Recording Artists? Are you getting all the money you may possibly be entitled to?

OK, I am talking copyright, royalties and possible royalty revenue streams you may not be aware of or getting.

Pre-emptive comments to this article

  •  If you are only a songwriter/composer (dont record) and have registered with your local works collection society (eg in Australia that is APRA-AMCOS) then this is not as relevant to you.
  • If you are a singer/songwriter who records and you distribute/market all your music digitally ONLY through an aggregator like CDBaby or TuneCore or Bandcamp – then this is not as relevant to you.

However if you are either of the above, or a recording artist using others works – AND marketing your recorded work across many areas including internet radio, streaming, etc and across various countries – this IS relevant to you.

Now this is a VERY extensive topic, especially when you try and analyse what is relevant for each person – so in this article I am trying to give you the overview understanding and a couple of examples to the topic. After that you need to do further investigation on your own or contact us to help.

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Let’s start with some background (in as simple a way as I can put it in this short amount of space) 

There are at least two copyrights in most recordings and music videos:

  • The copyright in the song (lyrics, composition etc.) ‘the work itself’ for which songwriters, composers etc may receive performing (when played) and mechanical (when someone else uses) royalties–and for which membership to collection agencies such as APRA-AMCOS (if Aus based), PPRS (UK), ASCAP (USA), etc is imperative
    (Google ‘music copyright collection societies’ if different location to above)….
    but THERE IS ALSO…
  • The copyright in the recording and/or music video of the song (a particular recorded performance) – so the published work has its own copyright (which may be through assignment, agreement or otherwise) but which is separate from the base works themselves – and to which other membership to different collection agensies is necessary.

So, in other words…… APRA/AMCOS (and their equivalent) are musical works collecting societies – and as songwriters, composers, lyrists you need to be a member of your country’s association to collect on your works BUT for sound recording collecting you need to be registered with a different organisation (and AS WELL if you are both the song writer and recording artist).

These organisations are there to represent the interest of recording companies and recording artists – granting licences and collecting/distributing royalties ,for broadcast, communication or public playing of RECORDED MUSIC (e.g., CDs, records and digital downloads) or music videos.

Examples of where the recorded work royalties may flow from? Think –
– internet radio
– non aligned streaming services
– background music in certain venues such as cafes etc
– music video streaming sites
– music used in business
– etc

Again, remember this is separate to performing/mechanical royalties paid to the songwriter (ie. so again to try and clarify, there are potentially 2 lots of royalty payments possible).

OK So far? – Now here is where it becomes really confusing.

Your ‘works’ collecting societies (and the collection of performing rights etc) have reciprocal arrangements with most of their counterparts around the world. So the royalty payable for someone performing your song in the US will filter back through to APRA here in Australia (eventually). In other words (very simplistically), you just have to join your own country’s society and do the paperwork and things will flow AND in the case of APRA-AMCOS they can collect some of the mechanical royalties due to the songwriter/works copyright holder (eg YouTube viewing, digital download)

However – they don’t collect for the recorded work in its own right– AND those organisations do not have reciprocal rights with the works organisations OR each other!!!! So you need to be registered with which ever organisation is looks after a country where your music may be played. 

Egads I hear you say – more work? Yes, but potentially more $$ in the revenue stream to you that you may be missing out on. 

Which organisations am I referring to?

Okay…….

  • If your works are played in Australia   – you need to be in contact with and join PPCA.
    From their website “Established in 1969, the PPCA…Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited… is a national, non government, non-profit organisation that represents the interest of record companies and Australian recording artists.
    We grant licences for the broadcast, communication or public playing of recorded music (e.g., CDs, records and digital downloads) or music videos. We then distribute the licence fees we collect to the record labels and Australian recording artists registered with us, under our Distribution Policy. We work together with our licensors, being thousands of Australian recording artists and hundreds of labels both major and independent.
    In fact, we currently license over 55,000 venues Australia-wide, including clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants, fitness centres, shops, halls and dance studios, and also grant licences to radio and TV stations. “
    Go to http://www.ppca.com.au/ to find out more
  • If your music is played in the USA (yes, you need to join them too, if your music is there as they don’t exchange information or royalties!!!) – it is SoundExchange. From an email I received – “SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), internet radio, cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. To register with us please visit http://register.soundexchange.com/welcome
  • In the UK it is PLS 
  • again Google searches will reveal which organisation is relevant to you if your music is playing in other countries.

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More confused than before? Probably, but in a nutshell –

  • If you are a songwriter/composer – be registered and register your works with your local ‘works’ collection society (in Australia APRA)
  • If you are a recording artist/label be registered with the sound recording society in every country your music is playing
  • Note: again it is not mutually exclusive!!!! Most people need to be with both!! (only those recording covers only – or only songwriters who don’t record – will be with one or the other) 

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OK the topic has now been raised – it’s now up to you to investigate further, understand what is relevant to you and register where and with who is relevant to you.
(and yes, if it helps, under our business advisory service we can be of assistance in working through this with you)

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How to get your music on Pandora Internet Radio

OK I know there is the argument, “why bother when we don’t get paid” (or ‘paid much’ as you can get performing rights royalties), “may get rejected!” etc etc – – – however if (like the mindset change I mentioned in a previous article), you view this as marketing, exposure, potential to build your following way beyond what you could do yourself (note the number of ‘active’ users),  rather than worrying about income only – then it becomes a VERY cost effective way of getting out there.

And with Pandora, unlike some streaming services, if you are accepted and catergorised in a genre, ‘sound like’, etc – then your music is in the rotation along with all the big names in that ‘program’ definition.

So anyway, with that path of thinking in mind, thought this article through CDBaby by Chris Robley was well worth posting

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Submitting music to Pandora is easier than ever

 Over the past decade, Pandora Internet Radio has become one of the go-to destinations for music discovery. The popular radio service allows over 76 million active users to create customized stations based on their favorite genres and artists. Pandora’s recommendation engine (built on extensive human input) then streams a playlist that is altered by user engagement in real-time. In other words, Pandora is pretty smart at picking the playlist to start with, but the listener can give feedback (a simple thumbs up or down) and then Pandora gets even smarter!

For independent artists, getting music on Pandora can be a great way to build an audience without spending thousands on radio promotion or advertising. If you sound like Coldplay, whenever someone creates a Pandora station based on the music of Coldplay—bam!—your music could get served up, hopefully earning you a new fan or download sale (since Pandora also displays buy links).

But how do you get your music onto Pandora as an independent artist? It’s pretty easy, actually, especially since they began accepting submissions for digital-only albums a few months ago. Yep, pretty easy — except for one small detail, which we’ll discuss below. But first, here’s the simple steps for submitting music to Pandora.

 How to submit your music to Pandora

1. Make sure you control the legal rights to your work.

2. Make your music available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, or Bandcamp. (if you’re a CDBaby artist, and you ticked that partner distribution avenue – you are already covered!)

3. Log into your Pandora account. If you don’t have a Pandora account, create one).

4. Go to Pandora’s ‘Submit Your Music page. If you’re in a country that doesn’t have Pandora, just write to musicandcomedy@pandora.com and they’ll create an account for you.

5. Provide Pandora with details about your submission, including your band name, release information (single, EP, or album), link to artist bio, and valid links to one or two songs on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, or Bandcamp.

6. Verify your submission.

7. Wait.

Yep.
Now you’ll have to wait an estimated six weeks to get an acceptance or rejection from Pandora (if it’s an acceptance, they’ll request that you send the whole album) — which brings us to that one little detail I talked about above: not everyone’s music will get accepted into Pandora’s catalog, an extensive collection of songs that is curated by a team of musicologists and powered by a taxonomy of musical data called The Music Genome Project.

How does The Music Genome Project work?
Since so much of Pandora’s curation work is hands-on, it’s no wonder there’s a significant wait time for response, especially when you consider the huge amount of submissions they receive each week.

Here’s a little bit about the team of people who’ll be considering your music, and how your music is further analyzed and cataloged if you DO get accepted. According to Pandora:

Each song in the Music Genome Project is analyzed using up to 450 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst. These attributes capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also the many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of listeners. The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome’s rigorous and precise methodology. To qualify for the work, analysts must have a firm grounding in music theory, including familiarity with a wide range of styles and sounds.

What qualifies your music for inclusion in Pandora’s catalog?

And what exactly is this team of music experts looking for exactly?
Well, there’s a few things to consider. Will fans of your genre be excited to discover your music on a Pandora station they’ve created? Is your genre saturated with new music? It’s probably safe to assume that the more music Pandora receives in a particular genre, the better that music has to be to get noticed and added to their catalog — though I also assume Pandora’s team of curators expects excellence from all the music they accept. As Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder, has said: “You have to earn your way into Pandora.”

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Hopefully all this information is helpful to you in submitting your music to Pandora. 

If your music is accepted, be sure to ensure you are registered with APRA-AMCOS if Australian based ( or SoundExchange, etc for other country based artists), organizations that pays digital performance royalties to artists, labels, and performers for the usage of sound recordings online.

Heck, even if Pandora doesn’t accept your music, you should still register with those organizations as there may be plenty of other internet radio stations that are interested in playing your music.

****** One other thought for you (esp. for those in Australia) – here community radio stations only report their playlist from 1 week of the year and so if your music is on their station but not playing that week – you get nothing)……..A number of other major music countries including the US report more regularly and some 52 weeks a year  – which means you get paid something into the pot if your music is played at all …….So while we will facilitate music to local community stations, etc specific genre related – it is for THAT reason a  lot of our and others radio/internet marketing for clients is orientated to commercial stations here but otherwise outside Australia

Again if we can be of help with advice about your business planning, effective marketing etc  – or getting your music radio ready – give us a call. All the info can be found at  http://www.pavmusic.com

What If The Label Says “YES”?

OK so carrying on the theme of a few posts to date.

Please understand me – All of this (continued soap box LOL) is really for the purpose of trying to really help and be sure people really understand that – to be successful and sustainable in this industry you need to treat it like a business. To devote the same level of time, energy, resources and knowledge to all aspects of your business as you would if you had any other self employed/owned operation. This includes knowing where and how to market most profitably for you; staying current; being aware and adapting to changes, understanding the path (having one) to get to your goals, business and action planning and, crossing all the ‘t’s and dotting all the ‘i’s along the way (or getting people along side you to help in those areas).

After 37 years in the industry, I am sure (presuming ability, skill set etc there) that this is the main underlying reason that a large percentage of people (and yes I am generalising here) don’t stay around, are not full time when they want to be, do not achieve a realistic sustainable career in whatever area of the business they are in. Anyway thought that this article posted in Music Clout  by Johnny Dwinell might follow on a bit ..a bit gruff at times but ……………..

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Johhny’s article starts…..”So Kelly and I are at a private party with Anthony Orio & friends and we end up in a conversation over beers and cigars about artist development and the damage that happens when artists and/or songwriters get their lucky break too early. What if you get the opportunity of a lifetime to take a big step towards your dream and you’re not developed enough, ill prepared, or worse, searching only for fame? In short, what if the label says YES?!?!

That’s right, I said it. What if the record label or publishing company says “yes”? Are you ready?

Do you know where you’re going artistically?

Are you prepared to fight for your vision or will you be lost in the crowd with your hat in your hand?

Do you understand the hustle of the business and how to operate intelligently within it so you can capitalize on the coming momentum?

The NFL has classes that all rookies are required to take to deal with this instantaneous rise in the players brand awareness and cash flow, but they certainly DON’T offer this in the music business. In fact, they would prefer you don’t know; more money for the powers that be.

You can’t just stick your toes in the water; you have to be ALL IN. To make a living, you have to be a student of the game. If you don’t know your business, you’re being lazy. Trust me, THEY WILL know your business because they’re professionals and you will suffer for your lack of knowledge one way or the other.

What if the Publishing Company Says YES?

One of conversations we had was centered on the 3 discussions or so we have every week with beginning songwriters. Often beginners are understandably apprehensive about spending too much on their dream (which they are inevitably conflicted about) so, in lieu of a proper/professionally acceptable demo recording, they go “shopping” for the best deal A.K.A. the cheapest demo price. I hear it all the time, “I just want to stick my toes in the water to see if anyone cares. I want to see if anyone is interested before I spend more money.” Just like any other industry there are people here in Nashville that cater to that market; and just like any other industry, you get what you pay for. Now, many songwriters are just doing it for posterity to get their music recorded which means the only person they need to impress is themselves so this is a pragmatic approach; this makes sense. However, the songwriters with serious professional aspirations have to impress the professionals, so they are screwing themselves with a crappy demo recording. Paying for a $350/song demo in Nashville (which $100 of, will go to the pro singer) will get a guy that is going to play all the instruments on that recording and he’s going to cut it in his basement, and MIX it in his basement: it’s the only way he can afford to charge that low price. Next, that songwriter will shop the song to song pluggers. These song pluggers are true professionals so don’t fool yourself, they will instantly be aware that the writer cut corners on this demo (because of the sonic nature of the recording) which immediately makes the writer look unprofessional; 99.999% will not pay attention to the song and pass because that’s a red flag that they’re not ready yet. If hit songwriters and publishing companies could avoid using live bands on all their demo tapes to save money, believe me they would! But let’s say that for some reason the song plugger really listens to an amazing song and says YES. What do you think will happen next? They will tell the songwriter, “I LOVE this song, man, but I can’t sell this recording of it; so go back and re-record it.” You see, this “dip your toes in the water” approach has only 2 outcomes for an aspiring professional songwriter:

  1. Most likely they hear a “NO” and alienate the very people they need to bring their product to market because they look unprofessional; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  2. They hear a “YES” and by the grace of God, the plugger is willing to overlook their naiveté, but the songwriter added $350 of needless extra cost to their first product in a start up business (which could be put towards another song demo to build the catalog).

Everybody has a dream. Tons of you have dreams of “making it” as a songwriter or a recording artist; but if you’re not somewhat prepared, a “yes” could be the beginning of the end, or at the very least extremely expensive and emotionally exhausting. To me, “making it” is defined as making a living doing what you LOVE to do. There are different levels of “making it” based on volume and revenue generated; but if it’s based on making a living doing what you love to do, it’s a solid foundation. Fame is annoying. I get why people seek it because I did initially, they shove it down our throats and we consume it like crazy. I can tell you that fame is a herculean pain-in-the-ass, even in the context of my small-time regional fame; it’s creepy. Everybody is in your business or is talking about your business like they know you when they don’t have business with you and they don’t know you. You only get to find this out when you get a little taste. Eleanor Roosevelt said “Big minds talk about ideas, medium minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people”. So the search or need to only be famous is an exercise for small brains. Those who only seek fame come off to me as green (green like inexperienced and green with envy) and therefore somewhat delusional. You have to do the work, man, or you’re Paris Hilton; a cocktail party joke with a crappy sex tape.

If you want to be iconic, you have to put in the work.

If you want your songs to be timeless, you have to put in the work.

Fame as a byproduct of supreme artistry is a result of great minds, vision, and hard work; it’s no freaking accident. We all have an image of some super famous entertainer that we feel doesn’t have enough talent and we’re baffled by their fame; they’re famous because they were prepared, they take it more seriously, and work harder than you do. 

Real success in the music industry is about tons of preparation and experience over years of time. Real success rarely happens overnight and when It does, especially in the new music business, it’s “here today, gone LATER today” and usually disastrous to the artist. So the slow growth will last longer and be worth more in the end…unless you just want to be famous. Expecting or dreaming about a big break without the work is like expecting to walk into a Major League sporting team for a tryout and getting awarded the top spot on the team; you need your 10,000 hours first.\

So, What if the Record Label Says YES?

If you get a major label to say “YES” these days it’s because you have generated some kind of attention, a brand, and a following on a reality show, or vocal talent show (where the label feels they have a guaranteed market of sorts) OR you have created real momentum on your own through touring, twitter, Facebook, trackable record sales, sold out concerts, etc., and maybe you’ve managed to fund a Kickstarter campaign with at least 1,000 backers or $100,000 in funds. Let’s dissect the latter first.

In this scenario you will have turned down several label offers already and the conversation starts with you saying something like this, “What are you guys going to do that I haven’t already done for myself that warrants me giving you MASSIVE percentages of my revenue from record sales, merchandise, publishing, ticket sales, etc?” This is called leverage at the negotiating table. Believe me when you are seasoned with momentum you come to the table with a “heavy hammer” and YOU WILL BE PROTECTIVE OF YOUR SMALL PROFITABLE BUSINESS!! You’re eyes will be open to the many ways a label can screw up your future and in this case all the hard work from your past that put you in the seat at that very negotiating table. 

Now let’s dissect the artist who gets a deal after skyrocketing to fame on a TV show or from some other crazy, massively publicized anomaly. This artist doesn’t really have a heavy hammer at all. If you win next year’s American Idol, who cares; it’s the 13th season and there are more winners residing in obscurity than there are current, relevant artists. This is what every up and comer seems to dream about because it looks easy; it’s typically a mess. Yeah, yeah you get to feel like a Rockstar for a hot second and you hang with all the big names and feel like you’re somebody but then what? I’ll bet you couldn’t name 5 of the 12 American Idol winners if I put a gun to your head and you’re reading this because YOU’RE IN THE BUSINESS! They are literally here and gone to the mass public eye. It’s easy to spot the artists on American Idol that have a true understanding of who they are and the ones that don’t; aka the developed artists as opposed to the undeveloped artists. For an artist who is green and thrust into the public eye that fast it’s equivalent to starting at McDonald’s on the fry line and getting instantly promoted to a corporate Sr. VP level; you’re instantly promoted to the point of incompetence.

The more hard work you do on your own, the more traction you get as an artist on your own, the less likely you are to sign a major record deal because it just won’t make sense; you’re already making money! However, if you do choose to sign, your deal will be far more advantageous to you, the artist, than anyone getting a deal off of American Idol.

Your music is everything, man, right? DON’T CUT CORNERS!

You need to pay your dues.

You need to be mentored.

You need to be developed.

The Universe is always as it should be.”

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So????? What will you take away from that?

Read it and go ‘yea yea’ – or consider how some of it might apply/be developed for your business and act on it?

We can provide you will all the references, ideas and input – but in the end …Its up to you and no one else but you, after all it is your business.

Want some help with your music business? Talk to us!
We are based in Victoria Australia, travel along the east coast but help people in various places (internet and technology is a wonderful thing eh?!)  http://www.pavmusic.com

It’s a numbers game to try and tap in to the licensing $$

Sync Stable update and input to those interested in this area of the business
By the way – this relates specifically to that part of our activity in the Sync Stable area using ‘portal’ organisations’ to submit to opportunities (which will be the main way most of those interested do it) rather than activity with direct individuals we have in our network.

While recently our ratios of submissions>shortlist>takeups was pretty low numbers (and therefore good eg say 40:10:4 in one month) – I just did an analysis of the last 5 weeks and seen 86 submissions> all listened to>2 shortlisted (and thos two I thought were outside chances only) > 0 take ups  …

Now I am not disheartened – it is what it is and it’s business.  – but as I was preparing some notes for a lecture I am doing at the start of May, these numbers came to mind and provided a good example of the way to be thinking when entering this section of the business and so I thought I would offer them here.
So for those of you looking to submit music for licensing/synch market opportunities – 5 points to remember-

  1. While you may fluke a win here or there – in reality it is a numbers game a lot for the time.
  2. And therefore, even with a win here or there, it can take a fair while before the averages work in your favour,
  3. Dont take the rejections personally.
    You might have felt your song was absolutely perfect for the brief – made to fit … but there were probably hundreds submitting for the same opportunity and a number of them fitted perfectly,
    Also sometimes what the brief says they are after is not in reality what they are looking for (not a conscious diversion just something that flows out of their listening to shortlists/submissions)
    Remember it is a business for them – so you need that attitude too. So enjoy any success in between and move on
  4. You need to be constantly submitting to new opportunities and therefore
    – need to have the time and searches/portals in place to find out about the opportunities, and
    – the system in place to submit in a timely manner and see the progress/follow ups
  5. You never know what will hit someone’s button – so dont ‘not submit’ a piece of work because it seems left field/too close to the edge of the brief – they may see something in it for their purposes you dont

 Anyway hope some of that was helpful and gives you a bit of resiliance to continue submitting and having a go.

Cheers till next time.

Ian