What Not to Forget When You Start a Band

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.

Branding

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.

Advice for Lyricists: Part Two – Once You’ve Started Writing

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.

Structure

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.

Repetition

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 Motivation

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.

Advice for Lyricists: Part One – The Writing Process

Whether it’s writing your first ever song or simply finding inspiration to write the next, a lot of people would agree that it’s the starting that is most difficult. Thankfully, there are many places lyricists can find inspiration and many ways to use it. It’s all about finding your inspiration and making a start.

Literary Techniques

Exposing yourself to language in all of it’s forms whether it’s other lyrics, poetry or novels is important; it’s helpful and rewarding as a writer to expand your vocabulary and your skills. Learning new words or literary techniques can also help to inspire you to write something new.

Certain literary devices can be important for lyricists to know and utilise in their writing. They can affect how your lyrics scan and how the song flows.

For example:

  • Assonance:

Assonance takes place when two or more words close to each other have the same vowel sound e.g. “I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless.” – Thin Lizzy

  • Internal rhyme:

As apposed to ‘end rhymes’, where the last word of a line rhymes with the last word of another line. Internal rhyme is when a word in the middle of the line rhymes with one at the end of a line. Half or slant rhymes are when the words almost rhyme but it is not a perfect rhyme. This often works well within songs because it means you are avoiding contrived and forced rhymes. It is worth making yourself familiar with the different types of rhymes and rhyme schemes considering songs can rely on them so heavily.

Lyricists can use some of the same devices that poets do. Therefore, even though the writing process is different, reading poetry can be useful in learning these techniques.

Wordplay and double meanings are other types of literary techniques that can add another layer to your lyrics. For example, Panic! at the Disco’s ‘Nicotine’ includes the line “Your love’s a f**king drag”, which is a double meaning due to the title (and theming) of the song. Creating these hidden meanings within metaphorical language can assist you to create a theme and a feeling for a song.

Themes

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas or lines for a song it may be useful to first think of a theme. It helps if this theme isn’t too vague (as ‘love’ is a very broad topic and probably wouldn’t get you very far). That said, it doesn’t need to be anything too fixed or literal, the theme can be an image, a word or just a sentence that sums up the meaning of the song.

Again, thinking about the feel of a song can be helpful too. For example, you may want your song to conjure up images of a nightclub (this is where connotation comes in!) You could create a spider diagram (even if it’s a mental one) of relevant words and this may eventually turn into full lines. At this point the lines you come up with don’t need to be particularly poetic; just note down what you want to say in plain language and you can make it sound better later!

You can base metaphorical language around this theme (as mentioned earlier with the Panic! at the Disco song). Or you can just use these ideas as reference so that you don’t stray too far from your original meaning when writing. Having a strong theme can help the audience empathise and can make an overall more powerful song.

If you are a visual person you may want to create a mood board instead of, or alongside, your theme. Visuals and aesthetics can help to stimulate and inspire you to come up with new ideas for the feel or content of your song.

Becoming Analytical

We often do this by accident but as well as simply listening to or reading other work it can help to start analysing this work. You may find this comes quite naturally or you may need to work at it. however as somebody who is interested in writing themselves you will probably find it quite easy to analyse other people’s work.

This will also help you develop your own sense of style within your lyrics. Try to work out why you do or don’t like certain lyrics.

This can also be applied to the music, down to specific techniques used or just the feel of the song. Try to work out how they’ve created this.

Just Press Record

If you aren’t sure where to start or you’re stuck in a rut don’t underestimate your subconscious! It’s amazing what you can come up with on the fly so just press record and start singing.

It may feel uncomfortable for a start and sure, some of it won’t make sense but you may come up with a line totally by accident that you end up using. It’s amazing what you can come up with on the fly!

Setting Goals

Another helpful method is to set yourself ‘songwriting tasks’ – come up with a topic for each week or month and write about that. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s just a way of getting you writing if you perhaps haven’t for a while or have never seriously started.

You could get somebody else to come up with these themes or topics if you need more incentive. This is also a good way of writing about something different and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Similarly, there is a method called the Seinfeld Strategy, in which the idea is basically to write everyday. You can make yourself a small goal to reach everyday (e.g. write for 15 minutes a day) and every time you do it cross it off. The point isn’t to reach a certain achievement but simply not to break the chain, this builds habit.

A lot of people may think that planning a song is blasphemy; that it destroys the art of it, that things should just happen. But let’s be real, writing is writing and sometimes it doesn’t ‘just happen’ as much as you would like it to. A novelist wouldn’t write a book without planning, why should lyricists be any different? Of course some of it will come to you when you’re in the shower or in bed (it’s never at a good time is it?) but some parts may need to be planned, and that’s okay! This plan can be based around your mood board and/or your theme. It doesn’t have to be solid and you can stray from it and change it as much as you want.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

Finally, the big take away is to just get writing. Try not to let perfectionism or judgement get in the way. You don’t have to write a masterpiece every time you sit down. Practise makes perfect, even if that practise doesn’t amount to a full song each time. If you’re passionate about it keep going! You’ve got to start somewhere. Most, if not all, artists do not start out being brilliant lyricists.

Part 2 covers what you should do once you’ve started writing.

Why You Should Sell Your Music on Vinyl

The music industry is currently going through unprecedented changes, with an emphasis on digital media instead of the old physical ones. Whereas CD keeps losing market share year-after-year, vinyl has been experiencing an amazing resurgence for nearly a decade.

The thing is, increase in sales doesn’t necessarily mean vinyl is still a suitable platform in a society that relies heavily on digital services. Hence the question: why are some artists still releasing music on vinyl in 2016?

Wax Is The New Trend

Online distribution services guarantee any artist, even independent ones, distribution of their music to every online musical platform (from iTunes to Spotify, including Tidal and Google Play). Vinyl releases have no assurance that their music will actually reach an audience. With high production costs and much lower exposure, vinyl doesn’t seem to be a sound investment at first sight.

Yet everyone knows that money is not the only issue ruling music production. Vinyl production offers strong material and graphic assets – in this instance: large artwork, strong sleeve, and a warmer sound. By engaging the senses, vinyl goes beyond the musical framework.

Unlike vinyl, CDs have become incapable of attracting customers in stores today. Why would they bother buying an album when they can enjoy unlimited access to music on their computer for the same price? In contrast, vinyl managed to keep them interested in buying music thanks to its classy and appealing nature.

Vinyl is far from being a trivial format. Not only can it be a selling point for artists, but it can also help them distinguish themselves from their peers. By offering their fans the opportunity to buy their music on vinyl, they develop their identity beyond the boundaries of music. Graphic design, packaging, or thematic concepts are some elements that help define their universe – and make vinyl still very popular.

Collectible items, synonymous with vintage and their reputation for sound quality are all reasons that explain the strong comeback of vinyl.

Vinyl sales skyrocketed overseas, with a staggering 1,250% growth between 2005 and 2015 in the US alone! The vinyl market has never been so healthy since its heyday back in the 70s. Vinyl increasingly reinforces its status as music enthusiasts’ favourite physical medium.

What Vinyl Solutions Are There For Artists?

A stronger consumer demand that pushes market players to increase their annual output. However, it’s quite hard for artists to stay competitive without financial support from labels. Although self-production can be an alternative, there still are both major and obvious constraints:

  • There is currently no reliable way to predict sales for vinyl records, which can lead to under/overproduction.
  • Artists generally cannot afford to pay for the high production expenses of vinyl pressing.
  • Similarly, they generally receive very little support from industry’s professionals.
  • Market fragmentation makes it hard to find the best partners, making the production process much more difficult.

Direct involvement from fans within that process is an interesting solution since there’s almost no intermediary. Funds raised by crowdfunding campaigns are fully invested in making a project successful. This makes the financial relationship between an artist and their fans closer as the fans get to directly support the artists they like.

The growing number of successful crowdfunded projects highlights the efficiency and popularity of crowdfunding. This is an appealing model for artists and labels alike, the latter only having to promote and distribute a finished product without funding its production.

The great majority of “regular” platforms only raise funds for a project’s production without actually promoting or distributing the final product afterwards. By connecting artists, labels and fans within a pre-order platform, Diggers Factory aspires to match supply and demand and offers a real alternative to the traditional vinyl distribution circuit.

An Online Pre-Order Social Platform

The artist, label, or rights holder submits vinyl on the platform and sets a sales objective and price. Then the community comes into play. Diggers Factory and its members (“Diggers”) are the ones who bring projects to fruition.

People can support a production project by pre-ordering one or more records from the artist. As soon as the sales objective is reached, Diggers are notified, production is launched and the artist earns their margin. Should the sales objective not be reached on time, Diggers are fully refunded, free of charge.

Pre-orders alone provide the funds for a project’s production and distribution under the condition that it reaches its sales objective. Diggers are then guaranteed to get their orders by home delivery, wherever they are in the world.

By reducing intermediaries between artists and fans, Diggers Factory aspires to make vinyl more accessible whilst favouring independent music. It’s now up to Diggers to unite to produce and fund tomorrow’s promising artists.

Writing and Pitching Music for Sync to Moving Picture – Part 3

Writing Music for Adverts, Corporate Video and Video Games

Music for adverts covers every possible genre. There are no rules, and the types of sync vary from a simple musical ‘ident’ to a full-on bombastic orchestral piece. Also read part one and two before you go further into this article, it might overlap.

If I were to say ‘McDonalds’ you can instantly hear the five note whistled theme. That’s right – just five notes! Consider also ‘We Buy Any Car dot com’, which originally was a sung phrase, which then became just a series of seven identical notes in a rhythm of the original song. Un-mistakable now that it has been ingrained in our minds. Another even simpler musical jingle for a product would be the four-note (with harmony this time) ‘Intel’ theme. We all know it.

These are all still musical compositions, no matter how simple.

Now compare these to, for instance, your average action film or game trailer, which is after all, also an advert. Often, trailers will be incredibly complicated and HUGE in terms of sound and musical content.

While the type of music required is varied, the reasons why a particular piece of music makes the cut can be just as complicated and varied.

Take, for instance, a brief I pitched some music to a while back. This was for a well-known furniture retailer. The ad agency (also the ad production company) sent out a brief including the following types of phrases: ‘Yummy Mummy’, ‘Sophisticated’, ‘Grown Up’, ‘Chillout’, ‘Zero 7 – type instrumental’, ‘cool laid-back vibe’… etc. The idea was that this would form a backdrop for a smooth voice-over throughout the entire ad. When the ad was broadcast, the sync chosen was what can only be described as a gospel choir type cover (not instrumental) version of a 1970s classic rock song. The music chosen was very different to the original brief, which is in the advertising world, very common.

This can be because there are many more decision makers involved in an advert than a film or TV sync placement. Think ‘Chinese Whispers’. The client may be totally non-musical, and conveys their idea to the ad agency, who interpret this in a certain way, and send out a brief. When music pitches come in and they are auditioned, there may be ten people who are all acting as ‘music supervisor’ along the way – even the client’s wife or neighbour’s cousin may have a say. Who can say which of these opinions really matter..?

These are the phrases you will hear constantly (also sometimes in the TV world):

‘We will know it when we hear it’,

‘Just come up with something catchy’,

and, my favourite:

‘There’s no budget for the music’.

The first two are simply a non-musical person unable to really put across an idea to a musician or composer, which is forgivable. In these cases ask for references, maybe, so you can narrow it down. Try to show willing to get to the kind of thing needed. Most people know the difference between Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, so communicate in terms they understand.

The last quote (‘There’s no budget for the music’) is simply not true. It is so important that we all stand firm in the idea that music is crucial for the effectiveness of the media it is synced to, and therefore has a value. ‘There’s no budget for the music’ means ‘It has no value’ which is quite simply not the case.

I recently visited a wedding industry event, which had a ‘cat walk’ fashion show, showcasing wedding dresses. This was very professional, slick and impressive to watch. The lights bounced off a million gems and sequins, the choreography was beautiful, and jaws were dropping at the incredible ‘loveliness’ of it all. The music was a compilation of very emotive songs and instrumental syncs. One thing is for absolute certain, though. Without the music, the impact would be less than 10% of what it was. I mean, imagine models walking up and down a catwalk to silence. That would be a joke.

General Hints for Writing Music for Adverts

If this was 2005, I’d say ‘Learn to play the Ukulele!!’

It’s amazing that simple Ukulele strums combined with non-lyrical phrases like whistles or ‘Hey’, or claps and snaps are still being used for adverts for banks, washing powders, whatever.

This is to do with the mood that this type of music portrays. In a nutshell, products or brands want to be associated with feeling of happiness, positivity, confidence, strength and well-being. We will not buy into a product which gives us the feeling of mistrust or unease. Adverts are selling a lifestyle or a dream usually, along with the actual product. The general pitch is ‘buy this product and your life will be better’.

For the more ‘cool’ campaigns, such as aftershave or the more ‘thinking person’s bank account’ type ads, the use of COVER VERSIONS are very effective. These are those dark, moody, emotive stripped-back covers of previously massive hits. Here’s a good example:

The current Lloyds Bank ‘For Your Next Step’ Advert.

We hear it, and some of us know the music already and it resonates with us. This is no coincidence. This is a song that the over 40s will recognise as ‘Mad World’ by Tears for Fears from 1982. For the younger ones, it’s the song ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews from the 2001 film ‘Donnie Darko’. Or perhaps, it’s the song ‘Mad World’ that Adam Lambert performed so amazingly on ‘American Idol’.

Obviously, it’s all of them. Written by Roland Orzabal (one half of ‘Tears for Fears’). Lucky old Roland, eh?

The Lloyds Bank advert is a piano instrumental version by Jennifer Ann.

On the face of it, it’s a recognisable tune under a bank advert, but the whole point goes much deeper. The advert has the voiceover ‘This is real life, but none of us are standing still. We are all about to take the next step’. It features the iconic black horse galloping through the various ‘next steps’ taking place in the foreground. You could say that the horse is steadily guiding us through this ‘Mad World’ so we needn’t be afraid. Hopefully this demonstrates to you the thought and attention that goes into the process of choosing music for adverts. When you are advertising a multi billion dollar industry, and paying this much attention, therefore, to the details, you better believe that THERE IS BUDGET FOR THE MUSIC!

An important thing to think about is that publishers are aggressively pitching to sync opportunities with their back-catalogue. These catalogues often include well-known songs. They are most likely, therefore, happy to get their catalogue synced, even if it’s a cover version of one of their songs. I’ve recently had cover versions requested by publishers. There’s obviously no worries when it comes to getting the publisher’s permission to allow a song to be synced if it’s the publisher who is doing the pitching for you. The down side is that they would probably want to ‘buy-out’ the master rights to your version.

Just as a footnote to the cover versions market, I’d just remind readers that a cover version means that you would receive no PRO (PRS) royalties form this type of sync, but hopefully you own some or all of the ‘Master Rights’ to your version, or will received a buy-out fee you are happy with from the publisher.

All that said, obviously there is a place for a very sad or emotive piece of music for adverts for, say, charities, and that is just not my area of experience, and cannot advise on that at all.

Writing for Corporate Video

This should prove to be an altogether simpler deal.

Usually, you will be liaising with just one or two people who will have a more definite idea of what is needed to enhance the video or web presentation etc.

The great thing about corporate video is that there are video production companies all over the place, and as I’ve mentioned previously, it’s amazing how film-makers are happy just to find someone who can give them the music they want with no copyright issues. Always offer your services for a simple fee, and keep 100% of the music (unless they are willing to pay a substantial amount). Make it clear that you are licensing your music to them non-exclusively for a specific use, and you retain 100% ownership of the music, and will collect all performance royalties and also are free to pitch the music or license the music elsewhere. Generally, video makers, especially small independent ones, will be happy with that. They just want music with no complications.

Writing for Trailers

As with music for adverts, film trailer music, especially lately, is becoming more song based. Trailers are often in three or four ‘movements’ or ‘chapters’, so they will need a few different songs or pieces of music. There are no rules.

Action film and game trailers are usually orchestral hybrid pieces. The key words here are ‘Authentic’ and ‘Bombastic’. This is a notoriously difficult niche to get success at. It is a business where it seems a few of the top composers are getting most of the syncs.

This is down to a few things:

If you are going to pitch these big orchestral hybrid trailer pieces, you MUST be able to make your music sound like a real orchestral in every possible way. People choosing these sync know their music, and they know what an authentic sounding orchestral piece sounds like. They can sometimes even recognise the various orchestral sample libraries used just by listening. Your music has to be as good, if not better than those pieces already out there in this market. Your ‘hybrid’ elements should be interesting and unique. The same old slamming drums are sounding tired now. Throw in some risers, synths, pulses, whatever, but make it different.

I met a very successful trailer composer a few weeks ago at a networking event. We talked a lot of ‘techie stuff’ about sample libraries and DAWs, but his simple answer as to why his music gets used is that he can ‘do what no-one else can do’. That is probably the most important piece of advice to anyone pitching music. If your music is the same as everyone else’s, then it’s a lottery. If it rises above else’s because it has that extra 10 or 15%, the odds are at least looking better.

(Just as an aside, he doesn’t use Logic, Cubase, Protools, Studio One, or Ableton Live, but favours a much less popular DAW just because it works for him. He does, however, spend at least 100 hours on a composition to make sure it is head and shoulders above the competition.)

Trailer music will come under a different agreement to syncs for the actual film or game, since it is advertising. This is why the music in a trailer will usually be different from that in the film. If a piece from the film is used in a trailer, there will be a separate sync fee for each – and usually a higher fee for the trailer.

Keep in Mind

In general, Trailers and Adverts will require a much faster turnaround than film and television. You may submit music to a brief and the advert is broadcast 48 hours later. I’ve recently recorded a vocal for an advert, which was broadcast before any paperwork was signed – within a couple of days of sending over the vocal stems. It can be that fast.

Whatever you’re pitching to, keep listening to what is out there. Listen, listen and listen again to music for adverts, TV and film. Don’t seek to emulate, but seek to take it to the next level. Imagine what the syncs will be 6 months from now.

Lastly, remember all music has a real value. We’re in a difficult stage in the business where the industry is desperately trying to keep up with and keep track of technology, which is running away with and running down the value of music if we let it.

Just because our music is sometimes stolen, that’s no reason to give it away. It’s your music. Value it and keep it safe.


Gary White is an Independent Music Producer, Composer and Songwriter 1994-present. He plays guitar, bass, keys, drums, whistle, banjo.gary white music sync tank
For the ‘Techies’, I use Protools, Studio One 3, Logic Pro X, and Cubase 8 – depending on the client’s preferences, Studio One 3 being my ‘go-to’ DAW.

Producer and Writer (Mainstream Pop) credits include Cheryl Cole, Emma Bunton, Gareth Gates, S Club 8.
Production and Composing (Film, TV and Music Library) credits include BBC, Renegade Pictures, Countdown Media, Aston Martin, Red Slate Pictures, Red 90, Hens Teeth.
BAFTA nominated for ‘Best Original Music’ (BBC Documentary)
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https://twitter.com/MusicSyncTank
https://www.youtube.com/c/musicsynctank
https://soundcloud.com/musicsynctank

Making Money From Music: Intellectual Property

Every artist’s dream is to be able to quit the day job and focus on their music full time. But in order to do that, they need to begin making money from music. This can seem like an impossible feat, considering the industry is crying out that the value of music is dying. This is thanks to piracy and micro royalty payments from digital platforms.

But there are still some ways you can begin making money from music and every little helps. We are aiming to cover how to strategise in your career and understand what opportunities are available to you. This first part is about intellectual property.

Understanding Intellectual Property

The main thing to understand about intellectual property (or IP) is copyright. When a song is written and/or recorded, there is automatically a copyright attached to that piece of work. You can make money from this copyright.

There are three different types of copyright within a song. The individual(s) involved in creating each of these are entitled to a share of ownership of that copyright.

  • The lyrics.
  • The composition (i.e the melody).
  • The master recording.

To make things simple we will group the copyright for the lyrics and the copyright for the melody / instrumentation together. This is normally called the song rights or publishing rights and the recording copyright is called the master rights.

Making Money from Intellectual Property

If you own the song rights:

Earn money from your compositions by having your song placed in sync opportunities, such as films, television shows and advertisements. The Music Sync Tank are doing an excellent series for us, delving into what exactly sync is and how to get these kinds of deals.

Another way would be to get another performing artist to record your song. Every time this new recording is performed live, played in public, broadcast on radio, used in a film, television show etc. you earn a performance royalty from these usages.

The best way to keep track of this is to be signed up to the Performing Rights Society (PRS). You register any song you have written with them and they give you and your songs unique codes. They can then track the usage of your song and pay you what you are owed. Their website tells you what they do, but essentially if you’re writing songs there’s no excuse not to use them!

If you own the master rights:

If you’ve recorded a song you can be earning money from this. You will earn money each time the composition within your master recording is synced to visual media. Whoever wants to use the song will need permission from the owner of the song rights and the master rights. Both will be entitled to a fee for this usage. This fee depends on the negotiated contract.

How Else Can We Start Making Money From Music?

You earn a royalty from MCPS each time this master recording is reproduced on CD, download etc. This is called a mechanical royalty. This is also handled by PRS but is solely about the usage of the recording of the song. Basically, if you have recorded a song written by someone else, you will earn an MCPS royalty whenever the recording is played in public. The songwriter will also earn a PRS royalty. You can learn more about MCPS here.

Also, if you distribute into physical stores or on streaming / download sites then every time that is bought / streamed you will get a cut of the money earned from this. You will receive the money from whoever distributes for you e.g. our sponsors Horus Music. You can distribute with them for free and they in turn will pay you your cut. No need for you to chase up the money yourself. There are other distribution options that are available depending on what you’re looking for.

If you have written your own songs and retained your master recording rights then you’re lucky. This means you can earn money for both copyrights! If a song is played on the radio you will earn the performance royalty. If you distribute your music you will get a royalty from PRS / MCPS and your direct payment from your distributor.

As with anything like this it is easier said than done. If you get your music out there but don’t tell anyone about it then there is less chance that it will be bought or listened to. Sync companies won’t know about it to use in their media either. You have to make some noise about what you’re doing to reap the benefits.

Quality Track Production and Skyrocketing Your Career

The relief that comes from quality track production is mostly felt when an artist completes the lyrics to a song, finalises the recording process and sends it off for the final touches.

The creation process has always been the most exciting part of writing a song. Without a good song, there is only so far a track will go publicity wise of course. Although still relevant, the post-production stages has played a bigger role in bringing about success for artists and their music.

We have 4 ways quality track production can build you a successful career but even increase your fanbase.

1. Synchronisation  

Synchronisation has played a key part in helping many new or even established artists by creating awareness of their music. Once something has been synched, it can open doors that’ll evidently expose you to a wider audience. When Music Supervisors search in hopes of finding something that fits their briefs, the better it sounds, the easier the process will be. It’s also more likely your track will stand out amongst other potentials.

2. Connections and More Jobs

If you’ve gained a history of testimonials based on quality track production you may have worked/or were featured on, you can use this to open doors to more connections, work opportunities and overall industry attention. For example, you may be approached to be a session singer for a producer or you may be asked to mix/master a track. All this can happen because they’ve heard your work and thought the quality was awesome. In the first couple of moments of listening all that really matters is the quality of the production.

3. It Can Make you Look Really Professional

As the distribution/creation of music changed, so did the way it was listened to. From the phonograph to radio, from the walkman and now streaming. The quality of music has become increasingly compressed, all with the goal of creating easily distributable files. Compression has often been blamed for stripping much of the intricate sounds in the track.

However, having a well mixed/mastered track without harsh editing can make you look quite professional amongst your peers. It shows others you know what you’re doing. It’s not just about getting the frequency of a record so small so it fits in a small file. It’s about creating an enjoyable / immersive experience for the listeners.

4. Major A&R Points

Although it’s not majorly important, an A&R executive will like to see that you know how to finish a track well that embodies the qualities of a good sound. If you consider the amount of tracks they might receive, a badly produced demo may not get the attention it deserves. If your songs sound like demos, it’s best to not pitch them to A&R’s. Aim for professionalism, mix and master well and let the sky be your limit.

We could go on and explain other ways a quality track production is key to success in the industry. However, you get our drift. It’s always something worth investing in and something you won’t be disappointed in the results of. If you’re looking for someone to work with to mix your track simply click here to login to our platform and create a project today. Better yet, get a track mastered for free by Grammy award winning Metropolis Studios, click here to find out more details and how to get involved.


Written by: Trudy Kirabo – A&R Marketing Assistant

Music Gateway is a B2B platform specifically designed to allow music industry professionals to connect and work together in a global capacity through sync opportunities and record label placements, the platform has established itself as the go-to platform for the music business.

Whether this is through hiring music professionals or collaborating with other industry creatives, it is a well-known platform that provides opportunities for international established clients who are looking for songs for television, film, and song placement briefs.

https://www.musicgateway.net

How to Find Songwriting Opportunities

Ways in which I first started writing for other people came to me as such a surprise. I’d just started university and decided that a career in publishing from a recent lecture had really influenced me to get into that sector of the music industry. I started doing some googling into publishing deals including what they expect of you and what they’re all about. For a few weeks after that I starting writing to briefs from ‘Sentric Music’ as they upload real life briefs for sync deals on their website. I never submitted anything but always gave them a go. This is how I started to find songwriting opportunities to fuel my career.

Find Songwriting Opportunities

A few weeks down the line and I attended one of Manchester’s best known events. ‘Manchester’s Networking and Industry event’. Everyone from producers right through to music photographers attends, it is basically for anyone looking to work with others in the music industry. You name it they were there.

Magically, I stated on my nametag that I was a songwriter. I then met a guy called Feri, a great bloke who I work quite closely with now. Feri is a producer who works in the Swedish dance sector of the industry but also branches out to elsewhere with his music. We spoke for a bit in the loud crowd, exchanged details and he said he’d be in contact. Me being me, I thought nothing of it and well, to my surprise Feri called me up. He asked if I’d like to write towards a recent track he was working on for Universal. Exciting times this really was.

After he sent through a brief via email I started working straight away and came up with a simple little track called ‘The One’. I didn’t feel was great at first and I had many more ideas up my sleeve, but to my surprise Feri loved it. We then organised a meeting and met up at Feri’s house in Manchester. I went to his studio and recorded a demo of the track. Contracts were exchanged etc. with PRS and royalty splits and so on. I’d written for my first real life brief. It actually became rather successful. It had something like 200,000 streams on Spotify and was in the top 40 of some European country. And that was with my demo vocals produced onto it. I felt so proud.

Occurrences from similar events and recommendations by word of mouth these wonderful opportunities kept coming. I then started writing for indie labels after creating original music for pop boy/girl bands and so forth. Pop music just became something I loved writing. As an original artist writing pop/country/rock music it all felt rather natural.

Attend Networking Events

Then came a night where I decided to attend a PRS event. PRS for Music is how original artists earn a living on music they’ve written either for themselves or other artists. (If you write your own music I’d recommend getting it). I knew a fair bit about PRS for Music but I wanted to attend and learn the ins and outs so I really knew what I was doing.

There were many industry professionals on a panel talking about their work in the music industry. Up on the panel was a man called Richard Broadman from Delphic/The Six. (If you don’t know who he is, he wrote Jess Glynn’s No. 2 in 2015 and toured with Oasis). He spoke about what he does in the industry now and how he had worked with various artists and writing teams. I learnt a lot from his industry panel talk.

At the end of the overall evening I saw Richard and decided to go over and chat. Explaining who I was and what I did by writing for other people and how I was looking for work as a freelance songwriter we exchanged details with an email. I then later that night stayed up rather late writing an extremely formal email about my work and how we met and so on. It’s more like writing a musical CV.

I then sent that email thinking I’ve given it a shot if nothing comes back, and if not then not to worry.  A few days later I received an email from Richard saying how he liked the work I had done and would be in contact. Now opportunities like this don’t come around very often but Richard sent through a demo brief for ‘Little Mix’s’ newest 2017 album. I was blown away at the same time as amazed. I started working straight away pumping out as many ideas from the brief as possible. We then bounced ideas back and forth from each other. I was blown away and felt incredibly honoured to receive an opportunity like this. I have now worked with more indie labels and people looking music for sync etc.

How to Find Events Yourself

  1. Approach people and feel confident in what you do. I also find having a good starting line to approach is a great starter. Something along the lines of “Hello, I’m ‘So, so’. I’m a singer-songwriter looking for work with other artists. I have written for etc”. Then let the conversation continue from there.
  2. Business cards. They are an essential. Don’t exchange details with a scrap piece of paper. Be as professional as possible.
  3. Have something to present. A well presented and produced CD. This a bonus to keeping as professional as possible.
  4. Do your social media correctly. Present it in an easy accessible and presentable way in which people can find it.
  5. Find events using event sites like Event Bright. These are great and beneficial ways to connect with people face to face.

Written by Olly Flavell.

Writing and Pitching Music for Sync to Moving Picture – Part 2

Writing Music and Songs for Film and Television

Firstly, let’s get some sync to moving picture terminology out of the way. See also part one before you go through with this article. There are some grey areas where they will crossover, but for a general guide:

A ‘Cue’, ‘Sync’, ‘Placement’ or ‘Spot’ are pretty much the same thing. A piece of music or a song used alongside some kind of visual image.

A ‘Trailer’ is a short film, to promote a feature film, TV show or episode.

A ‘Theme’ (fairly obviously) is the main musical theme to a film or television show. This could be at the beginning, middle, end, or all three. Sometimes variations on the theme will crop up at various intervals also.

A ‘PlaceHolder’ is what film or TV shows in the edit stage is using as a temporary ‘sync’. This is usually because there’s some kind of problem with using the ‘Place-Holder’, such as copyright clearance.

UnderScore’ or ‘Score’ refers to where the music is there to enhance and create the desired emotion. The music itself isn’t actually part of the scene (for example, a battle scene with a big orchestral crescendo). An entire film score can be over an hour of music.

A ‘Music Bed’ is similar to Under-Score, but is usually much less intrusive. For example, simple beats or loops used behind a News Bulletin. It is there to kind of ‘fill the gaps’.

A ‘Montage’ is usually a series of film clips or scenes, which demonstrate the development of a story over time. Or to re-cap or reflect on the whole of a TV episode towards the end. It’s a very popular and powerful film-maker’s tool which almost always requires that perfect sync. It’s often used in sports shows to sum-up the story of the season, or in a ‘still-to-come’ segment.

Source Music’ is music used in a scene where the music is actually part of the scene. This could be, for example, music in a club or bar scene, where the music is actually supposed to be playing through the club sound system or a jukebox, or coming from a radio in a café or car stereo. Sometimes the action actually interacts with the source music (see John Candy’s scene in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ for a classic placement of Ray Charles ‘Mess Around’).

What Music Works for Sync to Moving Picture and Why?

Music, Film and Television is Art. The use of music and songs in Film and Television is part of that artistic process. It can absolutely make a scene come alive, and it usually does in the right hands, but it can also destroy a scene. The reason why a particular piece works and another might not may be because of many factors, and sometimes there’s just no explanation.

Turn down the sound on your TV or computer and do some channel surfing while you play your music alongside the muted pictures. This is a great way to instantly see your music being placed! If you play an instrument, try to capture the mood of a scene on the fly. Even play along with the existing sound if you want to interact with the dialog etc. Another great experiment, if you have the necessary technology, is to make your own montage of simple clips from your phone, and write a piece of music to sync to it in your DAW (some DAWs allow you to import a movie which will run along with your timeline).

Put simply, a great sync is where the music perfectly maximises the desired emotional impact of the scene. This might be suspense, sadness, happiness, aggression, or whatever. If the lead character in a film is holding his or her newborn baby for the first time, Marilyn Manson probably won’t work. You get my meaning…

A placement can also set the time of a scene. A brilliant example of this is the Robert Zemeckis film ‘Forrest Gump’. The song placements are classic rock and pop, which each instantly identify the point in time of the storyline, since the songs are so well known and also resonate with the audience, many of whom would have lived through those points in history.

Film, TV and Trailers use a completely mixed bag of syncs these days. Music supervisors are constantly on the look-out for the ‘next big thing’ or a really ‘cool’ band or act that they can use, and are therefore part of the artist’s career-launch or discovery (this is not in a self-serving way, but simply for the love of new music and the ‘cool factor’ of being part of its discovery).

Trailers have become a major part of TV also. Sky Atlantic is a great example, where they will advertise a new series with a trailer as bombastic or with similar production values as a major Hollywood film trailer. Both music and songs can work for trailers, depending on the film or TV show. Sports show trailers often like to go with high adrenaline rock or ‘hybrid’ orchestral rock pieces with lots of impact, for example. Some film trailers will save the big orchestra for the final part, using maybe a couple of songs for introduction. There are no rules about what music should be used, since this is art after-all, but some obvious guidelines apply.

General Guidelines for Writing Instrumentals for Sync to Moving Picture

music sync tankTV ‘cues’ usually refer to instrumentals. Here’s some tips.

Stick to one single emotion. If the scene requires a sudden change of emotion in the music, the Film-maker will use two different pieces of music usually. The chances that you will perfectly hit the required emotional change they need with your music, is extremely remote.

Gradually build on your single ‘theme’ to add or take away elements within the music.

It’s generally a good idea to stay away from a soloing instrument, such as a guitar. You might have some tasty lead guitar chops, but if you’re soloing, then your music is demanding too much attention from the viewer. Film-makers will see this as a distraction from the dialogue. Keep your licks to more rhythmic stuff – the viewers won’t care if you can shred.

Make it authentic sounding. Industry professionals will always spot a poorly executed, out of time, out of tune, or ‘midi’ sounding piece of music. They simply will never use it. Orchestral samples need to be convincing in terms of sound and arrangement, as do all other instruments. If you can play real instruments well and record them well, that is the best option. Sometimes, simply overdubbing a string section with a few live violins can help. Always use references to A/B compare your music to. If you’re putting together a bluesy rock piece, do an A/B test with Stevie Ray Vaughan, for example, for tone and mix.

Give the Film-maker easy ‘edit points’. This is where the music stops, starts, changes, etc. Don’t fade in, or fade out, or have enormous reverb tails hanging over to the next section of music. If your music is 2 minutes long, but they need 25 seconds, give them plenty of places in the music where they can chop away until they have what they need. Most competent editors will be able to edit your music without a problem as long as everything is nice and tight.

Make sure it is ‘Broadcast Quality’. This doesn’t just mean that you’ve compressed the life out of your music, and brick-wall limited it! It means the overall quality of the performance, recording and mix needs to be of a high standard. If your acoustic guitar is, for example, very badly played, recorded or mixed, so it sounds very nasal or harsh, this will be a major problem. Again, use A/B comparisons with similar music to find where you might be going wrong. If your music is supposed to sound ‘lo-fi’ and grungy or ‘swampy slide guitar’ style, there is still a limit to what can be deemed as ‘broadcast quality’.

Try to find what your ‘niche’ is (you may have a few or just one). For instance, I’d say that my best genres are Rock/Pop, Acoustic/Celtic Folk and Orchestral. That’s not to say that I can’t do EDM, Reggae, Soul, or Metal, but I know that I’m wasting my time trying to compete with others who are far better than I am at these genres. Play to your strengths. You may even surprise yourself and realise that you’ve been in the wrong genre all this time!

Some General Guidelines for Writing Songs for Sync to Moving Picture

Many of the previous tips regarding instrumentals also apply here, obviously, but here’s some songwriting tips for sync. We’ll presume that your song has actual lyrics, and not just the odd ‘hey’, for example.

You might be thinking:

Who cares what the lyrics are about? If my song is just playing in the background of a bar scene, does it matter?

You may be right about the fact that by the time your song is placed in the film quietly in the background, and some of the characters are talking over it, no-one will hear the lyrics properly. BUT, getting the song placed in the first place means your song has to COMPETE. It has to be the best option for the person choosing the music. Lyrics will count. If the main difference between yours and someone else’s song is that their lyrics are better, but apart from that, they both work perfectly for the scene, yours will lose the contest.

So what makes lyrics ‘better’? In most other ways that your songs are performed apart from sync, there is often no answer. Lyrics can be very personal to the writer. Sometimes completely non-sense lyrics make great songs. In the sync world, though, there are some things to bear in mind.

Your lyrics should be ‘Universal’. This basically means that they are non-specific, but people can still relate. For example, if you mention a person’s name, a place, a time, a brand, you’ve immediately made the song specific and non-universal. If your song is about growing up in the 1940s Alabama, it won’t work for a film about Scottish Steelworkers and their families. A song about hard work and loving, supportive relationships could work brilliantly, however. In fact, that same song could work for a film about working in the field in 1940s Alabama, just the same, making it ‘Universal’.

‘Show, Don’t Tell’. This should be every songwriter’s mantra. Use imagery to paint a picture. Don’t just say ‘I’m upset’ or ‘I’m in love’. Describe how it feels in a way that shows the listener how it REALLY feels, instead of just telling them. Most people know what love feels like, so try to explain it in a new way, if that’s what your song is about.

Avoid profanity (swearing). There will be times when films require a song with X-Rated lyrics. These are the ‘pool party’ type scenes, with crude hip-hop source music, where the vibe of the scene is definitely on the rude/crude side. This is pretty rare, though, and it is such a specific requirement that the music supervisor will already have an existing song in mind. Generally, profanity in your lyrics will be an instant rejection for most uses. It just isn’t worth the extra work to get a ‘clean’ edit or any other special allowances made.

‘Don’t Bore Us – Get To The Chorus !!’. This is good advice for general songwriting these days, especially for Pop, but it’s very important for sync. There’s no need for 8 bar intros, double verses, long pre-choruses, etc. The traditional song structure doesn’t apply. Get to the ‘hooks’ that grab the music supervisor quickly. Your song will be auditioned against the visuals, or they will already have a very clear idea of the emotion needed, and your song will need to make an impact quickly. If it doesn’t grab the music supervisor or film maker within 15 seconds, it will be either immediately rejected or, at best, fast-forwarded for another quick listen to a more ‘interesting’ looking dynamic part (by viewing the song’s waveform in ‘Soundcloud’, for example). Your song has to IMMEDIATELY draw-in the listener and demand that they hear it.

In General

Watch as much TV and Film as you can handle, but concentrate on the kind of music being used, and try to work out why. This is the best way to get educated. Sometimes it’s obvious why certain music or songs were used, and sometimes not. Personally, I’m irritated the obvious syncs used in, for example, house renovation type TV shows, but this is the ‘not-so-artistic’ end of the scale, where a TV show is edited in a day and the production company has a blanket license to use music. There are, however, countless inspired music choices in the world of film and TV, and in some cases some serious effort has gone into not only choosing the syncs, but also obtaining clearance and negotiating fees.

Watch, but more importantly, Listen (and learn), folks!


Gary White is an Independent Music Producer, Composer and Songwriter 1994-present. He plays guitar, bass, keys, drums, whistle, banjo.gary white music sync tank
For the ‘Techies’, I use Protools, Studio One 3, Logic Pro X, and Cubase 8 – depending on the client’s preferences, Studio One 3 being my ‘go-to’ DAW.

Producer and Writer (Mainstream Pop) credits include Cheryl Cole, Emma Bunton, Gareth Gates, S Club 8.
Production and Composing (Film, TV and Music Library) credits include BBC, Renegade Pictures, Countdown Media, Aston Martin, Red Slate Pictures, Red 90, Hens Teeth.
BAFTA nominated for ‘Best Original Music’ (BBC Documentary)

The Fundamentals of Filming a Music Video

Filming your first music video as a musician can be an exciting yet daunting experience, particularly when you don’t know what to expect. Here, the Directors of Epik Music Videos, Andy and Tai have answered some of the most common questions they are asked by their clients.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay for my Music Video?

Andy: The saying “you get what you pay for” is highly relevant here. It is common for music video production companies to vary in terms of their minimum costs and most people tend to sway more towards the cheapest option. However, be realistic in what you envision the outcome of your video to be like and have an adequate budget for the creatives to meet your vision.

Tai: Totally agree. It’s really a combination of the concept of your video and your decided budget. Any decent music video production company will come up with ideas which reflect your personality without overstepping your budget, so it’s a good idea to have an ideal budget in mind, but be flexible with it when deciding what you want

What Determines the Cost of the Music Video?

Tai: The content of your video will be the main influence of the cost of production. Driving around London in a Rolls Royce throwing money around will evidently cost more than a green screen video. However, there many other production elements you will need to consider, including things like:

  1. The location,
  2. Equipment needed,
  3. Crew required,
  4. Hair stylist etc.

Andy: To give you a more definitive answer, you’re looking at around £1,500+ for a basic music video, or £300+ for a basic Lyric Video. But a chat with your chosen Music Video Production company will tell you how much you’re looking at for specific ideas and extras, so get in touch! Alternatively, read this article for a bit more advice: How Much Does a Music Video Cost?

Find out where your money goes, decide your maximum budget and then you can decide on a concept which meets this.

How Detailed Does the Brief Have to be?

Andy: Writing a brief for a music video is vital if you, as a musician, want yours to reflect who you are effectively. Firstly, you will need to decide how much you are willing to spend to know what type of video you can afford. The brief will need to be detailed enough to give the director enough information to come up with a concept, whilst giving the production company a rough estimate of how much it is likely to cost.

Tai: Your background, how you want to be perceived, your audience, previous music and videos etc. Basically, the more information, the better! If your budget is limited, we recommend you state this upfront as a reputable music video production company will be happy to work towards this. We would also recommend providing examples of music videos you like to give a better idea of the style you are looking for.

How Do I Choose the Right Director?

Andy: The relationship between the artist and the director is key! You should always choose the Director who shares a similar vision or at least understands the vision you have for your music video. The relationship between you and the Director is also integral for a smooth shooting day and a great result, so meeting them in person is important.

Tai: Creativity plays a part of this, can they interpret the song lyrics like you do?  Aside from this, there are many qualities to consider when looking for the best Music Video Director: passion, strong leadership, editing skills and knowing the medium well are all checkboxes you should use to determine whether a Director is worth their salt!

How Do I Determine How Many Crew Members I Need to Produce a Music Video?

Andy: The treatment and general plans for your video will form the basis of costs, so identifying your concept ideas and budget will be crucial in this. A treatment is a document which the Director uses to communicate their concept idea to the artist.

Tai: These two factors define the production crew you will need: the more complex the concept, the more crew you will need. For example, if you require a set to be built, you will need set builders. Decide a budget and go from there.

What Basic Equipment Do I Need to Hire?

Andy: Put simply? Camera. Playback. Director. Location. The concept and resulting treatment for the music video will determine what other equipment is needed. Are you in a studio and need special lighting or are you filming outside? What camera is the Director using, and does this require different lenses? Do you need to build a set? Green screen music videos are often filmed quite minimally, with the special effects added in post-production.

Tai: Your production company will help you get the best equipment for your needs, so concentrate on the concept you want and the rest will fall into place.

How is a Shooting Day Organised?

Tai: This is the responsibility of the production team who organise the day based on the shot list, which is inspired by the treatment. A typical shooting day will start off with an on-location run through to confirm shot angles, lighting set ups, character positions etc. Then, for practical reasons, all scenes with the same lighting, makeup, location etc. will be shot together to save time. The Director will take “test takes” with stand ins to get the lighting and composition right, and then you will more than likely want to rehearse your performance before you begin shooting for real.

A Treatment is the Directors written expression of how the video will be constructed and how it will look.

How Would I Go About Organising All My Crew During Filming?

Andy: It is the job of the Producer and Director to turn the treatment into a production by identifying exactly what needs organising. You, as the artist, won’t have to worry about a thing. 

What Do you Have to Consider When Researching, Choosing and Securing a Location for a Music Video?

Tai: Filming days are often very long and demanding. Is the location affordable and available when you need it? Can it be lit properly? Is the location easy for everyone to get to? Will there be electricity points available? All of these questions can be answered by organising a “recce” – a viewing of the chosen location to give a better idea of how everything will be set up and to diagnose any potential problems etc.

Andy: Insurance is often needed for location shoots, but the Directors will handle this for you. All you need to think about is whether the location is the right look for your music video and the right price for your budget. All the practical issues will be the responsibility of the Producer and Director as they will have their treatment to hand to help identify any requirements or issues.

How Do I Set and Manage Timelines and Deadlines?

Tai: Similarly, this is the job of the Director and Producer. They will often intentionally overestimate how long things will take to complete. This is to ensure a little bit of leeway so everything is done either when it is meant to be, or before. Why? Well firstly it is good practice for life in general, but mainly because it would be incredibly expensive to organise a reshoot day!

How Do I Keep Track/Ensure the Budget/Deadlines are Being Met?

Tai: Although this is primarily the responsibility of the Producer who will only shoot to budget; we would suggest managing your budget on a spreadsheet yourself. By doing this, you can firstly communicate any problems with your Director and Producer straight away, but this also enables you to identify if there is enough budget for any extras you may want. Our directors are always happy to accommodate additional requests providing they are feasible!

Can Old Footage be Incorporated into the Music Video?

Tai: It sure can! Haim’s music video for “Forever” is the perfect example of using old footage of them integrated with present day footage, and it is an awesome video! It is easy to do with the right soft and hardware, and wouldn’t cost any more unless it is VHS footage. A skilled editor can easily integrate them both seamlessly.

What is the Best Format to use for a Music Video?

Andy: Platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Myspace typically accommodate most file formats. However, there are many other factors you will have to think about: compatibility with different players, file size, loss of quality and such. MP4, H264 10ATP or .mov, a QuickTime movie file are your best bet for distributing online.

What is the Best Software for Editing a Music Video?

Tai: In our experience, there are 3 unbeatable heavyweight editing tools:

  1. Apple’s FinalCut Pro,
  2. Adobe’s Premier and
  3. Avid.

You have to pay for these, but they are by no means restricted to professionals – they just require a little training. It is worth the money if you are editing your own music video.

Who Owns the Rights to the Music Video? Artist/Producer/Record Label?

Andy: That’s simple. Whoever paid for the music video has the right to do what they like with it. As a musician, it is vital that you are aware of the Copyright Act and how to protect your Music in the UK, so get on it!

How Do I Get the Video to the Target Audience?

Andy: To start out with, we would recommend sending your shiny new music video to a small circle of friends, getting their opinion and then communicate any changes to your Director and Editor. We are always happy to tweak your video for no extra costs. When everything is perfect, this is where the fun starts. There are plenty of ways to promote your music online, social media and your own website being the most obvious. Successfully promoting your music on social media is a sure fire way to get yourself heard with your target audience, but having your own website is your most valuable asset.