If I wrote songs with someone and then parted ways and the songs are copyrighted, should I have to sign a release form If he asks? He hired a bunch of musicians to play on the songs and paid them a fee. Since I am the co-writer, is there any reason I would want to sign a 'release form' if he asks me to?
Hope that makes sense
||Tuesday 04 Dec 2007
||Division Of Ownership Under Copyright Law
There's a presumption under copyright law that the authors of a joint work are automatically considered equal contributors. This simply means that if a band writes a song, each writer automatically owns an equal share, no matter how big or small his or her musical or lyrical contribution.
A "lyrical" contribution refers to the words written as part of a musical composition. Determining a "musical" contribution can be a lot more complicated. According to Neil Gillis, Vice President of A&R and Advertising at Warner/Chappell Music, a musical contribution includes the melody, as well as any pre-existing riff or groove that becomes an integral part of the song.
Take the drum part to the song "Wipe Out" for example, or the bass riff to the song "Come Together." Would these songs be the same if either part were excluded? Certainly not. Nevertheless, Gillis warns that he would never walk out of a writing session without first being clear among all the writers what percentage of each composition he owned. A simple written agreement will suffice. It's not even a bad idea to record writing sessions on a small recorder, and to keep copies of original lyric sheets in case a dispute between writers ever materializes.
Exceptions To Copyright Law Per Written Agreement
Keeping in mind what copyright law says, if the percentage split in a composition is intended to in any way to be other than equal, there needs to be a written agreement setting forth what that split really is. For instance, if the members of your band agree that the bass player's contribution in a song should only entitle him to a ten percent share, this must be put in writing.
You may be wondering whether any musician would carelessly agree to a smaller percentage share than he or she actually deserves. It's not that uncommon! In fact, I know several musicians who, throughout the course of performing with one extremely successful rock singer, signed away 100 percent of their song shares in return for a small sum of money. Not realizing the potential value of their shares over the long term, the guys felt that it was what they needed to do at the time to keep their positions in the band. Needless to say, they're all kicking themselves now.
The "All For One, One For All" Philosophy
With all this talk of who's entitled to what, you might ask what happened to the "all for one, one for all" philosophy that most young bands and writers swear to. After all, if a group of writers stuff themselves into a practice room to spend hours of their valuable time experimenting with song ideas and recording demos, is it really fair that the harmonica player gets zero interest in a song just because he wasn't feeling as lyrically or melodically creative as the others that day? And what happens when all the writers make relevant suggestions and have to determine whose chorus idea gets used? Can this potentially turn the writing process into a competitive game of who's getting credit rather than focusing on writing the best song possible? It can be a very real problem. Consequently, many bands have an initial agreement stating that all of its members will receive an equal split in the songs regardless of who comes up with what.
The "all for one, one for all philosophy" makes perfect sense at first, and works for many years of a relationship. However, once a group becomes successful and everyone in the industry begins telling the vocalist or guitarist that he or she is the real star and genius of the band, writing credits and percentages can quickly become a topic of further consideration.
For example, guitarist Stone Gossard and vocalist Eddie Vedder wrote most of Pearl Jam's songs, yet the band originally split the percentages in its compositions equally: each of the five members received 20 percent. However, as they became more successful and vocalist Eddie Vedder was recognized as "the star," essentially becoming the only irreplaceable member, the band wanted to keep him happy. They allotted 36 percent of each song to Vedder, and 16 percent went to each of the other four members of the band. In another, more drastic, example, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin started holing them up in a cottage in Scotland called Braun-yur to demo complete song ideas for Zeppelin III. In other words, this is where the other members of the group began to get cut out of the songwriting process.
Surely no one wants to lose out on their profitable piece of the pie, but the reality is there's usually one or two key writers in a group who are the principle creators, and it takes a great amount of maturity on the part of the other members to somehow recognize and deal with it. It's that simple! So it's always best to get the sticky stuff out of the way before getting on to the business of writing—it can save potential hard feelings and your share of the credits when the time comes to collect your earnings.
How does one evaluate a good producer and what variables should a singer look for in a producer and weed out fakes and so called wanna be producers? How does one know if a producer is legit or not?
||Thursday 29 Nov 2007
||One of the ways a producer can be most useful to you is by providing an objective ear. In the studio, it can be difficult to gain perspective as you create. A typical example is vocal performance. Your producer can recognize if you need to try it again and guide you through phrasing, pitch, emotion, etc. A good producer will also know to stop you when you've nailed it.
But don't think of a producer as some uninvolved bystander. They can be your partner in the studio, arriving at the ideal guitar sound, finding the right tempo, choosing the sweetest harmonies. Involve them early in the process by inviting them down to rehearsal. This gives you a chance to see if this is the right producer for you. It also allows you to avoid certain problems later on. For example, the band might be convinced which three songs out of ten should be recorded for a demo. At rehearsal a producer can bring a fresh perspective on which songs will work best.
The organizational skills of the producer should also be considered, as even a simple demo can present all sorts of logistical nightmares to the inexperienced artist. Someone needs to find the right studio and engineer, assemble musicians, and negotiate the rates for each. Whether you've secured a $20,000 loan from a wealthy fan or scraped up $1500 on your own, every penny counts. Someone needs to keep one eye on the budget while keeping the other eye on the musical "big picture." You may have the talent and willingness to do all this yourself. One question to ask yourself is, "Do I want to put all my energies into logistics to the possible detriment of my songs?" For some artists, the answer is "yes, I'll do it myself." And I say all the power to ya. But while I can't speak for other producers, much of the pleasure I get out of a project is creating a situation where the artist can focus solely on the music.
So maybe you like the idea of getting assistance, but don't know if you can afford it. Budgets are obviously less complicated for a self-financed recording than for a major label record, (as discussed in the Mumbo Jumbo column), but you'll still want to work out an agreement with your producer before you begin.
In any scenario involving payment after the project is finished, I strongly urge you to put it in writing. This can be more complicated than it seems. The trick is to arrive at a document that is neither overwhelming and unnecessary (25 pages of legalese) nor flimsy and worthless (two paragraphs that would be laughed out of court by any serious attorney). A well written 1-3 page "deal memo" is sufficient; typically it is the producer's responsibility to present a first draft. The agreement is more for their protection than yours.
The main idea I want to leave you with is to be clear from the start about what you expect from your producer and know what they want out of the project as well. Don't be afraid to ask pointed questions like, "How many days will the whole thing take?" and "Why do you want to work with me?" If the relationship begins with elements of honesty and trust, the recording will be that much more successful.
I have noticed that almost every
singing entertainer in the business writes their own songs or is with someone who writes original songs.
How do I make a cd for example as a tribute to Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard or just an assortment of great established songs that were not written by me?
How do I do that without getting
into copyright problems? Thanks.
||Wednesday 23 May 2007
||"Music Clearance" is the process by which permission is obtained from the owner of a song (the people who wrote it) or a master recording (the people who recorded it), for use in a production, such as a CD compilation, a musical play, or a film project.
First, it's important to understand the difference between a song and a master recording.
For every song written, any number of artists may have made their own recording. As an example, "Jingle Bells" has been recorded by everyone from Bob Hope to Bugs Bunny. This means that song rights are separate from recording rights.
You cannot use any master recording without getting permission from the publisher(s). Conversely, if you gain permission from the publisher, but are denied use of a particular master recording, you can always use a different master recording or record your own master, with the publisher's permission.
Clearing the Song
Any number of composers can be involved in writing one song. Each of these composers may be represented by their own publisher. A music publisher, to generalize, acts as the representative of the composer for their individual rights in regards to anyone using their song.
In order to clear a song, it is necessary to locate and contact the representative of each composer, confirm their ownership or administration percentage rights (i.e., do they own a percentage of the song?), and negotiate a fee for use of their share of the song. Composer's representatives are usually music publishers.
Negotiating a fee for use of a song is based on the type of production you have (such as a film, television show, commercial, trade show, corporate meeting, CD-ROM, Web site, compilation record, etc.) Fees will also be based on how much of the song is used and the manner in which it is used. There are a number of rights within all these different media, including synchronization rights, mechanical rights, performance rights, and others.
Clearing a Master Recording
Clearance of the master recording has nothing to do with clearance of the song. Publishing companies and record companies are almost always totally separate entities. Since nobody can track down all composers or publishers to obtain such permissions, called licenses, agencies have been established.
Such copyright agencies exist in nearly every country, and they all have bilateral agreements with most other countries' agencies. That means they look after the rights of all copyright owners, national and foreign, in their respective countries. Therefore the coverage of copyright licensing is, in effect, worldwide.
The agency responsible for your licensing depends on the country you live in. Each agency knows the others very well, and they will direct you to the right one if you come to them by accident. Especially in the United States, there are several agencies doing the same type of licensing for only some of copyright owners, but all know and have the addresses of the others.
Here's the bottom line: If you are planning on putting cover songs on your next CD, you need to get a mechanical license in writing. A mechanical license cannot be denied, but it can be a tedious process.
Three ways to get a mechanical license
First, find out who owns the copyright on the composition by contacting BMIASCAP (212-621-6160) or SESAC (800-826-9996). Each Web site has a searchable database of songs, writers, and publishers. Armed with this info, you can contact the publisher and negotiate your own rates. (212-586-2000),
If you don't want to negotiate your own rates, contact the Harry Fox Agency (212-370-5330). The Harry Fox Agency is authorized to issue mechanical licenses at the statutory rate of $0.08 per song, up to five minutes in length. Songs longer than five minutes are calculated at $0.0155 per minute, per song. To figure out your royalty fee, multiply the cost per song by the number of units manufactured (e.g., one six-minute song on 1,000 CDs would cost 1,000 x [6 x $0.0155] = $93.00)
The statutory rate is set by Congress according to the following schedule:
2002 and 2003: 8¢ per song or 1.55¢ per minute
2004 and 2005: 8.5¢ per song or 1.65¢ per minute
2006 and later: 9.1¢ per song or 1.75¢ per minute
If you can't afford the standard fee, contact a group like the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA). Each state has its own VLA. Use a Web search engine such as Google and search under Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts + Your State Name. Some VLA organizations have national listings on their Web sites. Check Philadelphia VLA and the New York VLA. Also try www.starvingartistslaw.com. They can often help negotiate reduced royalties for schools and nonprofit groups.
There is no minimum time for a sample; even two chords from a song can be very recognizable. The owners of the sample are not required to grant you permission, and if you do get permission, a portion of the income from sales will go to the sample owners. If you intend to publicly market a new song containing samples, be prepared to pay.
In U.S. copyright law there is nothing that says a copyright holder has to allow you to use their work in your new work. They can say "no" and are not required to explain why they have denied a request. This is why you should clear the samples before you master the song or record. Removing a sample on an already mastered element is difficult, time consuming, and expensive.
Copyright holders generally determine a sampling license fee based upon how much of the original work you've used and the extent to which the original work is featured in the new song. You will need to use your judgment according to the circumstances.
Before beginning a sample clearance, think about:
What element of the original song you sampled
How the sample was incorporated into the new song
The total number of samples needed to be cleared
The record label releasing the new work
The release date
The quickest way to transcribe the lyrics to the new song
When you will be mastering the song(s)
How many units of the new recording are being manufactured in the first manufacturing run
To obtain permission to sample a recorded work, contact the song's publisher.
Public Domain Music
The term "public domain" refers to the status of a work having no copyright protection and, therefore, belonging to the world. When a work is either in, or has fallen into, public domain, it is available for unrestricted use by anyone. Permission and/or payment are not required for use. Except with respect to certain foreign-originated works eligible for restoration of copyright, once a work falls into the public domain ("PD"), it can never be recaptured by the owner.
New material added to PD songs makes these compositions eligible for copyright to the extent new material is added and the public domain portion is not resurrected. "New material" includes editorial revisions of old lyrics, new lyrics, changes in melodies, arrangements, and compilations of versions of the same song.
New copyrights based on public domain material make it possible for writers and publishers to receive performance monies and mechanical license fees from record companies.
For example, several years ago music publishing giant Warner Chapell commissioned new arrangements of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, for which they owned the copyright, in order to continue collecting a degree of royalties on these copyrights
To find out if a song is in the PD, you can have the copyright office or a private search service check the copyright status.
NOTE: You should be aware that even if a song or recording is in the PD in the US, it may still be protected by copyright overseas. To be used without permission, a public domain song must be cleared worldwide.
A helpful reference site to help identify public domain songs and public domain music is www.pdinfo.com.
Music Clearance Houses
This is a relatively new concept that is quickly growing in popularity. There are many owners of music content that want to allow that content to be used for other purposes, but don't have the time or facilities to operate a full-time music library. That's where music licensing facilitators (MLFs) have come into the picture.
Music lisensing facilitators have the knowledge and experience to efficiently and affordably research and license music in any genre for any type of production budget. Most of them offer easy-to-use, online clearance request forms, hands-on personalized support, and cost-effective clearance rates. The MLF will either handle the licensing themselves on behalf of their client, or will refer you to their client once you've identified music that you want to use.
Several well-known MLFs include:
Clear Songs (www.clearsongs.com)
License Music Now (www.licensemusicnow.com)
Music Resources Inc. (www.musicresources.com)
WHICH COMES FIRST ON THE MIX DOWN: REVERB, COMPRESSION, EQ, DELAY?
||May 20th 2007
||I prefer to get everything sounding as good as possible at every step, so yes I would eq the sound to your multitrack master. Yes, tone quality will be enhanced or corrected in mastering, but when tracking, I add eq and compression to bass, drums, vocals, you name it. My goal was always to be able to play the tape with monitor faders only and have excellent sound. (Not to mention that if the tapes went to another studio for overdubs or mixing, the quality of my work would consistently show up.) This saves time, too, when bringing up the tape for your next session because you don't spend time eq'ing the tracks and patching in compressors before starting overdubs. I know. You've got a total recall board. That's cool! But read on...
Often I would set up stereo pairs of tracks, like piano in stereo, synths in stereo, two sets of stereo guitars, etc. I would almost always triple track backup vocals, left, center, right. I would usually have a stereo pair available for solos, and when the solo wasn't playing, those tracks were available for stereo percussion or other occasional overdubs.
So, you say, how did I ever have enough tracks? Well when doing 48 tracks it was never an issue, but most of the 24 track sessions weren't a problem. My production technique kept stuff layered so every track wasn't always going at once. Since I started with 4 and 8 track, I *had* to learn how to manage the tracks, and since I've always been a stereo-audiophile-great sound freak, I always figured out ways to get stuff in stereo no matter how many tracks I had. Even if I had to mix to a cassette and then bounce it back to the multitrack tape.
Key: Don't waste tracks on drums. I rarely *ever* used a separate hi hat mic or hi hat track. There was always plenty in the snare. While some engineers like to gate down the leakage in the snare mic, I always preferred to get the drummer to play the hat softer, or if need be, I'd put duct tape on the hat. I know. You spent a zillion dollars to get that loud hat that you can hear all the way over at the neighbors house. What can I say... hi hats don't have to be blazing in the mix. Yes, there are times when a very precise hat is needed for jazz, or needed for real open and effecty songs. Some of today's drum loop vibes have lots of softer incidental snare notesthat a gate would cut out too. Many of those cool drum loops on new records are from the days of old and recorded without gating. So whenever possible, I say have the drummer be in charge of the dynamic mix right from the get-go.
I've always combined the toms into a stereo pair, never separating them individually unless there was special circumstances, like doing a 3 piece live jazz thing to 16 track. Then yes, I'd separate the toms and hi hat and maybe add an extra track for ride cymbal. But even then, a great stereo overhead mic set-up really diminishes the need for all those extra tracks! In the early days the goal was to get the drums with mics on the kic, the snare, and two overheads.... and make it sound great! "Less is more." is a very valuable idea.
Typically I am a little conservative with compression recording to tape, so that I'm not locked into something that I'd regret not being able to "back off" a bit at mix time. But if I need something with a lot of compression, I don't hesitate to use it. Often it's not a good idea to add reverb or effects to the multitrack because then you are locked into that sound and it can't be altered much in mixdown. However, there are exceptions! Remember those stereo pairs? Sometimes I would add stereo ambience or delays right then and there because I knew ahead of time what I wanted and that it would stay till the very end. Sometimes even adding a long verb on a mono percussion track has a nice effect.
Plus, there were early times when I only had so many effects, and so to have them all available at mixdown time, I'd blend them in during tracking. Sometimes, our limitations are a gift. It invites us (not forces us) to be more creative with the resources at hand. Usually, all the resources we need are closeby... sometimes being open to that truth in all areas of life makes a positive difference in what we're experiencing moment to moment.
One last reminder, I don't recommend compressing the stereo buss when mixing. It hampers the mastering process - where compression and limiting is an art.
How does one make an earned living as a lyricist? Also, how can someone get their songs published?
||May 20th 2007
||If your really just starting out, you probably shouldn't be submitting with a major publisher. It makes more sense to try an independent producer, people who will represent you in an aggressive manner and try to get you some sync licenses. It's very hard right now for a fledgling songwriter to get noticed [by a major] unless they've already got some songs coming out on a record.
A serious songwriter is usually affiliated with one of the performing rights societies, and a lot of those put together workshops where new songwriters can learn more about the business, via speeches or round-table discussions with a&r executives, publishers, managers and so on. They do these quite often, and at a bunch of different levels: for songwriters who are brand new, for those who are more established, and so on.
It's a rare gift when a songwriter is strong with lyrics, melody and music. If your strong with lyrics and melody, we want something that's beyond just "rain/Spain" rhymes; we want something that tells more of a story. On the music side, you don't want to go too far afield but you should be a little outside what's already happening on the charts. A lot of songwriters can approximate what's on the radio, but few can take that and make it their own.
I almost always encourage songwriters to write with someone who's a couple of notches above, in terms of experience. It's usually a great learning experience for them, and usually both parties are open to it. And we don't just pair them up with other Famous songwriters; we will regularly set them up with a writer from another publishing company. I'd say it's about 50/50.
If someone is a pure songwriter and writes music, it really is helpful if they also produce. If they're more of a lyricist, it helps if they perform as well, unless their lyrics are absolutely incredible.
With a larger publisher, obviously by definition they have more songs by volume, and are working with a top tier of writers, and even middle-to-top tier, who are usually willing to work with newer and younger songwriters. That presents opportunities for terrific collaborations. But unless there's a specific person at that company who's your champion, you may not get as much personal attention as you would at a smaller company.
Never Mimick what's already out there. That very rarely works, certainly not in the long term. If you're chasing after something that's already a hit, by the time your song comes out that sound is already old. That approach really does nothing but encourage laziness.
The other mistake I run into pretty regularly is when a writer uses bad demo singers. It shouldn't be important ? but it kinda is.
How do i find a good manager/agent?
||Finding a Manager
A manager is someone that advises and counsels you (and/or your band) in every aspect of your career
* Look for a manager who has worked with other artists and has also had some success.
* Finding a manager who works near music scenes will enable him/her to make connections more easily.
* Finding a manager that has a good reputation is also important since the music industry is based on networking and relationships.
* Music industry print directories are great for finding managers. Get recommendations of managers from club owners to other artists. Word of mouth is a great way to find leads on reputable managers.
* Make contact with potential managers because most won't accept unsolicited press kits. This also gives you a chance to make personal contact and figure out what exactly this manager is looking for.
how do I send my Demo to a label company?and how do you know wich one is reliable?
Here is a checklist that will maximize your chances of getting heard and respect the listener's time.
2. Place your best and most commercial song first. If you have a strong up-tempo song it's a good bet to start with that. If they don't like the first one, it may be the only shot you get. If you're sending a cassette, put all the songs on the same side and put the label only on the "play" side.
1. Never send more than three songs unless specifically requested otherwise. Demo listeners like watching the "in" pile diminish and the "out" pile grow as quickly as possible. If the listener has a limited time to listen, which is usually the case, the tendency is to listen to a tape/CD they know they can complete. So if you send a demo with ten songs on it and someone else's demo has one song, you can bet that the "out" pile will grow quickly with one-song demos. There's also the psychology that implies, "I've sent you the song you need!" This is particularly true in pitching songs to producers for a specific artist. Along those same lines, most people resent getting tapes/CDs with 20 songs and a letter that says, "I know you'll like at least one of these, so just pick out what you want." They want you to do that and send them three songs or less. songs you totally believe in. If you're not far enough along to be able to decide, you're not ready. When sending CDs with more than three songs, highlight three you want the listener to focus on first, and include the numbers of the cuts in your cover letter and lyric sheets (so they have a reference while the CD is on their player and they can't see the label). If they like those, they'll listen to the others. And please, remove the shrink-wrap!
3. Never send your original master tape or CD. You may never see it again and it's not fair to saddle its recipient with responsibility for it.
4. Always cue your tape to the beginning of the first song. You don't want the person to start listening in a bad mood because you just wasted his time making him rewind your tape. When you make your copies, leave four seconds between songs. Most cassette decks have an automatic search feature, which finds the silence between songs, stops the fast-forward and automatically starts playing the next song. Obviously, this isn't a problem with CDs. If your CD contains more than the first four you want heard, clearly mark on the on the CD and printed insert, which ones you want them to hear.
5. Send a lyric sheet, neatly typed or printed. Letterhead is impressive. It says "This is my business and I take it seriously." Some don't like to look at lyrics while they listen, but most do. It's a time saver to be able to see it all at once and to see the structure of the song graphically laid out on the page. Lead sheets (with melody and lyric together) are not sent out with demos. They're good to have at the point where a producer wants to record your song and you want to be sure he/she has the correct melody, but since the current copyright law permits tapes/CDs to be sent for copyright registration, their importance has diminished. Lead sheets are bulky to mail, it's too difficult to follow the lyric and visualize the song's form, and many industry pros don't read music anyway. It also pegs you as a songwriter over 50 who has no experience in submitting demos since this practice went out of style about 25 years ago.
When you type out your lyric sheet, separate the sections of the songs with a space and label each one (verse, chorus, bridge etc.) at the upper left side of the section. Do not type your lyrics in prose fashion. Lay them out with the rhymes at the ends of the lines so the structure and rhyme schemes of the song can be seen immediately.
6. Make sure there's a copyright notice (© 2003 I.B. Cool, All Rights Reserved) on the bottom of the lyric sheet and on the tape or CD label. Technically, this isn't necessary but it alerts everyone that your song is protected, whether it's registered or not.
7. Cover letters should be short and to the point. Let the music speak for itself and avoid hype. A professional presentation will do more to impress someone than "I know these are hit songs because they're better than anything I've ever heard on the radio," or "I just know that we can both make a lot of money if you'll publish these songs." Avoid the temptation to tell your life story, and don't explain how you have a terminal disease, you're the sole support of your 10 children and if these songs don't get recorded they'll all be homeless or worse. In fact, don't plead, apologize or show any hint of desperation. It only gives the message that you have no confidence in the ability of the songs to stand on their own.
Here's what should be in your cover letter:
a. It should be addressed to a specific person in the company.
b. It should state your purpose in sending the demo. Are you looking for a publisher, a producer, a record deal for you as an artist? Do you want the listener to pay special attention to your production, your singing, your band, or just the song? Is it targeted for a specific artist?
c. List any significant professional credits that apply to the purpose of your submission. If you want your song published, list other published or recorded songs, contests won, etc. If you're a performer submitting an artist demo, resist the temptation to grab at weak credits: "I played at the same club that (famous star) played." Tell them what drives you, what inspires you. Keep it short. List real sales figures. Don't lie.
d. Include any casting ideas you might have if you're pitching to other artists.
e. Ask for feedback if you want it. Odds are you won't get it but give it a shot.
f. List the songs enclosed and writers' names in the order they appear on the tape/CD. (Lyric sheets should also be enclosed in the same order the songs appear on the demo.)
g. Thank them for their time and attention. h. Include your address, phone number, Web site URL and e-mail address (if you have one).
8. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) if you want your tape or CD back. There are two schools of thought about this. On the pro SASE side, if you don't want to lose all those tapes/CDs, you can't expect to get them back without it. There's another school of thought, though, that if you say you want it back, you're assuming they won't like it. There's no guarantee that you'll get them back even if you do send a SASE, in which case you're gambling even more money, and worse could happen than your tape or CD sitting around a producer's office.
9. Your name, address and phone number should be on the tape or CD, box, and on every lyric sheet. It seems like such a common sense request. In fact it would be embarrassing to even suggest that you might forget to do it if I didn't see it happen constantly. The problem on this end is that, between listening sessions at the office, the car, and home, it's so easy to separate the tape from the box or lyric sheet. Once they've gone to the trouble to find your hit song, not finding you is a fate they don't deserve.
10. Be sure you have adequate postage. Also, don't send your tape in an ordinary stationery envelope. It's risky because rough postal handling could force the edge of the tape box through the envelope. Use a special envelope with an insulated lining. Some people also prefer the soft "bubble" tape box because it doesn't have sharp edges and it's lighter to mail. CDs have an obvious advantage in this respect as there are very lightweight sleeves available for them. Having said that, jewel boxes are preferred because , hopefully, they can stack it on a shelf and read the label on the edge if they decide to keep it.
The main thing to remember is to make your demo submission as easy as possible to deal with.
Using the Internet: Your Demo as Audio File
An increasingly popular strategy is sending your demo as an audio file. It's rare these days that a record company, producer or manager doesn't have a high-speed Internet access line. Obviously, many of the above suggestions don't apply to sound files.
Giant Records A&R Executive, Craig Coburn says (footnote: Music Connection Magazine Vol. XXV #1 01/01/01): "In the future, I would love to see people soliciting the record labels — whether it's artists, managers or lawyers - using the Internet. I'd like them to send me a letter asking me to check out their web site rather than sending me the music.
We're not getting that many electronic submissions yet and I'd like to. When I'm talking to people, I encourage them to send MP3's The Quality of MP3 is not exactly up to the quality of a CD, but it's absolutely close enough for an A&R person to hear the music and to know if it's something that excites us or not."
The most popular formats are MP3 and RealAudio. The fidelity is not quite CD quality but still adequate to show them what you do. There are a couple different procedures for this:
Send an E-mail with the audio file attached. Follow the suggestions listed above for cover letter. Include phone number(s). Also include your Web site address so they can click it and go directly to it. When they get to your site, they'll hopefully find additional bio material, photos and lyrics. Just send them an e-mail intriguing enough to get them to go to your site and hear your music there.
Indie marketing guru Tim Sweeney suggests that because of the limited amount of time someone may want to spend at any site and the degree of difficulty their online access speeds may present, it's important to help them decide quickly which of your songs may be of most interest to them. You can help by providing a short description like this one provided on the site of Franklin Spicer and Valerie Ford's Pegasus Project, a soft jazz, world music group.
"The first song Franklin ever heard from Val was a reggae tune she had recorded called One People. He really liked the positive message and the infectious chorus. Franklin talked her into doing a rewrite and making it a Pegasus Project tune. They wanted to share a positive message of how we all are part of one global family. This song was shaped from a number of African musical influences, including the Tuku style. The huge chorus backup vocals were done in two days of recording using seven different singers."
Note that the description includes information on the style, what it's about, why it was written and how it was recorded. Their site also includes lyrics to all the songs.
Your demo will introduce you to the eyes and ears of many music industry professionals. Take this introduction very seriously. It's your job interview. It should look good, have something important to say, and say it well, There are a lot of other applicants for the job. The pros are looking for the best. Be it!