Videos by American Songwriter
We polled industry experts for the March/April feature Dream Big: How To Succeed In Today’s Volatile Music Business. For those of you who really want to get ahead, here’s the full transcript of each interview, with lots of extra insights and advice.
I just recorded the best song I ever wrote. What’s the new model for getting my music heard? What to do with my demo? Do I post my music on Facebook, or is there a better place for music?
The best place for your music is places where it’s easily accessible to your target audience (first) and then to potential audiences you didn’t know you could have. You can’t put music directly on Facebook without the CD Baby MusicStore for Facebook so you’d want to start by putting it on CD Baby if you have sellable quality music. Then using our awesome application.
There are other sites like Bandcamp that are growing for fan and artist interaction, but with a demo you should be working on getting shows and generating a buzz with your new audience, and focusing on how to get that mastered and to a sellable place.
If I do post it for free, will anyone want to buy it?
Well, you’d be posting it for free so that will encourage people to at least get it. If you have more than one track, a lot of people will give one away for free in hoping folks will download the rest. But if it’s low quality (demo) then it depends on your style of music if people will buy it or not — completely situational.
On a site like Bandcamp, you can set up a “donation” option, to see if folks will donate. This is something that works a lot better when you already have a following though, and are releasing some new material.
But in general, a fan will go to a site that they already love to shop at to search for music. So you could give a track away for free on CD Baby, but perhaps your new fan from a show only shops on Amazon — so they would go there to search instead of plugging into Google and finding the cheapest option.
Should I sell it on iTunes, CDBaby, Spotify? What sort of cut will I get?
Of course! If you’re going to sell it, you may as well make it available to people that love to shop at different sources.
The cut to an artist depends on the store. You make more from a track download at iTunes than you do from a stream from Spotify, but each store offers their own unique exposure to the world.
What if only ten people buy it? Will I still get digital royalties via Sound Exchange? How do I protect my recordings?
SoundExchange is not a company that collects your royalties from downloads. All of CD Baby’s partners will pay us for your sales, and then we’ll pay you. This is so you don’t have to deal with multiple outside sources.
SoundExchange is a performance royalty collection agency for ONLINE use of your music. e.g. when Pandora plays your music, they pay Soundexchange for the stream. When your music is purchased from iTunes or streamed on a partner like Spotify, they report to us.
“Protecting” your recordings is a broad subject. First, you copyright it through copyright.gov, you can sign up with a PRO (performance rights organization like BMI or ASCAP) but when it gets down to it, once your music is out there, it can keep going just like a space man lost in the universe. Sometimes, indie artists have to seek and destroy websites that are offering their music for free downloads illegally, which can be a busy process.
Next, how do I get people in the industry to hear it, so I can get a record deal or have it placed in a commercial?
It shouldn’t all be about a record deal from the start, it should be about building a fan base and expanding on your own unique image and abilities with the goal of eventually getting a deal that works for you, if you need it to help with your records.
Getting picked for a commercial etc. really can’t be determined. A lot of time it takes popularity and someone dedicated chasing down every opportunity. With sync licensing, you’re put into a pool with thousands of other songs, and the person searching for the “perfect song” has to wade through that pool. It never hurts to ask a company handling your sync licensing to take a listen to see if they can pitch it anywhere.
The response has been great but I haven’t been signed or picked up for a commercial — what’s my next move? Tour? Hire PR?
Tour, tour, tour! If response is good, chances are you’ve already been playing a lot and if the demand is there, then you would keep playing live for people. Sell merch, sell CDs, sell download cards or get creative and sell pillowcases with your bands logo on them or beer coozies or who knows! The possibilities with creativity are endless, and a band who is focusing on endless creativity won’t sit in stagnant water with the rest of them and will, hopefully, be noticed and succeed at whatever their goals are.
Always remember, things do NOT often happen over night — it takes a LOT of focus and a lot of hard work to be “noticed” by a label if that’s your goal, or even to sell enough merch to record your next album. So the key for every artist who really has a goal, is straight ambition and endurance.
Next: Jonny Corndawg