Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chris Knab's 16 Timeless Music Business Self Promotion Tips

The following tips are essential, life-long suggestions, for any and all musicians to remember as they establish and/or maintain their music careers.

1. Stop sending unsolicited demo recordings to any record labels, and instead concentrate on building your own music name and reputation by creating long-term relationships with your growing fanbase. They are your ticket to success.

2. Take the time to learn what the professionals in the music business do for a living. What are their job titles, who do they report to, and what do they do when they go to work? The contacts you make in the music industry can make or break your career because your potential success is directly linked to any possible growing success of the industry people who are climbing their own ladders to success. The music business is built on the 'buddy system'. Everyone is attached to everyone else in this industry. As you go, so go your business contacts.

3.Before contacting any music business professional have 1(one) prepared question for them that will not make you look or sound like an ignorant person. i.e. Do not ask them how to become a atar, or how to get a recording contract. No one has the time to answer such sweeping and naive questions.

4. Create two contact lists: One for professional people you actually have as a business contact. Another contact list made up of all your fans. Keep both lists updated and using common sense, reach out to both contract groups only when you have something very important to ask of them and/or to share with them.

5. Prepare a short 30 second description of your music. Memorize it and use it every time you are asked "what kind of music do you make?". Don't go on and on describing your music...your statement should clearly describe your genre or style of music quickly and in compelling language that will perk up the person's ears and find yourself with an interested and potentially valuable new contact ready to support you.

6. If you have trouble defining your music style, try this exercise...define the word 'originality' and note that within that word is another word...'origin'. Perhaps this will help you focus on what makes your music unique. Never say your music is "unique" explain HOW it is unique. This exercise will help you write your 30 second statement.

7. Remember this always: People in the music industry who's job it is to find and support new acts don't know what they are looking for...BUT...they will recognize it when they hear it.

8. Find a concise 'Image' and follow it everywhere. This is important because the first impression to someone unfamiliar with your sound is a VISUAL experience most of the time. i.e. Your Logo design used to spell your name, the title of your CD, or the design of your website, merchandise etc. is crucial to attracting industry and music fans. Image IS everything in show business, and in case you didn't realize it, music is part of good 'ol show business. Research your favorite acts and study their image.

9. People only respond to music they can personally relate to. What is it in your songs and compositions that has inspired your current fanbase and will grow to attract more fans and industry support? Think hard on this point. It is a true key to any possible success. Music contains emotions, so what emotions do your songs deliver to a listener?

10. Does your music sound too much like another artist or band's music? This is the biggest complaint from music business professionals...too much music today sounds like retreads of already successful artists. And, your fans are sensitive to this issue too. There is way too mucn 'redundant-sounding' music out there today.

11. When you perform live does your stage presence reflect the image conveyed in your songs? Are you well prepared, well rehearsed, and do the songs in your live set flow into each other in an exciting and well balanced way?

12. It can never be said enough. Great songs, Great compositions are the basis of all potential success, but 'grunt work', everyday down-in-the-trenches boring work, like updating your blog and website, keeping your website and social networking pages updated and staying in touch with your fans regularly are tough jobs. Only you can tackle these jobs and other jobs like putting up flyers for shows (on and offline), updating your press materials, looking for gigs, rehearsing...all these tasks require your commitment to carry them out without complaining. Remember, only YOU can care the's YOUR music, YOUR career that we are dealing with here.

13. There is no such thing as an 'overnight sensation'. Behind every act referred to in this way are countless hours of hard work and dedication that got that person or act to be able to take advantage of the breaks they got, and remember too that the breaks you are looking for should be more than 'a record deal' or a 'production deal'. Look out for the ever increasing demand for uses of your songs online, in films, TV shows and ads...the list goes on. But you have to work consistently for these breaks to happen.

14. Home recording is as common today as home cooking use to be, but don't get trapped in the rut of staying at home and working on your computer or home recording setup. GET OUT regularly and show up at clubs and other concert venues on a regular basis. There is that old saying " They only come out at night"...well that's very true when it comes to music business personnel as well as music fans. So, get out there and socialize IN -PERSON wherever you might live.

15. As your fanbase grows create more and more merchandise to sell online and at your live shows. Be sure your LOGO is on every piece of merchandise you sell. (back to that statement-"Image is everything".)

16. This last tip may be the most important of all. Conduct your business from your heart. Yes, the music industry rarely operates from that place, but don't worry about the industry, concern yourself with your righteous. Be upstanding. Be a professional in everything you do. If you do that, believe me you will stand out from the crowd.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Recording Studio From A Business Standpoint

A brief look at a Recording Studio's Priorities:

Minimum session bookings are usually 2 hours in length.

A professional recording studio is considered successful by the industry if it is billing about 2000 hours a year. (Roughly 40 hours a week BUT that was before this recession and the onslought of do-it-your selfers)

A fee charged by a studio for session time that was scheduled but not cancelled within 24-48 hours by the client is called a “kill fee”.

If a client consistently goes over their booked time slots, it is appropriate to talk with the client and charge a negotiated fee for the excess time.

Studio owners have three ways to pay their employees: Hourly wages, salaries, or project fees.

The term “beta testing” is used to describe a situation when a equipment company rep offers a studio a piece of equipment for a trial period.

When shopping for any new gear seek the help and advice of people who are experienced and knowledgeable in the field, and also ask clients, associates, and peers what kind of experience they may have had with the equipment you are interested in purchasing.

Recordings left over 30 days on the premises of a studio, and that represent unpaid bills, are done so at the risk of the client. Your business policy must clearly state your own time limit. After the stated time the recordings can become the property of the studio.

In standard policies, clients should pay for services rendered at the conclusion of the project.

An engineer who works occasionally for a studio is referred to as an “on-call” or “freelancer.”

At professional recording facilities the job that centers around invoicing clients, check or bill writing, form generation, and disc labeling belongs to the office of the Controller. In smaller studios these tasks will be done by a studio manager, or the owner.

The studio manager usually concentrates on scheduling sessions, as well as studio personnel schedules, creates the work orders, and makes sure the studio is prepared for each session. In many cases the receptionist may take on the job of being the studio manager in addition to their other duties dealing with appointments, etc.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Problem With Constant Content Updates

I have been on my back, more or less, for the last week after taking a nasty spill in the shower while staying at a hotel in Portland, Oregon. I injured my right ribcage and all the muscles and soft tissue surrounding them, so this is my first new blog posting since that fall.

And I have had a lot of time to think...lots of time!

At first I went through feeling guilty about not being able to write my Blog of the Day, not to mention no Twittering, or posting on Facebook. I started to think that with all I have been told, not constantly being present on all of the above sites was going to rapidly make what I have to say about music marketing irrelevant solely because "I was not contributing".

Well, that thought thankfully lasted only a few minutes. Then other thoughts came to mind:

"SO WHAT!" was the next thought, and I began to relax a bit.

"So what" indeed.

I read in the paper today (by coincidence) an article about the importance of constant communication if you are a business person, an artist, or anyone who wants to capture the internet browser's eye with your message of what you are up to. The article went on to say that if you want to compete your MUST communicate via a blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc on a regular-actually-daily basis.

Well, this ticked me off.

I was injured for god's sake. I was down for the count for 6 days...ooohh, I have been forgotten by my so-called fans and/or followers. I have committed the ultimate sin..."Bless me father for I have sinned. I have not posted today."

Well, if constant communication is the name of the game, and if we are now all going to be judged by what we haven't done, making all that we have done in the past irrelevant, then so be it.

Perhaps my slip in the shower was a gift of sorts.

I had to stop for a short while. I had to let my body heal up a bit, and damn if that didn't turn out to be just what I needed to do.

But the bigger question for the day is this:

"Are we beginning to judge the information we come across on the web, in blogs and Twitters et al as being valid information only because its here NOW?"

What of a person's whole body of work? If it isn't updated almost daily is that work old and in the way? Outdated? Irrelevant?

I for one certainly hope not. That would indeed be a new kind of sin...the sin of non-communication with thy brethren.

Well, consider me a digital-non-communicating sinner for my 6 day absence from the 'scene'.

So, as I continue to recover I will test any of you who may come across this posting, and ask you if my 6 day 'sick-leave' has made me irrelevant by absence, I encourage you to visit my website
and take a look around. Go visit the many links I have to dozens of articles in my library of music business information.

Do that, and maybe you will see that just because a person doesn't regularly contribute constantly via the internet, that their information can actually be quite relevant.

I have to rest again now...I will see you when I feel up to it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Musician's Favorite Topic: Banking and Loans

Banking and Loan Issues for Musicians

1. Choose a reputable bank. Check out their background and reputation in your area.

2. Types of banks and their customer base:
a. The large national bank (B of A etc)
b. The regional bank (are there any anymore?)
c. The local bank...too small for your needs?

3. Are there advantages/disadvantages of dealing with each of the above?
Think it out.

4. Do any of these banks give loans to musicians and/or bands?

5. Entities that loan money and their pros and cons:
a. Loan Companies: No pros-stay away from them!
b. Investors-out of reach for most new artists and music is high risk business
c. Rich uncles or ‘sugar-daddies’-don’t take their money…they don’t know the biz.

6. Interest. How it is calculated. What to watch out for. Hidden or Late charges?

7. Types of credit:
a. Consumer credit (cards)
b. Secured long term (secured loans vs. unsecured and also guarantors)
c. Secured short term loans( might work-what can you put up?)
d. Un-secured loans (forget about it)
e. Secured lines of credit: (good way to go)
f. Unsecured lines of credit: (not unless you have had success galore)

8. How do you get money to "start" your music business if you can’t do any of the above?
a. Sell personal items of value
b. Do benefit concerts
c. Save money from live show revenues and/or merchandise sales

9. Still want a Loan? Learn your way around loan application procedures:
create a balance sheet and Profit and Loss Statement

10. What happens when you can't pay? You better look into this!

11. Establish good credit. Pay bills on time-over time-be professional in all
your money dealings.

12. How do you "fix" bad credit: Don’t get into that position to begin with-
work with creditors.

13. Maintain a good banking/investor relationship. Keep them posted on how you are

14. Don't be afraid of dealing with bankers or any financial institutions.
They can be a musicians best friend.

15. There are no shortcuts to running your business, and your music IS your
business, so approach your business and run it with heart and a good cash flow.

Monday, June 7, 2010

An Inside Look at a Live Venue Merchandise Deal

My blog today isn't by me. It is taken from the newsletter.

Everybody should subscribe to Bob Lefsetz's free newsletter. He has been doing it since analog days and is regarded as one of the most upstanding industry analysts around.

So, today there was a posting about a complaint from Jeff Beck's Manager about the merchandise deal at a certain venue, and the following is the response from the person in charge of the venue and who initiated the contract signed by Mr. Beck's manager.

It gives you an inside look on how live performance venues deal with selling merchandise. READ IT!!

"We were having a beautiful day at Wolf Trap today, June 7. The weather was mid-70s with little to no humidity, a rarity for the Washington, DC area. We had pre-sold over 5,500 tickets to our Jeff Beck performance with our fingers still crossed for a sellout. The road crew was charming. It was a beautiful day.

And then Harvey Goldsmith walked off the bus.

The back-story: Our offer for the Jeff Beck performance was accepted on December 18, 2009. The first deal point was our merch rate. It's 35% and we sell. We received the contract on February 25; the fully executed arrived on May 14. Clearly outlined was our merch rate.

It's mentioned as a deal point in every offer sheet, on every contract, and in every advance. It is not a surprise. It is also a favored nations, non-negotiable rate. If you don't like it, you may choose not to sell. I've been here 13 years and this was the merch rate long before I started in 1998. Wolf Trap has been operating for 40 years and hosted thousands of concerts and productions. As a non-profit, any penny we make on a rock show, or on merchandise, is turned into education programs for all ages.

In those 13 years, I have never encountered a bigger ass than Harvey Goldsmith.

As a promoter, Harvey of all people should know that when the deal is done, its done. He doesn't get to walk into the venue and start renegotiating the contract. He certainly shouldn't do it at the top of his lungs as he chose to do. He shouldn't scream for 20 minutes and then come back for another 10 minute round later.

I'm the promoter rep. I'm here to make sure your Artist and my patrons are taken care of. I didn't make your deal- the deal that YOU accepted 6 months ago- I'm here to fulfill our contractual end of the deal. I do a hell of a job of it, too.

Screaming at me? What's the point?

Harvey isn't likely to have this problem ever again. And it's not that our merch rate is going to change, it's that he will not be welcome in our building again due to his extraordinarily unprofessional conduct and communication.

There are major issues ailing the music industry. Attacking one another and whining and complaining- not going to solve these issues. Bitching about it via blog- not going to fix the problem.

Communicating with professionalism and common courtesy is a good start.

Attached please find his own Artist's CD cover that he ripped up and threw at me during our "discussion."

I've got close to 6,000 patrons outside. I'm going to go enjoy the show."

Barbara Parker
Director, Operations & Artistic Initiatives
Program and Production
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
1645 Trap Road
Vienna, VA 22182

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Songwriting and the Music Marketplace: A Study Guide

If you write your own songs or compositions and want more from them because you think they have value, then you need to approach the business of songs as if you were researching how to build your house. You need to take it THAT seriously. So, below is a list of topics you should know about, and after you have studied what the music marketplace is like, then you should be able to DO some things with the information you are armed with. So, here is a challenge: read through the two sections below and take up the challenge I am giving you to learn all you can about songwriting and the music marketplace.

Topics To Be Studied On Your Own

1. The components of a song: Verse, chorus, bridges.+ elements of melody and
2. What makes one song commercial, and another not?
3. Copyright registration basics: The ‘rights’ inherent in a song, and how to
protect your songs
4. Types of income available from songs: Performance, Sales of Product,
Sheet Music, Synchronization, Downloading, Streaming, and Song Licensing
5. Study the 2 most common sources of income from songs
a. Performance Royalties: The function of ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC
b. Mechanical Royalties: The Harry Fox Agency
6. Music Publishers: Definition of their job, and how to setup your own
Publishing company
7. Shopping for deals: The right and wrong way to find uses for songs
8. Songwriting partnerships: How to find the perfect songwriting partner
9. Lawyers and songwriting contracts: Learning how to read a publishing and
record label contract
10. Putting it all together: Writing a plan of action to sell your songs

When you have studied the above issues, you should then be able to do the following:

You should be able to:
• define the parts of a song
• describe what makes a song commercial
• register your songs for copyright protection, and describe the ‘rights’
inherent in a song
• Describe the many potential sources of income from a song
• Define what a performance right is, and what a mechanical right is, as well
as know who pays them to whom
• Describe what a music publisher does, an/or how to start your own music
publishing company