Tip #1 - The music industry is a business.
- That's important to understand because....if you deal with it as anything other than a business, you will almost certainly fail. If you've had very little business experience or lack a basic understanding of how they operate, you need to learn. Why? As I said above, you cannot succeed in something without first possessing a basic understanding of what it is.
- Talent, musical proficiency dedication to your goals & self-confidence are prerequisites, not your ticket to stardom. Think of them in as you would a college degree. The degree itself guarantees you nothing....other than the opportunity to compete for what you want.
- Intangibles such as "creative integrity" may have value to you & your peers, but NOT to a business. As a general rule, businesses care about 2 things - making money & saving money. When you present yourself to industry representatives, keep that in mind. If you can convince them of your ability to accomplish one or both of those goals, that should get their attention.
- If you're unclear about how someone might "save" a record label money, I'll leave you with 2 examples:
- Think about the huge growth of the pop, rap & hip-hop genres in recent years. The bulk of the music & arrangements for those genres is created via software & sampling. That means fewer session musicians, less studio time and lower overall cost of production. They're able to sell those CDs & downloads at a competitive price, but the profit margin is higher because of the lower production cost. Do you really believe that change in public buying habits was a lucky accident?
- If you happen to be an artist with a huge online fanbase/following (Justin Bieber), that's tangible selling point. A huge ready-made fanbase means lower promotional cost for the label....again, saving them money.
Tip #2 - Beware of the "Scamortunity"
As you might guess, the term is meant to describe a scam disguised as an opportunity.
- What does a scamortunity look like? Not an easy question to answer, since they come in many forms. As a general rule, the more unbelievable the opportunity looks.....
- the more skeptical you should be
- the more extensively it should be researched
- the more reluctant you should be to participate
In other words, if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is!
Most cons (scams) are designed to take advantage of existing vulnerabilities. In the case of songwriter/musicians, those vulnerabilities are well known & numerous. Don't allow belief in yourself, belief in the uniqueness of your creations & desire for recognition to become liabilities in your quest for success.
- Remember....the music industry is a business & should be dealt with as such.
- In business, opportunities rarely come looking for you. Don't expect them to seek you out in this industry either. With very few exceptions, they won't!
Tip #3 - Nothing is owed to you.
Many in this business develop the attitude that the world/industry owes them something. Simply put, that is not a productive mindset & will do nothing to further your career.
- Countless hours of dedication to your craft, skills, talent & creative ability are prerequisites....not entitlements! Virtually every one of your competitors (fellow musician/songwriters) has worked as hard as you have....sometimes harder. Those prerequisites earn you the right to compete, nothing more. View them as you would a high school diploma. That diploma doesn't earn you money, it does get you a job & it won't guarantee admission to the college of your choice. But without it, you don't even qualify to compete for those things, because the majority of your competitors have one.
- Forget about concepts like fairness. The world of business is based on many rules, but fairness is not one of them. Tangible results rule the day.
Tip #4 - For God sake, spend a couple dollars & get your finished material properly copyrighted.
We're only too happy to spend hundreds of dollars on a smartphone that'll be obsolete next year. ATM fees, wireless streaming fees, credit card interest, bank overdraft fees, apps....all things that we've come to accept as unavoidable expenses. BUT....when it comes to spending $35 to legally protect our own artistic creations, we'd rather not. Seriously....$35???
That's the current U.S. Library of Congress online filing rate for multiple works by a single author. To the best of my knowledge, a Library of Congress registration is the only universally recognized method for proving legal ownership of a work. There are viable legal reasons for choosing this method & I encourage you to verify that for yourselves.
Here are a number of direct links you may find useful:
Why Should I Register My Work? FAQ page http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#automatic
Copyright FAQ - http://copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html
Electronic Copyright Office tutorial - http://copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial.pdf
Online Copyright Registration - http://copyright.gov/eco/
Tip #5 - Remember...it's all about the vocals !
It’s common for recording songwriters/bands to underestimate the importance of the primary vocal track. Bottom line….it’s "Priority #1" and should be treated as such.
Why you ask? Simple!
To the ordinary listener, it’s the single most important thing. Non-musician listeners focus the majority of their attention on the vocal (singer).
Sure…everything else matters! Just not as much.
Common Reasons for Substandard Vocals:
· Internal Band Dynamics - every member of a band wants to feel like their part is essential to the success or failure of a project. Unfortunately, nothing outranks the melody & the singer's presentation of it. Yes…a strong vocal can benefit from a great musical arrangement. But, if the vocal’s substandard, the best arrangement/performance in the world won’t save it.
· When recording demos or finished material, vocals are one of the last things to be dealt with. If you’re working in a pro studio, you’re probably paying an hourly rate. If that is the case, you should budget your session time carefully. You can’t afford to blow the majority of the budget on preliminary musical tracks. When that occurs, the natural tendency is to rush the vocal recordings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen friends make this mistake! Remember, if that vocal isn’t done reasonably well, everyone loses.
Take whatever precautions are appropriate. When it’s all said & done, that vocal track will represent your song. Shoot for the highest quality you can reasonably achieve.
*This article is the result of a question posed on the Songstuff boards. John Moxey asked the question, these were my responses.