#TCVideoFridays – September 28th 2012

September’s just about over, and we’re celebrating with one last #TCVideoFridays for the month! Check out our roundup of rockin’ TuneCore Artist videos.

We’re starting off with a few music videos that TuneCore delivered to iTunes. Click here for more info about that, or write us at video@tunecore.com.

True Dream, “The Stare of Death”

Flesh-n-Bone, “How Many (feat. Layzie Bone & Ducctape Gang)

Bianca & Chiara D’Ambrosio, “Let Your Light Shine”


And now we’ll continue with some more videos from TuneCore Artists. Enjoy!

Creatures of Love, “Vakkula”

Apollo Run, “The Inevitable Small Rebellions”

G-Eazy, “Plastic Dreams (feat. Johanna Fay)”

The Foot. “Ignorance”

Ki:Theory, “I Wanna Run (feat. Maura Davis)”

Spirit Animal, “Crocodile Skins”

SafetySuit, “Let Go”

Low Cut Connie, “Scoliosis in Secaucus”

Evitan, “Hot Damn”

CASH Music’s 3 Essential Best Practices for Artists’ Websites

By George Howard
(Follow George on Twitter)

In this video I interview Jesse Von Doom. Jesse is the Co-Executive Director of CASH Music. From their site: “CASH Music is a nonprofit organization that builds open source digital tools for musicians and labels. Our mission is to help educate and empower artists and their fans to foster a more viable and sustainable future for music.”  You can learn more about their services via this fantastic piece in the New York Times.

Jesse knows his stuff, and I was lucky to pry him away from building tools to help artists so that he could offer some advice on essential best practices for artists’ websites.  In short, it’s about control.  Throughout the video, Jesse returns to the theme of being careful to avoid putting your artistic destiny in the hands of others—whether that’s a third-party marketing site, or a web-hosting service. This doesn’t mean that web hosts or third-party sites are necessarily bad and to be avoided, but rather that you, the artist, should be in control, and direct people where you want them from your own/owned site.

To summarize Jesse’s main points:

1. Be the Central Hub of your online identity.  Even if you don’t want to build your own website, at least buy your own domain, and then have it redirect to whatever site you desire (e.g. Tumblr, Bandcamp, etc.).

2. HTML is your friend. Know enough so that you can put together a site that—as above—directs people to your online presence, but also informs people of what you’re up to (tour dates, etc.).  A simple HTML site can look elegant, and provide all the links and info necessary for you to own your own identity.  This way, if some site that you’ve built assets atop of goes dark (ahem, MySpace), you simply stop directing people to that site.  This owned site also helps with Search Engine Optimization, and will increase the chances of people finding you when they look for your band on Google.

3. Be the hub of your commerce. Use TuneCore to get your music everywhere, but use your own/owned site to inform people of where they should go to buy your music. This way, if you have, for instance, a promo running with iTunes, you can highlight it on your site, and direct people there.

So, as above, the overarching theme, with respect to your site, is one of control. We at TuneCore encourage everyone to take control and responsibility, and to use the tools out there in the best way possible to grow your career on your terms.  The alternative—ceding control—puts you in a position of weakness, not strength; of passivity, not action.

Enjoy the video, and watch this space for more great commentary.

[Editor’s note: Make sure your music is available in digital stores worldwide so you can direct people there from your website!]


George Howard is the Executive Vice President of Wolfgang’s Vault. Wolfgang’s Vault is the parent company of Concert Vault, Paste Magazine, and Daytrotter. Mr. Howard is an Associate Professor of Management at Berklee College of Music

We Three And The Death Rattle: Don’t Wait Around, Get Involved In DIY

There’s a new band in town that’s got media and fans buzzing.  We Three and the Death Rattle, a 3 piece band from Leicester, has captured the attention of BBC Radio, NME Radio and more, with a raw sound that dances through indie, alternative, and post-punk genres. Their debut single “Hey Detonator!” through their label pAw//PuRR  just hit stores, and they’re currently recording a full album.  Read on to learn how they’ve been getting radio play, why getting signed isn’t their end goal, and how they’re using social media to promote their band.


Tell us about the band’s formation, sound, and release(s).
WTATDR has been together about a year and a half. Our sound is minimal, stripped down, raw. One guitar, vocals, theremin, and drums. We formed the band for fun, to enjoy the process of making music in a room with like-minded people. We sent out our first demo to XFM to gauge a reaction. They played it and invited us to come in and play live on air—from there things have gone pretty well. We’ve just released our debut single “Hey Detonator!” on our own label pAw//PuRR.

What are the band’s goals?
Our only goals are to play exceptional live shows that send people home changed, and to record great records. If we keep doing that and stay utterly focused on both those things as a band, you’d be surprised how quickly people start take notice and good things start to happen around you.

What are you doing to achieve these goals?
We respect our art and enjoy the process of making music rather than waiting for a pat on the back from the industry for the end result. Don’t rush playing shows. We stayed in a practice space writing and honing our sound for months and months, so when we played it was like a huge explosion and we were ready to be there.  Same goes for recording.  Take your time and make the music you absolutely love and want to make. First and foremost this should be fun. Don’t expect to make a living from your art right away, perhaps never! If you depend on this for your income it’s likely you’ll have less freedom and have to compromise almost immediately. If you work a day job then at least you can invest in your band to begin with and pay for the things you need for it to function properly.

Is getting signed the big goal?
No. I mean we’re not anti working with a label, and it’s great if you find a label that wants to work with you, but don’t make it a goal because you can do most of that stuff yourself rather than pay someone else to do it.  Treat the music industry like a girl who knows (thinks) everyone has the hots for her. You go knocking on her door too often she’s just going to get bored of you.  Do your own thing. The music industry (what’s left of it) plays a waiting game with artists.  You can wait around and do nothing, or you can get involved in some DIY.  The more control you have, and the more you know about each aspect of making and releasing records, the more valuable the whole process is.  Also, the more you do for yourself, the more offers of help you tend to get.

We’d love to hear your impression of using TuneCore.
TuneCore was perfect for us because we were looking to set up our own label without having to go to a distributor who probably wouldn’t have bought into
a new label with one band on their debut release. We were thinking there must be something out there to solve this distribution problem and there
you were.  So, THANKS!  It was simple to use, didn’t cripple us financially, and was really efficient.

How does it fit into your goal?
It’s been great for us to be able to reach a worldwide audience digitally, and it was instrumental in our being able to start our own label.

What has been the key to your PR campaign?
We started with a set period of free downloads, then dropped the video, and a remix, all leading up to the release date, so it built really well and gained momentum over about 8 weeks prior to the single’s release. I think the main thing is timing.  Make sure your press and release tie in.  If people read about something, they usually need it to be available NOW or very soon.

How are you going about getting radio play?
We’ve had a lot of support from John Kennedy at XFM and various other BBC DJs.  Building up a relationship with those DJs that liked the band has proven WAY more successful than spending money on a radio plugger.  Initially we just contacted them directly, then those people talked to each other and passed the track on which resulted in quite a lot of airplay. We gave people time to get the track and listen to it before ever chasing it up.  We’re registered with PRS at the moment and we’ve had a lot of radio play so far so we do need to keep on top of it as we get more play.

Are your social media efforts planned out ahead of time?
Yes, we do this. As an example, we offer guest list places or free tickets to fans who re-post or share an event or release on Twitter/FB. Also, other websites are usually very keen on running competitions if it’s a good prize being offered. Not every thing that we post is planned out, but we try to make everything we post of interest and we don’t post too much. We find it best to post two or three big things a month on FB (unless you’re in the middle of a campaign in which case it’s a lot more than that) and at least one thing per day on Twitter. The big mistake is bands posting too much on their Facebook pages and having people just get annoyed or bored. If you post a news story, try and attach some media of interest like a video or a picture. Also, read the best practice for posting on Facebook for times of day and when a post is less likely to get swallowed up. There’s a ton out there similar to this article.

Is there a team behind the band, and if so, how did they get  assembled?
There is starting to be now. It was just us for quite a while doing everything, but as I said, the more you do and do well the more people want to be involved with you. We have people who manage much bigger acts who will answer questions for us and unofficially advise us.  We had a PR person and a radio plugger for the single and we have a live booking agent now. All of these people came through our own hard work. We only wanted to work with people who really liked the band and had a lot a natural enthusiasm for music because then it feels like they become part of the band.

What steps were taken prior to releasing music for sale?
We waited a long time to release a single because we wanted it to be right and because we were working out how to do this in a way that meant we didn’t feel compromised. If you can record your own music or get together with someone who does, it will be invaluable.  We have a friend with a home studio who over time became our producer, and that has been such an amazing experience—watching him work, finding our sound, and saving huge amounts in recording costs along the way.

Have you signed a publishing admin deal? How are you exploiting your songs/copyrights?
The short answer to this is no we haven’t gotten to this at all yet. However, the more you do, the more the pieces start to come together. Just this week at our London show someone approached us about publishing. When our full length album is ready perhaps this will be a world we’ll begin to step into a bit more.  Financially I’m sure it would be advantageous, it’s just something we’d need to be comfortable doing with our music with the right people and in the right places.

Download “Hey Detonator!” from iTunes

Follow WTATDR on Twitter

Become a Fan on Facebook

New Music Tuesday: Sept. 25, 2012

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. We’re featuring a few of those new releases below. Check them out!

Hello. Love. Heartbreak.
Tyler Ward

Years Get Gone – EP
Two Lights

Here Be Dragons, Vol. III
Apollo Run

Dawn Richard

Please Be Seated
Myq Kaplan & Micah Sherman

Reshape Reason
Heavy Metal

In Shapes

Above All
Krissy Krissy

Fragments of Bone – EP
Daniel Mustard

#TCVideoFridays – September 21st 2012

Another week, another #TCVideoFridays post! We’ve got a great group of videos for you to check out, but here’s a quick announcement before you do: TuneCore can distribute your music videos to the shelves of iTunes. Click here for more info, or write us at video@tunecore.com.

Exact Change Project, “New School”

We Three And The Death Rattle, “Hey Detonator!”

Brandon & Leah, “Showstopper”

Tiffany Alvord, “The Breakdown”

aprilemade, “Johnny”

Holly Starr, “Don’t Have Love”

Kelley McRae, “When the Evening Comes”

Xing n Fox, “Bang (feat. Treach, Doitall & Ky Will”

A Silent Film, “Danny, Dakota & The Wishing Well” 

Thomas Fiss, “Let Go”

The Art Of The Sync Deal

By George Howard
(follow George on Twitter)

Last week, I walked everyone through the admittedly, fairly complex process of how sampling works.  The bad news is that, yes, it was a long, complex article (even though I tried to keep it as short and clear as possible).  The good news is that, if you were able to make it through the sampling article with a decent understanding of the process, you will find this walk through on synchronizations fairly easy to understand.

First, a bit of level setting.  When people talk about synchronizations (or “syncs” for short) it’s shorthand for “synchronizing music with a visual image”; typically, this means placing a song in a movie, TV show, or ad.

As the industry has evolved, so has the artist’s POV with respect to synchronizations.  There was a time when sync—particularly those related to having music used in ads—were, at best scoffed at, and at worst harshly criticized as selling out; Neil Young, an artist who doesn’t allow his music to be used in ads, wrote a song that articulates this viewpoint: “The Note’s For You.”  That time is gone.  Today, the use of an artist’s music in film/TV/Ads has, in some ways, become the new radio.  That is, many artists feel (with some justification) that the best way to reach a wide audience is no longer via historic methods—press, radio, or even touring—but rather through having their music synchronized.  Of course, in addition to the exposure a sync might bring, there is frequently a revenue component that makes them appealing to artists who, increasingly, find revenue elusive.

Given the above—potential exposure/revenue—it’s understandable why so many artists are deeply interested in this topic.  Sadly, as with so much in the industry, most artists don’t understand how the process works.  My hope is that this walk-through will shed some light on the subject.

Before I get to the mechanics, let me briefly address the question that is on most artists’ minds: how do I get my music synchronized?  The answer is not: write some great songs, and hope some music supervisor/ad agency hears them.  Rather, the answer is that success in sync, like success in every other element of the music business, is contingent upon MOTION.  By this I mean, you have to create energy around your music.  First, create energy in terms of people responding favorably to your songs.  For more on this see my recent video interview with John Strohm, attorney for, among others, Civil Wars and Bon Iver.  Until people begin getting energized about your songs at live shows in your area, nothing is likely to happen.  Once they do, the forward motion begins.  From a great live show comes opportunity and connections.  Examples are things like: more exposure from gigs outside of town/opening slots for more established artists; local radio play/on air performances; traditional media exposure; social media growth, and so on.  From this type of motion comes interest from people who can drive more forward motion.  This could be booking agents, lawyers, managers, etc.  As the motion continues, you might get a gig in LA, and, because of this, a station like KCRW in Santa Monica might play your music on air, and because of this, one of the many people in the entertainment industry who listens to KCRW—music supervisors, film directors, etc.—might hear your song, check out your live show, and decide that your music would be perfect in her next film.  Again, motion is the secret.

Once you’ve established that motion, and someone is interested in using your music in a TV show, ad, or film, there is a set of rights that must be confronted.  Happily, for those who worked their way through the sampling article, many of these rights will be familiar.

First, as you recall from that article, there are two copyrights related to the song that the music supervisor wants to use.  The first copyright is for the composition (the music and lyrics) itself.  This copyright typically is controlled by the songwriter and/or the songwriter’s publisher.  It is represented by this symbol: (c).  The second copyright is for the sound recording.  That is, the version of the song that was recorded and released as a recording (download, CD, etc.); often referred to as the “master recording.”  This copyright is typically controlled by the label the artist is signed to.  If the songwriter released the song himself, obviously, he would control this copyright as well, as he is acting as label.  This copyright in sound recording is represented by this symbol: (p).

For both the (c) and the (p), the holders of these copyrights have certain exclusive rights.  Two of the rights that are relevant to synchronization are the rights to reproduce and distribute.  Clearly, the music supervisor must have permission to reproduce and distribute the copyrighted work in order for the movie/TV show/ad to have any impact.  Therefore, some type of deal must be struck with the copyright holder(s) to avoid infringement on their exclusive rights.

In fact, two deals must be struck.

The first is a deal between the producer of the TV show/ad/movie and the songwriter (the (c) holder) for the right to connect (synchronize) the composition with the images in their TV show/ad/movie, and to reproduce and distribute this composition as part of the TV show/ad/movie.  This is called a synchronization license.

The second is a deal between the producer of the TV show/ad/movie and the copyright holder of the sound recording (the (p) holder) for the right to connect (synchronize) the master with the images in their TV show/ad/movie, and to reproduce and distribute this master as part of the TV show/ad/movie.  This is called a master usage license.

Both of these deals are typically brokered by a music supervisor.  This person goes to both the songwriter (c) holder, and master holder (p), and attempts to make a deal.  Nearly always, the deal offered to the songwriter is exactly the same, in terms of the amount of money offered and all other additional terms, to that offered the master holder.  In industry parlance, this is called an MFN (an abbreviation for “Most Favored Nations”) deal.

Either party can say no, or attempt to negotiate more favorable terms, but, because these deals are MFN, if one party, the (c) holder, for instance, is able to negotiate a better deal, this improved deal will be in effect for the other party, the (p) holder, in this case.

If the holder of the copyright to the composition (the (c) holder) denies the use (says “no”), the deal is off; whether the master holder wants to deal the or not.  In this way, the holder of the copyright to the composition is the dispositive party.  If, on the other hand, the holder of the copyright agrees to the deal, but the holder of the copyright to the sound recording (the master holder), says “no,” it doesn’t necessarily kill the deal.  The producer of the movie may, at this point, elect to re-record a different version of the song, and, in so doing, bypass the master holder altogether. Also important, is that if the song (composition) has multiple copyright owners, all must agree or the license does not happen.  So for example, if John Lennon’s Publisher agrees to the license but Paul McCartney’s does not, there’s no deal.

Of course, in my opinion, the best possible scenario is when the songwriter is also the label. In this way, the holder of the copyright to the composition is also the holder of the copyright to the sound recording, and, as such, can not only approve both sides (i.e. the (c) and the (p)), but also gets paid twice.

The amount of these payments are all over the map, and are completely market driven.  I will say that as the mentality toward usage of songs in movies/TV shows/ads has gone from something that artists frowned upon to something that they are (overly) eager to be a part of, it has become a buyer’s market.  As such, the fees for usages have come way down.  Of course, if you are a successful, well-known artist you will be able to command higher fees than less-established artists, but, generally, across the board, the fees are down.  Of course, the type of usage will play a factor in the fee.  A song used during the title sequence of a movie from a major studio will command a much higher fee than will five seconds of a song used as background on a TV show that airs on cable.

The deals between the producer of the TV show/movie/ad and the master and composition holder(s) will also entail details of precisely what the producers of the TV show/movie/ad can or cannot do. For instance, nowadays, when rights holders sign off to have their music used in a TV show, terms related to DVD sales and rentals of the show, and how (if at all) they affect the rights holders to the song, will be addressed.  As you can imagine, these are fairly complicated deals, and you should engage an attorney to help you navigate them.

One important point to bear in mind with respect to usages of music in TV shows/ads/movies is that, for the holder of the copyright in the composition (the (c)) once that TV show/ad/movie is broadcast, it generates a public performance royalty for the (c) holder.  The right of public performance is another exclusive right conferred on copyright holders of compositions, and thus, when the song—as part of the movie/TV show/ad—is publicly performed (e.g. shown on TV) the copyright holder of the composition (the (c) holder) is due his/her public performance royalty.  This process is handled by the composition holder’s performance rights organization (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC), who issue licenses to the broadcasters on behalf of their affiliated writers, licenses that grant these broadcasters the right to publicly perform the copyrighted works of the copyright holder(s) of the composition (the songwriters or publishers).  Please note, there is no right conferred (nor, in the U.S. is there a neighboring right conferred) on the copyright holder of the sound recording (the (p) holder).  For more on this subject, please see my article on neighboring rights.  An additional anomaly in the U.S. is that movie theaters are exempt from needing a public performance license, and, thus, holders of copyright to the composition receive no compensation for public performance of their copyrighted works when a movie containing their song is shown in a movie theater.

As stated, synchronizations are big business and in high demand these days from artists.  Having your music used in a movie can be a windfall—both in terms of revenue and awareness-building. However, it is also a topic rife with fairly complex rights issues, and potential pitfalls.  The way to understand it, and the way I’ve laid it out, is the same way you should approach all issues in the music business: determine what rights you have (begin with knowing your 6 Legal Rights, and then determine which rights of yours the person who desires to use your music must make a deal with you for in order to not infringe upon your rights.  Viewed in this manner, the complex becomes manageable.


George Howard is the Executive Vice President of Wolfgang’s Vault. Wolfgang’s Vault is the parent company of Concert Vault, Paste Magazine, and Daytrotter. Mr. Howard is an Associate Professor of Management at Berklee College of Music