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Marketing Music
Will Griffin

    Thanks to modern digital recording and distribution technologies, artist no longer need to have recording deals with major labels to make money selling their music.  In fact, there are ways to get music heard, distributed and purchased and make more money per sale, than those artists who are in very complex contracts with recording companies.

    You will have to have a legally recorded project, using union musicians to get any airplay from radio stations.  This is now growing to be a requirement even for on-line radio, as royalties have been levied.  Likewise, if you sing someone else's song, you could be liable to pay them, per listener for use of their songs.

    Assuming you have a legally recorded project, with releases to record songs from others etc; here are the options that you have to promote your music CD:

    Talent Contests:    Although there is the allure and fantasy of becoming the next "American Idol", this is not the surest or best way to make money selling your music or to have your talent discovered.

    Getting Radio Airplay:    Start with stations in your local area.  Remember all getting a song played on the radio does is act as your calling card to get you live gigs, where you will make your money.

    Independent Labels:    There are many independent labels.  Most will require that you provide the financing of your project.  If this is the case, then don't yield to them any amount higher than 15% of the profits, AFTER you deduct your recording expenses, production (making CD copies, labels, sleeves) and the amount of money that you paid the independent label to market your songs or CD.  You may wish to have your lawyer review your contract.

    Major Labels:    Major labels use to be the "Holy Grail" to get your career started with recording the project, getting it played on the radio, getting it marketed into record stores and helping you to book gigs.  This is no longer as true as it use to be, nor is it your only option.  Most will require that you provide the financing of your project, or they will wish for you to give them all of the publishing on your original songs..  If this is the case, then don't yield to them any amount higher than 50% of the publishing and on the mechanicals (CD/download sales) 75% of the profits, AFTER you deduct your recording expenses, production (making CD copies, labels, sleeves) and the amount of money that you paid the independent label to market your songs or CD.  You may wish to have your lawyer review your contract.

    On-line Marketing:    The best thing to do is get your own web site and offer your CDs and downloads for sale.  This can lead to a marketing and distribution contract with either an independent label or a major label.  There are also many sites, such as MySpace.com, which have proven to be very good options to get others to hear your music and buy your CD/downloads.  This also works very well to get your original compositions heard by major artists, those with record deals and publishing companies to hear your original songs.

    Doing it Right-Yourself:    You will find it best to try all of these methods, with marketing your songs and talents on-line to be your fundamental focus.  Also know that "talent contests" are the least likely to yield you the desired results.  Also with talent contests, you can sing the best song, write the best song, have the best performance and do it all absolutely superior to all others; HOWEVER, if the club's owner's daughter, girlfriend or son-in-law is a contestant . . . guess who will win the talent contest?

More Things to Consider:

    There are those writers who don't wish anybody else but themselves to sing their songs, because of ego or think the song is their ticket to stardom.  If someone wants to record your song, let them, but don't yield any more than 25% of the publishing and don't concede any of the writer's royalties.  If a publishing company wishes to publish the song, they'll take only 25%.  If they re-cut it and then compensate you for what you spent to record your demo, then you may wish to consider 50% of the publishing.  If they want 50% publishing, then tell them you wish to be reimbursed for all of your costs to record and promote the version of your song they've heard.

    You have two choices, when you wish to sing a hit song your wrote.  (1) Feed your ego or (2) feed your belly.  If you feed your belly, you'll find your ego to do very well and be quite satisfied.

    There is no such thing as good luck, when it comes to becoming successful in the music industry.  Anybody who said they wrote a hit song in 10 min, learned to play an instrument instantly, or were an overnight sensation (without spending $250,000 or more of their money or an investor's money) are promoting their own hype.  Winston Churchill said it best: "Good luck is where opportunity meets preparations."

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