Five Steps to Protecting Your Music and Your
by Jeromie Frost
There are a lot of independent labels out there waiting to use
a talented musician to make quick money. The offers may seem
hard to refuse, especially if you are a struggling artist or
band that has struggled to get a record deal. A little money
and exposure may seem great for the moment, but you run a high
risk of getting contractually bound to that record label for
the rest of your life. If a better deal comes along later, you
may not be able to accept it, or you may get robbed of your
rightful percentages. All of this I learned the hard way. I
was very fortunate to be able to get myself out of trouble and
get a fresh start in the music business. I also took time to
educate myself through books and the experiences of others,
as well as my own, to conceive a plan on how to avoid a repeat
of what happened once before. This plan I believe will be very
helpful for you ambitious artists pursuing your dreams. It is
put into five easy steps, but make sure to read the details
listed within each step.
1. Copyright your music
This is one of the most important things you can do to protect
your music. Take the time, fill out the forms. There have been
many instances where a person wrote a song and nothing ever
came of it. Years later a signed band steals their song and
remakes it. The original artist had it copywritten and sues
the other record label for thousands if not millions of dollars.
Instant riches! Protect your tunes.
2. Understand what you really want from your music
Figure out whether you are looking to sell your songs to record
companies, or be the band and artist who performs the songs.
There is good money in just writing songs for other bands. Ask
for a percentage if that is your decision, because that will
generally make you much more money in the long run than an up
front payment. The only thing you sacrifice by writing instead
of performing is the fame and exposure. Also, determine how
much you stand behind your music. Are you willing to allow the
record company to make several changes to your songs and try
to mold you into their sound? How much do you believe
in your product?
3. Get a contract lawyer and agent
You need an agent to represent your band to the record labels.
This person doesnt need to be an established agent in
the business. It can be a friend or relative if they can talk
assertively and wont make any quick decisions without
consulting the band. The record companies only want to talk
to one person, not three, four, or five members of a band. It
gets too confusing for them and they dont have the time.
Make sure they are looking out for your best interests and not
theirs. A contract lawyer is especially important. Just call
around and find a local lawyer who specializes in contracts.
When it comes time to sign the dotted line, make sure the lawyer
is by your side. Dont sign any contracts or documents
until you and your lawyer have taken time to read them thoroughly
and make a decision. If a record company is rushing you to sign
any papers, walk away. Patience should be allowed to you if
they are truly interested. If they rush you, they are planning
to manipulate you.
4. Promote yourself tirelessly
Artists have been discovered a number of different ways. Every
band has a different story. Use every media avenue you can to
expose yourself nationally. Unless you live in L.A., New York,
or Atlanta, local exposure isnt going to be enough. Think
big with your music!
5. When offers are made, research them well before committing
Dont take the first offer made to you, only unless its
a major record label and you researched what they offer very
well. Signing bonuses are nice, but long term percentages are
most important. Every artist gets a different percent with their
label. The longer you have been in the business, the better
your percents will get. Dont get too greedy. Aim high
and let them work you down. Twenty-five percent on the total
profits on you album is very high. Most bands dont get
that. Remember, the suits and ties are the ones who make the
big money. Without them, you are just selling CDs out
of the back of your trunk. If you dont write your music,
your percentages wont be near twenty-five percent. Singer/songwriters
make more money.
Good luck as you venture into the formidable music industry.
There are several independent labels that are legit, but there
are thousands of them that arent. Be careful and try to
follow these steps listed above. I hope you can gain good fortune
using these five steps.
About the Author
Jeromie Frost is a singer, songwriter and recording artist.
His story and music can be accessed at http://www.jeromiefrost.com