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 will.i.am 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.


3 Ways You Can Avoid Having Your Beat Stolen

3 Ways You Can Avoid Having Your Beat Stolen
Thieves suck. If you’ve ever had anything stolen, you know exactly what I mean. There are all types of thieves, and in some instances I actually admire thieves, like when they steal priceless artwork and jewels, or pull off a daring bank robbery involving helicopters, nerve gas, and parachutes (or maybe I’m playing too much GTA).
When it comes to your beats, what’s the best way to protect yourself? Protecting your beats is always a necessary annoyment and it has to be done. Nobody wants to take the time to lock your beat up certain ways so that the bad guys stay away, especially since it’s damn near impossible to avoid having your beat stolen. So what do you do?
1. Copyright Your Beat
This is the safest and most surefire way of protecting your beat. There’s always been the “poor man’s copyright” method, which basically means that you write yourself a letter stating that your beat was created on such and such a date, then you mail that letter to yourself, making sure the date is stamped on the envelope by the post office. Once you get the letter, you don’t open it. I’m sure there’s some sort of benefit to this method, but I don’t think it will hold up in court at all.
The best way to do it legally is by actually filing copyright forms. When you go to the government’s copyright website, you’ll see tons of forms listed there. The section titled “Sound Recordings” is the one you want, but look around the website because there’s tons of copyright information.
If you have a beat that has samples in it, and you didn’t clear those samples, then that’s a whole different ball game. On one hand, you don’t have the permission to use those samples in your beat, but on the other hand, the composition you just made is what you’re trying to protect. I wouldn’t worry so much about sample clearance at this point, because the whole reason for copyrighting right now is to protect what YOU created.
2. Voice Tags
Right here on MyFlashStore, there’s a voice tag feature that you can and must take advantage of. If you don’t want to go the legal route for protecting your beats, and especially if you don’t want to worry about any legal issues you may encounter with uncleared samples in your beat, then voice tags are the best option.
A voice tag is dope because it’s something that gets added on top of your beat every few bars, which of course will deter any beat jackers out there. See, most people that jack beats will try to at least grab a 4-bar section of your beat and then loop it. You have to remember that beat jackers are not just trying to steal your entire beat, instead they’re looking to just loop certain parts and then call it their own. Voice tags will stop them (or at least get them really upset), and that’s the whole point.
3. Share Your Beat
Share your beat with the world! It’s free to do, but it’s the least effective of this list. The reason why I’m mentioning it is because it COULD be an effective way of not getting your beat stolen. Why? Let’s say you just finished a beat. You then upload it to various websites, such as on MyFlashStore, IllMuzik, SoundCloud,BandCamp, or anywhere else. By doing this, you’re sharing your beat with everyone online, and essentially, your beat now has a timestamp on it from whatever website you uploaded it to.
Even if someone still stole your beat, this could be something you can use in court, if needed. I know that some people will argue that all you did was upload the beat to different websites, but it might not be that clear cut. Let’s say you have a certain style to your beats and you’re known for that style. If your “sound” is easily recognizable amongst your friends and fans online, then it should help you prove that the beat you uploaded is in fact yours. I know it’s a shaky way to prove your point, but nonetheless, it could work.
The other good reason for doing this is that you could “call out” the person that stole your beat. You could go all over the internet completely trashing the thief and letting everyone know that they stole your beat! Again, if you have a “sound” or a “style”, plus you have a solid following online that knows your music, then you could have a strong case against a thief.
No matter which method you choose to protect your beats, the bottom line is that as soon as you’ve finished recording your beat, it’s yours, so make sure you protect it!

3 Creative Marketing Strategies Inspired by the Music Industry’s Collapse

What changed the music industry?

Maybe it was Microsoft, which in 1997 incorporated digital music (MP3) support into its Windows Media Player, allowing users to conveniently listen to music from their computers.

Maybe it was the introduction of Napster in 1999, which perpetuated the use and distribution of MP3s to millions of users worldwide — although the true streaming revolution might have started when Radiohead released Kid A in 2000.

Maybe it was the first iPod hitting the shelves in 2001, ushering in “a thousand songs in your pocket” and an all new way to carry, share and consume music.

Or maybe it was John Cougar Mellencamp?

I would argue that the music industry changed in 2006, when Mellencamp became one of the first major recording stars to record a song specifically for a major corporation, producing Our Country for Chevy. Why this particular event? Because it was not the digitization and streaming of music that changed the music industry, it was the acknowledgement by musicians that it had changed, hence ushering in new way of thinking about, producing and profiting from music.

When Our Country hit the commercial airwaves, my generation (Gen X) looked at Mellencamp as a “sell out.” The music charts at that timewere filled with artists, after all, not corporate spokespeople, and to produce a song — much less license a song — for the sole purpose of promoting a product was akin to music treason.

Related: Lessons From a Country Music Duo to Make Your Business ‘Big & Rich’

“I agonized,” Mellencamp told USA Today’s Edna Gundersen in 2007 about his decision to produce Our Country. “I still don’t think we should have to do it, but record companies can’t spend money to promote records anymore, unless you’re U2 or Madonna.”

Mellencamp saw early on what took the music industry a few more years to see. The traditional means of reaching consumers and making money were done. Musicians needed to reinvent themselves.

Marketing professionals are finding themselves in a similar predicament as the music industry. Reaching consumers is more difficult as the use of traditional channels of advertising continues to fade. Today, consumers have choices, and a great many of them, so they can easily tune out advertisements, and with digital natives entering the consumer market soon, this trend will only continue.

If businesses want to stay ahead, they need to think more like Radiohead and Mellencamp and get creative with their promotional strategies. Here are three simple ideas businesses can run with:

1. Leverage influencers.

One strategy musicians are adapting is to become advocates for their own music. By generating a substantial social-media following, musicians can reach out and engage with their fans far more personally, which helps them sell concerts ticket and merchandise (and maybe even music). Not every business can generate the fan following of musicians, but they can still tap into online influencers.

Love or hate them, social-media influencers, or individuals who have made a lucrative living from building massive online audiences, have tremendous influence when it comes to promoting products. More important, most young consumers do not look upon celebrities who promote products as “sell outs.” Rather, the idea is viewed as a respectful way of making a living.

One such company that has had success with this strategy isChallenged, developers of a mobile app that allows users to make daily challenges with friends, celebrities and companies with a focus on social awareness. The creators of the app engaged with a number of social-media celebrities, such as Nash Grier, which propelled the app into the top 20 lifestyle apps (and top 150 overall) in just a couple of months.

Haven’t heard of Nash Grier? Well, a combined 28.7 million social-media followers says you should.

2. Place products.

Attitudes in the music industry have changed and adapted (somewhat) to digital-music streaming, with some even advocating that musiciansgive away music for free. Radiohead continued along these lines in 2007 when it released In Rainbows for free, simply asking patrons to pay for what they thought the download was worth.

The idea, of course, is to get the music in the hands of customers before they burn the music from a friend’s CD, download it illegally or stream it on a music service such as Spotify or Pandora. This allows artists to provide a personalized experience and ultimately control how consumers experience their brands.

For businesses, traditional means of promotion, namely commercials, are slowly losing effectiveness. With more and more people cutting cable and avoiding commercials, and with the recent introduction of ad blockers, businesses will find it increasingly difficult to get their brands in front of people.

Related: Marketing Geeks Take Revenge on Advertising Tech

Instead, businesses need to consider creative ways to be where consumers are and, again, get noticed. The idea of product placement, or getting your product or service seen, used or mentioned in a program (typically television programs or movies), has been around for years.

Avion tequila gained attention in 2010 when it cleverly placed its tequila in the popular HBO show, Entourage. Since being introduced to the show’s huge audience, the company has seen tremendous growth and gained the backing of liquor giant Pernod Ricard SA.

I recently noticed a placement of the Under Armor logo in Season 2 of NBC’s The Black List. Although very subtle, I would argue that it is much more prominent than any advertisement that was skipped or even left out altogether, as is the case with streaming the series on Netflix.

Getting a product placed on a programs may be difficult, but with theright strategy and a focus on smaller niche markets, it can work for any company.

3. Consider podcasts.

One way musicians are taking control of their products and brands is by creating and maximizing their channels of distribution through the Internet, such as Spotify and Pandora. Although there is controversyabout how much musicians actually make (almost nothing) on these services, what it does is allow little known artists to potentially be introduced to millions of users who would not ordinarily listen to their music, at which point listeners can seek them out on their Vimeo, Youtube or personal websites. The most important thing is to get in front of customers’ eyes — or in this case ears — and make them aware of their product.

Businesses can also pursue this strategy. Consider, for instance,podcasts, a form of radio on demand. As someone who religiously listens to podcasts while driving, running or doing chores around the house, I can attest to the quality of the programming that is being churned out. As more multitaskers like myself come to understand the benefits of audio programs on demand, the opportunity for reaching consumers via this medium will grow.

With 271,000 podcasts available, marketers need to know and understand which podcasts their customers are tuned in to — and with data, that should be easy. Research and find the right podcaststhat meet your customer profile and company culture, and simply inquire about advertising costs. Many times, the podcaster will produce the commercial for you.

Think it’s a little early in the podcasting trend to jump in? A cumulative 1 billion podcast subscribers says otherwise.

The takeaway from all of this is that marketers need to get creative. These are just three ideas to consider, but more than likely, the best ideas have yet to be discovered. Maybe it just requires a bottle of Avion tequila and Radio-head to inspire you.

How To Have Powerful Stage Presence as a Rapper

Learn How To Rap eBook cover

Have you ever wanted to know how to have powerful stage presence as a rapper?  Have you ever wanted to have the crowd in awe of you when performing on stage?  Well in this post I want to tell you about 5 crucial keys to awesome stage presence!

I have often done well in live performances to a crowd and I always thought it was down to my lyrics, but under further investigation it wasn’t about lyrics, it was about showmanship.

This is an important point for all rappers to grasp whether you are just starting out honing your skills or you have been rapping for a long time.  A lot of rappers get hung up on lyrical content.  I have met some rappers that make great recordings with great lyrics, but when it comes to performing live to a crowd that have not heard any of their songs before, they are not well received and fall apart.  They then come to the assumption that their lyrics are still not good enough or come up with the assumption that the crowd are stupid and they are performing to the wrong audience.  It is when they come up with these assumptions that they are often missing the point.  In quieter settings or in a recording, lyrics do have strong importance, as people will eventually take in what you say and I am not down playing the importance of being a good lyricist.  But as a rapper you inevitably will not always have the luxury of performing in quiet settings.  There will be times when you have to perform in a big reverberate room, with average sounding microphones, with loud backing music, that is poorly mixed.   This can seriously limit what people can hear from you in terms of your actual words, and will not be able to take in and process your lyrics.

It is on these occasions that we as rappers or MC’s really have to understand what MC stands Learn How To Rap eBook coverfor.  That’s Master of Ceremonies for those of you that don’t know!  You are the stage conductor and the showman, who is there to get the crowd hyped and to enjoy the music or event that you are at.  To do this takes charisma.  Charisma sounds like a very intangible thing that cannot be learnt nor taught, but I beg to differ.   I think when you understand some of the things that make a person charismatic you find that it is something that anyone can learn.

I just gave an example of some of the rappers I have seen that are great lyricists, yet for some reason couldn’t cut it on stage.  Conversely I have also seen rappers that are very average lyricists and did not have all the hype behind them that the big names have, yet still managed to kill it on stage in front of a busy crowd.  The crowd absolutely loved them!  So how could it be that people thought they were any good, without any hype and despite them being very average lyricists?  Well, it’s because of what was going through their head in the moment, their body language and to a lesser degree their flow (the rhythm of their voice that people could hear to the music).  When they took the microphone and started rapping, they weren’t acting timid and looking for validation from the crowd.  They were simply having fun.  It came across as if they had complete disregard for the outcome and went with the flow.  They put themselves out there for people to take or leave so to speak, with complete indifference to what the crowd thought of them.  You could take their approach as being like this.  If the crowd liked them, great!  If they didn’t, then at least they would learn from the experience in one way or another.  Having this vibe in the moment of performing is a crucial concept to adopt.

When you are performing to a crowd you cannot afford to get hung up on whether they like you or not.  It sounds almost counter-intuitive but the less you care about what they think of you, the better you are going to do.  You get to focus more on expressing yourself honestly to the people in front of you.  When you look for validation in any shape or form you often inhibit yourself and focus more on trying to make them like you rather than expressing yourself honestly and instead hold back through fear that they might not take to it.  As a result you are likely to sub-communicate neediness in your body language, voice and general demeanor.  This is off putting not just on stage but also in social settings.

I’m sure you can think of a time when you were in school, or work, or at a party or family gathering and can remember being in a conversation with a particular person that just came across as needy.  Maybe it was the lonely geeky kid in school that had no friends.  Or an old family member that didn’t get out much.  As they had no real friends and you happened to be one of the few people that spoke to them, you could sense them being really eager to talk to you.  Maybe they kept trying to impress you with average jokes that weren’t that funny, that you pretended to laugh at.  Or they kept asking you ‘interview’ questions about yourself.  Perhaps they felt they now finally had a friend in you, because they weren’t used to having people actually speak to them.  You can probably remember them not being a particularly bad person but also not really wanting to talk to them.  You certainly wouldn’t entertain the idea of actually speaking to them on a regular basis and were simply carrying on the conversation out of sympathy rather than genuine interest, whilst in the back of your mind really wanting to get away.  Think about the sort of things that person was sub-communicating in their body language, conversation and general vibe….  If you were to think back, you will probably notice they were sub-communicating in their body language and conversation that they felt they were lower value to yourself.  As they perceived you as higher value they felt they had a need to have a positive response from you to give them a sense of validation and worth and a general need to impress you and hold your attention.

These same points are things to avoid when performing on stage.  You may want attention, positive responses and validation but in this game the hungry don’t get fed!  The most charismatic people in the world are more concerned with expressing themselves honestly rather than having positive attention from everyone.  That is at least in the moment of performing.  As a result they are no longer inhibited by worrying about the outcome.  This is why nowadays in Hip Hop people have started to accept others from all backgrounds.  You don’t have to fit into the standard rapper/gangster stereotype to be accepted by a Hip Hop crowd.  You can be anything from a nerdy, suburban kid, a poor homeless person or a gangster and anything anywhere else in-between.  Who you are or where you’re from doesn’t matter as much as the uninhibited expression of yourself or the persona you want to put out.  To quote the great Rakim, ‘It ain’t where you’re from it’s where you’re at…’  You should wear who you are, almost as a badge of honor, especially to a crowd whilst on stage.

SEO for Bloggers: How to Nail the Optimization Process for Your Posts – Whiteboard Friday

Success isn’t an overnight phenomenon when it comes to SEO, but with the right process and a dose of patience, it’s always within reach — even if you’re running your own blog. Optimizing your blog posts begins as early as the inception of your idea, and from then on you’ll want to consider your keyword targeting, on-page factors, your intended audience, and more. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out a step-by-step process you can adopt to help increase search traffic to your blog over time.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about blog post SEO, specifically how to nail the on-page optimization process, the thought process, the strategy process, the content creation and optimization for a blog post. So if you are writing a blog, there are a bunch of things that you need to do to be great at SEO, and there are some steps that I think you can follow.

This is not one of those things where I’m going to say, “Oh, you absolutely have to follow this from end to end for every post that you write, and it’s a big, formal, complex process.” A lot of this can be done in your head before you start writing the post, before you start creating it. That’s totally okay. This does not have to add a ton of layers of involvement. But if you use this process as you’re creating each post, which I do many, many times for Whiteboard Friday, this blog post that you’re reading and watching right now, and for all the posts that I write, it can be hugely helpful and eventually transformative in your ability to get search traffic to your blog.

Step 1: Determine the post’s goals

So let’s start. First off, as you should always do, you should determine what the goal of the post is. You should have that in your head or written down before you start creating the post. So that could be:

  • Attract a new audience in this particular sphere.
  • Convince and win over people to my perspective on a particular topic.
  • I’m really trying to promote a product or service with this post.
  • Share some important news about my organization or my company.
  • Share something that’s happening in my sphere.
  • Contributing to a conversation that already exists out in the blogosphere or the social media world or the news world in your space.
  • Answer a question or earn influencer amplification.

Whatever it is, make sure you know what it is before you go into the post. I hate to see folks starting with step three, like doing keyword research when they have no idea what the post goals are.
One thing before we skip to step two is once you know what you’re trying to do here, determine the metric or metrics that matter the most to that goal. So for example, a metric could be visits, just raw traffic. It could be engagement on the post. It could be comments. It could be links.

It could be social shares, because you’re trying to reach a new audience that’s on LinkedIn. You haven’t done very well on LinkedIn in the past, but you think this post is perfectly targeted to that.

Or you’re only really trying to get one or two people’s attention, particular influencers, in which case your metric might be: Did they come and read it? Did they share it? If the answer to that is yes, you’ve accomplished the post’s goals. But you need that metric recorded.

Step 2: Determine the audience you need to reach

Related, determine the audience you’re trying to reach with the post. So that could be potential new readers. It could be existing loyal fans. “Yay,” he’s waving a flag. It could be influencers, folks who have the ability to broadcast your message, and maybe you’re not even trying to attract them to broadcast this particular message, you just want their attention so in the future you can reach them.

Or it might be very specific audience targets, in this case my backpacker readers. Moz does that all the time. For example, I might do a Whiteboard Friday that is specifically for e-commerce websites or specifically for B2B folks. I’m focusing on a particular audience target with that content.

Step 3: Do your keyword research

Now we’re going to do our keyword research, because we know what we’re trying to accomplish and who we’re trying to reach. So we’re going to try and find three to five keyword phrases to target. Why three to five? Because generally, that’s what you can reasonably expect to be able to reach with a single blog post. I’ll talk a little bit more about on-page optimization in a sec.

I’m looking for, as we’ve talked about in our keyword research-focused Whiteboard Friday just a few weeks ago, which you should check out if you haven’t already, we want relatively high volume, low difficulty, high click-through rate opportunity. Meaning, there is a good number of people who search for it, it’s not that hard to potentially rank for, and there are not too many other features in the search result that are going to take away from my potential ability to rank with web content.

If there are, by the way, lots of people who have images or lots of people who have videos in this search result or lots of news content, then you want to think about, “How do I get my post to include those?” I might think about, “Hey, maybe this post should be very visually centric, or maybe this post should be a video.” “Or maybe this post should try and get into Google News.” “Can I get my blog into Google News?” If I can’t, maybe I want to find someone whose platform I can publish on to get into Google News.

All the keywords that you target should have the same searcher intent. What do I mean by searcher intent? I mean that the people who search for those three to five terms and phrases are all trying to accomplish the same goal or very, very similar goals.

So an example might be, if someone is searching for “luxury kids clothes,” that is likely very, very similar to someone searching for “designer children’s fashion,” or “haute couture kids brands.” They all have the same intent. They are thinking about purchasing, or investigating at least what brands in the fashion space offer children’s clothing, and they’re all in the luxury, high-end, haute couture, high-priced space. Perfect. These are all matching that searcher intent.

Step 4: Conduct competitive research

I want to conduct my competitive research. This is where I’m going to go ask questions like:

  • “Who else is ranking for this keyword?” I can just go to Google, take a look at that, or I could look at the SERPs analysis through something like Keyword Explorer.
  • “Who has produced heavily shared content in this space?” So not necessary who’s ranking, but who’s had lots of shares and likes on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Pinterest, all that kind of stuff. BuzzSumo is great for this. You can also use Moz Content’s Search tool. Once you know the answers to these two, you need to determine…
  • “What is it that’s the unique value that I can bring to the table with my blog post?” Unique value meaning not just unique content. Obviously, what you write is going to be different than what other people have written or created. But how are you providing value that is different from what other people have provided?

Is that because your opinions are very unique? Is it because you are providing a better experience? Is it because you’re providing that content in a different format? Is it because you have access to unique researcher data? Whatever those things are, you need to answer that question because we’re trying to go above and beyond what else is out there.

Step 5: Create your post

I’m going to go ahead and create the post, and this is where a lot of that research comes into play. Because I know what my post goals are and who I’m targeting, and some of the keyword research and what people are looking for around this topic, as well as what’s already out there, I can now make a post that is unique and uniquely valuable. This is huge, because it means that my post has much greater potential to reach its audience and to perform well, and to be perceived by both searchers and search engines, as well as sharers and influencers and folks on social media, as much more worthwhile.

I also want to think about, in here, the types of content that I want. So written content is pretty obvious for most blog posts. But I should also think about things like images and graphs or data, video. Do I want to embed content from other places, maybe SlideShare, or I want to embed some rich media file?

Or maybe I want to link to other places out there. Maybe some people have produced content on this and I would like to get their attention, and I would like to reference their work, and so I’m going to link over to them. Maybe I want to embed some quotes or get some quotes from some notable folks about the particular topic or get other opinions for the piece. All of that type of stuff I should think about as I create the post.

Step 6: On-page SEO/keyword targeting

This is the on-page SEO portion. So I’m going to take those three to five terms, and I’m going to think about one of those as the primary keyword phrase that I’m targeting. That’s going to be the one that goes exactly matched in the title and the headline and the URL. I’m also going to think about two to four secondary keywords that I want to attempt to wrap into potentially the meta description and image alt tags and the content itself. I’m going to try and use these keywords intelligently in places like title, URL, meta description, headline, content, images, all those spots.

Then I want to consider any old URLs that I might redirect here. So let’s say that perhaps I have done a blog post on this topic in the past six months ago or two years ago. Do I want to redirect that old post to this one? Or are there posts that I should go out there and find, or content anywhere on my site or on any site that I control or influence, where I want to link to this content, this new post that I’m writing now that I’ve created it? This can be helpful for discovery. It can also be helpful for internal linking, helpful to your audience who’s reading your old stuff, and helpful to search engines to find, index, and hopefully rank your new content.

Step 7: Craft an outreach + amplification plan

I need some way to do outreach and amplification, and I want to plan for that. So the questions I’m asking here are:

Who do I want to reach? Who do I think will help me amplify this?

How am I going to target them? How am I going to reach out to them? Is it going to be via email? Is it going to be via Twitter? Am I going to see them in person? Do I have a direct relationship? Do I need an introduction? Do I want to comment on something that they have done, whatever that might be?

When should I do that? Do I want to do it beforehand, because I’m trying to get them to look at the content or contribute something to it prior? Or do I want to do it after I’ve published it and promoted it, and why?

Meaning, why is this person going to help me? What does it do for them or for their audience? Does it make them look good? Is it something that in the past they have shared lots of things like this, but this one is uniquely valuable or better, or provides new information that they didn’t have before? You need an answer to all of those questions when you create that plan.

Step 8: Experiment, learn, & iterate

I’m going to experiment, I’m going to learn, and I’m going to iterate on this. So look, in this process, some of these things, for a big, big post you might spend a lot of time on each of these steps very thoroughly. For a post that’s sort of a toss-away, quick opinion, I’m trying to write it in an hour or less and get it published, maybe I’m just thinking about these things in my head and doing real fast keyword research and targeting, and the rest of it’s sort of just a mental model that I have. But regardless of that, I’m going to expect that this process is going to be repeated dozens of times, 30, 40, 50, 70 times even, before I should expect my first success, especially if you’re a new blog or new blogger, and that I’m going to have to do it hundreds of times before I’ll have a relatively high hit or a high success rate, where lots of your posts are doing well and earning you rankings and ongoing traffic and social shares.

This is not something where you follow this process and you have instant results with your first post. That’s not the case. No one has that in blogging. That’s just not how it works. You’re going to launch, promote, analyze, apply the information that you learn, and launch again. This process is going to happen over and over, and the more you learn and apply, the better you’re going to get at this system.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and we will see you again next week. Take care.

The 8 Morning Secrets of Successful People (Info-graphic)

Rise and shine. Don’t hit that snooze button!

How you wake up can often dictate how the rest of your day will go. That’s why it’s important to approach every day with a strong and optimistic routine.

How do you think the most successful people in the world start their days? Definitely not by sleeping in or rolling out of bed.

Waking up early with a positive mindset is the first step to a healthy morning routine. If you often feel like there’s not enough time in the day, extra early hours will help you get more done. People such as Richard Branson and Olympian Jessica Ennis Hill start their days by eating a healthy breakfast, planning out their days and exercising.

Check out Leisurejobs.com’s infographic below to learn more successful morning secrets.

10 Things You Need to Know About Placing Music on TV and in Films

You want every chance to generate income from your music, and while mechanical royalties (for sales of tangible product and digital downloads) have diminished, there are more opportunities than ever to have your music heard on television and in movies. In addition to the financial benefit, for songwriters who are also recording artists, prominent placements in TV shows and films can help expand your fan base, in addition to looking great on a resume.

But there are additional reasons to place songs on television and in movies. In many genres, such as rock, singer/songwriter, alternative rock, pop, R&B, hip-hop, instrumental, and Americana music, it’s very tough to place “outside songs” – songs not written or co-written by the artist or producer. It’s also tough to place songs that sound as if they belong in another era—for example, Patsy Cline, 1940s swing music, or psychedelic rock from 1968.

But movies and TV shows need songs in all of these genres—and more, as well as music that sounds as if it’s from various decades. It’s hard to think of any style that isn’t used in television shows and films—and if the music is right, it doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, or what you look like.

Where Do the Songs Used in the Background Come From?

You might be surprised to learn that a tremendous amount of the background music on your favorite TV shows and movies is derived from songwriters’ demos and from artists’ independent releases. I’m not referring to the instrumental music composed specifically to underscore a scene—but to the vocal and instrumental pieces heard in the background on television shows and in movies.

If you write songs in the hopes that artists other than you will record them, then films and TV shows offer an outlet for your song demos. If you’re a recording artist, as well as a songwriter, we’re talking about placing recordings from your own albums—including albums you’ve produced independently. Composers of instrumental music can also find a market for their music on TV shows and in movies.

When used in TV shows and movies these pieces of music are referred to as cues—and are often used as what is known as source music.

What is Source Music?

Source music is any music in a TV show or film that seems to be emanating from a tangible, physical source within the scene. For instance, the song playing in a disco or honkytonk; music that seems to be coming from a jukebox; or the song heard when a character puts a CD in his or her stereo, switches on the car radio, or puts on the headphones from an iPod. Source music can also be an actual performance, such as a band playing on a stage.

Placing this kind of music is typically the easiest way to break in. It’s much easier to get 12 seconds of your song in the background of a TV show than to get Rihanna or Tim McGraw to record it.

Which Lyrics, Styles, and Tempos Work Best?

There’s a huge misconception about the kinds of lyrics and tempos that tend to be best suited for television and film placement. When I hear depressing, self-absorbed, non-commercial music and I ask, “What do you hope to do with this?” the answer is invariably, “I’ll place it in a TV show or a movie.”

Mournful, slow ballads are actually the hardest songs to place for TV/Film. (They’re the hardest to place with recording artists, too – but that’s another topic.)

I consistently hear music supervisors and those who work at music libraries state that they look for songs that are similar to current hits—or classic songs—but without the high price tags these songs typically command. It can be effective to evoke the mood and feeling of these songs—but without copying them—or being a sound-alike.

The lyric themes most in demand for television and films express universal concepts and emotions such as some aspect of love. Other popular lyric topics include “let’s get started,” “it’s a new beginning,” “I’m gonna make it,” “things are gonna be great,” “feels so good,” and “enjoying life.”

Mentioning proper names, places, and specific details incurs the risk of conflicting with something in the script. It’s best to address emotions that are frequently expressed—things millions of people relate to—while saying them in a way that does not exclude too many scenarios.

But … this is not a license to settle for overused clichés. As in all songwriting, to separate your song from the pack it’s important to include fresh, original images and approaches. Also, note that if your lyric includes language that might be offensive for some uses, have an alternate, clean version available.

How Good Does the Recording Have to Be?

In most instances, the actual recording you submit is what will be used in the film or TV show. It will not be re-recorded. The primary exceptions are songs that play over the credits at the beginning or the end of a big Hollywood movie; the opening or closing of a TV show; or a song included in a commercial.

In these instances, a new version of the song might be recorded. For example, Celine Dion might be hired to record the song to be used as the credits roll during the sequel to Titanic.

But typically, the music you submit will be used “as is.” That’s why the musicianship, the vocals, and the overall sonic quality has to sound almost indistinguishable from the songs you hear on the radio. This is sometimes referred to as broadcast quality.

Can you Produce Broadcast Quality Recordings at Home?

Many people can, and much of the music heard on TV shows and in movies is indeed produced in home studios. To generate recordings that sound good enough to be placed in television shows and films, you need the capability to record, engineer, and mix your own tracks to the professional standard—as well as create and execute the parts and performances that the best musicians and singers can perform.

Thanks to the Internet, top-notch musicians and vocalists are available to you regardless of where you live. By searching online you can find musicians and singers who will record in their own studios and send you the files.

The key is to be sure that when it’s finished—regardless of where it was recorded—the vocals sound as good as the artists on the radio, and the musicians’ performances—and the parts they play—sound as good as those heard on current hits.

What is the Role of a Music Supervisor?

The music supervisor meets with the director to identify where songs might augment and underscore the emotion of the scenes, as well as to identify the source music that is needed, such as songs coming from a car radio or a jukebox. Then his or her job is to find songs that express the director’s vision—while being certain those songs can be licensed—and are within the production’s music budget.

Most music supervisors compile enormous amounts of music from artists, writers, and music publishers. They review the songs in their catalog that they believe might work for the current project, and they put the word out to music publishers, writers and artists with whom they have established relationships.

After narrowing down the options, they present the director with multiple choices for each place that music is needed. So … the music supervisor is essentially the gatekeeper who you’ll have to get past in order for the director to consider your work.

What’s a Music Library?

Music libraries (sometimes referred to as production music libraries) are essentially music publishers, but instead of pitching songs to recording artists, they pitch and license songs and instrumental pieces for television shows, movies, commercials, and video games. The top music libraries have catalogs comprised of tens of thousands of songs and instrumental cues.

Some of the larger music libraries contract composers to provide large quantities of material; other companies acquire music one composition at a time. Composers who earn their living from writing instrumental cues often say that it’s “a numbers game,” and many of them have 1,000 or more different pieces placed with libraries.

When choosing a company to work with, one consideration is the length of time your song will be tied up. When you place a song with a music library, the contract will usually have a time limit—for example, two, three, or five years.

Another important consideration is whether the agreement is exclusive or nonexclusive. When you sign an exclusive agreement, you’re giving up the right to have any other company represent your song during the term of the contract.

For nonexclusive deals, the music library typically re-titles your song and registers the new title with your performing rights organization. This allows the PRO to identify the placements that the library secured—and pay them only for those.

The music library will typically keep 50% of any sync and master use licensing fees it secures, as well as the publisher’s share—50%–of any performance royalties generated as a result of their placing the song in a TV show, film, or other media.

What Rights and Payments Are Required for Film/TV Placements?

Two different rights must be granted for a song to be included in a television show or movie:

• A synchronization license (typically called a sync license) is issued to grant permission to use the underlying song. This license is issued by the song’s publisher.
• A master use license is issued by the owner of the recording, granting the right to use the specific recording of the song.
• For example, when songs I co-wrote for Britney Spears were included in television shows, permission to include the songs was granted by my publisher, Zomba Music—but permission to use Britney’s recordings was issued by the owner of the recordings—Jive Records.

The sync license and master use license are often each referred to as a side. In many instances, the sync and the master use licenses are combined into an all-in license. This simplifies the licensing process, and one payment is typically made for both the sync fee and the master use fee. In most instances, the fees for both sides are equal.

The licensing fee is determined by factors including the production’s budget; how the song will be used; how much of the song will be played; and how important the song is to the project.

In addition to money earned from sync and master use licensing, after television shows air, the performing rights organizations pay a performance royalty to the publishers and songwriters. The amount of performance royalties earned when a song airs on TV is determined by factors including: the licensing fees paid by the station (with major networks paying the highest fees); the length of the music cue; how the song is used; whether it is vocal or instrumental; and the time of day that it airs.

Note that when songs included in movies play in theaters, performance royalties are paid only for screenings outside the U.S. However, if the movie subsequently airs on television, the songs and instrumental cues in its soundtrack do earn performance royalties.

Songs and instrumental pieces represented by music supervisors, and those included in music libraries, typically must be pre-cleared—meaning that all copyright owners agree to—and have the right to—issue synchronization and master use licenses.

If, for example, there are multiple publishers, and one of the publishers says “no,” the remaining publishers will not be able to issue the sync license. If you—or any of your song’s co-writers—are signed to a publishing agreement, you will not be able to pre-clear your published songs or place them with a music library.

Also note that if your recording includes samples from other artists’ recordings it will not be possible to pre-clear them for use in television and films. However, it is not a problem to include pre-recorded loops that come with programs such asGarageband.

Do You Really Own All Rights to Your Recording?

You paid for the studio, the engineer, the musicians, and the vocalists—so now you own the finished recording, and have the right to license it for inclusion in TV and films—right? Not necessarily.

If you recorded the song in your home studio, played or programmed all the instruments, and sang the vocals, you clearly have the right to license your recording. But … if you hire a singer and/or musicians, you can only use their recorded performances in TV shows or films if they have granted you permission to do so. If you hire someone to produce your recording—or use a demo service to fulfill that function—you’ll need their permission as well.

The solution is to have all musicians, vocalists, and producers sign a work for hire agreement—a document that you and the performers sign, stating that in exchange for payment, you own all rights to the performance—including the right to license the recording for television and film, and that the performer is not entitled to any additional compensation. This agreement is sometimes called a musicians’ or vocalists’ waiver.

As an incentive, you might consider offering to pay your vocalist a percentage of any income you earn from master use licensing. Note that if you record demos in Nashville with musicians and/or vocalists who are members of their respective unions—they are not permitted to sign a waiver or a work for hire agreement. Your option is to upgrade their payment according to the rules prescribed by their union.

A work for hire agreement is included in my instructional audio CD Placing Music in TV & Films and in my book This Business Of Songwriting, Revised 2nd Edition.

How Do You Secure Film and TV Placements?

Presuming you can pre-clear your songs and recordings, you will want to get them to music supervisors and music libraries. Music libraries acquire a tremendous amount of their material from independent songwriters and composers (meaning writers who are not signed to publishing deals) and from artists who produce their own independently released CDs. Therefore, many of them are open to receiving unsolicited material. It is typically tougher to find an open door with a music supervisor—unless you have established credits.

An online search will yield listings of music libraries. In most instances, their submission policies are listed on their website. In some cases, you’ll be able to instantly begin the process of submitting your material. Other times, you’ll need to request permission to have your music considered for representation.

The Film & Television Music Guide (www.musicregistry.com) provides an extensive listing of music libraries and music supervisors, including their contact information.

Music Library Report (www.musiclibraryreport.com) offers a listing of hundreds of music libraries, along with contact information, submission policies, and more.

Another option is to use tip sheets and pitch services. A tip sheet is a document that lists companies seeking music; the kinds of music they’re looking for; and information about how to contact them and submit your work.

Cue Sheet (www.cuesheet.net) is a tip sheet that focuses exclusively on TV and film music.

Taxi (www.taxi.com) and Broadjam (www.broadjam.com) are companies that, among other services, provide listings of television and film music pitching opportunities to their members.

Taxi members have the option to upgrade to a service called Taxi Dispatch for an additional fee. This provides additional listings of film & TV projects seeking music—typically projects that require music on very tight deadlines.

Additionally, by reading trade publications such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter you can learn about upcoming television and film productions. This information can also be gleaned at the website IMDb (www.imdb.com).

It’s always best to ask how the recipient would like to receive your music. Many music supervisors prefer links rather than CDs or MP3s; or they might want you to submit your music through websites such as yousendit or dropbox that zip large amounts of data.

When sending your song digitally—whether it’s for TV, film, or any other purpose—it’s important to embed your contact information into your song files. Metadata refers to information embedded into a digital file. Music supervisors and other industry pros always want this so they can instantly identify where a song came from and how to contact the sender. Free (or inexpensive) programs are available that enable you to embed metadata.

Submitting your work to a music library can be a time-consuming process. You might be asked to describe:

• The tempo
• The type of vocal (male, female, solo, choir, etc…)
• The style
• Mood
• Instrumentation
• Artists the song sounds like
• Lyric themes

The reason they require so much information is that most music libraries have databases that are capable of sorting the songs in their catalogs according to key words. In many instances, music supervisors can access the libraries’ catalogs online to review songs.

Those songwriters and instrumental composers who have the most success tend to have many songs placed with various libraries and/or music supervisors. Placing your songs in TV shows and films requires hard work, but it can be a great way to earn credibility, new fans—and income.

Good luck!

Jason Blume is the author of 6 Steps to Songwriting Success, This Business of Songwriting, and Inside Songwriting (all published by Billboard Books), and he has produced a series of instructional songwriting audio CDs available at his website. His songs are on albums that have sold more than 50 million copies, and he is among the few writers to ever have his songs on Billboard’s pop, R&B, and country charts all at the same time. Jason’s songs have been recorded by diverse artists including Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Jesse McCartney, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, and country music stars including the Oak Ridge Boys, John Berry (earning a BMI Million-Air Award for exceeding one million airplays), and Collin Raye (6 cuts). In the past year he has had three top 10 singles and a “Gold” record in Europe with Dutch star, BYentl.

His songs have been included in television shows including “Scrubs,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The Guiding Light,” Disney’s “Kim Possible,” and “the Miss America Pageant,” and movies including “Assassination Games,” “First Kid,” “Swimming with the Fishes,” “The Monkey King,” “Dangerous Minds,” and many more. He studied television and film composing at U.C.L.A., and received an area Emmy Award for contributing songs and background score to PBS Frontline’s “Whatever Happened to Childhood.”

In addition to developing and teaching the BMI Nashville Songwriters Workshop, Blume has presented master classes at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (founded by Sir Paul McCartney), and in Ireland, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, Bermuda, Jamaica, and throughout the U.S., in addition to co-leading the Nashville Songwriters Association’s annual song camps. His latest book, This Business of Songwriting, Revised 2nd Edition has just been released and is available atwww.jasonblume.com, with e-books available at Amazon.com.