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Photo Shoots [Indie Artists/Models]

For many people, being in front of a camera yields roughly the same amount of enjoyment as getting a root canal. It can be an awkward, stressful thing to do– especially if your photographer fails to (or simply doesn’t know how to) put your mind at ease by eliminating your pre-shoot anxiety.
However, it really doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, if you speak to any of my past clients, you’ll see that doing a photo shoot can actually be quite an enjoyable experience. Honestly, it really all comes down to having a rock-solid game plan that’s tailored to your individual needs as an artist. So if you can get all the little details worked out in advance, then your photo shoot will be an absolute breeze. Here’s how:

1) Choose the Right Photographer


Think all music photographers are basically the same? Think again. The vast majority of them only shoot musicians part-time, and usually fill out the remainder of their schedules with things like weddings, high school senior portraits, events, sports, and a variety of other gigs. In my opinion, this severely limits their ability to fully understand the needs of today’s working musicians when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again– having stellar promotional photos is HUGELY important to your success in today’s music industry, because they represent the first (and often only) chance you’ll get to make a big impression.

Here’s the deal…you really wanna make sure that the person you choose to shoot your promos has: (1) a proven track record in commercial music photography, (2) a photographic and retouching style that’s a good match for your music, and 3) a personality that you really “mesh” with. If you have doubts about any of these things, I highly recommend that you check out my handy step-by-step guide to choosing the right music photographer.

2) Understand What Your Needs Are

It’s super-important to have some idea of what your needs are before the shoot, in terms of how you plan to use the resulting images. For example, the qualities of a great album cover are usually quite different than those of a press kit shot, which in turn can be quite different from a great website header. Each situation calls for photos that meet certain design conventions, size limitations, orientation (portrait vs. landscape), as well as overall mood and style. Again, this topic is covered in greater detail in the blog post I mentioned above.

3) Meet Your Photographer in Person


I meet with every single one of my clients prior to each shoot, for several reasons:

First of all, it gives me an opportunity to show them around my studio, which makes it a much more inviting and comfortable place to be when the shoot date rolls around.

Secondly, it helps me build rapport with them, which always translates into a much more relaxed and productive photo shoot.

Thirdly, it allows me size the client up, both in terms of their overall appearance as well as their body language, so that I can be sure to use posing, lighting styles, and camera angles that will make them look like a flat-out rock star.

And lastly but perhaps most importantly, the face-to-face meeting allows the client and me to establish clear objectives for the shoot so that at the end of the day, there are no “surprises” and everyone walks away with exactly what they need.

Bear in mind that most music photographers out there won’t bother putting so much effort into ensuring that the photos are a perfect match for your unique personality, brand, and music. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hold their feet to the fire and demand more one-on-one attention!

Here’s the reality– anybody out there with a $500 Best Buy camera can give you reasonable-looking photos……and that’d be perfectly fine if all you needed to get noticed in today’s ever-crowded music industry were a few average snapshots. But the thing is, you need WAY more than than that to have any chance at turning heads. You need amazing, mind-blowing photos that not only demonstrate your unwavering commitment to success, but also your willingness to make whatever sacrifice(s) necessary to achieve it.

Simply put: If you wanna be a rock star, you better look the part.

4) Plan for the Shoot


Everyone’s needs are different, of course, but here’s a general list of things that you will probably want to consider:

Wardrobe & Styling– I generally advise my clients to bring between 4 and 6 complete outfits– one or two that might be considered “formal”, a few that they might wear for live shows, and then one or two “personality” outfits that we will typically discuss beforehand and tailor the lighting/location/poses to match.

Makeup– For female artists or groups with a female lead, I always bring one of my makeup artists (MUAs) to the shoot. Sometimes I’ll do this for all-male groups as well, since the amazing MUAs I work with really know how to cover up skin imperfections in a completely transparent and unnoticeable way, making my job much easier when the retouching phase rolls around.

Location/Backdrop– Studio shooting is generally preferable, because you’re not dealing with the elements (heat, cold, rain, etc), and the lighting is completely controllable. However, unless your photographer is really handy with Photoshop, this option might be a bit too limiting– especially if you’re seeking “atmospheric” shots where the location is an integral part of the overall look and feel. Regardless, these things are definitely important to consider, because they can have a huge impact on the final product.

Shot Selection– Unless you’re 100% crystal clear on exactly what type of shots you need, I highly recommend mixing things up and going for some headshots, 3/4 shots (mid-thigh up), and full-length shots. This will provide you with maximum flexibility when it comes to choosing which shots you want, and may even pay dividends down the road if your needs completely change for whatever reason. Also, if you’re in a group, I highly recommend taking some shots of individual band members by themselves– these are great for things like “Bio” pages on websites and profile pics on social networks.

5) Do the Shoot


Hopefully at this point you’ve got all your ducks in a row, and you’re ready to proceed with the actual shoot. Assuming you and your photographer have truly done your homework, this part should be an absolute blast. Just try to relax and go with the flow, and trust in your photographer’s ability to make you look amazing. After all, that’s what you’re paying them the big bucks for, right?

6) Grab Your Photos and Conquer the World

There are a number of things to think about once you get your photos in your hands, so don’t go nuts and start flinging them to the four corners of the globe just yet. You need to plan out a strategy to release them in the most effective manner, meaning that you want to get as many eyeballs on them as possible. Here’s how:

Don’t let the photographer steal your thunder– Believe me, as a music photographer who’s constantly churning out new stuff, I’m always super-stoked to release my latest promo images on social media sites, just so I can sit back and watch people’s reactions (good, bad, or indifferent) roll in. However, I also realize that if I beat my clients to the punch and post new images before they have a chance to, then I’m essentially taking away from their ability to make a splash with fans.

This is something that I take very seriously, because I am 100% dedicated to helping my clients succeed in the music industry, so I always do everything I can to ensure that they receive the maximum return on their investment with me. If that means being patient and holding off on posting new images for a day or three, then so be it. It’s the least I can do. And you should expect the same level of dedication from your photographer.

Twitter– Discussing all the different strategies for marketing yourself effectively on Twitter is well beyond the scope of this article, so I’ll just focus on what you need to know when it comes to releasing new promo images:

First of all, I believe proper etiquette dictates that you should “tag” your photographer in any tweet related to the photo shoot (EX: “Had an amazing shoot with @TampaBandPhotos and can’t wait to share the new pics with ya’ll!”).

Secondly, you wanna be sure to time your tweets very carefully so that the maximum number of people will see them. The way I recommend doing this is to use a free utility called Tweriod, which will analyze your entire followers list to see who’s usually online at certain hours of the day. You can then use this information to tweet at the optimal times and thus maximize your visibility.

If you do end up trying Tweriod, but don’t want he hassle of having to be in front of your computer during the times Tweriod suggests that you should tweet, there’s another free app called HootSuite which will allow you to schedule tweets automatically. As far as how frequently you should tweet, I recommend doing it about 2-3 times a day for 2 days (this applies to each new promo image). Any more and you’ll risk annoying your followers; any less and you’ll miss out on some much-needed exposure.

Facebook– Once again, this topic is much too broad to cover in a single article, so let’s focus on best practices for uploading new promo shots. First off, as mentioned in the Twitter section above, you need to post your photos when most of your fans are online. Facebook rewards posts with the highest fan engagement (likes, comments, and shares) by allowing them to show up in more people’s News Feeds. So if you choose your posting times right, the number of eyeballs you’ll get on your photos will increase exponentially.

You may not be aware of this, but only a fraction of your fans ever see the posts you make from your fan page. This is downright infuriating, and believe me– I feel your pain, but that’s just the way it is in Facebook-land.

You may have noticed a little thing called “Impressions” that will typically appear underneath your posts once they’re a couple of days old. This number shows you how many times your post showed up in fans’ News Feeds (regardless of how many of your fans actually saw it or clicked on it).

Ordinarily, the number of Impressions your posts will get ranges from 30-40% down to a paltry 10% (or lower), depending on the level of fan engagement you typically receive when you post similar content (e.g. pictures, videos, links, etc.). So the bottom line is, since your Facebook audience is almost always more limited than you think/hope it is, you really need to choose your posting times (and types) wisely. So what’s the best way to accomplish this?

I’ve tried a number of different tools over time, each of which claims to analyze the timing and content of your posts to determine the best “window of opportunity” for you to maximize fan engagement. So far, in my opinion the best of these is a free (although the paid version is much more robust) utility called EdgeRank Checker. As advertised, this tool will provide you with an excellent starting point for post optimization.

When it comes to getting the most eyeballs as possible on your stuff, one of the biggest tips I can give you is to always “tag” yourself (and all band members) in your images– whether they’re live shots, promo shots, or candids. This will increase your visibility substantially.

In addition, you should always “tag” everyone else you know who appears in the images, as well as other fan pages that might be relevant (such as the fan page for the venue where the image was shot, or any company that has employees/products in the image). This will also serve to increase your visibility, especially if the images get re-shared. (Disclaimer: it’s always good etiquette to get permission if you have any doubts whatsoever about a person or brand’s willingness to be tagged).

Here’s a great tip: Ask a photographer to take an epic live shot of your band at a venue with really good lighting, and tell them to make sure to include the crowd and as much of the venue as possible in the shot. Then take that shot, crop it to 851×315 pixels, and add a small bit of text down at the bottom that says something like “YourBandName at XYZ Venue.” Finally, reach out to the fan page owner for that venue and see if they’ll use the shot for their page’s Timeline cover image. It’s a win-win!

So at this point you know: (1) how to get linked up with the best photographer for your particular style of music, (2) how to prepare for and execute a successful photo shoot, and 3) how to promote yourself effectively with the resulting images.

However, if you feel like I’ve left anything important out, or if you’d like further explanation on any of these topics, please shoot me an email . Thanks for reading!!

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More Music [Release as often as possible]

Right then, you’ve been writing and performing for a while now, you’ve got a nice notepad scribbled with lyrics and a hard drive full of demos and a fanbase that hits a few cities. So you might be fooled into thinking now would be a good time to take some time out to write an album, right?



 You’ve spent all that time building yourself up, faced all the challenges of getting people to connect and you want to take 6 months to year out to write music, only posting “Exciting things to come, can’t wait for you to hear it” on Facebook every other week? Sounds ridiculous! People don’t have big attention spans, if you disappear for that length of time, when you come back with that pristine, packaged album you’ll of been forgotten about.
So what should you be doing?
more music
You should be releasing as often as possible. If you have the content for an album you have the content for 10 singles or 5 Eps. What’s going to keep you at the forefront of your fans mind; the promise of music to come? Or consistent music every other month?…Exactly!
You may worry about the quality, I mean, how can you guarantee consistent quality music when you’re firing out an EP every two months? Well, think of it this way, if one EP flops, you’re fans will probably forgive you and you can focus on making the next one better. Whereas if you’ve spent a year on an album making your fans wait and it flops, you’ve lost a year and you’ve lost the fan.
There is too much pressure on bringing out a spectacular album. An album which is essentially 3-4 great singles and a bunch of fillers, so why put yourself through that? Release more often and you can work on different EPs which lets you experiment with your music, while giving your fans more to listen to, more to talk about and more to share. If you want an example of this in play, check out the guys of Bastille. They’ve been whipping out EPs and singles more often than they (probably) change their underwear. Some have been crackers, some have been a bit ‘meh,’ but do I make sure I get every one of them? Yes, I do!
 So if you have track that goes down a storm at a show, why make fans wait a year to hear it on an album? Record it straight away and get it out, if it’s a rough mix, give it away for free with the promise it will be fully mastered on the next EP. You’re supplying demand here remember. The last thing you want is to disappoint fans by taking ages to release music, for it then to be a dud. The disappointment will be tenfold. This method gives you another chance. You have more chances to play. Mess up one, it’s ok, you’ve got the next one to sort it out.

If you write a song late on a Friday night, why not record it over the weekend and send it out to your mailing list? Give them the story of how it’s just for them and that you wrote it just two days ago, they’re getting first listen. They’re going to feel way more connected than if you’d just said, “Wrote a sweet song, you’ll have to wait for the album to hear it though!
The idea here is to create as many new moments as you can between you, your music and your fan, keep them coming and the fan will stay. Make them wait 6 months and not only will the fan become disconnected with you but you’ll become disconnected with the music.

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Dealing With Criticism [Indie Artists]

We all wish that everyone would love, appreciate and understand our art, our ideas and, basically, us. It would be so much easier if they could just “get it”, wouldn’t it? There’s no reason at all for people to cruelly bash others or go on the attack and yet it happens everyday. Every day someone deals a harsh word, a negative opinion, an attack or an insult.


Now, it’s true that opinions differ and no one is going to like everyone and everything. Still, for some reason, while each of us can have very strong opinions about others, we oftentimes get hurt, offended or bothered when someone has strong opinions about us.

First, grow a pair

You have to learn to take it. You have to learn to both brush it off, but also see when it might actually be constructive criticism or have a seed of actual honesty. When we hear bad things about ourselves, especially relating to things we feel good about, the natural reaction is to go on the defensive. But take a step back and take a breath. Before you go on a counter-offensive, take a look at what has been said or written and see if it is something you should consider.

Still, on the other side of things, there are people who are just going to be brutal. They are going to tear into you and, really, do the reasons matter? Why justify it as jealousy or a personal grudge? It doesn’t really matter. Let go of it.

I have been writing this blog for almost two years. At least once a week, I put out my thoughts. They are my thoughts, approaches and ideas that I have experienced firsthand which have shaped my view, my opinions and my approach. Without a doubt, it is different from others, but I do not think I have ever been completely off in any of the articles I have written.

Now ask some of the readers who have both publicly and privately sent scathing comments, harsh emails and calling me every name in the book. They accuse me of being a hack, a scam artist and someone who doesn’t have a clue about the music industry. Hell, I got one guy who says my writing pisses him off more and more each week. Side note: stop reading. I don’t intentionally want to upset people, but I am not going to stop and I am not going to cater to you, so skip my blog. Easy enough right? But for all the rude comments, I get many more nice ones. Very kind emails and wonderfully supportive comments, so I keep on trucking. It can hurt sometimes, but when it is more good than bad, it is better to just let the bad go.

I was walking downtown in Seattle and a guy actually shouted from across the street that my articles are retarded. I actually kind of felt like a rock star in that moment. He hates my stuff so much, yet continues to read it and even knows what I look like. It really didn’t phase me at all. And instead of giving him the reaction he might have been looking for, I bowed, thanked him and said the next article will be out Monday morning. But still, the point is, take a look at first. If it isn’t something constructive and it isn’t something you want to change, whether it is your writing, your music or anything else, then take it with a grain of salt and brush it off. Let it go.

Sometimes communication can be bad

Literally let it go. I know I have repeated that a few times, but it needs to be repeated. Do not get into the habit of responding to these people. If you are getting genuine questions, well, that’s one thing. But if someone says you suck, your song sucks, your picture sucks or whatever, let it be. I used to erase the negative comments and more often than not now, I just leave them up. It is their opinion and it is their right to say what they want. Responding is only going to light a fire for them to attack you more. The more you react, the more you set them up to respond, to bother you more. You let them under your skin and by responding, you just give them the power to crawl around more.

Every time I have responded to someone being negative, they have only become more of a jerk. When I don’t waste the time or the effort, they usually go away or bother me less frequently.

Wasted energy

Regardless of your job, what you create and what you want, people are a little more tired these days. Energy levels are down and we need to be at 100% to get what we want and have the endurance and energy to continue to go after it. Worrying about people that are being negative, giving you shit or just being mean takes away from the effort you can put toward what you want and bringing it to the people that actually want it and are appreciative of it. Don’t short out those that like you for wasted energy on a few that don’t.

Conclusion: It will only get worse 

Realistically, it will only get worse. The more reads I get on my blog, the more kind comments have come my way, but, at the same time, the increase of the rude and harsh ones has jumped up as well. The more you play out, the more you are heard, the more you get your music out there, your writings, your image and yourself, the more people there will be to tear you a new one. The more people will give you shit, the more people that will mock you, tease you, attack you and all around try to get you all pissed off.

Take it with a grain of salt, let it roll off your back or any of the other thousands of sayings that are out there. Move forward in confidence and assertiveness and create what you want to create. That power will allow you to reach many more people than playing scared, responding to every bad comment or getting into it with every person who doesn’t like you. Don’t waste the time trying to turn a hater into a supporter. Spend your time going after as many people as you can to build a strong fan base that supports you.

Stay sensitive to your art but become less sensitive to criticism or it will eat you alive. If you can’t handle the scrutiny, you are going to have a rough go in any art or entertainment related business.

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Marketing Strategies For Indie Artists.


Your album is finished and you want to share it with the world. You lack the patience to put together a comprehensive marketing plan and you just want to get the music to your fans. 

I decided to put this post together because I wanted to benefit you, artists that are excited to release material. When you are marketing an album you have to remember that visibility is key. In order to get more sales or more downloads you have to reach more people. You reach more people by creating shareable content. 


1. Digital Distribution

Figure out how you’re going to digitally distribute the album, and a physical CD only release or selling the CD and mp3′s strictly on your website is not the way to go. You need to make your music available everywhere digital music can be streamed and bought, such as on iTunes and Spotify, and the best way to do that is work with a digital distribution company like CD Baby or Tunecore. With that said, I talk to people all the time who then take this one step too far and sign up with multiple distribution companies because they think they are covering all their bases this way. Which they are not. All that does is put multiple copies of the same album on iTunes and the like, which looks silly and can cause unnecessary confusion. And if you plan on working with a PR company to promote the release don’t set the release date until AFTER you have talked with them first.

2. Online presence


Make sure your online presence is complete, effective and contains all the necessary promotional tools. There are lots of places online that artists can have a presence, here I talk about three of the most important sites: Official Website, Facebook and YouTube.

Official Website – Your website should have a place where people can easily listen to and buy your music (but not a player that plays automatically when a person enters the site, can’t stress that enough), a homepage that has a news section where people can read the latest happenings with your career, and a newsletter sign up form, one that offers an incentive for signing up such as free music or discounts on merch. Plus it always surprises when I go to an artist website and can’t find any contact information or links to their social media networks.

Facebook – Just as important as your website is your Facebook Fan Page. On the new timeline there are three tabs that are on display; one tab should be a band profile that at a minimum contains a music player, tour dates and press quotes. Next is a newsletter sign up form, and again, this should offer an incentive for signing up. And the last visible tab should be a Store.

YouTube – Another important piece of your online presence is YouTube. I’m always curious how people listen and discover new music and time and time again the response I hear back is YouTube. It’s critical to have videos up on YouTube for every song of the new release by the release date or soon after. Not saying these have to be well produced music videos, but just the songs themselves. To do this some artists just put up an image of their cover and leave it at that, but people are much more inclined to listen to your music if there are scrolling lyrics they can read as they listen or if there is a slideshow to watch. Taking free archival footage and editing together to make a music video is another relatively easy and inexpensive way to create a video for your songs, and can be a lot of fun too.

3. Newsletter


This is real simple. Have one. And contact your mailing list once a month with news. Don’t cut corners on this either, a newsletter is where you’ll see the greatest impact on sales. All the tweets and facebook posts about a new album out for sale won’t equal the results of a well crafted newsletter, so spend money on a mailing list service provider that can help you design a rich looking email and provide analytics and tracking capabilities so you can measure the effectiveness of your newsletters and make adjustments where need be.

4. Touring

Ideally you’ll have a tour booked immediately following the release, which greatly helps a PR campaign. A local blog or local newspaper will be much more inclined to cover a new album for an artist if a show is booked in town. And not saying this has to be a month long tour, just a few regional dates will help with your press efforts. Now timing can be tricky here, just like setting a release date too soon, you don’t want to book a tour and then not have the album ready or press plan in place. So wait until you have a better idea of what that will look like and then start booking a tour, and if the tour doesn’t happen until a month or so after the release that is quite alright.

5. Merchandise


Pretty much everything in regards to your music career takes longer than expected, from making the album to creating the artwork to booking shows, and this definitely applies to any merchandise you want to have available to sell with the new album. And merch isn’t limited to T-Shirts and tote bags, handmade items can make for great unique offerings. Here’s a tip, at your merch booth bundle your music with these items cheaply and easily through download stickers from, where 120 codes will cost you just $10. Even though people aren’t buying CDs much anymore, they are still interested in supporting artists they love so give them lots of different ways to support you and purchase your music instead of just having a CD and leaving it at that.

So remember, plan early so you can have these items when you’re ready to release a new album, which I will be getting in to in more detail in the next blog post where I will discuss some basic principles for an effective pre-sale and album launch.

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The Music Royalty Guide

Every musician, independent or not, should understand music royalties. Sadly, most don’t. So I’m going to break it down so that you can understand how they effect you, regardless of where you are in your music career.

First, you need to understand the difference between the Songwriter, Publisher, and Recording Artist.

The Songwriter

The Songwriter is the person who actually writes the song – but that’s a loaded statement. Really it is whoever wrote the portion of the music that can be copyrighted. Here in the USA that boils down to the melody and lyrics. You’re not allowed to copyright rhythms (i.e. drum beats) or chords. So if you’re a drummer in a band, and your sole contribution to a song is the drum beat, then you aren’t technically the songwriter. That’s why if you look at the songwriting credits for the Beatles’ songs, you’ll rarely see Ringo or Harrison’s names pop up. But if you’re a drummer, bassist, or rhythm guitarist, you shouldn’t give up and quit. You can always make agreements (or preferably contracts) with your band mates that the band and its songs could not exist without ALL of you, and therefore everyone is credited as a songwriter. That’s what U2 did!

The Publisher

The Publisher is historically the person that pays for said song to be written or recorded. In olden times it was the person who would contract and pay Beethoven or Mozart to write a new piece. In current times the publisher is generally the Record Label, Music Publishing Company, or in the case of an independent artist – themselves.

The Recording Artist

The Recording Artist is the person that actually plays the music on the recording. The drummer, bassist, and rhythm guitarist would fall under this category, regardless of if they are songwriters or not. It’s important to make this distinction because not everyone writes their own music. If you record a cover, you will be the Recording Artist, but not the Songwriter. In the case of a lot of Pop stars, like Rihanna for example, a vast majority of songs are written by someone else. She is just the recording artist.

Now that you understand the 3 parties involved, let’s brief you on the different kinds of royalties.

  1. Mechanical Royalty – This is the royalty paid whenever music is turned into some form of media (CDs, Vinyl, Tape, etc). Whenever someone presses a CD with your song on it, they are required to pay you per CD printed. In the United States there is a compulsory rate of 9.1 cents per song under 5 minutes, or 1.75 cents per minute of songs over 5 minutes. (See the official documentation here) So, if someone presses 1 CD with 1 of your songs that is 3 minutes long, they will owe you 9.1 cents. If they press 1,000 CDs with that song they will owe you $91. If they were to press 1 CD with 1 song of yours that is 8 minutes long they would owe you 14 cents. If they printed 1000 CDs they would owe you $140. Keep in mind this has nothing to do with the sale of the CD. They have to pay this just to print it, it doesn’t matter if the CDs sell or not.
  2. Performance Royalty – This is the royalty paid whenever the recording is performed live or broadcasted. This is, for example, how a radio station pays the artists that they play on air. Often times this is done by paying a “blanket fee” to a Performance Rights Organization (PROs). This allows the radio station to play all the music they want without having to make contracts with every single artist they want to broadcast. In the US, the rate is determined by a one-to-one agreement between the PROs and the entity using the music.
  3. Synchronization Royalty – This is the royalty paid any time a song is synchronized to some other form of media. TV, movies, film, commercials, etc., are all examples of when this would come into play.
  4. Digital Rights Royalty – This is the royalty paid any time a song is used for simulcasting, webcasting, streaming, downloading, and online “on-demand services”. Ex. Pandora, Spotify, Sirius, XM Radio.
  5. Print Royalty – This is the royalty paid anytime a song is printed as sheet music.

Now that you have all of that down, let’s run through an example scenario so you can see how they all come into play.

Imagine a 4 piece band signs a record deal to record and release 1 album under a record label (I’m choosing this situation because it gives a better view of ALL of the parties involved. When you do it independently, you cut out a couple of the mouths being fed by your music). We’re going to imagine that this is an extremely simple contract (which is a rarity in the real world) just to simplify everything.

When the band signs, they will be making an agreement that the record label will act as Publisher on this record and that they will be the Songwriter on any original songs that are recorded. That means that the record label will get a percent of all the royalties you earn. In the music royalty world, royalties add up to 200%. I know it sounds strange, but it’s because the royalties are broken into 100% being the Songwriter share, and 100% being the Publisher share. In reality, each side will get 50% of whatever is made, so don’t let it confuse you.

Each side can break their 100% up however they see fit. If the singer in the band is greedy and doesn’t share, they may be the only credited songwriter, so they will get 100% of the Songwriter share. However, if the band decides to break it up even, each member can get 25% of the songwriter share. Same goes for the publisher side. If the record label has partnered up with someone to fund the recording, they may give a percent of the Publisher share.

The percents can never be moved from one side to the other though. The Songwriter can’t take 150% of the entire 200%. The only way to do this is for someone to be both the Songwriter and Publisher. In the case of most independent bands that do everything themselves, they would actually act as both, so in reality the band would take 100% of the Songwriter royalties and 100% of the Publisher royalties since they are one and the same.

Now, let’s say that the band records an 11-track album in which 10 of the songs are originals, and 1 of the songs is a cover. What this means is that for the 10 original tracks, the band will take home 100% of the Songwriter share and the record label will take 100% of the Publisher share. As for the 1 cover song, if a Beatles song is covered, all the songwriter royalties go to McCartney & Lennon. All the publisher royalties go to whoever was credited as publisher on the original recording.

When the recording is completed, the first step is to print the CDs. In order to print the records, the Mechanical Royalty will have to be paid for the Beatles song that was covered. That’s 9.1 cents per print. It’s also 9.1 cents per digital download of the song/album as well. But let’s say the band were lands a distribution deal with a 3rd party company. The distributor would be required to pay the royalties for the Beatles song plus $0.091 x 10 (the number of originals) x # of printed CDs to the band and record label. If they printed 1,000 CDs, $970 would be paid to the band and record label just for the right to print the CDs. Huzzah!


Now the the album is printed, it’s time to start promoting the album. That means some radio airtime. There are 2 different kinds of radio to consider – terrestrial and digital.


Terrestrial Radio are your AM/FM stations. As mentioned earlier, all of these stations pay a flat-rate in order to broadcast music all the time. Instead of each radio station having to make an agreement with each and every artist they play on their station, they actually pay the fees to Performance Rights Organizations (PROs). In the US there are 3 – BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. These 3 PROs collect all the money from all the radio stations and then split it up according to who was played how often, on what station, and at what time. These are Performance Royalties. In order for the band and record label to get paid, they have to register the songs with one of thePROs.

Something to consider about terrestrial radio Performance Royalties – they are ONLY paid to the publisher and songwriter. The record label will get their share every time the song is played. However, if only one member of the band is the Songwriter, he will be the ONLY one that receives money from the airplay. Or let’s say the only song that received any air play on terrestrial stations was the Beatles cover. The band won’t actually receive any money since the Songwriters are McCartney and Lennon!

Digital Radio are things like Pandora, XM, Spotify, YouTube, etc. They function very similar to terrestrial radio in the sense that they have to pay a Performance Royalty to the PROs for all the music they play. All the same rules will apply as before. But in addition to that, they also pay the Digital Rights Royalty. They pay this to organizations like SoundExchange who collect these royalties for the artists. And in this case, there are royalties paid to the Songwriter, Publisher, AND Recording Artist. So no matter who is credited as the songwriter (whether it’s just the singer, the entire band, or Paul McCartney) ANYONE who performed on the song will be entitled to some money every time the song is played on a digital radio station.

If the band has really been making a name for themselves, they may land some movie or TV spots.

Regardless of if the music featured in a TV show or a movie, the songwriter and publisher will receive both Performance and Synchronization royalties. The Performance Royalties function just like with radio – they are negotiated with and paid to PROs who then administer it to the publisher and songwriter every time the song is performed publically. On the other hand, the Synchronization Royalty will be a direct negotiation with the Songwriter/Publisher and the entity using the song. There are a couple of situations where there is a “standard” paid, usually for TV, but there are far too many options to cover. For the sake of not overloading our brains, we’ll just say that the Synchronization Royalty can range from a nominal fee to a massive fee that you could retire on.

Now that the band has become a household name and sold so many albums, someone might decided that they would like to print all the music into a book for fans to read through and learn. Similar to how the Mechanical Royalty works, whoever is printing the book would have to pay a Print Royalty to the Publisher and Songwriter. Typically the rate is somewhere between 8-20& of the suggested retail price, but it can be negotiated since there is no legal standard.

It needs to be known that this is an EXTREMELY brief and concise rundown of the royalties available. There are a lot of factors involved in how you actually get paid, and the reality of a real record contract being as clear and simple as a 100%/100% split is virtually unheard of. But that’s a story for another time.

There is also one more thing I want to point out before concluding. All of the royalties paid here, and all of the potential money that can be earned from them, have NOTHING to do with the actual sale of the albums. Theoretically not a single album could be sold, and all of these royalties could still be earned for the songwriter and publisher. The money made from selling albums has very little to do with royalties, and more to do with the agreement made between the record label and band about how to split the money. And in the case of independent musicians, you just keep it all yourself, no matter how much you sell it for!

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The Independent Artist Hip Hop Guide


With all due respect to Eminem and 50 Cent, sometimes people watch movies like 8 Mile and Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and assume launching a Hip Hop career works the same way they see in movies. I meet a lot of unsigned, aspiring rappers. Between assisting in HipHopDX’s social media and marketing duties and working with, I’m at well over 250 events each year. And since Hip Hop is still a multi-billion dollar industry, one of the most common questions I run across is how an artist can get their music posted online in hopes of launching a successful career. We’re doing 13 or 14 cities, and I also host four to six online showcases monthly, so those questions get asked pretty often. Luckily, I also encounter plenty of A&R’s, executives, signed artists and producers who have established themselves within the industry.

So the following advice comes from those professionals—people like Ken Lewis (check the production credits of J. Cole’s, Kanye West and Jay-Z’s latest albums, and you’ll see his name). When rappers hope to get posted on various Hip Hop blogs and websites, these are ultimately the people they hope to impress and work with. So we put together this list based on Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws Of Power. It’s geared to getting your stuff online or just an overall balance of how to be successful as an independent artist trying to get signed.

This isn’t some guaranteed guide on how you’re gonna get on. But between industry veterans like J-Hatch, LEP Bogus Boys, DJ ill Will and Torae, there are over 100 combined years of experience in this roundtable. For what it’s worth, I used to manage an OfficeMax before getting involved with DX, Coast2Coast and i-Standard Producers. I had to make the decision between taking a pay cut and keeping the same job, or taking my unemployment and severance pay to leave and pursue my passion. So I can relate to any aspiring artist out there with a stack of burned CDs in pursuit of their dream. Taking the advice from the industry vets you hope to someday work with—along with some planning, hard work and some luck—is a start.

Law 1: Do Your Research

Eric Beasley: Co-Owner of The world’s largest MC Battle League, SMACK/ URL and one of the largest Hip Hop YouTube channels online Beasley has also worked as an artist and producer manager in addition to his time at Warner as an A&R.

“Making the transition from your mother’s basement to Madison Square Garden can be extremely difficult in this current climate of the music business. Most labels won’t take a chance on an artist—especially a rapper without any traction. When I say traction, I mean trackable data about you or your brand. This data can be in the form of BDS [Broadcast Data Systems] or Mediabase radio spins, a huge buzz on a mixtape (thousands of on-line downloads, independent sales, or write ups and praise from notable publications) presence on key websites and blogs, significant views on YouTube with a music video or blogs, touring, endorsement from established artists etc. Many ask how this can be achieved when the competition has more money, contacts, management, etc. Getting signed or becoming a huge independent artist takes a plan!”

Law 2: Use Resources & Strategize

Riggs Morales: VP of A&R and Artist Development at Atlantic Records. For more music education insight, visit

“Drive: This is the trait is what will keep you moving forward as doubt sets in, as progress is made or as you reach those ‘stand-still’ moments when nothing is happening.

“Creativity: The ability to stand out from the rest starts here. Even if you find yourself in a place clogged by others pursuing the same thing you are (producing, singing, rapping), you should nurture the ability to create something that sets you apart from everyone and will help you stand out.

“Resources: Learn to work with less to get more. You can do just as much with a three people as you can with a 1,000, if it’s all you have to work with. Learning to work with bare essentials will push you to make the best with what you have.

“Strategize: Once you’ve built a cohesive system with what you have, then it’s important to utilize the little you have with a strategic approach. Make every small step count towards bigger steps.

“Vision: Have a clear (and realistic) outline of where you want to be and what you think will take to get there. Know that it will not happen overnight. It will take you time as you develop a rhythm through trial and error, which will ultimately trim the fat off your artistry and unveil the artist you were meant to be.

“Get A Job: You will make no money as you work on your craft, which can lead to a stressful state of mind and interfere with your creative rhythms. Get a job that allows you to pay bills and put food on your table until your ‘passionate hobby’ turns into ‘paying occupation.’”

Law 3: Create Quality Product

Ken Lewis: Multi-Platinum Producer for Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem, Drake, Usher, Danity Kane, Jeremih, 50 Cent. More info on Lewis and his online musical tutorial program is available via

“The number one thing young artists forget is that it’s really all about the music. If your song doesn’t instantly and strongly connect to people who don’t know you, you’re not going to make it very far. Don’t listen to your friends and relatives. They love you and want to see you win. Watch the reactions to your music from people you don’t know. Don’t tell me, ‘Well this rapper got signed and his songs suck.’ Really? Is that where you set the bar for yourself? If you want to get noticed, make or find hot beats, and write an undeniable hit. Then do it again, and again, and you’ll get a deal. If it was easy, everybody would do it. It’s not easy, and it takes a ton of thankless, draining, work, coupled with tons of rejection and soul searching. But there are a few who will emerge every year to the top.”

Law 4: Master The Art Of Multi-tasking

L.E.P. Bogus Boys: Blueprint/Infared/Interscope Recording Artists. Follow Count and Moonie via Twitter at @LEPBOGUSBOYS.

“What you got to understand is that whether you’re independent or signed, it all falls on you. So you have to have an immediate team that multitasks and know their roles. We only got a team of five including us, and we all make the mechanism work. When you sign, look for a label that understands your brand not just because they got a lot of money for you. You also gotta build your relationships and stay persistent. That’s how we got so far—because of our immediate outlets of people we can get to. It took a whole lot to build that so strong, but it worked. More than anything, you gotta have good product and challenge yourself to be great.”

Law 5: Value Your Independence

DJ ill Will: CEO of Tha Alumni Music Group & Manager for Kid Ink. Ill Will has worked with and broke some of the hottest artists in the game including Soulja Boy, Chris Brown, Tyga and more.

“No offense to the major labels, but stay Indie and get your paper up before you even consider a major label deal. Trust me, you won’t regret it! Putting yourself at the mercy of a major label is career suicide…unless you’re the rare few.

Law 6: Develop An Identity & A Team

Brian “Z” Zisook: VP/Editor-in-Chief of

“There are no hard and fast rules or stone cold lock advice that works universally when given to an aspiring artist, who is looking to escape from the confines of their mother’s basement and make it as a professional recording artist. There are, however, several steps that should be taken to ensure that you are giving yourself the best possible chance at future success. These steps include, but are certainly not limited to: finding a team of professionals who believe in you and your music, developing an identity as an artist and branding your stage name and music accordingly, and creating a product that will sell itself.”

Law 7: Be Humble, Realistic & Work Hard

Kyle “KP” Reilly: VP Idle Media Inc /  

“For an artist to have a chance to make it out their mama’s basement and into a label’s boardroom, a lot of things need to happen, including a bit of luck. For the most part, what an artist needs more than anything is a good, realistic head on their shoulders. If your head isn’t right, you have an inflated perception of yourself or of the game, you wont make it very far. Be humble, be yourself and don’t follow everyone else’s or industry trends. Work harder and harder for yourself—not just to talk about how hard you’re working—results will speak for themselves. And lastly, do not spam or annoy those who you are attempting to sell yourself or distribute your music to.”

Law 8: Maintain A Physical Presence

J-Hatch: Co-CEO of I-Standard Producers.

“These days, the general perception is that you need an online presence. Many aspiring artists then take to their social networks to send links out to people who in most cases consider that spamming. In reality it’s all about creating a balance—yes the Internet is important and influential. But networking, performing and building a fan base are all equally as important.”

Law 9: Become Business Savvy

Nick Hiersche: President of Coast2Coast Mixtapes & Coast2Coast Live. &

“I think the number one misconception we get is they think others owe them because they made a song. Just because you made a song does not make it a venue’s responsibility to pay you all of a sudden. In order to get a paid booking, you must be able to sell tickets, alcohol or some other type of product for that venue or company. Music business is a business, and you must invest in yourself and your business until revenue starts being generated. If you are not getting paid to perform or feature on tracks, then you have not invested enough in yourself, period. The indie route is a smart route and can be done on a small budget, but it is still a budget. Until you realize this and make smart investments into your ‘music business,’ then it is a hobby, not a business.

The converse of that is that if you want a ‘major record deal,’ you must invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into your ‘music business.’ It takes that much investment for large returns to come in, which is the only thing that interests labels. So both ways cost time, money and of course effort and talent. But in today’s market you don’t really need the major label. You can generate a sufficient income by investing in your indie ‘music business’ until the revenue starts coming. And then you can just collect from the loyal fans you gained from investing!”

Law 10: Maintain Consistency

Torae: Emcee, Founder of Internal Affairs Entertainment, A&R for Soulspazm Records, co-host of Siriux XM’s “Rap Is Outta Control.” – Twitter & Instagram @Torae

“I think the most important thing in today’s market is to be visible. It doesn’t matter if you make the best music in the world if no one hears it or no one knows. So you have to be visible—seen and heard. Do a lot of shows, even if they’re free shows…even if only your family is there. Perform your music. Master it, get it air tight and record it. YouTube has birthed a number of sensations, so definitely have it uploaded and linkable there. You also have to get used to giving away music for free. There is so much competition now, in order for people to know your music, you’re going to have to give some away to build an audience and fan base. Social networking is very important as well. Make sure you’re active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The more people are into you and what you’re doing, the more they’ll care about the music, and the more they’ll spread the word.

“I did a docu-series last year called ‘Off The Record.’ I think all new and aspiring artists should check it out to get some insight on the ups and downs of the music business. It was filmed during the recording and release of my album For The Record. I did it so that I could shed some light on what it takes on the daily basis to grind out a career in music.”

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Creating Momentum(For Musicians)

This may sound incredibly obvious (because it is), but it is one of those obvious truths that we don’t consider enough. Because considering it might actually motivate us.

The key to creating momentum is to keep moving. The longer you keep moving without changing direction, the bigger the momentum. And, the bigger the momentum, the more unstoppable you are. I’m not going to be vague. I’m speaking about achieving your dreams, fulfilling the vision of your heart.

All you have to do is do something. When you don’t feel like it, do something. When you don’t know what to do, do anything. But, don’t do nothing! What’s the worst that can happen? It certainly isn’t like you’re touching wires that would lead to instant death. (Unless your dream is to touch electrical wires and live to be fined $200.)

Dreams don’t come true instantly as you might be led to believe because of what you see on TV. What gets left out is usually the hard part. You achieve your dreams by achieving a series of breakthroughs. And there’s no such thing as breakthroughs without first creating momentum.

Do you know why dreams go to the graves? Because of the lack of breakthroughs. What causes lack of breakthroughs? Lack of momentum. What causes lack of momentum? Lack of movement. Here’s a sad truth: Most people sit around waiting for something to happen. Some will haphazardly do things here and there that they think could break them through. But, I wont be the first to tell you, you wont achieve your dreams that way.

No matter what you’re aiming for, you can find out how to do anything by doing a little research on the internet. There are tons of instructions, tips, and God-knows-what out there. Whatever the process, I want you to remember one phrase. This phrase is key to success. Are you ready?

Rinse and repeat.

That’s right! Rinse and repeat. I know of people who learned the how-to’s, but lacked the patience and perseverance to do the same thing over and over again until they achieve a breakthrough. Then, do it all over again until they achieve another breakthrough – and then again, until they reach the level they want to be at.

Rinse and repeat the process, no matter how mundane, no matter how tiring. You must do it. You must create momentum. You must always be in motion, in action. It’s the only way you’ll ever see your dream materialize.

For me, as someone who is pursuing a career in music, it means to keep rotating my free download every week, continue finding people and sending out emails asking them to listen to my music because they may be able to help me further promote it (even if I don’t get a response from most people), making sure I always have something to talk about (even if it’s a just a new blog post each week), staying in touch with my current fans and reaching out to get new listeners, etc…

Let’s say I breakthrough and get some recognition. I will have to rinse and repeat the process to breakthrough to a higher level. The only difference between you and I (emerging people) and someone “big” is the amount of breakthroughs they’ve made. But, I think I speak the truth when I say…the process is the same for them, just on a different scale.

I say all this to say: Don’t sit around. Don’t be depressed. Keep moving. My future kids might need your songs to get them through something difficult, to mark moments of their lives. Heck, I might need your songs. (Replace songs with innovations if you’re not a “creative” per se. Point is, you’re needed! So please, don’t quit. Continue to innovate.)


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Recording Sessions [From $50BDS] Book Now!!!

Over here at GMCOfficialMusic we have affordable Recording Sessions [From $50BDS] & crazy Beat Deals [From $50BDS] for Artist working on their  mixtapes or albums.

This budget-friendly studio is so affoadable you can get in the zone without pimpin the clock

Photo 5-4-14, 8 55 07 PM

*Original Instrumental Leases From $50BDS


-Leases $50BDS

-Exclusives $100BDS

-Check out some beats “NOW”


*Recording Prices (Per Track):

-Recording(vocals) $50BDS [No Mixing Or Mastering]

-Recording(vocals) & Mixing: $75BDS [No Mastering]

-Recording(vocals) , Mixing & Mastering: $100BDS

Mastering can significantly improve the final sound of a music track and is often one of the most expensive stages in the recording process. It ensures that your music will be heard more consistently  so that it stands toe to toe with professionally released tracks.

  • A  LOUDER mix with maximized volume
  • cutting out mistakes / breaths / coughs and stutters etc  in any audio file
  • EQ & Compression that will bring your music to life
  • Removal of any unwanted frequencies
  • A studio finished sheen to your music
  • Tracks you will be proud to share on radio, iTunes, YouTube or Facebook



*Mixtape Session Specials [10 Tracks] :

$500Bds [Original Price $1000bds]


*Additional fees for alternate versions: $20BDS

-Radio Edit

-A capella



Book your sessions Now:  Call or Whatsapp: 1(246)820-8408

  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers


Twitter: @GMCUBMG

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HipHop Artist & The B-Word (BUDGET)- GMCOfficialMusic


No, I’m not talking about that b-word. The b-word I’m referring to is BUDGET. You’ll hear plenty about marketing strategies, promotion, managers, and a whole lot of information about how hip hop artists can increase their exposure, and build a fan base. But you rarely hear the cold hard truth about the investment of money it takes to break an artist and sustain a significant buzz.

Social media marketing is not enough to build a hip hop career on. Success in this business, just like any other, requires planning, money, and sometimes a little bit of luck.

If you’re brand new to this, you already know that the recording process alone takes some dedication of time and money. Some of you are able to bypass this monetary investment by either recording your own music, or by having producers who are down with the cause. Hopefully you and your producer know what you’re doing, and have the skills to produce a quality product. Because if you don’t, you’re completely wasting your time. And I’m on the receiving end of a lot of music that’s a complete waste of time.

Okay, now let’s get beyond the recording phase. Got graphic art work? That shit costs. Did it yourself? Oh yeah, I can tell. Merch costs money too. And you need visuals now man! A release is half-assed without videos these days. The fans are using YouTube to listen to and share music. Only those of us in the industry are sharing Soundcloud and Bandcamp links. Gotta shoot a visual and that shit better be nice, or you’re just wasting your time. So you gotta pay someone that knows what the fuck their doing. Visuals are supposed to make the song better by perception. Oh your homeboy shot it with his HD Handycam? I can tell.

Okay, now you got the video shot. You gotta get those YouTube views and likes crackin. You can always pay for views. Won’t help but you can do it. But hey, you can get them shits on World Star Hip Hop. Know this though, unless you’re getting your ass whooped by a homeless, crackhead hooker in a parking lot, you got to pay to get your video on there.

You see this game is filled with a lot of fuckers who are less talented than you, but more than willing to outspend you. Want radio? You’re paying out the ass, G! You can stand in line all you want every Music Monday; you’re not going to get into the playlist rotation. Those local mix show DJs? Most of them want favors and straight up cash because the stations aren’t paying them shit. It’s against the rules to take your money but hell, they gotta eat. Wanna know why there’s so much of that drug shit in hip hop? It’s because them d-boys got the loot to get access. You thought they worked for the post office?

The promoters want you to pay to perform. You don’t have a fan base, you want your 20 person entourage to get in free, and they ain’t buying shit from the bar, so why should the promoter take the loss? It’s business. You could rent out a venue on your own and have at it, but that’s when you get real with yourself.

How much are you willing to invest? Do you really want success? How do you define it? I’m telling you now, if you want a shot at mainstream success, start with some commercial, mainstream songs.

This blog is not going to blow you up. Only a few heads come around here. You’ll get some love from your peers if the shit is hot, but there’s not enough mainstream gossip and strippers here to get you the kind of fanfare you desire. Most other hip hop blogs are only fucking with you if you have a buzz already.

Artists on major labels hate to be on them right now, that is unless you’re somebody like Jay-Z or Kanye.
Being independent is the only way to go now, but you gotta go hard or go home if you want to win. And you’re gonna have to spend some money, doesn’t have to be your own, but somebody’s gotta fork over some stacks to help you stand out in this over-saturated industry. And that reality of the business unfortunately trumps the talent most of the time. You’ve heard the 90% business, 10% talent mantra. That’s the game. You don’t like it, go into tech and build apps. The odds of success will probably be much better without all the haters, cutthroats, and bullshitters. But if you’re one of the few who are driven by an indescribable passion to be great at this, you’ll find the path.

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5 Reasons Why HipHop Is Better Today- GMCOfficialMusic

Quit your yappin about the 90s being the better era of hip hop! Nostalgia has it’s place. I’m a product of old school hip hop but these days are much better. Here are 5 reasons why:


1. Variety:


There’s hip hop all over the place. All types. Sure a lot of it sucks ass, but there’s some really great hip hop out there also. You gotta take the good with the bad.


2. The music is always available:


Most artists have made their music free for you to stream or listen to before you make the decision to purchase it. Wanna hear something?
Nine times out of ten, you can probably find it on Spotify or YouTube. Music piracy is becoming a thing of the past. I remember the days when I would buy a CD because I heard a couple of singles only to discover that the rest of it sounded like ass. Now you can try before you by. This is better!


3. Fuck the radio:


You no longer need your local radio station to put you up on new music. With the help of the internet and social networks, fans of hip hop are able to get up on new shit way before radio gets the chance to cram it down your throat by playing the same song 20 times within the hour.


4. Access to artists:


Social networks like Twitter and Instagram connect fans to artists in ways that were not possible just a few years ago. On Twitter, If you’re a big enough douche-bag you might get lucky enough to personally get cursed out by a famous hip hop artist. Now how cool is that? Before this, you’d have to send fan mail.


5. Independence:


You no longer need large sums of cash to record and distribute music. This has made it possible for a lot of very talented artists to enter into the scene. Before this, artists had to depend on labels or investors to fund the recordings because the costs were so hefty. The low costs of recording and digital distribution has allowed even old school artists the opportunity to continually release music and stay relevant.



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