Category Archives: Music Publishing

Anatomy Of A Songwriter Signing; Jessi Alexander

[Editors Note: This interview with TuneCore Artist Jessi Alexander originally appeared on NEKST. David Ross, author of this piece and the founder of Music Row Magazine, uses NEKST as a platform to cover ‘music and the technology it powers’.]

Music Row streets are filled with new and experienced songwriters hoping to climb that next career rung by finding the perfect home to nurture and support their creative efforts. But in an industry where success gets more elusive every day, only a fortunate few will find what they seek. Therefore the importance of these decisions—for both writer and publisher—cannot be underestimated.

This Music GM/Partner Rusty Gaston recently signed Jessi Alexander and both parties graciously agreed to discuss the dynamics of the new partnership and why they are so excited about a shared future.

According to Gaston, “This Music is a joint venture with Warner Chappell. The company was formed in 2006, with myself and songwriters Connie Harrington and Tim Nichols. We signed Ben Hayslip on our first day, who at that point had only charted one single. Since then he’s become a two-time ASCAP “Songwriter of the Year”. Today we’ve grown to five employees and 13 writers. As good as we put it on paper, knock on wood it has gone better. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary we’ve won five “Song of the Year” awards, and had 40 ASCAP/BMI award winning songs. It’s been a super blessing.”

But despite This Music’s great track record, operating a boutique publishing company leaves little room for mistakes. So what goes into an important decision such as adding a songwriter to the team? “I always ask myself would I mortgage my house for this?” says Gaston. “If I can’t say ‘Yes,’ I don’t do the deal. I also don’t do pieces of business. Maybe a writer has a record deal or a cut bringing a certain amount of income and signing them could be a good business decision. But for me it’s about how much I believe in this person. I make my decision based upon people first and music second.”

Rusty Gaston

Rusty Gaston

Enter Jessi Alexander. “Jessi has been deeply involved with our company as a co-writer for years,” says Gaston. “For example, she co-wrote ‘I Drive Your Truck’ with Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary; and ‘Mine Would Be You’ with Deric Ruttan and Connie. So when Jessi approached us to say, ‘I’m thinking about looking around,’ we knew immediately we’d love to work with her. Jessi has tremendous respect for those 16th Ave. craftsmen like Bobby Braddock or Bob McDill who worked every day, chiseling people’s emotions onto a blank piece of paper. And she fits so well with our philosophy of a great work ethic and positive attitude.”

It’s easy to understand why Gaston would be excited to sign Alexander. Above he explained the “people first” side of the equation. But the new addition also ‘brings it’ musically. For example, her Grammy nominated co-write, “I Drive Your Truck,” won triple-crown Song of the Year honors from the CMA, ACM and NSAI. Her inspirational ballad “The Climb,” (inked with Jon Mabe) topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for 15 weeks, garnered a Grammy nomination and won Best Song From A Movie from MTV.

I sat down with Jessi Alexander, (named after Jessi Colter) to get her side of the signing process and learn about her background. I wanted to know what career concerns mattered most, and what brought her to the conclusion that This Music was where she belonged. Unexpectedly, she also weighed in about gender on Music Row, offered some interesting advice for new writers and revealed some very personal feelings about why “The Climb” became a personal breakthrough moment.

NEKST: Did you interact with music growing up?

Jessi Alexander: I remember my grandfather sitting at a piano and playing a game with me. I’d say, “Hey Granddaddy play ‘Love Me Tender’,” and he’d tap it out with one hand. But my dad was probably most instrumental. He was a hippie child of the ’60s and during college collected all the great records—from Led Zeppelin to Jimi Hendrix. He also discovered Will The Circle be Unbroken which led him to Ralph Stanley, Willie Nelsonand even Joan Baez. His music library offered Bluegrass infusing with rock n roll, gospel, delta blues and more. I was an only child with few friends, so while everyone else was out playing, my pastime became absorbing this music. Now that I have a 7-year old it gives me more perspective on how weird I was. My daughter might know what bluegrass is, but by her age I was encyclopedic in my approach to music. And everyday I still draw from those experiences.

Sounds more like you were “gifted,” not weird.

Well, I love how your weaknesses can become strengths. Being from a broken home in the country (Jackson, TN) without siblings, much TV or toys, music was an easy choice. At age nine my Dad asked me what instrument I wanted to learn. I chose electric bass. If he had gotten me that bass then maybe I wouldn’t have learned guitar, but he couldn’t afford a bass and an amp, so he got me a pawn shop acoustic guitar thinking I wouldn’t know the difference. Of course I did, but that started me playing guitar.

Did you imagine yourself being an artist or a songwriter during those early years?

jessiI grew up around blue collar type factory workers. My first jobs were working at a dry cleaner, at Subway and the car auction. Even after moving to Nashville around 1999 I approached the music industry in a blue collar way thinking ‘work hard then you’ll get that raise or promotion.’ Pretty quickly I saw it wasn’t like that and it seemed frustrating to realize how elusive it can be as to why certain people have success and others don’t. A promotion can be a song hold or an award. But I also understand how fortunate I am just to get to do this.

Continue reading David’s interview with Jessi Alexander here!

4 Ways To Engage With Fans in Digital Stores

You already know how to get your music into over 150 digital stores and streaming services worldwide – whether it’s a single, a brand new EP/full-length, or even just a cover song to surprise and delight your fans with.

And while it’s easy to get caught up with the desire to end up on Spotify playlist or get featured in the iTunes Store, independent artists often overlook some even easier ways to solidify their presence and interact with fans in some of these well-known streaming and download platforms.

Let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can engage fans and make your music easier to find when they come hunting:

spotify

1. Set Up a Spotify Verified Artist Account

Start building a community of fans who want to discover music through you – with a Spotify ‘verified artist account’ you can let your fans know when you’ve made a  playlist or share a new song. Your account will be linked to your discography pages, (making them easily searchable) and you’ll be creating a direct-to-fan channel within Spotify.

Once you’ve distributed your music to Spotify and signed up for your own account (avoid signing up with a Facebook profile), head over to this site to complete Spotify’s “Verification Form”. Be prepared to have a URL to a hosted 200×200 pixel profile image on the form. Click here to download a PDF of Spotify’s “Best Practices Guide”.

Next, add a playlist to your account (make sure to ‘right click’ on the playlist name to ‘Make Public’) – that way, you’re not launching an empty page.

Finally, share it with your fans! Copy and paste the playlists’ ‘http link’ and let your fans on Facebook and Twitter know you’re open for business.

2. Get Access to Spotify Fan Insights

Last November we reported on one of Spotify’s coolest roll-outs: Fan Insights. Now you can find out who your fans are, where they are in the world, how they listen, what their other musical preferences are and how they engage.

spotify fan insightsYou can still head over to Spotify’s Artist site and request access to the beta version of Fan Insights here.

 

Google Play

3. Set Up a Google Play Artist Page

If you’ve distributed your latest releases using TuneCore, it’s pretty likely that you’ve decided to include Google Play in the stores we send your music to. And why wouldn’t you? Google has risen to the ranks as one of the biggest household names in digital media, and Google Play serves as it’s platform for getting music, videos, apps and more in the hands of fans.

Selling your music, personalizing your store page and reaching users with your music on Google Play is easy! After you’ve made sure that your music has gone life on Google Play, head over to the Google Play Artist Hub.

Google Play Artist Hub

From there you can sign in with your Google account, find your artist name, and you’ll even be able to use a credit card (without being charged) to protect against “artist impersonation”.

apple music

4. Claim Your Profile on Apple Music Connect

By now, Apple Music has made enough headlines and become enough of a go-to platform for so many fans that as an indie artist, you want to make the most of it. Apple Connect is described as a ‘place where musicians give their fans a closer look a their work, their inspirations, and their world.

When you claim your profile on Connect, you can engage directly with your fans and share audio, photos and videos. Get started by visiting this site and signing in with your Apple ID.

AppleMusicConnect2

From there, you can search for your artist name or paste a link to your iTunes artist page and claim that profile.  Additionally, you’ll be asked for your Artist Management and Label contact information – keep in mind, TuneCore does not fulfill either of these, so if you’re lacking this information, just put in your own personal contact information twice and move on.


Now that you’ve stepped up your store game, head over to your social media profiles and break out that email list – it’s time to start sharing some links!

Building Your Team as You Build Your Career

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Eugene Foley – founder and president of Foley Entertainment, a full service music industry consulting firm and licensed entertainment agency.]

As the career of an artist evolves, so will their support team.   In the early days of someone’s career in the music business, they often have to handle all aspects of their career without help from experienced professionals. For the artists who are fortunate to have success, eventually their team will grow. That will allow the artist to focus on writing, rehearsing and performing, while their support team handles the business, financial, legal and marketing aspects of their career.

Let’s take a look at the most common team members and at what stage of someone’s career do they generally come onboard.

Level One

– Publicist & Radio Promoter
– Entertainment Attorney

During ‘Level One’ of an emerging artist’s career, the main focus is on songwriting, recording, tightening up live performances, creating marketing materials, building a web site and social media pages, and increasing the size of their fan base. Once those things are addressed, artists usually start reaching out to clubs and other venues to begin securing live performance opportunities.

During this phase of a career, an entertainment attorney can help an artist get important legal matters in place, including, but not limited to, matters related to copyright and trademark, drafting an inter-band agreement, setting up a business entity and other tasks along those lines.

The next team members to join are often a publicist and a radio promoter.   You can have amazing songs and a fantastic live show, but consumers have to find out that you exist. An experienced and well-connected PR firm and college radio promotion company can secure a tremendous amount of favorable exposure for your music, videos and live performances. They will target newspapers, magazines, blogs, regional TV Talk shows, college and online radio stations and anywhere else that would be willing to give you coverage and exposure.

In these early days of someone’s career, little to no income is being generated and what little may come in from music and merchandise sales and gigs is often just reinvested right back into the project.   So the artist has to wear many hats at this stage of a career before attracting an experienced manager or a booking agent.

Traditionally, managers and booking agents work on commission-based compensation with managers generally earning 15% to 20% and booking agents 10%. So unless a good amount of money is coming in, or serious major label interest in on the table, most top-notch managers and agents will not express interest.

So the artist has to guide their career on a day-to-day basis and turn to the entertainment attorney or a top music industry consultant for advice whenever needed. Most ‘Level One’ artists also book their own gigs at clubs, small theaters, colleges and local festivals. For those who are successful, graduate up and evolve into a ‘Level Two’ artist, help is on the way.

Level Two

– Publicist & Radio Promoter
– Entertainment Attorney
– Personal Manager
– Booking Agent

By the time the artist reaches ‘Level Two’, their publicist and radio promoter will have the buzz and leverage high enough to start targeting bigger press, bigger radio stations and large market TV talk shows.   By now the social media followers should be a high number and it’s time for the artist to get on the radar of top managers and booking agencies.

Once those two team members are added, the artist will finally have full-time help with the day-to-day operations of their career and begin securing well-paying gigs at respected, popular venues. Opportunities to tour with headlining major label acts may even arise thanks to the booking agent’s contacts and connections.

Quite a few artists and groups reach ‘Level Two’ and build a very respectable, long-term career and make a nice living doing what they love. The best of the best climb the career ladder one more notch and reach ‘Level Three’.

Level Three

– Publicist & Radio Promoter
– Entertainment Attorney
– Personal Manager
– Business Manager & CPA
– Booking Agent
– Music Publisher
– Record Company

By the time an artist reaches ‘Level Three’, several new team members join the mix, including a business manager, CPA, music publisher and a record company.   At this point, many artists add a commercial radio promoter to the team, while keeping the college promoter who has been onboard since ‘Level One’.

By this stage in someone’s career, they are touring globally, performing at venues that have a capacity of 10,000+ and selling a great deal of, downloads/streams, merchandise, and CDs/vinyl. Income is also coming in from their music publisher and numerous licensing opportunities offered to ‘Level Three’ artists.

The personal manager, attorney, business manager and CPA all work closely together to guide the artist’s career and the booking agent keeps the well-paying live shows flowing in.   A record company would be helping the artist record and market new songs and helping with financial support, especially in areas of publicity, promotion, marketing, advertising and tour support.

The artist would continue to focus on the creative aspects of their career and all of the team members are working like a well-oiled machine driving the project to the top of the charts.

An industry with a similar climb is baseball.   A baseball player starts out in youth leagues and the better players keep climbing the ranks through high school, college and minor league baseball.   As their career rolls along, they’re securing better trainers, more experienced coaches and managers, they’re adding new professionals to their team, such as an agent, nutritionist, physician and sports psychologist – along with marketing and endorsement executives. As a baseball player’s career takes off and they reach the major leagues, their needs change and evolve and so does their support team.

It’s the same thing in the music business. If someone has a great deal of talent, works hard, builds the right team, formulates a smart game plan and everyone is steering the ship in the same direction, they have a real shot to climb from ‘Level One’ to ‘Level Three’ over a period of time. Good luck on your climb!


Eugene Foley represents artists, bands, songwriters, labels, managers, producers, engineers and other industry participants. Clients have earned nearly 40 Gold & Platinum Records & three GRAMMY® Awards. Foley is the author of the acclaimed educational book, “Artist Development – A Distinctive Guide To The Music Industry’s Lost Art.”   He’s a frequent music biz expert guest on television and radio and lectures extensively on topics including artist development, marketing, music publishing and intellectual property. Foley offers a free music & career evaluation to all unsigned artists, visit: www.FoleyEntertainment.com.

TuneCore Sync Placements Q2 in 2016

We’re extremely proud to be able to help our TuneCore Artists get their music out to the world in the form of synchronization licensing. From TV shows and movies to video games and advertisements, sync placements are one of the most sought-after successes among independent artists.

In an effort to celebrate and showcase these licenses, we’re continuing to share highlights from each quarter here on the TuneCore Blog! If you’ve been interested in TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration, peruse through these placements to see just some of what our publishing team has been up to:

tmnt-out-of-the-shadows-featured
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Song Title: “Wild Life”
Writer: Carlos Sosa
Artist: Outasight

LadyLike_S1_JumbotronLadylike
Song Title: “The Uprising”
Writer: Dominic Lalli
Artist: Big Gigantic

USGA-FOX-SportsFox Sports – US Open
Song Title: “Legends”
Writers: Eric Michels, Steve Michels, Seth Dunshee, and Jonathan Tanner
Artist: Foreign Figures

wildlifetrailerThe Wild Life (trailer)
Song Title: “Wild Life”
Writer: Carlos Sosa
Artist: Outasight

fido1Fido LG G5 (product video)
Song Title: “Don’t Give a Damn”
Writer: Yonas Mellesse
Artist: Yonas

dwts-logo-1Dancing With the Stars
Song Title: “300 Violin Orchestra”
Writer: Jorge Quintero
Artist: Jorge Quintero

hugo-boss-logoHugo Boss (promos)
Song Title: “Through the Fire”
Writer: Jasper Wijnands
Artist: Shook

June Songwriter News

By Stefanie Flamm

Summer is officially here, but the music publishing industry is not taking a vacation:

  • Racially-charged jazz standard “Strange Fruit” is used in The Birth of a Nation trailer, demonstrating that certain compositions are great to have in a sync catalogue, even if they’re rarely used.
  • Music executives urge for music industry unity at the NMPA’s annual meeting in NYC.
  • Sync placements are shown to be a twofold benefit to artists like Drake, Skrillex, and The Mamas & The Papas.
  • Major labels, digital distributors, and streaming stores came together as part of Berklee College of Music’s Open Music Initiative to provide more efficient royalty solutions for streaming.

Read more to see how songwriters and publishers alike are working hard for higher royalties and greater industry unity.

“Strange Fruit” proves to be an important song for sync placement in spite of its rare use in TV and film.


Be it the original Billie Holiday version, Nina Simone’s haunting cover, or Kanye West’s sampling of the song in his album Yeezus, the lyrics to “Strange Fruit” are an eerie reminder of America’s dark and not-so-distant past. A soulful recollection of both pre-Civil War and Jim Crow-era America, Abel Meeropol’s 1937 poem provides lyrics to one of the most haunting songs in American history and Time Magazine’s song of the 20th Century.

Because of the gravity of the song’s content, rights owner Music Sales Corp. is particular about to whom they license “Strange Fruit.” The licensing of this song is tactful, with permissions only given to a small percentage of applicants.

“The importance of the song is certainly not lost on us,” says Executive VP of Music Sales Corp. Miles Feinberg. “It contributed to the civil rights movement, so we’ve been very ­protective of it.”

It is for this exact reason that Music Sales Corp. decided to greenlight the use of Nina Simone’s version for the trailer of the upcoming film The Birth of a Nation. Simone’s evocative tone gracefully pairs with the footage in the trailer, leaving a feeling that is both ominous and galvanizing.

It’s the rarity of the song’s occurrence in pop culture that makes it so resonant, and while the song isn’t of much monetary value to Music Sales Corp., the principle of owning the song is worth its weight in gold. “[Strange Fruit] is not a big money earner,” says Feinberg. “But it is an ­incredible one to have in your catalog.”

Sometimes the greatest songs are the ones you rarely hear.

Publishers push for music industry unity at the NMPA’s 99th annual meeting in NYC.


The packed event room at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, NY was buzzing on June 8th as music industry professionals gathered for the 99th annual meeting of the National Music Publishers Association. The main focus of the meeting? Music industry unity.

“The music industry has never been more powerful and popular and we as an industry have never done a sh***er job of rallying together as one industry,” legendary music industry executive Irving Azoff said in his keynote address. “We should work together to solve the root of the problem.”

It’s not news that US music publishing legislation is grossly out-of-date; the regulations that were enacted in 1941 have seen very few changes since their inception. Irving speculated that the lack of effective legislation in Washington is a direct result of a disjointed industry. Without a sense of unity, the US Department of Justice has been steamrolling the industry in favor of the consumer.

The DOJ recently reviewed the consent decrees that are at the backbone of BMI and ASCAP’s licensing agreements. With this recent review, the DOJ is considering “100 percent licensing,” which means that any rights owner can license the entire song, regardless of what percentage of the song they own. The music industry seems to unanimously agree that this is a bad idea, as it could potentially mean an imbalance in royalty payments, as well as restricting songwriters to only collaborate with artists in their PRO.

NMPA president David Israelite also had some words to say on what he called the “One Music” strategy, stressing that the industry standing together to fight for better legislation is stronger than individual groups fighting on each side.

Songwriters across the United States believe that now’s the time for songwriters to come together for a common good.

Sync placements kill two birds with one stone for artists like Drake, Skrillex, and more.


We’ve all seen the video – Taylor Swift puts on “Jumpman” by Drake & Future, starts running on her treadmill while rapping along to the song, and falls flat on her face. The Apple Music commercial has gained upwards of 17.5 million views since the video was posted to YouTube on April 1st. But what’s more impressive is the success of the song as a result of the sync placement.

Downloads for “Jumpman” increased 193% in the week that the video went live, from 15,000 sales the week of March 31st to 44,000 a week later. This is another win for Drake, whose sync licensing for “Hotline Bling” in a T-Mobile Superbowl commercial brought in royalties from 130 countries where the game was broadcast.

BMI and ASCAP reported over $590 million in sync revenue from 2015 alone. These sync licenses bring extra attention and sales revenue to both new artists, like when Feist’s “1 2 3 4” was featured in an iPod Nano commercial in 2007, to older artists like The Mamas & The Papas whose 1965 hit “California Dreamin’” is making a resurgence via an H&M commercial for Coachella.

Sync is one of the biggest tools for success in music today, and it’s paying off big for songwriters.

Berklee’s Open Music Initiative brings streaming services together with labels for more efficient royalty matching.


Goliaths of the industry, from major labels to streaming stores, came together this month to help streamline digital music distribution and copyright. These groups are working with The Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) as part of the Open Music Initiative (OMI) to create better royalty matching solutions for publishers and streaming services alike.

Berklee is joining with teams from the MIT Media Lab and the University of London to create advancements in matching technology, which will help with the speed and accuracy of royalty reporting. While strides have been made in the past, BerkleeICE believes that the support from institutions, industry executives, and distribution services like TuneCore will give OMI the push it needs to succeed.

“The internet led to an explosion of innovation precisely because of its open architecture. We now have the tools to build an open architecture for music rights, using a decentralized platform,” said Neha Narula, director of research, Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. “We’re excited to work with BerkleeICE and the Open Music Initiative to create a foundation for innovation, not only in rights management but in music itself.”

OMI is hitting the ground running this summer, with their inaugural gathering held in NYC on June 22nd, and a three-week innovation lab to be held in Boston from July 11th-29th.

An open-sourced platform around creative rights could be just the thing the industry needs to create a unified force against outdated legislation.

Make sure you’re receiving all of the songwriter royalties that you’re entitled to by joining our Music Publishing Administration.

SOUND BYTES

What is the Best Microphone for Recording Vocals? $3,000 vs. $100 Mics

[Editors Note: This is blog was written by Scott Wiggins and it originally appeared on his site, The Recording Solution, which is dedicated to helping producers, engineers and artists make better music from their home studios.]

You may be asking yourself: What is the best microphone for recordings vocals?

I want to ask you a few questions first.

Does expensive gear really matter anymore?

Is the reason why your recordings and mixes don’t sound the way you want them  to because you don’t have expensive gear?

HELL NO!

Yes it’s nice to have great gear, and I’m not against it, BUT I whole heartedly disagree that you can’t make GREAT recordings and mixes on budget gear these days.

The question, “What is the best microphone for recording vocals?”, is a lot more complicated than that.

You see, different vocalist sound different on different mics. If you have a bunch of mics to try out on your vocalist the day of your recording then by all means go for it and pick the best one.

The thing is, this is really subjective. One mic may sound different then the other, but is it better? Maybe…. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just different and they are both good.

I have a really good buddy named Pat Manske who is a professional grammy nominated audio engineer, and works
at a studio in Wimberly TX called the ZONE.

Did you know the famous engineer Rupert Neve lives in Wimberly?! Pretty cool.

Anyways… Pat let me borrow a really expensive Neuman U87 mic, an RE20, and an SM7B.

All classic, famous mics. These mics can be heard on all kinds of hit records over the years. The RE20 and SM7B are more affordable, but still in the $400 range. The SM7B is what Michael Jackson
sung into for the whole Thriller album.

best microphone for recording vocals

Neuman U87

best microphone for recording vocals

RE20

best microphone for recording vocals

SM7B

I put them up against my $300 MXL 4000 I’ve had for years and use on EVERYTHING, as well as 2 $100 mics, the Audio Technica 2020 (AT2020) and the workhorse of studios world wide, the SM57.

best microphone for recording vocals

MXL 4000

best microphone for recording vocals

Audio Technica 2020

best microphone for recording vocals

Shure SM57

In the video below, I sing the same part of a verse into all 6 mics, and I was surprised at the results I found.

All of them sound different. All have little things I like and dislike about them. The thing is, I am convinced now that it’s not the lack of expensive mics that are the reason for not having a great vocal sound.

I am completely sold on “It’s the ear, not the gear that make a great engineer”.

I’m the only one standing in my way from getting my mixes to sound like the top dogs in the industry.

It’s not the million dollar studios, it’s not the super vintage analogue gear they have that I don’t, It’s not the $100,000 mic locker they have to choose from. It’s their years of hard work and putting in the time. It’s their knowledge of how EQ and Compression works.

It’s their taste they developed over the months and years of finishing mix after mix. Thats it!

With today’s technology and digital plugins that sound just as good as the true analogue gear, the playing field is even. Tons of professional mixers are going completely “IN THE BOX”, meaning they are strictly using DAWs and digital gear.

So to answer your question “What is the best microphone for recording vocals?”:

I’d say the one you have already. If you need help on how to record a great vocal sound, then check this post out on another post/video I created.

Take a look at the video below and see the results of the mic shoot out for yourself. I’d love to read your comments below on which mic you liked the best and the reasons why.