Networking Music

This page is for a new module – Networking Music.  To start things up, I will write about my past experiences of getting my music out there.  So, there are 2 different things to talk about here – my own music made entirely by me and music I have created with different bands.

My music:

For my own music, I have a Soundcloud page.  You can find this on the side of the homepage.  Soundcloud is an excellent platform to get your music out there.  It is used by all sorts of people, ranging from music students in college or university to famous artists and anyone else who has some sounds to share.  It’s simple to use and your sounds can be heard by people all over the world.  So, it is a useful platform to use for anyone.  You can also give your songs certain tags that will allow people to find your music if they like that genre.

Bands music:

In my old band we recorded just one song to get some experience in a studio.  This was shared on various websites, including all of our own personal Facebook’s, Twitters etc.  The band I’m in now however recorded a 5 song EP in a studio in Cardiff.  Our original plan was to get physical copies of this made and to hand them out for free at gigs.  However, due to costs we never did this.  In the end we decided to put it up online on various websites so it would reach a larger audience in quicker time.

Like my own music, we have a Soundcloud page.  There are 4 of the 5 songs on there which were recorded last year.

We also have a Reverbnation page with some of our songs on.  Admittedly, this hasn’t been used much as of yet.  However, like Soundcloud it is a great way to get your music heard by people all over the world.

For both of these, Facebook is also a great way to promote the music you have released.  It can be seen by all of your friends and others who may not usually look out for that sort of thing.  Social media is used by millions of people so it makes sense to put your music on there too.  The reverbnation page is linked up to the band’s Facebook page so people can either go straight to your page or follow links you have posted to other websites with your music on.

I have also sent one of the songs to ‘BBC Introducing’ to which they replied saying they had listened to it and would consider it.  Unfortunately I haven’t heard anything back since but it is important to try these things as you may get lucky one day.  You must remember how many songs get sent in and that just because yours doesn’t get played this time round doesn’t mean it’s bad.  The only thing to do is continue trying.

Intellectual Property, Copyright and the Internet

So, another week, another topic.  This week was all about Intellectual Property (IP), Copyright and the Internet.  Firstly, let’s ask what IP actually is.  It is a bundle of rights that protect applications of ideas and information that have commercial value.  It gives artists and creators some control over their pieces of work and prevent others from using them without permission.  As for copyright – this is the right to copy, as the name suggests.  It exists to secure the original artists relative economic security.  So, what can be owned?  What rights do musicians actually have?  Do we really need IP and copyright laws?

Some musicians are happy to give their music away for free and are happy to allow others to remix and re use their music using the creative commons act.  This act is constantly gaining more support and it’s creators stress how they are pro copyright and are trying to help deal with copyright problems that arose from the internet.  It aims to put a bit more of the power into the artists hand.  Here is a link to a video which further describes creative commons.  The second part can be found in the suggestions on the side.

Perhaps the majority of musicians however, have to make sure they are getting everything they deserve.  As soon as a musician or group of musicians take the music they’ve created and record it professionally in a studio with a producer, they are already losing out to some extent.  They will still own the song itself, but the producer now owns the recording.  Next in line is the record companies.  The producer will sell the copyrights of that recording to a record company and you, the musician, will be losing out even more.  However, this process is necessary for an up and coming artist.  So, what the artist must keep track of is the money that is going to them for the song they have written.  They must be careful that when signing contracts etc that they know what they are signing.  It’s not unknown for greedy record companies to keep more than they should.

This is why copyright laws are needed.  Without them, artists would be finding themselves with nothing to show for their own creations.  It is in the interest of everybody involved that copyright laws are there.  Without them, many artists would see no point in making their art any more as they would have no control of it.  If the artists stopped making their art, the producers and companies would fall apart.  So, in my opinion they are absolutely necessary for the continuation and growth of art and cultural content.

It is now 70 years from the artists death that they own the copyright to a song.  This was designed to ensure that it lasts both the artists life and a large portion of their children’s life too and has only been lifted from 50 years to 70 years in recent years.  Other acts have come in over recent years to try and deal with copyright issues such as the Digital Economy Act of 2010.  This was designed to get Internet Service Providers to work more closely with right holders and if necessary take action against those who infringe copyright laws.

So as you can see, there are still and probably always will be certain issues with copyright and IP but there are always people trying to sort this out as much as possible (creative commons, Digital Economy Act etc..).  It will be interesting to see what other steps will be taken in coming years.

Here is a link to a letter sent from producer Steve Albini to Nirvana that has emerged recently.  It relates to this topic and the way relationships work between producers and artists.  It is a very interesting approach, particularly to the money side of things and well worth the read.


This week we learnt a little bit more about royalties.  If there is one thing I have come to realise, it is that artists/musicians are often not getting the amount of money that they should.  The main areas of income are sales, broadcast and live performance.  Things have changed a lot in the past few decades.  The model has switched: musicians used to make their money from sales of records and would go on tour to promote those records.  Nowadays, it’s the touring that makes the money because the sales of records has decreased.  Some artists focus on their merchandise because they know this is one of the main ways they can make some money.  T-shirts, mugs, posters etc are becoming just as important as the actual music.

It was only in 2012 that worldwide sales of recorded music increased again (0.3%).  This is the first time this has happened since 1999.  There are other trends that have appeared over the past few years too.  Also in 2012, album sales fell and singles sales grew by 11.4%.  Many say the rise of technology and the internet has been a cause of these trends.  This year, for the first time, UK revenues from online music (55%) were higher than physical formats (45%).  With more and more ways to access music for free or for a smaller price, artists are finding that they cannot make as much on record sales alone.  There will always be the die hard fans and music lovers who will buy the physical formats perhaps for a collection they have or out of respect for the musicians but more and more people are getting their music for free.

With streaming services like Spotify and Deezer and many more, music is more easily accessible than ever before.  People can listen to entire discographies in these services and the artist wont even see a penny for each play.  Artists will make more money from one person buying a single song on iTunes for example than hundreds of people listening to it on Spotify.  There are different arguments about these sort of services.  Some say it’s good because it means more people will find your music and potentially come to your shows in the future and buy merchandise – making you money in the long term.  Others have spoken out against it, most notably Thom Yorke who has recently called it ‘the last desperate fart of a dying corpse’.  He goes on to say ”We don’t need you to do it. No artists needs you to do it. We can build the shit ourselves, so fuck off. But because they’re using old music, because they’re using the majors… the majors are all over it because they see a way of re-selling all their old stuff for free, make a fortune, and not die.”  This can be read in further detail here –

David Byrne from the Talking Heads has also had something to say on the matter recently..–2/73176

The traditional model for the release of a record is as follows… The artist creates, performs and records their music, it then goes through the record company and distribution company before being sold in retail.  The artist will only make some money from this as the other companies involved will also get a cut.  However, some artists have taken on a different approach and sold their music directly.  Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead are examples of this.  They have sold their music directly from their websites and as a result more of the money goes to them.  However, a negative point of this approach is that the album may get less promotion as there are no companies involved.  Other artists, perhaps less well known ones, upload their music to sites such as Bandcamp and Reverbnation where they can charge a certain amount for purchases.  An artist can have two different relationships with distributors – editorial and non-editorial.  Editorial is traditional type distribution where music is sold on basis of potential.  There is a marketing relationship with retail involved with this.  Non-editorial on the other hand will take anything.  They charge flat fees (often so they can get their money knowing full well that there is no market for the music and the artist will end up getting less).  Unlike editorial, there is no marketing relationship with retail.  This is something worth knowing for anyone wanting to sell their music through distributors.

So, with more ways to get music without actually buying it, how much can a musician make these days?  With physical copies on the decline and things like apps and streaming services on the rise what will come next for releasing music?  These questions can rise all sorts of debates and I hope I can give more of an insight into this when I have learnt more.

Royalties continued…

This week we continued to look at royalties and ways of generating and collecting money as a musician.  We looked at different companies that help you as a musician collect all the money you should be getting.  These companies include the PRS, MCPS and PPL.

Performing Rights Society (PRS)

Established in 1914, the PRS ensures that anyone exercising the performing rights of it’s members are correctly licensed and take in an income from the licensing.  It does not control the rights of ballets, operas etc but instead issues licenses for events ranging from live gigs to the use of music in public places like clubs, cinemas, youth clubs and even ice cream vans.  It also monitors use of music on TV and radio using cue sheets and uses random sampling for live shows.

Payments are made to members of the PRS 4 times a year after an administration fee has been taken.  It is a rule that 50% of the performance income goes to the writer directly and the other 50% is negotiated between a publisher and the writer. The standard split is 70/30.  It only costs £50 for a performer to join the PRS but considerably more (around £400) for a publisher to join because of the opportunities they can get.

Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS)

Established in 1911, the MCPS is owned by the Music Publisher’s Association and it’s members include publishers and composers.  The MCPS and PRS have teamed up for the purpose of administration and reporting usage of music.  The term ‘mechanical right’ refers to the right to reproduce or copy a piece of work.  This includes the download of a computer file to a MP3 or hard disc.  They will restrict someone from copying music, issuing copies of the music to the public and renting out copies of the music.

So, the MCPS will collect money from the manufacturers of CDs, records, videos, DVDs, adverts, novelty goods, TV programmes and internet music sites etc.  You are required to get a license if you are physically releasing someone else’s music.  If you are releasing your own music, you get an exemption form.  If a writer is not a member of the MCPS then no license fee is collected.  However, a license form is still required and writers can backdate a claim at a later point if they decide to join.

With the increasing popularity of the internet, many question the use of the MCPS.  The idea of copyright protection has been thrown away with the internet, regardless of Online licensing laws still existing.  This puts the MCPS a step behind the PRS to some extent.

Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)

Much like the PRS, this company issues licenses to any business or broadcast for the use of public performance or a recording.  It’s two type of members are record companies and performers.  So, it collects revenue generated from control of recording copyright.

Fees generated are split directly in half.  One half goes to the copyright holder (usually the record companies) and the other half goes to all those who made a contribution to the recording (not including engineers and producers).  It is free for the record companies to join and they can register music on the ‘repertoire database’ which will include track info for the Official Chart Company (OCC).  It is also free for performers to join and although usually done by the record label, they may sometimes have to fill in performance details in order to claim.

Each song has it’s own ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) so it can be easily filtered and recognised.  PPL is the official body to authorise these codes and you will need one if you want to release a record through traditional channels  – tracking records through distribution and retail and mechanisms.

Live Event Economies

Today, we learnt about live event economies.  A lot of people will already know that there’s been a reversal in the recorded music economy and the live music economy.  For established acts, live music represents around 2/3 of their income.  At the start of the 2000′s this was only 1/3.  So, there has been a clear growth in performance opportunities.  It was only in 2009 however that live music, making £1.54 billion, actually took over the recording industry which was making £1.36 billion.

Since the start of the 2000′s there have been numerous things that have helped the growth of live music.  These include E-tickets, networked audiences, corporate investment into the entertainment industry (investing because they saw the huge opportunities) as well as a growth in festivals.  Last year, festivals and concerts generated around £2.2 billion.  The festival industry grew more and more popular but as this happened the fees that the bands were charging to play were rising and this meant higher ticket prices due to major demand.  There was also an increase in foreign festivals being promoted to UK audiences.  Both customers and artists find that festivals and live music in general is often better elsewhere in Europe instead of the UK.

There have also been different laws passed that have affected the live music economy.  For example, the 2003 Licensing Act.  This effectively reduced the number of venues an upcoming artist could play at by introducing special licensing.  Many people criticised the act for it’s unfair treatment to the performance of music.  Last year however, the Live Music Act 2012 amended the 2003 law and the smaller venues no longer needed special licenses for live music as long as there was an audience of 200 people or less, it takes place between 8am and 11pm and it takes place at an otherwise licensed place.  Small venues (100-300 capacity) have been noticeably declining recently.  So, regardless of the 2012 Live Music Act allowing new musicians to play at the smaller venues again, it may be more difficult to find these places soon.  Medium sized venues (400-1500 capacity) stay around more because they usually have professional promoters and good quality technical staff etc.

We finished up by looking at touring and the incredible amount of planning, money and preparation it takes.  Obviously a band could simply get in a car and drive around and try doing things themselves.  This is even easier for a solo artist who can just jump on a train or drive themselves everywhere.  However, if you want it done properly there are more people involved.  The first thing to think about is transport – usually some sort of van with plenty of room.  So already you have costs of petrol, hiring or buying the van etc.  Then you must think about whether or not you will be sleeping in the van or finding some accommodation.  If you want hotels you get more comfort and room, but again it costs more.  Money will also be spent on food and drink, musicians fees, support staff fees, rehearsal fees, new equipment (possibly) and a contingency fund for emergency.  So, as you can see there is a lot to think about before going on tour.

You must also think about what staff you will need on tour with you.  Many of them are optional but all very beneficial.  These include:

A driver.  If you don’t have one then a band member has to do it meaning they can’t drink and will get tired and this often leads to arguments.  Plus, a driver often knows the towns and cities and quickest ways to the next venue.

Instrument Tech. Someone who will know exactly what you want your instrument to look and sound like.  They will make sure everything is tuned up and ready to go when the artist comes on stage.  Many artists prefer to do it themselves, it’s down to personal preference.

Merchandiser. Some might say it’s not necessary to have someone just for this job but it does involve someone’s constant attention at the gigs so it’s either get one or have someone else trying to focus on their own job and the merchandise.  As it’s one of your main ways of making money in music these days it’s important to get it right.

Promoter. Someone to put the word out there and get people at your shows.  Very useful to have as it means you don’t need to worry about it yourself as the musician.

Sound Engineer. Some artists may use the sound engineer at the venue but other bands want their sound to be perfect.  With your own sound engineer you have someone who knows your songs as well as you do and knows exactly how it should sound.

Monitor Mix Engineer. Again, many artists don’t feel the need for a monitor mix engineer but they can come in very handy.  After all, they essentially control what everyone hears.  Having your own makes things easier because like the sound engineer, they know how you want it to sound.

Tour Manager/Agent.  These are pretty much essential.  It’s going to be your agent who books your shows.  Artists often find it difficult booking larger venues without an agent.  It’s going to be your tour manager who keeps an eye on everything and makes sure everything is running smoothly and as it should be.  Without them, it is very difficult to keep on top of things.

Some artists try to assign certain people 2 jobs to keep costs down.  This can work some times and other times it can’t.  A tour requires a lot of thought and one wrong decision can affect the whole thing.

Project Idea

Here is a link to a Prezi I made that gives an outline of what I aim to achieve by the end of this module.

There may be certain little things that change as I work my way through it but this is the plan.


Things are starting to come together for the re-release of my band’s first EP.  We have some ideas in mind for the slightly different type of gig we have planned.

The physical copies are in the making…


Here are a couple of rough designs…

Photo_00004 Photo_00005

Here is the final artwork for the single ‘Haze to Hide’.


And below is the teaser video that we made ourselves.  This was shot using a s500 Digimax camera and I did all of the editing using Windows Movie Maker.


CD’s!  Ready to give out for FREE at our release gig.



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