PROMOTION

(Or When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Make Copies)

 

   You now have a winning mix in your possession, and you want the world to hear it.

What do you do?

 

   You could shop your stuff with some major labels by sending them a copy of

your hard work on a tape or CD, and sit at home waiting for that call or

that letter telling you that you have the next Grammy-winner. You could daydream

about some A&R person to contact you about getting signed to a contract.

You could envision being on stage performing your songs, wowing crowds, doing

some whirlwind tour opening for a headliner at the Garden or the Apollo.

 

Is that what you think?

 

Let's visit that concept awhile.

 

   On the average, A&R (artists and repertoire) reps flag about 500 to 1000

tapes and CD's a day. Many by artists just like you with visions of stardom

and fame. It's not a bad thing to dream about that, Really. It's just that

the competition out there is increasing exponentially, and the chances of

your music actually reaching the ears of a major record label favorably are

slim to none (more like none to none). Your hard work winds up in the drawer

along with 100,000 other hopefuls. And believe it when I tell you, as good

as you know you are, there is ALWAYS! someone better, and their chances are

as slim as yours.

   Not only that, but if you send your music to a label and it gets turned down

(more than likely), the word may get out about you, making it harder for

you to shop your stuff any further. If it gets sidelined, you may as well

stop right there. Your name is MUD after that initial brush-off.

 

   Some moderate success has been achieved by using a music Attorney to shop

music for an artist, but then you have to remember, Attorneys Get Paid for

what they do, and your budget is already grass roots.

 

   Record Companies are in the business to make money, never forget that. If

you by some slim chance have something they can use, don't congratulate yourself

just yet. There will be loopholes in the contracts they offer, when they

offer them. Such as the money they take out for things like Promotion, Radio

Airplay, Booking Expenses, Studio Time (there's that ugly monster again),

etc. Then there's the composing requirements, having to create so many songs

in a given time (and they have to be hits!). There's the contract duration

clauses to deal with, the "Exclusiveness" clause (you can't write or perform

for any other company), the "Extension Options", Management Fees, the list

goes on.

   Then there's the heartbreak of heartbreaks. You don't own your music anymore.

You Give Up All Your Copyrights To The Company. That means that when your

contract runs out, you can't perform or record any of the songs you created

for them without getting their permission!

Ain't that a gas!

 

   As Prince (you know, formerly The Artist Formerly Known As Prince) says,

"If You Don't Own The Masters, The Masters Own You". He got jammed real hard

with Warner Bros. behind the masters to his material. But he was smart. When

his contract with them ran out, he was set up to claim all that back,

Even His Own Name!

 

But there is a way around all that hoopla. It is risky, but the music business

always has been a risky undertaking.

 

Ready for a laugh?

 

Let's Review

 

   We know the major labels don't really care about you, the person or you,

the artist. They care about you, the asset. Your music is important to them

only as long as it's making money. But the risk factor is on their side the

whole time. So there can be only one solution to the problem of who's going

to put out your music.

 

YOU ARE!!

 

Stop laughing! It's easier than you think. The only way you can be absolutely

sure that a label is going to market your music is for you to

 

BECOME

 

YOUR

 

OWN

 

LABEL!

 

Pick yourself up off the floor and pay attention!

 

   The first thing you need is publisher affiliation. You need to license your

music for public performance. A music licensing organization like BMI, or

Broadcast Music Inc., licenses works to be publicly performed on stage, on

the radio, on TV, in the movies, you get the drift. By becoming a publisher

and a writer affiliate, you own all the rights to your material, and then

people have to ask YOU for permission to perform YOUR songs. I could waste

space telling you how they work, but it would be easier for you to ask them.

To get to their Web site, go to http://www.bmi.com (or ASCAP - http://www.ascap.com,

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).

You will find the address to write and get all the information you need to get started with them.

 

   Once you are registered with them, you are a bona fide publisher, holding

genuine copyrights to all of your music. There is a fee to become an affiliate,

but the fee is so small, you will be amazed at how simple it really is. It

may seem complicated at first, but in a short time you will fully understand.

 

   Now to become a record label. This involves getting in touch with the

American Federation Of Musicians, the Union (http://www.afm.org). There is a fee there too,

a little larger, but when you are done there, you are virtually a bona fide label. The only

thing you need to do is come up with a name for it.

 

After consulting with and signing with these two organizations, you will

be an independent record label. Check with local and state laws, you may

be required to obtain a business license. Don't sweat it, though, when it's

over, you'll be glad you went the distance.

 

RADIO AIRPLAY

 

   OK, you're a composer, musician, publisher, and a record label owner. Time

to get some air play happening. You go to your local hit radio station with

your published music in your hand (note: your music MUST be published before

a radio station will even look at it). You talk to the DJ (or try to anyway)

to play your song. He laughs in your face. You walk away feeling like the

biggest fool God ever put on Earth, Relax. You didn't do anything wrong.

The fact is that most local DJ's in these hit radio stations demand money

to play songs by unknowns. The popular term for this is "Payola", and it

is a common thing among popular DJ's. Personally, I think they are lowlifes

to do something like that to people who support them and treat them like

stars. But unfortunately it's not illegal, just frowned upon. They don't

care, they just want to get paid. And most of the time the amount is ridiculously

high, and they only play your song once, during a time they know no one's

listening. Pretty low, huh? Well, think about that the next time you hype

your favorite local DJ as the best thing since sliced bread.

They're bigger crooks than the record moguls.

 

But you still want your music played.

 

How do you do this?

 

There is a vast untapped resource out there that no one pays much attention

to because they underestimate the listener base. You ready for this?

 

COLLEGE RADIO STATIONS!

 

There you go laughing again. While you're busy wiping the tears from your

eyes, let me explain the logic.

 

   First of all, in most college stations, any DJ, or radio personality, who

engages in payola is usually kicked out of school, or at least out of the

program. You see, these are students majoring in communications, and they

are doing it for a GRADE! Almost all of the time they are on the air, they

are eager to play some local stuff. They solicit responses to local artists'

music, sometimes playing it several times depending on the response.

 

Talk to the program director!

 

They are the people who set up the play list

for the jocks. Get them to listen to your stuff. Remember, they are probably

around your age, or at least have some of the same musical interests you

have, and most of all, it's free. If you do by some chance get turned down,

it won't be because you didn't pay them off. Often a turn-down could be the

result of something as simple as time constraint, or incompatibility. But

they usually have different types of music playing at different times of

the day or week. Plus, there are a lot of college stations around. If you

live in an area with such a school, take full advantage of their communications

department.

 

   Well, this has certainly been work, huh? But believe me, the pointers I've

given thus far can go a long way if you just stick to a plan of action, and

don't let yourself be taken by the crooks in the business claiming to be

in your best interest. The person best suited to determine what's in your

best interest is YOU!

 

   WELL, at this point, there is not much more that you need to know that you won't

find out through experience in the field. You will undoubtedly have questions

of a particular nature that we didn't cover in this article. If so, I invite

you to write to me and ask whatever you want. If I can't answer you, I can

direct you to someone or to a site that can.

 

I wish you the best of luck in your musical venture, and much success in

your pursuits.

 

Before you leave, though, please sign the Forest Pro guest book and let me

know what you think about my little mini-class. You can send me e-mail at

bkhart@forestpro.net.

Peace!

 

B. K.

 

P. S. Merry Christmas!!!

 

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Email Me At -  bkhart@forestpro.net

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