Category Archives: Tips

Think You Have a Song That’s Syncable?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Liam Farrell, Manager of Sync on TuneCore’s Publishing Administration team, and it was originally featured on Music Connection.]

This past May, I attended a panel discussion on the current state of sync. It was a real who’s-who of gatekeepers from the sync world; a PRO exec, some big name publishers and music director from one of the top creative agencies in the world.

The audience was a mix of music supervisors, catalog reps, and a ton of hungry musicians looking for new and creative ways to monetize their music.  During the Q&A, one of the more forward musicians in the audience presented a very direct question to the panel:

“What kind of music should I write to land a lot of syncs?”

For a few seconds, the panel seemed to be at a loss for words.  That is until the Music Director spoke up, “Inspirational, anthemic rock that builds.”

I watched as everyone in the audience jotted these words as if an angel had visited and given them the password to heaven.  Of course, the Music Director went on to add much more substance and nuance to his answer, including the suggestion that when a songwriter sets out to write a syncable tune, its often obvious and takes away authenticity of the original song idea. However, those five first words continued to resonate in the room.

As I pondered this a bit deeper, I started to look back at my own experience as a music supervisor.  Pitching and clearing music for wide variety of mediums, from multi-million dollar national brand campaigns to Kickstarter videos for salt water taffy start-ups.  I realized, “inspirational anthemic rock that builds” was a great answer if you are trying to land one of those big, career launching ad placements.

But there are so many more avenues into sync where the competition is much thinner and the opportunities are much more frequent. Below are a few thoughts and tips to keep in mind when crafting your next masterpiece. Again, I’m “NOT” suggesting writing a song that hits all of the points to follow. I think most music supervisors will agree with me. These are just a few things to think about applying to your song(s) to maximize your chances for landing syncs of all shapes and sizes.

Tip # 1: Instrumental Versions 

I cannot stress this enough: Have instrumental versions of all of your songs ready and available at a moments notice. For 99% of placements of popular songs in ads, the instrumental version is needed in order to make the edit work.  This is largely because the Voice Over needs room to breath and tell the audience about the product.

Lets say you have a song called “I Got A Feelin’ I Love You” and that a yogurt brand wants to use it in a campaign to introduce their new flavor: Banana Cheesecake Delight.  Target demographic: Moms on the Go.

The first 20 seconds of the spot there’s VO (voice over) speaking to the nutritional value of the yogurt and how easy and convenient it is to eat.  The camera focuses in on someone savoring the first bite. The titular line of your song “I Got a Feelin’ I Love You” plays and the title card appears.  That’s what we call in the biz a “vocal up.”

Now, if the instrumental wasn’t available for the editors, then all of the lyrics preceding “I Got a Feelin’ I Love You” would compete with the VO and the spot will sound cumbersome and confusing.

Tip #2:  Button Up – Never Fade

I’ve been in the room when its happened.  All of the creatives listening to music options for their spot.  There’s one song they all react positively to. Toes tapping and heads bopping.  Everyone is loving this song.  The final chorus comes in and its epic, but then, the worst thing happens.  The song ends on a fade out!  BLASPHEMY!  Everyone is severely disappointed and a few people quit their jobs right there on the spot.  Why? Why ever fade out a song? Very rarely will a TV show or film fade out from one scene to another and it NEVER happens in ads.

If for some reason the spot calls for a fade out, this can easily be done in the edit suite.  Editors cannot, however, undo a fadeout and create an ending that isn’t there.  Its uber-important to put a nice intentional button ending (or sting) on every song you want to be pitched for sync. Trust me.

Tip #3: Clean Versions

We all love edgy music from time to time, amirite? Suggestive lyrics and gratuitous f-bombs are tons of fun at the adults only pool party.

But brands? No way. Brands like to play it safe so they can reach the widest pool of potential consumers possible.  Sure, you can get some swears in a film with a PG-13 or higher rating, or even on a late night cable comedy.  But if you really want to maximize your chances for sync, you should have a clean version readily available.  That doesn’t mean add a BLEEP sound over every bad word. That gets annoying real quick.  That means either replace it or drop the word altogether in the mix.

Tip #4: Whoa Oh Oh’s

You may have noticed (if you haven’t, you will now) that a ton of commercial spots use songs that feature some sort of “Oooo” “Whoa” or “Ahh” in lieu of actual lyrics. This makes sense because it allows the spot to avoid any lyrics that may compete with the brand’s message while also maintaining the vocal element that ‘legitimizes’ the song.  It can also add an extra layer of energy.

Tip #5: Not Too Specific Lyrics

Now this is a tricky one. Not to sound like a broken record, but you shouldn’t set out to write a song specifically for sync. Give us truth. Give us authenticity. Just don’t give us the full name, description, and backstory of your long lost love. Keep it 100.

It’s great to write lyrics that are personal and close to the heart.  However, if your lyrics are too specific, it may hurt your chances for sync.

Lets say a soup brand is looking for the perfect song to go along with their new flavor: New England HAM Chowder.  They want to find a song that reflects the warm and comforting nature of soup. You happen to have a song in your catalog “Warmth.”  The lyrics go something like, “Last winter, up in Maine, We sat by the fire hand in hand, the bluest eyes, shake my core, I love you Margaret, you make me warm…” Bro, that’s not gonna work for soup.

Meanwhile Johnny Syncsalot submits his song called “Comfort.”  He lands the placement because his lyrics were emotive, yet vague enough that they could pass for being about soup, “Oooo I’ve been waiting for this, and I can’t get it out of my mind.  Home is where I want to be, and now your comfort is mine.”

A young man is sitting with his cat and guitar at home on a sofa and is writing songs in a notebook

That could be about soup, a dog, bed sheets, a shower, etc.  Lyrics like this can be applied to a number of different things because they are so vague about what the subject is.

Just something to think about next time you put the pen to paper.

Tip #6: Dynamics – Never Loop

A repetitive track gets boring really quickly.  Having a song that’s dynamic and has lots of peaks and valleys will set your music apart from others.

The people who actually lay the music to picture often look for what they call “edit points.”  These are moments within the song where the mood, intensity, or energy takes a turn.

Lets say you have a scene in a film where a young athlete is struggling to finish her race.  Her legs are tired and she’s falling behind the other runners. The song in the background is pulsing, and tense, matching the pace and mood of the scene.  Then, just as she’s about to give up and quit, she sees her coach in the stands.  The coach gives her a look like “C’mon, you can DO THIS. ” At that moment she finds sudden second wind and pushes herself to speed up for one last lap.  The music pivots intensity and is now triumphant and optimistic, yet still the same song.  She makes it over the finish line and gets her gold medal.

If you’re song is simply a loop of a beat or some chords, there still may be some syncs out there for you.  But they are limited to phone apps and weather channel updates.  Nothing wrong with that.  But spice it up a bit if you want a shot at the big leagues.

Tip #7 – The Build Up

Most commercials are :30 or :60 seconds long. So if you can save an editor from cutting up your song to fit these lengths, you’ll have a serious advantage. Thus, its is wise to have your song build steadily over 30 or 60 seconds. Of course, most real songs (not jingles) are going to be much longer than 60 seconds. So once the song is mixed and ready for master, just create a :30 and :60 cut-down version (maybe even a :15 if you are feeling saucy!).  These are always good to have in your back pocket, ready for sync.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to give the listener a little bit of time to bask in the glory of the crescendo you’ve just built up to. So don’t have it peak at :30 or :60.  Rather, hit the musical zenith at :27 (for a :30) or :54 (for a :60).  If you peak at :30, its like riding a roller coaster to the top of the hill, and then getting off before the payoff. Nahmsayin?

This one I would recommend applying at the final stages of the recording process via editing. Its hard to fit a good and thoughtful song idea into a :30 second edit, so go nuts and write/record the full song first. Then take the juiciest of bits and cut them down after the fact.

Tip #8: Save Sessions

Sometimes, creatives will be really into a song, but not quite feeling the sultry sax solo because it competes with VO.  Often they’ll ask the artist if there is a version without the sax.  The savvy musician will have the session backed up on a hard drive and will be able to deliver a sax-free version at a moments notice.  I’ve seen songs get a lot of love in the edit suite, only to be passed over because the artist couldn’t deliver a different mix.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Back up your sessions!

Tip #9: Less is More

Piggybacking off of Tip #8.  There is some real value in minimal music.  This is especially true in background music for TV or documentaries.  Consider for a moment all of the music in scenes like: tip toeing through a dark hallway, a news report on the aftermath of a natural disaster, a washed up actor recounting a dark time in his life, or an educational look at the process of photosynthesis.

The music under all of these types of moments needs to be subtle and not over the top.  There is a lot of value in ethereal soundscapes, solo piano pieces, or even simple ambient drones.  Sometimes its best to keep it simple and subtle.  You may be surprised how much demand there is for this kind of thing.

Tip #10: Be True to Yourself

This one is VERY important.  While ‘inspirational anthemic rock that builds’ may be the most sought after kind of music for sync, there’s also going to be a lot of competition.  If that’s not your thing, don’t sweat it!  We get requests all the time for very specific, non-mainstream music that is authentic.  Perhaps you are an ole timey barber shop quartet, or maybe a mariachi band.  Stick with it!  There are opportunities out there for you.

One great example is the band, Dropkick Murphys. Quite a specific sound, right? Irish-American Punk.  While they likely wont land the theme song on Real Housewives of Ft Lauderdale, they get a ton of love from Irish-themed shows, movies, and brands. I can’t think of one Boston mob film that they aren’t on the soundtrack of.

You have the same chance at that sort of path to success.  Just find what you are good at, and keep pushing.


LIAM FARRELL is Manager of Sync on TuneCore’s Publishing Administration team. After graduating from Syracuse University in 2008, Farrell moved to New York to foster over eight years of experience in the music industry, ranging from artist management to music supervision. Farrell climbed aboard TuneCore’s Brooklyn vessel in May of 2016, bringing with him a knack and enthusiasm for music synchronization.

Interview: Braden Palmer Discusses Licensing for TV & More

Braden Palmer has been led an interesting and busy life in the music industry. Growing up in a family of musicians and falling in love with rock music at an early age, the Minnesota-native’s talents have taken him everywhere from Snoop Dogg’s studio, to scoring films in LA, and back to his home state where he runs his own label.

Having used TuneCore for both Distribution and Music Publishing Administration, Palmer has had to learn first hand how to build a network and run his own business. With the help of TuneCore and his project, Detuned Kytes, he was able to enjoy a recent sync license placement on the season finale of the hit CBS crime drama Criminal Minds. We got a chance to chat with Braden about his career, his influences, licensing and more:

When did you know you wanted to begin creating music?

As far back as I can remember.  I grew up in a musical family, so I started performing as early as nine years old and recorded my first album at the age of 12.  Creating and writing music has been the main outlet for me for most of my life.

Tell us about your initial entrance to the music industry and your involvement in hip hop.

I had been recording for several years in my bedroom as a young kid and after graduating high school I started my first ‘real’ music project called Detuned Kytes – I wrote and recorded a full album called Everything Is Gone, which was a limited product. I only had 1,000 copies printed and released and will most likely never re-release it, but in 2009 I decided to fully start my own record label, StuckHog Studios; I turned a machine barn on my family farm into an official recording studio.

Within the first year of having a ‘real’ place to record in, I wrote and produced two more full Detuned Kytes albums and began doing musical scores for film soundtracks.  By the year 2012 I had released five full-length Detuned Kytes albums and had been producing music for several hip hop artists based out of Minneapolis, MN.  Once I tapped into my ability of producing hip hop, I met Baby Eazy-E, (son of Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright, founder of N.W.A). I eventually became really good friends with him and decided it was time to move to Los Angeles to really pursue a larger step in my career. Two weeks after moving to L.A. I found myself in Snoop Dogg’s recording studio working with legendary L.A. producer DJ Battlecat.

Given the way you’ve moved within the industry, when was it that publishing became something you needed to learn about? What attracted you to TuneCore Publishing Administration? 

Music is my passion, but with most things that are taken seriously and looked at as a potential career, there are business needs that must be met.  Once I officially had the idea and products for StuckHog Studios under my belt, I needed to take the correct business steps as well. Copyrighting, trademarking, incorporating, etc. – I never understood publishing very well until I was absolutely forced to.  Like most things in the universe, if you’re open to learning about it and feel a sense of urgency, the perfect tools come unexpectedly to help move things forward.

I had finished most vital business steps and needed to figure out publishing when I received an update from TuneCore about their Music Publishing Administration offering.  Since I have always remained independent, this offer seemed like something that was necessary without having to involve several other parties and/or companies with extra fees.  TuneCore helped keep it simple and efficient, only asking for a proposed 10% for publishing deals once made as an administrator.

What advice do you have for indie artists like yourself when it comes to music publishing and getting a better understanding of it all? 

Do your research.  Read blogs, articles and visit numerous publishing company websites; really get a full understanding of what it involves and how to avoid problematic outcomes.  If you are involved in a contractual agreement, really look through it thoroughly and if you don’t understand it, legal help may be necessary. A small fee here or there will save major headache in terms of dealing with lawsuits.

If you’re truly considering making music your career and you know full-heartedly that it is possible, publishing WILL need to happen at some point.  It’s great if you can just be an artist and have managers or a label that handles most of the grunt work.  But in my case, I am completely independent so not only am I the artist, I have to be the business man, too.

How important has it been to be able to collect all the royalties owed to you?

Royalties and other TuneCore offers have helped me pinpoint exactly what is most effective when writing/releasing.  Each project I’ve worked on has a multitude of different outcomes.  For years I simply released an album and let it do its work. It spreads on its own until larger opportunities come and catapult it towards more success. As long as you believe in your art, it may only have a couple downloads a month, but always stay determined and confident that everything will pay off. Eventually it does if you continue to work hard.

Tell us about how it feels to land a sync placement on a major television series. 

It was a great feeling to receive this opportunity.  I have written several scores for film soundtracks, but never something for a major network (CBS) with such an outreach.

How has your career been impacted by having your song featured on Criminal Minds

My career has suddenly taken a more serious turn.  People who never knew I was making music, or those who knew but never took it seriously, are now suddenly looking more closely.  My fan base has grown and since the airing of the season finale, I have received a lot of publicity and a number of amazing opportunities.  It definitely gave me the extra push I was needing.  It came at the perfect time.

Between your two current projects, Detuned Kytes & LaHa, what inspires to you to write songs?

Everyday life and occurrences inspire me most. As humans we have good days, bad days, down days and surreal days, so I gather from all experiences and environments and write according to how I truly feel and how I think the listener could relate.  Some songs are personal and others are simply for experimenting with other realities. I’ve never been able to stick to just one way of writing or one style.  I’m always in search of different styles, sounds and recording methods.  Detuned Kytes represents how quickly I change from genre to genre.  One day I feel like writing industrial metal and the next I feel like writing Stevie Wonder type love songs, or sometimes just making noise until it structures itself into something cool.

I’m constantly trying to match a sound with a feeling, tapping into what the music feels like or what the music makes me feel like.  It’s part of me. As for LaHa, its a more personal, relatable project that is much more marketable and mainstream.  I think LaHa expresses the maturity and musical knowledge I have gained in the last ten years.

Tell us about the decision to move from L.A. back to your home state of Minnesota.

I decided to move to L.A. for a year and see where it took me. When the year was up, I just simply packed up and headed back home to take the knowledge I had gained and put it to use in my new outlook.  I love L.A. and all of its creative energy, but I’m really a quiet, independent person who needs grounding and peaceful surroundings in order to fully comprehend my actions and future decisions.

Although there are plenty of recording studios and opportunity in Los Angeles, I still really wanted to build a new, bigger and better StuckHog recording studio and pick up where I left off and really take the next step.  Minnesota has a really great music scene and I feel like I could really reveal that to the rest of the world.  Being a local, I felt the need to stay home and stay closest to my roots.

While they may be different for each project, what do you credit as some of your biggest musical influences?

The first album I ever got from my older brother was Nevermind by Nirvana. Being about five or six years old, I remember having a cardboard cut-out of a guitar and lip-syncing the entire album out my bedroom window, imagining a sea of people in my driveway.

One major artist that I respect in every way and broadened my outlook on music was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Further Down The Spiral was the first album I bought with my own money one day while shopping with my dad at a local record store.  I went home, popped it in and it changed my life instantly. From that moment on I bought, wore, watched, lived and breathed everything NIN.  Once I saw NIN live, there was no doubt in my mind that I absolutely needed to make music for the rest of my life, and [Trent] really taught me a lot about staying true to myself, staying creative and expressing the importance of art.

Depeche Mode was another major influence on me.  Dave Gahan and Martin Gore’s chemistry is so special. Their darkness and spirituality through noise captivated me as a youth and really gave me something to relate to. Other influences include Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Ministry, Jane’s Addiction, Radiohead, The Beach Boys, The Eagles and many more.

Beyond the sync placement, how else has TuneCore been a part of your musical journey?

TuneCore has helped me in many ways.  The most important thing I had to figure out when starting StuckHog Studios was how I was going to distribute and make [my music] available digitally all over the web.  There are several companies I considered using at the time, but TuneCore seemed the most advanced and user-friendly.  Once I joined, I could then release albums through iTunes which was major, because it helped get my music to places that I couldn’t do on my own.  TuneCore is always offering new services, stores and features that keep them relevant to fans and the artists. Not only does TuneCore help me get my music out there, they’re helping me get paid for it as well, haha!

Got any big plans for the rest of 2015/early 2016?

The next year will be another busy one, but an important one for the rest of my career.  I feel like this is the year that my music is taking another step towards greater success.  I will be releasing the debut LaHa album entitled Barbaric Minds of Future Times, a new Detuned Kytes album called Broken News, shooting several music videos for both projects and really concentrating on taking the entire experience live and begin performing a lot more. I’ve been working with many hip hop artists, too.  Laying a good foundation for future producing projects.  I plan on keeping StuckHog Studios growing in the direction of what I’ve always dreamed of it being and continuing to allow the freedom of creation from project to project.

Interview: Music Supervisor Amanda Krieg Thomas Talks Sync Licensing

When it comes to the music industry, one of its most complicated and often confused components is publishing and licensing. Mechanical royalties, neighboring rights, performance rights organizations – for independent artists, it can seem like one big gray area!

While TuneCore Music Publishing Administration is here to help you collect worldwide royalties and answer questions, we know that one of the most tantalizing aspects of publishing is landing synchronization licenses – or in other words, getting your music placed in movies, television shows, ads, and video games. The notion of ‘selling out’ has become a relatively antiquated term for artists who want to get heard and make money.

Each month, we catch our readers up on our pitching efforts and license placements for TuneCore Artists/songwriters, but to give you closer look into the world of ‘synch’ licenses, we interviewed accomplished music supervisor Amanda Krieg Thomas (Format Entertainment). Amanda works with directors, producers and artists on a daily basis and has coordinated/supervised music on projects like Pitch Perfect 1 & 2 (Universal), Fake Off (TruTV), Grace Stirs Up Success (American Girl/Mattel), The Other Woman (Fox), and Beyond The Lights (BET), and has placed TuneCore Artists’ music. Enjoy and take notes, TuneCore Artists!

What led you to pursuing a career as a music supervisor? 

Amanda Thomas: I kind of fell into it – I moved out to L.A. to pursue writing and producing, film, TV, etc. I took a job assisting the music attorney at Lionsgate with the idea that if I learned this part of filmmaking, it’d lead to other things. I did that for over a year, working with contracts and legal, and I’m so grateful to have gotten that nuts-and-bolts knowledge. I was about to leave music because I realized I didn’t want to do just the legal side, and I didn’t know if I could work on the creative side, you know, I loved music, but I wasn’t a ‘musical savant’ or anything. That’s when I got the opportunity to work assisting the Head of Film Music.

I remember we were working on a search for a movie, we were pitching all sorts of stuff, and the director had lots of ideas. I remember being in her office and her saying, “These are funny, but what would the character really listen to in this moment?” And it just clicked for me – this idea of character and story, and telling that story with music. I had studied theater and film, and I worked on a lot of musicals, so storytelling with music really resonated with me. That’s when I decided that this is what I wanted to do.

What kinds of relationships have been vital to build on both the music business side and film/TV/advertising side?

Pretty much ‘all of the above.’ I’m the type of person who says ‘yes,’ especially when it comes to meeting people. It’s made my life easier to be friends with people sending and pitching me music – it’s always saved my life. The publishers, people at labels – the joy of collaborating with people I like and respect is a big part of why I want to stay in this career field. There’s a strong sense of community.

But on the other side, the key relationships are definitely the people who are making content – films, TV shows – it’s really those people who hire me. Overall, you never know what is the relationship that’s going to get you the furthest and pay off. Be friends with everyone, and be grateful, because you never know where that amazing opportunity is going to come from.

Given your well-rounded resume of television and film, has there been a project that stands out as your favorite?

For me, there are projects that I was proud to be apart for slightly different reasons. Pitch Perfect 2 is a project I was a member of the music team for. The Pitch Perfect films are probably the biggest projects I’ve been involved in. They really valued everyone’s ideas and it was a very collaborative environment.

Also recently premiered is a TV show I worked on for 7 weeks in Georgia called “Fake Off” (TruTV). It was totally out of my comfort zone and also a combination of my weird skill sets: it was basically performance, illusion, theater and storytelling. I oversaw the creation of the tracks the teams performed to, which were largely combinations of existing instrumentals from production music libraries, crafted together into cohesive, 90-second, performance pieces. It was an amazing experience and I got to work with really cool people.

Aside from value and/or ‘buzz’ factor, what are some of the benefits of placing music by unsigned or independent artists?

Budget is certainly big. I’m still building relationships so I still work on plenty of low-budget projects. Personally, the feeling when you find an amazing new artist and the excitement when presenting to a director is great. While it’s obviously fun to place an artist I love, I don’t start with that.

I start with what the director’s priorities are – so it’s refreshing when directors are excited about lesser-known music, from a creative standpoint. Some directors get really jazzed about the unknown artists or songs no one has heard of, but some just want what they know and like.

What are some of the most common mistakes you see independent artists make when they want to approach or pitch to a music supervisor?

That could be a whole other article! First thing I’ll say is you’re always going to be better served having someone else pitch your music with those relationships in place. Focus your energy not on cold calling/email music supervisors and studio executives; focus your energy on researching the right opportunities and people who can get your music where it needs to be. It’s so much more effective to find the right team and partnerships.

It’s not a ‘common mistake,’ but I would say be open to low-budget projects. I know it’s tough because you don’t want to give music away for free (really you shouldn’t have to, again another article) – it’s a personal decision – just make sure to evaluate the big picture. Is that music supervisor working on a lot of projects? Is the long-term relationship worth it? Personally, if I’m dealing with an artist directly, I’ll remember if someone does me a solid, and I’ll call them again.

One mistake is that people get pushy and ask for a lot of feedback or follow up every week. Those are two things that make me cringe. In terms of feedback, I’m listening to it for the most part basing it on what I need at that point, so I don’t have time nor do I feel qualified to provide that. Also, research is appreciated. At least be aware of what a supervisor has worked on. You’re being polite and showing that you’ve done your homework.

How do you discover new music on your own time?

I always feel so backed-up in what I get sent, that even when I get artists and albums that come through that make me say, “Oh my God I wanna listen to that!” – it still takes plenty of time to get there. I have a lot of friends in PR or music journalism, so I tend to listen to them a lot in terms of keeping my eyes out. They’re the ones who can predict whose going to break. I love having them in my life. They’re the ones who are plugged in on who people will be talking about. Twitter also comes in handy for this; when I see an artist name pop up again and again I pay closer attention. I also discover openers I haven’t heard of and try to get to shows early when I can. It’s those fun, unexpected, discoveries that make this job exciting.

10 Reasons To Choose TuneCore Music Publishing Administration

[Editors Note: This is a re-posted blog from 2/10/14, originally written by Jacqueline Rosokoff. We’ve made some minor updates, but other than that, enjoy and be sure to visit our Publishing Administration page for more info!]
 
You put a lot of work into writing songs.  And because these compositions form the foundation of your career, you want to make sure they’re being treated properly.  A Publishing Administrator will represent your compositions and make sure you get all of the royalties owed to you from the use of your music around the world.  By getting a publishing deal with TuneCore, you’ll get a top notch team on your side, fighting on your behalf and giving you opportunities to maximize your songwriter royalty collection.

Here’s how we’ll do it…

1. We collect all of your songwriter royalties from all over the world.

When your compositions are downloaded, streamed and used in other ways around the world, you generate worldwide royalties.  And just because your song was streamed by a fan in Estonia doesn’t mean you shouldn’t receive each penny you’re owed.  We’ll register your compositions with the societies and digital stores in over 60 countries and collect royalties for all revenue types relating to your compositions.

2. It’s easy as pie.

Royalty collection shouldn’t cause headaches.  It’s an easy online sign-up process to get started working with TuneCore for publishing.  We’ve also built the system so you can add as many compositions as you’d like, as often as you’d like, through your account. Plus, you can check on the registration status of your compositions and submit multiple new splits at the same time, once again, all through your TuneCore account.

3. A low price and fair terms.

Songwriters deserve a fair deal when it comes to music publishing, no question about that.  With our publishing service, songwriters pay a one-time setup fee of only $75. You can add compositions at any point, at no extra cost.  Also important to note, we charge a low commission of only 10% of the royalties we collect for you (or 20% of secured licensing placements pitched by our Creative team).

Plus, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a multi-year agreement.  We know things change, and we’ve built our agreement to be year-to-year.

4. Your compositions, your rights.

You wrote the music, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have all of your rights.  If you’re a TuneCore Music Publishing customer, you’ll maintain 100% ownerships of your copyrights.

5. We’ve got proof you’re owed songwriter royalties.

If you work with TuneCore for both publishing and distribution, you’ve got a big advantage: a built-in audit trail.  Because we can see exactly how many times your music was downloaded and streamed, and exactly where these uses occurred, our Publishing Administration team knows exactly how much you’re owed, and they can prove it to the entities around the world who have your songwriter royalties.  There’s no fooling us.

6. Maximize your earnings from your music.

One more reason to partner with TuneCore for both distribution and publishing: all of your distribution sales revenue and publishing royalty information will go into one place, your TuneCore account, making it easier to manage your business.  And don’t forget, when you distribute your music so fans can download and stream it around the world, you’re generating more publishing royalties, which means you’re maximizing your earning potential.

7. Be part of the Sync & Master Licensing Database.

Synchronization Licensing can be an incredibly lucrative revenue stream for a songwriter.  Because of this, we want to give all TuneCore songwriters the opportunity to have their compositions considered for use in film, TV, commercials and more.  We’ve created the Sync & Master Licensing Database, available exclusively to Music Supervisors so they can search for music for their projects.  Our in-house licensing and creative team also actively pitches compositions to industry tastemakers to get your music more exposure.  If a Music Supervisor wants to use your music, our Creative team will negotiate all rights and fees on your behalf to make sure your composition is licensed legally, and at the most favorable terms.  We’ve got your back.

8. Make money from your music on YouTube.

You earn money every time people use your composition in their YouTube videos and people watch videos of your music on your own YouTube channel. And if you’re a TuneCore Music Publishing customer, we’ll get you the royalties your composition generates. That’s because a YouTube video is a synchronization use, and that’s covered in a TuneCore publishing deal.

9. We work with Performing Rights Organizations, no conflict here.

Songwriters often ask us if being affiliated with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) causes a conflict with our publishing service.  The answer? Nope! It’s important to have both a PRO and a Publishing Administrator working on your behalf.  We work together with SESAC, ASCAP, BMI, etc. to get you all of the songwriter royalties you’re owed.

10. We’ve got experience on our side.

You want a publishing administration you can trust.  One that knows how the industry works, and how to make sure you get all that you’re owed.  Our team has over 100 years of combined experience representing and servicing songwriters’ compositions worldwide.  If you work with us, you can be sure we’re doing all we can to fight on your behalf.

Lots of information to digest?  We agree.  When you’re ready, take a look at our site to learn more about how we support songwriters, and reach out to us for more info.

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What You Don’t Know About Publishing May Be Costing You

[Article originally posted on SoundCtrl]

By TuneCore Publishing

If you’re a musician in the US, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the names ASCAPBMI and SESAC. You also likely know that joining one of these Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) will help you collect royalties that you’ve earned as a songwriter.

What you may not realize is that the world of rights and royalties is incredibly complex, and in this increasingly global, multi-platform world, you might not be quite as covered as you think. In this article, we take a look at the royalties PROs can and can’t collect and demonstrate how a publishing administration partner like TuneCore Publishing Administration, in conjunction with PROs, can help ensure you’re able to get your hands on all the revenue your songwriting earns.

Performance Is Just One Type of Right

The first misconception held by many songwriters is that copyright is a single thing – like a blanket – that covers your work. The reality is it’s more like a quilt, and if one piece of that quilt is missing, you may be left in the cold.

There are multiple ways compositions generate revenue for songwriters. Organizations like ASCAP and BMI cover one of them: the P in PRO, Performance. While Performance encompasses much more than an actual stand-on-the-stage-and-play situation, it by no means covers all uses of a composition. It’s these other revenue generators that, if you only work with a PRO, may represent earnings that are just sitting on the table.

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What Is Performance?

Performance quite obviously includes live public performances, but it also includes radio play and even having your composition played as background music in a public place like a restaurant or hair salon. As a group, these are referred to as “Analog Public Performance,” and the royalties they generate are based on negotiations between your PRO and the radio station, TV network, bar, restaurant, airline, office, etc. using your composition.

Thanks to the Internet, royalties are also collected for “Digital Public Performance.” This category is then subdivided into Non-Interactive and Interactive “Streaming” Public Performance. Non-interactive services are those that don’t allow you to pick songs, create playlists or otherwise “interact” with the music. Pandora, iHeartRadio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio are examples of non-interactive platforms. Interactive service examples are YouTube and Spotify. For any of these uses, there’s no set royalty rate. Royalties are negotiated between the PRO and the other entity and are often based on a percentage of that entities’ gross revenue.

If the song you wrote is performed or broadcast publicly in one of these settings, and you’re affiliated with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, you can feel safe in knowing that they will collect on your behalf and pay you…at least in the United States.

US-Based Organizations Cover the US

Copyright regulations are laws, and as such, they are codified and enforced in each territory. Much like how the NYPD won’t be giving you a traffic ticket in Los Angeles, ASCAP isn’t collecting for you in Germany. Or France. Or Malaysia. Those countries have their own “societies” for the enforcement of copyrights and collection of royalties.

Fortunately, there is a measure of cooperation. ASCAP or BMI will work with the society in whatever country to get you paid, but again, this is just covering PERFORMANCE. So imagine you gave permission for your song to be used in the TV Show Breaking Bad. It airs in the US so your PRO collects any resulting performance royalties for you and pays you. As a result of the song being in the show, your iTunes downloads skyrocket, and again, your PRO will get you paid. But if the show airs in Germany, and as a result your song catches fire on Spotify in that country, you will only get a part of what you’ve earned – the performance royalty. You will NOT receive royalties collected as a result of the streaming mechanical or download mechanical. Instead, the society for the region will collect the money on your behalf, but because they don’t know who to pay, they’ll just sit on it. By contrast, once you’ve registered with a company for publishing administration, they will track rights and collect on your behalf worldwide.

These internationally-earned royalties can really add up, too. For example, TuneCore Songwriter Brian Crain, an ASCAP member, had distributed and even licensed his music for a few years before he learned that his PRO wasn’t collecting everything he’d actually earned. As soon as he signed up for TuneCore Publishing Administration, TuneCore was able to get $4000 in download mechanicals to him that had previously just been sitting in Canada.

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“Performance” Covers a Lot, but Not Everything

In addition to performance, royalties and revenue are generated when your compositions are sold, streamed through interactive services, downloaded, or when they are licensed for use in something like a TV show or movie. These avenues can be incredibly lucrative. But if you’re just relying on a PRO, the money generated by them may never make it into your pocket. In these cases, a publishing administration service is essential. In the past, these services were only available to the most elite tier of songwriters. Today, in much the same way that digital has opened the door to global distribution for all, any songwriter can get a publishing administration partner.

Mechanical Royalties

If you write a composition and someone copies, prints, covers or even transforms it into something else, you’re owed a “Mechanical Royalty.”

Reproduction is one of the main ways compositions generate mechanical royalties, and these royalties are owed on every single CD, LP or other physical manifestation of that composition. As soon as that “thing” is made, the royalty has been earned. If a million CDs are burned but not a single one sells, it’s still a reproduction of a million units. Every time a sound recording is downloaded or streamed (interactively) on digital stores like iTunes, Amazon or Google, it counts as a separate reproduction, as well.

Mechanical royalties are also collected for “Derivatives” of your composition. An easy example of a derivative use would be someone doing a bossa nova rendition of your hip-hop song. While this transformation no longer counts as a reproduction, you’ve still earned royalties for the use.

According to the letter of the law, derivative works include any work based on one or more pre-existing works. This could be a translation or new musical arrangement but could also include a dramatization, fictionalization or even a movie version. A good and complicated example of this is “Born in East LA,” a movie that was derived from a Randy Newman composition that was derivative from Bruce Springsteen’s composition, “Born in the USA.” Every time the movie gets shown, Bruce earns mechanical royalties.

PROs like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or SOCAN do not collect mechanical royalties. This means any revenue you’ve earned from streams, downloads (outside of the US & Latin America) and physical sales are not collected by ASCAP and won’t make it into your pocket. While the royalties will be collected per the law by places like digital stores that stream and sell downloads outside the US & Latin America, without publishing administration, they won’t know who to pay. The money, therefore, goes unclaimed. A publishing administrator, on the other hand, will register your information with these sources, song by song, and you’ll collect the mechanical royalties that you’ve earned.

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Licensing

If we go back to the example of the bossa nova rendition of your hip-hop song, we’ve already established that mechanical royalties will be collected on your behalf, but you may not ever receive that money. What we haven’t yet discussed is the fact that you have to give permission to the band in order for them to legally do the rendition in the first place. That permission – or more accurately, the licensing of your intellectual property – is another avenue to revenue. It’s also a road the PROs can’t help you navigate.

Licensing comes into play with more end uses than just our derivative examples. Use of samples requires a license, and as we’ve seen through lawsuits against Robin Thicke, Jay-Z, Moby, Kanye West and scores of other artists, failure to obtain the correct permissions can have costly results. Also in this category are things like mobile ringtones, printed sheet music, online guitar tabs and even lyrics posted online. Legally, anyone doing these activities without the proper license is in violation of the law.

In a lot of these cases, it’s completely plausible that the violators are unaware of their crimes, but ignorance does not make them innocent. They’ve violated your rights and you could sue them. But first you’d have to find the unlicensed use, then you’d have to figure out how much it’s worth and then good luck actually collecting. ASCAP and BMI can’t help you here. A publishing administrator can.

[Closing]

We at TuneCore believe very strongly that Performing Rights Organizations are an incredibly important and necessary tool for songwriters and publishers. They are the watchdogs of the airwaves, so to speak, with the enormous task of collecting performance royalties from thousands of sources. However, we also see how this is a very different business than it was back in the days of physical media on brick-and-mortar store shelves. Now, both the media and shelf can be digital and the channel and audience can be anywhere in the world.

Every year, millions of dollars in royalties that are collected on behalf of songwriters by societies all over the world just sit, unclaimed, because the songwriter doesn’t have a publishing administrator locating and obtaining these funds. That’s why it’s crucial to have a publishing administrator in addition to your PRO, so your share of those millions of dollars makes it into your pocket.

4 Practical Dos & Don’ts for Different Songwriting Approaches

By Cliff Goldmacher

“Which do you write first, the music or the words?” This is the classic question that all songwriters get asked.  In my experience, there’s no easy—or correct—answer to this one.  Sometimes it’s the music, sometimes it’s the lyrics and, often, it’s some mystical, organic combination of the two.  More importantly, there is no one way to write a song. Some of the best (and worst) songs ever written were created using the same techniques.  To that end, I’m going to cover four different ways to approach writing a song, and some of the “dos” and “don’ts” you’ll want to keep in mind as you go through each one.

1. Writing based on a title idea/lyrical hook

Coming up with a really catchy title or lyrical hook is an art in and of itself.  If you’ve got one, congratulations.  Now that you’ve got it, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Do – remember to make sure that everything in your lyric points to and supports your lyrical hook. Having a catchy hook only works if you build a foundation around it so that when the hook arrives, there’s a sense of drama and release.

Don’t – forget to give the song real emotional content.  It’s possible to be so focused on the hook and setting it up that you forget to be sincere.  While the average listener might not be able to tell you why, the song won’t move them in the way that a song with genuine emotional content would.

2. Writing based on a general idea/lyrical concept

Sometimes you’ve been through an experience or have an idea for a song that feels important enough to write about.  That’s as good a place as any to start.

Do – capture the feeling and emotion of your concept.  You obviously felt strongly enough to want to write about this idea, so immerse yourself in it and really tell the story.

Don’t – be too vague.  Because you haven’t started with an actual lyrical hook, you’ll need to remember to bring your overall concept to a very sharp point by summarizing it with a phrase or hook line. This hook is something you’ll hopefully come to as you’re developing your lyric around your idea.  A story without a summarizing point or hook risks being too unfocused to keep your listeners’ attention.

3. Writing from a melodic idea

If you’re a melodic writer, then you’ve got a different set of challenges.  Beautiful, catchy melodies are a rare commodity and should be treated with the appropriate respect.

Do – honor your melody and build your song around it.  Remember, people will learn your melody loooooong before they learn your lyric, so having a good one is not to be taken lightly.

Don’t – let the melody box you into awkward words or watered-down phrases.  While a beautiful melody is one part of a song, it’s not the only part.  Cramming in words or compromising on your lyrical integrity isn’t an acceptable approach when writing from a melody. Remember, it’s the give and take of a catchy melody, and a natural, conversational lyric that make for a great song.

4. Writing from a chord progression/groove

When you pick up your guitar or sit down at the piano, often it’s a chord progression or groove that comes first.  Great!

Do – dig in and develop the groove and feel.  This can really set the mood of a song and inspire all kinds of interesting melodic and lyrical ideas.  Also, a good groove is the very first thing listeners will notice when they hear your song.

Don’t –  rely on a chord progression or groove at the expense of your melody and lyric.  This is no time to get lazy. A chord progression and groove in and of itself is only—in most genres—an arrangement idea which doesn’t really constitute a song.  Without a strong melody and lyric, it’s entirely possible to have a great sounding track and, unfortunately, a mediocre song.

Conclusion

As I stated at the top of this piece, there isn’t one “right” way to write a song. I’d highly recommend trying every possible songwriting approach you can.  Often, as songwriters, we find ourselves in a rut where we go back to the same approach over and over.  While this may be comforting and even result in increased productivity, in the long run, it might not provide you with the most inspired or unique songs you’re capable of writing.  Why not leave your comfort zone and try a couple of different ways of writing? You never know what you’ll get.

Good luck!


Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including monthly online webinars. Go to:
http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/video-podcast-series for the latest schedule.

Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos.

You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going to http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter
Twitter: edusongwriter