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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sync or Synchronization Rights and YouTube

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Steve Moore


Whenever a songwriter creates a song it has what’s called a underlying music right that is statutorily copyrighted. There’s NO need to mail it to yourself with a certified return receipt requested as that only creates a “presumption” that you wrote the song at or about the time you mailed it to yourself. Further, one could easily send themselves a LOT of return receipt requested mail sent back to themselves and then steam open the envelope then say “hey I wrote this song a LONG time ago”. So you’re better off filing a copyright with the copyright office as this offers PROOF that you wrote the song first and that also allows you to assert many different rights other than injunctive relief (stop using my song) which you get with a Statutory Copyright. Also a copyright on a song carries a bundle of other rights along with the ability to get statutory damages AND attorneys fees for infringement. But you cannot stop someone from ‘covering’ your song, if you release the song into the public then ANYONE can make a cover recording and just pay you the statutory mechanical royalties for every time the song is sold, and you won’t get ANYTHING when the song gets played on radio, etc – as that goes to the original copyright owner as a performance of the underlying musical work.

However, synchronization rights which are included in that bundle mentioned infra, they are completely different than most rights. Synchronization refers to the right to allow the music to be synchronized with a visual image. For example, when music is used in the background of a television show or film, or placed on a music video like on YouTube, the creator of that video or film must receive the permission of the copyright holder of the music. Typically, that permission is given through a synchronization license agreement and that usually means that you should get it in WRITING and also pay a reasonable fee. If you’re not exactly getting millions of hits on your YouTube page then the copyright owner should not demand too much money, but they may have the right to just say NO especially if your VIDEO or whatever you using the audio for is not what the writer and/or publisher who owns the song had in mind for the song. And yes, there are many different types of clauses in publishing agreements that will restrict the right of the publisher to use their songs in things such as political, maybe religious or other uses in videos that may be, well let’s say not so nice.

So how do you get the rights for sync? There are some companies that will assist you with this or you can just contract the publisher and/or songwriter (or in essence the copyright owner) which you can find out who that is via the Copyright office. And then just contact them and ASK – “can I use the song on my YouTube video and for how much”? Once you’ve got that in writing and you’ve paid some sort of consideration whether it’s a one time fee (usually the case) or promise something in return like maybe royalties then you should be able to get a license – but you’d need to have a partnership agreement with YouTube or some way of getting paid for your YouTube videos or you won’t have ANY way of making money off that YouTube video!

Good luck and remember that IF you want to get a partnership agreement with YouTube you MUST have sync rights to ALL of your songs that you COVER and make into a video.  That doesn't mean you can't make a fan video, etc - but if you want to do it right, then just follow the instructions above!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to get paid for YouTube Spins - Sound Exchange

This Blog has MOVED - please visit our NEW WEBSITE -

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All the BEST -

Steve Moore, B.A. J.D. Author of "The Truth about the Music Business"  

Friday, November 19, 2010

How powerful are Steve Jobs and his MAC Dynasty? More than “The Beatles”?

Well its official, The Beatles, the “most influential and popular band of ALL TIME” at least IMHO have signed up with iTunes. Only about 9 years in the making but it’s an interesting story.

I’ll keep it short as best I can – but it’s a very interesting story at that and a lesson in the law, justice and injustice and the music business!

First The Beatles stormed on to the scene but rest assure not without having paid their due and then some several times over. One could easily say that they were one of, if not THE MOST, hard working band ever. They had slugged it out playing hours upon hours a day just rehearsing and then show after show. While in Germany, they played so many gigs it’s just not even possible to do that anymore. No place would have a band play every show, and many shows per day/night. But the Beatles did it and honed their chops and skills to set the stage for when they went in the studio with George Martin to make some of the greatest music ever recorded. And all on a 4 track machine at first. And it’s important to note that had the Beatles NOT hooked up with Mr. Martin they would have been a very different band indeed. Have you ever really listened to Paul McCartney’s bass playing? He’s playing ORCHESTRAL notes and not just riding the chord structure – sounds to me as if he learned a thing or two about how to weave a counter-melody into a basic 1, 4, 5 rock song! But I digress – as I’m a HUGE BEATLES fan!

The Beatles ended up with APPLE RECORDS the label which they put out a LOT of records and sold untold numbers and their LOGO for that label was almost IDENTICAL to the Macintosh Computer logo. Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve read much about the FIRST lawsuit the Beatles filed suit against the APPLE Computer and/or Steve Jobs and I’m sure Et Al. As the Beatles rightly felt that this mark infringed upon the APPLE RECORDS Mark and since computers could play MUSIC it was the right thing to do.

But this is where it gets sticky – a registered and trademarked logo – albeit it words, graphics, or both are set up to protect and/or cover a Trademark for a certain class of goods. Hence you can’t have a company that does something similar with a similar logo putting out the same goods and/or services. And here’s a tidbit about TM that most people don’t know. Trademark is NOT designed to protect the owner of the mark – e.g. Coca-Cola (THE most protected ® in the world!) Trademark is designed to protect the consumer so that they will know the ORIGIN of the goods or services and not be hoodwinked into buying an inferior product or service or to just plain cause confusion in the Marketplace. So would the APPLE COMPUTER being pushed out by Steve Jobs and his company cause confusion as to the origin of the GOOD – i.e. The Macintosh Personal Computer?? Well there’s no way to tell without testing it via the courts, you can’t just take a poll and see if the consumer can’t tell the difference and Intellectual Property Law is a very, very difficult area of the law. So who’s going to win? Usually the company with the MOST money – not fair, but that’s the law! How much justice can you afford? So Apple Computers had enough money to stave off the BEATLES in the court system long enough so that the parties settled and a HUGE STIPULATION in the settlement was the APPLE COMPUTERS would NEVER get into MUSIC. So that was the agreement – APPLE Computer would NEVER get into the music business or have any dealings with MUSIC (but then again, I’m sure there were parts of the agreement that could not have predicted the future as we know it now!)

Around 10 year later, here comes the iPod and we all know that music was being played on computers and is pretty much the norm and we also know that music was being traded around the Internet without people paying for it – and this was a HUGE loss to the Beatles as writers even though Michael Jackson had truly taken advantage of Paul McCartney and Lennon’s estate as well as George and Ringo when HE bought up their publishing. Also keep in mind that the publishing was not set up so that each Beatle kept a part of the writers share and that could have been the small chink in the armor of the BEATLES catalogue that made a huge difference – but that’s a completely different discussion altogether.

So Apple Computers was not supposed to sell music – well then comes iTunes so the Beatles take them back to court – and in what I think is a MAJOR injustice – LOST! But I’m always going to take the side of the CREATIVE and the CREATORS of copyrights! I’m very aware the Steve Jobs is a brilliant man and is EXTERMELY creative but there’s NOT a chance that he could ever be as good at music as the BEATLES – or could he?

Well I don’t think that if Steve agreed not to get into music – morally he should not have – but legally he got away with it! And to me that’s a MAJOR INJUSTICE but the courts didn’t see it that way – and isn’t that pretty much the norm? The law (both the legislative and the judicial branches) will never be able to keep pace with technology! So the Beatles lost and now with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and thousands upon thousands of ways for people to have the Beatles music on these devices they can now buy the Beatles music from iTunes! And it only took about 9 years of the Beatles catalogue for SR copyrights to hold out until all of the surviving members and the estates of Lennon and Harrison to finally agree to let Steve Jobs sell their songs via iTunes.

In the end one can’t be sure just how much music of the Beatles will be sold via iTunes as most of the true fans of the Beatles already have all of the Beatles music in digital format and the TRUE FANS have it all on vinyl and won’t stand for the 320 Kpbs mp3 versions! But there’s a whole new generation of kids out there that have yet to experience the British Invasion so I’m sure there will be millions sold but I still think that this whole story should not have to be told! But welcome to the music business – the MOST POWERFUL BAND of ALL TIME were totally messed over by MJ and now SJ and there wasn’t much they could do about but spend millions of dollars that they WASTED only to LOSE something that they should have been able to capitalize on for the life of their copyrights and for as long as APPLE RECORDS was in business!

So in the end, who is more powerful the musicians or the business man who peddles hardware and/or a delivery device for people to BUY the music? You decide as you already know the outcome! It’s a sad state of affairs that the MUSIC and the people who create it – are usually the ones that lose SOMETHING in the end.


Monday, November 15, 2010

My blogs vs. PC WORLD

Coincidence?  Who can say - maybe it's time to contact PC WORLD and strike a deal - 50% of my last posts have ended up in PC WORLD - BEFORE the issue arrived via subscription much less on NEWSTANDS - that's not to say that their articles were NOT written before my BLOG - by any means - but it's funny how we're covering the same ground....

Stranger things have happened...just KEEP writing - or as "Brother Dege" says - WRITE ON!

Just read the blogs - then go to PC WORLD and see for yourself...


Which are the better odds - people with a HIT song vs. those hit by lightning!

Tune in soon - the STATS are going to blow your mind! 

But of course you can always stand on the Golf Course with a ONE IRON! 

AS the saying goes, we'll not even - "-" can hit a one iron!

MORE TO COME as I comb the net for TRUE STATS!


PS good things to come at MIDEM this year!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


It’s taken a long time, loads of research, lots or reading and ALWAYS keeping up with new trends, but when it comes to social networking, your website, in fact your entire ONLINE presence – it’s ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT!

Through years of producing music and with YouTube gettting more prominent - I found I was getting more involved in video production on top of studio and live recording. And along the way - I HAD to learn the basic of web design and different editing tools (this way I know what to farm out and what I can do on my own - as in todays world the MORE you can do on your own the further you are ahead of the game!

As technology changes, the more you know about what you want from a WEBSITE as well the many things you  MUST know such as back end coding etc, I have finally gotten my head around the BIG PICTURE and after OVER many long months of SOLID research, and YEARS of educating myself and learning how to do a variety of different things within multiple software applications that are necessary for the back bone of producing and BROADCASTING CONTENT via numerous platforms – I am for the most part still  climbing up the learning curve as that will NEVER stop but at least now I can create the vast majority of my own content for many formats and most importantly know how to communicate with graphics designers or others that I work with. Hence, I know what’s important but being able to produce it all on your own takes a LOT of work and a LOT of time - so know your strenghts. But you CAN learn how to do it ALL on your own!  Just be ready to work some LONG HOURS!

A simple way to start to really move toward  large content (such as my book) learn to tweet on a theme, then blog at that them or do a newsletter via e-mail is 10 X if not MORE effective as MORE PEOPLE by far read e-mails vs. blogs. So having a way to BLOG and send it out as a newsletter via E-mail is CRITICAL! (As a side note – I doubt that most current audiences are that in to reading RSS FEEDS but they will read their E-mail!)

However, a blog is still a great thing as it will allow MORE traffic, MORE exposure, increased SEO Rankings and of course Ad Sense (for products) as an EXTRA revenue stream!  And with Word Press - you really don't even need to know how to build a website. But you MUST know how to manage your back end coding for tracking, analytics, JS, and CRM.

And you can now get hosting that allows for CS-4 or CS-5 for GREAT design and a sub-domain for your BLOG done in Word Press such that incorporate your BLOG as a newsletter to be sent via regular E-mail (and have people sign up for your newsletter/blog from your website using FEEDBURNER sign up forms or from your BLOG itself) and you can use FEEDBURNER for FREE to power your newsletter via a plethora of mail apps – just don’t SPAM people and OUTLOOK is so outdated.

BUT nobody is going to be interested in your blog – UNLESS it is interesting to THEM and that goes double for your TWEETS – but you can TWEET your BLOG via a LINK to every blog you write e.g. “My Company offers A, B and C; read more info on “ but if you are business trying to sell more product or services you have to create incentive for people to want to be your friend or sign up for your social networks.

The main thing is that you’ll have to be DILIGENT and constantly cranking out CONTENT for everything you do…the MORE CONTENT the MORE TRAFFIC which equals MORE SALES of SERVICES or PRODUCTS! For you – it should be EASY!

After much reading, reflection and thought, I’m almost CERTAIN now that WORD PRESS is the best option to go with for a BLOG as there’s just way too many new FREE apps and plug-ins that you can take advantage of and once it’s set up it should work GREAT! CS-4 or 5 will allow for much better graphics but you have to PAY a web designer to keep you updated while if you use WORD PRESS which has CRM and other tools that make it much simpler for the business to keep their site and blog updated.

IN THE END I truly believe that having a GREAT LOOKING WEBSITE with vital and critical CONTENT is the number one KEY TO IT ALL!! And that is the ROOT of your social marketing TREE – everything branches out (via links) from there! (Were I only to have the time to invest in my Graphics programs when I’m so busy with A/V - but I'll get there of Farm it out to the EASTERN BLOCK or RUSSIA - great coders, graphics artists and your dollar goes 5 times farther!)

FaceBook Fan Pages, YouTube, and Twitter (plus newsletter/blog) are going to be the MAIN TOOLS and CRUCIAL in this game as you can post video content to YouTube – in turn TWEET that and SHARE to FACEBOOK – you can TWEET about anything or post pics on FB and link them and these TWEETS will go ANYWHERE You want. In fact, your tweets can be shared everywhere including on LINKED IN. But most important of all you can post pictures, and all sorts of content on your FACEBOOK FAN Page, have UNLIMITED FANS (no cap of 5000 for your personal page) and whatever you post to FACEBOOK can be SHARED to anything you want as well….so a FACEBOOK FAN PAGE is critical if used correctly!

However, in the end – it’s about the CONTENT – building this entire infrastructure means NOTHING if you don’t add viable content and OFTEN. And again, that should become second nature and just as much a part of running your business as opening the door when you get to work or locking up at the end of the night!

I’d suggest this – a weekly (or more often blog/newletter) to start unless you can really discipline yourself – as does Krupnic for an almost daily newsletter. Also keep in mind that you don’t always have to WRITE THE NEWSLETTER CONTENT– you can let comments, posts, and responses to your blog/newsletter BE the CONTENT! Just copy/paste them into your blog and resend! And maybe add a comment or two…

I can’t stress the important of posting a YouTube Video at least once a week if possible – but for sure bi-weekly would get you some great content in a year! More would be better – if even 1 minute clips done with a Hi-DEF WEB CAM and posted to YouTube immediately and then click on SHARE to go to FB, Twitter, etc…But I’d also put on ONE REALLY GOOD and INFORMATIVE VIDEO per month that’s a LOT longer than the rest – much more info and MORE TO VIEW! But you’re way better off than I as you can literally create YouTube content in a quick video chat that you record at EOD or possibly just some VIDEO FOOTAGE or places you are..

Once all of that is IN PLACE – it’s just a matter of keeping up with it, making it part of your daily/weekly routine and staying with it - and then sit back and watch your network of people GROW and GROW as your CONTENT GROWS AND GROWS and with Analytics – you can track who is reading what – viewing what, when and from where….you can also use this incredible amount of back end data crunching to know if you need to make changes to certain pages of your website – based upon how long people stay on it – click through or BOUNCE! In short, you can TRACK ALL OF THIS!!!!! It’s amazing!

But I’ll say it again – you will only get out of it what you put into it!

For me it’s not that easy- I write songs, do intricate videos, write books, etc – if I write a song- I have to record, mix, master BEFORE I even think about putting it out as a video…as for my Videos – I don’t travel nearly as muh as I used to and am usually too busy for shooting vid’s when I’m gone. But I’d love to get more interesting footage! As for my book(s) – I could take pieces of it – and post all day long and soon will be doing so – putting out parts of my books, adding parts to the second edition and putting it all up there – and then having E-Books and Print on Demand for that that prefer a hard copy – including offering PERSONALLY signed and dedicated books for the extra cost of shipping and a little time to sign and get that order back out to the customer quickly!

I guess most people don’t think in terms of a BLOG that could eventually turn into a BOOK! But one should as you could use your daily or weekly content and compile all of that info/content into a book – just copy/paste, and then put all that into a 100 ore more page book if you stay on a theme – which is a good idea for your newsletters/Blogs and SELL IT – then write another via your newsletters…again, if you stay on a THEME!   I've read about poeple that have allegedly been learning a subject for almost 10 years, and yet they have not written even a TWEET about that information, much less a blog - forget about a book!  But unless you take your knowledge and put it in writing will it ever help anyone esle much less make MONEY!

Remember my book is 656 pages, not too many people can stick with reading enough to finish it – much less finding a writer tenacious enough to be THAT thorough….who will WRITE a TRUE REFERENCE BOOK! But one this is for sure – if you want to write a book – start with a blog! And then when it comes to your particular business – remember you must generate content and create it OFTEN and then Market the heck out it – as you can’t just build it and expect people to come!

SM @ MSO -

What should I “pitch” full on demos or just the basics?

If you are looking for a DEAL *(record or publishing deal) you should have BOTH – but just remember in this day and age – publishers nor labels have much money so you are well advised to try it on your own if you are willing to work at it, but just for the sake of argument, I think you are best to "hedge" your bet and be able to offer as much music as you can. And that’s true if you are doing it yourself – why not have FULL BLOWN MASTERS and Acoustic Versions of ALL of your songs?

When looking for an artist or even a pub deal you need to have AS MANY songs as you can. In short, I'm willing to bet you'll hear "this is good - but what else do you have?" - If you really want an artist deal and the BEST deal - you'd be well advised to have 3 albums worth of material as a "band", duo, artist, etc that writes their own stuff - otherwise – the labels will put you with songs and/or writers. You see this most often with country and pop. It seems that rock (save for some exceptions) is the one last bastion of songwriters that do their own songs. For the most part in country and pop – the artists are either dictated or strongly advised to record the songs the label wants you to record. And even if you do co-write *(which is great) – you are going to come up against the “controlled composition clause” – which means you will only get paid a ¾ statutory rate for ALL the songs that you write on YOUR record. And that’s true even in ROCK! The labels don’t want to pay what is STATUTORILY dictated and have found a way to keep MORE of YOUR money! (But I digress…)

As a songwriter - you just never know where a cut can come from – you could be pitching an artist deal and end up with a publishing deal. For that matter, Trisha Yearwood got a record deal because she sang so many demo’s somebody finally said – “the song’s not that good, but WHO is that SINGER?” She got signed on PURE VOCAL TALENT. But this was before you had to be a triple threat – great looking, great voice and great writing/playing skills.

So when pitching for publishing or a label deal there’s two schools of thought. Demo and/or Guitar Vocals? Or well recorded Full blown demos that already have ALL the parts done and sound GREAT – (in short masters) are often preferred – but they can also SKEW the listener’s viewpoint of the song. While a guitar vocal or piano vocal can be a blank canvas as it were so that the publisher, A&R person or label contact can “envision” what would sound good with that song. So you’re better off having both. Therefore have all songs done with a simple guitar/vocal - piano/vocal (as you should for preparing for a studio session) - but also have some SERIOUSLY well done Demo's (or rather masters) - the people who make decisions have gotten pretty demanding and they want finished product - as they are usually not musicians or producers - just music fans that were lucky to get a gig at a label or publisher - so they don't necessarily have a clue - so the BIGGER and better it sounds - the better off you are…

And of course, don't forget to try services such as TAXI or putting your music out to as many places as you can as you never know when you'll get a call for a sync deal!

(I trust this is a help…) But I still think in todays world of social networking, word of mouth via texts, and cloud computing - if you have GREAT MUSIC - and you can keep putting out GREAT MUSIC - then you're much better of putting your own music out there - if the people love it - then the labels will come to you! 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Embedded Codes (The good and the bad!)

I guess most people are just complacent, too busy, or just not interested in what's going on behind the scenes.  I've got too many friends that get infected by various mal-ware or other bad things just becuase the click on the wrong thing or even open up a seemingly benign E-mail with a FLA file or even a GIF and don't even know the sender or KNOW the sender the TRUST the Sender when the SENDER could be being douped as well! 

In short, code can be cmbedded into a number of different types of files.  Of course, with HMTL even a relatively secure site can get infected with a "drive by virus or mal-ware" - and FLASH FILES are notorious for having holes in their security and hence a FLASH FILE can hold all kinds of bad code - and a FLASH file can be saved as a "dynamic" or even "static" GIF - which may seem harmless enough. But if you know what you're doing you can create a GIF that has a link back to a PHP server (where the GIF is stored) and that GIF can have assoicated with good or bad code - in the case of GOOD CODE - that GIF can have analytics on it so that you can track visits to a social networking page - and hcnce provide the owner with a HOST of valualbe information to track the visitors to that page! 

The moral of the story - learn it - use it - or BEWARE of what you OPEN!! And don't think for ONE SECOND that what you do is safe and secure - the internet was designed to TRACK everything you do - and that's a little to Orwellian for me! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Production, Production, Production (All about the CONTENT)

Catalogue and MORE catalogue....YEARS of music, songwriting, prose, shorts, blogs and books,  almost TOO much to tackle...but it's all going to be DONE - just as soon as I can get to it!

It's all about the CONTENT -  but I must choose wisely what I will release as MSO, HRC, DD, or any of my other 'nom de plumes" - good luck finding my TRUEST writing - the stuff I would NEVER release!

But if you can SORT IT -you will FIND IT!  But if you think you are IN the writings, or the SUBJECT matter - remember the names have been CHANGED and some LITERARY LICENSE has been taken....


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Using Multiple Monitors and INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY!!

Since I do vast amount of computer work that requires a LOT of processing speed I actually use up to 4 or 5 computers at a time as each one is dedicated to a different task. Not only does this allow me to multi-task but it allows me to let certain machines RENDER large files (sometimes 45 minutes or more to render) without fear of harming my VIDEO FILES and I can KEEP WORKING on other parts of these projects without skipping a beat!

My Main Computers are two relatively new PC’s that I built myself and I use three monitors for the TWO Machines. I’m using two 21” monitors on the one machine using a dual HDMI video card so I can do graphics, music mastering, videos, etc on that machine all at the same time and have plenty of real estate to put different apps, windows, etc exactly where I need them. And the second machine just has ONE monitor but I’ve got an HDMI output to my TV if I need more real estate or want to stream from NETFLIX (without using my wireless connection) or any other viewable content from my computer to my TV – even though I do NOT watch TV.

(IN FACT – a new blog coming soon on 10 REASON to KILL your TV!)

The second machine is what I use to “stream” music or check my social nets, etc – and that way I only have one machine that’s truly exposed to the internet. And I use a KVM switch for both machines so that I only need one mouse and keyboard! And lastly I use an 8 PORT POWERED USB A/B switch so I can use any USB device such as webcam, flash, jump drives, or even move files to my external drives, AS any USB device can be shared between both machines…a HUGE TIME SAVER, and has some security features as well – as you’d have to physically be IN MY OFFICE to flip the A/B to either machine!

But this is the MOST important thing you should get from this BLOG – USING MULTIPLE MONITORS will increase your productivity by at LEAST 40%!!!

I’m NOT KIDDING…and there’s research out there that back me up!

But sometimes when I’m checking site design and coding issue in different browsers it’s NICE to be able to run THREE monitors (one with IE, Firefox and Chrome, Safari or even OPERA!) Setting up two monitors with a dual graphics card is a snap! But using more may require a second graphics card OR A SOFTWARE APP to ADD MORE MONITORS!

I’m able to use my third monitor from my second machine using an app call “maxi-vista” – it’s AWSEOME at the mid-level network monitor app that allows you to share MANY MONITORS via your NETWORK (and yes, you can allow just the monitor to be shared through your SOFTWARE FIREWALLS!) And all I have to do is to EXTEND my desktop and I’m using THREE MONITORS while working on one project. And with the mid-level version – you still can use your clipboard to copy/paste from the second machine – (a simpler way of networking without having to set up File and PRINTER sharing!)

Then I’ve got a new MAC Laptop next to me that I will use for a variety of purposes and my iPad just roams around at will.  And that’s just in my MAIN STUDIO OFFICE! And to my left is my FAVORITE MACHINE!! I currently have a SUPER FAST 64 Bit computer that I built from scratch so I could customize it for my needs. And it’s dedicated to PRO TOOLS and I pretty much keep it isolated from the internet and my “intranet” as I’ve got WAY too much content vis-√†-vis music production files that I cannot afford to lose or expose to outside sources. I currently use a 24” Monitor Via HDMI but it’s NOT enough real estate for me to keep both the EDITING WINDOW and MIX Window open where I can actually see up to 42 Tracks – so I’m adding a 42 monitor above the 24” – this way I can still have my Near field reference monitors set up as an “isosceles triangle”. The only problem with having a second monitor ON TOP of another is that you can’t drag your mouse UP and DOWN, so it take some getting used to and you choose if you drag your mouse off to the right or left for the mouse icon to go to the TOP MONITOR – but I’m sick of using CTRL = to switch from mix to edit windows and hence I’m losing productivity!

In my other office, I’ve got a 21” laptop that’s running an extra 21” monitor so I can move spread sheets across that entire amount of real estate. If I’m working on Graphics Files I can be working in PS, Fireworks, Flash, CS-4 (Dreamweaver) or anything I need OPEN and WORKING all at the same time. This allows me to check my work, change pixel width, view source code, etc and keep several windows open and spread out across ALL monitors.

It’s also nice to take an XL spread sheet and move it across BOTH monitors so I can read each line going all they way from A to Z!!!

So in short no matter what Office I’m working in – I’ve got to have at least TWO monitors so that I can copy/paste, edit, do my research with many windows open but I don’t have to resize the windows or waste time Alt-tabbing between apps!

If you aren’t using multiple monitors and your in graphic design, music or video production they are a MUST HAVE! And keep in mind that you can also change your screen resolutions to make SURE your website is working or looks good with different monitor’s sizes, resolutions, etc. Try it – you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you will become! And once you’re used to two monitors, you’ll want three or MORE!! Trust me, you’ll LOVE IT!

As an A/V producer and coder - I can't imagine NOT having the geart I do - and of course, alwasy want newer and FASTER machines - but I know the limitations of each and phase out a computer every so often, rip it down to bare bones and set it up as a LINUX server!  I've had a Linux Server running on a 386 machine that has NEVER crashed - not EVER!!!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Truth About the Music Business - in E-Book and Print on Demand

It's almost completley official - we'll soon have new cover art, ISBN # and the book will be available via Print On Demand and by E-book.

Will keep you posted...and post links, etc -

Also Excertps from the book will be available here in this blog!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Dangers of Social Networking!

I’ve been involved with Social Networking of sorts since about 1990 before the World Wide Web even existed when we set up hosted chats and fan based music content through CompuServe. But I have found out through the years that it’s not such a safe thing to post too much information as the cyber-world is NOT very safe. And now that FB has admitted that they have released MILLIONS of people PRIVATE INFO, well that DID IT FOR ME! And FaceBook is NOT alone –My Space has more than it’s fair share of problems especially a VIRUS APP that will come up when you try to change your settings – DO NOT let this application run (use your own AV APP) and close out of My Space IMMEDIATELY and then clear your CACHE! And keep in mind that BEFORE you got to any website such as a business site – remember that these companies can TRACK your visits as well as the URL’s that are stored in your Browser’s TEMPORARY CACHE! KEEP THAT CLEAN as that’s where most spyware and malware will reside!!

Here are a few TIPS that you should think about! Trust me on this as I just experience a cyber-stalker that was just a LITTLE TOO WEIRD! If somebody really wants to know and/or track your every move – then your social networks will allow them to do it!

1. If you post things that you don’t want anyone else to read – and there’s some things you may post that you think are OK – but they can come back to haunt you – make ALL of your social networks as PRIVATE as you can! Choose your friends, contacts, or subscribers wisely and don’t give out TOO much information!

2. Be careful of who you allow to be one of your friends, read about them BEFORE you CONFIRM or add somebody on FaceBook or other sites There are a lot of people adding new FB pages that are NOT who they say they are! And these people are trying to phish, scam or otherwise get your PRIVATE INFORMATION!

3. BE careful about what you POST – even pictures, etc – FaceBook has EXTREMELY overbroad terms and conditions – anything you post is THEIRS to use however they want – EVEN AFTER YOU DELETE IT!

4. APPLICATIONS on FACEBOOK are DANGEROUS! I’ve been talking about this for YEARS! I do NOT accept gifts, drinks or worse PLAY ANY GAMES! Much less use ANY APPLICATIONS – I refuse ALL APPLICATION requests as there are written by third parties (NOT by FACEBOOK) and the latest breach of security that gave out MILLIONS of peoples private info as well as their LISTS of friends was from GAMES, APPLICATIOINS, etc Those who were using these apps have had their PERSONAL INFO jeopardized and there’s NO TELLING where that info will end up. Once a third party has your information – they’ve GOT to make MONEY and what’s the BEST way to make MONEY? Sell that information to marketing companies or the highest bidder! And do you think that these marketing companies’ data is SAFE? NO WAY – hackers are dying to get into those databases and they WILL FIND A WAY to access that info!

5. NEVER post anything about your location – the last think you want to do is to post “we’ll be on vacation for the next few weeks, can’t wait!” – Might as well put up a sign in your yard – we’re out of town – help yourself!

6. Do NOT post your birth year or the year you graduated – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out your birth year by a year or two. Having a name, address, birthday only means that to totally steal your identity they only need a few more pieces of the puzzle and a good computer person can really dig and/or spoof certain agencies and get the final pieces of the puzzle and jeopardize your PRIVACY and your IDENTITY!

7. Don’t post your original hometown or birthplace along with any information that could allow others to steal your identify. Ever notice how your hometown, high school, or birth place are often your secret password questions? The last thing you want is to let some steal your e-mail passwords or other passwords! If they do, they can even access your banking information!

8. NEVER use the same password for EVERY single account.

9. Be careful about posting WHERE You will be – if you are going out at night – then text your friends where you will be – do NOT post that you’ll be gone that night or that you’ve left you kids with a sitter or whatever – that’s just asking for trouble. You are better off e-mailing from your personal account (NOT FB MAIL) and/or just calling your friends or texting them.

It’s gotten to be a very transparent world and if somebody wants to get more information about you – they can find it! So don’t offer up more than you need to and remember whatever you post is very similar to a DIGITAL TATOO – you can try to remove it – but the scar will ALWAYS BE THERE as once it’s out in the ETHER on the INTERNET then somebody could have saved a screen shot, retweeted what you’ve said, e-mailed your songs or videos to somebody else, etc – So just keep that in mind BEFORE you push the SEND or ENTER BUTTON to POST!!



Monday, October 25, 2010

The pain and joy of WRITING!

Have begun to compile VOLUMES of songs, ideas, short stories, and a host of scribblings on napkins, 3 x 5 note cards, business cards, etc - and PUTTING it ALL I guess most writers do...

But sometimes you just need an avenue for your creativity to FLOW - but not WASH back downstream to it's all  subjective - but the names have been changed to protect the innocent and/or guitly!

Will start posting to three new blogs - all under PSUEDONYMS and/or "nom de plumes" - if you're on FB, Twitter, etc and are a FRIEND - you MAY be able to find them - but it's some DEEP material so I won't divulge my alter egos...



Saturday, October 23, 2010

The First Music Download EVER!

Totally LEGAL – through my company – Online Multi-Media, CompuServe and Geffen Records!

My company (Mike Lawson and a few others) started the first Internet Chats for the music business and even did the very FIRST MUSIC DOWNLOAD on the INTERNET EVER – all totally legit and LEGAL. In fact, the VERY first song that was released on the internet was by Aerosmith.

LOS ANGELES, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Geffen Records will make music history and mark a technological milestone on Monday, June 27, when it becomes the first major record label to enable users of an electronic information service to download for free, in broadcast quality, an entire, never-before-released song from a major artist. Beginning that day, Aerosmith's "Head First" will be available for a limited time via personal computer to the 2 million members of the CompuServe Information Service, the world's largest consumer on-line information service for personal computer users.

"If our fans are out there driving down that information superhighway," says Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, "then we want to be playing at the truck stop. This is the future -- so let's get it going." The rockin' "Head First" was recorded during sessions for the band's most recent album, "Get A Grip," which currently has sales of more than 8 million copies worldwide and reached No. 1 on the "Billboard" pop album charts upon its release last year. "Head First" was produced by Bruce Fairbairn and written by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Jim Vallance.

CompuServe members can type GO AEROSMITH to download "Head First." Downloading the 4.3 megabyte file will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes depending on the speed of the user's modem (14.4 or 9.6 kbs). Because of the groundbreaking nature of this event, Aerosmith will be waiving all their royalties for the song, and CompuServe will waive connect-time charges.

"This is an experiment," says Luke Wood of Geffen's marketing department. "We've been providing 30-second song samples for some time and said, `Why not a whole song?' Now the technology's caught up with the idea."

The idea to make a full-length song available on-line came from Wood and Robert von Goeben of Geffen's graphic arts department, one of the managers of the Geffen section on CompuServe's Music Vendor Forum. "Many users online have been asking for longer and better sound samples," notes von Goeben. "Now we can offer them everything. When I first brought CompuServe to Geffen's attention, I knew it was just a matter of time before we would offer full length songs. It's really exciting." The three minutes and 14 seconds of "Head First" were digitized and then compressed by Jim Griffin, Geffen's head of information technology.

Geffen was one of the first labels to provide sound and graphics through an electronic information service. Since last October, CompuServe members have been able to directly access Geffen Records via its music vendor forum to receive tour schedules, facts about the label's artists and new releases, full-color logos and photographs and 30-second electronic sound samples. Members have been able to write to artists during on-line interviews and leave electronic mail for Geffen staff members.

"We're trying to push the boundaries," says Wood, "and we're committed to exploring this idea and others like it in the future."

For more information about downloading the song, please call CompuServe on 800-524-3388 and ask for representative 615.

-0- 6/15/94

/CONTACT: Bryn Bridenthal, 310-285-2701, or Roy Hamm, 310-285-7937, both of Geffen Records; or Debra Young of CompuServe, 614-538-4553/

WOW have times changed but that was REVOLUTIONARY back then! 

SM @ MSO (Thanks to Mike Lawson my partner at the time!)

Cybersquatting! TM Infringement TRICKS - Don't FALL FOR THEM!

I recently got an e-mail where somebody has somehow managed to get by me and purchase a “domain name” that I had wanted to get for a long time. I don’t know how I missed it but this guy was saying that if you will make a bid I’ll sell you the domain.

The bottom line is that since I’ve used my “Label Name” for better than 15 years, whomever he sells it to as long as they are in the business of selling songs, CD’s, Records, etc – they are going to infringe on my mark.

What really got me upset is that he found an obscure “sub-domain” that had a friend of mine’s E-mail address and started to hit my buddy up for MONEY as well even though I just used that Domain and hosting with a sub-web that had our own little personal website on it for our hunting camp. I didn’t really want to buy a domain and hosting for just about 15 pages of stuff that’s posted there that sort of tracks via pictures and text the past 10 years of us building the hunting camp, pictures of our fields, etc.
Anyway, I digress – I found a very interesting article on this subject which is linked here:

This is pretty much dead on. Gone are the days of an individual buying up a ton of domain names and then trying to sell them back to REAL company that should own that name. But like everything else, the law takes time to catch up. In fact, you used to be able to do this and make a LOT of money but some company with deep pockets went ballistic and took some people to court and WON big time! So the legislature eventually enacted some law that say “cyber-squatting is NOT LEGAL” – so if somebody tries to hit you with a scam to try and sell you a domain name that should be yours – you CAN get it. But it will cost a lot of money. Your best bet is to wait it out until they give up as these squatter can’t hold on to these names forever and will eventually give up. Conversely if they sell it to someone else and that company/person start to use it – and it violate your TM right – then go to court, get an injunction and they have to stop using that name and then make an offer to buy the domain at FAIR MARKET PRICE!

Remember if another company is using your name and they got there first - First is time is first in right.  So you're going to have to CHANGE YOUR NAME especially if they are offering similar services or selling similar goods in the same class as yours!  Which means, get another name, logo, business card, letterhead, new website design, etc, etc - VERY COSTLY so choose your name wisely!  But on the other hand if YOU own the name (even if you haven't filed for TM protection) you still have injunctive relief and you can make the OTHER company stop and start all over again! 

Choosing a name without being in TM Infringement

Choosing a band name, or for you label or even a business name such as for your publishing companies can be quite diffucult as the last thing you want to do is to infringe on a registered mark and have to STOP all of your work and start over.

First, we’ll discuss choosing a band name. Remember that you must have a unique name or you are going to cause confusion in the market place. And that is indeed the crux of Trademark Law. Under the Federal Lanham Act – the first to use a name in commerce has the right to use the name as long as it’s not geographically descriptive (Nashville Music Band) or other tests that are too many to list here. Your best bet is to GOOGLE the name, then check on iTunes for a band that’s similar, then check with a Domain Registrar, and do as much research as you can. The main thing is that you don’t want to cause confusion in the market place.  In fact Trademark is NOT set up to protect the OWNER of the mark but to protect the consumer as to the origin of the goods or services. 

Case in point, my band sometimes called “The Cowboy Killers” has been using that name for almost 20 years. We don’t play under that name exclusively but were for sure the first to use it in commerce. Then a few bands have come and gone that were using that name as I found them on My Space, etc. But I’ve owned “Cowboy Killers Music” (ASCAP) since the early 1990 and I’ll get back to Publishing names later. Be that as it may, a band from Germany comes along and they started to use the very name. I sort of let it slide as I haven’t toured the UK or the Continent for a very long time and I figured it wouldn’t hurt as long as they STAYED over in Europe but now they have songs on iTunes and Rhapsody listed MY SONG “Hold Back the Night” but put THEIR album cover as the cover art. That kind of got my attention. Since I never filed for a FEDERAL TM – which can take up to SEVEN years for the name to clear – I didn’t think it was worth the time money or effort. But at least under the Lanham Act – you can get an injuction. Should I? Well, I’ll give it some time, bands come and go. But I do own the name while this OTHER band is using – and of course, they can’t use “The Cowboy Killers” as a fan page on FB as I’ve already got that – but they are using that name on My Space.

I could get an injunction or I could just sell them the domain for a reasonable price and to compensate me for having to do a TOTAL SITE redesign under a different name. But I try not to hurt other musicians or cost them time and money – but at the same time, they are costing me money and time as well – we’ll see how it plays out. But for now I’m taking the moral high ground.

Now on to choosing a Publishing Company name – which is MUCH easier! If you register with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC they basically do all the work for you. They’ll tell you how many names are similar which doesn’t mean they make a TM decision as to whether or not there’s another name that’s similar or could cause confusion in the market place – but it’s a start. Because after all, if you sign up with a licensing company you ARE in the same business, class of goods, etc. You publish music! But you can still file for a STATE of FEDERAL TM – state being much cheaper and takes less time but each state doesn’t necessarily check for FEDERAL TM’s. So you should check with Thompson and Thompson or other services to make sure that you are clear and this is certainly true of a record label – as most people own their own labels. Just remember that only certain types of marks are not eligible for Trademark whether they be a ® (fior GOODS) or Service marks or both. Since most labels provide goods and in many cases services you should file for both! Just remember that if you are first to use the mark in commerce you have the right to get a FEDERAL or STATE TM but you can also just put TM or SM next to the name, logo, phrase that you are using and that at least gives you injunctive relief (you can make the other company STOP using your name) but that can get expensive if they don’t. IF you have a perfected mark (you’ve filed a FEDERAL MARK) you can then get statutory damages, injunctive relief and MORE.

I’ll give you a brief example of a former client – they were using the name (Can’t say it here) and there was another band on a major label that even admitted that they knew about the other band but used my client’s name anyway. Needless to say – we were able to make them pay a TON of money to KEEP their name and my band would stop – but this second band had invested a TON of money along with the label to develop that name. But here’s the funny part – (keeping the names out to protect anyone that may be upset about this) the LABEL is the one that chose the name but the ARTIST/BAND had to pay the money for the infringement or rather the label paid it – but took it out of their recoupment from record sales, etc. Which is really insane – the label messed up – but wouldn’t pay for it! of course, the band could have sued the label but that’s like asking to get dropped. If they sued the label everything would have gone south! And that’s just how fair the labels are! NOT FAIR at ALL! Hence why if you’re a budding artist start you own band, start you own publishgin company and start your own Record Label – you can do all that the majors do and probably better except you won’t have the labels money – but since the label pockets aren’t so deep anymore it won’t matter. Just keep working at your art, your music and get all your ducks in a row and if you can bring it live, put out a few indie records and gather a following THEN the major labels may be interested and you’ll at least have a good negotiation position. If you haven’t done all you can to develop the band BEFORE you pitch you could get lucky and get a deal – but it won’t be a good one. In fact, you’ve got a better chance of being struck my lightning. But if you have a pretty decent history, have a lot of songs, are developed enough and have a pretty decent fan base, then you could get a major deal and you’ve got more negotiation position and if you’re really lucky – then you get ALL the labels interested and you could be lucky enough to get a bidding war.

But before any of that happens, make sure you have all of your business names *(band name, pub, and Record Label) in order and that your not infringing on some other band or labels name!

(This is NOT legal Advice - please check with an Attorney in your town)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The UPSIDE to a “custom deal”

One may think that my opinion is that all custom deals are bad, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a custom deal if done right could be the BEST way to go especially if you don’t have "personal" access to the right tools to get your music out there! IF you can fund it - you're chances of making money are drastically increased!

First you would need to get your new CD ready to be recorded. Whether you release it one song at a time or not doesn’t really matter, what’s important is that IF you don’t have your own studio with GREAT MIC’s and MIC-PRES and you don’t know how to record extremely well on your own, you may be better of hiring a studio that comes with an engineer. After all, that studio should be pretty much set up and ready to go and if your smart choose a studio that’s already got the drums set up, tuned and mic’d extremely well. That could save a days worth of studio time alone!

Also, try to book the studio in blocks and AFTER hours would be your best bet. There’s more studios than you can count and if you go with a busy studio, then booking times when the studio is idle is the cheapest solution. Remember a studio has to pay rent/mortgage payments, electricity and all of the other bills that any other business pays so they are more than happy to block out time for you at a cheaper rate.

Once you’ve negotiated a good price then work really hard on your pre-production. Make sure all your gear it working, you all know the songs, etc – try not to waste a single MINUTE that you don’t need to. Then go in and cut your record. Just remember that cutting basic tracks, and overdubs should NOT take you very long is you are PREPARED. The mixing is what is going to take time – but you can also take your tracks somewhere else to mix if you can. Just make sure you have somebody that KNOWS what they are doing. And THEN worry about the mastering! Just try NOT to mix the record in 10 different room or it will sound like it – try to make the product as uniform as possible and keep an A-B source handy at all times so you can compare each track to the “true north” and have uniform sounding product.

Once you’ve got your CD, then you need to make SURE that you work with the RIGHT people to help you with Marketing and Promotion because having a 100 songs on iTunes is NOT going to make you much money – so before you even think about your recording budget – make sure you have at LEAST that for Marketing and Promotion. And lastly try to come up with the most unique video you can to promote your music for FREE! In fact, be prepared to work the social networks as hard as you can – just be careful not to PESTER people or you’ll end up losing friends on My Space of FaceBook. Also, don’t ever put an audio or video PLAYER on My Space as a COMMENT –you’ll end up making more enemies than getting exposure.

You may even have an investor that can help but make sure to spend your money wisely and always think about your ROI!  There are a LOT of people out there that are dying to find the next big record and work with you – just don’t expect them to work for FREE! Work out a decent deal so that it’s a win-win situation! And then get ready for it – TOUR, TOUR, TOUR! And be ready to work every angle you have to get people to your shows! After all – if the fans come, then you’ll be on your way – if can’t establish a good following, you’ll won’t get a major deal and you won’t be able to make a living as the MONEY is on the road – don’t expect ROYALTIES to pay your bills!

Keep chasin' your dreams - and remember nobody is waiting on you to do anything!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vanity and/or Custom Deals (good or bad?)

There's a chapter in my book on "questionable practices" - at the top of the list were custom deals and/or vanity deals. But I saw them from an even "sleazier" side than STACK did.

There were LOTS of really bad studios that had record labels, publishing companies, distribution, and even D.J.'s AND CHARTS that were all tied loosely together but the sum of the parts was a complete unit and a TOTAL scam.

Yes, you could make a 10 song record for $10,000.00 - the budget was $2000.

Yes, you could get your song on a compilation CD that was sent to a LOT of radio stations and actually get a few of spins between midnight and 6 a.m.

Yes, you would give up 100% of your PUB - (just in case the song had a snowballs chance in hell of being a hit - if SOMEBODY else heard it and cut it right)

Yes, you would actually become CHARTED on these self-owned, self-promoted charts - BUT that meant nothing.

IN FACT, you would spend this $10,000 along with 11 other people - so the "label/studio" made $120,000 and spent $20K for the entire project and the artist got very little - the "scam artists" would take it all to the bank. The act would fold and leave Nashville and go to back home having to report to the home town people that put up the money that it was all gone. In fact the leading case for Consumer Fraud was Caprice vs. Brungard Records (20th Circuit- Nashville) which allowed the plaintiff to get THREE TIMES their damages AND attorney's fees for ripping off an act just like this!

IF anyone would bring me a deal like this to review - I would ask them to call the BBB and see how many complaints were filed - they would and 50% would walk, the other 50 would find a lawyer that would tell them this was a GREAT DEAL -

I wanted NO PART OF IT!

I even had a few REALLY RICH clients that did IN FACT buy their own record deal at a MAJOR as their Dads had a TON of DOUGH...lots of Oil Money in Texas was the norm. And then there's - the new Country Phenom – that’s drop dead gorgeous but CANNOT SING! You think she got signed on pure talent? Nope, DADDY bought her way in!

I’ve got buddy, who are still pounding it out in Nashville fighting for the scraps for any deal they can along with every other label guy that's been fired that cannot get a job doing anything else – one of them just dealt with a guy who just sold his business for a boatload of cash - so he buys a tour bus, gets a whole band together, starts to break into the music business in his 40’s – yes, he's OK but no star that’s for sure - but once everyone found out what kind of money he had - then they started to circle like buzzards, each one trying to pick the carcass clean before the others could get any of his money....all in all, he'll never amount to much of anything as an artist - but he does have enough money to open up a whole new office with a ton of people working for him that are all in it for themselves and once the money is gone - they are back on the street...

Sad but true - I wouldn't mind providing a good service for a good talent - but when you start "raising money" - albeit through Private Placement Memo's to sell stock in a closely held Company that does fall outside of the SEC's priorities (or at least is not as stringent as public stock) - but you've got to have a GREAT ARTIST that everyone believes in and then put them into development - and then get the bucks to pull it off and even THEN it's a huge Gamble! How do you get ROI?

Here's a couple of things to think about - the Viral Video that’s had 64 MILLION plays later on YouTube and they grossed a Whopping $30,K...That's $0.0000149 cents per youtube spin and iTunes sales were de minimus for something that was HUGE from a viral standpoint. My math may be off as I did the calculations a couple of weeks ago - but it was ridiculously LOW.

And the last point: did you know it takes 400,000 spins on a pure-play server like Pandora or to generate $400.00? Another way to look at it is it takes 7200 spins to equal one (1) CD purchase (if you own all the rights!) and that's the medium of choice these days - Satellite and streaming technology!

Wonder why a huge act like John Mayer has to KEEP TOURING and putting out records like a mad man? He's not making shit in album sales or iTunes much less for radio plays or even SYNC deals - you used to be able to get $65,000 for a major film, or sync deal - now your lucky to get $1200....the biggest deal I've heard about as of late was my buddy that got $5,000 for "AFTER THE CATCH" lead song on History Channel/Discover (?) - the money was spent before he got the check not including other fees that could have been incurred such as attorney’s, managers, etc.


Stack-A-Track on Custom Deals....

Back in the 80's I produced several bands over at T.I. (*you guess the name) - The clients were wanna be acts....they could sing a little and their saving grace was the budget they had to pay me to sit behind a console and make their recording. On one occasion there was this country band of 20 year olds from Indianapolis....I found a tune I liked from singer songwriter Pat Alger....I saw Pat perform at the Bluebird one night and he did this new tune "Small Town Saturday Night"...I knew immediately it was a hit.

I called Terrell Tye and got a hold on the song for this band I was producing. Well, the band wasn't that good so I hired great musicians to come in and track the song....The singer tried as he might never was quite able to pull off a plausible reading. They pooled their monies from friends & families to come to Nashville to record. After about three months of them coming into town to attempt a vocal session, the publisher called me to say that her boyfriend wanted to cut the tune. Her boyfriend at the time was Hal Ketchum.... So he & Rooney recorded the tune and within a month the song hit the charts and made Hal a career.

Those boys from Indianapolis were confused & bewildered. I had dropped a hit right into their laps and they were so damned stupid they took it for granted and failed to perform the simplest of tasks. In the end I made a couple thousand bucks for the three months of frustration and disappointment. Most of these custom budget projects averaged in at about 50,000.00. The owner would con the acts into building basically an
illegal "corporation-business" venture that offered "stock" to all the investors.

That's pretty much the way he financed TI....Put together a bogus stock offering to about 6 people who invested 80,000.00 or so each. The studio got built...they put together a very nice recording studio and managed to pay them selves for a good 5 years while promoting all sorts of custom projects that put more money into their pockets and a little in mine.

The whole idea of someone buying fame makes me nauseous. If someone isn't good enough...If they are a marginal talent.....They don't deserve it. American Idol answers that one IMHO. As for me spending the last part of my life recording wanna be acts. I'll be passing on that one.

Why waste the time ?

(A good friend of mine with MAJOR credits talking on Custom/Vanity deals)

How to build your OWN Computer for VERY LITTLE MONEY!!

My niece and nephew had their computer totally fry! What could have caused it?

Dust and Carpet FRESH!! Yes, Carpet fresh – (in fact, this was the 5th computer this year I’ve seen have the power supply totally burn up due to CARPRET FRESH! It has enough “GRIT” to it that it will freeze up your hard drive and you’ll know it when you clean out the dust as it smell like carpet fresh!)

In the case of my niece and nephew – not only was the Power Supply gone – but the heat fried everything on the motherboard except for their hard drive so I was able to save all of their music, pictures, etc – which would have been a huge loss as that machine had about 4-5 years of their stuff – even going back to when they were playing with TOYS and not driving cars! So how does on fix the problem? They really needed to be able to boot to that original hard drive to recapture the data. Plus they really didn’t want to get a brand new computer as they would have preferred to get a laptop. So what’s the solution? Build one a new one for WAY less than a manufactured one!

Can you build your own computer? YES!!! It’s easy and extremely inexpensive! And in less that 30 minutes!

The last one I built was a dedicated MASTERING MACHINE for our downtown studio…the motherboard had to have gone bad as the machine just keep recycling on boot up. Everything was tested on a separate set of parts and it came down to the motherboard. Unfortunately that meant a new power supply, RAM, Processor, etc. unless you want to try to buy legacy hardware and that will cost way more than you’d expect. Luckily we already had a full tower case ($30-$40) – but as stated, the Motherboard was fried – DUST and STATIC are the biggest enemy so that must have been the problem.

Be that as it may, you can go to Tiger Direct, New Egg or other companies and buy a bare bones kit – such as motherboard, processor, processor fan, RAM, and perhaps a new power supply depending on the voltage and the number of PINS to match the motherboard. Move the risers on the case to match the motherboard and install it. Pop in the PROCESSOR (gently as this is ZERO FORCE insertion) along with ‘thermal paste” – (you can buy this separately), pop on the CPU Fan, and then hook up the power supply to all places on the motherboard and to your peripherals such as internal drives (hard drives, CD or DVD ROMS or RW’s) and then power it up – if your original drive is in good shape you won’t have much problem at all – just load the new drivers and you’re back to where you need to be! A simple and cheap solution!

SM/MSO - AAA Computers

Friday, October 8, 2010

When are you REALLY READY to pitch to the Majors?

If you think you are ready – are you absolutely sure?

You usually only get ONE shot and the last thing you or the person that is working with you or for you wants to do is to “Waste a Pitch”. Trust me on this one, as you cannot burn a bridge by wasting somebody’s time. They’ll never give you the time of day again!

You have to be ready and I mean on ALL FRONTS! You can’t just have a great record in the can. You have to have 3 or more in the can and the fan base that comes from touring and touring to bring with you as a negotiation point. If you only have two good songs on that one record that could be singles, who would want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the outside chance they may recoup their investment on two songs? Of course that’s if you are a band that writes your own music. If you are solo artist that can adapt to many different song styles, etc – then that’s a different story. But that doesn’t mean that a solo artist that can nail parts on a record can bring it live and be able to WORK with a professional touring band – it takes time to get tight!

Having played in tons of bands through the years and many of which were revolving bands as it was hard to keep a full band together. Something always comes up and you either have to cancel the gig or get somebody to fill in and about the only type of musician that can really do that is a drummer. Otherwise, it can take months to get really tight and you can't do it in rehearsal you have to do it LIVE! And no matter what you’re trying to do you’ve got to be able to BRING IT LIVE day in and day out – no off days!

You’ve got to stay in shape and get your rest – it’s not a party!

If you get signed you can expect a typical day on the road to be like this: wake up early and do a radio interview during drive time then hit a morning talk show, then back to another radio station for an online interview, then an in store at a local CD store, then lunch with whomever the players are in THAT CITY (radio, TV, promoters, club owners, you name it) and then back to another radio station and hopefully another in store and then sound check – then meet and greets before the show and then the show, then more meet and greets – (and these meet and greets better last a long time or you don’t have any fans) and then back on the bus and head to the next town…in short very long hard days!

And all the while you’re on the bus – you need to working on your next record! Tons of pressure for you to TOP your last one!

So before you waste your ONE PITCH you better have all the pistons firing and you’d better have something to OFFER the label other than your unbridled talent. Otherwise, you’ll end with a really BAD deal IF you even get one and then if you don’t have a HIT, you’ll get dropped and the chances of getting a SECOND deal or 1/100th or less than the first one – you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression so you’d better have it all together and get it right the first time! Lastly, be ready to play ball the way the label wants you to – if you’re not willing to compromise, then don’t even think about a major label – do it all yourself. And the best way to do that is to TOUR, TOUR, TOUR and put out singles or make records and bundle them with a T-Shirt and give away your music – people don’t want to buy many CD’s anymore…but you can record you live shows and sell that to those who can’t make it. Just remember, music has been devalued. Clubs don’t pay what they used to and people are spending their money on other things these days! But if you really want to do this for a living – you can do it – and with all the technology you have such a social networking, etc- and IF your music is REALLY good – the fans will KNOW it and will come back for more! But you had to build that fan base on fan at a time and one show at a time – after a few years of doing that, then you will know if your music is good enough as the number of people at your shows will TELL you the real value of your music! As touring is the ONLY way to make any REAL MONEY! 


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Songwriting…(my favorite type of writing)

(Just some thoughts for the day...)

As a singer/songwriter, I am often working on new ideas for lyrics and chord progressions to allow the melody to stand out. It’s kind of hard to imagine that there’s really only so many keys on a keyboard or notes on a guitar but there are almost unimaginable ways to put those “single notes, two notes or thee notes (chords) together” and millions of ways to wind the melody around those chords. I’m often dumbstruck at how a lot of my songs can become so complex and yet not get the point across in a sonically pleasing way.

I’m always amazed at how the BEST of songs are usually so BASIC and SIMPLE to play. Perhaps part of the trick is – the easier it is to play, the easier it is to listen to and that’s certainly true of Pop, Rock or Country (which has now become a combination of both Pop and Rock). I’ll skip all other genres as the point of this blog is to speak to songwriters that would like to get their songs recorded by some other act or to perhaps get their songs out to the general masses. And I’ll point out that I do NOT profess to a hit songwriter but have worked with countless number one songwriters in the past and countless people in the music industry at all levels and around the world!

One important thing to try to do is to make the stand out from the pack and that’s a real trick as I can assure you that while working on Music Row in Nashville I was exposed to 100’s of thousands of songs and very, very few of them were good and even fewer were GREAT! But I have found acts that I’ve worked with from a development standpoint as a producer to help them develop their songs, their overall sound, and their own unique style and perspectives.

Some of the tricks that I use are to LISTEN to other people and look for catch phrases or turns of expressions that could serve as a them or a title. I also then look for the HOOK! The hook is the most important thing – and many writers approach that in a lot of different way – some writers will write with JUST the bass player to build the song from the root of the beat and a very simple structure. While others will use piano or guitar chords (or course other instruments as well) but sometimes while they are using different chord inversions and structures that can become a little complex for a simple melody.

And even though you have a great hook you must learn to use dynamics and even more importantly an intro, pre-chorus, and even a bridge to let the HOOK breath and to create moods, build tension and release that tension. This is exactly like developing a character in fiction, working on the plot, using foreshadowing to give the reader something to look forward to and then on to the dénouement and the conclusion or in the songwriting world the OUTRO.

Just remember that there is NO RIGHT WAY or WRONG WAY – it either works or it doesn’t and I can assure you with my writing and even most number one songwriters, they have to write 100’s of songs just to find TEN that can be then fine tuned down to just one or two that actually have a shot, but the real secret is writing and writing and writing. I have so many people that want to write with me or want me to critique their songs and more often than not they just have not put the time into the BASICS of songwriting to even be close to being able to write a professional song. And then just out of nowhere, somebody can get a turn of phrase, a great hook or a good structure that as a producer, I can NOW work with them and take the song to a much more developed and a really good song. And once that song is down – then it’s time to get it recorded on tape or in digital format – and that’s when it goes to a whole other level and you start to think more in terms of not just the song, but the arrangements, the overall SONIC quality, harmonies, etc. etc.. but if you really want to write songs – then learn to LISTEN and work on your craft – the strongest and most sincerest form of flattery is to copy someone else’s style or several others styles and then make it your own! With time and hard work – and NEVER giving up, you may just find that in a matter of a year or so, you could have several songs that are actually worth working on some more and getting them recorded…but production and recording is an almost completely different discussion that I’ll save for another time….

Just keep writing! Or as my friend "Brother Dege" would say...


Steve Moore

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Self-Promotion or Going with a Label & What about "tour support"?

NRC's are DEAD! FACE IT! Who really buys CD's anymore. I had a friend in the business offer to send me a CD - and actually sent me a physical CD of another act (promotional purposes only - FREE goods). I received the PHYSICAL CD and 'skimmed" the credits, didn't even stop to read the lyrics. I downloaded the other songs that I wanted from iTunes on that CD and was fine with that - I found MORE info on the internet about THAT CD than could have ever gleaned from an 8 page insert (with print that needed a microscope to read) and was able to read MORE about what I WANTED to read - and not what the label/artist wanted me to SEE on the physical CD. And to be honest - I ripped the physical CD into my computer - jumped it over to my mp3 player and that was that - assuming that I even wanted all of the songs, which I didn't - I just wanted a couple...

I'm even considering taking ALL of my CD's and ripping them onto a hard drive (well that's not true - just the ones I actually bought and only the songs I like)- I've actually got 4000 or so CD's of stuff I received when I was in Nashville that I maybe listened to and like 40 whole songs off the entire lot. I don't even think I could get $50 bucks for them on E-bay for a bulk sale. And MANY of them are PROMO GOODS anyway - so what to do with THOSE - can't resell them - so I guess I'll donate them - assuming ANYBODY would take them!

So now we KNOW that NRC and the CD is we still want to sign with a label? I struggle with that EVERY SINGLE DAY. There's still a place for a major label but they've got it ALL WRONG - they shouldn't cling to the old business model - it's fallen and it can't get up! And LIFE-ALERT won't bring anybody over in a hurry to resuscitate the labels. Sorry but no amount of emergency procedures are going to help...if you haven't made out your living will...then you'll just have to suffer...had you filled it out, we'd pull the plug for you so we could put you OUT of your MYSERY - If IDOL has MORE power, then things are truly SAD! But since you at the Majors have treated your acts like something worse than a dog - more like a beast of burden and the RENTED MULE is now useless with its broken leg. 

Be that as it may, there is still a place for a label but about the ONLY place I see it is possibly tour support. You can now buy PMD services a la carte (which is a GREAT IDEA!) I mean if you can raise enough to cut a record (which can be done for SO much cheaper with so many great home studios) - then you should put the EXACT same money aside for PMD. And the P&D part of that equation is NOT nearly as important. You need to promote your record - but you CAN do self-promotion and reach thousands of people if not HUNDREDS of thousands of people if you are willing to work at it!

(SHOUT OUT TO YOUNG MS MELLOT - she's only just out of Berklee and working it big time and putting in more time than MOST of the people that ask me to help them - that INTRIGUES ME - Wow good old honest hard work - what a concept - and using EVERY SINGLE self-promotion tool OUT THERE!)

You need a marketing plan - and most people don't even know what that is - but in my book you can read about it! And you can just read about it online - but a MARKETING 101 course would be better than NO IDEA as to what to do to MARKET your BAND and YOUR SONGS (not cd's, NOT singles, but SONGS!) - Here's a 1 sentence wrap-up of marketing - find out who your core audience is - (who would download your songs AND pay, who would come to your shows, who would buy your merch, who would be interested the MOST in what YOU as a PRODUCT have to offer and focus your energy in building your brand by getting to that MARKET! I mean branding is EVERYTHING - but who even knew what a KLEENEX was and now it has SECONDARY MEANING STATUS in TRADEMARK law. You don't ask for a TISSUE - you ask for a KLEENEX - how did THAT happen - GREAT ADVERTISING AND MARKETING and of course BRAND LOYALTY!

On the distribution side - do you really need a record in Wal-Mart or any other music store - not really! If you have to put out CD's - don't get a distribution deal UNLESS you've got TONS OF MONEY IN PMD to spend - because you're gonna end up with a lot of ship-backs and charge offs and spend more on accounting that you can make from the record! But you can do a digital distribution deal in less than an hour and they take ALL COMERS - so you can have your songs for sale on EVERY PLACE there is to buy a download! Many of these companies can even pick and pack your physical goods if you feel you MUST put out a CD.

But now you've got your studio stuff done, you've got your merch - you're getting a lot of hits at your website and myspace page, et al - people want to come see you - how do you get in front of them?

Do you get a sponsor? Well - that's a nice thing that a company is going to give you some clothes, a guitar, some strings, etc - but you really need is MONEY to get a VAN - and let me just tell you FORGET about the BUS! With the price of gas - that's a ridiculous waste of money and it's NOT GREEN! But what about just getting out on tour - will a sponsor help - sure if you're willing to engage in corporate prostitution. It all depends on what type of act you are - and what you can bring to the SPONSOR - if you're bubblegum pop and can get Wrigley’s to give you some money - hey that's great - but if you're a hard core rock band - what corporation wants to risk working with you. They have to protect their brand! But there are ways - and you don't have to tour the world right away - you can build your tour in REGIONS- and let it grow and let the money that you make from MERCH -maybe CD sale as POP (point of purchase) Sales - and what you can get for playing - but face it - if you're getting $400 a show for 45 minutes to open for a HEADLINER - and there's ONLY 4 people in the band that's less than $80 bucks a day per person after you pay your booking agent and your manager/road manger or ALL of the above. You just can barely eat and sleep in a cheap motel for those rates much less change your strings or drum heads or wear CLEAN CLOTHES for that matter!

But IF you play your cards right - get some GREAT SONGS FIRST - build some interest in THOSE SONGS in any way you can - self-promote slowly build up some cash flow from merchandise, maybe some regional sponsors (or you could get lucky and Budweiser will throw a ton of money at you) - I mean TV and RADIO ads aren't paying off like they used to - the internet is sucking away listeners/viewers like raindrops in the desert. So you could get some money - but if you build it like a business- KEEP as much of the money that you can - you can continue to grow like any other business - 10% growth per year is fine for a lot of businesses - but wait we're playing the young person's game now - if we don't hit by the time we're 25 to 30 - our careers are for the most part OVER! Not necessarily - but this goes back to YOUR MARKET - and YOUR FANS - and will they still be interested in your when YOU and THEY both grow up - that CAN BE DONE! But you can always play music for the right reasons – because it’s what you LOVE to do!

If you get out there and build your fan base - and continue to work HARD to grow that fan base and IF the music is REALLY, REALLY good - people WILL come! You will be on a fast track - and then the labels will come calling - BIG TIME - and instead of trying to suck up to them and let them control your career from the get-go, YOU will have negotiation strength to get a GREAT deal - and then you'll be in front of the WORLD - with THEIR money and YOU will get to KEEP more of that than you would if you compromised from the get-go and sing a REALLY BAD deal!  Like the new 360 deals - once you're first single bombs - you're DONE!  On, on, on to the next one....

Everything is changing - better get busy if you think that you can keep up with the times!


Who wouldn’t want to make it in the music business?


Music Square One's Website

I'll leave this up for a while and then move to DRAFTS - so I don't lose my "hit history"....



If you have dreams of "stardom", that's great! One should follow ones dream...

However, one must also take stock in the fact that the music business is AFTER ALL a business. And it costs a lot to get started. Years of practicing, learning your craft, working on your songs, learning how to record, make records, play live gigs, etc. Again, this IS a business and you have to treat is as such. Success does not come knocking - you've got to get out and find it. HOW?

HARD, HARD WORK for years and years and yet there are still no guarantees. History is full of people that have tried and failed. Did they have a backup plan - an exit strategy? In most cases, and sadly, the answer is no.

So how do you hedge your bets? Again, hard, hard work…

You've got to have the talent, the desire and the willingness to risk it all...and most importantly you've got to learn as much as you can ABOUT the business as you possibly can. You have to become a CONSUMATE PROFESSIONAL. You just can't be an "artist" that shows up when you want to - at least not until you've made it - and even then, that kind of work ethic won't be tolerated for long.

If you are trying to get a deal and somebody asks you to do something in order to effectuate that process - you'd better do it - and put enough TIME into it to inspire confidence. You can't just go off half cocked and expect results. You won't hit the target and you will risk burning a bridge - and this is NOT a business where you can afford to burn bridges. It takes a whole lot of help to make it on your own - but you also must understand that those that are trying to help are trying to make a living too. Life's too short to deal with wannabes that will NOT do the work. And sadly there are a lot of people with very little talent that are willing to work 10 times harder than those with loads of talent that comes naturally.

I guess the gist of this entire message - is that hard work, networking, building STRONG relationships, surrounding yourself with people who KNOW what they are doing, having a solid plan, with several contingency plans - and the willingness to LISTEN, LEARN and take what you can from those that may or may not know more than you do. The worst thing that can happen is that you will learn what NOT to do - but for many they learn most lessons when it's way too late...

Experience costs a great deal of money - don't buy too much if you can't afford it.
Steve M.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Promotion, Marketing and Distribution - "The Catch 22"

Promotion, Marketing and Distribution can be a “Catch 22”  As printed for Damn Good Tunes - Bruce Maier -

*(Entire Article less Gif's)
The state of Normal Retail Channels (NRC) sales is so dire that it’s really hard to justify selling CD’s anymore, at least not in record stores. In fact, the traditional PMD plan is NOT working for the major labels, so what’s the point of traditional P/M/D? In business, you always want to have enough products to meet demand. If you don’t you’re losing money. After all, demand is what drives sales. However, what if you have the product, it’s in the stores and there’s NO DEMAND? You’re STILL going to lose money. So what to do?

It’s just so painfully obvious that way too many bands put way too much money into producing a CD and getting it pressed with shiny new shrink-wrap without having given ANY thought whatsoever to PMD. And what’s the point of having a ton of CD’s stuck in a closet? Or worse, lugging around a bunch of CD’s that you can’t sell at your gigs? You have to have a plan.

No record label would ever release a CD without a marketing plan. It’s relatively simple – figure out what the core audience will be and direct your marketing budget accordingly. Of course, the labels do have more money to throw at marketing although those coffers are drying up. Further, all major labels always plan to PAY for Ad’s (yes that’s what they call spins on Radio – Ad’s) and that is called PROMOTION. Yes, it should be illegal to pay for spins– however, the record labels can’t pay a radio station directly, but they CAN pay an independent promoter to insure the independent promoter pays the radio station to secure the coveted number of spins per day in all the major markets. If you don’t like it – then write your legislature because the FCC which provides the licenses for the radio stations is owned by YOU, as in “WE, the people”. And these radio stations ARE required by law to be for the GREATER good of the PUBLIC– not just to put MONEY in their pockets. But when you stop and think about it how many of you actually listen to the radio that much anymore? Are radio plays the end all that they used to be? Not with so many choices in today’s markets.

Then there’s distribution – the 3rd leg of this three legged dog! The record companies have major distribution – they can get their product placed in the record stores. But who’s buying the CD’s? Not many people, that’s for sure. Record sales are WAY DOWN and now iTunes has surpassed Wal-Mart as the number one retailer. In fact, Tower records is gone, Best Buy has reduced their SKU’s from the 10,000 or so mark to more like 2000 and record stores are closing all over the place. So what’s the point of shipping physical goods? Not much. In fact why ship ANY CD’s at all– most of them will be returned and charged against the artist’s account which is ALL recoupable by the labels. If you get into the NRC shipping game (at least shipping product that are not already paid for) you will run into the same costs. But there’s hope! If iTunes is the number one retailer doesn’t that level the playing field? Yes – to a degree because getting on iTunes is NOT hard at all. But you STILL have to have a PMD plan! How else are you going to stand out from ALL of the other bands that are vying for the same audience?

But PMD can be a catch 22 – if people hear your band’s brand new CD on the radio and they can’t find it at a local store, what are they going to do? Some will buy it…but more than likely find it for FREE on the internet and that’s not going away. You have to get creative! Some bands have actually increased their record sales by promoting file sharing! But beware - because people are tired of buying a CD that only has two tracks on it that they like. The buying public is educated and they are not going to WASTE money on music they don’t want, there are just too many options for them to get ONLY what they want and your job is to make yourself available to those that are willing to buy!

What should YOU do? If your label has paid for independent promotion, which is in line with their super cool marketing plan, and they shipped out product through their distributor to all the stores – then you should sell records, right? Not hardly. You are much better off figuring out what you can do on YOUR OWN and skip the entire major record company. They want a 360 deal anyway (a piece of every revenue stream that they can make) which leaves you with even a smaller piece of the pie than what you got 10 years ago which was basically a crumb anyway. About the best you could get out of record company was the PMD and tour support…but you wouldn’t see much by way of money coming back from record sales. So figure another way of going about it – as the old model is broken and billions have been lost in this decade alone!

But you can still put time, effort and money into promotion, marketing and distribution – just don’t do it the way it’s been done for the last few decades and you will be guaranteed to LOSE MONEY! Think outside the box and come up with NEW ideas to get the word out. And even though the core audience of regular radio is dying – it’s still a great way to gain exposure and to use a measuring stick as to what IS being promoted, so you are going to still have to work your local and regional radio stations, play those towns and KEEP playing them, give FREE tickets to anyone at the radio station that will come to a gig, leave your CD’s on consignment at mom and pop CD stores everywhere you can. AND anywhere you can and give the people that work at the CD stores FREE tickets to your shows to insure they help promote your stuff! Sell your CD’s at your gigs – or better yet GIVE YOUR CD’s away but bundled with a moderately priced T-shirt. At least you can build the cost of the CD into the T-shirt and the T-shirt acts as FREE advertising. And lastly work the internet – it is for all intents and purposes FREE but figure out a way to stand out from the crowd. You’re going to have to research and work at it – and not let one single avenue to work your product slip away from your clutches. And LASTLY, don’t expect fame and fortune to come knocking just because you have created what you think is THE greatest studio CD! You have to KNOW that the life of a even GREAT CD is short (unless of course you’re lucky enough to write a classic number one) so you will have to meet or beat what you’ve just done on your last studio record with yet another CD or offering and with a quick turn around. So full blown CD’s are not going to work – think in terms of smaller offering, in fact ONE SONG at a time!

Face it - you’re going to have to earn your fans one at a time with hard work and constant touring. But I can assure that IF your music (both recorded and LIVE) is that THAT GOOD, then people WILL KNOW IT and word of mouth is the best promotion you can get – people know what they like and what they will spend their money on. You have to have a core fan base and that fan base CAN support you both economically and spiritually. But that FAN BASE has got to be built through a lot of touring, and staying in touch with those fans. Figure out WHO your core market is and stay in touch with them in as many ways as you can – now that is a Promotion, Marketing and distribution plan! Your fans are your life blood - figure out what they want and give it to them. And if THE PEOPLE (the coveted and hoped for fans) don’t like your stuff - then you may want to consider another line of work. But you have to get out there and TRY because you CAN do what you want to do for a living (and that should be the goal to quit your day job) IF you are willing to work at it hard enough and you can’t just make great records or write great songs, you have to have a plan! After all one out of five business fail in the first year and the number one reason why they do fail is that their business plan doesn’t work! But again, don’t give up, you can do it – just make sure that you get that plan, and stick to it and allow for that plan to change as the markets change as they are going to change again and again. Exciting times we are in…take advantage of them!

If you would like to read more – please read my book, “The Truth about the Music Business”. If you can’t find it in your local store, just ask for it. They CAN get it!

Best of luck with your future endeavors…

Steve Moore, B.A, J.D., Author

This article is a Copyright (© 2008) of Music Square One, All rights reserved.

Who Owns the Airwaves for Radio? (An Older Blog 2008)

Ever wonder why all you hear the same stuff over and over on terrestrial radio? It's always the same old thing and if you like to listen to a lot of radio you are sure to hear the latest hits, or the same old hits over and over again. If you take a drive from Nashville to anywhere in the United States and the more rural you get the less choices you have. And the further you go the more it all stays the same. Ever wonder why? Because a computer called "ARBITRON" is picking the songs FOR the program directors and in the case of Clear Channel stations – there's actually no local D.J. – just a computer that pipes in the music to be played locally and then broadcast. Naturally local commercials are made at the local radio station but that's about it.

So what can you do to get better choices? You have to realize that WE, the people, own the airwaves…not radio stations and certainly NOT the major record labels. We've got no problem with RADIO being commercial…everyone deserves to make a living…but why do we have to listen to the SAME SONGS all 24 Hours of every single day? Furthermore, we don't necessarily want to have to hear a lot of bad music that isn't worth being on the radio. But shouldn't the consumers of the music decide what they want to hear. After all, what is the request line for anyway? If the song is bad, don't play it. If it's good, then don't play it until it's NOT good anymore! But at least let the listeners decide what they want to hear!

We could all very easily start a grass roots movement dedicated to freeing up the airwaves for variety and to give those that deserve a chance to have their stuff heard who aren't on a major label that are paying huge dollars to independent promoters. And IF people heard a great song that they liked but didn't have to hear it all day long, that would provide more impetus to go buy the damned record. Record sales will go up and everybody will be happy! But we're sick of this over-corporative, homogenized, mocha chino land where everything is the SAME. This is America… we're supposed to be different! We all like the warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we can go get a hamburger that is exactly the same everywhere we go…but we don't want to eat at those places every day of the week—we all need some home-cooked grits and greens now and again. Variety is the spice of life! And if the consumers demand it – eventually they WILL get it!

Steve Moore

Steve Moore Article for FNO Magazine (May 2008)


The problem is systemic and there is no known cure – as of now. The day of the Indy label or independent artist is upon us and the timing has never been better for a do-it-yourself, grassroots start up to find its core market. In short, find a niche and you can reap the benefits. You CAN make a living as independent – but don't expect to get truly "mad money" rich – unless you are pretty lucky. But the old adage that the harder you work, the luckier you get and luck truly is when preparation meets opportunity!

I remember when I was working as a music attorney in Nashville during the early to mid 90's, the music business was experiencing the best times ever, old vinyl recordings were being released and CD's were selling, the major acts were all over the radio and thus concerts were actually in large arenas, and most major acts didn't have a hard time filling them. But that did not last long as the internet was changing EVERYTHING. I specifically remember watching everything changing and thinking "now is the time to start an independent label". With everything that's changing out there…it won't be long before physical CD's won't be worth much and the music stores will start to die. And that's exactly what has happened.

At first P2P and the over-pricing of CD's started to show smaller sales overall, and this was only a small cut on the heel of the major labels. But the majors did nothing and that cut began to fester. In today's world of the Internet, MP3, P2P, iPods and a host of other ways to get music out there, the major labels through their lack of understanding of "digital rights" (possibly the cure) is killing them. Their failure to take any preventative steps to allow the cut to scab over and heal has left a festering wound that has grown worse in time. The problem has gotten so bad that this once minor cut has now become an open bleeding sore with no real quick fix that could possibly help. In fact, it's going to take major surgery, possibly life threatening, to cure what ails them.

The Major Labels are not going away as BIG BUSINESS will find some way of saving itself, and there is a still a place for them in the larger scheme of things as there are no shortage of acts that are really good enough to actually break through on the major scene. The piece of the pie for these artists will shrink even more as the labels ask for more rights and hence more of the artists' money! In record deals offered today the Majors want your management, booking fees, your merchandising, in short EVERYTHING they can get their grubby fingers on leaving the artists to have to break EXTREMELY huge or end up never recouping a dime and thus never able to get out of their contract to try to make it on their own.

With the proliferation of home studios, and a wide variety of ways to get your music out there, you just have to find your core market and niche and exploit it the best way you can. And there's so many ways to do it now – your chances have never been better.

You may not be able to quit your day job but if you work at it – you never know what could happen. There are bands out there that have used their website and myspace pages to sells hundreds of thousands of CD's on their own. Even if you sell the CD's for cheap or even give them away if you bundle them with a t-shirt you're probably going to make more money that if you give a major label 90% of your profits! So the plan should be to record EVERYTHING you can – whether it's live or in the studio and get your music out there. Once you honed your act into a viable, solid act – hit the road and tour, tour, tour! You will be surprised what you can do all on your own – and once you've made a great reputation for yourself and you still want those major label dollars behind you to break it really big – at least now you have some negotiation strength to get the best deal possible.

If you're interested in learning more, I recommend you read my book The Truth about the Music Business. Go to and click "Buy The Book". I also have a solid business plan that I've worked on for the past 5 years that I'm willing to share. Just contact me at

Thanks for reading! RIF

Steve Moore, B.A., J.D., Author of The Truth about the Music Business

Don't forget to support Julie at FNO - she's in my top friends on My Space for MSO and HCR!