Sorting through licensing companies?

If you’re in America, I hope your grill is heating up, you’re shades are on and you’re gearing up for the first weekend of summer. It’s amazing how fast the year has gone, isn’t it? This weekend I’m taking a step out of the city into New Jersey to visit me and my boyfriend’s friends – rumor has it, (and vegetarians, including me, prepare yourself) they ordered a roast pig as the main meal for the day. Oh yeah, we take it seriously here!

 

I’ve had a really fun week working on various projects, being a part of a few live events and also rolling out my new website. So many advancements with my company and brand, as well as my clients!

 

In today’s industry, it’s quite common for independent artists to look for music licensing companies to a) create a revenue source and b) breakthrough with an amazing deal on say, a commercial. It’s like a licensing deal with a big name brand or company is the new record deal.

 

Most of the time, these licensing companies are searching for independent artists, like yourself perhaps. They are looking for a new sound, a new voice or new face for these companies looking to feature music in their marketing that will excite people – aka not necessarily the music that is already on the radio.

 

My clients do get emails from licensing companies seeking to work with them. My clients are looking to get their music licensed. But what happens when they are too busy recording a new album, going on tour, or sticking to a writing or composition deadline? These opportunities get lost.

 

Don’t lose opportunities to expand your music. This is where an assistant steps in and can take the hours of research from the musician to help them determine the best fit for them. Here’s how.

 

1) Forward the email requests you’ve gotten that you would consider to work with to your assistant. Forward all of the emails you’ve gotten from companies saying they want to license your song(s), as well as forward companies you know of that you’d be interested in working with.

 

2) Ask your assistant to research licensing companies that would be a good fit for you. This would require your assistant to know your music and listen to what you’ve released. Ask them and be sure they’ve listened to your music, give them a list of similar artists to you, and they can return with a list of companies that have licensed similar genres. Better yet, they can sniff out companies that don’t have what you have to offer so they would be more interested in including you in their roster. This happened recently in an inquiry where a company was looking for a sound that my client offered.

 

3) Build an easy to read spreadsheet. Have your assistant keep this research organized. Below is what you should include. Some are self explanatory, but others are very important.

Build a spreadsheet that lists:
Company Name
Company Website
Contact Name
Contact Email
Contact Phone

Artists they have licensed – Get an idea of their roster to find if you compliment the other artists. If you were a songwriter, you wouldn’t go for a licensing company that works mainly with rappers.
Companies they have licensed to – See what level the company is at. Do they have connections to brands that will help you break through? Do they impress you?
Non-exclusive or Exclusive Agreement –  Are you going to be able to license your music to other companies or opportunities with that certain company? Some won’t allow you to. You have to decide if this is important to you, or it’s worth putting all of your eggs in one basket.
Payment terms – How much do you get and how much do they get if a deal goes through? Do you have to pay any fees upfront? Find out exactly where the money comes in or goes out.
Summarization – Ask your assistant to summarize and say if they think it’s a good fit or not and why. Having this discussion can help a decision happen faster and easier.

 

4) The contract – Once you’ve evaluated your choices, the next step is looking over a contract and a package from the company to help you get started. While an assistant can assist in looking over a contract, you should really find a lawyer to go over the agreement to make sure your music and yourself are protected to your interests. A few sites to find a lawyer are Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts or Avvo.com.

 

Go ahead, go back to your songwriting cave. Your assistant has this. Once you return to take care of business, your assistant can have a clear explanation of the best licensing company for you.

 

I hope you found this helpful, whether you have an assistant helping you find the licensing company for you, or if you are doing this all on your own.

 

Have any questions for me on this? Head over to my blog here to comment with your question. Or, just hit reply with your question and I just might answer your question in the next newsletter.

 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend,

How I set up a video shoot in less than 24 hours.

I get asked quite a bit what goes on in my day as an assistant to a musician. I find it hard to fully explain, but I CAN tell you, it’s never dull and I learn something new every week. This makes it highly rewarding and exciting with a dash of the good stress. The stress that pushes you to blow your own mind and do something you didn’t think was possible.

 
Here’s an example.
 
Last year, one of my clients had a very exciting new CD/DVD release. It was definitely an album that included a concept never done before, so everyone on the team AND the public were excited for it to be released.
 
During a meeting a few months before the release with our publicist, she suggested that we create a video press release – a visually exciting video that would showcase the release and highlight it’s importance and what makes it so different than any other album anyone has ever done.
 
The problem was, my client was traveling constantly for other performances months before this needed to be completed. Even when he was back in the office, other activities were already scheduled. I was stuck trying to figure out when this could be created since I knew my client wanted to make this happen, if at all possible.
 
I saw an opportunity. My client had one day free, and our team member who specialized in videography was also in town. I emailed them both saying, “If we’re going to do this, we should do this tomorrow.” So without delay, they responded with a yes, let’s go for it, and the countdown began.

While we had the manpower and we had the space (an apartment), we didn’t have the proper video equipment available. This had to result in a high quality and professional video to be able to release to the worldwide press, so we needed top-notch video cameras and lighting.
 
Believe it or not, a company in New York accepted rental inquiries and fulfilled them within 6-8 hours. I struck gold! After quick approval from our videographer, I put in the rental order and gave them all the requirements (scanned IDs, Credit Card Scans, Insurance forms, etc.). I went to bed thinking, “The impossible has been done!”
 
Once the rental store opening up in the morning, I went straight to the store and easily picked up my video equipment. In a matter of hours, they put together a video camera, memory card, stand, light stands, blubs and reflectors for me to take away to the apartment. It was on!
 
I hopped in a cab, carrying more bags of equipment than I had hands, but somehow handling it all and headed to the apartment. Once I got there, the videographer and I got to setting up.
 
While the camera was being tested, my client approached me with a list of questions for me to ask him that he put together the day before so he could easily and comfortably talk about his new release. It was brilliant and effective. He could speak to me, someone he was comfortable with, to be able to say what he wanted to say about them album in the video. It wouldn’t have the effect of him talking AT the screen.
 
Then, we thought it was all over. We turned the lights on in the room, and not 15 seconds later, half of the place lost power. We blew a fuse! We all looked at each other and literally cursed. My client wasn’t sure where the fuse box even was. We started looking and found it behind a bookcase that was mounted on the wall. (I cannot make this up!). So, we got unscrewing and unloading books from the case so we can access the fuse box. Minutes later, we opened it up and reset the fuse. Success! I also moved the lamps to the other outlets in the apartment so that it wouldn’t happen again. 🙂
 
With that fiasco out of the way, we set the stage with a nice background, focus and got to the ‘interview’. Not even an hour later, we had some great footage and we all felt great about the look and feel of the video results.

Can you believe it? In less than 24 hours, we had footage for a video press release. Just the day before, I didn’t even know if it would happen.
 
That is a moment that I feel highly rewarded for staying persistent and making a goal happen. Most people might have given up and said, “Oh, we should have planned this better,” or “It wasn’t meant to be this time around.” But our team knew that for this release, it was important for this video to be created.

The key to take away here was that the team worked together to make it happen. You might have the will yourself, but you are going to need the support to help you see it through.
 

The result? Well, see for yourself!


Hope you enjoyed my story and that it inspires YOU to build your team so you can keep pushing toward the goals you have. 

Have a great weekend,

Twitter rolls out a fresh new look.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and the start to your weekend is going great. I’m so happy spring is FINALLY here. I’ve had quite a week with events kicking off the spring and summer season, so I’m happy to be enjoying a little down time to balance out the festivities.

To add to the excitement, Twitter has rolled out a whole new look for its users. Part of my position as assistant is to keep my clients updated on social media – if there is a new feature, a new rule, or in this case, an entirely new look. As you know, this happens quite often.

First things first, have you seen it? (You have to – I love it!) Check out the first two featured musicians who switched over: John Legend and Weezer.

Here’s what you need to know to keep your profile updated with Twitter’s new look.

Larger, customizable header photo – You will notice on the two examples that now the header is larger and more prominent, and they got rid of the background image. John Legend uses the space to promote his latest album and makes his profile picture a photo of him, while Weezer, a more established brand, focuses on featuring their band members in the large banner and their infamous logo as their profile photo. Either looks great, but you will want to figure out what you want to feature.

If you have a new album that you really want to push, you might want to have a header featuring the release. Or if you have an upcoming tour, you can highlight the band and dates on your header.

The size of the new template is 1500×500. TWELVESKIP offers great advice on the dimensions as well as a really good template to help you build your best looking header, which includes invisible vs visible space. Check it out here.

Filtered Tweets – Social media platforms are all about featuring only the best of what they have, so it makes sense for Twitter to start filtering, pinning and featuring tweets. Your best tweets (ones that have received more engagement) will appear larger than the others. You can now pin tweets, so if you want to make sure everyone sees your tweet on your new concert date, or what you had for lunch, you can pin it to the top. Lastly, you can choose from different timelines when looking at profiles. Select from these options: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies.

If you haven’t seen the option to switch over yet, don’t worry, it is coming. You can prep ahead and have your team design a new header photo while you wait!

Are you ready to make the switch? Log into Twitter, then visit this site. Scroll all the way down and click ‘Get it now’. The change will be instant!

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

fionazsig

Make your next album release stand out to your fans.

Lately, I haven’t been feeling so well, so I’m trying to take it easy with lots of tea and rest. I think with the season changing, I’m also getting a little bit of a spring cold. Nevertheless, things are moving along here for me with a website being built, a DIY Tour Packet being written and my clients are creating exciting new products! Recently, I celebrated with my client who just finished off the recording and mixing of his new album. I am really excited for him and cannot wait for it to hit the stands. I’ve been listening to it nonstop these past few days!
 
One of the many reasons I love working with musicians is being able to be part of the process of all that goes behind releasing a new album. A part of me is amazed at the entire process and I admire musicians for pouring their hearts into an album and allowing just about anyone come into their world for a listen. It’s even more amazing to allow fans to peek into that process, because I know they are so interested in how the music happens!
 
This release was special in that we involved the fans more than usual in the process. We feel the music from this album is going to be a real crowd-pleaser for his fans, so we wanted to make them feel a part of the process!
 
Setting up the schedule for rehearsals and recordings was quite the task. This album was particularly special in that it involved many duos and collaborations. I had to coordinate with several different musicians to find time for rehearsal and recording for both my client and the studio. It took focus, but keeping a Google Calendar kept me organized. I also would check in each week with the studio to make sure all times were right. Weekly emails to the musicians was also necessary to avoid any confusion – being on a deadline, we didn’t have time to waste from people not showing up!
 
Because these rehearsals were happening months in advance to the release, we thought it would be a perfect idea to videotape the duos and release them one by one before the actual CD release! We knew fans would love to see the collaborations and the recording studio; plus it was a neat way to get them excited for the new music and see some of behind the scenes while also hearing a preview. We released 6 videos, spaced out every few weeks, each of them easily gaining 1000 views the first day they posted.

Don’t have the budget to video tape? Create videos on your phone with clips of recordings and messages to your fans and post on Vine or Instagram!
 
While the rehearsals and recordings were being scheduled and happening, we had our wonderful graphic designer create some options for the CD cover.  To involve fans, we actually posted options of covers on Facebook and let the fans tell US which cover they liked best. That was a lot of fun to hear their comments and suggestions; I highly suggest it for your next album! You might get some ideas you wouldn’t think of on your own or with your team.

Take this idea to the next level and invite fans to vote on their favorite cover. As incentive, offer a free download of a new single from the album! Your fans will really appreciate that.
 
After my client mixed the audio and the master’s were created, we decided to upload the audio to SoundCloud, letting people stream the music and simply, just get to hear the music. Fans love free, especially when it’s a high quality product. Now we have the ability to share the album before they can buy and they can decide if they would like to have their own copy. Once it’s available for download, we’ll make it available for purchase, but having the previews available is a nice way to welcome your close fans to your new piece of work.

Don’t want to make the entire album available? Just choose 3-4 songs that you think represent the album the best. You want fans listening and excited to hear more!

What are your favorite ways to promote an upcoming album? What unique ways have you involved your fans in an album release? Did you notice better sales from it? Send me a message, I’d love to hear your experience!
 
I hope you all have a wonderful day, wherever you are.

Find your perfect flight.

Today, I’m writing you from San Diego, CA, during my so-called “spring break” visiting family! I haven’t seen them in over a year, so it’s definitely overdue. Being far away from my entire family is very difficult at times, so I always make a point to visit every few months. After my weekend in San Diego, I’ll also be stopping in Texas where I grew up to see more family and old friends. Can I just say I’m more excited about the warm weather than anything else? Okay, maybe I’m also a little excited about the food, too.

My clients have been doing quite a bit of traveling as well, and I’ve been on logistics duty. There were plenty of festivals, performances, conferences and more that I helped coordinate trips for.  And I have fun doing it (I know, I’m weird). J

There are several parts to planning a trip for your next performance, but I want to first focus on the flight that will get you there. (Full disclosure – I wrote this during my Thursday morning flight so it feels even more appropriate to talk about planning your flight!)

So, musicians, let’s talk about how to find your perfect flight – and also show you how you can delegate it all someone like me who can assist you in your planning. This is from real experience, so take notes.

image

1. Book as early as possible – I cannot stress how many dollar signs you could save if you just book a month earlier than you think you should. I remind my clients of this, especially if they are traveling to perform at an event and they are responsible for the travel bill. Heard stories of last minute cheap seats? Don’t believe it. I’ve been doing this for three years and this has never happened. Nowadays, if you book late, you are stuck with buying the $100 priority seats after they run out of regularly priced seats.

Tell your assistant as soon as possible about an event you will be going to. Ask them to remind you to look for your ticket at least 3 months, if possible, in advance to secure a great price.

2. Gather your frequent flyer numbers – Surprisingly enough, when I book with a client that has a frequent flyer account, seats open up and upgrades are readily available. If you visit a city more than say 4 times a year, it’s worth it to get a frequent flier number under the airline you use the most. Some aren’t free, so choose what you can.

Most frequent flier numbers can be created by your assistant with your email and basic contact information. Find out what they can do first for you before you create your own account. If you already have them set up, send them a shared document with your frequent flier airlines / number as well as login info on the sites.

3. Know where to search – If you are traveling to a city that JetBlue or Southwest cover, you will 9 times out of 10 get your best deal there. If you aren’t finding the city you need, you can find a great flight through a couple search engines. Otherwise, I’ve consistently found the best options from only two: Kayak.com and Cheaptickets.com. They find great options for any domestic or international flight.

Ask your assistant to search your preferred sites and send you options based on your preference. Like this: “Please search Southwest.com & Kayak.com for flights from any NYC airport to Sioux Falls, SD, departing May 6 and returning May 9. I need to arrive by 5PM on May 6 and can depart as early as 8am on May 9.” This gives clear directions and you will get better choices of what you want the first time, saving tons of back and forth emails.

4. What to consider when browsing through connections – One thing I see overlooked constantly is not leaving enough time in between flights for you to get from Terminal A to Terminal D. This is imperative to make your travel day as smooth as possible. In my experience, leaving at least one hour and 30 minutes in between connections is a safe time length for connections, whenever you can. Otherwise, you risk missing your connection, losing your luggage and being late for the important performance. Not worth it. Leave yourself enough time to get through the terminal (especially Atlanta, that airport is HUGE).

Make this clear to your assistant the first time they begin booking your flight. Making sure it’s a priority from the beginning will diminish this being overlooked.

5. For Musicians only: Traveling with your instrument – If you are traveling with a small instrument as a carry on, you might want to opt for priority seating or seating in the back so that you can claim overhead space before it gets too full. You are absolutely allowed to travel with your instrument if it’s small enough to fit overhead. As for larger instruments, like a cello, I usually have to buy them an extra ticket to fit the cello in a seat. There are also great travel cases for larger instruments if you choose to check it.

If you can, have your assistant purchase priority boarding so that you can find space for your instrument. If not, it usually is not a problem, but some of us like to make sure there are no issues on a travel day.

Are you headed somewhere in a few months? Use these tips and you will find the best option for you or your band. Of course, every trip is different and offers their own challenges, but I make sure I know these 4 things for each flight I am booking to be able to give my client their best options.

Do you know your value?

So you may have noticed these past few emails of me mentioning a tour packet that I’m working on. Yes, it’s true! I’m working hard every day to put together a DIY Tour Packet to be released with my new website for independent musicians to reference while planning a tour!  Essentially, it’s going to be for musicians who need direction and organization when planning for their next tour, especially if they don’t have a tour manager or assistant to help them. I’m really excited about this and it’s just going to be FULL of information (and photos!) that I’ve learned personally, first-hand, on the road and over the years as an assistant.

There are a load of logistics and check lists for any tour, but the first step is initially booking the dates. Maybe you have an agent organizing your tour, or maybe you are doing it yourself. Either way, you want to get yourself organized and prepared before you start making those calls to save time and frustration. Getting clear about your fees will make booking quicker and easier for everyone!

Here are some tips to creating your rate sheet.

1. Determine your fee
Determining your fee as a musician is not straightforward, so definitely take some time and care into finding what works for you. Here is a wonderful article on how to determine your hourly rate and then from there, buckle down your flat rate. Things to consider is not only the amount of time you play per set, but also the travel time. Travel costs come in step 3.

2. Paying your Bandmates
If you are a solo artist, then you don’t have to worry about this. However, if you have a band to pay, determine their rates and add it onto your solo rate to determine the band rate so you can ensure to earn your fair share. Also, be sure to include in this amount you have to pay your band to rehearse, not just perform.

3. Travel & Hospitality costs
Most of my clients keep travel fees separate from their performance fee, which I think is your best option. Putting this statement on your rate sheet will make it clear:

Arrangements for travel & hospitality costs are additional and are to be specified at the time when an agreement is made between the Hirer and the Musician

So when you have a lead, determine if you will charge for driving, flying, train, etc. and hotel for the duration of your stay. And be sure to say ‘in addition’ to your performance fee!

4. Create a clean, easy to read rate sheet with a chart
Keep it simple and include a chart at the top with your rates, clearly stated and number any additional statements, including the travel and hospitality costs, below the chart.

Even if you aren’t going on a tour and just looking to book shows when you are available, this rate sheet will help save your precious time and energy when negotiating an offer.

Thanks for reading!

Grumpy Cat.

No matter what I do, Grumpy Cat is never amused.

It’s my birthday [Gift for you!]

You guys. I made it.

I made it to my birthday! WOO!

Well, technically it was yesterday, but I think I’m allowed to celebrate all weekend. It’s MY birthday, after all! [Shout out to Johann Sebastian Bach – Happy Birthday to you, too!]

Instead of sharing what’s going on for me or giving you my usual letters, I thought it’d be nice to hear from YOU!

So if you want to give me the perfect present – here it is. I’d love to know more about you, what you are up to and what your goals are!

And for that, I’m giving away a FREE template from my upcoming DIY Five Star Tour Packet to my favorite answer! That’s right, YOU can get a gift too!

So, here’s how this will work. Just comment below and respond with an answer to the following questions:

1. Who are you & where are you?

2. Why did you sign up for MY tips?

3. What have you found most useful from my emails and why?

Don’t be shy, I want hear from you! Plus, you have to do this because I’m the birthday girl!

Send in your answers and I’ll pick the winner next week!

Now excuse me, because….

Cheers to both of us!

Get close with your fans.

Good afternoon, friends.

imageI hope you are having a great week thus far. I feel like all anyone is talking about is how COLD it still is and how no one would complain if the sun came out and roasted us to 100 degrees. (I took that picture on the left that looks like Christmas morning this past Thursday, btw) brrrr.

So I’ll stop here and mum’s the word on the weather…let’s talk about what I came here for, shall we?

A few weeks ago, I assisted in helping my client launch her website, and with that, we coordinated an amazing live stream concert (via Concert Window) to celebrate her re-branding! She had 100’s of viewers tune in, great interaction and also earned a pretty penny (ahem, $400) for just spending 1 hour online!

With a fabulous team behind her and a plan, we pulled of a great show that any other musician, like you,  can do. I have spoken before about which live stream platform to use for these ‘living room’ gigs, but here’s some pointers for creating an effective and profitable live stream show.

imagePromote!
This is the most important aspect of your upcoming living room gig. Give yourself at least a week to promote your event. Send an announcement to your email list, create a Facebook event, post, tweet, Instagram the event to your fans to get the word out!
imageSet the stage.
Yes, this concert might be in your living room. Yes, you could just sit on the couch, in your PJs, and be comfortable. However, this will come off as lazy to your viewers. These people are choosing to spend their time away from Facebook, from going out to see a movie, from washing their hair, to sit down and watch YOU. Take it seriously.

Consider this just as important as a regular show. Use your resources and make your livestream look like a pros.

  • Have a friend with a studio? Ask to use it for your livestream so you can set a professional set. Bring decorations, a backdrop, some props, like CD’s, flowers, etc. depending on what mood you want to convey during the show!
  • If you’re setting up in your home, do the same and be conscious of what’s behind you. You don’t want a boring white wall, or have too much going on behind you that it’s distracting.

imageGet interactive.
Take advantage of having your fans tuned in for this special livestream concert. Many streaming services include chat features. Between songs, take some moments to answer questions, take requests and say thank you to your fans. Have your assistant man the chatroom and feed you questions when you are ready. It makes the show even more intimate and exclusive for your fans – a feature they couldn’t necessarily find during a live show.
imageSound check, check, 1, 2, 3, check…
The look is important, but the sound is just as important for the show. What’s the point of performing your songs for this live stream or answer questions during a live q&a if no one can hear you? Take a few minutes to warm up and do a sound check just like you would for a live show. Make sure people will be able to hear you when playing and speaking.

This is where having an assistant is helpful, they can check on another computer for sound, or during the show, let you know when to adjust your volume in playing or speaking!
imageCover charge?
If you have an established following, you should charge cover for your show. Concert Window makes it easy for your viewers with a pay what you want cover charge ($1 minimum), so people can watch for the small amount of $1, but can also pay more if they’d like (bonus!). Plus, Concert Window processes payments to you within 24 hours after your show.

I believe live stream shows are a great addition to add to your streams of income as a musician – just read this success story from a pianist who starting using ConcertWindow!

So if you have an upcoming milestone, like a record release or tour, set it off with a livestream show! Even if you don’t have such a grand event, utilize a livestream concert to connect and sustain a great relationship with your fans. And that’s always a good idea.