Category Archives: Professional Songwriting

What Makes a Great Musician?

 

 

If you are a songwriter, then you’re also a musician. By now, you know that it takes a lot to be a musician, and it takes even more to be a good one. But have you stopped to think about what’s actually important in the life of a musician? Every great musician will give you a slightly different list, but most of them will agree on the most important things. Here are a few of the most important things you can do to be a great musician and songwriter.

 

Listening

A musician is always listening to music. Whether you’re in the car, or working, walking from one place to another, no matter what, listen to music. Listen to music you love. Listen to music you hate. Listen to music you’ve never heard before. Listening is what makes music a part of your soul, and it’s impossible to make good music if you haven’t heard someone else do it first. It also helps you diversify your background and influence. Even if you’ll never write anything in a particular genre, listen to it anyway. It might still give you good ideas for the songs you do write.

 

Learning

Go out of your way to learn as much as you can about music. If you’re really serious about it, get a degree, and maybe even more, in whatever you love most about music. Even if you don’t want music to be your life, if you want it to be important, read as many books as you can. Look up things you don’t know on the internet. If you can’t find the answers to hard questions, make musician friends that can answer them. However you do it, learn as much as you can, because you’re not really a part of the world of music until you know what you’re talking about.

 

Writing

Write as much and as often as you can, especially if songwriting is your passion. Don’t wait for a great idea to come to you, because that might never happen, and if it does, you won’t know what to do with it. Write constantly, even if you think it’s really bad. Write anything that comes into your head, and you’ll slowly get better. Then, when a good idea comes to you, you’ll know exactly what to do with it.

 

Instinct

A small piece of music comes from instinct. Some people are born with more of a gift than others. It’s important to understand that the lack of this gift does not mean that can’t be good. It doesn’t even prevent you from being great. It may mean that you have to work a little harder than those who were born with more of a gift than you, but you should see this as a challenge rather than weakness. No matter what you were born with, you can be as great as you want to be.

 

Passion

Passion is really, by far, the most important aspect of being a musician and a songwriter. You can be born with skill, and do all of the things you’re supposed to from time to time, but if you don’t love it, you’ll never get very far. On the other hand, even if you’re born with nothing, and you have trouble writing, and can’t afford to go to school, no matter what hardships you come up against, if you truly love music, you’ll become great. Passion is what makes everything work.

 

Are you looking for more information about become a musician or a songwriter? Please contact us! It’s what we do, and we’d love to help you with anything that you need.

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.