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10 Mistakes People Make When Trying To Become Professional Musicians

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If you want to become successful in the music industry, there many things you need to know and do. But even if you get all that right, you can prevent yourself from reaching big success by making critical mistakes along the way (and there are many potential mistakes one could make, when not being careful). After coaching and mentoring many musicians and bands seeking a career in music, the same patterns of false assumptions, problems and mistakes appear over and over again. Here are the top 10.

Mistake #10 - Not having a compelling image that is congruent with your music. Most musicians (and bands) severely underestimate the importance of their image. Yes, music is about 'music', but music business success is about a total package that includes music, image and visual stage show among other things that need to be fully developed in a congruent way.

Mistake #9 - Trying to 'get your name out there'. Although this seems to be a main goal of most musicians and bands, it is the wrong approach to start with. Before trying to be seen and heard as much as possible, it is often more important to focus on 'converting' the people who hear and see you into becoming actual fans. This 'conversion' is the first key to your promotional success, NOT getting seen or heard as much as possible.

Mistake #8 - Believing that social media websites are the keys to online music promotion for musicians and bands. Social media websites are a tool. They are ONE piece of the online music marketing puzzle. Music industry companies (record labels, artist managers, booking agents, etc.) are far more interested in the popularity of YOUR website, not how many friends you have at MySpace, YouTube, Facebook or any other website that you do not own and control. Want to impress the industry with your band's promotion? Build your website traffic.

Mistake #7 - Not investing enough time into building your music career. Most musicians spend most of their time on music, but put very little effort into the many other critical elements needed to make it in the music business. If you are already a talented musician, you should invest at least 50% of your time into starting or advancing your music career. If you are still developing your musical skills, you should still invest around 25% of your 'music' time into building a future music career.

Mistake #6 - Surrounding yourself with people who are negative, lazy and lack ambition. If you are very serious about becoming a professional musician and building a great career in music, then you absolutely must surround yourself with like-minded musicians.

Mistake #5 - Having merely mediocre live performing skills. Many musicians, who are not yet in a good band, put off developing their live performing and stage presence skills. This is a big reason why talented musicians don't get into really good bands that they audition for. Your music may be good, but a live 'show' requires more than great music. If people only wanted to hear the music, they would listen to you at home. Both fans and record labels want (and expect) to see a REAL show. Neglecting this area results in talented musicians and bands becoming quickly forgotten.

Mistake #4 - Focusing on increasing the 'quantity' of fans instead of the 'intensity' of your fans. The 'number' of fans you have should always be your secondary focus (not your primary one) if you want to become successful in the music industry. The fact is, it is not the number of 'fans' that matters most, it's the number of FANATICS which will contribute more directly to your success (or lack of it). This is particularly true in the beginning of a band's music career. Focus more effort on converting your existing fans into raving fanatics. Learn to do this and the number of your overall fans will increase through powerful word of mouth.

Mistake #3 - Not enough cash flow to support your music career. Like it or not, it takes money to build a music career. Even if other people/companies are paying for your record, tour support, merchandise, etc. you still need to have the freedom to pursue opportunities as they come. Sadly, many musicians miss opportunities because they can't afford to take advantage of them.In addition to a decent income, you also need the flexibility of being able to take time away from that income source to go into the studio, go on tour, etc. That is why learning how to teach guitar is such a great way to achieve both if you learn how to become a highly successful guitar teacher.

Mistake #2 - Not enough depth in your music relationships. There's an old expression, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." In music this is often modified to, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you." The truth is, it's not about either. The most important aspect of connections within the music industry is how deep are the current relationships you have now and will develop in the future. You don't want to simply know people or be known, you want people who know you to have a real deep connection with you so that you are always on the top of their mind when opportunities present themselves. Ask yourself, "What can I do right now to deepen my existing relationships further on an ongoing basis?"

Mistake #1 - Having a fundamental misunderstanding about what record companies look for - and expect from new bands. This is a huge topic, but in a nutshell it's very useful to think of record companies like a bank that lends money to people or small businesses. Record companies make most of their decisions about whom they will work with and what the terms will be in much the same way that a bank will determine who they will loan money to and what the terms of the loan will be. Both record companies and banks basically want to see 3 things:

1. How much value do you bring to the deal right now.
2. How much risk do you bring with you right now.
3. How much potential value and risk might you bring to them in the future after they invest in you.

If you want to buy a house, the bank wants to know a lot about the specific house you want to buy and EVEN MORE about YOU. Record companies are the exact same, they want to know about your music, your talent and your band, but they also care as much (or more) about YOU (and your band mates) as people. What about YOU makes a record deal a good or bad investment for them?

Timbaland And Dr. Dre Throw Surprise Performance For High School Graduates

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CULVER CITY, Calif. – Dr. Dre and Timbaland went back to school Wednesday night.

The rapper-producers shocked students when they appeared at a Culver City High School graduation party. Dr. Dre introduced Timbaland, who performed the tunes “The Way I Are,” “Promiscuous Girl,” “Carry Out” and “Say Something” on a stage inside the school’s gymnasium. Students invited had no idea the hip-hop masterminds were the guests of honor.

“When we walked in, we were like, ‘Whoa. Is this a second prom?’” said 17-year-old junior Saul Salmeron.

The surprise performance was sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and Interscope Records, who have partnered with the aim of improving digital sound quality. The promotional event, which was recorded for an online documentary, also featured free food, photos and a raffle of HP gear. The company said it was donating $10,000 worth of computer equipment to the school.

“Y’all got a curfew?” Timbaland asked the audience at one point.

Students held up their camera phones and gathered around the stage to get a glimpse of Timbaland and Dr. Dre, who sneaked a peek of the crowd before he took the stage. Dr. Dre, who is currently working on his next album, did not perform with labelmate Timbaland, whom he’s never worked with before.

Is a possible first-time collaboration is in the works?

“We should be so lucky,” said Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope, Geffen and A&M Records, who attended Wednesday’s event. “I can only get them so close. The rest is up to them.”

12 Tips To Increase Blog Traffic

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How do you measure the success of a blog? By the number of visitors it receives. Traffic is essential to the survival of a site. So, what are easy and efficient ways to get it?

from wagtiradio.com

1) Provide quality content
Quality over quantity is a motto that should be in every blogger's mind. As such, editing and proofreading are two prerequisites. Before you publish anything, make sure that your content is as typo-free as possible.

2) Provide useful content
A blog is like a product. If you want to sell, your articles must be unique and visitors must relate to them. At times, it may be difficult to come up with new ideas. To overcome this problem, you could:
- set up Google alerts to receive news in your inbox. When you find an interesting article, share an extract in your blog or write something on the topic.

- visit websites like AllTop or Mashable and subscribe to valuable blogs in your niche.

And if you are an entrepreneur, why not check out the questions asked by members of LinkedIn? Some will fuel your creativity.

3) Write great titles
Titles are the main attention grabbers. When written well, they will make visitors read the articles attached to them. For example, if you want to offer tips on book promotion, something like X [number] Great Tips to Promote Your Book would work. Remember that people love numbers and lists, so organize the post as such. Be clear and concise.

4) Blog often
A blog regularly updated will bring traffic. So, try to contribute to its growth at least twice a week.

5) Ask questions
Asking questions is the best way to engage readers and show them that you care. There are three proven ways to do it:

  • Ask a question in the first paragraph of your post. This will draw their attention to the problem that you are trying to solve.

  • Ask a question in your conclusion in order to open the discussion. Visitors will leave comments more easily.

  • Invite people to suggest future topics. Why not conduct a survey?

6) Tag, Tag, Tag
Tags or keywords are specific words that describe an item. When blog articles are published, they will be indexed by search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) according to those specific words. Without them, search engines may overlook the posts and they will end up at the bottom of the pile. So, tag all your articles and pictures.

7) Share your posts
Share your posts on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Delicious, and Stumble Upon. Search engines love them. Use Hootsuite and Ping.fm to update all your networks at once.

8) Allow visitors to subscribe to your blog
By using a tool like Feedburner, you give visitors the opportunity to stay connected with your blog by subscribing to it. Every time you publish a new article, subscribers receive a notice. It is a great way to build up a loyal audience.

9) Submit articles to directories
This is a very efficient way to get your name out there. EzineArticles and eHow are the best article submission directories right now and rank really high in search engines. Let me give you an example.

A while ago, I submitted one of my previous posts to EzineArticles. The article got accepted. Type 'rejection reviewers' in Google search and you will see 'Authors & Six Tips to Avoid Rejection from Reviewers' appear third on the first page of the search engine.

10) Answer comments & visit other blogs
Too often, bloggers do not follow up with readers comments or emails. They do not even take the time to visit others blogs or sites. Imagine a company that would not care about its customers. It would lose business very quickly. A blog works like a company. If you do not set aside some time to provide good customer service, you will get no traffic.

Should you really have no time to connect with those who contact you privately, just let them know that you will respond to their messages later. And make sure that you do!

11) Add a link to your blog in your signature
In this day and age, we all use emails. It takes a couple of seconds to add a link to your blog in your signature block. And it may bring a LOT of traffic.

12) Be patient
Solid and constant traffic does not happen overnight. So, continue working hard and do not lose heart. Good things happen to those who wait!

Now, are there other tips that I may have forgotten?

Is Hip-Hop Really Dead?

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Now that the Jesus of the genre has been so kind as to drop his instant classic, Thank Me Later (the obvious, hands-down winner for album of the year) it is time for the rest of the industry to step it up or face some of those harsh realities that 50 Cent once warned us about. Hip-hop, as we knew it, may be in need of a funeral service. Nas, being the prophet that he is, called it in early in 2006, but the doctors are now giving up hope and sending for the coroner. Let me tell you how I know: There was a time (specifically 2006) when things were getting so bad that Nastradamus proclaimed that it was all over. The difference was that there was someone left to dissent. And that is what we have lost.

After a while, the voices of the people who wanted to see hip-hop survive got drowned out by those who didn’t really care about the music, the culture, the people, or really anything besides the damned money. What happened to us? We used to stand for something. But the entire rap genre has somehow transformed into a corporate liaison where albums are audio commercials for brand name clothing, jewelry, alcohol, and vehicles. Concerts have become the catwalk for these airheaded clowns to parade themselves and their crews around in the items that are available for sale. Have we really gotten to the point where the stuff you hear on the radio is actually what we’re all about? Do people really pay money to see Drake perform? Is it really possible that labels are bankrolling blogs? Something is rotten, word to Hamlet.

But this morning, it hit me. That isn’t death in the true sense. In reality, the inception of hip-hop was the beginning of a movement that represented a culture of lack. This thing that we love is the auditory representation of the people that it caters to. It was the music of the “have-nots” but we have seen it bent, stretched, morphed, and disfigured to encompass the many people who wanted the style without the struggle. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hip-hop doesn’t have to always be grimy. It doesn’t always have to be about life in the street. But what it must be, by necessity, is representative. It must embody the state of its people.

When cruising the troubled blocks of Los Angeles’ city streets listening to 2pac, one can see and feel the culture. If you happen to be on the right block, the same is true of the New Boyz as youngsters in the Fairfax district “Jerk” to their heart’s content in acid-washed skinny denim . A few years ago, looking out onto Lake Michigan and rubbing shoulders with Chicagoans, I could genuinely feel that College Dropout was truly the music of people. Sadly, I can’t say the same about much of the music by many of the artists that attempt to live under the hip-hop banner today. I would argue that the inordinate number of drug kingpins who are allegedly trafficking kilograms of cocaine daily at wholesale rates according to self-aggrandizing mixtape lore (See: Trap or Die) represent a farce that relates to hip-hop but is so far from true that the hyperbole is laughable and embarrassing (Bawse). The same is true of the non-criminal braggadocio of the highest success stories of the urban music scene. Maybe one day, rapping about international flights that garner millions of dollars in purely legitimate profits will be generalizable to this culture of ours. But that day is not today; not in the America where an oil spill was the biggest thing to hit the trap since Katrina.

In truth, the music that most call Rap or Hip-hop today is actually Pop, Top 40, or Club/Dance music. And sadly, even within that genre, it is still less representative of its people than that of Lady Gaga, The Ting-Tings, Miley Cyrus, and David Guetta; all of whom actually sing about situations that could legitimately happen to a person (if they were a sophomore in High School) and don’t aspire to do anything more than make people dance.

But don’t stop reading just yet. There is a silver lining.

The fortunate side effect of rebranding fake rappers as pop artists is the same as blowing away chaff to reveal the wheat. Hip-hop, the remainder after we divide the fake from the authentic, is alive and well. If you believe KRS-One, we will be here forever (and ever) but if you need a little more assurance than that, I have a plan. Much like the blowback against Wal-Mart when people became informed of their business practices, I think that we will find that the way to combat being force-fed the empty falsehoods of the corporate, urban music landscape is to buy local. Imagine the impact on your favorite local artist if your region had decided to spend its 13 dollars on their project rather than squandering it on a pretty package of lies from across the country. I bet his next LP would be easier to find at Best Buy.

Pro Tools: Importing Samples To Session Tempo

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When importing a tick-based audio file to the Region List, Track List, or empty space in the Edit window from the Workspace, your prompted to either import the tempo from the file or use the default session tempo. This tutorial explains how to import samples to automatically match the master tempo of your Pro Tools 8 session.

Drake Show In NYC Cancelled Due To Unruly Crowd

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NEW YORK – A free concert by pop band Hanson and up-and-coming Canadian rapper Drake was canceled Tuesday after twice as many people as anticipated showed up and many became unruly, police said.

The show started at about 6 p.m. with an opening act at Pier 17 on Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, a popular summer locale for concerts. Hanson, the Tulsa, Okla., brothers behind the 1997 hit “Mmmbop,” and headliner Drake, whose album “Thank Me Later” debuted Tuesday, were to appear on stage soon after.

Organizers were anticipating about 10,0000 people but nearly 20,000 showed up, police said. Many people climbed roofs and started throwing bottles, as concertgoers smashed together toward the stage, police said.

Witness Tamika Johnson told the Daily News newspaper: “People in the front started leaving because they were getting crushed.”

The concert organizers asked the New York Police Department for help dispersing the crowds around 7 p.m., police spokesman Paul Browne said. Two people were arrested on minor charges; six suffered minor injuries, police said.

The concert was part of the “Sounds Like Paper” series presented by Paper magazine, an independent magazine focusing on arts, culture and music. The magazine apologized on its website: “Wow, the crowd was much larger than we anticipated, and unfortunately the show was canceled. But we will make it up to you guys!”

The magazine posted several updates on Twitter during the night: “It’s a total madhouse — in a good way” and “get off the roof!”

Telephone calls by The Associated Press to representatives for Drake and Hanson weren’t immediately returned Tuesday night.

A spokesman for Drake, whose album features Kanye West and Alicia Keys and debuted to positive reviews, told the Daily News the rapper was disappointed the NYPD dispersed the crowds before he could perform.

Hanson’s “Mmmbop,” from the trio of brothers’ album “Middle of Nowhere,” was one of the biggest debut singles of all time.

Industry News: $1 Billion Fine For LimeWire, $75 Million For BP's Oil Spill — Huh?

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If the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) gets its way, the file-sharing company LimeWire will get blasted out of existence with a billion dollar fine. Meanwhile, British Petroleum, with its oil spill, that's on its way to the ecology disaster level of a Chernobyl, is liable for up to $75-million under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. What's wrong with this picture? That's a best case estimate. The RIAA actually thinks LimeWire owes them $1.5 trillion.. They came up with that number on a fine of $750 dollars per copyright infringement multiplied by 200 million estimated occurrences of copyright infringement. Aren't you sorry now that you didn't just buy Barnes & Barnes' Fish Heads from the iTunes Store for 99 cents?

Of course, BP may yet end up getting sued to death as well, but I think we can all agree that BP's 'mis-steps' were just a wee bit bigger than LimeWire's enabling users to share music files. So, why is LimeWire the one getting knocked about?

The court system is a train-wreck. But, anyone who follows the madness that is the U.S. patent system in the courts already knows that. All we can do is shake our heads in disgust.

LimeWire's executives are hoping for some kind of deal that will let them survive. I can't see that happening. The RIAA has asked for a permanent injunction on LimeWire's services. Let's face it, the RIAA has LimeWire where it wants them: On the way to bankruptcy court.

There's no question that LimeWire was used to trade music tracks and other proprietary files. Yes, that's not good. I'd feel a lot better about this though if whatever money the RIAA squeezes out of the LimeWire stone went to musicians and other content creators. It won't. It will go to the corporations that have totally failed to realize that the digital revolution was wrecking their old physical media-CD, DVD, and tape-based business.

The RIAA companies could have figured this out. Instead, like buggy whip vendors trying to outlaw horseless carriages, they keep suing both companies, like Napster and individuals like Joel Tenenbaum, who was hit by a $675,000 fine in a RIAA lawsuit for distributing thirty (yes, 30) songs over a peer-to-peer network.

And, what has all this done? In 2000, when Napster was the RIAA's bogeyman, the RIAA claimed that 1.08-billion units (read albums) were sold. In 2009, while physical units continued their decline, 309.5-million, the RIAA's numbers showed, that legal digital music downloads were up to 1,236.8-billion. Of course, in 2000, the RIAA wasn't even measuring digital downloads.

What was the cause of this improvement in business during a truly awful time in the economy? It wasn't lawsuits, or half-baked DRM (digital rights management) that only gets in the way of legal users. It was companies like Apple, which embraced digital downloads. Showing just how dumb they are, the RIAA has feuded with Apple over how it delivers music.

Listen, get into the 21st century already RIAA. So what if you beat LimeWire into the ground? Another file sharing service will just arise to take its place. Slam more individuals with ridiculous fines? Watch your customers get even more annoyed with you.

The 20th century and many of its business models are done. Get over it. Start working with the Internet and its users. In the long run, it's the only way you'll survive. What's to stop an Apple or some other forward-thinking companies to start signing recording artists? If you don't change with the times ... well, seen many buggy whips on sale lately?

Producer Pharrell Credits Band Teacher For Success & Wants To Start School

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Producer Pharell Williams was on CNN being interviewed by high school principal, Steve Perry. In the interview, he credited his high school band-teacher for success and claimed that he was planning on starting a school for at risk children.

Black Artists’ Music Only $7.99 On iTunes During Black Music Month

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In celebration of Black Music Month, Itunes will be offering a selection of albums for a discounted rate of $7.99 an album. Black Music Month was created on May 31st, 2002, during the Bush administration, in order to recognize Black musicians, singers, and composers, for their impact on the music industry as well as American culture.

Many recent and classic albums will be offered, including select titles like Kid Cudi’s “Man On the Moon: The End of the Day”, Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”, T.I’s “Urban Legend”, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, and many “best-of” albums like Nat King Cole’s “The Very Best of Nat King Cole”. This offer ends at the end of June, so you might want to take advantage of the offer while you can.

Rapper Kid Cudi Arrested On Criminal Charges In NY

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NEW YORK (AP) — Rapper Kid Cudi has been arrested on criminal charges in New York City.

Sgt. John Butorn says Cudi was arrested Friday on charges of criminal mischief and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Cudi was scheduled to perform early Saturday at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee. After taking the stage, he said, “I really wanted to be here tonight.”

Cudi released his debut album “Man on the Moon: The End of Day” in 2009. The Cleveland native also co-stars in the HBO cable television comedy series “How to Make It in America.”

Five Reasons to Focus on Music Licensing

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The music licensing industry is a great way many independent artists are making money. Here are five reasons why you should focus more of your time building your music licensing business:

Reason 1: It’s getting very difficult to get a record deal

The old way of making money in the music business is dead. In the past, the big record companies controlled the distribution of music, because they were the only ones who had the money to manufacture records, promote the artist, and pay for radio play. Napster started the music business revolution by allowing peer-to-peer file sharing of music. It has lead to the demise of record companies. As you know, there are lots of signed artists who are making very little money from record sales. What many people don’t know is that many of these artists are still making lots of money because they are licensing their music to movies, tv, and video game makers. They are starting to realize that music licensing is where the bulk of their money will come from. That means you better hurry before they take over the market!

Reason 2: Level Playing Field

Licensing your music gives you the opportunity to play on a level playing field with the big labels, because you don’t have to spend money to get your music licensed. All you have to do is build strong relationships with music directors, music library owners, and publishing companies. It’s not easy, but you can develop these relationships over time. The best thing about music licensing is that many independent film makers can’t afford the prices that the major labels are looking for. That means that these independent film and video game makers will look to independent artists like you for music to license.

Reason 3: Multiple Streams of Income

If you sell 100 albums to your fans, you will probably make about $1000 if you sell the albums for $10 a piece. You made $1000, but the sale ends there. In music licensing, you can make money from the same song in many different ways. When you license the song for a movie, tv show, commercial, or video game you will make a licensing fee (most times) up front. It can be anywhere from $100 to $100,000. The best part is that’s not the only way you can make money from that license. Everytime your song is played; you will get a performance royalty from your PRO. I mean EVERYTIME it’s played. Think about what could happen if your music gets licensed in a TV show that is in syndication like the Cosby Show. You could be getting paid from one song for years!

Reason 4: International Potential

Remember, if you license a song, you get paid every time it gets played. Most shows we have here in the US are also played in other countries. You can set up accounts with PRO’s in other countries to get paid for international royalties. If you sit and think about the possibilities, you will understand how some musicians make one song, and are considered set for life.

Reason 5: Depend on You

If you want to sell music to fans, you have to depend on radio play, marketing budget, and your image. In music licensing, all you have to do is worry about the quality of your music. The music supervisors are accessible, and they are looking for music to license because that’s how they make a living.

Top 5 Music Licensing Myths Debunked


1) Licensing music is a loss of copyright control.

Licensing music is not a loss of copyright control but a transfer of the right to use a song for a certain purpose. Under the laws of the United States, a song is copyright as soon as it is fixed into a tangible medium of expression. Basically, as soon as you record your song it is automatically copyright. (Note: If you want to take someone to court for a copyright violation, you must be able to prove you recorded a song by a specific date. This is why registering with the US Copyright office or other public registration is important). As the copyright holder, a songwriter has multiple rights which they can license separately or all at once. Some of these rights include the right to sync music with images (sync license) or distribute a song via digital downloads (mechanical license). The copyright holder still maintains control of the copyright to the song and the other party has a right to use the song depending on the type of license. A license CAN limit the future use of a song from the songwriters perspective, especially when an exclusive song license is used.

2) Music licensing is always for money.

This is not always the case. Although it is nice for the songwriter to receive an upfront amount of money for the right to license their song, a song can be licensed in exchange for any benefit. For example, if I need music for my video, I may work with a songwriter to license their song in exchange for a prominent placement in the credits. In another case, a composer may license a video game theme song in return for guaranteed mechanical royalties down the road. In a time when thousands of new songs are uploaded to the internet weekly, it’s important to realize the benefit of exposure for a song while also taking into account a songwriter’s needs to be paid adequately for use of their work.

3) Most unique writing projects are legally work-for-hire.

Work-for-hire tends to be misunderstood and overused as a means to commission a song. There are two ways a song can be written as a work-for-hire. The first is if the songwriter is an actual EMPLOYEE creating the work within the scope of employment with a company. And were not talking about the IRS’s definition that basically says anyone you pay is an employee. The employer must actually be “directing, or supervising the creation of the work, in a very specific way.” As a songwriter is usually given the right to compose the piece as they see fit, it would be difficult to apply this definition to most writing cases.

The other option is if the composition meets certain rules to actually be considered as a work-for-hire. If all of the following criteria are not met, then the work is not a work-for-hire and the songwriter still owns the copyright:

-The work must be comissioned (created at the request of someone)

-It must be created under a written agreement

-And it must be created for use in one of the following: A motion picture or other audiovisual work, a collective work (a collection of individual works), a compilation, a translation of a foreign work, or a supplementary work (a work supplementing another work like an intro to a book).

The language here is a bit tricky so always be careful with work-for-hire scenarios and ensure a lawyer is consulted so that everything is in compliance.

4) Royalty-free music license means the songwriter never gets paid again.

This again depends on the way the song is used. The person licensing the song will probably not have to pay further royalties in the future to the songwriter (unless they decide to sell the song – see mechanical license above). The networks that are distributing the song cannot use music royalty free and WILL pay royalties if the song is played on their network. This is most always the case for public performance of a song. So if a company comissions a jingle song on MusikPitch, they will only pay the one-time prize amount. When that ad jingle is later played on the radio or TV, the station playing the song will pay the performance rights organizations (PROs) for the right to play that music. Those societies will in turn pay the songwriter. If a film underscore is written, then the studio will only pay the one-time fee for the music and won’t have to worry about paying royalties for each play of the song in the movie during theater showing. If the movie makes it onto NBC television later, then NBC will pay performance royalties to the PROs. So it is true that the initial purchaser of the music will be getting royalty free music, but it doesn’t mean that the music is royalty free for everyone who plays it.

5) Music licensing has to be done through a label or music publisher.

Although this may have been the case a couple of years ago, this is definitely not the standard today. It is still common for an organization seeking music to license that music from a label or music publisher. Labels control a large portion of popular music from the past couple of decades along with music publishers. In order to use a popular song, one must discover who owns the rights to that song and work with them to license it for their purposes. This can be a hassle and many film/TV studios, music supervisers, and others have realized the benefit of using independent artists. The licensing costs for using independent artists are much less than trying to license a song from a record label or prominant publisher. If a studio really likes a specific song that is out of their price range, they can always commission a composer to write a similar sounding piece at a much lower price. Their are also tons of music libraries online to search for inexpensive music to license. Of course, the newest option of crowdsourcing music on sites like MusikPitch may be the easiest (and most fun). Simply run a contest for the music needed and let songwriters around the world compete by composing or searching their catalogs for the perfect song match.

6 Things To Do Before Your Mix Goes To Mastering

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I like thinking about mastering as a type of black magic. Filled with taboos and unapproachableness. Everybody and their grandmother has an opinion about how things should be recorded and mixed, but when asked about mastering most people hush up and shrug. Mastering is a trickier subject to tackle than mixing I feel, and the delicate touch and subtleties a mastering engineer gives to a final mix sometimes sadly goes unappreciated.

However, there are certain things you mixing engineers can do to make the voodoo doctor’s work easier. Mastering takes a few oddball songs that were recorded in various places by various people and makes them sound like they were actually recorded, if not in the same room, at least on the same planet. So help out the mastering process by making sure your mix is ready to be mastered.


1. Find a Mastering Engineer
Like any good product or service there is difference in price and quality. Find a dedicated mastering engineer that has some specialization instead of some guy that will happily take your money in exchange for putting a limiter on your stereo track and boosting the hell out of it.


2. Finish Your Mix
You need to be absolutely certain that you like the mix the way it is right now. A mastering session is no time and place to start worrying about if your vocals are too low or if the kick drum doesn’t sound right. Make sure you are in love with the way your mix sounds so that when mastered, it will only sound better.


3. Make Sure Your Mix Isn’t Overloading the Master Fader
A mastering engineer can’t do anything to a mix that has already maxed out the stereo buss. If the master fader is blowing steaming red all the time, chances are there is no headroom for the mastering engineer to work with. Make sure your faders aren’t overloading the master fader and try to have a nice headroom on the master fader. The amount of headroom a mastering engineer wants can vary so check with your guy how where he wants the peaks of the master to reach.

By having enough headroom on the master track you give plenty of room for the mastering engineer to work with, and he can compress and equalize and boost your mix to a mastered perfection without worrying about digital clipping. If your mix is already maxed out, select all the faders of your mix and collectively lower their volume until the master buss has a lower level to it.


4. Put Your Mix In the Right Format
Ask your mastering engineer how he likes working. Some people like breaking the mix down into separate groups, creating an added advantage to the mastering process. Does he want a typical stereo track or does he like separate instruments bounced in stems?

Making the setting up and loading up time quicker means more time and money is spent on actually working with your music.


5. Bounce to the Correct Format
CDs are 44.1 kHz, 16-bit format. That does not mean that your mix should be bounced to that format. If you recorded at 48 kHz/24 bit, it’s generally a good idea to leave it to the mastering engineer to bounce the track down to CD format. The mastering engineer will want all the headroom he can get so leave the format the way you recorded it in.

And never, ever, under any circumstances bounce your tracks to MP3 for them to be mastered. It should go without saying, but MP3s cut the quality immensely so in reality, there’s probably not a lot left to be mastered.


6. Take Any Mastering Plug-ins Off Your Master Fader
Before you bounce your tracks to a WAV file, make sure you don’t have any crazy mastering plug-ins already on the stereo buss. Maybe you put up a nice mastering patch to impress your friends or girlfriend, but leave it off for the mastering engineer. He will not be impressed, I promise you.

DR. BOYCE: VH1 Should Have a Hip Hop “Dishonors” Show

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I think that since Vh-1 loves to honor hip hop every year, it’s time that we think a little more carefully about how they might do their jobs effectively. Don’t get me wrong, much of the greatness of hip hop should be celebrated, and having such a powerful awards show gives rappers yet another chance to be on TV. The added exposure creates money-making opportunities, and I’m always down for that.

But let’s be real: Is the entire hip hop industry really worthy of being honored all the time? Should every popular artist or well-known song be celebrated, or should some be maligned? To say that every impactful group or song in the history of hip hop is worthy of an honor is like saying that we should celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday just because he was famous.

So, to help Vh-1 out on this, I thought I would come up with my own awards show. I call it the “Dr. Boyce Watkins Hip Hop Dishonor Awards,” going to every song and/or artist that has disrespected or undermined progress within the African American community. Here are the nominees:

1) NWA for the creation of gangsta rap: To show you just how much of a conflicted soul I am, NWA is actually my favorite group of all time. As a rebellious teenager, I loved what they brought to the table, and I’ve expressed that in other articles. But I must also be critical of myself by saying that my appreciation for NWA’s art is overwhelmed by the guilt I feel for the fact that this group inspired a multi-billion dollar industry that makes a profit by teaching black men to be thugs and black women to be hoochies. So, as of today, I am going to give NWA the Self-Destruction Award and disavow at least some part of my love for their music (give me some time though, it’s sort of like dismantling a bad bank).

2) Black Entertainment Television (BET): BET must be acknowledged for being the channel through which the most poisonous and ruinous forms of entertainment have been transmitted to the black community. If toxic hip hop was the dope, BET was the dope man. Bob Johnson made a billion dollars off this deal with the devil, and in the end, he completely lost his soul. The fact that Johnson’s wife, Sheila, had the audacity to go public and say that she is ashamed of what BET has become only adds insult to injury. Sorry Sheila, I don’t believe you. Give the money back and then perhaps your critique might have some credibility. That’s like robbing a bank, keeping the money and saying that you will never do it again. So, the Most Dishonorable Media Outlet in America Award goes to Black Entertainment Television.

3) Lil Wayne for Wanting to have sex with every girl in the world: Did we not learn anything from the experiences of Eazy-E and Magic Johnson? It would be my dream that for every song we write about having sex, we write another song about kids without daddies, or nasty venereal diseases. The desire to have sex is a natural part of our human lifeblood, but abusive and irresponsible sexual behavior should not be taught to our kids. I have some degree of respect for Weezy’s lyrical abilities and business acumen. I also give major props to the solid music produced by Young Money, even standing up to support Drake against criticism by my friends like Marc Lamont Hill. But I have almost no appreciation for the fact that Wayne encourages other young men to be irresponsible in their choices. I have no doubt that Lil Wayne is a genius, which is part of what frustrates me the most. The only thing worse than an unintelligent black man is a brilliant black man who is smart enough to convince us that he’s stupid. So, The Dishonorably “Ignant” Negro Award goes to Lil Wayne.

4) Hypocritical Schizophrenic of the decade award – Ice Cube: OK Cube, let me get this straight. First, you start off as 100% gangster, saying that “Life ain’t nothing but b*tches and money,” but you turn around 20 years later and have a lyric in which you complain about young rappers by saying that “All you rap about is p*ssy and money.” Then, right after leaving NWA, you suddenly become a non-pork eating, assalamu alaikum Muslim, and then years later go back to making gangsta rap where you are calling women b*tches and hoes, and bragging about shooting other black men. If that’s not enough, you then start making family movies (’Are We There Yet?’ and ‘Barber Shop’), while putting out gangsta rap albums at the same time. But again, perhaps I am as hypocritical and confused as Ice Cube, because he actually happens to be my favorite artist. Similar to the great Tupac Shakur, Cube reminds us that a great artist can also be a very complex human being. So Cube, you are the Dishonorably Conflicted Schizophrenic of this year’s show.

5) Clear Channel and all the other major media companies that are buying up urban radio stations and playing nothing but garbage all day: Most of the hip hop we hear on the radio doesn’t represent the essence of the genre. Since the telecommunications industry was deregulated during the Bush Administration, many smaller urban radio stations have been turned into little capitalist drones connected to the same musical brain. They are told to play the same crap repeatedly and to drain the station of any meaningful or intelligent dialog. In other words, the end result is a massive corporate brainwashing exercise of the entire African American community. I am hopeful that President Obama opens more doors to black-owned media and pushes the FTC to show added respect for diversity within this industry. So, the Dishonorable Media Conglomerate Award goes go Clear Channel and Big Radio.

So those are the nominees for the 2010 Dr. Boyce Watkins Hip Hop Dishonor Awards. You might have nominees of your own, and I’d love to hear them. We should certainly celebrate the greatness and cultural contributions of hip hop music, but we must also recognize the fact that we’ve got to do better. Unfortunately, I must admit that among those who need to do better, I am at the top of the list. I am personally going to try to become more positive.

15 Sites To Find Free Vocal Samples & Loops

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Vocals can add flavor and emotion to your tracks. This article lists 15 sites where you can find vocal samples and loops for free. If you don’t have your own choir or backing vocalists – or just can’t sing – this list might be just what you’re looking for.

1. VocalDownloads.com
Vocal Downloads.com have a free samples section (linked to above). They also have an inexpensive $1 a day membership that allows you to download anything in their catalogue.

2. Rapid4me
Rapidshare Search has a “Free Vocal Sample Packs 2009″ section with many links to sample packs on other sites. If you’re after something unusual, or a wide range of vocal styles, it might be a good place to start.

3. Looperman
Looperman have a wide variety of royalty free vocal loops and samples. Free registration is required before you can download.

4. Vipzone Samples
Vipzone Samples let you download their 250 MB free sample pack when you subscribe to their newsletter. The pack includes a capella and vocal samples.

5. Rob Meulman
In a KVR Audio forum thread, Rob shares:

After many years of roaming the Internet and downloading tons of free stuff, especially Vsti’s, Soundfonts and Samples, I decided to do something back for the music community.

I have made a sample pack with my own vocals. Some created especially for the pack, others are cuts of vocal tracks taken from my recordings. The styles are: R&B, Rock, Pop and Old school.

The pack consists of 3 construction kits and 7 songsets.

All samples are standard 16 bit wave files. Recorded with a Sennheiser evolution 835a microphone. Download links (for FileFactory and Youshare) are included in the thread.

6. www.Sampleoidz.co.uk
www.Sampleoidz.co.uk are offering a Free Vocal Samples pack in WAV format. This is taken from their Ragga Jungle Vocals series. There are only 100 free downloads available, so get in quick.

7. The Freesound Project“The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds.” Many vocal samples are included.

8. Acapellas4U.co.uk
Free a capella downloads, and a great forum. Free registration is required.

9. Crowley’z World
Crowley’z World contains many zipped samples, including a vocals section linked to above.

10. Soundproz
Soundproz have a free samples section featuring a number of royalty free vocal samples.

11. Sampletracks
Sampletracks have a Free Vocal Loops section. Free registration is required.

12. esounds
esounds have a Freesoundz section that includes several construction kits (Apple, REX, WAV) with vocal samples.

13. PlatinumLoops
PlatinumLoops has a “Free Loop Downloads” section that includes “Vocal Samples and Vocal Loops”. All loops and samples are 100% royalty free. Each file is available in MP3, WAV, REX2 and AIF formats.

14. ccMixter
ccMixter is a collection of Creative Commons content including an a capella section.

15. SampleSwap
SampleSwap contains professional quality free audio samples and electronic music – including a set of 1,200 samples of vocals and the spoken word.

Did you find this list useful? Please let us know which links were most helpful in the comments – and add any great sites we forgot. Feel free to tell us your tips for using vocal samples effectively.

Pro Tools: How To Add Swing to Your Tracks

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This tutorial explains how to add swing to your already quantized tracks within Pro Tools 8 for more natural sounding performances.

Reason 5 & Record 1.5 Preview!

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I personally cant wait for this to be released. I also love the idea of being able to have up to 8 samples loaded on 1 Dr. Rex rack. Check out the video to see one of the new updates...

Quick Tips: 3 Mixing Tips


Here are some of the best things I’ve learnt since I started mixing.


Tip 1: Rest Your Ears
If you’re mixing for a long amount of time you may be thinking your mix is going well when in reality it’s not. This can be a problem for people who refuse to stop until they are 100% happy with their results. I do this sometimes myself.

But your ears will eventually begin to get tired and you start hearing things that aren’t really there. That awesome guitar you’ve spent hours mixing will end up sound like crap the next morning when you listen back to it.

Your ears can neglect certain frequencies when your ears get tired and you pay too much attention to specific frequency ranges you lose sight of the bigger picture.


Tip 2: Mix At Lower Levels
This is very important. I think most of us know that loud music always sounds better because it allows the frequencies to spread out more.

Our ears are most sensitive to mid frequencies, but by playing music louder it evens everything out making high and low frequencies stand out more.

This is why loud music is more appealing. Why do you think venues play music so loud? It’s not always so everyone can hear. They sometimes keep the master volume down 5 dB until the last song then put it up, so the last song sounds better making the audience leave with a more positive opinion on the show.

So which is the best level to mix? You should usually check your mix in different levels to make sure it sounds fairly level-proof. A multi-band compressor on the master track can also help compensate for this. Usually mix at about conversation level – if you mix sounds well at a quiet level it should sound amazing at a high level.


Tip 3: Mono Listening
Checking a mix in mono is very important to make sure everything is sounding balanced. You may notice holes in a mono mix that you might not hear in stereo.

This may seem pointless as most things are now stereo but a lot of places still use mono. AM radio stations broadcast in mono. Cheap TV’s with 1 speaker and so on.

If you hear very little difference between switching from stereo and mono you might want to consider more panning.

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