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Steve Rennie, Renman Music & Business Launch “Renman U”


Introductory video posted on YouTube; enroll today!

LOS ANGELES – Renman Music & Business, the music industry mentoring website founded by longtime industry veteran, Steve Rennie (aka “Renman”), has launched Renman U, an online course designed to be “an insider’s guide to today’s music business,” at: For a $99.99 enrollment fee, Renman U students will receive an interactive set of online video lessons designed to teach aspiring artists and music business professionals what it takes to succeed in the music industry – everything from making music, to music publishing, record labels, touring, building a professional team, marketing and promoting your music and understanding the key points in band agreements, record deals, publishing deals, management contracts and more. Course lessons are based on Rennie’s more than 36 years of experience at the highest levels in the business, and will include quizzes, written exams and more. An introductory Renman U video can be seen on YouTube at:

“This course is for any person who aspires to a career in the music business as an artist or a music professional. I’m going to explain, in a practical way, all the key areas of today’s music business,” said Rennie.

“When I started out, I was fortunate to have met some great mentors along the way – people who had been ‘doing’ for a long time – and they helped me fast track my learning; I’m going to do the same for you.”

Over the last 36 years, Renman Music & Business mastermind, Steve Rennie, has become one of the most successful and respected professionals in today’s music business. He has amassed a broad swath of experience as a concert promoter (Sr. VP Avalon Attractions now Live Nation 1984-1990), record company executive (Sr. VP GM Epic Records 1994-1998), internet entrepreneur (ArtistDirect 1998-2000) and artist manager (Incubus 1998-2014). Now, he is dedicating himself to mentoring this next generation of artists and music pros who will shape the music industry of the future.

In 2012, Rennie founded Renman Music & Business:, an online education portal for the music industry featuring a YouTube channel: with over 500 video clips with tips from industry pros, a web show, Renman Live, which has livestreamed over 100 episodes so far, and more. Renman’s no-nonsense approach empowers artists to smash through the barriers and do what he hopes they will do: “Dream It. Do It.”

Keep up with Renman Music & Business on the new Renman MB app for iOS: and Android: and online at:

For more information, please contact Fresno Media —

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Ask a songwriter: 5 questions for Kent Blazy

By Andre Calilhanna

Excerpted from our forthcoming guide, Songwriters on Songwriting, here are a few insights from hit songwriter Kent Blazy

Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, Kent Blazy became musically inspired when he heard Roger McGuinn playing his Rickenbacker on “Mr. Tambourine Man.” By the mid-70s, Kent was a band leader, playing guitar and touring with Canadian legend Ian Tyson. A first place win in a national songwriting contest persuaded him to move to Nashville in 1980, and in 1982 Gary Morris took “Headed for a Heartache” to #5 on the charts. In 1987, Kent was introduced to a new demo singer named Garth Brooks. The first song Garth and Kent penned together was “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” which became their first #1 song. The friendship and songwriting partnership continued as Garth included eight more of their songs on his albums, five of which reached #1. Other artists to record Kent’s songs include Diamond Rio, Kenny Chesney, Terri Clark, Clay Walker, Patty Loveless, Julie Roberts, Andy Griggs, Blaine Larsen, and Chris Young.

When you write a song, how much focus do you put on your intended audience?
For me, the target audience is really the universal, trying to get to the heart of a song that will touch as many people as possible. Most of the people I write with have the same approach, and Garth [Brooks] is really like that. He’s always looking for a way to make people laugh, cry, be grateful… and it’s such a benefit to work with songwriters like that. Striving to use music, like music has always been, for it’s ability to change the world, change things for the better. That’s what I’m aiming for.

How do you know when your song is done – it’s time to stop revising and put it down?
That’s probably one of the toughest things. I have friends who are still re-writing their songs as they’re going up the charts – “Boy I wish I’d said this or done that.” It’s kind of like kids you’ve nurtured, or something like that, where you’re like “Well, I think this is complete,” and you give it to other people to see what they think and you get some feedback and if someone says, “I think you should do this or change this,” you might go back to it, but most of the time we’re going for the energy of what’s happening in the moment, and if we feel like we’ve captured it, a lot of times, we don’t go back to it. Some of the biggest hits I’ve had have happened very fast. There was a book I had, about the most popular 100 songs or whatever, and most of them were written in 30 minutes, and I know some of the greatest writers here in town that I’ve written with work really fast and they don’t look back. There’s something to the magic of that energy that’s happening right at that one time, it’s like it’s your subconscious coming out rather than the thinking part of your brain, and when you start going back and looking at it and reworking a song, then you’re thinking about it. A lot of times when you start thinking about it, that’s when it gets derailed.

How do you avoid using the same words/themes/rhymes/patterns when you write?
Boy, that’s an interesting question. For me, part of it is I keep a lot of different books of ideas and tapes of melodies and stuff like that, so I’m always looking for an idea or a melody that’s a little different. I mean, you’re working with only so many notes and so many chords. The other thing I do is buy instruments I can’t play, and start playing them to see if I hit on something different than what I would do on the guitar. Sometimes that will motivate me to write something I never would have written before, because the instrument itself is giving me different tonalities than what I’m used to. Anything that breaks me out of the norm of what I’m doing assists me in coming up with something different.

Did you ever study songwriting formally?
I can’t say I studied it formally, but when you grew up on AM and FM radio that had so much diversity and so many great songs, you’re just kind of inundated with the kind of things that get to your heart, the things that make you happy, that make you sad, that make you cry. You’re always studying the music or the lyrics and how people like James Taylor, Jackson Browne, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, and anyone you can think of. I went back and studied the writers that were big in the ’30s and ’40s, Hoagy Carmichael, stuff like that, just getting a handle on what made things so popular. So I did my own studying, just working on what was done in the past and figuring out how to do it differently and still get the feeling they got across in their songs.

What’s the worst bit of advice you ever received regarding your songwriting?
The worst advice I got was from somebody over at SESAC, when I first moved to town and she told me to move back home. She basically told me I was terrible, and it pretty much crushed me. Then I don’t know, maybe six months later I had six songs cut in three weeks. You can’t believe what everybody tells you, you have to go with what your heart’s telling you, and my heart was telling me I had to be in Nashville. That had to be the worst advice I ever got, and I’m glad I didn’t take it.

Learn more about Kent Blazy at Check out Kent’s music on CD Baby.

Read More
A DIY Songwriting Workshop Idea
Thoughts on Writer’s Block From One Songwriter to Another
Songwriting and Writer’s Block: 11 tips to help the songwriter get unstuck
Creative Resources and Tips for Aspiring Songwriters
Where Social Meets Creative

Planning<br /><br />
your album from beginning to end

The post Ask a songwriter: 5 questions for Kent Blazy appeared first on Disc Makers Echoes.

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Make a living in the music business – myths and methods

By Greg Savage

There’s no secret formula for how to make a living in the music business, and some of the advice in this post flies in the face of conventional wisdom 

How do you make a living in the music business? It’s such a popular question… one that’s on the tip of every newbie’s tongue who enters the music industry and repeated by those who’ve been in it for a while without major success. Those who don’t know are confused and those who understand pretend there’s some sort of secret sauce. I have 117 emails sitting in my in box right now that include some variation of this phrase (meshed within a pool of other questions), so I figured I’d give my insight on the topic, clear up a few things, and point you in the right direction.

First, what does “making it” mean? What does it mean TO YOU? Is your music goal to make a good living in the music industry or does it mean reaching celebrity status? Is it getting a record deal? How do you measure music success? This is an important question because the answer will determine how complex your road to success will be.

If money is the target, that’s easy as there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to capitalize on, you just have to know where to look and you need to deliver. If it’s celebrity status you’re looking for, well, that’s more difficult.

A little truth: most of the people who make a living (five or six figures) in the music business you’ve probably never heard of. You don’t hear about these individuals much because they aren’t interesting enough to write about and the majority enjoy staying behind the scenes. I lived next door to a successful jingle producer for five years before I knew what he did. I only found out because some of my mail was accidentally delivered to his address.

So, what does it take to make a living in the music business? Great question, but before we get into that, allow me to shoot down some myths that are floating about.

Common music industry myths

1) You need a lot of talent to have a career in music
I believe you need some talent, but you don’t need to be the most talented person in the world. You have to be able to deliver what the client wants and to be honest, they don’t always “need” or “want” the best of work according to the creator’s standards.

I know that might be hard to believe because everyone says “hone your skills, make sure the music is really good, focus on creating music of GREAT QUALITY.” Take that with a grain of salt. Talent certainly does help, but don’t let the “lack of” factor keep you from creating music and chasing opportunities.

Don’t worry about being a perfectionist either. I find that people who chase perfection miss out on a lot of opportunities. You have to know when to let go, and when to move forward. I would say being able to deliver a quality mix and meeting deadlines trumps talent and perfection any day.

2) It’s hard to make a living in the music business
True, but I find that people tend to make things harder on themselves than they need to. People are afraid to move out of their comfort zones. If touring is what you love, but you’re not successful with it, that might not be your calling. Some people are great songwriters, but suck as performing artists and vice versa. We’re all aware of one-hit wonders and acts that have been signed to big labels and then get dropped. Years pass, and you wonder, “what happened to those guys?” So, you do a Google search, you find them online and notice they sound exactly the same as they did during the time they were dropped. Most of the time they try to pick up where they left off and the result is music that is totally disconnected from the market — just no relevancy whatsoever.

Sometimes, these acts/artists have a small fan base they can rely on, but most of the time that fan base dies down and in most cases will fade away completely. You can’t use what worked 25 years ago and expect to see the same (or any) results today. Things change, you have to adapt. You can’t cater to a market that doesn’t exist.

3) You have to live in a big city
You can live anywhere in the world as long as you have a decent Internet connection. There are many musicians and indie artists making $60-70k or more a year from the comfort of their home armed with nothing but a mic, headphones, and few pieces of software installed on their laptops.

That said, living in a big city has it’s benefits. There are hundreds of talented people who live in LA/NYC who have yet to get their big break. For some, being in a big city is actually discouraging because they begin to realize “I’m not the only one trying to do this.” They also start to realize how clique-y and relationship-dependent the industry is. Big city, no strong connections? Good luck.

4) You Need Expensive Music Equipment
While most hit songs on the radio today aren’t being made on simple home recording setups, you don’t need to book studio time or invest in a pro home studio setup to record a song demo or a track for placement in commercials, video games, or other licensing opportunities. A laptop plus $600-$1,000 in recording equipment can get you off the ground.

5) You need to be original
Oh man, I can just feel the heat on my neck as I type this. Deep breath… I think this statement is crap, flat out. I don’t care what any industry professional tells you, “original music” doesn’t guarantee anything. Good music leads to longevity in a music career, and good music isn’t always “original.” Back in the day, when music was harder to record, if you had a sound or style that people liked, they had to come to you to get it.

These days, there isn’t a sound you can bring to the table that can’t be replicated. Technology has taken the mystery out of this, and it gets easier with each and every software update. Most clients want something that sounds similar to something they’ve already heard anyway. “I’m looking for a song that sounds like this,” or “can you create something like that?” or “I need a hit that sounds like so and so.”

Manager’s, A&R reps, and record labels are no different. They talk about the need for original music, but every hit that rips through the airwaves is carbon copy of everything else that’s out. So where’s all this original music going? Older musicians rave about how authentic and original music was in their day. Truth is, if you study older music (from any era or genre) you’ll notice that it was just as unoriginal then as it is today. Everyone was leeching off the success and sound from the next band or group, or trying to, some were successful and others, not so much. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, just calling it like a I see it.

So, how do you make a living in the music business?

1) Stay in the loop
I know It’s hard to stay updated with the latest and greatest applications, mixing methods, or music trends, but do the best you can. If there’s a software application or update that will improve your work flow, GET IT.

If there’s a hot music trend emerging, you need to be all over it. If mixing is something you struggle with, take a class on it. Get on a PR lists, find out when new shows, albums, and company events are arising — these are all possible placement opportunities. Learn the business of music, it’ll help a lot. People like speaking with others who have some idea of what they’re talking about. Go to workshops, there’s so much to learn, and they’re FUN.

2) Build Strong Relationships
Ask any successful person in any field how they got to where they are and how they maintain their success and they’ll tell you, “I have friends in high places,” or something along those lines. Having good connections in the music industry makes a huge difference if you want to make a living in the music business. Every month I find opportunities in my in box from people I’ve worked with over the years. They pass projects my way because they’ve worked with me and know I deliver in a timely fashion once contracted. These type of relationships keep food and opportunities on the table for a lifetime, and it takes patience and time to really build up a pool of these quality connections.

3) Build a fan base
A fan base is a must have, especially for bands and indie artists. You have to have someone to sell your products to. No fan base means no sales, no sales means you go broke. That doesn’t sound like fun in my book.

Building a fan base takes time, but a lot easier than it use to be. Some artist don’t even perform, they just build a social following or email list (of fans) and direct the traffic back to their singles, albums, and videos. Some are even clever enough to build their following online and then launch a script on their site that allows fans to suggest where they play next. From there the band can map out a mini tour based on the interest and location of their fans. Very effective if done correctly.

4) Analyze markets and their competition
People always say “don’t worry about what the next man is doing.” I disagree. You should pay close attention to what your competition is doing. Why struggle when you don’t have to? People have already made the mistakes and done the trial and error for you, learn from them!

If company X is seeing great results by doing ABC, then you need to do the same, or a variation of it. If you notice companies using a specific sub-genre of music, then you might want to tap into that genre. Can you create it? Is there an element that you can take from it and apply to your own music? If yes, then do so and make yourself more marketable.

If you notice a trend in the media, you might want to reach out to companies who stand to make a profit from it. While people were ragging on Miley Cyrus, I was contacting gaming developers to see if my services could be used in any spoofs they planned on creating. I did the same during the presidential election. Talk about easy money.

5) Give up a percentage of your publishing — be worth someone’s time
Yes, I’m telling you to go out there and give up a percentage of your rights. You do want people to help you make money right? Make it interesting for them. Sometimes 20% from profits isn’t enough. 30% ownership? That’s another story. Give a clerk 3% from every transaction that went through their register and they’d take their job more seriously.

People are more willing to help when they have a vested interest in your material. I’m not saying just give these rights up to anyone, but give them to individuals who can give your music career a boost. Managers, agents, publishers, etc. I know that probably goes against everything you believe in, but this is the real world.

6) Be flexible — keep your options open
Be willing to accept contract jobs. Not everyone can make it as a top record producer, musician, or performing artist. Don’t let this frustrate and stop you from earning good money in other areas of the industry. There are talented singers who make a killing doing voice overs. I know a lot of audio engineers who make good money editing sound for videos, games, audio books, and all sorts of random things. Yes, this might not be where they wanted to be initially, but it’s still audio related, and it has opened doors to other paying gigs allowing them to use their craft to make a living in the music business.

7) You should always be creating music!
The more music you create, the more material you have to shop around. The music industry is a numbers game. If someone likes a song of yours, chances are they’re going to ask for more, and if all you have is five tracks, that could be a missed opportunity.

Why do they ask for more? Because they want to hear your range, your consistency, and if you’re someone who has enough music to submit on a regular basis. If you have to create everything from scratch, that could be a problem, depending on how long it takes you to create. Some opportunities only have two-, maybe four-hour windows. If it takes you five hours to write, record, and mix a track, and the agent needs it in two, you’re SOL. A lot of opportunities have short deadlines, so get use to the time crunch.

A good percentage of placements and opportunities come to those who have the ability to deliver with consistency. Be one of those people.

8) Keep moving forward
You’re going to hear the word “no” a lot. Deals will fall through, people are going to tell you “you’re not good enough,” family may doubt you — heck, you may even doubt yourself. Push all that nonsense aside, and just keep moving forward. Good things happen to those who are consistent and persistent with their goals. Sounds like a cliché, but good things come to people never give up.

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Greg Savage is an entrepreneur from California who makes a living producing music and sound designing for various companies without the use of a record label or manager. He started DIY Music Biz because he wanted to create a reliable resource for musicians, producers, composers, and artists that would be useful regardless of their success or skill level. Topics covered on DIY Music Biz include: Marketing Music, Music Licensing, Sound Design, Gear Reviews, Personal Experiences, Income Generation, Case Studies, and much more.


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How To Make Money With Music Part 1: Gigging

By Shaun Letang

How to make money from music gigs

Hello all, and welcome to Part 1 of what I hope will be a ongoing series on how to better make money in your music career. Whether you want to earn a full time income from your music or you simply want to make enough to cover recording or equipment costs, this series should go a way in helping you achieve that.

Today I’m going to look particularly at how you can make money from gigging. I often see musicians leaving money on the table from their gigging efforts, either through shyness, or simply because they didn’t know how best to monetize their performances. With that in mind, here are some of the main ways you should be making money from each gig.

If you are yet to get many gigs, you may want to check this guide on getting gigs first. If you already know how to get gigs and you have some under your belt, then let’s move on. As always, if you find this guide useful please share it round with your follow musicians.

1. Collecting Royalties From Your Live Performance

Make money from music royaltiesSo this is the one that a fair few musicians either don’t know about, or think is to complex to do. In reality, collecting royalties from your gigs isn’t difficult at all.

Whenever your music is performed in public places, you earn money. That said, if you don’t sign up to a royalty collection company and have them chase up that money for you, then you simply don’t get it.

The amount of royalties you earn from each performance will depend on a few things. One of the main factors is how big the venue is, and their venue capacity. The more people you’re potentially playing to, the more royalties you should essentially get.

All licensed venues need to pay money for playing music in their premises, so be sure to get your share from anywhere you perform. Even if you play small venues which don’t pay out much money per performance, it’ll still add up when combined with the other strategies below.

If you aren’t yet signed up with a royalty collection company, the first thing you need to do is find out who collects royalties in your country. You can usually find this out by doing a search on the internet. In the UK PRS collects royalties, while in the US BMI deal with royalty collection. That said, there are a few different companies around, so have a look at which is most suitable for you.

Be sure to sign up with a collection company asap; not doing so is a mistake, especially if you’re regularly gigging. A good thing about royalty collection companies is they can usually backdate your earnings. So if you’ve played any gigs in the last year or so, you may have a extra pay day just waiting for you.

2. Actively Selling CDs At Specific Types Of Live Shows (This Is A Big One)

Sell CDs at GigsThis is probably my favorite way to monetize gigs, probably because it can instantly add a worthwhile amount of money to your gigging income. The idea is simple; during and after your performances you mention that you have CDs (or other merchandise) to sell for anybody that’s interested. You then let them know you’ll be coming around in the break, or they can come up to you directly at any time.

Yes, it really is as simple as that. Yet I’m still amazed at how few musicians I see doing this!

Now here’s the thing; a lot of people won’t come to you directly after your show. Some will, but most won’t. So by doing the leg work and going into the crowd, you will make more money then you would by standing around and waiting for people to take that first step. This is where your marketing skills come into play.

You’ll want to do this leg work during a break if there are other acts also performing. This is both out of respect for other musicians, and because you’ll appear a nuisance to people if you interrupt their music viewing with a sales pitch. That said, once there’s no other acts on stage, people are often intrigued by a decent musician coming up to them personally and talking to them.

Don’t jump in right away with the sale; ask them how they think the night’s going, or anything else you find relevant to them at the time. Soon after, remind them that you’re selling your CDs (or whatever else you have on you), and ask them if they’d like to buy a copy. Some will, others won’t. If they don’t, genuinely thank them anyway, and wish them a good night. Then move on to the next person.

It’s important you do this genuinely and appear friendly, as it’s harder to say ‘no’ to someone who seems like a nice person. That said, it’s just as important to keep each interaction to no more than around 45 seconds if there’s not going to be a sale. Some will go on a bit longer, but as a general rule you need to move around the room relatively quickly. This is because you’ll want to offer your merch to as many people as possible before people start performing again, or everyone leaves the venue if all the acts are done.

The good thing about this tactic is while you’re talking to and smiling at one person (which generally gets them to smile back at you), others in the room will start noticing this, and be more open to you approaching them next. You’ll appear intriguing.

Big Tip Alert:

Now one last point about this tactic; depending on what type of gig you’re doing, you’ll have different types of conversion rates (the ratio of how many people you approach to how many sales you make). I’ve found that showcase events with paying audiences (even if it’s a small fee) tend to convert very well. This is because the audience are paying to see new acts they haven’t heard of before, so you’ll get a lot of genuine music lovers who are willing to spend on acts they take a liking to. They also expect to pick up something to remember their night by, so they often pack extra change which they’ll be willing to spend on you.

Raves and nightclubs on the other hand don’t convert as well. Normally people are there to drink, and you’re just a side act. So it’ll be a uphill struggle getting them to part with their drinking money.

Like I mentioned, this is one of the things you can instantly put into practice to increase the money you make from each gig. Furthermore, if you use the tactic I mention here (links to a MP3 file taken from my Full Time Musician course, ‘right click’ then ‘save as’ to save to your computer or device), you could literally triple your CD sales at some events.

Be sure to use this strategy as it works, and works well.

3. Getting Paid Directly From Gigs

Get paid upfront for gigsLastly, the obvious way you can make money from gigs: Getting paid upfront! I put this point last because a) you already know it’s possible, and b) the other two are easier to do for up and coming musicians.

While it’s my view you should always aim to get paid an upfront fee for gigging (you are providing a service to a venue after all, so you should get paid for that), after talking to literally thousands of musicians in my career, I’m aware that this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. While it may be easier to get paid for a gig in America for example, if you live somewhere like Nigeria where there’s less venues willing to pay for a musician to perform, this option isn’t as readily available.

Similarly, the genre of music you play will have an impact on how easy it is for you to get paid gigs. For example, if you live in Russia and you play a certain genre of niche music, the number of venues you have to perform at (let alone ones that will pay you) goes down dramatically.

So let me put it like this: Once you have a few performances under your belt and you know you can entertain a venue’s customers well, you should always aim to get paid upfront for your service. Because that’s what you’re providing; a business to business service.

That said, if this is proving difficult due to one of the things I mentioned above so something else, you should at least aim to have your costs covered and a percentage of the door money (if it’s a paid event). If it’s not a paid event, it’ll be down to you to arrange another form of payment that will work for both you and the event organizer.

As you build up more of a name and can draw a bigger crowd, it should get easier to get paid directly from gigging. You will have more bargaining power, and be able to charge higher prices for the service you provide. So if you’re struggling to get the kind of upfront fee you feel you deserve, do some more work on building up your profile and you will edge ever closer to those desired numbers.

Other Ways Musicians Can Make Money

So there are three ways in which you can make money from gigging. If you’re not putting all of these in to practice, you’re leaving money on the table.

As I mentioned, this is just part one of a series I plan to do on the subject of making money from music. That said, if you want more information now and advanced strategies which won’t be in the series, you may want to check out this training on making a full time income from music. This is a course I put together with a full time musician, and contains a lot of practical information which you can implement to increase the amount of money you make from your music. No fluff or ‘get rich quick’ tactics, just good business advice that works.

Be sure to sign up to my newsletter to find out when the next part of this series is released, and let us know of how you like to make money from gigs.

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Pay everyone but the musician

By Andre Calilhanna

DIY artist Whitey lashes out at big media when asked to give away music for free – and he calls for a “public discussion”

It’s compelling when an artist takes a concept and crystallizes it into words you wish you had come up with. For example, let’s say you want to send a message to all the big media companies that are looking to use music from a DIY artist for their television shows but claim “budget restrictions” when it comes to paying for the music they want to license.

Enter Whitey, AKA Nathan White, a Berlin-based electro-rock multi-instrumentalist/composer from London who apparently shuns many standard DIY promotion tactics (like having an official website). He has, nonetheless, crafted a 10-year indie music career and has landed songs on Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, in addition to releasing multiple albums and scoring other notable licensing placements.

Whitey’s making headlines for his recent spat with Betty, a London-based TV production company that “makes modern and high quality popular formats and factual television series” (i.e. reality TV). Betty wanted to use his song “Stay On The Outside,” claimed budget restrictions when asking to use the track, and basically asked him to give away music for free. This was too much for Whitey, and he posted the transaction on his Facebook page. Here it is below:

From Betty:

Thanks for emailing me, I have emailed your label but not heard back yet so thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately we don’t have any budget for music but would be great if we could use the track but it is up to you, but would appreciate anything you could do?

Many thanks,

From Whitey:
Hello Zoe,

Firstly, there is no label – I outright own my own material, so I’m not sure who you’ve been emailing.

Secondly, I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line “Unfortunately there’s no budget for music”, as if some fixed Law Of The Universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget. So you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week – from a booming, affluent global media industry.

Why is this? Let’s look at who we both are.

I am a professional musician, who lives from his music. It took me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard-earned property. I’ve licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on earth; from Breaking Bad to The Sopranos, from Coca-Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.

Ask yourself – would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resume like that, and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing? Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.

Or would you walk into someone’s home, eat from their bowl, and walk out smiling, saying, “So sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not. Because, culturally, we classify that as theft.

Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question pay everyone connected to a shoot- from the caterer to the grip to the extra- even the cleaner who mopped your set and scrubbed the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.

Now let’s look at you. A quick glance at your website reveals a variety of well-known, internationally syndicated reality programmes. You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognised company with a string of hit shows. Working on multiple series in close co-operation with Channel 4, from a West London office, with a string of awards under your belt. You have real money; to pretend otherwise is an insult.

Yet you send me this shabby request – give me your property for free. Just give us what you own, we want it.

The answer is a resounding and permanent NO.

I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to reblog this. I want to see a public discussion begin about this kind of industry abuse of musicians… this was one email too far for me. Enough. I’m sick of you.

— NJ White

Of course, there’s the ongoing debate regarding whether DIY artists should give away music for free, and it can be tough, especially as a budding indie musician, to say “no” to opportunities that are pitched as benefitting you in ways other than monetary compensation – the old “we can’t pay you, but you’ll get a ton of exposure” line. We want affirmation that our work is worthwhile, or seek that gateway to reach an unknown audience that can result in new fans and record sales.

But the question of when and why your music should be undervalued or why you should be expected to give away music for free is a relevant one. An actor or director wouldn’t do a commercial for a major product and not expect payment. They wouldn’t see it as a chance to gain exposure and other work. Why would that be true for the DIY artist, musician, or composer?

Whitey’s Bandcamp page:

Whitey’s Facebook page:

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Making magic when things go wrong on stage

By Michael Gallant

Maintaining confidence and control – or at least the appearance thereof – can go a long way toward making a performance special when things go wrong on stage

Regardless of how many times you’ve rehearsed, unexpected events can strike and go wrong on stage. Whether it’s equipment blowing up, power going out, your drummer suddenly having an incapacitating allergy attack, or some overly drunk fan trying to “help” you sing that final chorus at the mic, snafus happen to even the biggest artists at the classiest venues. So what can be done to deal?

Last month, I had the good fortune to take in two performances that turned out to be case studies in on-stage troubleshooting done right. The first was the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, performing at Carnegie Hall with jazz piano pioneer Brad Mehldau as guest soloist and composer. The second was Pearl Jam blowing up the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Both performances were outstanding, deeply musical experiences — but in both, the performers had something go wrong on stage.

Partway through Orpheus’ retelling of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, principal violist Christof Huebner had a string break — not an auspicious turn of events, especially in the midst of such a long and intense composition. Without missing a beat, he began repairing his instrument on stage, as assuredly as if it had all been choreographed (though the instrument’s malfunction clearly hadn’t been).

At one point, Huebner and his second chair violist switched instruments with the no-nonsense finesse of a football handoff and the second musician finished the job the first had begun. If you had been listening with eyes closed, you never would have known that anything was amiss.

Pearl Jam’s on-stage situation was more of an obvious interruption, but ultimately one that the group spun to endearing advantage. As one song began, it became immediately clear to the thousands of fans in the arena that the musicians were not synced up. Why? Who knows — but it was a false start for sure.

Recognizing that the band couldn’t recover, Eddie Vedder quickly killed the song, explaining with deadpan humor that the failed attempt was actually a new tune, to be released on another new album next year. The audience roared in approval and the song’s second start returned the band to its normal level of polished thunder.

Each group showed a level of performance mastery that allowed their respective shows to go on with verve, in spite of unexpected complications. In both situations, the audience didn’t flinch because the performers didn’t; Orpheus’ collaborative repairs and Vedder’s light humor and quick recovery showed a level of comfort on stage that set the audience at ease and made the hiccups, as potentially catastrophic as they may have been in less professional hands, into something else entirely. Neither performance came across as sloppy. Rather, they both had character.

For indie musicians of all stripes, maintaining confidence and control (or at least the appearance thereof) can go a long way toward smoothing over any rough edges when things go wrong on stage. Remember that your audience is (most of the time) rooting for you to win — and having them see you confidently navigate a dangerous situation might just make their experience all the more magical.

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Disc Makers’ regular contributor Michael Gallant‘s debut trio album Completely received a four-star review from DownBeat magazine and a five-star review from Critical Jazz, which stated: “This, my friends, is the future of jazz. Fresh, invigorating, progressive – there are simply not enough positive adjectives to list here.” Learn more, download now through iTunes, jam along with the new JamBandit app, or purchase through CD Baby. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Gallant or on Facebook.

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Easy Money? The Definitive UK Guide To Funding Music Projects by Remi Harris, 2013

By Jenny Tyler

26th September, London: MusicTank today published its 6th industry report. Written by Remi Harris (formerly UK Music AIM) Easy Money? lists over 100 different funders of music across the six main sources of money – grants, crowdfunding, friends & family, loans, investment and sponsorship.

The guide is packed with tips and tricks from a range of providers and includes case studies from several artists and entrepreneurs – including End of the Road festival’s Sofia Hagberg, Red Grape Management and Carl Barât.

Despite the received wisdom being that music companies should be looking for investors rather than debt finance, Easy Money? reveals that only about 1% of all pitches to investment houses receive funding. Grant funding rates are considerably higher, yet even there, a large proportion of applications fail to meet the eligibility criteria. Several other myths are busted, including the notion that crowdfunding has peaked.

The guide’s plain-speaking tone demystifies how funding works for musicians, entrepreneurs and micro-businesses, helping them discover sources of money they were previously unaware or unsure of.

“Investment in British creative talent is at a critical juncture. As our nation struggles to move investment focus away from industrial concerns to internet-driven, knowledge-based youth enterprise, this publication is significant in both its timing and content. British music is a leading light in the creative field, a rare export jewel. Investment in music talent will define whether this sector will grow or decline; it’s as simple as that. ‘Easy Money?’ will prove a useful tool in helping us push towards the hoped-for outcome.”
Brian Message, ATC Management and Chairman, MMF

“Artists and small music companies have more control than ever, but navigating the world of funding and finance is a daunting task. The attention to detail, pertinent case studies and practical advice in Remi’s comprehensive guide make this essential reading for the DIY sector.”
Joe Frankland, Artist Development Manager, Generator


Separately, MusicTank’s follow-up funding convention, taking place Tuesday 22nd October, has confirmed the first presentations and workshops, from PRS for Music Foundation with their Momentum Music Fund and BPI for UKTI’s Music Export Growth Scheme.

Aimed at musicians, entrepreneurs, micro-businesses & SMEs, Easy Money? The Convention will see London’s Somerset House host a hotbed of workshops, presentations, and Q & A sessions provide delegates with the tools and contacts necessary to get their projects off the ground.

A combined Finance Convention early bird ticket (£99 and Easy Money? finance guide can be bought together for just £125, before 3rd October, here

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The reason musicians fail

By Cari Cole

The reasons musicians fail

As an indie artist, you’ve got plenty of hurdles to clear before you achieve success with your music career – a positive mindset is where it all starts

There are a variety of reasons musicians and indie artists fail. Some lack real talent or work ethic. Some suffer from bad timing – like starting up a hair metal band just as grunge began to take over in the early 90s. Other artists lack motivation or let their fears win. This is definitely an abbreviated list, but you can see a common thread here if you look closely.

We know there are a million and one reasons artists fail. But the #1 top reason they fail is simple: it all boils down to not having the right MINDSET. Almost all the other issues that arise are simply offshoots of this one fundamental flaw.

The right mindset starts with understanding that what you think and the way you think is what determines your course and your music career – and it’s often the under-the-surface thoughts that lurk in the unconscious that run the show. You see, you will only achieve what you believe is possible. It doesn’t mean necessarily that you have to be confident, but it does mean that you stay determined and committed in the face of all odds, and that you get back up on the horse no matter how many times life throws you off.

And I would add that you even have a greater sense of responsibility – almost a sense of duty – to bring your talent to the world and make a contribution as an indie artist (that it’s bigger than just you). When you have a strong mindset, you plan ahead and are mentally ready for each challenge (and figure out a way to adjust even if you’re not ready).

When your mindset is fraught with anxiety and doubt, you can’t come close to living your dream. It’s just the way it works. Because if you don’t believe it to be true, it won’t be. So, I’m sharing with you the top five warning signs your mindset may be a little off. If you watch for these red flags and eliminate them, you’ll know you’re on the right track to a better mindset and more success in your music career as an indie artist.

Red Flag #1

You blame everyone else for your lot in life. But when it comes right down to it – you can’t control others, you can only control you.

Red Flag #2

The reason you dole out for not “making it” is “money.” Even though it seems like money is holding you back – it’s not. You are on an Evolutionary Path and you can’t skip steps. Money is energy – get out there and give – and you will attract what you need.

Red Flag #3

You are afraid to be different. Great artists stand out, not fit in. This takes courage and the willingness to stick your neck out. It also takes support. Find a community that strengthens what is unique in you (this sounds self serving, but it’s not – it’s for YOU: check out my Mind Over Music Membership Circle).

Red Flag #4

You don’t trust anyone, let alone yourself. You’re going to have to put your trust in people (that are worthy), because you can’t do this alone – but put the most trust in YOU – because you are the Captain.

Red Flag #5

You don’t believe in yourself and don’t work on improving. It’s natural for artists to be insecure (an essential part of your nature), but that means you have to work double hard on strengthening your mindset, inner conviction, and faith. Are you?

7 Myths for success as an indie artist

Want to know more? I’m hosting a free teleclass November 13th at 8pm EST called 7 Myths of the DIY Musician. We’ll go over the downsides and challenges of DIY and how to fix them using the power of your mindset. Get ready to change your thinking about what it takes to build a successful music career. Learn more and REGISTER here.

Want help with your mindset and career? Check out our two popular programs: Mind Over Music Monthly Circle and the Fast Forward Program + Blueprint: For Smart + Resourceful Musicians Who Want to Build Their Brand and Live the Dream!

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Making money from music streaming

By Kristin Thomson

The internet-fueled debate about the pros and cons of Spotify went another round last week, with contributions by David Byrne, Dave Allen, Jay Frank, Bob Lefsetz and Fast Company. I read them all, as I’ve done with the previous public debates about whether Spotify is a good or bad thing for musicians. As an indie record label owner and a long-time advocate for musicians through the Future of Music Coalition, I care deeply about these debates and, more importantly, about ensuring musicians and songwriters are fairly compensated for their work.

Most of these articles have focused on the per-play compensation that performers and songwriters receive, something that’s between 2/10ths of a penny, and a whole penny per play, depending on the subscription level of streamer (ad-supported versus premium), geographic location of the service and the listener, and – most importantly – the deal that the artist has with his or her label, publisher and/or aggregator.

Most writers argue that this fraction-of-a-penny rate is a trifling amount that cannot sustain artists. [And, indeed, it would be impossible for musicians – except those at the tippy top – to rely solely on on-demand streaming services for their month-to-month income. However, this is just one revenue stream of many. The majority of musicians rely on a mix of income streams based on their compositions, sound recordings, performances, brand, and knowledge of their craft, the makeup of which is highly dependent on their role, genre and career arc, as well as their memberships, teammates, and whether they get radio airplay. This is something that we have documented as part of the Artist Revenue Streams research project, which has been examining changes in musicians’ income streams over time.]

Other writers have countered that debates about this fraction-of-a-penny rate neglect the fact that this economic equation has three parts to it: (a) size of paying audience, (b) number of times something is streamed, and (c) the payment per stream. Streaming services continue to argue that artists will get paid more if (a) the audience grows, whether through an increase in paid subscribers or more bundling with devices, as it will increase the chance of (b) more streams and more company revenue.

As an advocate for musicians and songwriters, I’d like to see an increase in (a) audience size, (b) number of streams and (c) the payment per stream. But I also know that the per-play rate for on-demand streaming services was set through private negotiations between the platforms and the biggest record labels in the world, and that individual musicians (unless you are as powerful as Metallica or Pink Floyd) have almost no leverage over that (c) per-play rate.

On-demand subscription is still a crowded marketplace, currently represented in the US by Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Cricket/Muve, Slacker and Google Play. Then there are the non-interactive services: Pandora and Sirius XM. And the new hybrid: iTunes Radio. And the upstart: Beats. And the elephant: YouTube. Not all of these will survive, as most of these really, really, really need to grow their user base in order to turn a profit.

Here’s a bold prediction: The winning music services will be platforms that satisfy users and musicians.

Instead of digging in harder on the per-play rate issue, let’s look at some other changes to these music services that might make a substantive difference for musicians, songwriters and fans. Full credit goes to Zoe Keating, Erin McKeown, Casey Rae, Ann Chaitovitz, Jean Cook, George Howard, John Strohm, David Touve, Mark Mulligan, the Fair Trade Music Campaign, and many others for inspiring and informing this list:

Display: This is basic, but essential. Every streaming platform has made specific decisions about what metadata is displayed on an artist or album page. Usually it’s Track Title, Artist Name, Album Name. These as also the kinds of searches a user can do. What’s usually not displayed or searchable? Composer/Songwriter. Label. Release Date. Conductor. Soloists. I understand that services have very practical decisions to make about user experience, simplicity, and how displayable data translates to mobile apps. But artists and aggregators routinely deliver all of this extra metadata to the services, and it would be great if it was available via a “more info” or “credits” tab. And, in the case of classical music, Artist Name/Performer and Composer should both be visible and searchable. Otherwise, searches for specific recordings are fruitless, and classical music simply becomes invisible.

Drive: Services should build out tools that make it dead simple for listeners to take action when they hear music they like and they want to engage more with the artist or band. In a perfect world, platforms would provide artists and labels with backend access to a dashboard, where they could pick and choose the widgets or links that are most appropriate to display on their artist page. Why customizable? Because the tools and information that are useful to Fleet Foxes are different than those that matter to Fugazi, or Frank Sinatra. Options could include: one-click access to an artist’s website or social media, one-click downloads of MP3s, embedded tour dates and an easy way to buy a ticket to a show from the venue’s primary ticket seller, or direct ties to merchandise. Many of these activities are worth, in dollars, a lot more than the micro-penny value of the streams themselves.

Data: Give musicians, labels and managers access to anonymized data and heat maps about the customers who are listening to their music. This could potentially help musicians and their teammates make better decisions about where to perform live or how to attract more fans.

Discovery: All the services offer a variety of tools – recommendation engines, pre-programmed stations, user-generated playlists, links to what friends are listening to, customizable sliders, and so on – that can help listeners find music that they might like, or discover something new. Awesome. But there is a lot of untapped potential here to use artist and song metadata to make the connections between various musical projects across time.

Think of metadata as the limbs of a musical family tree. Services could make it easy for a Foo Fighters fan to trace Dave Grohl’s musical history back to Nirvana and, before that, Scream, and also follow his work as a hired gun drummer, which includes playing on Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails albums. Using metadata for discovery could be particularly great for songwriters, composers and producers. It could be used to connect the threads on Carole King’s work as a songwriter, from the Monkees to James Taylor, or to follow the production credits for Dave Sardy, or to point out that the Paul Williams who is featured on the new Daft Punk album is the same Paul Williams who wrote “Rainbow Connection.”

Perhaps I’m simply being nostalgic for the days of studying album credits, but platforms that encourage this kind of “down the rabbit hole” discovery would not only strengthen the musical connections that make artists’ careers noteworthy and inspiring, but also encourage listeners to spend more time engaged with the music platform, participating in the type of liner-notes learning that has fallen by the wayside with the domination of MP3s.

More Control: This suggestion applies most specifically to YouTube which, unlike all the other music services, allows musicians to upload their own work directly to their platform and lets users generate videos using other musicians’ music. YouTube has created its own clever system to deal with licensing and compensation, but because there is no subscription fee, all of the income generated from the site is based on ads. This is great for the user – FREE MUSIC! – but the musicians whose videos are posted have no control over the ads that are associated with their music. It also makes it impossible to create a more personal or immersive experience, or one where artists would have control over the prices for viewing their content.

There’s little doubt that YouTube will continue to dominate the music discovery and listening world in the years to come. What would vastly improve it would be giving musicians the ability to create optional premium tiers where musicians could gather paying subscribers for an ad-free experience. (Breaking News! A version of this apparently near launch)

Transparency: While this article wasn’t designed to talk about the micro-penny-per-stream rates, it’s worth mentioning that all of these on-demand services could do a much better job of disclosing the rates they are paying per stream, and ensuring that rightsholders – from the biggest label to the smallest indie – are getting paid equitably. As noted earlier, these per-stream rates are set through private negotiations between the big labels and the services, with the contracts subject to nondisclosure agreements. Absent any official word from the services, advocates, the media, and musicians themselves are left guessing about what those rates are. Sure, various musicians and songwriters have posted their per-stream royalty statements to blogs and websites, but without more complete information, we are simply hypothesizing about the range and differences in per-stream rates. And, some services prohibit musicians from talking about payments, which means they could be kicked out of the service for disclosing the finer points of their deal. It’s time for these on-demand streaming services to adopt greater transparency and demonstrate a commitment to equitable payments to all rightsholders.

We are already seeing services embrace some these features. Many offer one-click MP3 downloads. Rhapsody is participating in The Recording Academy’s Give Fans the Credit campaign, and Blue Note’s app on Spotify shows what kind of historical tours are possible with rich metadata. Shazam‘s app allows users to push discovered music to Rdio, Spotify or buy it on iTunes. Spotify is embedding tour dates on artists’ profiles via Songkick. Pandora offers one-click purchases via iTunes and Amazon and has done some early stage data sharing with some musicians. In May 2013, YouTube rolled out a pilot premium channel service and it looks like they’re set to launch a more robust version. The soon-to-be-released Beats promises human curation and will possibly tie in more e-commerce.

Despite over ten years of development and growth of various on-demand streaming and subscription services, we are still at the early stages of these digital platforms. Platforms will transform and adopt new features to stand out in a busy marketplace and, hopefully, entice more customers. The music services that will win, in the long run, will be those successfully enhance the connections between musicians and fans. But it will take continued pressure from musician and songwriter advocacy groups to ensure that services do not just treat music as a crowd-gathering mechanism. We need to work together to propose practical solutions.

This is also why conversations involving lawyers, technologists, policymakers, labels, musicians and songwriters are so important. On-demand streaming is one topic, but there are many other policies and business practices that determine if, how and how much musicians are paid. Compulsory licenses, new business models, performance royalties, copyright reform, metadata and musician advocacy are all part of an artist-driven conversation that will be happening at the 12th annual Future of Music Summit in Washington, DC on October 28 and 29. Want a better music ecosystem? Join us.

Kristin Thomson is Co-Director of Future of Music Coalition’s Artist Revenue Streams Project. @kristinthomson. Special thanks to Zoe Keating for contributing to this article. @zoekeating

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