Tag Archives: music industry

Production Music and Creative Commons

When licensing production music, there are a few options out there. There’s some interesting discussion over at the Copyright and Technology blog about the usefulness (or lackthereof) of Creative Commons as a licensing tool.

Here’s the full story.

I commented briefly, but thought I’d post here to get our users’ feedback. We deliberately chose against using Creative Commons when developing Productiontrax.com. With no enforcement mechanism built into CC, it really is just like a garment-care label. With royalty free production music licenses specifically developed for our artists and end-users, we are able to provide better legal protections for all parties involved and actually police usage to a point moreso than we’d be able to with CC.

What’s your take on Creative Commons and it’s role in music licensing?

Thinking of Going Exclusive? Don’t.

Thinking of going exclusive? Don’t. Exclusivity can be good for some, but for most, it’s just a bad decision. In this day and age, with all the economic uncertainty, it baffles me as to why anyone would go exclusive in anything, let alone their music licensing. Before you sign that agreement, make sure you consider the ramifications of your decision, by examining each of these points in detail, so that you don’t lose out in the long run.

1. Commission Rate Bait and Switch
Most libraries and marketplace sites offer a slightly higher commission rate if you go exclusive. Many offer between 50 and 60% as opposed to their normal 25-50%. While this seems like a good reason to go exclusive, many libraries will give you this higher rate as an introductory rate, and then lower it dramatically if your tracks don’t sell past a certain quota. Then, you’re tied into an exclusive contract and making far less money than you were originally promised.

You should diversify your sales channels for the same reason your diversify your investment portfolio. If one library tanks, or if sales patterns change, or you don’t perform as well on one, the others keep you in the game. Furthermore, you can make a higher average commission and gross income by spreading out, rather than selling in one place.

FACT: Productiontrax always pays 65% commissions on the prices YOU set.

2. Number of Sales vs. Price per Sale
Some libraries are notorious for setting low prices to gain a competitive edge. They then lock you in to exclusive contracts to sell your music for a few bucks (some as low as $1) a piece. Think about this for a second. They are giving out sync licenses (which most artists get paid THOUSANDS for) for less than $10. While they may sell more tracks (until their marketplace becomes so bloated with tracks that you might sell one a month…) your music is being devalued, and given away. You also have no control over the price of your music. The library you signed with can set any price they want, and some strategically price it just low enough that you can’t make your payout balance.

My advice, don’t sign an exclusivity agreement unless they guarantee a minimum price that you are comfortable with. Some smart copyright owners also ask for a minimum payout guarantee every month.

FACT: You control your pricing on Productiontrax. Period.

3. Hidden in the terms of service…
Read your contributor terms of service agreements carefully. Some libraries have started working with a companies like GoDigital and others to “track usage in and be appropriately compensated for internet streams”. These companies employ a technology that finds your music (that you already licensed out) in your customer’s projects. They then insert advertisements (or just claim copyright infringement) and collect revenue. This seems wonderful, until you realize that the contract you signed allows your library to keep 100% of any advertising revenue generated by your music.

Not only are you getting screwed there, with your library making tons of money without paying you a dime, but your customers are not getting what they paid for – and they are getting angry. See if they buy one of your songs again, knowing that YouTube is going to hijack their project.

FACT: Productiontrax never hides your royalties. We do not work with these “monitoring” companies, and we advocate for BOTH our clients (who are also your clients) and our artists.

4. Competition
Before going exclusive, ask yourself how big of a contributor base does the library you are signing with have? The larger the base, the harder it is for you to sell because there is more competition. That means more of the same sounding music, more choices, and lower chances of being selected. Think about it: a customer is on a huge community library with 1,000,000 artists. They look for a piece of dance music, and get your track among about 5,000 other options meeting their criteria. That gives you a 1 in 5,000 shot of selling your track to that customer. Might as well play the lottery with those odds.

If you diversify, you give yourself a greater chance of success because your music is in more places. If you are on 10 smaller libraries and each has, oh let’s say, 500 matching options for a given customer’s music search, you’ve just increased your chance of selling to 1/50.

Think about what you can do if you have 10 tracks in every category, on every site.

Diversification just makes more sense. Unless a library is making some very specific guarantees that you just can’t get anywhere else, always stay non-exclusive. This way, you stay in control of your financial future, and your hard work.

5 Tips for Promoting Your Music with Social Media

Social media has become the standard for promoting your music online. According to Alex Pham of the LA Times, “musicians who don’t take advantage of social networking tools will soon perish in the La Brea tar pits of old-school media.”

According to Pham, and a panel of social media rock-star experts, the five following tips can help you maximize your usage of social networks, and take your next album from bronze to platinum.

1. Be real. “It can’t just be about commerce. People want to connect with you and get to know you. They don’t want to connect with you if you’re just telling them to go buy your record. They don’t want you to be perfect, either. They want you to be real.” — Evan Greene, chief marketing officer, the Recording Academy

2. Pick a couple of services you like and focus on them. “There are so many services out there that trying to do everything and be everywhere is impossible. Play around with them. It’s okay to mess up. And don’t have a PR person handle your tweets. It should be all about having a real conversation with your fans.” — Kevin Rose, founder, Digg

3. Have something unique. “There’s so much already out there, and people have so little time that having something unique about yourself and your music can give you a competitive advantage. Figure out what’s unique about you and ask: What is the distilled message? It has to be something so remarkable that other people will have to share it.” — Pete Cashmore, founder, Mashable

4. Share things that you are most excited about. “Share things you find, love, hate and create. Share the things you’ve made, even if it’s not finished yet. That’s what makes it engaging.” — David Karp, founder, Tumblr

5. Embrace anarchy. “We had an event called the summit. A thousand people would participate and become part of the recording process. I got a Twitter message from someone in Iran who was frustrated they couldn’t come. We came up with a program that allowed them to sit at home and participate. It’s a world of chaos at times. But there are lessons. It’s a fertile ground for creativity.” — Jared Leto, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the band 30 Seconds to Mars

Do you do these already? What else do you do to stay in touch with your fans and your customers?

NAMM 2010: New Sounds and Software for your Studio

MOTU Updates Performer, Plugs

MOTU showed off their new plugins on a new version of Digital Performer (that thing is still around???) — some high quality stuff. Directly competing with Apple’s built-in plugins for Logic Pro, MOTU’s line of plugins features the following:

Electric Keys, a low latency 40GB keyboard sound library of electric pianos, organs, clavs, tape samplers, string machines and more classic and vintage instruments. Nearly all are sampled at 24 bit, and the plugin is 256-note polyphonic, and is complete with an effects rack and amp simulator.

BPM, which looks remarkably similar to Apple’s drum sequencer, gives you the ultimate rhythm programming experience. Includes plug-and-play support for hands-on pad controllers like the Akai MPD32, which is good news for many sample pad enthusiasts, but now with unlimited sample layers per pad (or as much as your computer can handle). Awesome tool for electronic music performance and beat sequencing.

Ethno2 delivers stunning ethnic and exotic instrument sounds from Africa, Asia, Australia, India, South America, and more. I may have to buy this just for the penny whistle and Celtic instruments, and the Flamenco Percussion and guitars.

I didn’t get to hear the Symphonic instrument, and I have a hunch that it may fall a little short compared to other libraries (ie Vienna and EastWest). If you’ve heard it, let me know what you think.

http://www.motu.com

BigFishAudio and Vir2 Instruments Ready to Release Electri6ity

Electrici6ity is the most epic electric guitar virtual instrument to hit the market (ok it’s not out yet, but get ready). This awesome instrument contains some of the most advanced, detailed, and versatile collection of guitars ever. The plugin features the Strat, Tele, Les Paul, P90, Rickenbacker, Danelectro, ES335, and L4 and uses 24-bit samples from each, with three pick up options for each. Every, and I mean every fret of every string was sampled for this library. Downstrokes, upstrokes, ghosting, mutes, hammer-ons, slides, pulloffs, and more are included for every guitar. Articulation and Velocity morphing adds depth and seamless transitioning between effects, while the advanced AI adapts to your playing, allowing for fluid lines, 2000 different chords and positions, and more. If you sequence guitars, this one is a must have.

http://www.bigfishaudio.com
http://vir2.com

Piano Sounds from Synthogy

If you’re looking for some fresh Piano samples that hit the spot with realism and features, you have to check out Synthogy’s new Ivory II virtual instrument. Featuring tons of pianos and synths from uprights to grands to synth combos, this piano instrument has half-pedaling, pedal noise, lid position effects, tuning tables, and even sympathetic String Resonance. Check it out at Ilio.

http://ilio.com
http://synthogy.com