ARTIST MANAGEMENT – 8 Reasons Why a Band or Artist Needs a Manager

© Copyright 2016 Jeremy Rwakaara
To most musicians, the enduring image of an artist manager is a caricature of a heavy-set, unkempt slob of a man, stuffed into a 2-sizes-too-small, off-the-rack department store suit, chomping on a cheap smelly cigar while sliding a greasy hand unceremoniously into the back pocket of a starving artist. Surely, somewhere in the vast landscape of the music universe, such malice exists. The vast majority of artist managers, however, are a motley collection of well-meaning, hardworking, selfless individuals struggling to make the dreams of someone they believe in come true.
For the legion of dedicated unbelievers out there, this is an article that attempts to shed light on the true value of an artist manager. Following are 8 reasons why a band or artist needs a good manager:follow the path
1. Career Guidance – It’s often extremely difficult for artists to step back from the day-to-day activities and see the big picture (you know – the old “forest-for-the-trees” thing). A knowledgeable manager can see how everything in the big picture fits together, and can help the artist navigate through the often-confusing maze of activities that seem unrelated yet are all part of a massive jigsaw puzzle. The manager provides career guidance and helps to set the overall game plan for the artist and the artists’ team to follow.
2. Cheerleading – Even though fans are the main cheerleaders for an artist, someone has to communicate the same enthusiasm to the music business community. An artist manager will trumpet the artists’ message to booking agents, promoters, media personnel, club bookers, sponsors, licensees, etc., in order to make them interested and/or keep them engaged and enthusiastic.
3. Prestige – According to most record industry professionals, there is something to be said about an artist that has a manager. The logic is that if an artist is good enough to attract management, there must be something of value present. In fact, most major labels refuse to sign an artist unless they have solid team (manager, booking agent, attorney and publicist) in place. An artist without management is just too much drama! Labels would rather deal with someone who knows how the music business works and can make decisions on a non-emotional basis.
4. Buffer – A manager can act as an effective screening buffer between the artist and people that want to do business with the artist. This buffer tends to attract legitimate industry players while at the same time scaring away scam artists. There are no scarier words to a scam artist than “please talk to my manager“.
5. Time management – There simply is not enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done in order to further the career of an artist. In between writing songs, conducting interviews, designing artwork for CD’s and merchandise, managing a mailing list, filling out copyright paperwork, rehearsing with the band, hiring and firing musicians, updating band websites and Social Media profiles, getting pictures taken, shooting and editing YouTube videos, sending out packages and/or updating EPK’s, researching, repairing and purchasing equipment, etc., there isn’t time to also craft a master game plan, solicit potential sponsorship partners, handle licensing requests, reach out to industry gatekeepers, attend industry networking events, harass labels for tour support, and so on. Some tasks can be delegated to the band while others can be handled by the manager.
6. Accountability – Part of a manager’s job is to hold people accountable. What happens when the financial tour support that was promised by the label fails to materialize? Or the check from the booking agent bounces? Or the FOH engineer at the show is MIA? Or the licensee fails to sign and return the contract but is using the artist’s songs anyway? Or the beer in the tour van vanishes? Somebody has to keep people honest, and that is most appropriately the manager’s job.
7. Good Cop / Bad Cop – Need to fire the bass player but don’t want to create an enemy? Let the manager play bad cop and do the firing. Need to re-negotiate your contract and request more of a promotion budget? Let the manager play good cop and keep a positive spin on the proceedings. There are plenty of occasions when the artist and manager can trade off playing good cop / bad cop.
8. Sounding board – A manager, even though basically an “honorary member of the band“, is frequently on the outside looking in. Managers usually see things differently than the artist, and can often provide different perspectives, insights and solutions to problems the artist is encountering. Running ideas by a knowledgeable manager prior to making decisions often allows for good ideas to become better and bad ideas to be removed altogether from the to-do list.
So, there you have it! 8 good reasons why an artist needs a manager. Having said all this, however, it is important to note that having a bad manager is worse than having no manager at all. Many wannabe managers think they can just “wing-it” with an artist, and continue to operate with the “lets-record-a-3-song-demo-and-shop-it-for-a-record-deal” mentality, even though the music industry continues to undergo significant changes. New business models are emerging, and only those managers that stay at the leading edge of the learning curve will create successful strategies and provide meaningful counsel to their clients.

If you are interested in finding out how to get a manager to help take your career “to the next level“, we’ve released an eBook to help you with that called ‘The Artist’s Guide to Management‘; which you can pick up in our eBook store here.


10 Essential Tips for Making a Living with Your Music

Everybody loves Top 10 Lists, from David Letterman’s countdowns, to the Huffington Post’s top 10 this and that. It’s a fun way to maintain the illusion that in a complex world, things can be simpified, or dumbed-down.

So…Let’s play along. Why not a Top Ten List on the subject of Making A Living From Your Music?

The following list highlights 10 habits you should develop if you want to make a consistent living from your music. I can honestly say that these habits are the habits of successful musicians I have known and admired:

1) Find ways to get ordinary people who love music, to love your music. We live in a time when everybody and their sister can and does make their own music. That doesn’t mean, however, that your music has what it takes for record labels to invest their money and time developing, promoting, and marketing that music. 

Try your music out on “music fans” in the same way you would solicit opinions from A&R Rep. Talent scouts in the music industry are always following tips they hear from their street connections. But remember, your music must truly stand out in some significant, original, dynamic, and creative way. 95% of the independently produced CDs out there contain regurgitated ideas that were ripped off from some other more gifted musicians.

So prove to the industry that ordinary music fans in your city love your music.

You can do this by giving away samples of your music and putting some of your songs on the many internet websites that allow people to download or sample new music. If people love something they let other people know about it. So, you can find out quickly if your music has what it takes to please the public by giving away your music, for a while, until there is a real demand for it. Then continue to give away your music, but in a more controlled or limited way.(Perhaps give away a song or two for a limited time on you website, or through MySpace and/or Facebook.) You will sense when the time has come to control this habit and charge a reasonable fee for access to your music.

2) Play live often and don’t worry ( at  first) about getting paid for every gig. You can always tell the difference between a musician who is in it for the money, and a musician who is in it for the music. The dedicated musician can’t not play music every chance they get. Money-focused musicians whine about the fact that they can’t get club gigs that pay anything. If you really think that you can make your living solely as a musician in the first three to four years of your career, you are headed for a breakdown and disappointment. Think about it… almost every legendary, gifted musician who has made a mark on our culture has been a musician who struggled long and hard at their craft, and never gave up. Eat determination for breakfast! Go out there and play on the streets if you have to, play at schools, fairs, festivals, do benefits to help other people and organizations. Offer your services to non-profits, charities, church groups, and any other companies or organizations you can think of. Hang out at clubs, look for jamming possibilities, or start your own jam sessions. Look around your city or town, and you will see many places and venues where musicians can play. As you establish yourself and more and more people show up at your shows, the paid gigs will increase. Remember…  play live, and then after you play live, play live again, that’s what musicians are supposed to do.

3) Know your instrument inside-out. One of the curious developments of the late 1970’s was the huge increase in garage bands, punk bands, rappers, and “do-it-your-self-ers”, who just picked up an instrument, or started to sing with some friends, and 6 months later recorded a record and began to play live. Some great music, and new directions in music, came out of that situation. But now, 30 odd years later, the novelty of hearing amateurish thrashings has gotten a bit dull.

Prior to late 70’s, more often than not, the music that is our heritage was made by musicians who, from the time they took up their instrument, worshiped at the feet of some master bluesman, jazz player, folk legend, songwriter, or whatever. The habit of these inspired musicians was an appetite for perfection. A need to be not just “good enough”, but GREAT. Why settle for less? Whatever developing stage you are at, go beyond it, re-commit yourself to your instrument or voice. Take lessons, or better yet, sit yourself down at your CD player and choose a favorite musicians record, and listen closely to what they are playing. then re-play it, and re-play it again. Challenge yourself to go beyond your limitations. Who knows, maybe you will fall into some new territory, wherein you will find yourself, your “sound”, and increase your chance to stand out from all the mediocrity that is your competition.

Believe it or not, record labels love to hear innovative, accessible new sounds. Actually in their heart of hearts, that is what they are really hoping to hear on every new demo, and from every new act they go see at a live venue. You see, in the business of music, when we hear something new, original, and accessible to people, we can then invest in you with more security, believing that if we put our “label brand” on you, with our talents of promotion and marketing coming to the front, then we “have something”, and your music becomes our music, and we work together to broaden you audience appeal. It’s kinda like a partnership… something about “Art and Commerce”… they can work together you know?!

4) Protect your investment… register your songs for proper copyright protection. I never cease to be amazed how few artists are willing to spend $40 to register their songs with the Copyright office. By the way, these folks are often the same folks who complain about not getting paid to perform their unknown music. All I know is that when an inventor comes up with some new product that they think will appeal to a certain type of customer, the first thing they do is file for a patent on their invention. The same reaction to protecting songs should be there for any serious songwriter. If you really intend to work hard and develop your career as a musician who writes your own songs, don’t wait too long to take care of this simple, but essential task. If you really believe in your unique and original music then take the time to learn the basics of copyright protection. From the Internet to the library, there’s an easy way to learn what it takes to file for copyright protection. Do it now! Go

5) Design and write your promotional materials so they stand out. The topic of designing and writing effective promotional materials; bios, fact sheets, cover letters, quote sheets, website and blog pages etc. is a lengthy one to say the least. As far as some tips that can help musicians promote their careers, and contribute to their getting any deal offers, is to make the promo materials as compelling, and informative as possible. Take the time to inventory any accomplishments, positive reviews, training and awards, past sales, and live appearance highlights; and organize them into professional written documents that you have saved for you website, MySpace and/or Facebook accounts. Having done that, time also needs to be taken to research who to send the materials to, and to ask each potential recipient what type of information they would like to have sent to them. No “generic” kits should ever be created. let alone sent to any gatekeepers in the music business.

6) Know the labels and music publishers you hope to be signed to. If you were applying for a job with a certain company of corporation, wouldn’t you take some time to ask questions about their stability as a business, their reputation in the industry, and the executives background and experience? The same is true when you are approached by any reliable music industry company. Some musicians get so excited when a certain label approaches them with a recording contract offer, or a publishing company offers to sign them. Being approached for a deal is a compliment and recognition by a label or publisher that a musician’s music is attractive to them. But, to rush ahead without taking the time to learn a few things about them is foolish indeed. Ask… how have they done with your particular genre of music? What specific “points” are they offering you? Who runs the label or publishing company? What is their reputation in the music business? How do you like them as people? These and other questions can be crucial in making an unemotional decision about an arrangement that could make or break your career.

7) Have your own ‘Entertainment Law Attorney’ to represent you. The business of getting signed to any deal in the music business has always had, has now, and will always have, the involvement of entertainment law attorneys. No jokes will be inserted here, because any relationship between a musician, a record label, a publisher, a merchandiser etc. will come down to two attorneys hashing out the contract for the musician and the respective companies involved. It should be pointed out here that when all is said in done with the “courting” process, the musician is never present during the actual negotiations. The musicians attorney and the music company’s attorney meet, talk over the phone, and fax/email or snail mail their offers and counter-offers amongst themselves. This fact serves to remind you that choosing a reputable, ethical, well respected attorney with lots of deal-making experience within the music industry is an absolute necessity for any serious musician who wishes to fight the good fight in the legal arena.

8) Choose a well-connected and respected personal manager. Great artist managers are becoming a thing of the past. Self-management is always a valid option in the developing stages of establishing your career as a musician. Much can be learned by taking on the jobs of securing gigs, getting some publicity, planning tours, dealing with personal issues that arise within the band, and schmoozing with A&R Reps and various other label and publishing personnel. However, there comes a time, usually when the daily tasks of doing the business of being a band takes up too much time, and it is at this time that the services of a good manager can be very useful. I have always felt that if any musician or band has worked hard to establish their career, and achieved a modicum of success, they will have a better chance to “attract” the services of a professional, well-connected and respected manager.

Managers who do this job for a living can only take on clients that generate income. Making money as a personal manager is no easy task, and many upcoming artists forget that if any monenies are to be generated from their music, it can takes years for the flow of that income to be reliably there. So, as a band develops self-management, or gets help from intern/student manager-wannabees, this can help pave the road for professional management.

Over the years I have heard several horror stories about “managers” that approach upcoming acts and say that for X amount of dollars, they can do such and such for the artist. No… this is not the way legit personal managers work. Well-connected and respected personal managers get paid a negotiated fee for their services (get it in writing) for any and all business transactions they are responsible for (15%-25%) over a particular contract period. No musicians should ever pay a fee to a so-called “manager” who will not do any work UNLESS they are paid up front. Flim-Flam men and women still abound in this business… be forewarned.

One of the most important jobs of a manager is to secure recording and publishing contracts for their clients, this is why it is so essential to choose well connected and well respected managers. The music business is a “relationship” business. Who know who, and who can get to know who, and who did what successfully for who… is what this management game is all about. Choose carefully those people who will be representing you in any business dealings.

9) Don’t take advice from anyone unless you know that they know what they are talking about. At the beginning of this article I stated that these 10 tips were just my comments from years of dealing with the business itself and many musicians. Everybody has their own list of Do’s and Don’ts and the only real value they have is that they present you with “opinions” about what to do to get established as a musician.  

To be quite candid, the best rules in the music business comes from the experience of building your own career; learning from your own interactions with the gatekeepers at labels, the media, management, and booking companies as to what is right or wrong for you. For every Do or Don’t there is an exception to a so-called “rule”. As I reflect on the advice I sought out and listened-to over the years, the most valid tips came from people who walked the walk, and talked the talk. If you feel that the source you have contacted knows what they are talking about, and has had first hand experience doing what you want to learn about, that is the only feedback that might stand up over time. Choose carefully.

10) Musician…Educate Thyself! If you want a record deal, learn what a record deal is, and learn something about the business of music. Naive or mis-informed musicians are a menace to themselves. Enough already!

Over the decades there have been countless stories of musicians who were ripped off by their record labels and music publishing companies. Why? Exploitation was the name of the game for a long time. Keeping musicians in the dark was standard business practice. However, the past has passed, and today any musicians who sign a record contract (and learns later what he or she signed) have only themselves to blame. Even 20 years ago, it wasn’t that easy to gain access to the inner workings of the music business. (There are more letters in the word business than in the word music.)

Today there are dozens of outstanding books available on every conceivable topic related to the business of music. They can be found in bookstores, libraries, and through the Internet. In addition, there are many schools that now offer 2- 4 year programs on the business of music. Seminars, and workshops are available on a year round basis in most major American cities. Consultants, Attorneys, and Business Organizations are all around and so it is only myth, superstition, stubbornness, and immaturity that stand in the way of any musician making a commitment to educating themselves about the business that exists to exploit their music.

I cannot stress how important I feel this issue is. I am here to tell you, one and all, that you have been told many things about music that you did believe. “Spend money on quality instruments and equipment”… you have done that. “Spend time and money on practicing and rehearsing”, you have done that, for the most part.”Spend time and money finding the best recording studio, producer and engineer you can”… you have done that.“Spend time and money learning all you can about the business of music”… well, no one told you to do that did they?!

It has been said about education that we don’t know anything until someone tells us. If that is true, the fault in “not telling” musicians that they MUST spend some time and money on educating themselves on music business issues is the fault of the businessmen and women who kept their clients uninformed. (Ignorance IS bliss as far as the old guard of music executives are concerned). But,KNOWLEDGE IS BLISS should be the byword for the musician of the new millennium. Please…spend some time and money educating yourselves about the music business, a few hours now, can protect your future forever!


How To Get All of the Royalties You Never Knew Existed

SoundExchange, BMI, ASCAP Royalties

A 2015 Berklee College of Music report found that anywhere from 20-50% of music payments do not make it to their rightful owners.  The indie publishing powerhouse Kobalt calculatedthat there are “over 900,000 distinct royalty payments for artists and songwriters.”  What are these royalties?  Where do they come from?  And most importantly, how do you get them?

I’m not gonna lie, it’s complicated, but I’m going to attempt to lay all of this out as simply as possible.  In plain English.  I’m here for you.  We’ll get through this together.  Bookmark this page and take a deep breath.

Ok, let’s go.

As you study more about the music business, you’ll see the distinction over and over again between “artist” and “songwriter”.  It’s an important distinction to make because the royalties for “artists” and the royalties for “songwriters” are completely different.

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The reason I’m putting quotes around “artists” and “songwriters” is because so many of us are both. And many of us use these terms interchangeably.  And back in the day, when labels started signing artists who also wrote their own songs (which, at the time, was quite unique), they put in clauses in the contract to limit the royalties they’d (legally) have to pay out to their newly signed artists/songwriters.  One of these clauses is the infamous Controlled Composition Clause.

The major labels have always tried to screw artists out of money.  They look out for their own best interests and use artists’ ignorance (and blind pursuit of fame) to manipulate and deceive.  This is part of the reason why so many established artists and songwriters have jumped ship from their major labels (and major publishers) and headed over to Kobalt.

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Just take a look at their roster. It’s the who’s who of music.


Royalty Graph Volume

To not get into too much history, and really just cut to the chase, before the digital age, royalties were difficult to track, but there were fewer platforms to consume music, so there were far fewer royalty streams to worry about.

With physical sales plummeting, and people shifting from downloading to streaming (like Spotify and Apple Music) and the rise of digital radio (like Pandora and Sirius/XM), there are many more royalties out there, but they can be tracked much easier through sonic recognition and content ID software.

We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting closer every day.

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For indie artists without a label or a publisher, you have to know what these royalties are and know where and how to get them.

So let’s break them down.

First some terms you need to understand:


Artists record sound recordings. Rihanna is an artist. She did not write her song “Diamonds.”  So she is not the songwriter. Record labels represent artists.  A band is an artist.  A rapper is an artist.  A singer is an artist.  Typically whatever name is on the album, is the artist.


Songwriters write the compositions.  “Diamonds” was written by 4 songwriters: Sia Furler, Benjamin Levin, Mikkel S. Eriksen, and Tor Erik Hermansen.  Publishing companies represent songwriters.

Sound Recording

Some call this the “master.”  It’s the actual recording.  The mastered track . Traditionally, labels (because they own the master), collect royalties for sound recordings.  Sound recordings are not to be confused with compositions.  Artists record sound recordings.


This is the song.  Not the recording.  Traditionally, publishing companies (because they own the composition and represent songwriters) collect royalties for compositions.  Songwriters write compositions.


Performing Rights Organizations.  In the US, these are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.  In Canada this is SOCAN.  These organizations represent songwriters NOT artists.  These are organizations that collect performance royalties (NOT mechanical royalties – we’ll get to those in a bit).

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The way these PROs make money to pay their songwriters and publishers royalties is PROs collect money from thousands of venues (radio stations, TV stations, department stores, bars, live venues, etc) by requiring them to purchase “blanket licenses” which gives these venues permission to play music in their establishment (or on the air).   The PROs then pool all of this money up and divide it amongst all of their songwriters and publishers based on the frequency and “weight” of each song’s “public performance.”   The PROs then pay the publishing companies their 50% and the songwriters their 50%.

PROs split “publishing” and “songwriter” royalties equally.  50/50.  This is not a deal you negotiate.  This is just how they do it for everyone from Taylor Swift down to you and me.  50/50.  Any songwriter in the US can sign up for ASCAP or BMI without being invited or having to apply.  ASCAP and BMI are both not-for-profit organizations, SESAC is for profit and you must be accepted.

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American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers represents 550,000 members (songwriters and publishers) and over 10 million compositions.  ASCAP is owned and run by its songwriter and publisher members with an elected board.  They have paid out over $5 billion in the past 6 years.  They represent songwriters like Katy Perry, Dr. Dre, Marc Anthony, Chris Stapleton, Ne-Yo, Trisha Yearwood, Brandi Carlile, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Withers, Carly Simon, Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, annnnnd Ari Herstand.  That’s me.  Duh.


Broadcast Music Inc. represents over 700,000 members (songwriters and publishers) and over 10.5 million compositions. They represent songwriters like Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne, Mariah Carey, John Legend, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Maroon 5, Michael Jackson, Linkin Park, Sam Cook, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Fats Domino, Rihanna, John Williams and Danny Elfman.


SESAC is not an acronym… really.  It represents over 30,000 members (songwriters and publishers) and over 400,000 compositions.  They represent songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, RUSH, Zac Brown, Lady Antebellum, The Avett Brothers, Shirley Caesar, Paul Shaffer and Thompson Square.

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You can only sign up for one PRO.  You cannot be a member of ASCAP and BMI.  You have to choose.  Find out what the PROs are in your country and pick one and sign up.

**It’s important to note that if you sign up with ASCAP as a songwriter, you also need to register a “vanity publishing company.” That means, just make up a name (mine is Proud Honeybee Music) and register your publishing company with ASCAP. You must do this to get paid all of your money. If you don’t have your vanity publishing company registered as a corporation, or have a bank account under its name, make sure to tell ASCAP you are “doing business as (dba)” the vanity publishing company so they can write the checks appropriately. You can also sign up for direct deposit which expedites this entire process. ASCAP pays out 50% of the total money to the songwriter and 50% to the publisher. If you don’t register a publishing company, you will only get half of your money.

If you are an unaffiliated songwriter with BMI, you don’t need to register a vanity publishing company.  BMI will pay you 100% of the money.

HOWEVER, If you sign up for an admin publishing company (like SongTrust, CD Baby Pro or Tunecore Publishing), they will collect your publishing money from ASCAP or BMI, take their commission (10-15%), and pay you out the rest.  So, you don’t need to register a vanity publishing company (if you’re with ASCAP) or register it as an LLC or open a bank account.  This is a far easier option.

+CD Baby Pro vs Tunecore Publishing (The Full Report)

I recommend you make sure all of your songs are registered with ASCAP or BMI (or SESAC)and that you work with an admin publishing company.  If you distribute through CD Baby, use CD Baby Pro.  If you don’t, use SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing.  If you haven’t registered with a PRO yet, signup for an admin publishing company FIRST – they will then register your songs with a PRO (save some time and steps!)

Digital Distribution Company

Some people call them digital aggregators. These companies are how you get your music into iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play, Deezer, Tidal and 80+ other digital stores and streaming services around the world. The biggest digital distribution companies for indie artists are CD Baby, DistroKid and Tunecore. I reviewed them and 6 others in this piece.

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Harry Fox Agency.  HFA handles US mechanical royalties (what are mechanical royalties? Patience young grasshopper. We’ll get to it).  They are hired by companies like Spotify to calculate and pay out mechanical royalties to publishers.  HFA represents 48,000 publishers.  HFA also has streamlined licensing services (their program is called Slingshot) for companies needing to license music.

HFA calculates, collects and pays mechanical royalties.  They also issue “mechanical licenses.”  You can’t signup for HFA unless you are a publisher and have songs released by a third party label (not self-released).

BUT, you don’t need to signup with HFA to collect mechanical royalties.  Admin publishing companies like SongTrust, CD Baby, Tunecore and Audiam will collect mechanical royalties for you if you signup for their publishing programs.  Read my comparison between CD Baby Pro and Tunecore Publishing.

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Fun fact, HFA was recently bought by SESAC.

Admin Publishing Companies

Admin stands for administration. All publishing companies have an admin department. They also have a synch licensing department. An A&R department. And many other departments. But, admin publishing companies have started popping up over the past few years to help unrepped songwriters (like you and me) collect all the royalties out there from around the world.

Again, companies like SongTrust, CD Baby, Tunecore and Audiam are some admin publishing companies who will do this. (Note, Audiam technically describes itself as a digital rights management company – but they will collect your mechanical royalties and YouTube money).

Synch Licensing

Synch stands for synchronization. A synch license is needed to synch music to picture.  TV shows, movies, commercials, video games all need a sync license to legally put a song alongside their picture (get it? “synching” audio to picture).  Technically, so does YouTube (and you, when you make a cover video and upload it).

Fun fact, virtually every YouTube cover is illegal.  A publisher (remember, publishers represent songwriters and compositions), could legally get YouTube to remove your cover if they wanted.  But no publishers are really doing this because they realize how great the promotion is.  And, YouTube is now monetizing cover videos and getting the publishers (and songwriters) paid through ad revenue.

Some musicians have expressed to me their reluctance to put up covers on YouTube for which they have not obtained the proper licenses.  The honest folk of the world.  Those who wouldn’t dare fill up their free water cup at Chipotle with soda.  I applaud your ethics.  However, it’s virtually impossible for an indie artist to obtain a synch license from a major publishing company.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  They don’t make it easy.  There’s no streamlined way to do this.  But, there IS a very easy way to release cover songs, like on iTunes (not videos, songs).  Read about how to do that here.

+How To Legally Release Cover Songs.

Licensing Company

Licensing companies work to get your music placed in TV shows, movies, trailers, commercials and video games.  Independent licensing companies have been popping up left and right over the past 10 years.  Before that (and still currently) all the synch licensing was done within publishing companies.  All publishing companies have synch licensing divisions.

Licensing companies typically take 30-50% of the up front synch license and master use license fee.  Some take a percentage of your PRO backend royalties as well, others don’t.

Licensing companies typically only represent artists who are also the sole songwriters.  Licensing companies are one stop shops for music supervisors.  They want to make it easy as possible for the ad agency or TV show to use the song.  Licensing companies can clear the songs immediately for the music supervisors.

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So if you co-write with anyone, FIRST make sure they are NOT signed to a publishing company (if they are, it makes things very difficult and will almost certainly prevent a licensing company from working with you – or rather repping that song).  And make sure you get in writing (email is fine), that you have full rights to the song to license without getting permission from your co-writers.

Word to the wise NEVER pay a licensing company money up front to go pitch you.  If they believe in your music, they will pitch you and work solely on commission.

Some of the biggest and best independent licensing companies out there include:

Secret Road

All Media

Cellar Music

The Music Playground

Razor and Tie

Big Yellow Dog

Words and Music

Catch The Moon Music

However, there are literally hundreds more.  You can purchase a music licensing directory containing most licensing companies, publishing companies, music libraries and music supervisors from The Music Registry here for $100.  The above licensing companies mostly won’t take submissions directly from artists (they’re too big).  It’s best to get someone they trust to refer you (like another artist on their roster, a manager or lawyer).

Also, there are music library and licensing companies (like Triple Scoop Music, Audiosocket and Music Bed) that specialize in issuing inexpensive synch licenses for wedding photographers, corporations (for in house training videos) and indie film makers. This can help you bring in some extra dough. These kinds of companies are definitely worth looking into. They don’t work to get you the $200,000 Verizon commercial spot, they’re soliciting wedding photographers to pay $60 to license your song in their personal use wedding video. But these can add up. There are a bunch of these music library companies out there. Just Google around a bit “music for wedding video” or “license music for indie film” or “license music library” and these companies will populate. Most are quite selective about what songs they bring on (to keep their quality up). But they all take applications from unknowns. If the quality is there (and it fits their format – they’re probably not going to take death metal or gangsta rap for a wedding video licensing business). Most are non-exclusive, meaning you can work with a bunch of them.

Again, DO NOT pay anything up front. If any company charges you up front for these services it’s a scam. Run away (to this comment section and let us know who these scam artists are!)



A lot of people confuse SoundExchange with PROs. Because technically SoundExchange IS a performing rights organization, but I’m not including them in the “PRO” classification out of clarity (and when most in the biz discuss PROs they are just referring to the aforementioned ASCAP, BMI, SESAC). SoundExchange represent artists and labels whereas (the other) PROs represent songwriters and publishers. Over 110,000 artists and rights owners (labels) are registered with SoundExchange and they have paid out over $3 billion since inception.

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Unlike the 3 PROs in America, SoundExchange is the only organization in America that collects performance royalties for “non-interactive” digital sound recordings (not compositions). “Non-interactive” means you can’t choose your song. So, Pandora radio is non-interactive, whereas Apple Music and Spotify are “interactive.” Beats 1 (within Apple Music) is digital radio (non-interactive). Spotify’s Pandora-like radio service is also non-interactive, but more on that in a sec.

But, SoundExchange has agreements with 20 foreign collections agencies. When your music is played in their territory, they pay SoundExchange, and SoundExchange pays you.

Like the PROs, SoundExchange issues blanket licenses to digital radio (non-interactive) platforms (like Pandora and Sirius/XM) which gives these outlets the ability to play any song they represent. Like the PROs, the outlets pay an annual fee for the blanket license.

BUT, SoundExchange ONLY collects digital royalties. The PROs collect both digital, terrestrial (AM/FM radio) and live royalties.

There’s a weird copyright law still on the books (and lobbied heavily by Big Radio) that makes it so AM/FM radio only has to pay composition performance royalties and NOT sound recording royalties. Makes no sense. The US Copyright Office has recommended that this law be changed, but thanks to the Big Radio, it hasn’t. This, unfortunately, can only be changed by passing a bill in Congress. And our current American Congress doesn’t pass sh*t. Pardon my American English.

So, again, SoundExchange = digital sound recording royalties for non-interactive plays.

But, interestingly enough (I know this stuff is SOOO interesting – stay with me!), Pandora, pays BOTH digital sound recording performance royalties (to SoundExchange) AND digital composition performance royalties (to PROs), but, thanks to Consent Decrees (set by rate court judges and, once again, for which the practices can only be changed by Congress), pays about 10x more for sound recording royalties (to SoundExchange) than for songwriter royalties (to the PROs). The Songwriter Equity Act (bi-partisan) has been in Congress for about two years now to make this change. But Congress moves slower than an Adele ballad (but contains about the same number of tears shed).

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And to just complicate matters worse, not ALL digital radio services work with SoundExchange (but 2,500 do). Some opt out (Spotify non-interactive radio has opted out) and they just negotiate rates directly with each label/distributor.

You can find a full list of who SoundExchange collects from here.

How To Signup For SoundExchange?

Go to If you are both the performer (artist) and the owner of the sound recording (meaning you don’t have a record label) simply select “Both” on the 2nd page of the registration when it asks you to select: Performer, Sound Recording Copyright Owner or Both. It’s a long process and you have to submit a full catalog list. When I did this, I had to email in a complicated Excel doc with lots of info. Plan a weekend to do all of this. It’s time consuming, but worth it.

Fun fact, I encouraged an Ari’s Take reader and children’s musician to sign up for SoundExchange and the first check he got was for $10,000! Apparently Pandora had his songs included on all the most popular children’s music radio stations and he had no idea. Boom!

SoundExchange will hold your back royalties for 3 years, so register now if you haven’t already. And if you HAVE registered (maybe you did years ago), make sure you have also registered as the Sound Recording Copyright Owner (they previously called it “Rights Owner”). Because the “Both” option is very new, you may have missed it and are only receiving 45% of your total money. Why 45% and not 50%? Keep reading.

Session Musicians can get some of this money too!

If you are a session musician, 5% of the total money earned for each song that you played on has been reserved for you. Contact the American Federation of Musicians (AFM union) to grab this moolah!

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SoundExchange’s breakdown for payment is: 45% to Featured Artist, 50% to the Sound Recording Owner (label – or you if you self released), and 5% to session musicians or, how they put it, “non-featured artists.” Regardless if you have session musicians or not on your record, SoundExchange holds 5% of all royalties from everyone for them.


SoundExchange Royalties


What About Canada?

If you’re a Canadian artist, you can signup with Re:Sound (which is Canada’s version of SoundExchange). And, best thing, Re:Sound (unlike SoundExchange) WILL collect royalties from commercial, terrestrial radio (and other non-digital venues) for you!

So, just to clarify, here is a breakdown for the royalties Artists and Songwriters earn (and how to get them):

Artist Royalties:

Sound Recording Digital Performance Royalties

These come from non-interactive (you can’t choose the song) digital platforms like internet and satellite radio.

How To Get Paid: SoundExchange

Register for SoundExchange here.

Download Sales

These come from when someone downloads your music on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc.

How To Get Paid: Your Distribution Company

See the list of who to use (and not use) here.

**note: BandCamp and Loudr also sell downloads, but unlike iTunes, they are artist managed stores and you get sales revenue directly from BandCamp and Loudr.

Interactive Streaming Revenue

There’s lots of different kinds of streaming revenue. But “interactive” (meaning you choose the song) streaming revenue (like from Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal) goes to the artist/label. But when these services claim they pay out 70% of all revenue, the 70% is for both the artist/label revenue AND the songwriter royalties (mechanicals). Streaming revenue to artists is WAY more than the mechanicals paid to songwriters.

How To Get Paid: Your Distribution Company

See the list of who to use (and not use) here.

YouTube Sound Recording Revenue

Technically there are a bunch of “assets” or streams of revenue for each YouTube video. To make it simple, we’ll just get into how you can earn money. First, for the sound recording (we’ll get into the composition in the next section). Any video that uses your sound recording you can make money off of (whether you uploaded the video or not) if you allow YouTube to put ads on the video (they call it “monetize”). Either videos you upload or fan made cat videos with your sound recordings can generate ad revenue that you can collect. YouTube splits the ad revenue 45%/55% in your favor.

How To Get Paid: Most digital distribution companies have this option via an opt-in check box. You can see which do and which do not on this chart. If your distribution doesn’t handle this, you can sign up for independent YouTube revenue collection companies like Audiam, AdRev or InDmusic. But it’s easiest if you keep everything under one roof.

Master Use License

Any TV show, movie, commercial, trailer or video game requires both a master use license (from the artist/label) for use of the sound recording and a synch license (from the songwriter/publisher) for use of the composition. These days, most music supervisors (the people who place the music), will just pay you (an indie artist) a bulk amount for both the master use license and the sync license (because most indie artists wrote and recorded the song).

But if you’re repped by a label and a publisher, the supe (that’s short for music supervisor) will go to your label and pay for a master use license and then to your publisher and pay for a sync license. Usually it’s the same amount, but not always. These monies range from a thousand bucks for background music on a cable TV show all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for commercials and big movies/trailers.

How To Get Paid: Directly from the TV studio, ad agency (for a commercial), production company (for a movie or trailer), or game company. It’s best to work with a licensing company for this.

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TV Royalties

If your music gets on a commercial, TV show, trailer or movie you can get residuals from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA). And these definitely add up. I was recently in a Bud Light commercial (as an actor – yeah I do a bit of that too, hell it’s LA, why not?), and in SAG-AFTRA residuals, I got about $10,000 A MONTH for as long as it was on the air. That was for hanging out at a (fake) barbecue holding a can of Limearita and laughing on cue a lot. If your song gets in a commercial, you’ll make about the same because you’re treated as a voice over actor. Many commercials run about 6 months, that could be $60,000 just in SAG-AFTRA residuals.

How to get paid: SAG-AFTRA.

If, however, SAG-AFTRA doesn’t have your mailing address they won’t know who to pay. You can check here to see if you have outstanding royalties. Or contact SAG-AFTRA directly and give them your info when you have music played on TV. You don’t technically need to be in the union to get paid from the union.

Here’s how to join.

Songwriter Royalties

Composition Performance Royalties

These come from plays on the radio (FM/AM or digital), interactive and non-interactive streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music) live at a concert (yes even your own), in restaurants, bars, department stores, coffee shops, TV, literally any public place that has music (live or recorded) needs a license from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC to legally be able to play music in their establishment. The only exception is movie theaters. For some reason (politics), American movie theaters are exempt from needing a public performance license and no one gets paid when songs are played in movie theaters. On TV, yes. Movie theater, no. However, royalties are generated for Foreign (outside the US) movie theaters. And for an international smash, it could add up to be some serious cheddar. I’ve heard in the hundreds of thousands.

Of course if a coffee shop has the AM/FM radio playing, you won’t get paid when your song is played there, but if they have Pandora or Sirius/XM on, this is tracked and you will (eventually) get paid on the plays. The system is currently being worked out and not everything is tracked yet, but eventually, say, in a few years, it will be. Kobalt is leading this front. Hopefully ASCAP, BMI and SESAC follow suit and improve their tracking systems. ASCAP uses a “sampling” method, where they use an electronic monitoring system, MediaMonitors/MediaBase, for sample performance data from commercial, NPR & NCR radio. The sample data is then loaded into ASCAP’s Audio Performance Management system where it is (mostly) electronically matched to the works in the ASCAP database. ASCAP states that they supplement this data with station logs and other technology vendors and methods that capture ads, promos and themes and background music.

BMI also uses sampling. They say they use “performance monitoring data, continuously collected on a large percentage of all licensed commercial radio stations, to determine payable performances.” They also use their “proprietary pattern-recognition technology.” They call it a “census” and claim it’s “statistical reliable and highly accurate.” For college radio, BMI pays a minimum of 6 cents “for all participants.” Not sure if that’s per station or what.

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Personal Anecdote: My song “Young Blood Dig Down” was played as bridge music on NPR’s All Things Considered (for 13 million people). I won’t be getting paid for this. But, had ASCAP had a census (instead of sample) tracking system setup, I would have. Hopefully, this will change soon. BMI doesn’t pay for “cue, bridge or background” music on radio, period.

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Tip: Both ASCAP and BMI have a program where you can import your setlist and venue information to get you paid for your live performance royalties (for performing your originals in a club, theater, grocery store, arena, wherever). They’re called BMI Live and ASCAP OnStage. Last I heard, most indie artists playing under 500 cap rooms were making about $10 a show. It ain’t much, but it can add up – especially if you’re a live act playing 200 dates a year. Who couldn’t use an extra $2K?

How To Get Paid: Your PRO (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN)

Visit each website (linked above) to join. Remember you can only be with one.

Mechanical Royalties

Mechanical royalties are earned when a song is streamed, downloaded or purchased (like a CD or vinyl). In America, the rate is set by the US government. It’s currently 9.1 cents per download and it’s a very complicated formula to figure out what you get per stream. But you can check out HFA’s charts here to attempt to make sense of it. But, it’s AROUND $.0007 per stream – but of course varies based on the streaming platform’s user numbers, revenue, etc. Worldwide, it’s about the same – about 8-10% of the total sale/stream.

Worth noting, in the US, mechanical royalties get passed onto the label/distributor from iTunes, however nearly everywhere else in the world, mechanicals get collected by local collections agencies BEFORE the money gets to your distributor. That’s why when you look at your statements, an iTunes download in the US nets you $.69 (70% of $.99 – Apple retains 30% from iTunes sales) whereas a download in England nets you around $.60. So if you don’t have an admin publishing company you won’t get any of your international mechanical royalties from download sales. Like SoundExchange, these international collections agencies will hold onto this money (for about 3 years) until a publisher comes and claims it. You technically could try to do this by calling up collections agencies in every country, but I just recommend going with an admin pub company – they already have all the relationships built (and they only take about 10-15%. Worth it).

How To Get Paid: Admin publishing company.

See my comparison between CD Baby Pro and Tunecore Publishing. There’s alsoSongTrustand Audiam. And of course, Kobalt (but you have to be “signed” – anyone can signup for the others).

YouTube Performance Royalties

Because your music is being played on YouTube videos, it’s technically a public performance. Any video on YouTube (by you or anyone else), cover, live performance, original recording lyric video, music video or cat video, with your compositions in it, earns a public performance royalty.

How To Get Paid: Your PRO

YouTube Composition Royalties

In addition to performance royalties, you can earn a percentage of the ad revenue generated from the video. Again, any video on YouTube that has your composition in it (uploaded by you or anyone else), can get an ad placed on it and start generating revenue. Your admin publishing company will handle this. I know you’re wondering, but how will my admin publishing company know when Joe Schmo from Lincoln, Nebraska uploads a cover of my song? Especially because my song title is “She Loves You” (and it’s not the Beatles song). Yeah, you can see the difficulty. YouTube’s Content ID program doesn’t catch these (because covers and live recordings are different sound recordings than the original) Some admin publishing companies and YouTube collections companies are better at tracking this than others. Some do manual searches/listen. Others have other systems in place. You can always ask your company how they do it.

How To Get Paid: Admin Publishing Company

Synch License

Like the master use license, any TV show, movie, commercial or video game requires a synchronization (synch for short) license to put the composition alongside their picture.

How To Get Paid: Directly from the TV studio, ad agency (for a commercial), production company (for a movie or trailer), or game company. It’s best to work with a licensing company for this.


Your image is more important than your music — especially if you’re an indie artist

[This article was written by guest contributor Brandon Seymour.]

I’ve played in bands on and off for nearly 15 years. In addition to being a musician, I’m also passionate about marketing. Over the past couple of years, I’ve written several articles aimed at helping local, independent musicians improve their online marketing strategy by boosting brand awareness, leveraging social media and building a strong online presence. It just sort of made sense. I enjoy marketing and I enjoy music, so why not integrate the two in some way?

I learned a lot from working with different clients over the years, and I’ve been able to take some of the things I learned at my day job and apply them to my musical projects. What I didn’t realize at the time though, was that the most valuable insight I gained wasn’t from marketing. Instead, it was something I learned from playing in bands that would end up changing my outlook as a marketing professional. I learned that image is, and quite possibly always will be, more important than music. And the same holds true for just about anything else. Image is everything.

They call it “show business” for a reason. The music industry (and I use that term very loosely) isn’t concerned with art or expression. It’s not about identity or originality. And it’s definitely not about talent. It’s about money. I’m not saying that you won’t ever be appreciated as an artist. I’m also not saying that being an artistic genius precludes you from mainstream success. I’m saying that the music industry as a whole doesn’t care who you are unless they can profit from what you have to offer – regardless of how amazing or awful you actually are. It’s not evil, it’s just business. As with any other business, even the greatest products can’t sell themselves; the image or brand perception is what makes people want to buy.

Interestingly enough, in most cases when people argue that image is more important than the music itself, they’re usually referring to the “mainstream” industry. But how is the “indie” or “underground” industry any different? Sure, Bleached may not make nearly as much money as Mumford and Sons, but that doesn’t make image any less relevant. Remember, the goal of the “industry” itself, big or small, is to sell. Be it selling CD’s and t-shirts or selling out stadiums. The scale may vary, but it’s essentially the same concept. The indie scene cunningly masquerades as a collective movement that caters to artistic integrity over image, when in reality, image is essentially the lifeblood of the underground music industry.

A couple years ago, I was sitting at a bar with a friend who also happened to be a fellow musician. We met after our bands played a short string of shows together a year or two prior. Since both of us were looking for new projects at the time, we thought why not start a band together? In terms of musical taste, we were never really on the same page. It wasn’t like we played together and shouted “this is it!” or anything. But that didn’t matter. The only thing we had in common was that we both liked our music loud and fast. Like the sound a spoon makes when it’s stuck in a garbage disposal, only with more reverb and feedback. But we also had something else in common that felt a lot more promising than liking the same band or sub-genre. We both knew what we wanted to achieve and had a pretty good idea of how we could make it happen. All we had to do was focus on the overall image, and the rest would come. In a lot of ways, the music is the easy part. The trick is laying a solid foundation.

In our first few months starting out, we built a website, established a solid social following, received press mentions from several local newspapers, all while averaging 5 shows a month. Not too shabby for a local band, right out of the gate. A few months later, we were opening for national acts and headlining local festivals. Two separate publications named us “Best Rock Band” in South Florida, and another ranked us #2 on a list of the top local bands in Florida that should already be famous. Soon we were turning down more shows than we were playing. Eventually, were doing what we loved and we were getting paid what we felt we deserved, which felt pretty good.

We’re not exceptionally talented or good looking. We didn’t practice every day or spend countless hours writing songs. We played all covers for the first few shows and no one ever knew the difference. None of us have rich parents and we never asked for a dime in any Kick Starter campaign. We pretty much had no budget whatsoever. We never made t-shirts. We never toured. We never even recorded (until very recently).We’re just normal people with regular jobs that wanted to make something special. The only reason we were able to make it happen was because of the image that we created for ourselves.

I get that it’s not always about fame and fortune, and that plenty of artists simply have zero interest in commercializing their music whatsoever. But I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of indie artists at least want to gain exposure, even if it’s not for profits. Exposure isn’t free, though. You have to earn it. I’m not saying you can’t earn it with your music alone, but if you have the whole package, your chances improve significantly. Image doesn’t mean changing who you are or what you stand for. You don’t need to make a statement or box yourself into some subculture. Image is about consistency and an unwavering commitment to a specific tone, look and feel. It’s about creating something that people can stand behind because they feel as if it’s more than just a product; it’s a brand they can trust.

5 Tips to Spark Your Music-Making Motivation

motivationPhoto by Andre Rochon

A version of this article originally appeared on Symphonic Distribution


In the internet age, with social media basically taking over our everyday existence, it’s easy to get distracted. On top of all of the issues facing our daily lives, we have to provide for ourselves and loved ones, so a day job or something substantial is quite important. How the heck are you going to find the time to continue expressing yourself through music, and also, how will you stay motivated?

Well, I’ve truly been there, and honestly, get stuck quite a bit. Being a business owner and runningSymphonic Distribution brings me great satisfaction, but every now and then, I wish I had the time and energy to make music. Before I started in the business, I was a full-time musician, and now, it’s easy to hear what’s out there and think, “I can’t make that type of music at all; I’m just not that good!” That attitude is downright unmotivational, but lately, I’ve been trying some tactics to start my musical juices flowing again. Here are some random, but helpful, things you can do to stay motivated and focus on music while also dealing with the daily drudge.

1. Set a schedule

I often hear people saying, “I’m just too busy,” yet I see folks on Facebook, frankly, wasting time. I’m also guilty of pleading busy-ness, but if you don’t treat your music-making like a regimented activity, then you’ll lose the fire and love of creating. Evaluate your obligations, and try to set aside one to two hours daily to experiment and explore musically. Wake up early if you have to in order to balance exercise, your job, and your music career, because if you treat it as seriously as you do your health, then perhaps you’ll be able to generate a consistent musical workflow without losing motivation to explore.

2. Listen to what’s out there

Explore various genres of new music, but go back to old classics you love. Personally, I’m a major Plump DJs fan. I was honored to have them remix work I produced, and every time I listen to any of their tunes, it just gives me the drive and motivation to make music again. It’s something that can’t be explained, but listening to your favorite songs and artists really takes your mind away from everyday problems and replaces them with inspiration and creativity.

3. Explore new possibilities

There’s a ton of sample websites out there, and I think it’s great for the industry. These sites allow folks that previously never dreamed of making music actually start their musical careers. The downside of this, however, is that sampling is completely unoriginal, and one key to staying motivated is exploring new technologies, sounds, and devices.

On top of this, we live in a world with seemingly limitless free and cost-effective apps that allow you to play with instruments on your iPad, iPhone, Surface, etc. Tinkering with those, you might discover new sounds and styles that motivate you to pioneer new and original music – without shelling out thousands to do it. Also, if you actually produce something of quality with these devices, you’ll receive respect from your producer peers.

4. Be yourself when making music

I often struggle because when you’re in the process of crafting an album or a remix, you wonder, “Will people actually like the route I’m taking?” Instead of worrying what people might think, make music for yourself, because you want to, and because you like it. Sure, listeners may not dig your sounds, but it’s much more rewarding for you to create a song that you truly enjoyed creating. If you repeat the process over and over, your music will continue to evolve as you explore new areas and possibilities. Don’t ever let anyone influence your material. Just do it, and do it because you want to have that making-music feeling – not just because people may want to buy it.

5. Believe that you can do it, and accomplish it!

I left this point for last, but it’s really the first. Wake up every single day and say to yourself, “I will make music today,” and actually believe that you will. It’s very difficult to balance everything accordingly, but if you invest in your material, then you’ll keep the fire alive and start generating new songs. Take the music-making process one step at a time, and set a goal to accomplish the task at hand. If you visualize and attack, you’ll set a plan in motion and, ergo, join a community of millions around the world that’s expressing itself through the greatest form of art.


Organizing an event takes a lot of effort, time and money. Whether it’s a music gig or festival, all events need hard work and people power.

Before you start with organizing your event, you need to give yourself enough time for proper planning and ensure that every little detail is attended to, to ensure the event runs smoothly and successfully.

Firstly, before you start getting busy with the more stressing event aspects, you need to decide on the kind of event you would like to organise, date, venue. You will also need to come up with a concept for the event , the purpose of the event, how many people you aim to attract and whether it will be a charged (how much you will charge patrons), if charged how will people buy tickets or if it’s a free event.

Truth is, you can’t do it all, so you will need to get a team that you can delegate some of the responsibilities to. Depending on the nature of your event, you will need a hands-on team.

To make the best use of your team, you’ll need a clear and detailed plan. Below is a list that covers what you are most likely going to need:

• Budget and or funding

• Master of Ceremony (M.C.)

• Performers (artists and DJs)

• Technical equipment (PA sound, Stage, lighting and sound engineers)

• Food and drink

• Security and safety plan

• Rosters and staffing

• Permits and permissions

• Security,

• Risk assessment

• Catering

• Publicity

• Parking and transport to and from the venue

• Toilet facilities

• Clean-up

• Road closures which the municipality of where you are hosting the event will assist with.


The more detailed your plan is, the less likely something will go wrong. On the day of the event, there will obviously be a lot happening but there are some key things to remember:

• Make sure that the venue is set up the day before or early on the day of the event, depending on the size of your event.

• Make sure that some of your team members are on the location well before anything starts to facilitate the set up and help out in case of emergencies.

• Check constantly with all suppliers (caterers, technical support, PR agency etc.) to make sure that they are on the same page with your team.

• Make sure any performers and DJ’s come early to do a sound check


After the event, your job is not done. You need to tie up any loose ends like securing post event media coverage, formally thanking guests, checking that everything is paid and returning or cleaning equipment used (if the contract with service provider stipulates so).

It’s also important to meet with your suppliers and the rest of the team to review the event, take stock of what worked and what didn’t.  This will ensure that you can learn from any mistakes in order to make your next event even more of a success. Remember to thank your team on a job well done, if they carried their duties well


6 Steps to Take If Your Music Has Been Stolen

There are countless instances of music being stolen.  We see it on the ground level quite often, and see it at different levels, from DJs playing mixes in clubs that they didn’t make (and leaving the vocal drops in so we know who made it), to renaming a file so a producer is taking complete credit for something they didn’t make at all.  Getting caught doing these things can ruin your career.

Some of us come from sample-based culture, and know that there is this grey line.  There are two major differences between now and 20 years ago: Clearing samples is actually much more difficult, and there are so many people making music that there’s no way to chase down every song that is using samples.  Artists seem to think that giving away records for free somehow frees them of copyright infringement; SoundCloud wouldn’t be flagging you for yourRihanna remix if you were in compliance.

Yet when you sell a record, whether it be to a rapper or on iTunes or for a commercial, you are responsible for getting that sample cleared.  This goes below the radar more often than you would think.  There are probably tens of thousands of songs with uncleared samples being sold on iTunes.  If the release doesn’t chart or get a mass of plays, you probably won’t have people come knocking on your door, but when widely-known producers sample lesser-known work, and sell that work, they create a huge mess.  Baauer and are two producers that had the spotlight on them recently, and DAD figured we’d speak to a lawyer (Justin Chapman from The Law Office of T. Justin Chapman, LLC) in an effort to help those out there that have their work stolen and sold.

This article should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation with any specific legal question you may have.

Evaluate Your Situation

Your immediate response will be to scream at the producer that stole your work, but you should avoid publicly commenting until you have gone through the steps I’m outlining. You cannot fight every battle. I have instances where people steal my DJ mixes and don’t credit me.  I work for a website that curates content that people steal and repost music from.  And in the grand scheme of things, it’s pointless to spend time tracking down everybody that’s ever tried to use my work as theirs.  But in the case of a artist profiting off of your work without permission, you have every right to reach out to them so you are compensated.  Keep in mind though that if they made little money off of the record, you will get little, if any, money back.

Prepare Your Argument / Gather Your Evidence

Is there a sample in the song that you made?  If so, did you clear it? Are you debating sequencing?  Does the work in question sound similar, or is it an obvious rip?  Are you sure that you made this song before they did?  Do you still have the studio session?  Do you have any emails sending your song out to anyone?  Did you post it online anywhere before the infiringing work was recorded?  Do you have a Certificate of Registration for the song from the government? As with any legal issue, the more proof that you have that you are in the right, the better your chances are of getting a judgment in your favor.  A lawyer will be able to better assist you if you already have evidence gathered for he or she to review and evaluate.

Lawyer Up

You are better off letting your lawyer speak to these labels than trying to handle things yourself.  Good entertainment lawyers are hard to find, but anyone that’s ever had a money issue in the industry can point you in the right direction.  Don’t just hire any lawyer.  You will need to find one that is knowledgable about copyright law and competent to handle these matters.  Speaking to a competent lawyer as early as possible is a good idea, because your lawyer will be able to make sure you take the proper steps.

Make Sure Your Copyright is Registered

You own the copyright in your music the moment you record it, but you can’t file a suit in federal court to stop someone from infringing on your copyright or collect damages unless you’ve registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office.  If you want to be able to threaten suit, you should make you can sue in federal court first.  If you don’t have a registered copyright, you can register your copyright online. The fee for registration is only $35. The Copyright Office provides registration instructions and tutorials on its website

Wait For the Song to Become Successful

This might not make sense to you, but if a song comes out with your work sampled, it’s up for sale, and it’s on a major label, they will likely try to get an appropriate license and pay you.  The bigger the song, the more leverage you have, which likely means more money for you.  It’s great press, too.  I know video guys that had their data used without their permission for commercials, and they got sizable checks once they reached out and said “hey you didn’t have paperwork for that.”  But if you start screaming before the record is commercially released, they might just axe it and you might not get anything.  Your bargaining power increases if you wait and the song becomes successful. Don’t wait too long, though. The statute of limitations to bring a civil suit is three years.

Find A Platform

If everything is in place, you have a breaking story. Why would you tell just a small sampling of your online friends when you can blow the whistle to tens of thousands? Baauer’s sample issues hit the New York Times, and every music website imaginable (DAD included). You need advocates for your cause. And none of us like seeing people wronged. If you don’t give it to us to post, give it to SOMEONE. Any respectable blog will have no issue speaking on your behalf if your documentation lines up.