How one DIY musician found her audience through music streaming.

While there are industry participants kicking goals within a specific sector of the industry (say scoring for film or writing for others etc etc) or happy in their own little niche – – – A number of industry thinkers, advisers, mentors and participants, including me – think the business model for most people in the industry has moved from 1-2 major sources of revenue to multiple smaller streams of income.
It is the cumulative effect of those smaller streams that have the possibility of providing a sustainable (and maybe more consistent) revenue flow.

Does it take more work,? Personally I don’t think so.
To do what you have had to do to maintain sustainable success in the industry has always required a lot of background effort  with marketing, admin, networking etc etc (see my previous articles on this specific area).
What I think it has done is require that effort to be focused across the multiple avenues (whether at one time if can multi-task  – or timetabling so regular attention as needed is paid to each area).

One of those areas for those who produce and market/sell their music is the area of streaming (gosh I can actually see the hackles rising and the negative comments forming on the fingers LOL).

So PLEASE NOTE – please read this in the context provided— Sure we would all want for more money paid out on streaming etc etc etc – – but …. on the basis that ,while people are working hard on that side of things, that won’t change by your comment at the moment (and most of the negative comments we have already heard).- how about we leave the critical attack of ‘streaming’ aside for now (please).
To be sustainable in his industry it is important for people to work within/adapt to what can’t be changed  (or not, your choice) and look at how to maximise any opportunity that exists for sustainable increased income within the industry as it stands/is going at the moment and assess if appropriate for them or not – – is that fair?

So …when I saw this article by Chris Robley through an online blog about solo pianist songwriter Michele McLaughlin on her business model– –  I felt it was worth sharing to give a really different perspective to the whole streaming debate ….
It may not be for everyone  — — and for most it won’t be ‘the only way’ but it does give a different perspective and maybe for someone, a positive spin/thought process on it they hadn’t seen before.

NOTE – this is a US based article so I know Pandora isn’t available anymore in Australia IF you are approaching it from here and not as a listener (however it is possible still for the creator of music/exposure  if you are using a US based aggregator/approach, those choices are a whole other discussion).

Hope you find it of interest.

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(Chris Robley)   I remember as a kid, my mom had a bunch of records by legendary pianist George Winston in our family room’s vinyl bin. For some reason, we also owned those exact same albums on CD. Oh the 80’s and 90’s — what a heyday for physical media.

Michele McLaughlin saw George Winston perform in concert during that same era, when she was eight years old. She was inspired to say the least, and got to work learning how to play and compose on the piano. By the time she was old enough to start “building her career,” the music industry was completely shifting. Physical gave way to downloads, and downloads gave way to streaming.

Today, as a full-time solo pianist, Michele is making a living from her streaming royalties. With all the changes in music technology and consumption habits, it might seem like a whole new world, but we’re still listening to music in the same way we always have: with our ears. Michele has used streaming, particularly Pandora and Spotify, to find those ears, turn casual listeners into fans, and drive repeated engagement with her songs on digital platforms.

I talked with Michele about the opportunities her music has found on streaming platforms.

CR: First, would you say a little bit about the music you create? I’m particularly interested in how you view storytelling within instrumental music? How does a solo piano piece with no lyrics convey something that can, at times, feel almost confessional?

MM: I like to refer to my music as “musical storytelling” because I’m telling a story with each piece that I create. It might be a story about flying in a seaplane over the Alaska mountains, or a story about losing my boyfriend and the heartache I felt from that, or a story about finding myself and learning who I am in a series of yoga sessions, or a story about losing my creative muse and the struggle I went through to get it back.

My music is truly a musical diary of my life, my experiences, my emotions, my struggles. For me, it is exposing myself in my rawest form, my heart on my sleeve so to speak, so when you listen to my music, you’re getting a very intimate glimpse into my soul.

Who is your audience, and what do you think they’ve connected with in and come to expect from your music?

I have listeners on the spectrum from very young, to very old and everything in-between. I have a lot of young piano players just learning to play, a lot of returning piano players who have come back to playing after many years, a lot of people who like to listen to instrumental music while they work, study, eat, etc. My music is very accessible in that sense.

Did you always have a clear sense of your audience? And what do you do to better understand your listeners?

I don’t think I really had a clear idea of my audience until I started touring and meeting my fans around the country. I like to meet them in person, and through connecting on social media, and then build those relationships.

One of the pivotal moments on your path to becoming a full-time musician was when David Nevue told you he couldn’t play your album on his show because it wasn’t recorded on a real piano. I’ll bet most musicians would’ve walked away from that exchange with a sense of rejection or indignation. You took it as a learning opportunity, right?

I appreciated David’s honesty with me and took it as an opportunity to grow. I’ve been a long-time admirer of his from back in the MP3.com days, and had read his book on how to sell and market your music online. So, when he told me he liked my music, but couldn’t add it to the Whisperings station because of the digital quality of my recordings, my only thought was to step it up a notch and find a studio I could record with. I am so grateful I did, because being with Whisperings and becoming a part of the solo piano community has improved my life in ways I couldn’t even imagine at that time.

To me, from a business perspective, there’s something very appealing and economical about recording solo piano music in the comforts of your own home studio, especially since the piano can accommodate so many moods, styles, and sounds. But do you ever have to resist the temptation to change your creative process or workflow because it’d mean more overhead?

Not for me, no, because I’m a solo piano composer. I don’t write music that includes orchestration or other instrumentation. The piano is all I need, and recording at home is ideal. It’s less stressful, less pressure, I’m extremely familiar with my instrument and how it responds and plays, and I can take my time and do it right without the financial clock ticking away at my project.

I mean, sure, there are prestigious studios I could record at, with big name producers and engineers I could attach to my album credits, but that’s not my end goal. My end goal is to record a quality solo piano album, on a piano that I love, and have music for my fans to enjoy, and I can do that at home.

Any music production or engineering advice for people who are making their own recordings at home?

Well, while recording at home is definitely my preferred choice, I do it because I have quality gear, equipment, and instruments. Not all pianos record alike. Not all mics, and pre-amps, and audio interfaces are alike either. I’ve spent a lot of time under the mentorship and tutelage of my studio engineer, Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven Studio, learning how to record my specific piano. And, when I record, I fly him out to my house to record with me, so that I can be sure I’m getting the best recording possible for my setup.

I have a Fazioli F212 grand piano, which has a lot of beautiful overtones and harmonics that can record funky if you don’t have it set up properly. Before that, I owned a Yamaha C7 grand piano, which was a completely different sounding piano. The mics I used to record my Yamaha didn’t work well on my Fazioli. We tested many different mics and placements to find the perfect setup for my specific piano. So, if you’re looking to record at home, on your own instrument, make sure you have the right gear to match your instrument, your room, your specific setup, and spend time testing multiple placements to make sure you have the right sound. It’s not as easy as just setting up some mics and hitting record.

Your radio resume is pretty impressive. Can you talk about where your music is played, how you promoted your music to those outlets, and how you built your presence in those places?

I have used a couple of radio promoters over the last decade of album releases. Kevin Wood with New Vision Promotion did the promotion for five of my albums, and Ed Bonk with Lazz Promotions has done the promotion on my latest two albums.

My music is played on New Age and Easy Listening stations all over the world, including Sirius/XM, MusicChoice Soundscapes, Echoes, Phase Radio, etc. Working with a radio promoter has been such a great way to get my music out to stations that play my particular genre, which isn’t considered mainstream and not as easy to just send music to on your own. In addition, I’ve had a strong presence on Pandora Radio for the last decade, and I’m currently working on building my Spotify presence.

There are a lot of music “platforms” competing for our attention and dollars. Do certain platforms work better than others for particular genres?

I think that Pandora and Spotify are the two top dogs in the streaming platforms, and they’re both fantastic. Pandora has been the best in terms of exposure and fan growth, but Spotify is quickly growing. I like Pandora because of its music discovery algorithm. I can choose a station, and discover a bunch of artists with similar song attributes. Spotify is nice if I want to just listen to a specific artist, or collection of songs. And Spotify’s music discovery platform is impressive. I’ve discovered a lot of really great music using their “Discover Weekly” playlists. With streaming becoming more and more prevalent, I welcome people listening to my music on all available streaming platforms. It’s great exposure for me, and I get paid for every listen, unlike a one-time sale from iTunes.

Pretty much ALL of the digital music services have gotten mud slung at them by rights holders, mostly complaining about pay. Is some of that criticism unfounded?

I think it’s important to remember that there are different types of royalty payments for these services.

You have performance royalties   (ASCAP & BMI), digital performance royalties (SoundExchange and CD Baby or whoever your aggregator is), and mechanical royalties  (Harry Fox, CDBaby Pro, etc). Then, within each royalty, there are portions that get paid to different entities. The songwriter or artist gets paid a share, and if you’ve got multiple songwriters, then that share gets split among all contributors. And you have the sound recording rights owner, and that share usually goes to the record label if you’re not independent.

So, when you see artists complaining about their royalties from streaming being small or non-existent, you have to wonder which royalty they’re complaining about, whether they’re with a label, and how many other contributors those payments are getting shared with. I am a solely independent musician, so I receive 100% of my royalty payments for each type of royalty. I don’t have other artists or songwriters to split with, and I don’t have a record label taking my publishing royalties.

I think the unfortunate thing is that the ongoing conversation is leading the discussion in a negative light and making it look like streaming is bad. Could royalty rates be better for streaming services? Sure, and I know there are advocates out there working on the artist’s behalf to make sure we’re paid fairly, which I’m sure we all appreciate very much. But, the current platform, and the current payments, have been good for a lot of artists and I am happy to stand on the supportive side.

What did you do to leverage your Pandora presence?
I  submitted my music to Pandora back in 2008, and they’ve been great for me. They have shared my A Celtic Dream and Out of the Darkness albums, and my Christmas albums as well with a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise listen to solo piano. The exposure has been phenomenal and the spins I get through Pandora have been career altering for me. My fan base has grown, my income has grown, and my exposure on iTunes, YouTube, and social media has grown because of it as well.

Any advice on how to grow a presence on Pandora?
One thing that has worked well for me is the marketing I’ve done to promote my Pandora stations. I actively encourage my fans and listeners through social media, my website, and newsletters to listen and follow my station and albums on Pandora. I drive traffic there through advertising and marketing campaigns, and I work hard to keep people listening. If you ask my fan base where they heard my music for the first time, the majority of them will say “Pandora.”

Have you used their AMP tools?
Yes, the AMP tools have been a fantastic resource for promoting shows, growing exposure for specific songs, and tracking my overall listeners, spins, stations, etc. I use them all the time and I’m a firm believer that an artist needs to actively work to grow their streaming following.

Did you have everything in place from the get-go to collect all your royalties?
I’ve been signed up with ASCAP and SoundExchange from the very beginning, and recently signed up with a publishing rights administrator for my mechanical royalties collection last year when Pandora started their new interactive streaming services. Before that I was with Harry Fox.

What are the important administrative steps that need to be taken care of if you want to make the most money from your music?
It was easy to set up accounts with all of them. I have artists ask me all the time which services they need to be with, and I tell them they need to sign up with all of them. ASCAP or BMI for your performance royalties. SoundExchange for your non-interactive digital performance royalties. CD Baby for your interactive performance royalties. And a publishing rights administrator for your mechanical royalties. Make sure each company has your entire repertoire spreadsheets. And check your accounts to make sure they’ve got your catalogue listed correctly, and paying you correctly for that catalogue. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s actually really easy to stay on top of.

Do you have a “team?”
I’m independent and do most of the work myself. I do have a fantastic marketing and web development team though 12 South Marketing. I’ve been with them for a couple of years and they do so much to help me market and advertise and increase my exposure. They’re an incredible group of people who work hard for artists. I do all of my own tour booking and promotion, all of my own social media, but 12SM does my social media advertising, etc.

I use Ed Bonk for Radio Promotion, and I have a team of people I work with on album releases (Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven Studio for mastering, recording and engineering, Matt Strieby for my design work, Rebecca Oswald for my transcriptions, Kathy Parsons for transcription proofing, Disc Makers for manufacturing, Shelton Turnbull for songbook printing, etc.). You find people you like and work well with and they become your family of sorts.

How would you break up your average day, time-wise?
I love to go straight to my piano when I’m up and ready for the day. It’s my favourite time to play. I’ll play through a concert set list to practice for upcoming concerts, and then work on new music, and spend time improvising.

I typically start the day with 45-60 minutes at the piano before I go to my office. I then work on emails, office projects, bookkeeping, social media, and other things I need to do at my computer for several hours. I will often go back to the piano a couple more times in a day to play and work on new music and practice. I’ve been trying to balance time working with time relaxing lately as well. I’m always working on new projects… new albums, new music, marketing and promotion ideas, videos, things to post on social media to keep the conversation going and stay engaged with my fans and followers. I stay pretty busy all the time.

What do you see happening with your music career in the next five years, and where does streaming fit in that picture?

I think streaming is going to continue to be a driving force in music, for all of us. People want instant gratification and convenience. Streaming is the epitome of instant and convenient. You can go to Pandora or Spotify or Apple Music and listen to whatever you want, when you want. I think we, as artists, need to embrace it and work hard to promote it so that we maximize our exposure and grow our followers there. There will always be new services, and new ways of consuming music, and instead of being afraid of it, we need to welcome it and utilize it. Staying in the forefront is key to being successful with the constantly changing landscape of the music business.

In five years, I’d like to still be making music and sharing it with the world. I’d like to still be doing shows, and releasing videos, and albums, and just enjoying having my dream job. Being a musician and having people who enjoy my music is something wonderful, and I’d like to see that continue to grow.

Michele’s story points to the importance of making your music available everywhere, and being ready to collect royalties as soon as your songs start gaining traction. \

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OK  – what do you think?

Some things of interest? Companies to check out? Maybe consider

Again PLEASE NOTE  – this is US based article – – in each zone collection agencies are different.

In Australia/NZ
– Performing royalties for the writer is APRA
– Performing royalties for the recorded work is PPCA
– Mechanical/monetisation royalties are AMCOS for the songwriter
– Mechanical royalties are ARIA for the recording here or Sound Exchange in the US
– or you may also have collection(or part) of the last couple as well as sales through your aggregator (eg CDBaby or Tunecore etc)

If you want to look at your business model, what options are open to you and develop a plan/path moving forward that is tailored to you – -maybe our Music Industry Advisory and Mentoring services may be of interest.

Till next time

Cheers

Ian

 

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The power of music in business promotion

Hi all,
Hope this finds you well.

As soon as I read it, I wanted to copy this article by Margot in a blog by one of our most prolific voiceover/TV radio audio production companies (Abe is someone we have known for a while and has an amazing business structure with an amazing work ethic, professionals and use of technology for flow and delivery).

Mainly provided as a reference/link for those planning to work with us in the Sync Stable area  – whether songwriters/composers with produced relevant pieces or, clients wanting us to work with them on music  – – — I also thought it would also be of interest for those wanting to promote their music into these areas directly  – or just to be reinforced about the power music has – its worth the read.

I hope you enjoy and do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance for your business or you wish us to consider taking your music into the Sync Stable.
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Music is powerful. We recognise it quickly and make fast associations. Need convincing?  Jaws! Imperial March! James Bond! Bohemian Rhapsody!

Academic researchers have spent decades studying the benefits of music on emotion, memory, and mood. Marketing research in turn has looked at how music can help get the attention of bombarded viewers as well as engage them enough to keep watching and, hopefully, remember the subject and persuade them to buy your squeegee, visit the theme park, pay for the luxury cruise with super.

A 2015 study by Nielsen showed that of the 600 commercials examined, those with music performed better across four metrics—creativity, empathy, emotive power and information power—than those without music.

So here’s a couple of studies that suggest how to better engage through music.

  1. Emotional Engagement

An examination of Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100” song list by the North Carolina State University found that the number 1 hit songs from January 1960 to December 2009 were dominated by 12 key themes:

  • Loss
  • Desire
  • Aspiration
  • Breakup
  • Pain
  • Inspiration
  • Nostalgia
  • Rebellion
  • Jaded
  • Desperation
  • Escapism
  • Confusion

In other words, it was observed that the songs that resonated the most with listeners were those with lyrics centred around emotion.  When using music to increase engagement with a brand, then, think about the impact an emotionally driven song or bed can have versus an informative or rationally driven one.

To experience such an emotional journey watch Nolan’s Seriously Strong cheddar commercial that captures you with music (and a mouse), not dialogue:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiFWZ8MC2cE  (PS happy ending so watch till the end)

  1. What Emotion Do you Seek?

A study published in the African Journal of Business Management showed how different music styles created different perceptions of the same product.

They played four audiences a version of a radio commercial for an invented brand of water. Three versions had background music and one version did not.

As previous research leads us to expect, those who heard a version with music had the strongest emotional involvement, and the audience who heard the version with music that was familiar (What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong) scored the highest of all.

Even more interestingly, the study found that the type of music influenced the characteristics associated with the product, and those of the voice over announcer.

Version 1 = unfamiliar music with a fast beat and varied tones
Audience perception of announcer = happy, enthusiastic, impatient, excitable
Audience perception of brand = exciting, fun, energetic

Version 2 = unfamiliar music with a slower tempo and minimal tone variance
Audience perception of announcer = calm, understanding, trustworthy
Audience perception of brand = healthy, natural, relaxing.

Same script, different music, so different brand perception. So use music to emotionally engage with your audience, but be sure you choose the music that inspires the emotion you actually want!

You usually want to make sure the associations you trigger with music align with the values of your brand as well. Maybe avoid Marilyn Manson if your focus is kindness to animals, for example.

Musically Mutually Beneficial

Music can improve engagement on its own – we like it! – but familiar music, like shown with Louis above, can be even more effective.

Marketers can use those immediate and strong associations and emotions triggered by a known song or piece of music by linking them to their brand when it plays that music in its commercials. The emotions and associations the viewer felt from the song (invigorated, joyful, poignant, family, holidays, childhood) become tied to their feelings for the brand. Engagement is higher, and so, ideally, are recall and sales of that brand.

While using a popular song or music can come with a hefty price tag, the results can evidently be worthwhile. This includes for the artist too! For example, in a TV commercial for Germany Vodafone used the song “We Are the People” from then little known Australian band Empire of the Sun. Soon after the commercial’s release the song was topping the charts in Germany.

When the practice of using known music in advertising first started, a band or singer who licensed the rights to a song were likely to be marked with a stigma for selling out (Rolling Stones anyone?). Now it can make them!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-kWFoCBe0A

To Music or Not to Music

We know a music bed in a commercial can be beneficial. Is it always?

If your commercial is centred around one or more people in their natural environment, for example staff chatting at the hairdressers, people in an office, joggers, a car driver, then background music is likely to sound unnatural, discordant, inappropriate. This is one example of when music for music’s sake doesn’t work. Sometimes sound effects (or a silent background) will have greater impact.

Think about context!

Coda

I’m sure most of us have walked out of a store because the music was terrible. Capture your audience with music and the strong emotional associations it can create for you.

Hear the difference a music bed can make with the following example we made. The first version doesn’t have a music bed, the second version is the exact same read but with music bed added. Which do you prefer?

Before  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ_yIHHbiBM

After  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RcOJRnrICU

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Ian’s notes
The different 12 emotions is worth noting – – – but also the whole message about being in context is relevant for so many situations — whether advertising, or for example film.
For example (and for your enjoyment )- these youtube comparison has been used often in lectures about music in film etc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn9V0cN4NWs  (using Pirates of the Caribbean scenes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mndDbN60Eiw  (using Lord of the Rings scenes)

Finally  as mentioned – music has power, can add power, can make a scene or not. Sometimes the absence of music is appropriate – but sometimes it is just plain ridiculous!
As an example – Here is the last scene in Star Wars without music-

and here it is with Williams’ score intact

Again I hope you enjoy, learnt something – — –and please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance for your business or you wish us to consider taking your music into the Sync Stable (more on that on our website under publishing services).

Cheers till next time.

Ian

QUOTES THAT MAY BE HELPFUL

QUOTES THAT MAY BE HELPFUL TO SOME, MAKE OTHERS THINK, MAYBE ACT, RECALL AT TIMES……or just forget ….. its up to you 🙂

Sometimes being able to recall a quote or a saying can inspire, help you find a path/direction, or just give some comfort/support, something to hang on to and keep going.

Here are a few that I have saved,  have helped me & others (or I just think are good bits of advice). Some are newer, some oldies..
it’s not a complete list but maybe one or more will be of help to some who read them.
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  • A few years ago Tommy Emmanuel said on a video pop for one of my seminars the simple statement…
    “Everytime, turn up and, do your best”.
    Drill down through those parts and you will see its deep advice. ..
    A. ‘Everytime’ connotates more than once and all the time.
    B. to ‘turn up’ – you need to have something to turn up to (so think about it, need to have done the work to get gigs, go from there)
    C. to do ‘your best’ – you need to be practiced & ready, etc
  • ” It doesn’t matter how many plates you break in the kitchen, it’s the one you serve the customer that counts”  (masterchef season 1 ….. yea I know …. but think about how it applies to preparation & delivery in our industry)
  • “Everyone has the will to win, not everyone has the will to prepare”
  • “Most of the time, the ‘lucky’ person happens to be the one who has done a lot of preparation, is always looking for opportunities, willing to go for it and put themselves in situations where the possibility of doors opening is probable.”
  • “Success is 1 part determination & 5 parts determination” & similarly  “Most ‘overnight’ successes are 10, 20 or 30 years in the making”
  • “Change is a constant that you can either flow with, learn to adapt to or react against”- usually the latter is only effective within your own sphere of influence
  • “If the plan isn’t working…change the plan” (shark tank episode 3 weeks ago)
  • “If you don’t want to change, learn or adapt to the changing circumstances, that’s fine …but then don’t complain, be happy with your decision”
  • “Most people can learn to paint (even if by numbers), not everyone can conceive the picture”.
    Music is mathematical as well as inspirational/emotional….so a lot of it can be learnt and skills grown through training & practice. ..but some elements are intuitive, creative and emerge out of that space. The goal is to develop your skills enough to be able to capture the intuitive, fleeting thought/sound/moment and mould it/fully realising it into something tangible
  • (Along the same lines one of mine) “If you are a 4 chord guitarist with no developed music theory behavior, I don’t care what you hear in your head, it will probably come out like basic level rock, country or folk.” .. similarly… .
    “you don’t know what you don’t know & therefore can’t use it”…
    For example, if you’ve never heard a minor7, augmented, & any of the other more complex chord extensions & know how they fit…. you can’t conceive to use those colours/flavours in your music to create something different, can you?
    To bring the full vision of a thought into reality you need to upskill or collaborate/communicate with someone who has the skills & experience to interpret and apply it
  • “In music, like art, there are not many absolute right or wrongs”. Its personal taste, emotion, communication ..and therefore open to possibilities & interpretation, likes/dislikes

And the final 3…

  • ” if you do nothing, nothing will change for you except the effect of actions/decisions of someone else on you”
  • “To walk a mile, starts with one step” and similarly
  • “The way to eat an elephant? One bit at a time”Taking a new direction, adapting to external change, learning a new skill or way to do something …is often stressful and hard….
    But sometimes if you break the big issue down into little segments and just focus  on doing one of those at a time….it becomes manageable and maybe even achievable.

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Copyright 101 & a bit

I continue to get inquiries from emerging artists that really dont understand the area of copyright fully.
2 weeks ago I was at an APRA Publishers Pulse day and in the morning they had some basic summary stuff on slides. I was given a copy of those slides and with permission – copy the basic points here for your perusal.

Note this is very light and basic but some points are worth being sure people know (my notes to points in italics)

So ……..

Copyright laws exist to protect the rights of creators and those who invest in them to make sure they are fairly paid for the use of their work. This provides a very valuable and necessary income stream to many composers, writers, artists and other creators.

It is worth noting that copyright specifics are different for many of the arts (eg copyright conditions on literature is different to music, etc) – so I will be concentrating on the musical side only in this article – – -and as it relates to Australia (because again there is different laws and actions in different regions).

Copyright in music

  • Protects music, lyrics and recordings separately
  • It is automatically granted in Australia, no registration required  (note: this is different to some countries where you have to register your copyright for it to be noted)
  • When Writers / publishers register their ownership of works with APRA-AMCOS, this is for royalty distribution only (copyright remains residing with the owner of the work)
  • NOTE: APRA AMCOS does not decide who is the true copyright owner (we dont have the registration process here so its up to a proof, potentially legal process to determine)
  • If disputes arise around ownership of works, APRA AMCOS will hold money on a work until resolved between members
  • Copyright is akin to property, can be bought/sold or assigned/licensed in agreements (e.g. APRA AMCOS, to music publishers)
  • Copyright exists in many types of works and materials not just those that APRA AMCOS administers and licenses on behalf of our members and affiliates.
  • For information on copyright generally, the websites for Australian Copyright Council (http://www.copyright.org.au/ ) and the New Zealand Copyright Council (http://www.copyright.org.nz) are excellent resources.
  • Term of copyright
    For musical works (relevant to writers/composers/lyricists) the copyright term in Australia is the life of the author + 70 years*
    (*If the author died before 01/01/1955 then copyright term is life of the author + 50 years)
    For sound recordings (yes there is a separate copyright and royalty payable) the copyright term in Australia is the year first published + 70 years

 

APRA-AMCOS work specifically on the songwriter side
The Australian Copyright Act (1968) gives music copyright owners a number of rights. APRA AMCOS looks after these specific rights.  So they help you as a songwriter look after your rights and payments when someone

  • Performs the work in public:
    including these venues: hotels, bars, nightclubs, cafes, gyms, retailers,  cinemas, concerts and events. and by any means including radio, TV, film, CD players/personal devices, online streaming, DJ or live artist/performer
  • Communicates the work to the public by various means:  including broadcast on radio, TV, online (iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora, Netflix, Stan, YouTube)
  • Reproduces their work in material form e.g. CD, vinyl, sheet music, digital download, online (iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora, Netflix, Stan, YouTube),
    ringtones etc

HOWEVER …In Australia, these are 4 organisations that collect and pay royalties
BECAUSE there are rights and potentially royalties for the musical works AND sound recordings
These are divided into the type of rights and also whether Music Work or Sound Recording.
So

  • For Performing (performance in public) and Communication Rights(broadcast, online, downloads & streaming)
    Music Works rights representing  music publishers, composers and songwriter
    Are collected by APRA
    Sound Recording rights representing record companies, labels and artists who create sound recordings.
    Are collected by PPCA
  • Mechanical (Reproduction) Rights (CD manufacture, downloads & streaming)
    Music Works rights representing  music publishers, composers and songwriter
    Are collected by AMCOS
    Sound Recording rights representing record companies, labels and artists who create sound recordings.
    Are collected by ARIA

    * NOTE – downloads & streaming have both communication right and reproduction (mech) right – so there is possibly royalties payable in both areas on a recorded version of a song!!!!!!

So  a singer songwriter who writes original songs that are being performed and then records those songs and they are being played on radio (or in cafe’s etc)- they should be registered with BOTH APRA and PPCA
IF then they have someone want to license their song – depending if it is the original song (so want to record it themselves)  or use the finished recorded version (in say film etc)  – then may also need to be registered with BOTH AMCOS and ARIA

Confusing?  Possibly. More time and paperwork? Probably BUT  ……. there are royalty payments available on the mechanical side as well as perfoming royalties from iTunes, Youtube etc etc – and even radio air play!!!!! So if you are not registered and doing the returns etc  – you are missing out on income!!!

Hope you found this of interest.  Happy to help if more information or assistance is needed.

Till next time.

 

Ian

In certain things one needs to accept …it’s NEVER going to be PERFECT

Whether it is a design (of a home or office), an art piece or a musical production…. if one waits until one achieves ‘perfection’, there is a significant possibility of never completing the project!  Why?

Well, in certain areas and activity things can be finite, can be calculated or determined exactly. When 1+1 = 2 or that support has to be X wide and made of Y to hold up that whatever  – then it can (and at times has to be) exact.

But in the creative space, this is not the case –  ‘perfect’ is arbitrary.
Whenever taste, like/dislike & emotional response is involved , there are no ABSOLUTE right or wrongs. So its a preference … and that can change day to day, when another option is presented, how you are feeling or affected by a number of other factors.
If one keeps exploring, keep searching the net, keep trying alternatives (beyond ‘reasonable’), it may never stop because…options and alternatives are endless.

Think of
– all the shades, tones, percentage strengths of a paint colour or mix.
– think of all the combinations of notes, harmonies, volume and placement and instrumentation possibilities in a musical piece
– should a chair be here or a lamp there….
Its endless choice!

Is that a bad thing- no of course not………..  IF it is understood and accepted.
And yes, of course one should seek to do the best one can.

However, in some cases, seeking ‘perfection’ can be obsessive to the point of inaction.
In the worse cases people start second guessing themselves, move to a point of not being able to make a decision at all and in fact, become reactive against a finite answer ..because ‘there might be something better tomorrow’…’just in case’ becomes a vortex of inaction.

Like the person looking for a coat, and even though they found a good buy, they keep shopping, waiting, googling specials etc, to get THE best deal.. maybe it is because they bought something once and the next day saw it cheaper & are never going to let that happen again ……. but sometimes this indecision means they never get the coat and stay cold.

Or the music project where we might get questions like ‘what about if we just try Xx instrument’ ‘or i heard about this northen bengaly…whatever’ after 20 combinations have already been tried.or can we keep exploring this area ‘just in case’….and 5 years later the project is still going.

Even when one is happy and signs off a work…often a week or so later doubts start creeping in.
For example I, and other producers will also have seen, artists often be totally satisfied and sign off on a mix, a master, a CD, then a couple of weeks after release the ‘oh, I could have’s’ start creeping in.

So what is the answer….mmmm well to me (and staying in the musical space) it is ………

First, we have to recognise that as creatives, artists, designers, musicians …most of us are our own worse critics!
What we see as that little ‘something’ may not even be noticed by anyone else! The slight ‘moment/thing/placement’ may add flavour to the observer/listener because they didn’t know it was meant to be anything else!

Having said that ….. if one has a clear path and sets project plans out properly – things tend to get done appropriately.

  • Start with taking the time to get a clear view of the goal.. the purpose/intention of the end product, the big picture – so what it is to be and therefore, what it is not.  Which thereby already puts parameters around expectations.
    Eg, if going to produce a low cost demo to pitch your act for gigs, that is not the same as commercial level radio ready production (not the same in cost, time or finish/mastering etc)
  • Then explore options as much as you can within those parameters and within some set limits to the search (whether time, finance or another factor).
    Don’t worry about options or things outside the project boundaries you have set.
  • Most importantly, after that.. be prepared to make decisions and stick with them….
    Sure take a break, check once or twice if need be, but then  be happy with it.
    Could it be improved down the track? Maybe, but at the time you thought it was right so go with it. be confident that you were…..and move forward.
  • And finally…finish it!
    Even if you have to be strict on yourself and set deadlines etc…finish and move on, learn from it and keep improving sure but….. get the thing done or it’s not a thing at all!

Anyway just a thought for the day that I thought might help someone out there.

All the best till next time.

Ian

Want to be a songwriter?…just do it!

Having just been working on the score for a musical and a promo video…when I got an enews article today from Joe Gilder (a guy I subscribe to) on this topic..I wanted to share it with you today for a few reasons.

  • First, I agree with almost all he is saying
  • Most professional songwriters I have met & spoken to have a strong sense of purpose in ‘doing something rather than waiting’
  • The process of doing it & practicing increases skill & the ability to do it

Anyway, hopefully you will get what I mean by the end of the article…. Hope you find it of interest.

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I’m a sporadic songwriter.

I love the idea of a daily routine that involves me writing every day. Unfortunately, there are about fifty other daily activities jockeying for a slot in my calendar. I have to prioritize, and some (most) activities get the axe.

While a daily songwriting regimen isn’t something I’ve managed to incorporate into my life, I still need to write songs (especially when I’m releasing 4 EP’s in one year). I’m juuuust getting into songwriting mode now for the next EP, set to release on September 1st. We start recording for the EP in less than two weeks. What does all this mean? I needs to write some songs ASAP.

A few years ago, if you plopped me down into this identical situation — full-band tracking day less than two weeks away, and I haven’t written any songs yet — I would have freaked out.

Today, though? My response is more like, “Huh…guess I better schedule some songwriting sessions on my calendar.” And that’s what I’m gonna do.

Forced Creativity is STILL Creativity

People tend to balk at the idea of forcing yourself to be creative. “Just let it come to you, man. Wait for inspiration to strike, bro!”

Umm…pass.

Being inspired is wonderful. I love it when I get overwhelmed by a desire to sit down and write a song, but that doesn’t happen all the time. If I only wrote songs when I really really felt like it, I’d probably write 2-4 songs per year.

People say they can’t force songwriting. What they mean is they WON’T force it. They only like to do things that are comfortable. Writing while incredibly inspired is easy and comfortable. Writing because you committed to write a song today, inspiration or not? That can be really difficult and uncomfortable.

Anything worth doing will be difficult and uncomfortable at times.

Would you rather passively sit back and wait for a song to come to you? Or would you rather go out and grab it? One option means you’ll be able to release an album every 5 years. The other means you can release music whenever you want.

I’ll take the second one, please.

Here’s the honest truth. I’m capable of writing good songs whether I’m inspired or not. So are you. Why? Because just like throwing a baseball or playing guitar, songwriting is a skill requiring practice. Deliberate practice makes you better and faster.

But daily songwriting is daunting!

I agree. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to work songwriting into my daily or weekly routine. For now, the best way I’ve found to force myself to write is to tell the world I’m releasing new music. That’s right, I announce the new music before I’ve even written it.

That’s what I did with these 4 EP’s. I announced back in January that I’m releasing 4 EP’s. I hadn’t written a single song yet. But I announced it and set release dates. Now I work backward from the release dates to schedule recording sessions, specifically that first tracking session. That session becomes my songwriting deadline. Then I write as much as I can before the day of the session arrives.

I repeat this process with every EP. And have I written some real snoozers? Yup. Have I written some great songs? Yup. Whether I took two years or two weeks to write them, the results are about the same. I like some. I don’t like others. I pick the ones I like, and they go on the EP.

It’s ridiculously simple, but it’s powerful.

If you want to become a better songwriter, announce to the world that you are releasing your next project (album/EP/single). Give them a release date. Next, work backwards from the release date and set your deadlines for mixing, recording, etc. From there you can set your songwriting deadline. Once that’s set, all that’s left is to force yourself to sit down, face the discomfort of being forced to write something, and WRITE SOMETHING.

Then do it again, and again.

I promise your songs will improve.

But it takes effort. It takes facing a lot of fears and insecurities, but it’s WORTH IT.

Are you willing to put in the work?

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(Ian again)… Now whether you announce to the world EP release dates or not is up to you.. But if not already doing it, why not try (with intent) the idea of sitting down every day, or 3 days and writing ….. something. Even if its rubbish, the very act of doing that is practice, reading up on technique and trying it..will almost force you to grow in your songwriting..and results.

If the majority of the professional full time songwriters do it in a manner similar to this…isn’t it worth having a go?

If so, go for it and don’t forget to let me know how it went for you.

Cheers till next time.

Ian

The Sync Market – an opportunity but there can be a problem with being in too many libraries

Looking to get into, have your music considered in, the “sync market” (for TV, ads, film etc)?  Yes, it’s a numbers game, can take a long time to get take up at times – but lucrative if you start to get some placements.

Don’t think you music is appropriate? You are probably wrong – Just listen to TV shows for their music, films, ads  – -just remember every time a door opens in a film and you hear music (even for a brief second)……. someone has written or been paid for that.

If you are considering entering this market opportunity – one of the main questions is ……. Do you go direct, thru a portal(s), a ‘library’ or publisher or  ??? – It depends …. on you (how much time you have to work it, market, connect etc – or not) and your material (getting the right material to the right people/opportunity).

Anyway – if looking at putting your music/talking to a library – – this article by Aaron of Renegade makes some great points — hope its of interest.
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The Problem with being with too many libraries ……..
I’m definitely not for signing away the exclusive rights to your music to music publishers and libraries in perpetuity (forever), as some publishers and libraries require the writers they work with do.  Although I’ve done these types of deals a handful of times over the years, in general I’m more attracted to deals where you retain the ability to shop your tracks around through multiple agencies.  The last thing I want is for the tracks that I’ve spent my hard earned money and a lot of effort on, sitting with someone exclusively for years, not generating any revenue.However, there’s a downside to spreading yourself too thin and aligning with too many libraries/publishers also, that is important to be aware of.  For one, if your tracks are being pitched to the same project multiple times, through different non-exclusive publishers and libraries, it can sometimes rub supervisors the wrong way.  In their eyes, if your music is that easy to get and can be found anywhere and everywhere, it creates a perception that your music isn’t as valuable.  It also gives the publisher or library you’re working with very little leverage in getting your music placed.  If a supervisor can get your track from 20 different places, why should they get it from one place vs. another? It also makes it harder for agencies you work with to negotiate really lucrative deals.  This is especially true if you’re placing your music in stock music libraries or “royalty free” libraries.

The head of a major sync agency that I interviewed recently told me a story that illustrated the problem of being in multiple libraries.  This particular agent secured a really lucrative spot in a car commercial for one of the artists she represented.  This particular artist had assured her that they weren’t in any other libraries or with any other agencies and they agreed to sign with her exclusively.

However, unbeknownst to this agency, this band was in fact with multiple different libraries, including some that licensed music very cheaply.  After getting this band a really high end car commercial, the ad agency that created the ad found out their music was in fact with multiple different libraries, some of which were selling the exact same song they used for much, much cheaper.  The ad agency was infuriated, the sync agency’s reputation was jeopardized, a lawsuit ensued and the band ended up losing most of the money.  It was a bad situation for everyone involved.  All because one of the band members was dishonest about who they were working with.

There isn’t really a perfect approach to licensing your music.  This isn’t an exact science and there’s an element of timing and luck involved.  But, be strategic and think carefully about which companies you work with and the type of deals you sign.  Don’t sign any deals that are in conflict with each other.  And whatever you do, be totally honest and upfront with people you’re working with.  The last thing you want to do is jeopardize relationships that you worked hard to form.

If you are working multiple agencies or libraries, make sure everyone is cool with that.  Find out what type of clients agencies you sign with are going to be pitching your tracks to.  Work towards creating strategic partnerships that benefit everyone involved.  Above all, always be ethical and honest with everyone you’re working with.

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There ya go – good information to add to/consider in your decision process? Let us know what you think.

An aside – PavMusic operates a boutique non exclusive publishing service into this area as one of our business offerings ..Note – we are not actually promoting this service as the purpose of the post as unless your music both (a) is exceptional and (b) filled an area we were lacking in our library – we are not taking any new artists at this time.….. but you are welcome to read more  about it http://pavmusic.com/the-sync-group if interested.
But the reason I mention it – is that we know  a bit about this market area  and may be able to help input into your thinking and planning, things to do and don’t do – (for example, unless they specify otherwise – don’t even consider submitting music to a library or opportunity that is not ‘finished’ including production level ).

Anyway hope you found the article of interest.

Until next time.

Cheers

Ian