Tag Archives: DIY

The Business of Making a Record

[Editors Note: This is the first in a series of guest articles from Coury Palermo. Over the next few months, he’ll break down what it means to grind it out and write, record, release and promote a DIY album early in your musical career. Coury is a songwriter, producer and musician who is currently one-half of duo love+war.]

I first walked into a recording studio at the age of fifteen. The girl I was interested in at the time and I had written a song together, and she asked me to sing the backing vocals for the track. Green and full of countless hours of liner-note consumption and naïve expectation, I took to this new adventure like a fish to water. After the experience I remember thinking I would do whatever it took to repeat the “Christmas morning” feeling of pure joy I had experienced in those short forty-five minutes.

Fast-forward a hand full of years and thousands of hours working; pursuing the sometimes-illusive art of putting idea to paper and melody “to tape”. If I’ve learned anything in my relatively short career as a singer-songwriter, it’s that rules don’t exist when it comes to creation – especially when we’re talking about the recording process.

Sure, we can put weight to the notion that recording a vocal in a soundproof room lends to the quality of a final recording, or that the rhythm section should always be the first thing tracked when beginning a new song – but are these traditions set in stone? The unconventional route can sometimes be the most inspiring and freeing road any musician takes.

Recording an album is an endless checklist of pieces that make up the whole. There are producers to pick, songs to write, mixers to choose, and the list goes on. In the ever-changing landscape of the music business, fans and the way we build those fan bases have become an integral part of the record making process. If there is no one listening, why are we recording?

“Where to start…”

This simple statement can be the most overwhelming three words in the English language. When thinking about recording a project, especially your first, you should ask yourself a few basic questions before starting:

Have I laid the groundwork to help make this project a success?

I’m not talking about everyone else’s definition of success – I’m talking about your goals, YOUR process for building YOUR career. We, as musicians, become fixated on what we’re told success should look like – forgetting everyone started somewhere. Everyone’s experience in life is different and unique.

There is no master plan. In short: start small. Write three great songs, record them, build your fan base, play shows, and find unique ways to interact with that fan base. This is how you build, and building is everything.

Have I written some good material? What if I’ve never written a song?

Songwriting 101: Take the pressure off. Stop listening to what other people think your process should be when writing or what they think you should write about. Know your voice. Writing a great song that connects with a listener should always be the goal; not writing “a hit”. The most connective pieces of music are the ones that are honest; songs that reflect the space you’re in or your unique point of view. Your “great” is not everyone’s “great”…and that’s ok.

If they (the songs) aren’t flowing when your pen hits the paper, step back and live a bit. One well-written song is better than a thousand forgotten throwaways. Don’t get caught up in writer’s block. It happens to everyone.

Covers are the perfect way to get your melodic and lyrical feet wet and are a great icebreaker for a new audience. Spend some time with a few of your favorite songs – ones you have a personal connection to. Come up with an arrangement that allows you to showcase your unique style yet still tips it’s familiar hat to the original. It never hurts to have an automatic “friend” in the set people will recognize. Often times, this can be the bridge that keeps them in their seats for your original material.

Is anyone listening?

Once you have your “Empty” (one of the best written songs I’ve ever heard by Ray LaMontagne) or “Toxic” (yes, the one from Britney Spears – brilliantly written pop in my opinion), build that demand. Before a single note is recorded find your audience. Where, you ask? In the dive bar, small club, house-show, backyard-fire pit-summer sing-a-long; anywhere you can find a connection.

We’re told touring has to look grand – be nothing but struggle and a rented van. Yes, those are parts of the equation for some, but there are a hundred different ways to make a fan. Find yours, and everything else will find it’s place.

Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing the grind that is being an indie artist. We’ll talk about making a record from start to finish and how you can better navigate the current state of the industry to get your music to the buds of larger audience. Until next time…


love+war is the brain-child of writer-producer-guitarist team Coury Palermo & Ron Robinson. The two began working together in the fall of 2014 with no other intention but writing material for possible pitches in TV/Film. Once the sessions began, the two realized the collaboration was destined for much more than their original hopes for commercial sync opportunities.

Grounded in the traditions of R&B, pop, and minimalistic electronica, love+war turns the ear with their infectious blend of singer-songwriter soul. Check out their recent video for their Eurythmics cover of “Missionary Man”!

Wednesday Video Diversion: September 7, 2016

On this very day back in 1968, the legendary four-piece that would become known to the world as Led Zeppelin made their live debut in Gladsaxe, Denmark as “The New Yardbirds”. In honor of this historic moment, we invite you to completely disassociate yourself with whatever “Work” you had planned to get done today and enjoy this round up of awesome TuneCore Artist music videos!

 

Matt McAndrew, “My Enemy”


Witt Lowry, “Dreaming With Our Eyes Open”


Wilo D’ New, “Menea Tu Chapa”


Benjah, “Never Quit”


Hopsin,, “False Advertisement”


Isaiah Rashad, “4r Da Squaw”


Bugzy Malone, “Section 8(1): Chapter 2 (Facing Time)”


SVRCINA, “Lover. Fighter.”


Savoy Motel, “Hot One”


TAUK, “Horizon”

New Music Friday: August 12, 2016

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

isaiah rashad
Free Lunch

Isaiah Rashad

Hip Hop/Rap

kelsey waldon
I’ve Got a Way
Kelsey Waldon

Country, Folk

sadler vaden
Sadler Vaden
Sadler Vaden

Alternative, Rock

birdtalker
Just This
Birdtalker

Singer/Songwriter

holiday mountain
Shia
Holiday Mountain

Electronic, Dance

the cleverlys
The Cash Crop
The Cleverlys

Country, Comedy

kid runner
Body Language
Kid Runner

Alternative, Pop

housefires
Housefires III
Housefires

Christian/Gospel

junior empire
Decide
Junior Empire

Alternative

Cody Johnson
Gotta Be Me
Cody Johnson

Country, Singer/Songwriter

mozart in the jungle
Mozart in the Jungle: Seasons 1 & 2 (An Amazon Music Original Soundtrack)
Various Artists

Soundtrack

friendswithbenefits
FRIENDSWITHBENEFITS
FRIENDSWITHBENEFITS

Alternative, Electronic

Interview: The Riverside Sticks Together Like Family

Often times bands and artists fit the image of their genre perfectly without even trying. Banjos, mandolins, upright bass, farmers market jam sessions, camping – all of these evoke thoughts of warm, comforting folk music, and that’s exactly what Santa Barbara’s The Riverside specialize in.

A five-piece indie outfit that has undergone some line-up changes, The Riverside are locked in and enjoying the momentum of their late-June 2016 release Homestead. With five albums released, bandleader Jake Jeanson talked to us about the state of folk, why house shows have been a success for the group, and how The Riverside is treated very much like a family (of course it doesn’t hurt that his wife, Lorien, plays mandolin!) Be sure to check out Homestead and learn more about the group’s happenings below:

Folk has experienced a wonderful resurgence in recent years– what do you attribute to the renewed interest among indie fans?

Jake Jeanson: I think folk has always been the secret love in the roots of a lot of peoples hearts. I think the sound that comes from this sort of music tends to connect people with each other in ways that gives a sort of nostalgia or feelings of genuineness, which is awesome.

It reminds you of where you’ve been, and makes you think of where you are going.

How does The Riverside set out to distinguish yourselves among other folk acts?

I think the one thing we do well is love each other like family and hold each other accountable; not only to band things like honest songwriting and performing, but to life outside of the band.

We know the family- group feel that emanates from our band isn’t necessarily our “own” thing that no other bands don’t have, but we really think its been something notable that continues to shape us.

the riverside_2

You all finalized your lineup just last year – how would you explain the way the five band members finally ‘clicked’?

Band members over the years have always “clicked” and gotten along. In fact, there isn’t an ounce of bad blood between old and new. People were part of the band for the season that life allowed them, and when that time came to a close, we all had an understanding.

However, it is very, very exciting to have people who can consistently be there, to create and grow our music. Everyone in the band right now has always had the dream of being in a full-time group, so its extremely satisfying for everyone in the band to know that we are all on the same page in life.

How would you say that The Riverside evolved in terms of songwriting and instrumentation since 2013?

Through course of five albums now we’ve learned a lot about songwriting. There’s always the struggle when songwriting to cheese out lyrics or to write about the thing that’s easiest or that “fits”.

One of the big things that we’ve focused on more than anything is growing our songwriting integrity to never settle and to keep writing on ideas and stories that mean something to us. Not to say that every song needs a serious nature; we believe that there is always room for light hearted songs as well, because sometimes, that’s just what you need to play or listen to!

What led the group to take advantage of alternative performance opportunities like house shows and farmers markets?

To us, music is community and about connecting with people. If we can brighten someones day or sympathize with peoples harder life circumstances with our music, than that to us, is living the dream. Busking in markets and playing in a natural setting also makes you better performers and tighter as a band like nothing else can. So we have the opporunity to do both these things, we go for it.

How has the way you connect with fans (before, during and after) been impacted by these types of shows?

House shows and markets are amazing because it takes you off the stage. When people are in a natural setting there isn’t any pressure. It’s just people playing music and having a good time connecting with each other. We realize that nothing we say is any more important that what someone else has to say and feel, so if people want to listen in and spent time with us, we count it as an honor.

the riverside_1

Your Patreon account mentioned camping during tours. Is this something you all do?

Oh yes, being a smaller independent band is kind of crazy at times. Camping is super affordable, bonding, and just all around fun to be in nature. We have tents and camping gear in our van for whenever we don’t have a friends house to stay at. People are so kind on the road, a lot of the time you’ll get offers from people to host your band for the night! It’s the kindest gesture ever!

What other creative twists have you put on the way you hit the road?

Our new album, Homestead, we home-made and hand-stamped our art to our CD sleeves, so that way, we can bring coloring supplies so people can color their own album. We thought that would be a fun thing for people to be able to do!

What can fans look forward to enjoying about the most recent release, Homestead?

Homestead portrays a sweet old-time sound about remembering the good ol’ days with those you love, and workin’ through the hard ones. It’s an album that has sort of sound that harkins back to our self-titled first album, which we love.

This is your fifth release using TuneCore! How have you used not only TuneCore, but also other artist-friendly services to build your musical career so far?

TuneCore has been great to us. It connects you to all the places where people may want to listen to your music. We’ve been working really hard touring and reaching out to people, so being on all of these sites that TuneCore connects us with has really been key to helping us grow and continue to be able to run the band!

July Songwriter News

By Stefanie Flamm

The music industry may seem like it’s settling into its predictable lull, but songwriters and publishers worldwide are fighting harder than ever for a fair marketplace:

  • The US Department of Justice rules in favor of licensing regulations that many songwriters and publishers see as “a clusterf—k of epic proportions.
  • YouTube announces $2 billion in gross earnings for rights owners using their Content ID system.
  • After a $750m buyout from the Michael Jackson Estate, Sony now owns the rights to 50% of Sony/ATV and its catalogue of over 2 million songs.

The Department of Justice passed new legislation that could mean smaller royalty payouts for songwriters across the United States.


When it comes to the world of publishing, the biggest news of the month, by far, has been the US Department of Justice’s recent ruling in favor “100 percent licensing,” meaning that for songs with multiple songwriters, a licensee only requires a license from one of the contributors (instead of each of them). The music industry as a whole is shocked and upset by this verdict, especially in the wake of petitions fighting for a total overhaul of the already-outdated legislation currently in place. Songwriters and publishers alike fear that this could mean lower royalty payout, more complicated work for PROs, and an increase in royalty disputes across the industry.

“Instead of making the necessary modifications, we have been saddled with a disruptive proposal that ignores songwriters’ concerns for our future livelihoods in a streaming world, serves absolutely no public interest and creates confusion and instability for all of us who depend on the efficiencies of collective licensing,” said ASCAP’s President Paul Williams released a statement on July 11th.

The DoJ’s decision was carefully thought-out based on the trajectory of the music industry in the digital age, stemming specifically from the idea that 100 percent licensing would make it easier for parties like Pandora to license music. However, even the US Copyright Office has put in a negative word about the verdict and urges the DoJ to rethink 100 percent licensing.

In a 33-page reaction to the new regulations, the US Copyright Office “believes that an interpretation of the consent decrees that would require these PROs to engage in 100-percent licensing presents a host of legal and policy concerns. Such an approach would seemingly vitiate important principles of copyright law, interfere with creative collaborations among songwriters, negate private contracts, and impermissibly expand the reach of the consent decrees.”

While music licensees see the DoJ decision as a smart move in the fact of the current prevalence of music streaming, they’re going to receive a lot of pushback from songwriters and publishers alike. It doesn’t look like BMI, ACSAP, or the US Copyright Office are looking to back down any time soon, so hopefully for the sake of publishers everywhere, the DoJ can go back to the drawing board and retool a system that benefits both the songwriters and the digital streaming services that are licensing music.

YouTube proudly announces $2 billion in gross earnings for rights owners through their Content ID technology, but the music industry needs more convincing.


YouTube announced in a July 14th blog post that they have collected over $2 billion in streaming revenue for rights owners using their rights management system Content ID, double what YouTube reported back in 2014.

For those unfamiliar with Content ID, the system uses audio files submitted to them by a partner (like TuneCore YouTube Sound Recording Revenue Service), and then detects those audio files on third-party videos uploaded to YouTube to monetize on behalf of the rights owner. In layman’s terms, if someone uses your song on a cat video that goes viral, you get paid for any money that the video makes as the rights owner of the music. It has been a lucrative service for many artists in the industry, with YouTube being one of the most popular methods with which to stream music.

“We take protecting creativity online seriously, and we’re doing more to help battle copyright-infringing activity than ever before,” Senior Policy Counsel for Google, Katie Oyama, said in the statement.

However, many songwriters and publishers on the other side of that $2 billion have a different perspective on YouTube’s news. Both labels and publishers alike have argued that Content ID fails to recognize as much as 40% of their music on third-party videos in YouTube. Additionally, while YouTube claims that 98% of the time rights owners prefer to monetize videos rather than take them down, representatives of the music industry believe that Content ID encourages YouTube piracy.

“Their pitch goes something like this: ‘Hey, advertising is good for you. Why not use Content ID to cash in on all the piracy by getting a share of revenue we can generate from ad placement?’ Well, they don’t call it piracy – but make no mistake, in the end, their whole scheme still depends on a culture of piracy,” said Maria Schneider in an op-ed for Music Technology Policy.

It’s hard to discern who’s really in the right with the Content ID debate, since rights owners are making a marginal streaming payout from each video play and, like any automated system, there will be hiccups based on similar sounding recordings, use of samples, etc. What’s clear is that YouTube is trying to make lemonade out of lemons for musicians who would otherwise be making nothing from these pirated videos. While it’s not an ideal situation for rights owners, one can hope it’s at least a step in the right direction as we learn to deal with the repercussions of the digital age in the music industry.

Despite protestations from competition, groups in the EU give Sony the greenlight for their $750m purchase of the Michael Jackson Estate’s 50% stake in Sony/ATV.


Since Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, his partial ownership of Sony/ATV and its massive catalogue of songs have been up in the air. Sony made moves to resolve this back in March of this year, agreeing to purchase Jackson’s 50% stake in the company for $750 million, giving Sony full ownership of the Sony/ATV catalogue. However, earlier this month, Sony competitors Warner and IMPALA unsuccessfully challenged the acquisition in Europe, slowing down the purchase but ultimately not grinding it to a halt.

Universal and IMPALA both came to the EU’s antitrust organizations in regards to the purchase, claiming that Sony’s acquisition of the over two million songs would create a market-distorting level of power in favor of Sony. The massive catalogue, which includes works from Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and the Beatles, alongside Sony’s administration of the EMI music publishing catalogue, gives the company a 28% global market share.

Upon the approval of the acquisition, the European Commission released a statement saying, “the transaction would have no negative impact on competition in any of the markets for recorded music and music publishing in the European Economic Area.” Representatives from IMPALA have called the verdict “clearly wrong,” but it looks like Sony still gets to walk away the winner of this fight.

SOUND BYTES

New Music Friday: July 29, 2016

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

anthem lights
We Got You Covered, Vol. 1
Anthem Lights

Pop

throwing plates
Throwing Plates
Throwing Plates

Alternative, Singer/Songwriter

offspring
Sharknado (From “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens”)
The Offspring

Alternative, Soundtrack

desto
Penitentiary Window
De$to

Hip Hop/Rap

3pillmorn
Never Look Back
3 Pill Morning

Rock

jamestown theory
Flashbacks
Jamestown Story

Singer/Songwriter

SIN
Victory Lap EP
SIN

Hip Hop/Rap

sadler vaden
Chameleon
Sadler Vaden

Alternative, Rock

jem
Beachwood Canyon (The Crystal Method Remix)
Jem

Electronic, Pop

maddy newton
Kiss You Yesterday
Maddy Newton

Singer/Songwriter, Pop

twang and round
Take a Ride With Me
Twang And Round

Country

dylan schneider
You Heard Wrong
Dylan Schneider

Country