Category Archives: Professional Songwriting

cover songs

Covers: The Law

 

 

If you’re a songwriter, one of the biggest things at the forefront of your mind should be who can play your song, and what happens when they do. This is especially true if you don’t usually perform your own songs, but it affects all songwriters, in every situation. In many cases, musicians need permission to play your songs, but in some cases they don’t. The law can get pretty confusing, especially when it comes to the arts, and the law behind performing covers is especially complicated. Here are a few of the basics that you should know before your music starts to go public.

 

Copyright

This might be a little off topic, but it’s an incredibly important part of the process, and therefore worth mentioning. Before you do anything with your song, even before you show it to anyone, get it copyrighted. It’s not technically required, in fact, the work is legally copyrighted to you as soon as you create it, however, if any of the laws listed below are called into question, especially if the case ends up in court, an official record of copyright with the United States government will be incredibly helpful.

 

What is a cover?

Let’s dive right in, starting with the basics. A cover is a song played by someone who does not own rights to the song. Generally, especially when the song is performed live, the song is changed a little. If nothing else, the musicians are different and it will be impossible to exactly replicate the sound created by the original band. Often, a cover will be further adapted by the band playing it. For example, many cover songs include minor style changes. They are also likely to be played at different tempos or in different keys. This is all acceptable and the song will still be considered a cover. Some artists, however, will go further with adaptations. They might try to keep the melody and harmony but change the lyrics, such as in parodies. Others might use part of a song, but not all of it. These, among many others, are examples of performances that are not legally considered covers, and may lead to cases of copyright infringement when a performance of a cover would not.

 

When can a cover be played?

A cover can actually be played anytime with the permission of the copyright owner. This can be through written permission or through the PRO that the songwriter is signed up with, and almost always comes with a price. However, there is a situation in which a cover can be performed without permission. Here are the requirements. First of all, the song has to have already been publically performed. This means that you retain the rights to perform the world premier of your song unless you expressly give up that right. The song also has to be performed as a cover. This means that parodies or pieces of your song don’t fall under this special scenario and can’t be played without your permission. Finally, the performance must be live. Radio performances don’t count. If all of these conditions are met, any artist can perform your song publically with or without your permission. Luckily, you will still be paid royalties for this performance, usually through your PRO.

 

Copyright law can be very complicated, especially when it comes to covers. If you are, or hope to be, a professional songwriter, make sure you do your research on the legalities protecting your works. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. If there is anything we can do to help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re experts in the industry and are happy to help you with anything that you need.

how to get a record deal

How to Get a Record Deal (Without Selling Out!)

Selling your soul to the devil doesn’t always get you a golden fiddle (or a gold record, for that matter).

So, then, how does a musician get signed without compromising their artistic integrity?

In this post, we’ll explore how to get a record deal while keeping your art intact.

How to Get a Record Deal

The goal of landing a record deal doesn’t have to come at the cost of eternal damnation.

Learning how to get a record deal isn’t a cookie cutter process. There are many different variables to consider when trying to distribute your art through a record label.

In the list below we’ll go over some of the most important aspects of how to get a record deal.

Make Music

First and foremost, before you ask yourself the question of how to get a record deal, you need to make music.

This might seem like an obvious statement, but let’s hold that note for a bar or two.

If you’re truly an artist, you feel the need and the desire to create. Music isn’t just something you’re interested in, it’s your life. As such, your life should revolve around music, especially your thoughts and actions.

Making music isn’t just as simple as penning a few lines and throwing in a fill here and there. Music should well up from the depths of your being. When it does, your audience will know what you’re sharing is genuine.

Furthermore, making music requires practice. Some of the best musicians in the world aren’t the best because they’re talented. They’re the best because they practice constantly.

If you want to make music your life, fill your life with music.

Perform Your Music Live

Have you ever asked someone what they thought of a concert and received the response, “they sound even better live”?

The statement might seem obvious. “Of course music sounds better live. Have you never been to a concert before?” If only that were true all the time.

The fact of the matter is, some musicians don’t sound better live. Their albums might be beautifully layered and dynamic. But once they get on stage, for whatever reason, it falls flat compared to the studio recording.

Performing music live not only provides a great venue for practice, but it helps develop the skills necessary to become a professional musician. Furthermore, performing live puts you in front of eager ears and gives you an opportunity to build your fan base.

Get Feedback

Even the most successful musicians have wondered about how to get a record deal.

Sure, that might have been early in their careers. But don’t forget, that’s where you are, too. Once you start getting your music into the ears of your listeners, whoever they may be (i.e. your mom, your friends, your music teacher), start asking for feedback (from people, not your monitors).

Ask them what they think of the music you’re creating. Ask them for honest opinions. If all you find are the polite answers which only scratch the surface, try asking someone else. If you’re trying to grow as an artist, you need to risk your feelings getting hurt from time to time.

Honest criticism is worth every pang, so long as you take it to heart and use the criticism as a basis for growth.

Build Your Audience

Even if you’ve figured out how to get a record deal, it won’t do much good if you don’t have an audience to listen to your music.

Begin taking the steps necessary to build your audience. This can be done in a variety of ways, but most importantly, it requires shameless self-promotion. Your music is great and you’re a great musician, the world just doesn’t know about you yet.

Get involved in your local music scene and play as many shows as you can. After the shows, take the time to mingle with the crowds. Take your time and try getting to know your audience on a personal level.

If you feel comfortable, ask them what they thought of your show. Doing so could create a terrific opportunity for receiving honest feedback from the very music lovers that will help sustain your career once you’ve landed that record deal.

Network With Other Professionals

Local live music thrives within a supportive community.

While you’re out playing your live gigs and getting to know the audience, take the time to get to know other artists, as well.

Are you opening for a well-known local band? Or even better, are you opening for a well-known national act? Don’t let this opportunity for learning pass you by.

Get to know the other artists and exchange contact information. Try to ask them questions and take away whatever insight they might offer. Additionally, connecting with other musicians could open doors for new performances, as well as professional contacts.

Go Back To School

Do you feel like your music isn’t improving as quickly as you’d like? Try going back to school!

The question of how to get a record deal doesn’t have to sit on the backburner while you do so, either. Furthering your education could be just the thing you need to break through the plateau you’ve found yourself on. Take it to the next level by getting some instruction from an expert.

Continuing your education, though, doesn’t require attending a college or university, though. For example, ask other musicians if they know of any good local resources. Maybe they will connect you with another musician which can show you a thing or two.

Make Your Music Available Publically

While the importance of performing live can’t be stressed enough, your audience needs to be able to find your music outside the live music scene.

There are a plethora of streaming services available online. Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and YouTube are great places to start.

Publish your music online and then begin sharing it. Create artist pages on the appropriate social media sites, and increase the reach of your shameless self-promotion.

Conclusion

How to get a record deal isn’t always an easy question to answer. How to get a record deal without selling your soul can be an even more difficult question to answer.

These tips don’t get into the specifics of landing a record deal without selling out. Rather, they are meant to offer inspiration and serve as a guide for making your music the best it can be. If you live your life as an artist, it will be more difficult to compromise your integrity.

Are you an aspiring musician in need of exposure? Submit a song of yours for a chance to win an Indie International Contest! New contestants can create an account and submit an entry with this sign up form.

how to get into the music industry

How to Get Into the Music Industry

You have the passion and the talent. You’re ready to take it to the next level.

Jumping into the music business isn’t a simple thing. The industry is constantly changing and not necessarily friendly to newbies.

But don’t let that alarm you.

There are many ways to learn how to get into the music industry. With careful planning, networking savvy, and dedication, the business of tunes isn’t far off. Scan these steps and you’ll be singin’ right along.

Identify yourself.

Start with the serious questions first when you’re learning how to get into the music industry.

Ask yourself: what type of musician am I? What do I hope to contribute to the industry? What makes me different? Your answers to these questions will help you choose which aspect of the music industry you’d like to join.

They’ll also be helpful when marketing yourself later.

Remember, the more specific and unique you can be in the music field, and the more confident you can be in this, the better! Once you’ve chosen your specific path and destination, stick to it.

Follow someone who’s in it.

One of the best ways to understand the music business and get savvy at navigating it is to shadow another musician.

It can be hard to find a mentor, but ask around at local studios for any existing mentorship programs, internships, or work opportunities. Contact your favorite local musician and see if they would be interested in taking on a shadow. A lot of high schools and universities have endless opportunities for young musicians seeking a mentor.

Even if you are able to work with a mentor for one day, you’ll be likely to learn a lot about the industry, its mechanics, and its doorways.

Keep networking to learn how to get into the music industry.

A lot of people struggle in general with making connections. But these are extremely important in the music industry.

Talent is one thing. Who you know is definitely another. Get comfortable introducing yourself to mentors, instructors, musicians, and anyone in the music industry you encounter. If you don’t meet many individuals in the music business on your own, go out and find them!

Create business cards, a resume, and studio samples. Have these on hand when attending events or workshops. Whenever you make a connection, follow up via phone or email.

Showing initiative and interest will pay off, help you to snag a gig, or enable a future leg up.

Build your presence.

It is important in today’s tech-obsessed age to have a powerful social media presence in any business endeavor. Make sure you have a Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram account. Manage these daily. Craft a cool logo and attach it to all of these.

Set up a snazzy website, complete with news, bio, links to your work, and events. Make sure people know about it!

One last thing: be professional. Keep your personal profiles separate from your business profiles.

Be audacious.

Have an open mind as you learn how to get into the music industry. Remind yourself that it’s a creative industry.

Thus, be as flexible and creative as possible in your networking. If you get discouraged, use it as an opportunity to come up with a new approach to something.

Audacity also gets musicians recognized. It establishes a personality, which attracts fans.

Know the facts.

Be aware of how difficult this industry is. Having a healthy, balanced perspective of its ups and downs is important to maintain confidence. If you have a mentor or are able to get in touch with a local musician, ask them honestly about their experience with the challenges of entering this industry.

Read testimonies of rising musicians. Follow their blogs.

An outside “reality check” will ensure that you pursue all of your goals with the appropriate amount of zeal and caution.

Work your degree. Or get one.

If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree in music, excellent. Emphasize this in your online presence and as you network.

If you have the opportunity to pursue one, do so. This is a fantastic means of making connections, brushing up on technical skills, and educating yourself in all aspects of the industry. Many music programs also provide fantastic ways for students to establish a presence in the community and after graduation.

Some music professors consistently enable their students in some aspect of the industry. Cultivate solid relationships with several key instructors and take advantage of these in the years to come.

Have multiple back-up plans.

You’ve probably heard this before, but make sure you have a solid financial and professional foundation regardless of your musical pursuits. This includes potentially finding a part-time job that can sustain you, for example, as you do that awesome unpaid internship at an urban studio.

Keep your professional future always in mind, but have several options on the table at once.

See it as an opportunity to foster another interest or hobby. It’s possible to be a lawyer and a musician, for example. Entertain multiple possibilities for personal and professional growth.

Start local.

Begin by getting a list of all of the downtown places that host local musicians. Shop yourself. Shop aggressively.

Even if a gig is unpaid, take it. It’s important to get your name and sound out there.

The more solid your local foundation, the fuller your resume and larger your following. This means greater opportunities of expanding your listener base elsewhere.

Head to the streets.

Street corners can be the best starting line for any musician. What’s not to love? Pick up a little cash, entertain passersby, and market yourself. Getting confident in a street presence is likely to serve you later on as you prepare for events and spread your sound.

Not to mention, it will be boost your stamina for playing for large crowds for indefinite amounts of time.

Don’t be afraid of collaboration.

Teamwork is everything in the music industry, and can be the key to making it big. Pair up with your writer friend when compiling lyrics.

Connect with other musicians in town to perform a cover. Don’t be afraid of competition here. Establishing yourself as a musician who’s willing to collaborate and entertain other talent will benefit in the long run.

Enter contests and competitions.

Local competitions are an excellent way to hone your craft and promote your skill.

Besides providing prizes, many contests are supported by panels of local musicians and artists or are associated with local arts and music organizations. Learning how to get into the music industry is tough, but always worth it in the end!

Use these competitions as a means of cultivating possible connections and learning more about the music industry in your specific community.