By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 1 minute
Last week, we were thrilled to host a webcast concert for one of our local clients, Luke Wade. We brought in a team to run the video and audio for him, opened our doors, and enjoyed the evening with Luke’s friends, family, and fellow musicians… as well as his fans watching live from around the world.
It was a great way for Luke to connect to existing and new fans who aren’t quite local enough to see him play in person. The Q&A session, eye contact with the main camera, and live audience contributed to the sense of a cozy, intimate performance. Which is good, because that’s exactly what it was.
Luke’s doing another webcast this coming Monday, and we know he’d be thrilled if you tuned in!
Videography by Cameron Smith. Audio Engineering by Damon Mapp.
I know how important copyright is, and I know that it can also be completely confusing and overwhelming… so I’m breaking it down and going through it, bit by bit.
This is the second article in the Copyright series. If you missed the first article, please take a moment to go back and read it before continuing this one.
Let’s say you’ve got your first big gig coming up, and you need a set list to fill 90 minutes. You have a bunch of original content, but you also know that the cover song can really bring in a new crowd. There are a few songs you have in mind, but you’re worried about copyrights. How do you protect your songs, and how do you avoid trouble for doing cover songs?
If you have not given all of your public performance rights to someone else, you have the right to perform your own songs in public. However, because you are performing your songs in public, you should ensure that you have done everything you need to secure your rights to the song (such as filing with the copyright office).
If someone is asking to perform one of your songs, you may be wondering if there is a benefit to granting another artist performance rights. In short, yes. The benefits include the royalties you receive for the use of your musical composition and, of course, exposure of your music to more potential fans. If you have signed some of your musical composition rights to a publishing company, the publisher may have a right to some of your royalties.
If you want to perform a song someone else created, you will need a “public performance license.” There are two ways to obtain this license.
First, you could go to the copyright owner. Likely, the artist’s publishing company administers the licensing for the song, so you will need to find out who the publisher is and contact them to obtain performance rights. Contracts for performance rights negotiated directly with the publisher can vary in a number of ways, but it will be a non-exclusive right (meaning you do not own the song) and, unless agreed to otherwise, you will need to negotiate this right for every song and every performance.
The second, and easier, way is for the venue to go through a Performance Rights Organization (PRO). PROs work with restaurants, concert halls, nightclubs, hotels, and other venues to grant performance licenses. There are three main PROs that copyright owners use to track and issue licenses for performance rights: Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI); the American Society of Composers Authors (ASCAP); and Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC). Nearly 100% of recorded artists are registered with one of these organizations. Venues typically (but not always) receive a non-exclusive “blanket license,” which will allow performing artists to use any of the PRO’s songs. It is likely that the venue you are performing at has already obtained the proper license from the PRO and is responsible for making sure the royalties are paid. So, look online for which PRO administers the performance rights to the song you want to cover, and ask your venue if they have the rights from that PRO.
Lastly, and this is important: obtaining the rights to perform the music does not allow you to record your live performance of that song!
Speaking of recording… Let’s say you’ve been gigging a while and have developed a loyal fan base—so loyal that they keep asking if you have music they can buy and listen to when you aren’t playing gigs. (Awesome!)
Pumped, you start pulling together your best songs for a recording session. You’ve got eight or nine solid originals, but there are two cover songs you do that get the crowd up and dancing, every single time. You’d love to record those, too. Can you?
As far as songs you’ve created, you have the right to sing, record, and distribute your songs freely (unless, of course, you have given your rights away).
To record your song, you may have to give up some rights. Often, record label contracts will contain a clause that prevents you from recording other versions of your songs without the original label’s permission. The contract might also have you give up some or all of the sound recording rights to that final product. Read all contracts carefully, with a lawyer, before signing! While you may need to give up some or all of your sound recording rights, you should still own the rights to the underlying music.
If another artist wants to record your original songs, granting them recording rights can bring you exposure for your songs as well as royalties.
To legally record your version of songs someone else created, you need to obtain reproduction rights from the copyright owner. Specifically, you need a “mechanical license,” which gives you the rights to reproduce and distribute others’ songs on your own album.
You can obtain this license from the copyright owner through negotiations. Since it’s a complicated and time consuming process to track everyone who wants to use your songs, most copyright owners use the Harry Fox Agency to manage their mechanical licenses. This is a good place to start if you want to obtain a mechanical license.
All copyright owners are given the rights to “first use” of their songs, meaning they get the opportunity to release the first public version of the song. After the song has been published, anyone can obtain a “compulsory license” by providing notice to the copyright owner and following a specific process. This allows you to still legally record the song, even if you’re having trouble obtaining a mechanical license from the creator or original artist.
Please note that a mechanical license does not give you the right to post your version of the song on YouTube. We will get to this later.
You’ve gotten your songs back from the recording studio—fully mastered and ready for release. You want to order physical albums to sell, since they have good profit margins and some of your fans like buying merch at shows (they’ve asked, repeatedly, if you have any CDs). You’re also interested in selling digital versions of the album and individual songs—including those cover songs.
Manufacturing and selling songs you’ve created incorporates your reproduction (copying) and distribution (selling) rights in both sound recording and the underlying music and lyrics. If you use a record label, you may have to give away some or all of your sound recording rights. In doing so, you likely give them the right to distribute and reproduce copies.
Also, by publishing your music to the public, others can now obtain a compulsory license to reproduce your music now. The benefit is of course the money you received in exchange for these rights.
Now, let’s talk about legally manufacturing and selling songs someone else created. As discussed above, you need a mechanical license to create and sell your new songs without infringing the copyright of the songs you covered. If you are working directly with the copyright owner, make sure you obtain the right to “distribute” the cover song; otherwise, you may have the right to use the musical composition in a new recording but cannot do anything with that recording.
As discussed previously, the easier method of selling your cover songs is to obtain a “compulsory license” by providing notice to the copyright owner and following the specific process laid out in statutes.
There is something else to consider: digital versus physical copies. These are two very different mediums, and the music industry rightfully makes a distinction. You can obtain the right to sell permanent copies in either medium by obtaining a mechanical license or a compulsory license, but having the right to one medium does not mean you have the right to the other. The Harry Fox Agency has two different forms; make sure you have obtained the right license!
There’s one more thing worth noting on mechanical licenses: they are for a set number of specific sales (for example: 1,000 CDs, or 10,000 downloads) and will need to be renewed for additional copies.
Next in the Copyright series: Streaming, Creating Music Videos, and Licensing Music. Be sure to check back and find out more!
Disclaimer:The above article is not legal advice; is it not intended to, nor can it, replace professional legal advice in any way. It is only intended to provide a short guide to basic legal terms and practices in the music industry. In your own interest, consult with a copyright attorney before entering into any contractual agreement or taking any action against copyright infringement.
After hundreds of hours of hard work and practice, your band has landed its first public performance. You couldn’t be more excited. As soon as it’s confirmed, your head starts spinning with visions of screaming fans, lines down the block, crowds swaying to your music under the bar lights, and sold-out venues.
Your band kicks the rehearsal schedule into high gear. After all, you want your first gig to be stellar. You blast all your social media accounts—both personal and those your band just created—with information about the show, and you put up posters around town.
The big day comes, and you all take off early from your day jobs. The shorted paycheck stings, but the sacrifice will be worth it since this isyour big break. After sending one last tweet about the performance, you finish loading the gear into your van and head out to the venue.
On a good day, it’s an hour away; today is not a good day. There are three wrecks on the highway, and with rush hour traffic it takes you nearly two hours to get there. Good thing you left really early… but now dinner will have to wait until after the show. When you finally arrive, you can’t help but notice that the bar’s a little more run down than you’d remembered. But that won’t matter when the crowds fill it in and the lights go down… right? Shrugging it off, you set up, run your sound check, and head backstage—to a tiny room with a couch and a table—to hydrate, shake your stage fright, and focus.
And then? The doors open. It’s time.
When you walk back out onto the stage, you notice a group of friends and family at the tables in the corner. Twelve or so familiar faces have made it. You tell yourself that the rest are stuck in traffic and will be there soon, and you start playing.
Aside from your group, there are maybe another ten people in the bar when you start. By the time you finish your set, the bar’s crowd has quadrupled. Problem is, half the bar is watching the big game on ten screens, and another group is waiting for a fight to erupt between two drunk, angry patrons. Besides your friends and family, only two tables have looked your way.
The rush of booking a show and performing on stage in front of strangers is strongly countered by the feeling that none of those strangers really noticed. With mixed emotions and a growling stomach, you pack up your gear and head out into the night.
Welcome to gigging.
Gigs versus Concerts
“Gigging” and “gig” are terms casually thrown around in the music world. You might have heard or even said, “I can’t make it to your party… my band has a gig that night,” or, “We’ve got five gigs in the next two weeks.” Generally speaking, a gig is a chance for you or your band to do your thing; hopefully you’re getting paid for it, but that’s not always the case. A gig could be an event, a festival, or at a bar, restaurant, or party; it could be for ten people or four hundred people.
While these opportunities to play are great, gigs most certainly are not concerts, so don’t be disappointed when some people in the crowd seem distracted. In fact, you should count on it.
At a gig, the focus isn’t on you or your band. It’s on the happy couple, the game on the bar’s TV, the food or drinks, and the other people at the table. With gigs, you’re simply a part of the ambiance, an enjoyable element of the event or venue… but you and your music aren’t necessarily the draw.
Now, your fans can show up to gigs. And, with the right touch, you can win over a gig crowd that didn’t come to see you. (With some events, like weddings, this requires a delicate balance—don’t steal the happy couple’s thunder!) But the fact remains that you and your music are not the reason most people are there.
With a concert, though, music is the focus. People aren’t at the venue to watch some game or visit with friends or drown their sorrows—they’re there for the music. (If there happen to be drinks, great!) Whether they bought tickets to your concert in advance and traveled just to see you or they dropped in to see who is playing at their favorite venue on a night you happen to be playing, with a concert, people are there for the music.
Should You Even Book Gigs?
I’m sure that it’s frustrating to practice for hours, travel to a venue, unload your gear, run a sound check, play your heart out… and be ignored in favor of some televised event or dinner conversations. Even if you do win over the crowd at a gig—maybe even sell some merchandise or collect some email addresses—there’s the nagging thought in the back of your head that those people weren’t there to see you.
But that doesn’t mean gigs don’t have value.
Early on in your music career, gigs might be your only opportunities and chances to perform. Take them! Gigs will help you hone your craft and performance skills in a way that rehearsing in your garage never can. You’ll develop your set list; you’ll also learn to read the crowd, throw the set list out, and wing it if needed. Playing to rooms of people ignoring you helps you build up a thick skin; you’ll need that later on, when you gain traction, reviews, and fans (because no artist is exempt from negative reviews and haters). Even later in your career, gigging can provide reasonable income and exposure. If the gig pays well and you like the venue, do it.
And those fans we just mentioned? You know, the people who genuinely like your music, and not just because they’re your friends and family? You get those through playing gigs. Sure, people might not have come to see you, but, if you’re good, they’ll notice you. If you’re really good, they’ll buy something or sign up for your mailing list. They might even come see you again, bringing a few friends along. That’s the best way to organically grow your fan base.
Gigs also let you interact with your fans on an individual, personal level—something that gets harder to do as you begin booking big concerts. Lastly, gigs keep you humble, pulling you out of your “music-is-my-whole-existence-why-haven’t-you-heard-of-me?” bubble and giving you a fresh perspective.
While gigs have value, I’m willing to bet that you’d rather book a concert over a gig. I can’t really blame you. Performing for people who appreciate your music, connecting with hundreds or thousands of fans, packing out a venue—these are the thoughts that keep you going. Concerts are the dream for most musicians. That dream is needed to get you through the bumps you’ll hit along the road; it’s what helps you persevere. When you start booking concerts instead of gigs, even at a small scale, the fact that people come and pay specifically to see you boosts both your ego and your wallet. If you have the chance to book a concert, take it!
As tempting as it is to ignore gigs and chase concerts, you need to spend a significant portion of your music career playing gigs. Gigs provide the steady base—your performance skills, your core fan base, your tough skin and humility—that you need for a successful, long-term music career.
The truth is, you will not be able to book many (if any) concerts until you have some experience gigging and have created a following of fans that will pay to see you perform. So gigging is really a path to bigger and better things over time.
In the end, if you have a legitimate opportunity to play and you have an opening on your schedule—whether it’s a gig or a concert—take it!
There are easier career paths than that of the independent musician. In most cases, you—the artist or band—are the songwriter, manager, social media director, roadie, and, oh yeah, you play music. But, where do you play? And how do you break into those venues? We’re here to tell you.
First, know that the advice you find below won’t mean a thing if you’re not ready for the stage. To the serious performer, this means your songs are memorized, your instrumentation and vocals are tight, you have your transitions down, and—lest I forget the obvious—you’re comfortable in front of a crowd.
Having gotten those pre-requisites out of the way, let’s talk about getting gigs.
It’s all about who you know, so get out there and meet your fellow music makers. You might have thought I was going to say ‘get to know the venues’; that is also important, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. It may seem counter-intuitive, but getting to know and befriend other bands can pay big dividends. Besides the fact that collaborating with other artists will help you grow and make you a better musician, knowing people in the local scene is a great way to hear about gig leads. These people can help; they are not your competition (unless you actually are doing a competition, like Battle of the Bands).
The independent music community is a place where you can find rich resources. If you make a connection with other groups and artists, they may be willing to put in a good word for you with promoters or bookers. Or, if you’re a fit, you could become an opening act for them. If you want to know the best places to play or get an introduction, play nice with other local musicians. And, when you get a break, remember to pay it forward for other up-and-comers. You never know who will be the next big thing.
Do Your Homework
The contact information for local booking agents is generally just a Google search away. But before you reach out to these people, find out all you can: their name, their preferred genre, the information and materials required for an audition, etc. If you have a buddy who knows the person you’re contacting, at the very least make sure to mention your friend’s name in your correspondence. Even better? See if your friend will introduce you in person—another situation where networking comes in handy.
If you’re trying to play an event or festival, first make sure your genre fits the audience. Your death metal sound may not jive with the bluegrass festival-goers. Second, know that there may be several stages, each with their own booker. Find out who you need to talk to about the stage that best fits your sound.
If it’s a bar or a club you’re looking to play, go check out some shows there. Get to know the bartenders. Watch the crowds; find out what they respond to and what seems to bore them. Make a connection with bands that are already playing at the club; a good word from a currently-performing band will go a long way in securing your gig.
You’ve found the person you need to contact. You’ve done your research. Now, make sure your email or letter to them is thoughtfully written. If this is not your strong suit, enlist a friend to help you. (I mentioned a letter intentionally. Lots of emails get lost in spam filters, are deleted without being read, or just don’t make it to the intended recipient; personal letters will at least get opened.)
I should also mention that persistence is a virtue when contacting a new venue. Don’t make the mistake of sending one letter and thinking all your work is done. It may take several attempts to get the attention of the person who makes booking decisions.
Whichever way you send it, make sure you have reviewed and edited your communication thoroughly. This includes spelling your contact’s name correctly. I had an opportunity to interview three different PR firms last month to help promote my band. I was surprised by the offer from one of the firms; they spelled my name three different ways in one letter! Needless to say, I did not use them.
No, not like that. I mean, make it easy for your potential promoter to listen to your audition. After going through all the trouble of researching your contacts, do everything in your power to ensure they listen to your awesomeness. For example, check (and double-check) that links to tracks and videos are working. Also, be sure to send a link or recording of a live performance—not a shiny studio recording. Your potential booking agent wants to know you’re capable of performing live.
In your communications, keep it brief (no life stories, please), but be informative. Include your contact information, genre, influences, and experience. If you have a considerable fan base and think you can pack the house, by all means, tell your contact that. (If not, don’t lie about it. You may get your foot in the door, but you will not be asked back.)
As in reflexes. Be ready to respond quickly if a promoter contacts you back—the same day if at all possible. They could have a dozen other hungry musicians waiting to take your spot. If, for some reason, you can no longer take the gig, let them know, and communicate your disappointment in the schedule conflict. They may remember you for the future.
Allow for Small Beginnings
When you’re just starting out, you have to build a fan base. To do that, you have to get your music into the ears of potential fans. Unless you’re getting booked every night, take the gigs that come your way—no matter how “insignificant” you think they may be. You can be proactive in these matters, too. Find a cause to support and do a benefit concert. Or, play your neighborhood’s next block party. Just get your music out there. You never know who will show up and catch your amazing set. Then, capture your fans’ info and invite them to future shows. As mentioned earlier, a following will help you land future gigs.
If your material is up to snuff and you are stage-ready, these steps will be instrumental in helping you get your next gig.
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 9 minutes
Are you worried about fan burnout due to often-repeated gigs in the same venue? Are your fans tiring of you? While they seem like nice problems to have, they are legitimate concerns we’ve heard artists bring up. Read on for our take on this topic.
Dinner With Bob
I remember being out on a couples’ dinner date recently and watching with amusement as my friend Bob began to tell a funny story about his past. Bob is a great storyteller, truly gifted at communication. He has a knack for including just the right amount of detail in the story, and his timing with the punch line is excellent. Bob seems to have a million stories, and he enjoys sharing them.
Everyone was having a good time listening to Bob. Well, almost everyone. Teri, his wife, was not quite as enthusiastic as the rest of us, and she rolled her eyes back as Bob began the story. Now, Bob and Teri have been together for years; they get along really well, are a very compatible couple, share common interests, and love being together.
So, why was Teri less enthusiastic than the rest of us? Well, Teri has heard all of Bob’s stories many times, and she considers them counterproductive for the group discussion. She thinks Bob is funny—it was one of the reasons she was attracted to him so many years ago—but his material needs updating. Bob does tend to repeat himself, and not just to Teri; the other couples with us had also heard many of his stories. Nonetheless, Bob enjoys performing, so the show goes on.
Like Teri, I can only hear the same thing so many times before it begins to wear on me. It might have been engaging, interesting, or funny when I first heard it, but after a while I yearn for something new. The excitement is gone. When we go to dinner with Bob and Teri now, we have to prepare ourselves to endure some of Bob’s repeat performances. I hate to admit it, but I’m starting to feel just like Teri.
Overexposure to music can have the same effect. A hit single is incredible the first time I hear it. It’s fun to listen to or share for a few weeks. But then, when I hear it on every radio station, on the evening news, and as I do my grocery shopping, it becomes downright annoying. After a while, I just want it to stop.
As an independent musician, you face the same challenge Bob faces. Great material helps win loyal fans, but performing that same material over and over, without adding new material, can help you lose those fans. Fans want more new music. Otherwise, repeating your limited library of hits will wear on them. Your success as an artist can be impacted negatively if you do not produce new music consistently.
New music creates new sales and keeps things exciting and fresh, for you and for your fans. When I get a notification from a favorite musician that they’re releasing a new single or album, the anticipation of hearing their new music for the first time gets me excited. Depending on the artist, I’m ready to purchase the album from the first mention of it, without waiting for reviews and previews. Your fans are the same way. Don’t frustrate them with outdated, stale material.
A Story About Ashley, One Of Our Musician Clients
Ashley and I were having a discussion recently about her career. She had been performing in our area for some time and had some concerns about fan enthusiasm at shows… mainly that it seemed to be waning. She also felt that her connection with the audience was less than what it used to be.
Ashley had a revelation. “You cannot be a prophet in your home town,” she told me. Ashley felt that the local fans were too familiar with her and her music. They no longer recognized her talent the way they used to. They were not engaging with her. In addition to her revelation, Ashley had a plan. The plan was to move into new markets where people did not know her, book new venues, start a new promotional campaign… you know, change things up a bit. She would be fresh and new; the old buzz would be back.
Well, maybe not just yet. Let’s back up just a little.
Ashley is a good songwriter and quite a talented performer. But the new digital age of music, with all of its opportunities and overhead, was overwhelming her. She was doing everything. Shooting high-quality music videos, expanding her merch line, updating her websites, tweeting regularly, signing up for social media accounts left and right, and posting her music on every possible digital download store and streaming service. She even traveled to SXSW to hear what the ‘next big thing’ would be. Ashley spent 30 to 35 hours per week on the ‘business side’ of her music and the rest of her time traveling to and performing at her gigs. In short, she was doing everything she could think of to feel and look like a successful performer, hoping that it would make her one and bring hordes of fans in to purchase her music.
The reality was different. Most of her fans didn’t visit her website, since there was no new music, and her social media posts vanished into fans’ feeds as soon as they were typed. Her video, which looked great but cost thousands produce, only had 220 views on YouTube. And, instead of buying her music, most of her fans were streaming it online for free. Ashley was dedicating way too much time and energy to things that didn’t really matter—or, worse yet, hurt her. Ashley looked great and was busy doing stuff, but nobody noticed.
Does this sound like you? Doing everything you know how to do and implementing a strong plan but coming up short? Have you figured out why? We have. Ashley was so busy doing the ‘business of music’ that she forgot about the music itself.
When Ashley was first starting her music career, she spent 90% of her time working on her music and developing material. Now the tables have turned. Ashley has not released a new album in over three years. She wasn’t developing new material with any regularity because her schedule was too busy. I remember a recent four-day period where she performed seven times in five different cities and spent 16 hours on the road for travel between gigs. I don’t know how she had any energy left to perform! The point is, she now spends 90% of her time either performing or engaged in the ‘business of music’… and she hasn’t even noticed the change.
This happens quite often with talented, creative people who also have to run their own business. They get into music because they have talent and love writing, playing, and performing. But before long, their focus has shifted to building their career, and they end up doing everything but creating new music.
The result? Your music and your career suffer.
Two Changes Ashley (And You) Must Make
Number One: Ashley is full of creative ideas but has allowed her schedule to rob her of time to work on them. This MUST change.
Think of the fan response to Ashley if she had released 3 new albums over the last three years along with several singles, EPs, release parties, and some promotional products. She would have done much better with her fans! Fan excitement and engagement would have been much higher, let alone the income generated.
Ashley needs to spend more time on the creative development of her music. We’d recommend at least 1/3 of her time to developing new material, which means her schedule should look something like this:
Ashley’s Schedule (45 – 60 hours per week)
1/3 of time spent on business/marketing matters
1/3 of time spent on developing new material
1/3 of time spent on performance and travel
Of course, we know that life is not that clean-cut. If one week or day demands more time for gigs, she should balance things out when she can. Maintaining a balance is key.
It would also be helpful for Ashley to set a minimum goal for creating new music. One new single to release every 6-8 weeks and one new album each year would be a good place to start.
Number Two:Ashley needs to look at her current venues and determine what is or isn’t working.
Let’s look at that four-day tour. Her income on one of those gigs was just $250, and she had to travel two hours each way to make it. As it stands, it’s really not worth the trip. Her other out-of-town gigs were further away but paid significantly more, making them worth her time. And her gigs in town paid well.
Once Ashley has determined which venues aren’t working, she can decide if they need to be cut altogether, or if they just need to be booked differently. The low-paying out-of-town venue on her four-day tour needs to go, or she needs to book additional venues in the same area to make the trip worth her time.
If Ashley cuts venues from her list, she can think about replacing them with new venues, as long as they pay well and expose her to a receptive audience. Touring is another option, but she’ll need to be strategic and selective about where she plays.
This might be a good time for her to hire a professional booking agent. If they can open doors to the right venues and help her organize her performance schedule, a good agent is well worth the money. She should try to negotiate an agreement that keeps her involved in the relationship with the venues, allowing her to personally handle the relationship after an agreed-upon period of time.
In the end, Ashley was partially right. She did need to change things up by expanding her venue options and purging those that don’t work for her. However, she was also missing something that was even more important: the need to make creating new material a priority. Ashley needs to dedicate a significant portion of her time to creative development.
Going on tour with old material will not solve her problem, at least not long term. Getting back to her creative roots will.
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 3 minutes
As a band, you sometimes need to prove that you have a great live show for people to come to your shows, and a cell phone video recording or word of mouth won’t always cut it for potential ticket buyers. Other times, fans want to remember and relive your shows that they’ve seen. Why not let fans preview or relive your act with recordings of your shows?
There are many ways you could go about making a recording of your shows. However, one of the newer options is to use an app called Lively, which aims to make the A/V recording and distribution process easier.
What Does Lively Do?
Lively is usable by both fans (to find audio and video recordings of shows) and artists. As an artist, Lively lets you:
Record your show as audio or video on an iOS device
Master your tracks easily with Lively Audio Manager
Upload your show
Share or sell your recordings
How Do I Use Lively?
The way this application works is really simple.
Plug the Apogee interface into a stereo mix from the front of house console.
Plug an iPad into an Apogee Duet interface.
Open the Lively app.
During your soundcheck, hit record. Then, play back to ensure the mix and levels are where you want them; adjust in the app as needed before the show starts.
At the start of the show, begin recording.
Add song markers in (either during the show or after).
Upload songs for fans to find.
What Do I Need To Use Lively?
To use the app, you’ll need an iPad (which many people, especially musicians, have these days) and an Apogee Duet audio interface. It would also be good to carry with you a couple of short XLR cables and a couple of 1/4 inch XLR cables, for connecting the front of house console and your interface.
How Much Does Lively Cost?
A new iPad costs from $299 up to $929 (if you need the processing power of a high-end laptop and cellular service). An Apogee Duet iOS audio interface is $595. The Lively app itself is free, but the recording functions are not available without a fee (ranges from $4.99 to $11.99).
Why Should I Use It?
While you can record your shows with other devices, it will take more time and effort to transfer the material to your computer, edit, and upload. Lively makes it so simple that, with a few taps on the ol’ iPad, the process can be done before fans even leave the venue.
As a musician, it’s essential to get fans to your gigs, focus on your show and your fans at the gigs, and sell your music. Lively helps you do all three.
Have you sold live recordings of your gigs in the past? What equipment did you use? Have you used Lively yet? If not, would you consider it?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 2 minutes
In the never-ending struggle to get more fans, you may be tempted to parrot your muse or the song that’s hot at the moment… but you’re also wondering if this is the right move for your band. If you’re struggling with the cover song dilemma, read on.
To Cover, or Not To Cover?
The debate over covering other artists’ work is one of the dilemmas many artists—new and old—face. While you likely don’t want to become a cover band or be pigeonholed, covering songs can be beneficial.
For new artists, adding a couple cover songs can help round out your set list. It also provides venues an idea of who your band is. If you’re playing gigs on the road or with strange audiences that don’t know your original work, cover songs can help you connect with that audience.
Sometimes, covering another artist’s work well can lead to a devoted following and a big break, as was the case with Michael DelGuidice, the lead signer of a Billy Joel cover band. For semi-established acts, covers can add another facet to your musical profile. Even experienced songwriters and performers, like Bruce Springsteen, are known to occasionally cover others’ songs.
Legal Issues with Cover Songs
As much as you may want to get more fans by playing music that those fans and you both like, stealing someone else’s likeness and sound is not a good idea; the same goes for using their work without going through the proper channels. There are a few legal details that you should be aware of.
If you’re performing the songs, make sure that you (or, more commonly, the venue) has obtained the proper permission from the right Performing Rights Organization. In order to record someone else’s songs, you need what is known as a “mechanical license.” This license indemnifies you from any legal recourse and allows you to profit from the sale of these recordings, so long as you adhere to the terms of the license.
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, don’t count on that saving your band’s hide if you cover songs without the proper permissions. If your band is going to take on recording or performing other artists’ music in an attempt to get more fans, be sure you are doing everything you are supposed to in order to obtain those rights.
How does your band feel about cover songs? Are they your primary focus, or something you do occasionally, or something you avoid like the plague? Have cover songs hurt or helped your band?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 2 minutes
In a time when grabbing a fan’s attention gets harder each day, when people’s attachment to their smart phones, tablets and computers makes it simultaneously easier and harder to connect with them, when you’re competing against a flood of content and noise from other artists, how is a band supposed to stand out and get actual attention? One way to gain increased exposure and recognition is by entering band contests, which are becoming increasingly common.
Battle of the Bands—Contest Formats
There are a few different ways a contest can be held. The most common are web-based or live. In a web-based contest, you’ll be asked to upload a song (or more commonly, a video) and promote yourself, in effect promoting the contest. In a live contest setting, the setup is very similar to a live show. You’ll be asked to perform a shorter set, and there will be judges that will be watching for the best performance, crowd interaction, song quality, and so on.
Benefits of Band Contests
In addition to reaching new fans, contests can have other benefits. Winning or placing in a contest looks good on your band’s bio. Quite often, the judges are people from the industry with proven track records and lots of pull. Sometimes, contests award recording sessions, the chance to play a big show or on a big tour, or just a substantial amount of cash. All of these things are helpful and useful and good… so why wouldn’t someone want to participate in a contest?
Drawbacks to Band Contests
Contests can have their downfalls as well. If you spent a lot of money on the contest and don’t win, you may feel like you have wasted money that could have been spent on recording a new song, buying newer equipment, or getting better gigs. Additionally, not all contests are as legitimate as they seem; triple check the contest to be sure you’re not walking into a scam.
Where To Find Contests
The Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands is one of the most popular ways to get involved in contests. Their current opportunities including playing at Warped Tour, Epiccenter, Aftershock, Uproar Festival, Crossroads, and Showdown at Cedar Street. The Hard Rock Cafe also hosts a battle of the bands. On a smaller scale, look for local battle of the bands at cities and venues near you. Even if you lose, these can help you gain a local following.
The ball is in your court; keep an open mind about contests when moving forward.
Have you entered a Battle of the Bands or other contest before? How did it affect your fan base? How did you do?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 2 minutes
The music industry is changing quickly and unpredictably, which leaves musicians in a familiar situation: living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, in the age of the internet, there are many ways to make money from your music. Follow these tips to get started:
Book Live Performances
Although there’s no such thing as a steady income for a musician, getting a regular gig is the next best thing. Finding a bar, club, restaurant, or other venue that regularly advertises live music is a reliable and surprisingly-easy way to earn money and gain new fans. Develop a press kit and email it or, better yet, hand deliver it to different venues around town. Most venue owners are primarily looking for reliable musical talent that draws a crowd. Generally, the better you are at bringing and entertaining a crowd, the better you will be paid.
Digital services like iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon (among hundreds of others) are the new-age record stores. iTunes alone has sold over 25 billion songs. These sites are where the ever-growing computer-savvy masses browse and purchase music. Submitting your music to the dozens of online music sales platforms individually can be time consuming, but distributors can help streamline the process. Also, selling music directly from your website usually results in a higher profit margin for you.
Sidenote: listing your music on these sites doesn’t guarantee sales; you still have to get fans there.
CDs Are Still Cool
Despite the increase in streaming and digital sales, people are still buying physical CDs. They, along with other merchandise (t-shirts, posters, CDs, vinyl records) sales, are popular souvenirs for concert-goers. So, take care of business onstage, then man the merch table after the show to network with fans and sell your music.
Could you imagine your original song in a video game soundtrack? Do you have a piece that would fit into a film score or television commercial? You might consider licensing, then. Nearly every industry uses music, most frequently for marketing purposes. If you have specific uses in mind, find the “music supervisor” of the show or outlet and contact them directly. Or, reach out to local advertising firms or independent filmmakers. Have a stellar 30 seconds of your selected song ready to win them over.
Keep finding places to perform your music, and keep your online presence strong on sites like Facebook, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. If your music is impressive enough, the money will follow.
The most effective method for making music will vary for each musician. Which method works best for you?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 3 minutes
Should you start recording or keep performing? This is an inevitable dilemma for any musician who wants to promote their music, but it shouldn’t be a hard one to figure out.
Thanks to the plummeting cost of recording technology, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to record and produce a demo of your music. The rise of social media platforms and online content has pressured many artists into thinking they need music available now. Before you book a studio session or rush off to craigslist to find discount microphones and a bootleg copy of ProTools, consider the following:
Why do you want to record your music?
Are you sending press kits to venues, trying to book shows? Are you sending demos to record companies? Have your fans been begging for recordings of their favorite songs after you rock a show? If you answered yes to any or all of the above, it might be time to think about recording.
Did you come up with your band name last week and finally finish writing your second song today? Don’t even think about recording—yet. It’s just not time. Your sound will inevitably change and, hopefully, improve as you continue honing your craft. Focus on developing and polishing your sound. Keep rehearsing, and take every opportunity to play in front of real people. Build your music portfolio and your fan base. When you have a cohesive, well-rehearsed set that you have played for cheering crowds, you can consider recording.
Can you make the time for recording?
Recording a song well (by yourself or in a professional studio) can take days to weeks depending on the circumstances. It’s a serious time commitment and requires patience and skill to produce something desirable. Can you take time off from work, rehearsal, gigs, and your personal life to get this done?
Who will do the work?
Whether you visit a studio or record your own music, recording can be a frustrating and creativity-killing process, especially if you’re inexperienced. Using a professional studio can reduce some of the stress, but it can also be a pricey investment. Are you willing to take on this task? If not, have you found a studio you can work with?
Keep quality in mind.
While it is important to give fans access to recorded music, do not record your songs on a whim under less-than-ideal circumstances just so you have something to put on your website, MySpace, or BandCamp page. Remember, a sloppy recording can hurt you just as much as a well-recorded demo can help you. If you can’t do it right, it’s probably better to wait until you can.
If, after considering these points, you’re ready to record, congratulations and good luck! If you need more time, don’t be discouraged; you’ll get there soon enough.
Have you made the transition from performing to recording? How did you know the timing was right? What advice do you have for artists considering recording their first album?