Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Rules.....

New Rules For The Music Industry


1) BE TRANSPARENT – No more hiding behind complex royalty calculations. Man up. Be honest. Provide clear and accurate accounting. The digital world makes it easier than ever to do this.

This applies to labels, distributors, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and anyone else you can think of. They can all be transparent if they choose to be. Right now they choose not to be.

2) PAY ON TIME! – No more artificial royalty accounting periods. Returns and co-ops are a thing of the past. Pay out and account on one way no return sales that you have been paid in the same month you get them.

The only reason to hold on to the money is to make bank interest on it. If this is what you are going to do, see #1, BE TRANSPARENT and tell artists you are doing this.

3) NO MORE SUGARCOATING AND HIDING REALITY – Seriously. Stop promising things you know you can’t deliver. Not everyone is going to be a star. Be honest, tell the truth,. Let the musician and artist know the realities of the market so they can have a better understand of what needs to be done to succeed or why things are not going the way they want them to.

4) ACKNOWLEDGE YOU WORK FOR THE ARTIST, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND – Without the artist none of us will have jobs. They are the ones with the talent. They create culture and write songs that have an impact on the world. They are allowing us to serve them, not the other way around. This philosophy and culture must permeate everything you do. Turn this industry from one that “exploits” the artist to one that serves the artist.

5) ONLY OFFER SERVICES YOU CAN ACTUALLY DO – No more asking for rights or income from things you can’t contribute towards. If you are a label and want more money from other areas (i.e. merchandise, songwriter income, gig income etc) you actually have to provide a service that does something to earn that right. There are others out there that are specialists in these areas, can you do what they can?

6) UNDERSTAND THE ARTIST NOW HAS CHOICE – Unlike the old days, artists can now succeed without you. Labels have gone from a “must have” to a “might need”. Be clear in what you have to offer and create a fair and equitable deal in exchange for the services you are offering.

7) COMMERCIAL RADIO AND MTV NO LONGER SINGULARLY BREAK BANDS – It used to be that print, commercial radio and MTV were the three ways to break a band, no longer. Fans themselves have this power via social networking. Find ways to speak to fans directly and don’t use a middleman. Empower and excite them and they will follow.


1) STOP ASKING FOR BIG ADVANCES – Understand that the economics of the business have changed for both the artists and the labels. The goal for artists and labels must be the same: create sustainable working relationships for both parties. Disproportionate advances only add tension (economic and otherwise) to an already tense dynamic. Create financial working relationships based on realistic expectations of ROI.

2) EDUCATE YOURSELF – It’s no longer acceptable (or charming) to be the un-informed artist who doesn’t know the difference between a mechanical royalty and a mechanic. You can’t claim that you’ve been taken advantage of by anyone at this point; the information you need is out there, and it’s not that hard to find. Learn it, once you have this knowledge you can then make informed decisions and decide if the other entity is doing its job. Not to mention, the labels etc already know this info and so should you.

3) TAKE RESPONSIBILITY – Stating that there is any person or thing standing in the way of you and success is a cop out. No longer can you say, “If only my records were in stores, people would buy them,” or, “If only people could hear my music they would love it.” The gatekeepers have vanished; the gates are open…go through them.

4) TAKE ACTION – Waiting for a booking agent before you tour? Waiting for a producer before you make a recording? Waiting for a label before you distribute or promote your music? Guess what, someone else isn’t waiting for anyone, and he or she is leaving you in the dust. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

5) SELL – Get over the fact that you’re the artist, and asking people for money in exchange for your art is awkward. The reality is that if your work is good, people will want to compensate you for it. You must not only give them the opportunity to do so, but make it easy for them. Be clear and transparent, and tell your customers that your music is valuable, and that if they want to ensure that you are able to keep creating the music that they enjoy, that they must pay for it. Then give them a wide variety of things to buy at different prices.

6) GIVE WITHOUT ASKING FOR ANYTHING IN RETURN – It’s not all selling, of course, and we are all in this together. Look for ways to help other artists. Share information, share resources. This is not a zero-sum game; the overall pie can expand, and we will all benefit proportionately when it does.

7) DEMAND ANSWERS – if you don’t understand something, ask. If the person you ask can’t give you a clear, understandable answer then he or she is either clueless or trying to hide something. Demand a clear, understandable answer or walk away from the deal.

8) MARKETING DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL SUCCESS – The major labels spent hundreds of millions of dollars marketing and promoting bands. Only 2% of them succeeded, the other 98% were deemed failures. If marketing = success, they would have had a 100% hit ratio. The reason an artist succeeds is because the music caused reaction.

9) LEAD TIME FOR STREET DATES MATTER LESS – It’s not like the old days where you only had a limited time for prime real estate in a retail store and if the CDs did not sell they would be returned. In the new model you can release music today, and market later, with little detrimental impact.

10) IT’S ABOUT A CONSTANT STREAM OF MUSIC AND MEDIA, NOT A ONCE A YEAR ALBUM RELEASE ­ – The new world moves fast. The best strategy is to roll out songs, videos, pictures, blog postings, tweets and anything else you can think of on a constant basis. This keeps your fans engaged and stops you from losing momentum and going stale.

11) IT’S GLOBAL – The new music industry is a global one. At the click of a button your music is available to buy, share, stream and download around the world. Keep this in mind when you think about where your money is being held, generated and how to get it.

12) YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS – Music is not food, shelter or clothing, but everyone likes it and needs it. The music industry currently generates around $30 billion dollars a year. The entities and people getting this money is shifting from the legacy companies to you. Within another five years the collective power of you will be bigger than any of them. You have the power to change things, and you already are.

As just one example, in the past two years, TuneCore Artists have earned over $170 million in gross music sales and have sold over 400 million songs by paid download or stream. TuneCore Songwriters have earned over another $120 million dollars.

As you sell more, they sell less.

13) DEFINE YOUR GOALS – Know what it is you are tying to accomplish. Are you looking to be the next Vanilla Ice or just sell some music without touring? Is your goal corporate sponsorships or having others cover your songs? Whatever it may be, have a goal in mind and then work towards accomplishing that objective. With that one conquered, you can move on to the next.


It’s going to take work to make things happen. Either you need to do the work or you must hire someone else to do part, or all of it, for you. If you understand your rights, how money is made, and how much you should make, you can make educated decisions...

5 Things Songwriters Can Do To Move Their Careers Forward

5 Things Songwriters Can Do To Move Their Careers Forward

As a new songwriter, you may be overwhelmed by all there is to do when it comes to moving forward in your career. I’d compare the approach of this article to eating the elephant one tiny bite at a time. In other words, by being patient, organized and methodical in your daily work as a songwriter, you’re guaranteed to make steady progress in your career. If you follow the suggestions below, the results won’t be immediate, but when you look back after six months or a year, I think you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished.

1. Do One “Business” Thing Every Day. This is the musical equivalent of eating your vegetables. They may not taste great but they’re good for you. It’s the same with the business side of music. We all know how much more fun it is to play the guitar, sing and even write compared to making phone calls, sending emails or following up on something you’ve already submitted, but if you’re hoping to have financial success with your music, then they’re all equally important. By making the rule that you’ll do one business thing every day means that at the end of a year, you’ll have done 365 things to further your career above and beyond your songwriting. I guarantee that’s more than most.

2. Join/Start A Songwriting Group. Getting yourself to write on a consistent basis can be a real struggle. Writing is emotionally draining and tough for most of us to do in a vacuum. Ironically, I’ve found that even we creative types like assignments when it comes to our writing. By joining a songwriting group where you’re required to bring in a new song or a rewrite of an old song every week, you’ll have the additional motivation of being held accountable by more than just yourself. It really does work. If you’re not aware of any existing songwriting groups in your area, make it a point to get to local writer’s nights and reach out to other writers about starting a group. By simply showing up every week and doing the work, you’ll find your songwriting muscles getting stronger no matter whether you agree with all the group’s suggestions or not.

3. Don’t Wait For A Publishing Deal To Act Like You Have One. If you find yourself thinking that if only you had a publishing deal then you could write every day, get great demos and have your songs pitched, then I’d humbly suggest that you’ve got it backwards. In order to get a publisher interested in what you’re doing, you need to behave like you’ve already got a publishing deal. This means you’ll be infinitely more attractive to a publisher if you can show them a body of work that’s well written, well recorded and maybe even includes a cut or two. Don’t wait around for the affirmation of a publisher to get up every day and do the work. In fact, if you get to the point where you can do all of the above on your own, you might look up to find you don’t need a publisher after all.

4. Make One Song Pitch Every Week. Having exceptional songs and beautiful recordings of those songs is a great start but in terms of getting them recorded by other artists or placed in a film or TV show, they might as well not exist if you haven’t shown them to anyone. I know this sounds obvious, but, as songwriters, we get so wrapped up in the creative process that we somehow, amazingly, seem to forget that until someone in the industry has heard our songs, they can’t do anything with them. This means you need to begin your search for outlets for your music. There are industry pitch sheets and organizations out there that can help put songwriters together with industry folks looking for songs. Make it your business (see #1 above) to find out about these pitch sheets and begin the process of submitting your songs when you see an appropriate opportunity. If you do this once a week, you’ll have pitched to 52 separate opportunities by the end of a year. That’s a significant number.

5. Reply Promptly To Any Opportunity, No Matter How Small. The likelihood of Faith Hill calling you to ask if you’ve got a song for her is small but you should treat every email or voicemail from someone regarding your music as that kind of top priority. If another songwriter reaches out to say they liked one of your songs they heard you perform at a writer’s night, reply quickly, even if it’s just to say thanks. You never know when a causal contact could turn into something more significant. Our industry is full of stories of songwriters getting their material cut in the least likely of circumstances. All this is to say, there’s no percentage in ignoring or putting off any opportunity no matter how small it may seem at the time. By acting professionally and responding promptly to anyone and everyone who reaches out about your music, you’ll be sure not to miss something huge that might appear insignificant at first glance.

As I’m sure you know, there’s no one way to have success as a songwriter. That being said, you can certainly improve your odds by staying patient, working consistently and treating your career with the respect it deserves

Rules For Labeling Mp3's

Rules For Labeling Mp3's

I thought it would be a great idea to iron out a simple format, so whenever you send a track to some A&R, artist, manager, etc, you will make it as simple as possible for them to track you down when they want your music… Believe it or not, a good percentage of producers/artists/managers send out mp3′s that make it very difficult to track them down. So with no further delay, The OFFICIAL Rules Of Labeling Mp3′s!

Rule #1:

Include your name

Whatever name you want to be in the credits of whatever album you want to get on, should be in the file name.

Rule #2:

Include Your e-mail

Just because you emailed the beat to whoever, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t go into their gmail and just download 1000 beats and dump them into an ipod. Don’t make them go through all of those gmails just to find your track!

Rule #3:

Include Your Phone Number

It’s great getting phone calls from people that want your music. Give them that opportunity. Don’t forget the area code…

Rule #4:

Include Something To Identify That Particular Beat/Song

It helps to name your tracks, just so moving forward there is something that can be used to identify the track. Otherwise whoever wants the track is going to have to beatbox it to you, which can be entertaining but is a nuisance.

Here is an example of a perfectly formated mp3 file…

So there it is. Simple, short and to the point. There is no doubt in my mind that over the years, people have lost out on placements, money and deals just because they didn’t properly label their music and could never be tracked down. If you follow these rules, that will never happen to you.

How To Copyright Music

How To Copyright Music

How Do I Copyright My Music?
That's a question I get asked a lot here at the Music Biz Academy. And so, I decided I might as well write a formal article about it.

I discuss the issue in detail in my book, How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet, so I've more or less included an excerpt from that here. So here we go...

Why Copyright My Music?
If you see yourself as a serious musician (and I presume you do), you would be wise to register your original songs with the U.S. Copyright Office (if you reside outside of the U.S., skip to the section on International Copyright below). This will protect you in the event that someone, somewhere, steals one of your songs and claims it as their own. Whether you want to copyright just one song for possible digital distribution or an entire CD of collected works, the process is the same.

The eCO Online System
The U.S. Copyright Office encourages you to register your music via an online registration process called the eCO Online System. Once you go there, create an account for yourself, then log in and you’re ready to start. Registering a copyright via this process is not all that difficult, but the technical language can be confusing. The online process does walk you step-by-step through filling out the document, but even so, take your time. Carefully read the help links (the underlined text) provided each step of the way. If you do that, it will help you understand what information goes where.

You’ll find a copyright tutorial for the eCO system at . I recommend you take a look at that before you undertake this process to see what you’re in for.
The filing fee for online song registration is $35.

A few tips regarding the eCO process that I think might help you:

You’ll want to register your music as a "sound recording" as this kind of registration includes not only the performance, but the underlying music itself.

Under "Title of Work" add the name of your CD first and set the "Type" as "Title of work being registered." Then list your song titles and set the "Type" for those as "Contents Title." So the album name is the "Title," the individual songs are the "Contents."

If you have cover songs on your album, you’ll exclude those under the "Limitation of Claim" section. For example, if track 7 on your CD is a cover tune, under "Material Excluded" check the boxes for "Music" and "Lyrics" (if you have lyrics) and then in the space for "Other" indicate "Track 7." Then under "New Material Included" check all the boxes and under "Other" list the track numbers for your original songs. So here you specify what tracks to exclude for copyright registration (because they belong to someone else) and which tracks to register under your own name. If all the songs on your album are original, you can skip this section entirely.
Once you have filled out the form and verified all your information, add it toyour cart, pay for it, and then you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to print out your registration and mail it in with copies of your CD. You can also upload the files digitally, if you prefer.

If you don’t wish to go through the online process, you can type all of your information in Form CO, print it out and mail it in. And you’ll find instructions for Form CO at . Fill out the PDF file following the instructions and then print TWO copies. One copy for yourself, and one copy to mail to the Library of Congress to the address provided.

The cost to submit the form by mail is $50.00.

Either way you go, whether online or via mail, it will take six months to a year for the Library of Congress to process your registration. However, once you’ve submitted your work, you’re officially protected. If you use FedEx to send your copyright forms (which I suggest you do), keep your tracking number handy and you can present this as legal proof of your effective date of copyright registration should you ever need it.

What Does Copyright Registration Do for Me?
Well, if someone does steal your work, not only can you prove the work is yours by your registration, but you can also sue for damages (you can’t legally sue for damages if your song isn’t registered with the copyright office). If the copyright infringement is determined to be deliberate, your attorney can initiate a formal criminal investigation.

Registering your songs' copyright grants you these exclusive rights:

The right to make copies and duplicate your CD
The right to distribute your music
The right to prepare derivative works (alternate versions, new arrangements)
The right to perform the songs publicly
The right to display the product publicly
The right to perform publicly via digital audio transmission
Once you’ve registered your sound recording (your CD) with the U.S. copyright office, these rights belong exclusively to you and you alone (provided, of course, that you are the actual copyright owner). No one can take those rights from you.

Once your song is registered, you no longer have to worry about someone stealing your song idea and taking credit for it. If someone does that, gets a hit out of it and you can prove the song is yours with your registered copyright, you are going to smile all the way to the bank when the court awards you damages, which can be very high for copyright theft.

How to Copyright Individual Digital Creations
What if you only want to copyright a single song (or video, or photo, or article, or blog or whatever) to prove it’s yours? See . At this web site you can upload your digital files, be they music, video, pictures or whatever, and they are instantly copyrighted and you can prove the date/time of registration. The service is free, and it’s a very simple way to copyright your individual music creations. Just so you know, however, even though you can use this digital copyright in a court of law to prove infringement, you cannot collect statutory damages from the infringer. You can collect lost profits that might be determined, but not statutory damages which is generally where the big money comes from. To collect statutory damages, you still need to send in a registration form into the copyright office as stated above.

What About Creative Commons?
There is an alternative means by which you may copyright your work called Creative Commons ( ). Basically what this does is create a copyright for your music whereby instead of all rights being reserved, only some rights are reserved. This invites others to use your work for certain purposes without having to get permission from you first. In theory, this means people searching for music to use in their products or digital creations are more likely to use your music if they don’t have to jump through a lot of legal hoops to make use of it. So, for example, you might allow a song to be used in a non-commercial product (ie. no financial profit for the distributor) without forcing the licensee to get permission from you, but still reserve the right to collect a royalty if the product in question is a money-maker. The Creative Commons copyright is still a rather new concept, and there are many variations on it that may make the concert confusing for the potential licensee. Even so, it is something to at least be aware of if the concept becomes more widely recognized and accepted. For a list of the different Creative Commons licenses available, see

What About International Copyright?
If you are not a citizen of the United States, obviously the comments above do not apply to you as every country handles the copyright process a bit differently. However, chances are that your homeland is a member of the World Intellection Property Organization (WIPO). If so, you can start researching your copyright options at . Select your country name from the WIPO list, follow the “contact information” link, and that will take you to a page that lists the web site address of the copyright office for your country.

Some notable and related links from this article:

The U.S. Copyright Office:
Copyright and Fair Use:
Copyright Your Web Site:
Copyright Form SR:
Copyright Your Digital Creation:
World Intellection Property Org:
The Harry Fox Agency:

The above a brief, (and slightly edited) excerpt from How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet.

The Pros and Cons Of Tagging Your Music

The Pros and Cons Of Tagging Your Music

The last few weeks I’ve come across a few discussions online about whether or not you should tag your music when shopping it. So I figured I’d throw in my two cents about the pros and cons of tagging your music & my general theories on it. Here is a handy color coded guide for your reading pleasures… PRO & CON…

For about 7 years, I have used tags on my tracks. Here is an example of how I do it.

Note: This is the EXACT same file that was played to Jim Jones before he bought this track…

[viddy f='' t='Businessman' a=left r='viddy_close']


The main reason I tag my music is to discourage beat “jacking” (the unauthorized use of music for commercial and/or promotional purposes). I try to strategically place my tags over key points in my tracks, generally the best parts or parts that repeat the least. This way, someone may be able to chop up the track in pro tools and construct a version of my track, but it still wont be as good as the real thing. Tagging my music has undoubtedly protected some of my music from being jacked. I know this because there are a few MC’s out there who even used my tracks straight off the beat CD’s with the tags still on them. And I’m not talking about some random ass soundclick/myspace artists, they are actually semi well known MC’s… On the other hand, tagging has probably blocked some placements for me too. Many artists like recording to tracks immediately & may be too lazy/hollywood/pissed off to have someone contact you immediately for the track. If done properly, tagging your tracks can also help build your brand/name. There are a bunch of industry people & MC’s who can recite my tag when I see them & in the Jim Jones track. On the Jim Jones track “Go With You” (Produced by Rony A), they actually liked the way his drop (“illathanmost”) sounded so much that they left it in anyway…

Many people believe “as long as your music is copyrighted, you will be OK”. This is ridiculous. Yes, if someone steals your music and puts it on a major album, it will definitely help you out in court. But there are other ways someone can steal your music & essentially render it useless. Today someone can jack one of your tracks & post it up on a popular music site & mixtape radio shows within minutes of recording it. Once your music is in circulation publicly, it can completely ruin your chances of ever placing it with someone else. I’ve had leaks/jacks like this happen to me 3 times so far (it’s crazy how the timing on these things work out)… Two of those times it completely turned the artists off of the track & ruined the placements for me. For the “Bright Lights Big City” beat (above), someone jacked the beat and placed it on a couple of Hip Hop websites. Of course some of Jim’s people heard it. Word got back to him, but fortunately he either didn’t care or just liked the song enough to not worry about it.

I think that pretty much covers up all the Pros and Cons of beat tagging. Just because you may be leaning one way or another, remember you can always use a combination of tagged and untagged beats.

This is the formula I have created to decide on whether to send someone tagged or untagged beats…

“If a jacked song from the artist or artists on the label you are sending tracks to will improve your discography,

then you should send them track with no drops.”

which means…

“If a jacked song from the artist or artists on the label you are sending tracks to will NOT improve your discography,

they need to cut a damn check before they see any music without drops.”

Just my opinion though.....

A Minor Setback 4 A Major Comeback

The new debut cd from the Texas teen sensation Cin A Matik is finally here. "A Minor Setback 4 A Major Comeback"......On the Free Musik Group Label....on itunes now!!!

Jayonna Fabro

Name: Jayonna Fabro
Location: Columbus, OH
Nationality: Caucassian
Stats: 36C-24-43
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 150 Lbs.
Jayonna Fabro is in a Class by herself. There are only a handfull of Urban models that I have come across in my four years of doing this that have the class to rise above pettiness and stay focused on their goals… Jayonna Fabro is one of them. She was kind enough to Grace the Cover of our 2010 Winter Playoff Preview Issue & then Fly to Atlanta and Shut it Down at the Release party at The Luckie Lounge in January. As much as she has accomplished in this Cut throat Business… She is always going to do BIGGER & Better things… because thats what she does. Jayonna is made from the right stuff… Thats a Lot different from the rest. I love this lady to death, and she will always have a home here at F.M.G, for as long as she so chooses.

Elke The Stallion

Name: Elke “The STALLION”
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Nationality: Cauccasian/German
Stats: 36C-27-48
Height: 5′7″
Weight: 156 Lbs.
You can find Elke on the cover of Stunnaz March ‘09 Issue

Elke is one of Urban modelings most recognizable figures. She is a DYNAMO at marketing her brand and that of her models…yes she also manages models. What can u say about a woman that can clearly do it all in the game. I don’t say this very often because I know how hard I grind, but this lady has probably got me beat on that tip. Her and I have a great working relationship that will continue for a long time to come. OXOX to you baby girl…

F.M.G. Is Here

Welcome to the Free Musik Group. The management team here at Free Musik Group believes that artist should have complete control over their musical careers. We have a devoted staff working on behalf of our clients as we relate to the marketing endeavors required for a successful campaign as well as creating a new plateau for the music and entertainment industry.
F.M.G. offers an array of services to recording artist and labels alike which include; Music Production, Mixing and Mastering, Artist Management, Corporate Branding, Licensing and Sponsorship opportunities, Sales and Marketing advice and Financial Management. Managed on a day-to-day basis by CEO Tyrone Hodnett and staff, the companies main objective is leveraging relationships and experience while providing services and advice in maximizing revenues for the Company’s clients / artist.
Free Musik Group Marketing & Promotions a Premiere Urban Marketing Firm, adept at conceptualizing, designing and producing custom and strategic marketing campaigns while delivering impeccable customer service. We utilize a variety of marketing and promotional mediums to deliver campaigns that provide the highest user engagement, capture significant interaction and offer the highest quality impact on the targeted consumer.

FMG Marketing & Promotions offers our clientele the following services, which are inclusive but not limited to:

Brand Identity
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