artists believe that that the art of recording music can be separated from the business of doing music.

The book ‘Music Is Your Business’ is available as a printed book or a PDF book at
the website of Christopher Knab and FourFront Media and Music’s bookstore:
or if you prefer at.

If you didn’t get at least 90% of these questions need this book!


Monday, July 19, 2010

5 Tips on Writing a '4 Front' Promotion (Radio Airplay) Plan

(copyright 2010 Christopher Knab: all rights reserved)

1. Remember that your focus is on ALL types of broadcast AIRPLAY, not just commercial and non-commercial public radio, but Internet broadcasters and XM/Sirius satellite radio too. Remember that the details you must include are: selecting, convincing, and working with your selected stations with the goal being to secure as much airplay for your artist as possible. That IS the reason for funding and implementing a realistic Promotion Plan.

2. State clearly what your GOAL is for the Promotion Plan; write a clear and concise summary paragraph that describes the music format/genre of your artist, and gives a brief biographical statement on who they are, and what they have achieved, and what they hope to achieve with Radio’s help.

3. Remember the “Four Fronts” and focus on how RADIO AIRPLAY, with the assistance of ‘Product Development’, ‘Publicity’, and ‘Performance’ methods should all be SUMMARIZED to show support in each of the 4 Front areas, because the “Four Fronts” are interrelated and inter-dependent on each other.

4. Create an Airplay ‘TIMELINE’ carefully, considering any and all promotional activities that must be planned for, and give enough time for each activity to be prepared in time for the Release date of your recording being given to traditional radio and all other broadcasters.

5. Remember that if you do a thorough and complete job on this ‘Promotion Plan’, that you will be in good shape for creating your Distribution and Sales Plan (Product Development), as well as your separate ‘Publicity Plan’, and your plans for performing live and touring, (the Performance Plan).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Would You Ask Your Dentist To Fix Your Teeth For Free?

Why do I ask? Well, I can't even count the number of phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages I get asking me to help a new artist or band "be a star".

I have complained about this time and time again. Since my first website went up in '95 that type of question keeps coming up. I never have been able to understand the mindset behind that question.

Why should I, or ANY music business professional work for you for free just because you think you are so special, but have no track record of success.

So, would you really ask your dentist to work on your teeth for free?
Would you ask your lawyer to work for free?
Would you ask any physician to work with you for free?
Would you ask a publicist to do your media work for free?

My point is this: What makes me or ANY OTHER music business professional different from any other professionals?

I think part of the reason I get this question is because newer acts are so caught up in their own 'self', that when they write a song, or perform in front of a small crowd and get a polite that exact moment they give birth to a premature EGO! They fantasize that "if this small group of people like me then all I need is some connection to the music business who will recognize my unrealized dream", and will be willing to stop whatever they're doing to make them a star.

Well...NO THEY WON'T!!

Why? Because we are actually busy trying to make a living ourselves. We,like you, actually have bills to pay, like a mortgage or rent, utilities, car payments and car upkeep costs, doctor and dentist bills, credit card debt (maybe) and probably have kids in school and tuition to add to all our other commitments.

so, in that way...we are really not unlike yourself!

Please think about this. Never ask ANY music business professional to help you with your career for free. It is an insult and down-right RUDE to do so.

Pass this tip around!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Music Today-It Is What It Isn't

I was watching Austin City Limits last night on PBS. They had M.Ward and Okkervil River performing....god it was awful!! but, I stayed with it! It didn't get any better.

Both these acts wouldn't have gotten on the show without a strong following, and music industry connections to help them get to this level. M. Ward has been around 10 years, and I can't understand why or how he is such a popular attraction.

His interaction with the audience was non-existent. In a short interview he is so introverted that he couldn't even keep up eye contact with the interviewer!
As for his music, apparently it grows on you. It won't grow on me that's for sure. I know introverts are 'in' right now, but will people put up with that immature attitude for 10 or more year to come? I hope not. I wanted to slap the guy around and tell him to get a grip on himself. When it came for him to talk for a few moments about his music and how he perceives it...he stumbled around like a lost baby duck trying to find his mommy. BORING guy, BORING music.

What do his fans see in him?

I have heard many people say that we are living in "the most creative musical time ever". Well if we are the tastes of the public are in dire straits.

No way are we living in such an era. The mid 60's- yes. Most of the 70's-yes. The 80's-had its moments. The 90's- only the early years. This last decade-give me a break!

Yes, my age has a lot to do with my better! We are supposed to have the ability to distinguish between good and bad better as we age. Anyone who is a teenager today, or in their 20's and 30's...I feel sorry for them when it comes to music.


Well for one thing the media has de-evolved over the last 3 decades and it's harder and harder to find great new talent out there to play on TV, commercial radio, and now on the more popular music sites...Accessible music, music that is 'safe' has been the name of the game for a long time now.

so, I don't get it...the fact is that there is today more music than ever to choose from....tons of it. But most of it really is crap. So what do the bookers of Austin City Limits, or the late night TV shows book...artists and bands that are on the so-called 'cutting edge'... NOT!

I haven't even reviewed Okkervil River. I was looking forward to them because of the work they have done recently with Texas legend Roky Erickson. But their own music?
Yikes, a horrible lead singer who thinks he is a rock-god and insists on singing off-key as if that was a real cutting-edge thing to do.

Ohh, and the band itself. Well, a drummer, bass player, guitars, piano and on this show another singer who did not compliment the other off-key lead singer. AND, they had a small string section, a guy on horn, and a woman guitarist who had to get on her knees to create the unoriginal feedback sounds she used to 'compliment' the previously mentioned off-key lead singer.

Music is in good shape as we end this first decade of the new millennium?

If that's true, no wonder there are so many movies and novels about the end of the world, zombies, and vampires...with what I viewed last night on Austin City Limits is any indication about the state of music today, I wonder if those creatures of the night that are coming out to eat and kill us all, might just land up getting an upset stomach and spitting out what they had hoped would nourish their brain-dead appetites.

Enough already!