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Music royalty basics

Music Royalties Simplified: An Income Source All Musicians Need to Know

By Music Business, Music Distribution 3 Comments

Understanding music royalties can be confusing, but very necessary for musicians who are new to the music business. I know I’m not the only one who struggled with this topic, so my goal was to put this together to help break it all down. I wanted to make it simple so that anyone who has no idea about the music business can easily understand… hopefully.

I’m by no means an expert, but this is more of an overview behind royalties through music publishing and master recordings as well as how to collect them. Read More

Music Copyright Basics

Music Copyright Basics: Do Musicians Really Need to Copyright Their Songs?

By Music Business No Comments

When we start to get into laws and legality of things, that’s when it starts to get really tricky and complicated. It’s no different in the music business, so it’s important to at least understand the basics.

If you’re a newer musician, you need to know copyright laws for:

  • Protecting your music against infringement and plagiarism
  • Receiving royalties you are legally entitled to when your music is used
  • Not infringing or breaking the law in regards to other people’s music or intellectual property

Even if you’re not a new musician, you should be familiar with these music copyright fundamentals to save yourself from any potential headaches in the future.
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Why people aren't following you on Instagram

Instagram for Musicians: 10 Reasons Why People Aren’t Following You

By Instagram, Social Media No Comments

Having a strong Instagram presence, in my opinion, is very important for musicians. Despite being a visual platform, Instagram has all the functions, features, attention and even audience for music artists. The fact is, Instagram users spend more money on music, while also devoting more time listening to and supporting in general.

According to a Nielsen study commissioned by Instagram from 2016:

  • IG users spend 30% more time listening to music on a weekly basis in comparison to the general U.S. population, and they’re more likely to be listening to pop, hip-hop/rap and R&B.
  • Instagram users are 42% more likely to spend money on music during the year, in comparison to the general population’s annual music spending habits.
  • 90% of Instagram Users Stream Music, compared to 76% of the general population.

While it’s easy to get caught up in wanting more followers, I think it’s worth pointing out that there may be reasons why people may not follow you in the first place. Read More

Choosing the Independent Music Business Model That Works For You

By Music Business, Music Distribution, Music Streaming, Strategy One Comment

Last updated on 7/26/20

The music industry can be overwhelming. Just like running your own business (because that’s what it is!), there are a lot of things to think when it comes to managing your enterprise. When you’re working solo and can’t afford to build a team yet, it helps to have a solid overview or plan on how you should go about making a living from your music.

As an independent artist, you have 4 general business models you can adopt to mold and build your music career around. These aren’t “official” models, but it should provide some clarity about which approach is best for you.

Although I will talk about them distinctly in their purest form, their characteristics aren’t mutually exclusive. This means you can technically incorporate different aspects of all four models at once. Certain characteristics will overlap so there’s not a black and white distinction between each model. In time, more business models for music will certainly emerge as the industry and technology are constantly evolving. Read More

Black Violin

Developing Your Brand from Life Experiences: Artist Lessons From Slick Rick and Black Violin

By Branding No Comments
I had a chance to go on my first cruise with Butterscotch back in January. She joined a lineup that included artists like Babyface, Teddy Riley, Doug E Fresh, Slick Rick, Black Violin, Avery Sunshine, Kenny Lattimore, Jon B, Mike Phillips and Floacist.

The two artists that stuck out to me the most, and inspired me to write this is Slick Rick and Black Violin. Both of these artists shared stories at some point during the cruise that gave insights into their brand development.

In previous blogs, I’ve talked about basing your brand on elements of your authentic self, but I wanted to use this opportunity to elaborate on why these artists are great brands you can learn from.

For this month’s blog, I wanted to show how Slick Rick and Black Violin pulled from their life experiences to develop their brands, and why they are good examples. Read More

Content Creation: Musicians Can Learn from a Legendary Bassist Eating Ramen in Japan

By Content Creation, Strategy, Video No Comments

Thanks to Butterscotch, I had the privilege of going on the Blue Note Japan tour at the end of December of 2018 for 2 weeks with the legendary jazz musician Marcus Miller. Butterscotch was invited as a special guest for his tour and I tagged along to capture content.

During this trip, I had the chance to consult and create content with Marcus Miller alongside his wife and manager, Brenda Miller. One of the things we created was a video of Marcus eating ramen at Ippudo, a popular ramen chain from Japan known for their Tonkotsu ramen. We were in Fukuoka, where Ippudo was founded in 1985, and ate at the very first location.

Here’s the video I made that got 190k+ views: Read More

What makes you unique?

The Basics of Branding for Musicians: Figuring Out What Makes You Unique

By Branding No Comments

One of the common challenges I’m noticing artists have about branding is figuring out that one thing that sets them apart from everyone else.

You hear it often in regard to branding. I have even said it in my previous blogs. Because there’s so much competition for attention in the digital era, you have to be able to distinguish yourself to stand out. You need to find what is “unique” about you.

I realize now that this could be misunderstood. Read More

Zion I Merch

What Merch Should Independent Artists Make That Fans Will Actually Buy

By Merch, Music Business 2 Comments

This is part 1 of 3 about merch.

In our music streaming world, it has become much harder for independent artists to sustain a career in the music industry. Selling CDs was a large income stream that has basically vanished. To put into context how important it was, consider how much you make from music streaming.

Based on the latest numbers, to make the profit of selling one $15 CD, you would have to get roughly 3,200 streams on Spotify or 2,000 streams on Apple Music. For emerging artists, it’s a challenge just to get 1,000 streams.

It’s safe to say now that selling merch is basically a necessity now to make it as an artist on top of doing shows and tours.

Often times, the problem with merch is you need money to make money. Since the money to fund merch will most likely come out of your own pocket, you can’t afford to make items that people won’t buy.

Before you go and print a bunch of shirts with your face on it, it’s important to take a step back to evaluate your brand, what you represent and what characteristics define you as an artist. Read More

Russ Forbes 2018

Forbes Under 30: Russ on Dominating with DIY Marketing (Video)

By Motivation, Strategy, Video No Comments

For this month, I wanted to share the story of Russ for aspiring artists because I believe he really epitomizes the marketing strategy and DIY mindset needed to make it in the music industry, or at least improve your chances.

I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston where he performed and did a 20 minute talk to entrepreneurs on the factors that contributed to his success. I managed to record the entire thing so this was perfect to share.
 

Here’s the video of his talk on October 1, 2018:

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Community Mindset

What is a Community-Oriented Mindset and Tips to Find Your Community

By Music Business, Strategy One Comment

Success in the music industry is often a team effort. Even as an independent artist, you need support from those around you. This includes people who help you directly on day-to-day tasks or on certain projects, a network of industry relationships and community support.

As the saying goes, “your network is your net worth.” Your value and potential for growth are largely tied to the people you choose to surround yourself with. As emerging artists, it’s important you put yourself out there and start building these relationships. Read More