The sell-off rights to merchandise aren’t well known to all musicians. However, it is something you should be aware of before you start to work with a merchandiser.
What are sell-off rights?
This simply means that the merchandiser doesn’t have the right to manufacture more merchandise right before the contract is over. They can only sell what is left in stock. Most merchandiser will ask to sell it through retail outlets as it won’t be sold on concerts. The artist will get royalties of these pieces that get sold. There should be no question in that. Before you take this step, there are a few things you, as an artist, need to ask for.
Buy it Yourself
Before the merchandiser sells your merchandise after your contract has ended, he or she should give you the chance to buy the rest of your merchandise back. If you have merchandise that you only sold online, it could be a good idea to start selling that merchandise at concerts too. It gives your fans the chance of having that one shirt they couldn’t order.
If you don’t buy the rest of your merchandise, the merchandiser will get a sell-off period. This can be anywhere within 6 months to a year. Just make sure that the sell-off rights are non-exclusive, so that if you work with another merchandiser you won’t get in trouble. And, the merchandiser cannot stockpile the merchandise. This means that they can’t manufacture more merchandise right before the end of the term. If you’re making an agreement, try to get this in the contract. Ask that they only manufacture a specific amount of merchandise so that this doesn’t happen.
Distress Sales or Dumping
Ask them to put this in the contract too. This means that merchandisers cannot sell your merchandise at very low prices just to get rid of the stock.
If you do get a sell-off rights agreement, they should ask you by the end of the term if you want to buy the remaining stock. If not, you ask them to get rid of the merchandise. With this meaning, destroying it. Or you ask them to donate it to charity.
When you start a band the idea of making the logos and going on tour is the dream, right? But, there’s always a catch. There are things that starting bands always seem to forget, something that can be very crucial for in the future.
Make sure you protect your logo and the band name you use. To find out if your name hasn’t been used before, the internet is your friend in this case. Don’t just Google the name, check social media too, because this is where you are going to spend your time promoting your music.
You don’t want to confuse people and you want to be original as possible.
What If the Band Splits?
Talk to the band about this. Don’t wait until you are in a courtroom. There are different things you need to discus, if the band ever splits. It doesn’t mean that you’re waiting to split, it means that you are preparing yourself for if anything does happen when there is a fight and the band wants to split.
Like, can the band still go on if 2 members have left? Can the remaining members still use the band name? Writing it all down on a written agreement makes things easier for later if this does happen.
That’s not the only thing you need to think about, what if one band member isn’t what you thought he was? And you want to get rid of him? What kind of vote in the band do you need to vote (or fire, it’s how you look at it) a member out of the band?
If you’re in a record label, this means a few other things too. Like, will the band be kicked out of the label if the band splits? What if someone gets out of the band to work on a solo project, will the label push the solo artists to be signed under them?
Remember this When you Start a Band
Ask yourself these questions when you start a band, do it while you’re still friends and everything is done on a friendly note.
You don’t want a split to be uglier than it needs to be.
Some artist or bands may think that getting a sponsor is like making a deal with the devil. You sell your soul for the one thing you most desire, fame. But is that really the case? We don’t think so. You have to be smart and see where the opportunities lay in the industry.
Is Sponsoring Bad?
Some bands have fin with their sponsorship deals. Look at the extreme product placement from All Time Low did in their ‘ I Feel Like Dancing’ video.
It’s a bit extreme, but its a good example of making fun of sponsorship deals. And it doesn’t mean you’d have to sell your soul to do what you love. Yeah, sure, All Time Low probably got a lot of money out of it from Rockstar Energy, but think about it this way; more money, means more investments in your band or music.
With the money you get, you can invest in new materials for tour. Or you could invest in new merchandise. You could even use some of your sponsorship money to pay for new recordings and studio time. Do something special and manufacture limited edition vinyls! It can really expand your creativity and once potential new fans see how creative you’re getting with your sponsorship, and you don’t overdo it at live shows, they could actually start paying more and more attention to your music.
But make sure you do it for the right reasons. It’s good to have some extra money in, but don’t be a sell-out. Be smart and be creative.
So, do you still think that sponsoring is a bad thing?
You see it everywhere, the VIP ticket options to meet your favourite artists with sometimes prices much higher than they need to be. We are here to show you the good things about VIP-ticketing and the bad sides.
It shows your fans you’re willing to meet them. The die-hard fans will obviously jump at this possibility to meet their heroes.
It’s nice if you give fans something extra. Many bands and artist put a lot of time into thinking of a way to make a full package of the VIP ticket. Try to give them more than just a hug and a picture with their favourite band or artist. Consider giving them something extra like a merchandise package. Give them the chance the chill out with you with a pizza party or something else like this.
You see pop stars exaggerate with the prices and some people will actually pay for it. But not everyone gets the chance to buy them. Fans will feel left out and may get mad at the artist. This is never good, because you don’t want to lose fans. This is the same for concert tickets.
It eliminates the fans with a smaller budget. Of course, it all depends on the age of your fans attending your gig. If the age is, let’s say 12, you wont earn much for VIP-tickets if they are really expensive. You’d have more chance with teenagers of 16-18 year-old. Because that’s when many start earning more income of their own.
All in all, its a good idea to use VIP-ticketing. Just be careful not to do what Ozzy Osbourne did at Graspop Metal Meeting in 2016. He asked $950 for a meet & greet at the festival for 15 minutes before the show. Which is crazy and no one paid for it. Just be mindful of the price for your fans and give them that little extra that will make it the best night of their lives.
A lot of people don’t know what the concept of hard ticketing and soft ticketing means. Music consumers just want to buy their ticket for a concert or a festival and be done with it. But, they don’t know that selling tickets for concert and festivals can be very different. It each has its own term and its own meaning in the industry. Let’s dive into hard ticketing and soft ticketing a little deeper and discover the difference and how they work.
What’s The Difference between Hard Ticketing and Soft Ticketing?
Let us start with soft ticketing. Soft ticketing simply means that the tickets that are being sold can’t go to one artist. In this case just think of your festival tickets. You might go to the festival for just one artist, but you don’t pay for just that one artist you want to see. So, while you’re enjoying your favourite artist, you might as well just make a whole day of it at the festival. Seems pretty good, right?
Hard ticketing is the opposite. This is when you go to the concert for just one artist. On these events there will be one main act on the bill. Ticket sales will most likely go back to the main act. But times are changing and you never know what kind of deals may be involved,.
Times are Changing
In the modern music industry, some managers are trying to get a percentage of the ticket sales on festivals for their headline acts. The way I see it, this is just simply too difficult to do. If everyone starts doing this, there won’t be much revenue left for the festival, and it may not continue next year.
These deals are being made more and more frequently in the festival scene and if you put the ticket sales on top of that, I don’t think the festivals are getting the best out of the deals.
If you are thinking about studying music at University, you need to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, and making the correct choices for your career.
Choosing the Right Course
There are so many music related courses available how do you find the one that suits you?
There are many things to consider:
- Which university has the right facilities?
- Are you set on specialising in a specific area of music or do you want a broad and varied course in order to expand your knowledge?
- Do you need / want hands on experience or do you need to brush up on your knowledge of theory?
- Where do your personal interests and passions lie?
- What transferrable skills will you gain from a course?
Making the Most of Studying Music at University
University gives you opportunities that you may not find anywhere else so make the most of it! Here’s some advice from people who have been through it and come out the other side.
“Make sure that the course gives some vocational experience towards what you want to do as a career.”
If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “have looked for a course with more elements of music business. This will be at the core of any career you go in to so it’s important to learn about.”
“Think about what skills you actually want to learn and whether these will help you do what you want to do after university. There’s no point going to university for the sake of it, really think about what you will get out of it. Also, if you do go, make the most of all the opportunities given to you. It’s the perfect time to start building up contacts in the industry.”
If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “have done more gigs in my spare time because I definitely had more time to do it while I was at university… not so much now I’m working full time!”
“Make the most of it and get involved in different activities/events. Find out if there are other opportunities available through your course too.
If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “try to spend more time focusing on creative / composition tasks.”
“JUST DO IT! There are so many areas of music for you to explore in a university, and many institutions offer you the opportunity to tailor the course according to your interests […] frequent the library and make use of any resources the university provides you with. Some universities might place a stronger emphasis on academic modules rather than performance, so it’s really important to do your research. Check out the department’s course structure on their websites before applying or email admissions tutors, they’re there to help!”
“Music courses usually house a lot of transferrable skills and knowledge, but you need to be dedicated to make the most of it. You need to be willing to stay late or spend weekends in the studio or travel out for a field recording. Don’t spend your whole time at university working on assignments. You may never have access to such a wide range of resources at your disposal ever again. Work with students to achieve personal goals and work on your own projects. Studios tend to be free at the start of the academic year or in the summertime, use this time to get comfortable using the equipment and make lots of stuff.”
If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “Work on assignments as soon as they were set and make the most of all the resources available.”
“Go for a really broad course and experience all different parts of the industry in your first year and then you can narrow it down on your second and third years. There are so many different types of jobs in the music industry and it will probably surprise you. Also take every opportunity you can get make sure you’re signed up to find out about any extra curricular activities you can do like helping with festivals etc. You need to start thinking about your CV now. Remember to work hard and party harder.”
If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “Drink and party less and study a bit more I imagine. My time keeping is much better than it used to be so I’d probably not leave my assignments to the last minute.”
“Try to find the balance between doing something you really want to do and are passionate about while also thinking about future prospects, after all this is costing you a lot of money. This will differ for everyone. Just make sure you are willing to pull your weight in order to get out what you put in.”
Your Dissertation/Final Project
Your dissertation or final project is what you work towards throughout your time at university. It also has a lot of control over your final grade, so what do you need to think about?
We cannot stress enough how important it is to be truly interested in the topic you choose. You are (hopefully) going to be spending a lot of time on this, so try to choose something that doesn’t feel like a chore. It is very likely that the end product will be a lot better too!
This is an opportunity to put everything you’ve learnt into practise. You have so much new knowledge that you can put to use in whatever way you like.
It’s a final chance to learn something new but with all the support of the university facilities and lecturers. Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn more about? Here’s your chance.
Do you have the choice been a practical and theoretical project? Which one suits you best and which one will help you get the most out of your topic?
Everybody knows that starting as an artist isn’t easy. The one thing that most new artists forget (or rather don’t know they should do), is to network. By networking you can create your own team. Here are some tips to build your own network or team.
The first step to a career in music, is networking. Go to networking events like Eurosonic or Midem or even SXSW. It does have a price tag on it. But, isn’t it worth it so that you can get so much more out of it?
Before you go to the event, try to make some appointments with people. If you don’t know how start by checking the event’s website. Events like Eurosonic, have a list of people that are going to be there. It’s easy to Google the names and see if they are the right person/company for you. Because there is nothing worse than being a metal artist and contacting someone that specialises in classical music.
Always be ready to hand over a business card. You never know who you’ll meet! Always have your music with you too. This way, whenever you have a meeting with someone, you can instantly show them what you’ve been working on. It’s easier than giving a CD and waiting for replies that will never come. These networking moments are perfect to build your career on. If they don’t like what you’re working on, ask them what needs work and show you’re ready to get some constructive feedback.
Another way of meeting people in the music industry, is looking at the liner notes on CD’s. There are always some useful names on it. Once you have a good list, try and contact them. It can be as easy as that!
Build Your Professional Team
First things first, you have to start with one person in your team – like a manager. In most cases, this can be a friend or family member. Be careful with adding someone of your family in the team, though. Sometimes family and money don’t mingle well.
Also, try to work out if the managers’ personality matches up with yours. You don’t want to be stuck on a contract with someone you can’t stand for the coming year or so. It seems bad to do this, but do you really want to be fighting all the time with your manager? They’re the ones who book your shows and get your money in. You don’t want to feel like you’re constantly fighting each other.
Before you say ‘yes’ to the first person with a great pitch, make sure you’ve checked a few things. Ask for references, check those references and ask a lot of questions.
Some questions you can ask are:
- Do they have experience in the music industry?
- Do they have clients that are in the same genre as you? If so, they are more likely to have existing contacts which could be useful to you.
- Do they do the work themselves? Make sure you know who you’re paying to do the work so you don’t get left with any nasty surprises.
- What is their fee? This is a normal question to ask in a meeting.
- Do they have a written agreement? This can be very important further down the line, so make sure everything us written and agreed to before any work starts.
If you already have a team ready, great! You’re halfway there! If you are thinking about adding someone new to the team, ask the same questions above and ask your existing team what they think too. You’re a team after all and everybody needs to get on with each other before they form your professional career.
The following includes sections from a blog written by Music Fibre – an online music industry directory and blog posting tips, tutorials and useful information for anyone working in the music industry. In this blog, they have delved into the world of Smart Links. This may be something you are already familiar with, or you may never have heard of them; either way, this blog will tell you what they are, why you need them and how you can use them to drive more sales of your music.
What Are Smart Links For Music And Why Should I Use Them?
The internet has made the world a very small place. Even if you are making beats in your bedroom or recording from your mates shed, your fans can be anywhere in the world.
Smart links will help you make sure that when they find your music, they are taken to the right music download or streaming site and can shop in the right language and currency. A smart link can offer your fans a choice of store or you can automatically direct them based on their location or device (e.g you may wish to send iPhone users directly to iTunes.)
It’s not just about making sure the shopping experience is good for your customers, it’s also an opportunity to track and monitor your fans. You can find out which stores they like best, find out where in the world your fans are and keep track of your marketing. The advanced analytics that smart links offer let you see exactly how your fans are discovering your music. If you have ever wanted to know if your Facebook campaign is working or if you should stick to Twitter, this will help you find out.
How Smart Links Can Save You Time
Smart Links save a huge amount of time. To get started you simply enter one link to your music in one store. The smart link provider will scan other stores for the same release and you then decide which stores to show on your landing page. When promoting your music you simply share one link instead of having to enter details for Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Beatport etc.
What Do Smart Links Look Like?
Help For Bands is aware of the ins and outs of Smart Links because Horus Music use them for their marketing campaigns. These are created for the artist to post and makes it easier for fans to access the artist’s music.
They also make it easier for publications to talk about the artist and their music. By having a smart link ready to go, a publication will find it easier to integrate into anything they write. Overall, it makes it much easier for anyone to listen to an artist’s music on their preferred platform. The easier the process is, the more likely someone is to listen to the music on offer.
Below, you can see an image that shows how the smart links work in the Soundplate Records website:
Want To Create Your Own Smart Links?
There are several providers that can help you create smart links for your music. These include SmartURL, LinkRedirector, LinkFire and Hive amongst others. The best part is, they are free to use! If you want to make it easier for fans to listen to your music, Smart Links are the way forwards!
You can see the original blog post by Music Fibre here: http://musicfibre.com/smart-links-music-101/
Every artist knows what royalties are by now. But there are so many different ways to get paid for your music. The term that gets lost in the list is Joint Venture. Not many people use this anymore. But when you’re having a lot of success and a big income, this might be it.
What is a joint venture?
This is just the same as an label deal, except the artist doesn’t get paid any royalties for his contribution. Now, before you panic and try to click away, this doesn’t mean the artist doesn’t get anything. So, hold your horses and read a little further.
This deals is meant for a band or artist with a lot of income in their music. This way, all the costs and expenses (like marketing and distribution) get taken from the income and the income will be split 50/50. This is how it works in most cases, but it depends on whether or not the label is in a good mood when signing the deal.
Royalties Vs. Joint Venture
So, is more more advantageous than the other? There is no definitive way of knowing. Our advice is that if you have a lot of success, you can get a joint venture (meaning you’d be the next Taylor Swift). This way, you can earn more of your money back. But you can lose a lot with it too if you’re not ready for this deal in your professional career.
With an ‘ok’ success and a decent income, we advise you choose royalty payments. In a joint venture you get charged more costs than under a royalty agreement. This can both be good an bad.
Royalties get paid ‘per unit’, this gets lost to joint venture and its easy to see that you can get more out of an joint venture. Of course, after all the expenses are deducted from the profit.
So, you’ve found the inspiration and you’re ready to write (see part one). Great! Now what? There are a lot of factors that go into writing a song, many of which are down to personal style and preference but your choices and decisions during the writing process all affect the end product so it’s worth knowing some of the basics!
Avoiding Clichés (Or How to Make Them Work for You)
Songs are interpreted in many ways and if you want to make your meaning clear you may fall into the trap of clichés. In fact, this may have the opposite effect, by using clichés you run the risk of your song losing not only it’s effectiveness, but its meaning too. A way of avoiding these clichés is to flip them completely on their head by changing an aspect of the line so it has a completely different meaning. For example, take an idiom such as ‘water under the bridge’ find the opposite of water, perhaps fire, so that it becomes ‘fire under the bridge’, which switches the meaning and then brings up connotations of a bad break up, a fight etc.
Another example would be taking ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ and altering it be something such as ‘wearing your heart under your coat’, for example, which has completely the opposite meaning. This way you give a nod to the original cliché so your meaning is clear but also can create double meanings and avoid the lyrics sounding too contrived.
Clichés can also be used ironically, this depends on the phrasing of the line and the surrounding lyrics. This can create a kind of self-aware humour within your lyrics.
This idea of clichés doesn’t just apply to the lyrics but also to the phrasing and structure. Don’t feel pressured to conform to standards of song and rhyme structure and don’t force rhymes just because you think it should! It will sound forced if it is and this will ruin the flow of the song.
Below we will be listing the typical definitions of song elements but this does not mean that you cannot use them differently.
- Introduction – The section at the beginning of a song generally before the lyrics start.
- Verse – Usually recognisable due its melodic repetition although the lyrics usually differ. Typically uses rhyme in an AABB or ABAB format. This is where you can be more wordy and detailed, verses can tell a story.
- Pre-Chorus – A transitional section between verse and chorus which can create a build up to the chorus.
- Chorus / Refrain – A repeating section heard throughout the song that contains the hook and the main idea / theme of the song. This is where you want to keep the lyrics more simple. A refrain may also refer to a shorter repeated passage (such as ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ in basically every pop song ever).
- Bridge – A contrasting and transitional section of the song which breaks up the repetitive pattern of a song.
- Middle Eight – Named so because it is typically eight bars long, a type of bridge that has different characteristics to the rest of the song.
- Outro / Coda – A way of ending the song, how the song winds down or fades out etc.
- Interlude – Defined usually as a break or a gap, in music an interlude can be part of a song or a whole song that is part of an album (‘Interlude’ on My Chemical Romance’s album ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge’).
- Instrumental Break / Solo – Pretty self explanatory; similar to an interlude but may be longer and more involved. Can be a showcase of a certain instrument and can tell a story. As with an interlude, it can be part of a track or a whole track itself.
We find it best not to force it. Let the words come first and then arrange it because, let’s be honest, that’s the fun part. Also don’t be afraid to stray from the norm, let it happen naturally.
Making it Scan
Making words ‘scan’ in a song is making them fit well in the melody. There should not be any awkward jumps, gaps or change in tempo due to the amount of words in a line. This can be the most difficult part of writing a song. It doesn’t matter how great the line is on paper if you cram a load of words in and it doesn’t scan it will not sound good.
If you can’t bare to part with your words, you may be able to change the melody to fit. Sometimes it is best to compromise; changes that you make don’t just affect that one line but also the surrounding lines.
Sometimes known as an ‘earworm’, a catchy song is usually created through the use of repetition. There have even been studies on it which should tell you how effective it is! Quite simply, the repeated exposure to a line or melodic phrase will make it more likely to stick in someone’s head.
This kind of repetition is usually the hook which is usually found within the chorus. There is no hard and fast rule and nothing is stopping you from having multiple repetitions or hooks within the song if you wanted.
You could run into issues, however, if the song is overly repetitive. Eventually, if something is repeated too often people will just stop listening. So finding that middle ground is important.
Finding the Hook
The effectiveness of the hook will be shown in how recognisable your track is. There are a lot of factors to aid the recognisability of your song, but a main one is the hook.
In order to create a hook here are some things to consider: Keep it simple. Make it rhyme. Make it repeat. Try to sum up the song in one line and use that to create your hook.
How Genre and Style Affect Your Writing
If you want to write a punchy, memorable, upbeat song then you probably want to keep the lines short and the words simple. Whereas, if you’re writing a ballad, you can afford to be wordier. It is slow and lingering and therefore you can use longer lines and words with more syllables.
Genre is also important, punk for example, is very reliant on it’s topic, usually the theming is quite political. Again, you don’t necessarily have to stick to these ideas completely but it helps if you are aiming for a certain feel.
Your style may also be affected by your motivation for writing. If you are a primarily a writer and you are wanting to make a career out of writing for other artists, then this doesn’t mean that you can’t write from personal experience but that it may be useful to practise writing to a brief. This also gives you the opportunity write for a variety of different genres and styles.
If you are primarily a musician and a performer and are writing for your own use, then it may be useful be more aware of the style and feel that you are creating for yourself through your song writing. If you have a vision you can completely mould this creation from lyrics, music and sound.