Why Artists Need to Know Their Rights

What challenges do you face being both a musician and running the "business-side" of your music?

Let us know what you think in the comments below and we will give someone free copy of All You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman and distribution of an album so that you can sign yourself! All comments made by November 23rd will be considered.

  • Jay Kustka

    The challenge being able to put as much energy and commitment into the business as the music itself. Writing and playing music is “instant gratification” while you don’t always see instant results of the hard work on the business side.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/joanpi joanpi

    I believe that in some cases the “business-side” can kill creative side. It’s very difficult to try and maintain a balance between. Of course there are services and tools that can help & save time but pressure is there if you want to go all the way for it and be found among so many many other artists, especially if you do almost everything yourself aka writing,recording, (pre)producing, licensing, web presence, fans, performing etc etc. You must have a really good schedule, passion, focus, energy, time and money.

  • http://www.emortulz.com LaJohn D. Manoy aka Smooth D.

    The greatest challenge of being an artist (musician) and handling the business is usually the same for all – balance. You have to create and run a business – failure to do either can end your career regardless of your talent/knowledge. You hear the phrases “90% business and 10% music”, “content is king”, “quality over quantity” – honestly each is true and each is contradictory to the other.
    I find my main issues as an artist are other artists/producers/promoters (creatives) don’t want to work with me because I require handling paperwork, have deadlines & procedures and overall just want to make sure I’m doing something to gain traction not just to say “Oh we did this together”. Its been hard to find management and other components of the “team” (which every industry person will say you need) because most are afraid they can’t control me, financially misguide me or have the credit as being the “Boss” because I have so much knowledge of the business. I simply refuse to be taken advantage of and I realize they should be working “for or with me” versus being “over” me – is that wrong.
    On the flip side when handling business, my artists and I get a lot of pressure to create material that is relevant and genuine – not “commissioned or commercial” Being in a business you know you have to do both in order to create a product that sells. Quite a few artists have not wanted to work with me because they didn’t like they fact that the C.E.O. could call them out creatively (i.e. knowing the process of songwriting/producing, pitch, recording, etc.)and experienced as a recording artist & performer. Because of this I know when the artist is truly not pulling their weight.
    I think its definitely a challenge but the results are very worth it: increased revenue & creative control. Whether your an artist or a business you have to have a general knowledge of the other to get to the bottom line – visibility & profitability. I’m no where near where I have planned but well on my way: gained radio airplay, received digital performance royalties, only Indie artist on the Grammy TX Chapter Membership Committee (I’m a Voting Member as well), performed on major events, won contests, etc. Again it all comes down to balancing. Anyone want to help? Lol. I think this video covered a lot of the specific things artists and business need to identify, research, plan, execute and follow-up on. Thanks TuneCore (I’m actual customer of yours).

  • http://brokenarrowbluesband.com Shadowhawk Ellis

    Tell Me When & Where And We’ll come testify… we don’t get tons of Radio Play, but we do get radio & Satellite Play.. for which we are not paid…. it’s hard enough out here to even be heard among the hundreds of thousands of Bands etc….. harder yet to eek out a living from ONLY Music …unless you happen to stumble into a deal some how…
    Broken Arrow Blues Band ~ Detroit

  • drake garceau

    what can we do, and how to go about helping to get more support,is there a web site to vote for an post to a face book to tell as many musicians to join or contribute too, who going to be incharge like a pay us club? i’ll tell every one i know, but then what vote all for it. next



  • http://newlandmusic.net Jos. K

    This is one the realist thing I have ever heard come out of a business man mouth.A Lot of artists don’t know the business they just love make music and then learn the business when the label don’t won’t anything to do with them.I would Love To go to congress….. My Number 1-773-754-5422 ask For Jos.K

  • Gregory Martyn

    I bet Clear Channel really hate the idea of paying performing fees. They should as they are making million unpon million off of artist who get nothing in return.
    Gregory Allan Martyn

  • http://nyakgala.wetpaint.com Nyak Gala

    What a real and true thing you are saying. I agree completely with you. Thank you for the warning and opening my eyes Don. I bleieve that artists should be involved in all aspects of from the creating, producing and even the marketing, promotion and the accounting. Its sad when grammy winning artists go bankrupt and no one even knows where their money has gone to because of poor management and accounting. Its true the greater people surrounding an artist or creative mind may not always have that persons best interest and usually they are there because of the surplus of money coming in.
    I consider the fact that some artists are just too lazy to get involved in their own issues and leave in the hands of very eager opportunity seeking proffesionals who know how to use the system to basically steal from these artists. In all fairness they do not even know their own rights as you have stated. The best thing to do is to educate these artists and enable them to profit off their talents as the term “starving artist” should not become a lifestyle rather just a mere transitional phase. As it is only fair that people should be able to benefit from their work which would only motivate them to perform or produce quality marketable ideas, art,etc.
    Thank you for coming up with such a book that educates and teaches about an industry that sees the valnerability of artists and takes full advantage of them. It is time that such people get what they deserve for their creativity. It is also very good of you to encourage them to take charge of their own careers in all aspects of which ever industry they fall under.
    Thank you.

  • Freddie Ellis


  • Reggie Brent

    This law is not a good idea! The reason so is, the only people that would benefit from it are major artist. What they need to do is create more laws that limit the power of major labels and protect the artist from theft.
    This guy mentioned sells are down in the industry. The reason why sells are down is because there is too much business going on. Too many business non creative people are involved with every facet of the music industry and it is time for their asses to go!

  • John Stinson Jr.

    I wrote asong called “Paint the Town Red”. I wrote it and copyrighted it in 1988. Never told anyone about it,except Madonna, and she never said anything,but in 2007, I told this Jerk about it and now there over 50 paint the town red songs out there,none with a copyright. This jerk is Vanhalen. I mailed it to those guys to see if they wanted to cover it and the next week on Saturday Night Live, Norm McDonald said “paint the Town Red in a skit. What about Professional curtisy of non-disclosure when you try to sell a song. They say paint the town red is public domain. NO IT IS NOT! I defy anyone to find paint the town red in print before 2000! In Guitar Player Magazine,Vanhalen said he turned the voltage of his amps up to 140 volts to get his sound. So I tried it and I fried $3000 worth of old good Marshalls. Radio is stagnant. What the …is “Panama”? Fight for our Rights. “Paint the Town Red” is a Hit. At times words have two meanings. It`s a play on words. It tells you not to Drink & Drive.

  • http://myspace.com/ktactics K-tactics

    It’s so true a lot of us, has artist writer, producer etc don’t know our rights and understand the business.

  • http://www.playonrecordsllc.org Mark Craighead

    I have been a record label owner now since 1997 and I need all the rights that I can get. So I am willing to join you in this fight and believe me I am a hard fighter I was never giving any thing in life. So, every thing I got I had to fight for it.

  • Apollo Fly

    Wow I thought that video was wise and very necessary to be successful in this industry we watch everyday how not knowing information hurts us. Sign me up I was fight where do I sign up

  • http://www.uplaya.com/shirazrazzdon/artist/info DeShean McClinton aka Da Enigma

    Being a independent songwriter and publisher the problem is that there are to many amaters trying to do the jobs of professinals case in point im defining a whole new geren of music Arabic Soul/Middle Easthern Americana _Ahead Of The Game Music Publishing Company (BMI) The issue is that my project is to big for Mr.or Mrs. non-professinal hipster en-experinced indie lable to handle instead of seeing unshaven sneaker wearing bums trying to handle my project its time to go back to the models where an A&R actually wore a suit and tie it’s wrong to try and deny a serious up start the privilage to have earned the right to be on a major label this is the real music business I always dreamed about to theres no cutting corners with excellence!

  • eidsville

    Here a perspective from an Norwegian…
    I’m surprised to hear about this! In my country the performance royalty is the main income for many artist, and I recon it would be impossible to support your self as an artist in Norway without this revenue.
    Also many artists are radio friendly, but their records isn’t selling in proportion of the attention they get on the raidio.
    Many American artists experience this too. Like songs by Nashville artist’s Lady Antebellum’s ‘Need you know’, and Jace Everett ‘Bad Things’ has been massive on the Radio here this year. I wouldn’t be surporised if the royalties lost from Norwegian radio revenue alone for these artists is above £100,000 each…

  • http://www.martyclaytonbanfield.blogspot.com Marty Clayton Banfield

    I used to live in Nashville, and was involved at one time with the country music scene there. The one thing I learned quickly was to always remember that music business is music + business. Unless you want to remain a pure, undefiled musical refuge and not get your music exposed, you are going to have to deal with and/or learn about the BUSINESS SIDE of music. We need to educate ourselves on the BUSINESS side of music, if we as artists want to stop being taken advantage of. I was advised to always have my own music label to release my own stuff, and that is the first thing I did. You will retain all of your rights that way. These articles are something we all need to read and update ourselves about, not shun. I am thankful for them! Marty Clayton Banfield

  • http://www.jango.com/music/mikealike MikeAlike(independent recording artist)

    The music business is corrupt. What? no.
    True is this and exactly what does the R.I.A.A. do?
    They state they represent the recording industry. In fact they represent major labels only.
    So think about this, the major labels folded and collapsed years ago and too add the majority of recording artists in the U.S. are independent. Don’t believe me? Do the numbers,on each major label there are a small roster of artists or recording product, compared to millions of independents. And the R.I.A.A. represents the recording industry?
    Another fact: without independent or new artists major labels would have no new talent or “idea’s”. The R.I.A.A doesn’t represent the recording industry it represents the failed major labels which lost millions and hold a minority of work and business connections-they base legal issues on this and discriminate otherwise.
    The music business is a joke. Its corrupt, self serving, and completely displaced.

  • E.K.S

    I really found this video to informative for the simple fact I am a new artist still learning the business side of it. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.halostereo.com Andrew

    Yes, there is no law to enforce it BUT if you join SESAC they pay for your live performances!!

  • http://kevinpineau.blogspot.com/ Kevin Pineau

    Hey guys, I do have to say that everytime I come to this site I learn something new and concrete. Im going to share this with everyone I come in contact with.
    Kevin Pineau

  • Damwilli

    It is a tax, it is a fee, or whatever you want to call it on the radio stations.
    I also agree artists should be paid for their performances too! It is disheartening to hear yourself on the radio and you know there is no check coming in the mail from that performance. Just a pat on the back from your buddies at the bar. Yes, that pat on the back does not pay the bar tab.
    I don’t think artists going to congress and crying we need help is a good idea for an artist’s public image. American fans are not favorable to any industry going to congress and asking them to rob Peter to pay Paul.
    That’s why the smaller independents with an American entrepreneurial spirit will come up with innovative ways to try and create more revenue for themselves and their artist. Successful independents that do all this while not demonizing another industry (radio) and their advertisers (small business), will be successful.

  • R.Denessen

    Well this is a very well informing video. I am an artist from the Netherlands and I did not know that it is works this way in the US.
    In the Netherlands we have an organisation called Bumra/Stemra who protects the rights of artists. Of course, still I wont get paid if my music is played in the U.S.A. , which is a bad thing. Hope it changes fast and I wish you a lot of success in trying to change it. Hope it works, and thank you for the video !

  • Gary Chipman

    As an artist I am not good at the business side of things, I need to learn, Brad Widford of Aerosmith told my friend, I was a rock star that never made it, To bad for me, Mr. Fantasy, got to be good looking cause he’s so hard to see, come together right now over me. But even worse for all the millions that are missing out on Jimi’s Astroman, It was fun conceiving the Heavens flourishing here on earth, With my Sacred mushrooms, and 57 telecaster, But God willing the Rockadelics will be available soon for your heavenly contact high. Let’s face reality, one side of the coin is, PEACE, LOVE, and JOY, the other is Destruction, Pain and Sorrow, LOL ASTRALMAN Gary

  • Carlos A. Boyce Jr.

    As a teacher in the technical and business sense of the music Business, I also understand as a member of ASCAP, and signatory of the AFM in having manufacturing phono Rights agreements.
    The record Business is an iffy eclectic business, not only because of the actions of each player involve hoping to measure positive success!
    Human nature point taken here is that musicians, performers, producers, or artist do not have a union that protects them as doctors do. ” Everyone stick together no matter what and concur!”
    Music is a medicine and we are Doctors that can heal.
    But the main problem is that musicians need to go to congress to argue the main points of why the tools of our trade is not properly allocated so the real world can except us as such! Real! And stop taking advantage of our passion! Which is gladly embraced as others see it as free for the taken, with no price tags!
    Way to Go Mr. Donald Passman!

  • http://maxtarkhov.com Max Tarkhov

    Thank you for the video, cleared many things up for me, personally. Very cool explanation why we (artists, from my side) need to know about the rights & other important stuff!

  • http://naeemoba.com Naeem Oba

    this book is a MUST have for all of us making music!

  • http://www.skylerobrien.com Skyler O’Brien

    Crazy how the industry has changed over the years… thanks for the information, tunecore you rock!

  • http://www.hardshellrecords.com Hardshell Records

    Their are many challenges to being a successful musician, not least of all persuading people to part with cash for music in this age of digital piracy and instant downloads. However those musicians fortunate enough to have fans willing to spend money on their music need to really take control of the whole process.
    It is so simple nowadays to self release/publish music. All you need is a PayPal account, digital distribution through Tunecore and a fanbase. You can also register with many collection agencies online at very little upfront cost. Using the power of social networks it is relatively painless to share music and get new fans, and new initiatives are popping up every day to try and help musicians get their music online (e.g. http://www.soundcloud.com, http://www.moozi.cc, etc).
    I don’t think major labels have half the importance as they had several years ago, and I would argue that musicians should actually stop seeking major records deals and concentrate on selling their own music instead.
    Ultimately no one owes anyone a living, and all artists suffer to some degree for their passion, but taking control of one’s own musical destiny is a relatively new phenomenon and one which should be embraced by every artist in the world.
    The balance of power, for now, lies with the musicians of the world and not the corporate labels.

  • izzy

    the info given here was accurate and true.Artist we need to get on our game and follow this info this guy is talking about.

  • Joey Quincy

    Yeah I have learned a lot just threw this video.I’m very interested in learning all I can about my craft.