Amplifiers (updated 12/15/2010)
I am considering a purchase of a powered PA head. I'm looking
at the Mackie 808s and the Peavey 696f. I will be using it for
live performances with an acoustic vocal trio. What are the pros
and cons of these two units and how are they different from one
A. The 696 is
Peavey's best stab at duplicating the functionality of the 808m.
But they still miss the mark in two very important areas: 1.
Price: It lists for $50.00 more than the 808m. I do not understand
why they think they can ask this much for a unit that is still
inferior to the product they are trying to compete with. They
copied some of the 808's features (dual graphic EQ's, and 1200w)
but that would indicate an equivalent pricetag. 2.
Features: It lacks the all-important 'input level' (gain/trim)
knobs. In an effort to avoid installing this expensive feature,
they have included a cheap feedback detector/eliminator. My opinion
is that feedback busting is best done during level-setting or
with the graphic equalizer. The feedback button was a lame effort
to save them production cost and still retain their trademark
volume/gain' circuitry. Nice try, Peavey, but there are no shortcuts
when it comes to good sound.
Mackie 808M -used $450.00
QSC PLX series - list $700.00-1100.00 depending on wattage
C-300A - about $300.00 used on e-bay
For Headphones: AKG 112s - $345.00
Hey SoundChick, I noticed you have a number of Mackie 808m Powered
mixers. Are you that happy using them?
A. Yes, I own
5 of them (for rentals) and I am very happy with them. The reason
is two-fold. 1) They have seperate controls for gain and volume.
This becomes very important for fighting feedback and getting
the cleanest signal possible. No other powered head has that
that I know of. 2) They have a massive heatsink. Anyone
who has ever had an amp shut down during an outdoor concert due
to the sun beating on their amp can tell you they wish they'd
had a bigger heatsink. A fan alone just won't do.
SoundChick: I want to buy a PA for an acoustic /trio playing
small rooms: restaurants and the like. Probably wouldn't even
need any monitors. In the back of my mind I have a future vision
of a 5- piece group (Vox x 3, Guitar x 2, Bass, Drums, Keyboard)
playing slightly larger venues. (no stadiums, spandex, eyeliner
or big hair: at least not for the guys.) Do I need to get a rackmounted
system, and if so , what components should I purchase?
A. Sounds like
your 5-piece band will only take 8 channels anyway. I don't mean
to sound like a corporate shill, but the 808M head is perfect
for that and can entertain about 200 people outdoors with its
1200 watts. If you are only entertaining 100 folks, you can even
use 12" mains. The best performing 12" mains I have
seen are the Yamaha SV112 club series. They list for $279 each,
but can be bargained down. They are also pole-mountable and can
be used as mains. Use one for a main and the other as a
monitor for even smaller crowds. Since you are not mixing a stereo
signal, there is absolutley nothing wrong with using one main
at a gig! Takes up less space. Also,with the same kind of speaker
as mains AND monitors, you can be confident that your EQ sounds
the same to your crowd as it does to you on teh stage. Of course
if you have a bigger budget, try the new JBL SRX Series - the
12" model packs a whopping 3400 watts each!
much effect will the brand of power amp have on sound quality
at mid-level volume?
A. Probably not
much to the layman. Until you are recording or heavily touring,
and running 4,000w+, you won't hear the difference between a
Peavy and a Crown. The more important considerations are your
speakers and your mics. It does no good to have a Crown amp
pushing signal from a Radio Shack mic into equally cheesy speakers.
Garbage in - garbage out. You're much better off singing into
a Shure Beta 58 through a Peavy amp into JBL cabs or better.
As you learn to listen closely to your system, better mics and
speakers *will* reveal the differences in amp quality. The best
sounding monitor amp I have heard is the old Crown DC-300A. You
can get em on ebay for around $150.00 - they weigh as much as
you do, but they are a real bargain!
been pretty impressed by Behringer. As the story goes, the engineers
who started Behringer came form Mackie and brought along a mic
preamp design still under patent by Mackie. Behringer lost the
suit, but not before they had manufactured thousands of boards
with Mackie circuitry. In case you didn't know, Behringers are
so cheap, you can throw them away when they break. If
your band is seriously financially challenged, consider trying
Behringer. There's no shame in saving money if the gear gets
the job done.
Performing Rights Organizations (updated
ASCAP and BMI have two different options, to sign up as a songwriter
and/or to sign up as a publisher. As an independent artist, is
there benefit to signing up as both songwriter and publisher
since we will currently be publishing the first CD ourselves.
For that matter, even if we don't sign up as an ASCAP/BMI publisher
is there an advantage to at least coming up with a name for our
publishing 'company' and putting it on the CD?
A. I am a member of BMI, mostly because it was free. When I interviewed
Kim and Joe Johnston (hugely successful Christian writers in
Nashville), they had chosen to each sign up with a different
PRO (performing Rights Organization) so that they could compare
royalty checks from both sides. (Great choice since they co-write
everything!) The difference they came up with was that ASCAP
pays less more often and BMI pays more less often on the same
I'm a member
of BMI, but have yet to receive one red cent from my airplay,
even though my catalog has been registered with them and played
on the radio every single week for more than ten years. When
my contract expires, I will be heading to ASCAP. The booger
here is that yuo can't get out of a BMI contract except once
every two years during a two week window which they will not
remind you about.
As far as logos
on your CD, the publishing logo just makes it seem as if you're
serious about your image. The other thing it does is to let A&R
people know you have representation and active copyright management.
Lots of bands leave them off the design for asthetic reasons
The chart below
was pulled form the ASCAP website. Of course, they tout themselves
as the better choice, but upon further research, it seems that
the following comparison is reasonably accurate.
|American Society of Composers, Authors
and Publishers (ASCAP)
||Broadcast Music, Incorporated (BMI)
|A membership association comprised of
songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers.
||A corporation with which writers and
publishers are affiliated.
|Under U.S. Copyright Law, those who publicly
want to perform copyrighted music (radio, TV, cable, bars, clubs,
restaurants, shopping malls, concert halls, airlines, orchestras,
websites, theme parks, etc.) must have the permission of the
copyright owner. ASCAP licenses these users of music,
collects the fees and pays its writer and publisher members their
||Under U.S. Copyright Law, those who publicly
want to perform copyrighted music (radio, TV, cable, bars, clubs,
restaurants, shopping malls, concert halls, airlines, orchestras,
etc.) must have the permission of the copyright owner. BMI licenses
these users of music, collects the fees and pays its writer and
publisher affiliates their performance royalties.
||Writer and publisher members
||Radio and television broadcasters. (The very organizations
ASCAP and BMI license!)
|Over $575 million - the greatest revenue
of any performing rights society in the world. ASCAP's
operating expenses are also among the lowest in the world.
||Does not disclose its financial data
to writers or publishers. Financial reports sent only to broadcaster
||1914 by writers and music publishers.
||1939 by the broadcasting industry.
|Negotiation with music users. If any
licensee and ASCAP cannot come to an agreement, a federal
court is available to determine a reasonable fee for that customer's
||Negotiation with music users. Recent
1993 Consent Decree change allows court determination of reasonable
license fees and interim license fees if negotiated agreement
cannot be reached.
|12 writers and 12 publishers, elected
every two years by the writer and publisher membership. Current
President and Chairman of the Board is Academy and Grammy Award
winning lyricist Marilyn Bergman. Past presidents include Pulitzer
Prize-winning composer Morton Gould and Academy and Grammy Award
winning lyricist Hal David.
||Broadcast industry executives chosen
by broadcaster stockholders plus one BMI employee
|Writers and publishers sign identical
contracts and may resign at the end of any year of the contract
on three months advance written notice
The standard writer
contract is for two years and the standard publisher contract
is for five years. Some writers and publishers negotiate shorter-term
or co-terminous deals.
The two- and five-year
contracts continue to renew for additional two- and five-year
periods if the termination date is missed. Termination notice
must be by registered or certified mail within a specific window
(for example, no sooner than six months and no later than 60
or 90 days prior to the end of the contract).
|WHO CAN JOIN
||Songwriters, composers, lyricists and
music publishers, since 1914.
||Open only to music publishers from 1939
to 1950; writers able to affiliate commencing 1950.
Four domestic and four
incoming foreign distributions per year. Moneys from all U.S.
licensed areas are distributed to writers and publishers every
50% to writers and
50% to publishers.
Clearly defined, objective
and fair payment system.
Guided by a "follow
the dollar" principle in the design of its payment system.
In other words, the money collected from a particular medium
(TV, radio, etc.) is distributed on the basis of performances
in that medium.
Performances can be
feature performances (visual vocal on TV, a song played on the
radio, etc.), underscore (background music on a movie of the
week or a weekly series), a theme song to a series, an advertising
jingle, a promo or a logo. In radio, almost all performances
are feature performances.
On television, payments
are based on when a performance occurs (afternoon, evening, etc.),
where a performance occurs (network, cable, local television,
etc.), and how a composition is used
theme song, jingle, etc.)
Based on all of these
factors, a performance will generate a certain number of credits
which in turn are multiplied by a dollar value to arrive at a
writer or publisher payment.
Four domestic and four
incoming foreign distributions per year to writers and publishers.
Most U.S. moneys distributed quarterly.
50% to writers and
50% to publishers.
Payment schedule lists
minimum amounts due for some types of performances.
Most writers' and publishers'
royalties are in the form of one-time "voluntary" payments
over and above the minimum payment-schedule rates. These "voluntary"
payments may vary significantly from distribution to distribution
and may also vary significantly between different types of performances.
The size of each voluntary payment is determined each quarter
by BMI management. These voluntary payments have ranged from
0% to more than 300% above the payment rate.
May move moneys around
(e.g., radio royalties distributed on the basis of television
performances and vice versa).
Local commercial radio
and television, the major television networks, non-commercial
radio (including National Public Radio and college stations),
non-commercial television, cable services, background and foreground
music services, airlines, colleges and universities, "serious"
music concerts, pop concerts, new media, Internet, certain ice
shows and circuses; non-surveyed license fees distributed on
the basis of feature performances on radio and all uses on television
(background music, theme songs; etc.).
ASCAP uses a three-pronged approach
to surveys for highest levels of performance data accuracy. Surveys
use a combination of the most advanced digital tracking technologies,
data provided by licensees, and an in-house staff of music experts.
In radio, ASCAP
conducts separate surveys of country, Latin, jazz, urban contemporary,
religious, classical, ethnic, and pop music stations so that
the total moneys collected from those genre-specific stations
are paid to the writers of works with performances on those stations.
formulas applicable to all surveyed areas and for all types of
License same general
areas as ASCAP
No specific payment
formula is set forth in the BMI payment schedule for any licensed
area other than network television, local TV and radio
|Royalties are paid for all performances
by headliners and opening acts in the 200 top-grossing
U.S. concert tours, as well as selected other major live performance
venues. Live performance payments commenced in 1993.
||Commenced paying on live concert performances
|Has surveyed and paid on college radio
performances since 1979.
||Has surveyed and paid on college radio
performances since 1989.
The first American
performing rights organization paying its composer, writer and
publisher members for music performances on the Internet beginning
in June 1997.
ASCAP's EZ-Eagle Internet
licensing tool identifies highest value music sites, captures
song title information, identifies user and automatically sends
licensing materials. EZ-Eagle can also decode watermarking
technologies and provides a technical partnership with Cyveillance,
the leader in intellectual property monitoring for the Internet.
Some payments to affiliates
made in 1998 for performances on the Internet.
Version 2.0 links song titles found on the Web with the names
of the works' songwriters and music publishers.
|Where substantial moneys are received
in a current year for prior periods, ASCAP has included
those moneys in special distributions. These are designed to
direct the royalties received to those members who had performances
in the years in question. Members of foreign societies participate
in these distributions. Special distributions have been made
from moneys received from the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks,
local TV stations, MTV and HBO, among others. Specific explanations
are forwarded to all members as to how their shares of the overall
distribution were determined.
||When retroactive moneys have been received
by BMI, they generally have not been paid out in the form of
special distributions to writers and publishers who had performances
during the periods for which the moneys were due. Where special
distributions have been made, little information has been provided
as to how each writer's and publisher's royalties were determined.
|Through agreements with foreign societies
in the major countries of the world, ASCAP receives royalties
for the performances of works written by ASCAP members
which are performed in foreign countries. In 1999, ASCAP
collected for its members $134 million in foreign performance
income. ASCAP also collects for foreign society writers
and publishers for performances of their works in the U.S. and
forwards those moneys to foreign societies for distribution to
their members. (See: The
ASCAP International Advantage)
||Has agreements with foreign societies
for the payment to BMI of royalties due affiliates for their
performances in foreign countries. Does not publish foreign financial
data. Forwards U.S. money to foreign societies for distribution
for U.S. performances.
|Agreements with practically all foreign
societies provide that ASCAP licenses their repertories
except for works specifically excluded.
||In most countries of the world, works
go into BMI repertory only on specific request
|Writers and publishers elect the Society's
Board of Directors and a Board of Review. Writers and publishers
sit on advisory committees which meet periodically in New York,
Los Angeles, Nashville and Miami. Open membership meetings in
New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.
||Writers and publishers have no say in
the running of BMI.
|All ASCAP writer and publisher
members are treated alike, from the newest member to the most
established member. Members are paid based on performances, not
who they are. All similar performances are similarly credited.
Members who have a complaint about the Society's distributions
to them or the application of the Society's rules may seek relief
from the Board of Review. (See: The
||No obligation to treat all writer or
publisher affiliates alike. Affiliates aggrieved by rules may
seek arbitration, with loser liable for both parties' legal fees.
Booking (updated 12/15/2010)
(Watch this space
for the release announcement of my book. )
I lifted this
article from the Just Plain Folks newsletter. It's
written by Derek Sivers (The founder of CDBaby.com). I thought it was brilliant.
It addresses the challenges of booking in the college market
(a much overlooked revenue stream for touring musicians). Get
yer coffee sugared up and give it a read!
WHO DOES THE
HIRING AT COLLEGES:
One thing to
get straight: don't confuse college radio with college gigs.
The kids that run college radio are the real music fans. The
ones deeply into music for music's sake. But the ones with the
big budgets for entertainment and activities are called the "Student
These are usually
made up of the girls in pink sweaters who won the election for
Class Treasurer in high school. (Think Reese Witherspoon in the
movie "Election.") It's a very play-it-safe environment
because they want everyone (yes every last person) to be happy,
so they can get reelected.
This means that
the Student Activities Office wants to hire the most fun, safe,
lively, crowd-pleasing entertainment possible. Whether it's a
hypnotist, comedian, rubber sumo-wrestling suits, the guy that
brings the exotic lizards, a famous talk-show host, hot-wax hands,
a magician, or musician - they just want entertainment.
them, you need to emphasize what a safe bet you are. Your marketing
should be filled with testimonial quotes like:"One of the
finest performances we've had here all year!" - the College
of St.Angus."...the crowd couldn't stop laughing at his
lyrics!" - the Thirsty Whale."A real joy to work with
- we can't wait to have her back!" - Siberian Sunbathers'
Your bio should
mention all the awards you've won, and what big-mainstream-media
sources have also recognized your talent.
IT'S NOT GLAMOROUS:
Ask anyone who's
done over a dozen college gigs without a big track record. You
often play at lunchtime for a depressing cafeteria of stressed-out
students who are trying to study, and scowl at you for disturbing
them. But at least you get paid afterwards. Some actual situations
said they had an adequate P.A. system but it turned out to be
a tiny microphone that plugs into the wall for the principal
to address all classrooms. (I did the gig anyway, and sang into
We drove 22 hours
for a $4500 gig in Arkansas, but they forgot we were coming,
so we played to 8 people in a backyard in 40-degree weather.
In a big echoey
gymnasium, having to set up next to the noisy cotton-candy machine,
because that's the only power outlet in the room.
See my diary
from two typical weeks on the road, here:
IT'S NOT A PERFECTLY-SCHEDULED
The idea of a
real "tour," where you cross the country in a perfect
line, rarely happens. The way I was able to make a full-time
living out of it was by saying yes to everything.
Ohio on April 8.
Connecticut on April 9th.
Michigan on April 10th.
Maine on April 11th. No problem!
Play for 2 hours. Drive for 14. Play for 2. Drive for 16. Repeat
You live in New York. You mail your flyer to colleges from Florida
to Maine, imagining a nice long tour. Instead you only book two
gigs: one from South Carolina, one from New Hampshire.
Because of this,
doing the college circuit on the East Coast is a lot easier than
doing the West Coast. There are 500 colleges within an 8-hour
drive of New York City.
BUT YOU'RE A
- You can perform
in any situation, right?
- Your guitarist
quits the night before a gig, and you've got another guitarist
to take her place, right?
- You've got enough
money to pay for your own transportation and hotel both ways,
in case something goes wrong, right?
- After driving
14 hours, you're clean, lively, and friendly, right?
- When they change
their mind at the last minute, and want you to perform at 11am
instead of 11pm, you roll with it, right?
- When the drunk
frat boys heckle you, and run their "play some Skynrd!"
joke into the ground, you keep your cool and do your best show
possible anyway, right?
- You know plenty
of crowd-pleasing cover songs for emergencies, right?
- You've played
in the cold with numb fingers, sang full-voice at 9am, and can
do three 2-hour shows with no break in one day, right?
- If not, prima
donna, this is not for you.
BOOK LONG IN ADVANCE:
Rule of thumb:
they book the Spring semester in the Fall, and the Fall semester
in the Spring.
always booked a lot of April shows in February, and December
shows in October. But these are usually the smaller "last-minute"
is a great month to contact the colleges. The staff-employee,
the Director of Student Activities, is there working for the
summer when things are quiet. This is a good time for her to
book some "Welcome Week" entertainment for the end
of August and beginning of September.
FLEXIBLE IN YOUR SIZE:
I mainly got
into the college market to promote my 5-piece funk band (Hit
Me). But I figured since I was going to spend all that money
on membership fees and marketing, I might as well make some other
ways to book me, too. So I made:
for $1000, the
5-piece funk band
for $600, the acoustic two-person version (me & one other
for $450, me alone
and as an afterthought, I made the Professional Pests, where
I would run around campus in a black fabric bag, bothering people.
Price? $1500. See it here: http://www.agentbaby.com/artist/pests
(Of course the Professional Pests got as many bookings as my
musical acts.) Point being, I was able to work with any budget
they had. Of course I wish they could always book my $1000 full
band. But if not, I could always sell them on the scaled-down
ABOUT NACA AND
There's an organization
called the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) that
puts on conferences where all the Student Activities buyers can
get together to check out showcasing talent. Their website is
It's VERY hard
to get a showcase spot there. You're up against the best-of-the-best
that are spending thousands on making a super-professional video
submission. Artists on the Billboard charts, performers with
20 years of college experience, comedians from Saturday Night
Live, etc. Everyone puts together a great 3-5 minute video of
their live performance sampler. Quality matters. Edits matter.
That's a whole 'nother subject, though. In short: your video
needs to be amazing. Once a year (summer) you can submit it for
showcase consideration. Out of ~250 submissions, they pick ~20.
And it's expensive
to get involved!! First you have to be a NACA member (~$300)
then buy a booth (~$200) then a registration (~$125) then a submission
fee (~$50) and after all that the odds are 19 out of 20 that
you'll be rejected. But if you get accepted, a showcase-acceptance
fee (~$150), then the cost of going and playing (~$500). Now
I'm not complaining. I don't think NACA is getting rich. This
is just what it costs to do everything they do.
For my band,
I submitted for three years, (and spent $20,000 doing it!) until
I finally got a showcase spot. But once my band played on that
mainstage showcase on the opening night, we booked 30 gigs at
about $1000 each, right there on the spot. (Another 100 or so
over the next year.) So it CAN all be worth it if you're really
going to commit to this and really think it's your thing.
On the other
hand, some people spend years trying to get a showcase, finally
get one, and don't get any gigs from it. My band was a VERY fun-party-crowd-pleasing
band. I think that's why we did so well.
NACA OR NO-NACA?
I would send out flyers to the Student Activities buyer at every
college in my area. My advice on making a good college flyer
is here: http://cdbaby.org/collegeflyer
Out of the 350
schools that hired me, I think over 200 of them came because
of my flyers. Which made me think if I had to do it all over
again, I might just skip the NACA conference completely, and
save the money to spend on marketing methods that go directly
to the college buyer.
You can see that
in my older article, here: http://cdbaby.net/derek/college.htm
My advice: If
you are considering doing the college scene, start with the mailing
list and sending flyers. Get a few shows that way, and see what
you think. If you love it, and want to commit years to doing
it, no matter what the startup expense, then either join NACA
or get a NACA-friendly booking agent.
TO GET THE MOST
UPDATED DATABASE OF COLLEGES:
I still constantly
maintain an updated database of 2880 colleges around the USA
and the full contact info for the exact person at each school
that is doing the hiring of entertainment. I sell it for $75,
which includes free updates for as long as I have them.
Buy it here:
TO GET A BOOKING
AGENT, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO IT YOURSELF:
The booking agents
that work with the NACA scene are all listed right here:
is the founder of CDBaby.com and Hostbaby.com. But then you probably
knew that by now! If you have a CD to sell and it's not on CDBaby,
check them out today!
Booking Agents (updated 12/15/2010)
your thoughts on booking agents in the Houston area? Who's good
and what's 'typical' fee they work for? Maybe more specific,
who'd be good for our style of music?
I haven't personally worked with a booking agent in Houston -
I've always done it myself. But from what I gather from the pros
1) Booking agents
can range from 10-35% of your gig fee. Make sure they have a
list of their current clients and venues to show you, and then
call or e-mail those references to ask how they enjoy working
with the agent. Does the agent actually visit the clubs they
book? Do they have an exclusive agreement with that club? Will
the agent be willing to work with contracts?
2) Most booking
agents here in town aren't really into original music, but if
she can stomach doing cover gigs for awhile, I'm sure they could
get her placed into venues that will at least pay the bills.
3) Since she
is a keyboard player, she will be able to get a referral to a
reputable agent from the Piano Entertainers Guild here in town
(if she joins). http://odin.prohosting.com/~peg2001/.
want to play gigs outside of my usual area - how do I get started
in booking myself to clubs and venues in other cities if I don't
know anyone there?"
A. My best suggestion
is for you to surf the webpages of local artists similar to yourself.
Take a look at where they are playing. Then submit your presskit
to those clubs. If they like the other artist, they might be
inclined to like you too.
You should also
pursue radio play in those towns before you book your gigs. If
you have no fan base and no history there, why in the world would
a club owner book you there? If you at least had radio play,
you could demonstrate to the owner that you are doing your homework
on his market and putting forth the effort. Call that station
(if they are not top 40) and try to arrange a live on-air performance.
For a list of independent radio stations, visit the Texas Music
Office's radio database located here.
The most important
tool any touring musician has (next to their rolodex) is their
presskit. Get one. If you don't know how to make one, take a
look at my on-line kit here. Also read the section
in the database about presskits. Now get to work!!!
from other musicians. Don't pay more than 15%.
Learn to do this
yourself before hiring someone to do it for you.
Visit the venue
and ask yourself these questions:
- 1.Do they have
- 2. Is the venue
really interested in promoting their acts\with real advertising?
- 3. Is this a
place you would want your fans to come to?
- Then do the
- 1. Call the
venue to ask who their entertainment director is, make an appointment
to talk to that person when they are not slammed with work.
- 2. Ask for 10
minutes of their time and have a great looking press kit. They
want to know that you will work as hard as they do to make the
gig a success.
- 3. If you want
to learn more about the booking business and touring in general,
I recommend the book, "All Area Access" by Marc Davison.
You can get it on Amazon.com. I refer to my copy all the time.
"Songwriters' Capital Gains Tax
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
For More Information
Barton Herbison (615) 256-3354 or (615) 390-5678
Capital Gains Tax Equity Act" Introduced
Association International promotes legislation to change age-old
Representative Ron Lewis (R-KY), a member of the House
Ways and Means Committee, today introduced legislation to correct
an age-old inequity and to allow songwriters to claim the Capital
Gains Tax Rate when they sell their song catalogue.
Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), a member of the Senate Finance Committee,
will introduce a companion bill in the United States Senate and
serve as the lead Senate Sponsor. The Songwriters' Capital
Gains Tax Equity Act will apply only when a songwriter
sells the royalty stream on a group of songs (song catalogue)
and will not apply to ordinary royalty income.
Songwriters Association International (NSAI), established in
1967 and with more than 100 chapters around the country, is the
worlds largest not-for-profit songwriters trade organization
dedicated to serving songwriters of all genres of music.
to thank Congressman Lewis, Senator Bunning and all of the lawmakers
who have helped us get this important legislation introduced,
said hit songwriter and NSAI President Bob Regan. This
is something that should have really been changed fifty years
ago, and something the songwriting profession needs.
first emerged as a profession in the 1920s and 1930s,
almost all of Americas professional songwriters assigned
their copyright to a music publisher. This means the songwriter
did not own the song, receive any royalty payments from a song,
nor were they required to participate in any expenses toward
exploiting the copyright. Under that scenario songwriters receiving
Capital Gains when a catalogue was sold was never an issue.
the advent of radio in the 1930s, and television and popular
music in the 1940s and 1950s, the business model
evolved dramatically. Today most successful songwriters will
be involved in one of two business models. (1) The songwriter
and music publisher are equal, joint-venture partners. This is
called co-publishing and finds the writer and publisher
equally sharing expenses to exploit the copyright (demo costs,
legal fees, etc
) and equally sharing in any royalty income,
or, (2) The songwriter IS the music publisher and bears ALL of
the expenses toward exploiting the copyright. Under either scenario
the songwriter should be eligible for Capital Gains just like
lost more than HALF of Americas songwriters over the past
decade due to Internet piracy, corporate mergers and de-regulation
of radio, said NSAIs Executive Director, Bart Herbison.
NSAI is focused on changing many age-old laws that unfairly
income is the only income stream in this country where the federal
government both sets the amount of payment to a songwriter (for
example: currently 8 cents each time a record is sold) and the
only profession where the federal government says the royalties
must be paid immediately after they are collected. A songwriter
may go for years with little or no royalty income, have a big
hit, then be subjected to disproportionate tax payments because
they MUST receive their money immediately after it is earned.
Unlike songwriters, book authors and other creators can NEGOTIATE
their payments and spread payments out over a number of years
for tax purposes.
songwriters annual income is only $4,700, Herbison continued.
Since songwriter royalty income is subject to such unique
rules, we have to make Members of Congress understand our unique
(Original Signature of Member)
1ST SESSION H.
To amend the
Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide capital gains treatment
for certain self-created musical works.
IN THE HOUSE
Mr. LEWIS of
Kentucky introduced the following bill; which was referred to
To amend the
Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide capital gains treatment
for certain self-created musical works.
Be it enacted
by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. CAPITAL
GAINS TREATMENT FOR CERTAIN SELF-CREATED MUSICAL WORKS. (a) IN
GENERAL.-Subsection (b) of section 1221 of the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 (relating to capital H.L.C. asset defined) is amended
by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (4) and by inserting
after paragraph (2) the following new paragraph:
OR EXCHANGE OF SELF-CREATED MUSICAL WORKS.-At the election of
the taxpayer, paragraphs (1) and (3) of subsection (a) shall
not apply with respect to any sale or exchange of musical compositions
or copyrights in musical works by a taxpayer described in subsection
(b) LIMITATION ON CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS.-
Subparagraph (A) of section 170(e)(1) of the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 is amended by inserting "(determined without
regard to section 1221(b)(3))" after "long-term capital
(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.-The amendments made by this section shall
apply to taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment
of this Act.
Copyrights (updated 12/15/2010)
Q. I guess
my first question is about copywriting songs b/c I am paranoid
about going to open mics or songwriter's meetings and having
someone rip off my amazing ideas.
A. Formal copyright
protection means less and less these days. It seems like artist's
songs are being posted to file sharing services against their
will, and there's not much you can do about it. That is the risk
we take when we reproduce our music digitally. You can't put
toothpaste back into a tube!
However, in the
case of open mic performances or songwriters meetings, the risk
is quite small. Most of the songwriters who attend them are not
there to swipe ideas or do anything more than display their works
and garner applause. It is the songwriters who appreciate the
risks of this exposure the most.
When you play
at an open mic, you automatically generate a room full of people
who can stand up and say they saw you sing it first. This is
considered a form of 'publication'. After all, the best form
of copyright protection is to be the first to be seen and heard
playing the song!!
When you submit
your song to a songwriters association for peer review or 'critique',
the whole room understands that your works are protected. In
fact, your name, idea and title of your songs would be published
in that group's monthly newsletter. The Houston/Fort Bend Songwriters
Association publishes crituque results in their newsletter that
you can find here. In effect, they are
certifying a copyright date *for* you.
The SoundChick Sez:
When you submit
a song for copyright to the Library of Congress, send it via
registered return receipt mail if you are not comfortable with
the online application.
Hang onto the
green receipt until you get your certificate back.
acts 'in lieu' of a certificate during the eight month backlog.
BTW - here
is a link
the Library of Congress' Copyright office and the copyright form!
You can place
20 songs on a single form for $30.00!!
Songwriting Contests (updated 12/15/2010)
No question was
submitted for this category - I just felt like airing my pet
peeves about SONGWRITING CONTESTS:
|After receiving about the 500th solicitation
for a song contest, I came to the conclusion that most of them
are a big rip-off because:
||The SoundChick Recommends:
To make it
fair for everyone, here is how I would re-write the left:
|1) the value of the prizes often don't
exceed the value of the entry fee (often up
to $100.00 per entry!!)
||1) The entry fee should be low (no more than $10.00)
and the prize money should be proportinate to the number of songs
that are submitted. Of course, if corporate sponsorship is involved,
this could be a better ratio.
|2) Contest prizes are usually a cheap
guitar or a cheap recording device. (Which the songwriter probably
||2) What the songwriter wants is MONEY!
|3) Winning a songwriting contest does
not open any doors in Nashville (or anywhere else)
||3) Openly state that winning a songwriting
contest does not open any doors.
|4) Most contests take no consideration
for other skills (vocal ability, production quality, instrumentation)
||4) The contest should award prizes for vocal ability,
production ability, etc... share the wealth! It increases the
odds of winning *something*!
|5) The judging criteria are rarely disclosed.
Judges are undercompensated and overtaxed by thousands of entries.
"Teams" of unpaid and unqualified judges cause inconsistency
in evaluation quality.
||5) The judging criteria should be based on guidelines
similar to those set forth by the Nashville Songwriters Association,
(or other recognized entity) and provides these criteria with
the entry form. Also, the number of judges should be limited
and they should be paid on an hourly or per song basis.
|6) the Judges names and qualifications
are not disclosed.
||6) The Judges names STILL not be disclosed, but
their qualifications should. Judges should be protected from
harrassment before, during and after the contest!!
|7) The distribution of contest entry
fees is not disclosed.
||7) The distribution of contest entry fees should
be completely explained.
|8) The contest administrators do nothing
with the song once the contest is over, OR they may use the song
without compensating the writer.
||8) The contest administrators assist the winner
with whatever advice and distribution that they can, and offer
the writer a contract for any use they may have in mind.
|9) Some contests have over 50,000 entries!!
||9) Limit the contest to the first 500 entries
|10) Writer ends up spending too much
money on mulitple cassettes/CDs and postage.
||10) Writers could submit entries via MP3 format,
instead of expensive mailers
|11) Writers never know how many submissions
were made or who made them.
||11) A list of writers names and states be provided
|12) Writers never find out why they lost.
||12) writers can ask for a critique for an additional
fee or have some explanation why they lost (this is not as bad
as it sounds -)
Cover Vs. Original. (updated 12/15/2010)
I am part
of an acoustic duo. We have been together about 6 months and
have about 50 cover tunes. I never really got into songwriting.
I was wondering if there are any songwriters out there who are
not actual performers and/or who would be interested in having
someone else sing their songs.
In order to recommend
writers to you, I'd need to hear more what you sound like. The
background clip on your site didn't have vocals on it, but your
bio had some good references. If you could link an Mp3 to me,
that would be helpful. I'm certain that most local writers would
be delighted to have you perform their tunes, as long as you
do two things:
1) if you record
their music, you must pay them the standard royalty; and 2) mention
who wrote the song after you perform it.
You can find
lots of talented local writers by hanging out in the places that
they do - at original music venues and open mics (more on that
below). You can also join the local writers groups - The Houston
Songwriter's Association The Houston
Association of Acoustic Musicians, www.MyTexasMusic.com, www.OutboundMusic.com and the Houston
Chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association .
As far as music
venues in Houston, - There are three kinds -
1) regular tavern
gigs, (like Ron's) where the crowd has no patience for anything
they don't already know. You can sneak some originals in, but
they have to be every bit as slick as what they'll get from a
juke box. Examples: Ron's Pub, The Bull and Bear Tavern, Big
John's Ice House, and most restaurants.
rooms - Nearly 100% original material, and cover music is (can
be) frowned on, unless it's so obscure that no one would feel
the difference. Examples: McGonigel's Mucky Duck, Anderson Fair,
most house concerts, like the Songwriters Sanctuary.
3) hybrid venues
where original music is accepted in varying ratios, depending
on the tastes of the club's owner. Some of these places are happy
with no more than 30% original, others can take up to 100%. Examples
- JP Hops House, The Vintage Bar, Dan Electro's, Rudyard's.
In my opinion,
there are more than enough music venues in Houston to keep everyone
gainfully employed, but the trick is to make sure you know how
much other bands are being paid. You don't want to underprice
yourself just to get a gig, or other musicians will not be happy
with you. The Houston music market has been paying an average
of 100.00 per band member per night since 1975 (more on that
later). I cite one case of an open mic host who was having a
hard time for several years. On his own, he drove the price of
an open mic host from 150.00/night down to 40.00. We are still
suffering from that.
The easiest way
to get a gig from the clubs in categories 2&3 is to go play
the open mic in that venue. A comprehensive list of those can
be found at http://www.houstonopenmic.com . Most venue owners
work their bars 24/7 and cannot come out to see you and don't
have time to review press kits. (Although a great press kit is
absolutely necessary in many cases).
Critiques (updated 12/15/2010)
Q. My son
is cranking up a music career singing Americana music. He and
I both write. He sings well. I don't. He should be wrapping up
a demo CD in the next 4 - 6 weeks (finally). I'll probably
join HFBSA soon. I know that song reviews are something I can
get there (and I need that). But I'd also like
to help him find sources for honest performance critiques (for
now, just the songs as recorded on the demo CD). Do you have
any suggestions for me?
I can review your son's work. As a full time performer, I can
offer my opinions on stagecraft, commercial value, vocal delivery
and image. As a sound engineer, I can also offer feedback on
the production value of the recording and mastering. The HSA can also assist, but
you need to make sure they know the the critique will be 'production
only'. Otherwise they may suggest song changes that you cannot
(at this point) make!
You can also get free feedback from booking agents, club owners
and other performers. There may be critisisms that artists find
very hard to accept. Just make sure to ask these folks for an
appointment during a time of day that they are not terribly busy.
Post-lunch seems the most obvious time to ask for.
Demo Recording (updated 12/15/2010)
Q. Is a
home recording sufficient for submittal to Taxi.com or is it
better to wait for a high quality sound and look?
A. Your home
recorded stuff will be just fine for demo submissions. Save your
commercially-packaged CDs for selling. If you must, burn a song
or two off the new recording and submit that with abbreviated
packaging. But like I said, don't spend the money on the Taxi
membership until you run across the 'perfect' listing. $300.00
is nothing to sneeze at.
Also, with each listing you will have to decide whether she is
submitting as a 'writer' or an 'artist', and speak from that
point of view. Can't always be both except for the singer/songwriter
listings. Pick a hat and wear it (for each listing).
recording studio do you recommend for DEMO development? And what
is considered a fair price?
I can recommend the following studios for demo development (having
worked in all of them). White Cat Productions, Buzz Smith, Heights
Sound, Sonrise and Sugarhill. Hard to say what a 'fair price'
is for a song, since I don't know the level of production you
are after. (drums and backing vocals or just a guitar and vocal?)
Most simple voice/guitar demos can take as little as an hour
to record, maybe another hour to mix and master. If you are thinking
about bringing in session players, then songs will take longer
- It really depends on the speed and skill of the musicians you
use. There is a reason that Reba McIntyre doesn't use her road
band for recording. Being a session player is an art!
your demo,take the soundclass offered by White Cat
Productions. It can save you thousands on the cost of a full
length album project.
You don't want
to go into the studio without being completely prepared. Time
is money, folks!!
Before you spend
ANY money on demos, be sure your songs are as good as they can
possibly be. This is no time to let your pride get in the way.
Take your songs to your local Songwriters Ass'n and get them
critiqued. 50 heads are better than one!
Digital encoding (updated 12/15/2010)
do you get a locally produced CD to look like a record company
produced one when you put it in your computer cd player? How
do you get the AMG information to show? What does it take to
get it on CDDB and have this information available and triggered
by the insertion of a local writer's CD?
A.CDDB (CD DataBase)
is an internet based application that displays artist, title,
tracklist, and other music-related information automatically
when you insert a music CD in your computer or DVD player. (A-la
Music Match, MP3.com or RealPlayer) Most commercial music CDs
do not contain any of this information on the CD itself, because
not every mastering or duplication house employs it. However,
if the same CD had been loaded to a specific database before,
the information may pop up as a result of another member's database
entry. When subsequent copies are burned by other users from
that database, the data will be imprinted on those CDs. When
you burn your production master, the information may be encoded
using Protools, or an Alesis Masterlink or similar device, but
the file name sizes are restricted to 8 characters.
There is a better naming convention available in RealPlayer,
which can also write to the AMD section, but I'm not sure I would
want to re-create a master in this fashion, even if it *is* all
1's and 0's. (digital).
Distribution (updated 12/15/2010)
looking through the Oasis ad to see how to reproduce what they
do for their tools of promotion. One item on their list is they
say "National Distribution at Amazon.com, borders.com, cdnow,
target.com, waldenbooks.com and virginmega.com." Sounds
like a big list right? Well, turns out that -all- the web sites
listed are 'resellers' of Amazon.com. What's that mean? It means
this: I got Jen's CD on Amazon.com for the regular $29.95 annual
fee and magically, we're also listed on borders.com, CDnow, target.com,
waldenbooks.com, and virginmega.com.
Amazon charges $29/yr, and to create your 'associate' account
you given them a bank account number so they can transfer funds
from sales at no cost (otherwise it's $8/check they write!) Now
Oasis says "'Free' tools of promotion" does that mean
they cover the $29/yr charge? Do they also create an associate
account for you (with your own bank account numbers??) or is
it through -their- associate account? Very interesting, what
does Oasis actually give you??
Note that the Oasis ad also lists CDBaby and CDstreet, both of
which appear to be separate from Amazon.com (and also have their
own fees structure)
A. Yeah, I've
read through their agreements more than once, and found that
you get very little for your 29.00. They will list your CD, and
hold your stock, but they do absolutely nothing to drive traffic
to your artist page. Distribution without promotion = zero. Why
would a customer click on her link if they had never heard her
before, or at least seen her picture or read a review? If Jen
were signed to a record label even on a development deal, she
would get more exposure than Amazon could give her. They have
to promote their artists in order to sell CDs. The $29.00 fee
covers the administrative cost of setting up the artist page
and ripping 30-second versions of her mp3s which their interns
do for free.
99 percent of my CD's were purchased by folks who have seen
me perform, and they bought them from the edge of the stage,
or from my website. I have had a few sales through mytexasmusic.com
during the week that I was featured on their front page.
It seems bleak, but it takes time to develop your fan base, and
solicit radio time from radio stations. It's time for Jen to
reach out to the college radio market. I feel she fits very well
there, even if she's no longer in school.
Has she completed a press kit yet? to answer more directly -
I do not believe that Oasis picks up the $29.00 fee. I do not
know why they can say that their promotional services are free.
Duplication/Replication (updated 12/15/2010)
can I find a good duplication facility?
choices abound on the 'net, but the cheapest and fastest is TripleDisc.com for runs of 1000 or
more. When you get into these volumes, you are buying 'replication',
which is to say, the CDs are stamped from a glass master
that is made from the master you get at the mastering house.
For short runs, you would be buying 'duplication', which
is the same 'burning' you do on your computer at home.
If I decide not
to do that myself, I use Church Cassette here in Houston- They
have ultra-fast turnaround, and are offering as number of good
specials this month. I don't get commissions from Church cassette.
The SoundChick Recommends:
For Short Runs
(500 and less) diskfaktory.com
For Quick Turnarounds
For large runs
and custom packaging: tripledisc.com
Breaking news - Just found and used a
great CD duplication service called Diskfaktory.com. They are co-branded with Guitar Center and did
a great job for me. Took about two weeks to get them back, but
I was able to successfully upload my high rez art and huge .wav
files at 44.1k and they sound great. See link on the sidebar.
You'd better have broadband internet for this service!
Equipment Cost (updated 12/15/2010)
Q. I was
planning to spend about $1500-$1800 for a PA system, including
speaker cables and stands (I already have mic's), but I'll spend
more if necessary to get what I want. Any help or advice you
can give me will be greatly appreciated.
A. Total cost
new for the system you described in your e-mail - Powered mixer/head
- $699, 2 -12" mains (one used as montor)- $560 - 2 speaker
cords - $60.00, 3 mic stands - $90.00, 3 mic cords -$75.00 1
speaker pole - $50.00 grand total of $1528.00.
If you found
yourself in a bigger situation, you can use the passive 1/4"
'out' from the 808 to patch into an additional amp and speakers.
optional, but they sure help. You could start with only one monitor
, as Gary and I have used that configuration too. It works just
fine, but I'm a huge control freak about sound, and I'll bring
anything that will fit into my trailer! Let me know if this helps.
will learn that sound equipment is worth exactly what you pay.
I have successfully shopped on e-bay for many items, but I always
hold to this rule:
ON THE BUDGET FOR MICS AND SPEAKERS!
Buy the best
you can afford.
Always buy racks
and cases for your components.
wondering if I should get one of those 8-channel boxes that will
serve my needs for now and worry about bigger and better later
on, or get a 12 to 16 channel board (Beringer, Mackie) w/ onboard
effects and a 1200 w stereo power amp: stuff them in a road case
to move them around. Both scenarios would include 2-way speaker
cabs (Mackie, Yorkville, JBL) w/ a 12" or 15" woofer.
A. The decision
to use a modular vs. powered mixer depends entirely on your level
of comfort with hooking shit up. The two systems we've talked
about are comparable in power and features.
is that the Mackie box has all the effects and amps hardwired
in. The other difference is price. Your QSC rack amp alone
will cost you more than the Mackie box with all of its effects,
routing and features. I should mention that
there is nothing wrong with buying a Behringer board.
The engineers who started Berhinger came from Mackie, and you
can see that the Behringer board is a complete knockoff of the
Mackie in appearance and design. The difference is that Behringer
does not hold the patent on Mackie's super-quiet mic pre's -
the trademark of that super-clean Mackie sound.
Equipment Configurations (updated 12/15/2010)
am a DJ with a standard setup(Technics, 3 ch. mixer). For sound,
I have a Crown CE1000 and two powered JBL EON 15". My question
is whether or not it is OK to run the signal from the mixer first
to the Crown and then out to the JBL's. For my needs, the volume
I get with the JBL's alone isn't sufficient. Using the amp I
get better volume but I'm afraid I may have damaged the speakers
becuase of it but I really don't know. Could you be so kind as
to give me just a general rundown explaining the basics about
how to achieve the loudest, cleanest sound with what I have.
Also, what should I have the level set to on the amp and what
is the best way to control the overall volume on the mixer?(ie.
gains, input sliders, or master volume knob) How can I know if
I have damaged the JBL's for sure? Help! I'm stressing with all
this expensive crap that I'm afraid I'm destroying with my addiction
to ear splitting volumes. Thank you so much fo! r your time.
I hate to say
it, but I think your speakers and/or your amp might be toast.
They are not meant to be used together.
Reason #1: The input jacks on your particular speakers are designed
to accept a 'line level' input, which is measured in milli-amps.
Your Crown amp pushes about 15 amps if run full-out, as opposed
to your mixer which delivers about 0.0015 amps. I am surprised
it worked at all.
Reason #2 - Your Eon spekers are already powered. They *are*
amplifiers. Run one amplifier into another and you get .... toast.
Your total volume is limited by the wattage of your amplifiers
(in this case, your Eon Speakers). It cannot be increased. However,
if your master output level is always higher than your channel
levels, then distortion is less likely. It would be cleaner this
Sorry to give you bad news.
The FCC (updated 12/15/2010)
know you have been following this FCC stuff and so have I, to
a point. From what I can guess from what little I have paid attention,
is this all about preventing bigger radio companies from buying
smaller ones? And/or is there more to it ? And, is there any
pressure on KPFT to sell to a bigger company?
Hi - this is
long - hope you have some time.
The FCC's role
is to regulate the use of the public trust we call 'radio waves'.
No one owns radio waves. But the government can regulate their
use, since they can't physically control them. They do this to
protect communications networks from unlicensed pirate signals,
to prevent the neighbor kids' walkie talkies from transmitting
over the heating element in your toaster-oven, or cell phones
from disrupting radio traffic on airplanes, etc..However, it
also protects you from evil independent musicians like me.
Every few years,
radio stations are audited by the FCC to ensure that they are
serving the communites from whence they derive their income.
In this audit process, the radio stations must advertise when
and where the public can make comment to the FCC regarding how
well they are doing their jobs. Typically, the spots are made
in the middle of the night as to discourage any real public input.
They can't afford to have even one complaint, or the station
has to have a real public hearing.
Slowly but surely,
small TV and radio stations have been selling their licenses
to larger companies that have stations and newspapers in the
same broadcast area. In this way, most local retailers and businesses
find themselves writing checks to the same entity for their advertising
bills. Also, record companies find that if they select the right
'family' of radio stations, they are likely to get more radio
play for their artists than if they had solicited small stations
individually. They get more airtime for fewer ad dollars, since
the ad packages often cover both AM and FM stations, and newspapers/magazines
in the same market. That's why you only hear 17 different songs
on a 'top 40' station. They select a different 17 songs every
Tuesday, based on record sales numbers provided by SoundScan
and the BillBoard record charts, in the hope that this type of
music will help their advertisers to sell more beer or insurance.
If a station bucks the format, the advertiser will take their
Small radio stations
cannot offer this 'bang for the buck' level of service. They
die out pretty quick, but they can make alot of money in the
end, because each radio license for a particular frequency is
worth several hundred million dollars. They are worth this much
because all of the available frequencies in major metropolitan
areas are already in operation. There are a limited number of
frequency licenses, a limited number of broadcasting minutes,
and therefore high demand.
When this much
money is at stake, media companies are unwilling to take a chance
on any programming that is 'edgy' or takes any chance of falling
outside the very lowest common denominator. Independent music
pushes this envelope all the time, and is largely regarded by
the media as being 'high risk'.
The June 4th
decision made by the FCC allows major media to purchase up to
45% of radio waves in major market areas (up from 35%) as well
as run any number of newspapers totalling 45% of circulation
for that area. This means that nearly everything you see and
hear is corporate owned and operated. Folks like Ted Turner are
essentially in charge of how news is reported (or NOT reported).
He also gets to pick what music you hear and what kind of beer
you drink while dancing to it. Through this kind of media control,
he can even tell you *how* to dance to it. This makes Big Brother
the Pacifica Foundation) is always under pressure to sell to
big media. In today's market, the 5 Pacifica FM stations could
be worth a billion dollars! Fortunately, Lew Hill (Pacifica Founder)
saw this coming, and created the Pacifica Foundation, which is
owned by itself and accountable only to it's listeners. If Pacifica
went under, the whole shooting match would be sold and the proceeds
would end up in a trust for wayward cats, or some such. As long
as Pacifica can stay out of debt, little folkies like you and
me have a shot at getting airtime.
So, contact your
federal representative and complain. It's not too late to have
the decision rescinded.
The next best
thing is to hassle your local top 40 station to play local music.
Feedback (updated 12/15/2010)
acoustic/electric guitars seem to be more prone to feedback during
live performances. I've notice that some performers use a soundhole
cover to limit feedback. It seems sort of counterintuitive to
stuff something in the soundhole, but apparently it works. What
has your experience been and are the other rememdies besides
a soundhole cover? The problem seems to be aggravated with multiple
mic setups - but are certain pickups/interior mic set-ups more
prone to feedback than others?
A. Feedback is
created when the resonant surface (the face) of the guitar vibrates
in phase with the sound coming from a floor monitor or other
loudspeaker. The cause of this sensitivity is excessive 'gain'
recieved from the guitar's pickup or internal microphone.
There is a difference
between 'volume' and 'gain'. When you turn either of them up,
they both appear to make your guitar sound louder - and it does
1) 'Gain' controls
the amount of signal taken from the guitar and delivered to the
mixing board (gain is also called 'input' level). If the gain
is set too high, your guitar will feedback through the speakers
even with the slightest amount of volume applied to the front
of house or the monitor wedges. It will be most prevalent in
If you have the
budget, I love the LR BAGGS guitar Pre-amp.
Learn to use
the notch filter. This way, you can turn your guitar up as loud
as possible, during soundcheck and 'dial out' the offending frequency.
It also has XLR
and 1/4" outputs, which are very nice when you find out
you left your regular DI box at home.
Cut back on your gain until the board reads 0db input (about
midway up the response meter), then slowly bring the 'volume'
up in the monitors and then the front of house. This is a very
effective way to eliminate feedback.
Stuff something (like a rubber feedback buster) in the sound
hole. This works because a) you are interrupting the 'loop' by
preventing the intense sound from reaching the guitar's internal
mic or pickup. and; b) you are dampening the amount of vibration
created on the face of the guitar. This only goes so far though,
as sometimes the vibration is so intense that it is transmitted
directly to the bridge of the guitar and recylced through the
pickup without any assistance from the internal mic.
If you are using a 'blender' type pickup, swing the blender all
the way to the 'pickup' end of the switch. Remember, the internal
mic is pointed directly at the monitor wedge. Would you point
your vocal mic at a wedge?...Didn't think so... I hate blender
pickups. The quality of sound you would get from the internal
mic is completely defeated when you are forced to turn the gain
back so far that the 'detail' frequencies are lost. Stick with
a pickup or outboard pre-amp.
If you simply
*must* have a blender pickup, I can recommend the Highlander
IPX-2. Pricey, but wow are you gonna love it. Otherwise, get
a regular Highlander IPX-1 (no internal mic) Your soundman'll
My personal pickup
is a Fishman Pro-EQ outboard unit.
Used gear shopping on e-bay
I wasn't asked
about this, but I felt it was important anyway...
When I go shopping
for used gear, I use a number of sources. I cruise local pawn
shops, used gear departments at music stores, electronic repair
places, e-bay, the newspaper, - all of the places you might find
used gear. Trouble is, the gear is not guaranteed to work, and
sometimes I have to have it serviced right after purchase.
be afraid to do this. In fact, there are some great pieces that
just aren't made anymore. (e.g. the Ashly SC-68 8-channel parametric
notch filter - *I grunt like Tim Allen when I look at it!*) You
won't find these pieces in the Musician's Friend catalogue or
the Sweetwater book.
For the sake
of argument, let's say you're shopping for a 1984 MaxiBlast Steam-powered,
Analogue Wheeze-eliminator. They used to cost $400.00 when they
came out, but Maxi-Blast went out of business (let's hope!) and
now you need one.
like a pawnshop owner. Whack 75% off that price for the same
piece used. So now you have a target area of $100.00 for the
item, plus shipping (30.00) and repairs (100.00). If you are
shopping in town, you can eliminate the 30.00 shipping charge..
Now you have a $200.00-230.00 total budget. See how fast 25%
becomes 50%? You begin to understand....
Buy the best
you can afford.
Always buy racks
and cases for your components.
Use the e-bay
Leave room in
your budget for repairs
Stick to your
Can it wait?
- THEN WAIT!
Will it improve
your sound quality by at least 15%?
If you are using e-bay, begin by looking
up your item by using the titles and descriptions check box.
If you get several hits back, re-sort your search by the "ending
first" filter. Enter each item page and click on the "Watch
Item" link. Do it for all of them ( to a max of 30 items).
You are not buying it yet, and don't worry, more will be posted
- believe me!
Wait for all
of the auctions to end (maybe 4 days) and revisit your "I'm
watching" page. Record all of the ending prices, but exclude
the items that did not get a bid.. Revisit each page and record
what the shipping charges were. Then average the ending bids
and shipping charges. This average will become your price ceiling
for the item itself and for it's shipping. Period. Then research
the item and bid on them one at a time at about 75% of your average
estimate. Do not place concurrent bids, or you may end up owning
of the e-bay insurance plan and the escrow option for big ticket
I try to fly to Nashville with my guitar, I have to argue with
the ticket counter about putting the guitar on the plane, it
even if I offer to give up my carryon bag. I have a hardshell
case, but I still don't trust the baggage handlers to keep it
in one piece. Is there a kind of flight case made that I can
A. My flight
case is made by Hafer
in Richmond, Texas. They make all the tour cases for Destiny's
Child and the Back Street Boys. Mine is ATA certified and has
casters, a retractable handle and recessed hinger and latches.
HOWEVER - if you can't get a case like this, you'll be pleased
to hear that airlines can no longer prohibit you from carrying
your guitar onto a plane. In fact, you get to keep your carryon
too. Print the document here and take it with you. Some airlines like to pretend
it doesn't exist, but they still have to recognize it. It's a
memo from the Transportation Safety Administration that gives
you the right to carry your instrument onto a plane. We can thank
the American Federation of Musicians for this victory.
this PA gear is really heavy and I end up looking like crap right
before I have to play. I would also like to keep the weight of
any individual component to 50# or less. What can you recommend?
For God's sake!!
Get a Rock-n-roller cart!!
sake Get a speaker pole bag! I hate it when those things fall
off the cart during load-in.
Invest in dolly
boards, and if you buy a trailer,try to get one with a ramp door
and interior lighting. Also, the larger the tires, the softer
the ride for your gear.
mackie box we talked about in your e-mail weighs 36 pounds. Each
speaker (4 incl monitors) weighs about 40 pounds for a total
of 196 lbs. Takes about 10 minutes total to get the speakers
on the sticks, and plug them into the back, add mic /guitar cords
and YOU'RE DONE.
The modular system
we talked about has a 21lb QSC PLX amp (pretty light!), but add
the 30 lb gigrig, another 25 lbs of effects boxes, EQs, 4 speakers,
Mixing board and you get a grand total of 246lbs. Add cord bag
weight to both. Let's talk about time, too... Add 30 minutes
to hook up your speakers, plug the mics/guitars into the board,
the board into the eq, the sidechains into the board, the EQ
into the amp, the amp into the speakers.
Did you remember
to bring moist towlettes and hairspray?
A Better Way to String Your Guitar
House Concert Production
Q. I got
a question!!!! What books/websites/publications do you recommend
for novice small houseconcert/coffeehouse producers/promoters???
trying to search out some good books/websites/publications and
so far have come up w/ very little. Mentoring is somewhat helpful,
but I would also looooooove to have some reading material, esp
some that include comprehensive checklists.
A. The House
Concert Circuit has grown exponentially with the rise of the
drivel we call 'top 40 radio'. Songwriters are clamoring for
better venues to play, and their fans have risen to the occasion
by offering up their own homes as showcase venues. Because house
concert audiences are so discerning, you don't need much for
good sound either. One example of a good system is described
There are a plethora
of resources available to learn how to put on your own house
concert, and here are a few:
If you're reading
this, you can probably already sing. (Keep reading even if you
can't). If you're reading this, you probably already have the
nerve to get up and perform for the public. If you're still reading
this, then you are probably having trouble with your voice.
Guess what? November/December
is the worst allergy season for vocalists. Its because
of the cedar pollen released when Christmas Tress are cut in
central and east Texas. I get laryngitis every year right around
the holidays when my most high-profile gigs are scheduled. It
never fails. In fact, I have rehearsal tonight and I am just
croaking right now. But I'm not worried because I know how to
beat an allergy, a virus, bacterial infections and fatigue/overuse.
laryngitis are symptoms of your larger problem, which is dry
and swollen vocal cords. Remember when you were a kid, and you
could make a humming sound by blowing over a blade of grass?
Thats exactly what happens when you sing. Your vocal cords
are like a blade of grass in the shape of a long oval ring (like
a rubber band). When you push air past them, they make a resonant,
humming sound. The more relaxed and thick your vocal cords are,
the lower the note. When you stretch them tight and thin, you
bring the long part of two sides closer together and you get
a high note. If they get swollen and you force a high note out,
they touch, vibrate against each other, and can create a raspy,
buzzing sound, and even nodes or calluses.
So, what produces
the dryness and swelling? Well, dehydration and inflammation,
For the dehydration,
drinking tons of water isnt enough. You need to hydrate
your lungs, so that you will be using moist air. If you are croaking
today like me, get into the shower and breathe steam for at least
ten minutes. If your hot water doesnt run out, stay in
there! Alternately, you can use a humidifier, or drape a towel
over your head and lean over your sink. When youre not
breathing steam, you should be sipping water constantly. Ignore
myths you may have heard about avoiding cold water or ice water.
None of it is true. Your throat will return to its normal temperature
in minutes. I enjoy a simple hot tea with honey. Just leave off
the lemon for now. It can strip needed mucus protection off your
cords. Also, if you like milk, good news! Milk is great for restoring
a dry throat. If you can stand it, have a cup of half and half!
If they made Theraflu with Advil, Id be cornering the market!
The smell of
Vicks vaporub is a comforting memory, but dont use it.
The menthol will dry you up. Its for chest cold and runny
noses. There is nothing you can put on the outside of your body
that will reduce pain or swelling in your vocal cords. YOU NEED
A RUNNY NOSE RIGHT NOW! Also, stay away from antihistamines and
cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine and diphenhydramine.
Anything with ine in it. Don't dry up your
do not whisper. Whispering dries out your vocal cords. It forces
air around both sides, and not just through the middle. Talk
if you must, even lightly hum, to warm up, but DO NOT WHISPER!!
For the swelling,
drink A LOT OF cold water and take three Advil (not Tylenol!)
(600mg ibuprophen) every 6 hours. Dont do this for more
than a day its hard on your liver. You drink, beer,
right? More reason to be concerned for your poor liver. Acetaminophen
wont work for this because it is not an anti-inflammatory.
For you new-agers,
it is OK to use herbal supplements and vitamins of almost any
kind, as long as they are not aromatic. GNC sells "Throat
Coat", a green tea with slippery Elm. I don't like it, but
I know others who do. Don't bother with glycerin throat sprays
like "Singer's Secret" . The stuff tastes awful. I've
used it several times and couldn't get a result.
When you feel
better, try humming SOFTLY with your mouth closed. (Breathing
through your nose loses less water vapor, and will keep you from
being too loud before you're ready). Start with the lowest note
you can manage, and SLOWLY slide up the scale until you reach
your break point. Let this take ten seconds. On your
second pass, stop just short of your break point, and slide back
down at the same speed to your low note without stopping. Try
it right now, Ill wait J.
On your third
pass, start just a touch higher and slide up and down again.
Please dont push this too hard. No show is worth damaging
Q. I want
to publish my own material (develop my own catalog), but I lack the skill
to produce sheet music - who can I contact (trust) to help me
get a five to fifteen song catalog off the ground?
A. You don't
need sheet music until your song is a hit. Otherwise where is
your market? It used to be that you had to have a 'lead sheet'
to apply for a copyright, but that's no longer true. There is
a company here in Houston that produces (scores) sheet music
- they are across the street from Houston Mass Photo but I can
't remember their name. In any case, the publishing company will
generate the sheet music if it is needed.
Q. I have
started recording with a great engineer here in Portland, but,
I can see this is gonna take forever, and I am starting to convince
myself that my talent is better appreciated LIVE than it will
be in the studio.
me how you charge to do it, and, what is needed next, compression,
remixing mastering all that, what am I really looking at?
Howdy! The live recording process goes something like this:
0. You begin your album art design. (yes, you should do this
first, as it is always the reason that projects are released
1. Put a band
2. Book a venue
where you believe there will be a good crowd (Your own backyard
(home venue) is usually best)
3. You select
12-18 songs you want to record.
4. Rehearse until
you can do it in your sleep.
your gig heavily with flyers, e-mails live radio spots, press
6. On gig day,
have a group of folks decorate the club and if possible, set
up a buffet table - you want your crowd to hang around for awhile.
7. Load in to
the gig a few hours early so you can tweak the sound really,
until the house and recording engineers have you optimized in
9. MAKE SURE
THE ROOM FILLS WITH FOLKS WHO JUST LOVE YOU - pay them to come
if you must! Make sure they know they are going to be part of
a live recording so that they behave themselves during the show.
10. Have an emcee
for your show so that a nice live introduction can be recorded.
11. Do a great
job at your gig and above all HAVE FUN!
12. After the
gig, the recording engineer will make a rough mix for you to
review so that you can select which songs are good enough to
'make' the cut.
13. You hire
a mixing engineer (could be the same as the recording engineer)
and tell him which songs you want to include.
14. The recording
engineer turns the multi-track over to a qualified mixing engineer
(again, could be the same guy) ,
15. You use the
song list to complete the graphic content of your album package
16. The mixing
engineer will EQ, apply light compression, effects, balance all
the channels and make a 2 track stereo mix.
17. The mastering
engineer (hmmm...same guy?) will raise the volume on the recording
to it's optimum level and compress the 'peaks' out. He will apply
internal EQ to 'smooth out' the overall sound, recompress, apply
small gaps between the songs and provide fade-ins and fade-outs
before and after each song.
18. The mastering
engineer will hand the final master to you
19. You select
a duplication house to send your master to and wait for your
product to arrive.
20. Write a press
release again and arrange a CD release party.
Making a Living
Since I started
my full time music career, many folks have phoned or written
to ask me how to make a living in the music business. I dont
have a hit record, and I dont make a 6-digit income, but
today, young musicians (and their parents) are much more likely
to seek advice before leaping off the cliff into financial uncertainty.
The internet makes it possible to seek out this advice, and a
lot of folks end up on my doorstep because of my association
with NSAI and The Houston
Fort Bend Songwriters Association (HFBSA).
I would love
nothing more than to hand you all the answers and watch all of
you get filthy rich (while I sit back and collect a piece of
each of you!). But the truth is, I'm not rich either. Far from
it. But I *have* been able to figure out how to leave my day
gig and still make a decent living.
The best answer
I have is to share the story of how I began thinking in this
direction. I didn't start out in music. I didn't dream of it
as a child, and none of my relatives had any connection to music,
with the exception of my grandmother, who was a vaudeville hoofer.
I grew up in the oil business in Midland, Texas and stayed in
oil until 1996. So let's start there....
December 1996 - my first guitar (bear with me:)
My journey into
the music business started when I bought a cheap knockoff Ovation
guitar as a Christmas gift for myself. I had no designs on a
music career back then. Id learned how to make three chords
on my brothers guitar back in high school, but that was
back when bicentennial quarters still had a good amount of shine
on them. I figured if I could learn to play Lennon and McCartneys
Blackbird, I could learn anything, so I set out to
do just that. I figured the damn thing out in a mere four months.
Man my fingers hurt! Lesson Learned: If you play it, it will
discovering original music
I was working
for Amoco Exploration Company at the time, and one of my co-workers
was a musician. He invited me to hear him play at a local open
mic, so we drove 45 minutes out of town to the Brazos Bottom
Grill in Richmond. I didnt know what an open mic was. I
thought we were going to hear comedians.
recognize a single song anyone played. It seemed like everyone
was bent on playing the b side of some obscure artists
record. The musicianship was better than mine, but not professional
caliber either. When I asked what was going on, Chris said, They
wrote these songs listen to the lyrics. That shut
me up pretty good.
So for the first
time, I heard people singing and playing their own original songs.
As the evening progressed, I started to appreciate these fearless
people who could pull songs out of the ether, and perform them
in front of everybody. I decided to pull myself off of the signup
list. I didnt have three songs anyway, and the one I had
- My first song
The next weekend,
Chris took me to a meeting of the Fort Bend Songwriters Association
(FBSA) where I got to hear more original material. Only this
time, the other folks at the meeting offered suggestions to each
other so that they could improve their songs. One duo in particular
caught my attention. Their song sounded like a Dick Dale/Beach
Boys train wreck, but it was catchy, and I was humming the chorus
along, but on a high fifth harmony. (something my mom taught
me as a kid). One of them heard me.
After the meeting,
they invited me to come to their studio and sing all the vocal
parts, because most of the critique comments they got were about
the weakness of the vocals, not of the song itself. In fact,
the demo came out so well, they won Song of the Year.
I sang demos
for them (The Acme Blues Company) for about 7 months, until I
got the nerve to try to write a song of my own. It was called
"The Ballad of Wanda Vista" and it won the Folk Category
of the FBSA's song contest. I almost didn't write another song
out of fear that I couldn't write one that was better! But before
Wanda Vista was finished, one of the Blues Company's
members died. This really upset me, because he was one of my
mentors and never got to hear my first song completed. I wrote
my second song about him. It was called "A Place In My Heart".
That one took the Lyric Category prize at FBSA.
I submitted The
Ballad of Wanda Vista to the American Songwriter Magazine
contest and won a better guitar. One that didnt hurt to
play. Instantly, I was a better player and wrote another song.
Then I was voted Songwriter of the Year, and I only
had three original tunes to my name, and had never played professionally.
- getting recorded
I was going to
open mics seven nights a week, and dragged my tired ass into
work every morning, wondering when my boss would twig to the
fact I was using his time to write songs. I felt guilty. I felt
like one of those people who tries to hide a drinking habit on
I started to think about recording what I had written, and met
at the FBSA's Sonny Throckmorton Festival. At that time, he ran
a studio in his house (which
has since grown and moved to the Garden Oaks area). It was filled
with speakers, wires and weird looking microphones, and a big
ol recording board that looked to me like the cockpit of
an airplane. He was a genius on the guitar and bass, and offered
to play on the recording. I agreed, because my own lame ability
would have taken forever, and I didnt have money to waste
on re-takes. Besides, I could always learn to play better after
the recording was done. He found a session drummer, who was a
one-take wonder, and we were off and running.
I took the finished
product to get it duplicated and found out that the duplication
was going to cost more than the recording did. That was when
I started to use my business skills in my music life. I had been
designing PowerPoint slideshow presentations for years! Why not
an album cover? So I did, and the 3-song CD I came
sold 800 copies from my cubicle at work.
My cottage industry
was hard to ignore on the job. Folks were coming by my cube every
few minutes and filling my pocket $10 at a time. I played in
the cafeteria during lunch and started a music club at work.
We had 85 members (mostly geoscientists NO engineers),
and met once a month after work. My job reviews remained high,
but I began to think, This music thing is really getting
in the way. Who am I kidding? I was so unhappy. I couldnt
do my best with anything, because I just didnt have the
time to do both. Something had to give.
Wake Up Call
Amoco was more
or less purchased by British Petroleum and had a huge layoff
the next month. 1600 people in my building made a macabre scene
as they rolled their lifes achievements out the door to
the parking garage while news trucks filmed their tearful exodus.
But I was not among them. It took me another year to figure out
that it wasnt the music getting in the way of my job -
The job was getting in the way of my music.
- Turning Point
I quit. No severance,
no retirement, no vacation time saved up. When my boss asked
why I would leave a perfectly good job to pursue an uncertain
future, all I could think to say was, If you had popped
your head into my office and applauded every 3-5 minutes, I might
still be here. My husband and I had just bought a house,
and we had two small children, and I had the nerve to try to
be a full time songwriter! To this day, I dont know why
puts up with it.
So the first
morning of unemployment in more than twenty years found me on
the sofa, in tears, wondering what the hell I had done, wondering
how I was going to make money as a musician. Then the phone rang.
It was Jack. He said, I heard you were gainfully unemployed!
Congratulations! Wanna learn how to book my band?
I was stunned. I didnt know anything about the music business.
I had never booked a gig for myself, much less book for a successful
band like Jacks. But I needed money right away, and I wanted
to stay in the music business.
He gave me his
contact database and we talked about how he hated booking, and
how I had a knack for talking to people on the phone. In two
weeks I had booked about 40 gigs for him, but lots of other bookings
were getting away.. he needed to rework his press kit, too, so
I set out improving the format and editing old items out and
putting his recent achievements in.
At that point,
I realized I would need to know more about the way clubs and
bands interact, so I bought a book called All
Area Access by Marc Davison. What a great read! All of a sudden,
I was organized, and began to recognize that still more of my
old business skills could be used in my new music career. But
even so, 10% of Jack's gig money wasnt enough to replace
the income Id lost from my day gig.
As I learned
the ins and outs of the booking business, I spent a lot of time
around Jacks studio, and began to assist in a minor way
with recording. I brought in a few clients, who each booked album
projects, and Jack elevated me to studio manager. (I should take
this opportunity to mention that this kind of thing NEVER happens.
Most studio interns spend years formatting tape, answering phones
and cleaning toilets before they are allowed to touch the soundboard
or manage a company. I got away with it because I was in the
right place at the right time with the right person. Odds = 1
in 47.3 billion).
The new clients
were as green as they could be (Most of them were friends from
open mics) and needed help with every aspect of their projects.
I began to offer graphic design for their albums, and web design.
When they began to book gigs, I helped with that too. When they
played the gigs, I helped with sound.
began to take off, but then again, so did my expenses. I was
paying $700.00 per month on my cell phone bill alone.
May 2000 -
I started attending
the gigs that I was booking for Jack, and began to run sound
on his PA system. He had very specific ideas about live sound,
and was able to explain them well enough for me to catch on.
That's when I realized that he had a burning desire to teach
and got the idea for Jack to begin teaching sound
Yes, I get a small cut of that income too. I came up with the
graphic design for the handouts and organized a syllabus, and
Jack came up with the content. The class became a successful
part of White
and has sold out every session since we started it. Over the
last three years, I believe the bar for sound quality has been
raised in Houston.
- my first paid performance
I still wasn't
making enough money to pay half the bills at home and I was beginning
to get frustrated. If my husband was, he never showed it. But
I got a phone call from a friend of mine named Joe Ed Davis,
who was a member of the FBSA. He had a gig at Diedrich's Coffeehouse
that he needed to get out of, and asked if I could cover it.
I was still playing open mics, with only had a handful of originals
and a few covers. It wasn't enough to play a whole gig. But by
this time, another ex-Amoco friend (Gary Taylor) had joined FBSA,
and I liked his stuff, so we got together one evening at his
place to go over some songs. It turned out we had about 35 songs
in common - almost enough for the gig!
So we split $85.00
on a Friday night and had to repeat one song at the very end.
We made an incredible $100 in the tip jar! That was my first
gig, and Deidrich's became the birthplace of my acoustic duo,
The sad part was that Joe Ed died unexpectedly before he could
take the better gig. That night at Diedrich's felt
like a parting gift from our buddy, Joe Ed.
remember how I found the NSAI, but it was most likely
from hearing Kim
Copeland and Susan Tucker present their seminar for the FBSA. I was very
happy with FBSA, but the local group lacked the industry advice
that I needed to approach publishers and record labels with my
voice or my songs. NSAI didnt have a chapter in Houston,
but I joined anyway and started reading the newsletter.
- volunteer work
have enough money to commute back and forth to NVille,
so as soon as it was possible, I started the NSAI Chapter
and became a regional workshop coordinator. I did this because
none of the other members in Houston had, and soon found that
there were about 100 Houston-based dues-paying members on the
roster! I spoke with several of them and discovered that they
felt disenfranchised being so far from the scene,
and were interfacing with the NSAI office either by phone or
mail they needed a support group! Our local songwriters
group was great at conducting critique sessions, but they lacked
the kinds of resources that NSAI offered.
I got to produce an extremely cool kickoff show in the Mars Music
store with James
and Gracie Hollombe. I was overwhelmed at Gracies encouragement
and her willingness to spend the money to get these fine writers
to Houston. We had an excellent turnout and the writers in Houston
felt very gratified that Nashville cared about what was happening
musically in Houston. It was also valuable to learn that the
NSAI office would pay attention to writers who do not live in
Nashville. One of the tertiary benefits was that all of a sudden,
I was considered a serious player in the Houston
music scene. Club owners started returning my phone calls, and
folks were lining up to record at White Cat.
After a year
of running the group, I realized that my own successes were not
leaving sufficient time to run the meetings effectively. Thats
what you get when you listen to the advice long enough! So I
handed it off to my new co-coordinator, Leann Timura who turned
out to be a much better coordinator. The group is thriving and
has had several group junkets to Nashville for songcamp. Lesson
Learned: It pays to give it away!
- another hat
As part of my
learning curve, I learned to put up webpages and became a webmaster
for Smythe and Taylor, Jack Saunders, the FBSA and Trey Clark.
May 2001 -
potholes in the roadmap of life
My Amoco health
insurance benefits ran out. We missed a house payment and started
thinking seriously about filing bankruptcy..
- creative financing
My income began
to even out a bit, between booking, playing, duplication, sound
engineering, printing and studio commissions. I was keeping up
with my credit card debt, but the interest was running about
400/month that I would rather have used toward the house note.
I was gigging 3-4 times per month on a tiny PA system that I
kluged together out of a studio monitor system and a tiny, Mackie
1202 board that I bought from Jack. The new venues were getting
bigger and 200 watts wasn't enough to carry a room. I had the
space on my credit card to buy a real PA, but that would just
get me deeper in the hole, so I did two things: I cashed in my
401K from Amoco and we refinanced our house. Ouch. I don't recommend
that any of you should cash in your corporate chips this way,
but what the heck, BP had mismanaged my 401K SO badly, that it
would never have recovered it's original value in 100 years if
it earned 15%.
When the loan
went through, we were back to $0 credit card debt and I
bought my first decent PA with some money from my 401K. It consisted of
a powered mixer, two 12" mains and two 12" monitors.
I didn't get the 15" cones at first because I figured if
I couldn't lift them onto the poles by myself, I didn't deserve
to sing through them. Besides, I thought folks were watching
to see if I could 'hump it' like other soundguys. After a few
months of this, I finally *was* able to heft those bad boys over
my head and bought 15" mains after all.
- the rental business
After a few weeks,
it occurred to me that I wasn't using my gear every day, but
the mortgage interest never took a day off. I needed to make
that gear pay for itself! Since the west side of Houston was
screaming for live music, I went back to what got me excited
in the first place, and started hosting open mics in my neighborhood
and running all the sound for Jack so that he didn't have to
bring his PA to gigs. He was more than happy to let me schlep
the gear around.
The open mic
was good for about $125.00 per gig and filled a lot of weekday
holes in my schedule. Other bands heard that I was renting my
PA for crazy-low rates, so I held my breath and started renting
on unbooked nights for $50.00.
- Being an 'artist'
Rentals and running
sound for other bands made me enough money to catch up on my
bills, go back into the studio and record a really good radio-ready
CD. I hadnt written much since the first record, but attending
all the open mics around town exposed me to some fantastic unrecognized
writers whose material I had been covering at my own gigs. After
Avalon's book, "Confessions of a Record Producer" I learned enough to
draft a simple publishing contract and decided to split the sales
of the record right down the middle with the writers in a "record
one" deal for the first 500 units. Ive never regretted
2001 - The Origin of SoundChick
Around this time
I started working sound for the John Evans Band. He had hit the charts
on his original song "Redneck Mother" and John had
a nice gig at a new venue downtown. He asked me to run sound
for him, and just in time, I bought an old PA that included Subwoofers.
They were old and ratty, and had to be re-coned, but I got it
done and bought a crossover just in time for the gig.
This was about
the time I began to feel like a real sound engineer. Every time
John called me on the cell phone, I was usually at Mars or Guitar
Center shopping for more gear to make his band sound better.
They started calling me 'gearslut', 'soundbitch', and finally
'SoundChick'. I liked the sound
- touring with the band
With all of this
new gear in hand, I set out with John's band to do a mini-tour
of southeast Texas. We drove from Houston to New Braunfels, to
Corsicana and back again in a Suburban that he bought from one
of his fans. We pulled a 5x8 trailer behind with my rig and the
band's gear. They derived great pleasure from blowing out my
ears on the way to the gigs by playing Junior Brown and Reverend
Horton Heat at levels I'm sure were never achieved in live performance.
I was promoted to 'road dog' by the time we left Corsicana. Im
sorry to say that I am bound by solemn oath not to tell the rest
of that story, but we had a rip-roaring good time!
I also learned
that listening to loud music can make your ears ring for days.
Nowadays, I wear hearing protection at my gigs and get my ears
candled about every six months or so.
2001 - taking it on the chin
I decided to
take Johns next tour in my own truck so I could listen
and was on the way back to Houston from Beeville when my truck
broke down just south of town. I had blown the headgasket, the
air conditioning, the transmission AND the radiator. No warning
at all, due to a malfunctioning heat gauge. There was oil and
coolant smeared down both sides of the jeep, and steam and smoke
roiled out of the engine compartment in big, billowy noxious
clouds. I was alone and about thirty minutes ahead of the band,
so I called AAA on my cell phone and waited for the tow-truck
driver to arrive.
The band stopped
when they saw me, but I told them to go ahead, since Id
called for a tow into town. When the driver got there, we loaded
the truck (with all the gear) onto a his flatbed trailer. When
he engaged the winch to pull it up the ramp, all of the gear
went *SLAMMMM!!* into the back hatch with such force that I aged
six months on the spot. I admitted I was powerless over the situation,
and told the driver to drop me off in the parking lot of Blanco's,
because we had soundcheck scheduled for 6:00pm. I had a ton of
gear on me, and figured there would be enough working to get
us through the night. Well, I was wrong.
I lost an amp,
a powered mixer and a reverb unit. Clay Farmer bailed me out by bringing
his 12-channel Carvin PA head in for the gig. After repairs to
my truck and my gear, I finished that week about $3500 in the
BUT-- The gig
went off well, and we started on time. Folks, the lesson here
is that the show absolutely, positively MUST go on!!
From bad to worse (or Easy Come, Easy Go)
to use me for sound and we got a gig at the Houston Livestock
Show Rodeo. That gig went just great, but my entire rig and all
of the band's gear was stolen (along with John's trailer) after
the gig. We were ALL out of business, but John organized a benefit
that got us all back into brand new gear that was better than
any of us had ever owned. That was a welcome ending to a very
rough few months.
May 2002 -
making the big time
After a couple
more months, I managed to make enough money to upgrade the rig
well enough to do a show for 2000 fans of Rusty Weir. Then I
got a little bigger and started managing sound at major outdoor
festivals. I was pushing about 15,000 watts to front of house.
Not bad, but by this time, I had gotten way off track. I hadnt
written any songs in over a year.
- leaving the big time
I got a referral
for a major private party in Columbus that had booked a certain
very large Texas artist who will remain unnamed. Long story short
- I was not happy with him and he was less than thrilled with
me. I was 2nd engineer on someone else's rig (tour manager's
last minute decision that didn't cost me any pay) and two 15"
monitor wedges on the artist couldn't overcome the crazy-hot
stage volume of his band. He couldn't hear himself and the amps
were flat-out clipping. Mox nix - what can you do?
I do NOT want to work for folks who don't bother to show up for
soundcheck. Also decided to sell my 24-track board and bought
a 16-track to make DAMN SURE I couldn't talk myself into doing
a show of this size again. Lesson Learned: "Staff"
is an infection; and it is possible to grow too fast.
My first Tour
the Houston market as a performer, it became obvious that we
would have to leave town in order to grow and increase record
sales. The next largest market for live music is in Austin, so
I waited till I could get my family out of town to visit in-laws,
and my duo partner could get a week off from work.
Since the inception
of our group, we have been setting aside 20% of every gig into
a travel fund that we could use for this purpose. (Everyone should
do this!) I have just recently returned from my first investigatory
tour of Austin and surrounding areas and learned many things.
First, getting a paying gig inside of Austin proper (or even
signing up for an open mic) is a real challenge if you are not
from Austin yourself. Smythe and Taylor are a huge hit in our
own backyard, but that means nothing once you leave town.
My advice to
the touring newbie is to disregard any published information
you find on the web about a particular event or venue and try
real hard to get a hold of the host directly. Better, yet, grab
the local music scene newspaper and call to make sure the event
is still active. The venue managers themselves often do not know
the details of their own events. In one case, the venue manager
did not know the name of his open mic host!
We did not set
out to make money on this trip we spent the week gathering
contact info on venues and meeting member of the Austin Songwriters
Group who shared their experiences with us. It led to us booking
4 paying gigs for November and an audition in front of Willie
Nelsons tour manager (who booked us into his venue).
So now I'm making
money with several different income streams. Since 1996 I've
learned to play guitar, perform, write songs, book a band, manage
a recording studio, run sound, rent gear, do graphics, burn CDs,
print CDs, design press kits, teach sound, webmaster, teach voice,
and run a music office. I've also learned that you can't make
a living just singing and playing guitar, unless you have major
A good month
can net me about $5000. A rotten month looks more like $500.
If you can't live with that kind of uncertainty, then you shouldn't
be in this business. Lucky Boyd of MyTexasMusic.com is very fond of pointing
out the ugly truth, and it goes something like this: "There
are no health benefits, no vacation, and no retirement benefits.
Odds are you'll stay poor throughout your career no matter how
good you are".
The good news
is that you will always have a crick in your neck from hauling
gear, bar patrons will not listen to you play, most (if not all)
of your songs will be rejected by Nashville, your diet will suck,
your health will fail and you have an excellent chance of getting
hooked on alcohol and/or drugs. You might be lucky enough to
actually die on stage and become the subject of a badly written
folk ballad. So you end up right where you started - at an open
For my part,
I'm satisfied to pay the bills. I can't tour for extended periods
of time until my kids get older, and I have a ways to go on the
guitar before I could be a credible session player. But until
I write that hit song, or cut a record that goes platinum, I'm
happy and proud to be able to wake up in the morning and know
that I am responsible for my own successes and failures. I speak
and dress as I wish, I have the coolest job in the known universe,
and I get to perform on a regular basis. True, I've learned a
lot in a very short time, but I've been blessed with a number
of great mentors to shorten the learning curve.
I owe everything
I am to Chris Stiteler, Dale Dickerson, Jerry Weatherton, Jack
Saunders, Gary Taylor and my Husband, Kenton Smythe. Odd that
a group of 6 men would be the driving force behind SoundChick!
Get a mentor
- Be a mentor.
No question was submitted for this category - I just felt like writing about managers:
It is THE most-asked
question from new artists: When is it time to a get a manager?
And the answer?:
When you start asking that question.
By asking it
you are revealing the need for some help in your career. Up until
now, if you've been diligent, you have been doing everything
yourself. You've learned to write the songs and sing them, call
the clubs, book the studio, record the song, create the artwork,
hook up with Internet distributors, call record company A&R
people, hustle the CD at gigs, go to other gigs to pass out flyers
to promote your gig, and so on. When all of that becomes too
much of a chore, you know your business has expanded
and is overtaking your art. It is then that you need
some help. But do you need a manager? In the following article,
longtime manager Mike Gormley (the Bangles, Lowen & Navarro,
Ann McCue) explores this important issue in every detail.
Because a manager
takes a piece of your income, you must be able to afford him
or her. If there isn't any income, they are betting on the day
when the money will roll in. But they can only do it for free
for just so long, and if you don't grow in your career the manager
will have to move on. - Gee - that rhymes!!
Simply put, a
manager oversees your career. If your career is still just a
hobby even if it is starting to take over your life
or if it is your job, but still local hire a friend.
Rather than getting tied up with a manager, ask your sister,
brother, close buddy or a fan to help out.
That is what
worked for Alanis Morissette, who had a solid career going in
her native Canada long before she achieved overwhelming worldwide
success. In fact, her dad became her manager and he did a good
job with Alanis career as it existed when she was a preteen
and teenager. There came a time, however, when the big move needed
to be made, and friends, sister or parents have to know
when to hand over the reins to the artist and her team. But they
are the team up to that point, says Alanis father,
Alan. As a parent I was involved in the early stages in
finding expressive outlets and educational opportunities for
our daughter: e.g. observing other performers; talent showcases
(US and Canada); auditions for TV and theater; dance schools,
even promoted his daughter's records to radio stations in her
hometown of Ottawa and got her on the TV show, Star Search, in
the US Once those types of avenues were exhausted, however,
we had to find a producer with a track record of thinking out
of the box of Canada.
Alan found someone
who introduced them to John Alexander, a musician and native
Ottawan who was with MCA Publishing in the US Alexander signed
her to a publishing deal and arranged a recording contract with
MCA in Canada then found her a manager in the US
She was 18 years old at this time.
Alan, who now
runs Integrity Talent Direction, an artist consultation company
that specializes in individual career planning, often talks to
young artists early in their careers.
stress the need to find a team that has the best interests of
the artist at heart. In our case, Alanis had very good intuition
as to whom to trust.
Looking For Signs
obviously knew she was ready, and her team of parents and publisher
went with her. What signs might you look for? The main indication
is when your music is your career not necessarily
your daily job, the one that is paying the bills at the moment.
It's when you are mentally positive that what you have been dreaming
about, learning about and have a deep passion for is what you
are going to do for a living. It is your complete focus and you
simply know your songs are better than anyone else's, or your
voice will blow anybody else off the stage, or your musicianship
cannot be matched.
You've also introduced
yourself to the industry by attending seminars, parties and have
had one-on-one contact with professionals who might have shown
some interest. You have been making introduction after introduction
and, slowly, some doors have been opening.
a band on Ultimatum Records who are touring (Warped Tour, Blink-182),
and airplay and video play on MTV have kept their CD, Start Static,
selling since its release in 2001. As Marko 72, guitarist for
the band, says, We have always been focused on managing
our band. The industry is now shaped in such a way that bands
need to be as self-sufficient as possible to increase their odds
of success on any level. We sought management when we felt we
needed a boost to reach the proverbial next level.
band up-and-running as best you can, then get a manager.
Before you go
looking for a manager, however, you must be sure a manager is
what you truly need at the current stage of your career. While
it seems crass to think of it this way, your art is a commodity
to be sold, and unless you are one of the rare individuals who
can efficiently work both sides of the brain, you will need a
When an artist
decides their art is no longer a hobby, they have decided to
start a business. Maybe it's a small business; perhaps it's on
the level of a corner store or a little company with big aspirations.
But, it is still a business, even in the earliest stages. You
have to work at it from day one and it is a full-time job.
So is writing
new songs, producing demos, rehearsing, finding and playing gigs,
honing your craft with singing lessons or guitar lessons or just
finding time to be by yourself working on whatever your instrument
is. Can you be a creative, professional artist and run your business
too? Very few can answer yes to that question.
Once the decision
is made to take on a manager, you need to realize you are hiring
a CEO to take care of the business side while you produce the
product. In fact, you are part of the product. If
you were manufacturing costume jewelry, and the business had
reached a point where you didn't have time to make the product
anymore, you would need someone to take care of marketing and
day-to-day work. You have music to make or the company will go
under. So you hire a CEO, a manager.
What's the first
thing that should be accomplished? You need to know that you
and the manager are in sync. Anne McCue, an independent artist
who just released Anne McCue Live: Ballad of an Outlaw Woman
and toured through 2002 with Lucinda Williams, Richard Thompson,
Heart, and Lowen & Navarro, says, "If someone wants
to manage you, check them out. Do they have a drug habit? Have
they had experience? What do they want out of it, etcetera. Believe
in yourself and expect them to understand you."
That's a good
point. You don't want your manager, who will take your art to
the marketplace, to misunderstand your work and intentions. If
he or she is going to bring your dream to reality, they had better
know your dream and all its details. If the manager doesn't get
it, your message will not be delivered.
While it is difficult
to fully explain what a manager does, try this analogy: Let's
say someone makes you the manager of a store. You aren't just
in charge of the butcher section, or the veggie section, or the
deli store. You are manager of the entire store. You oversee
everything on a day-to-day basis so the owner is happy and the
store is presented to the public correctly.
A music manager
is the same, except he or she is overseeing the marketing of
an artist's career. The manager needs to keep in touch with the
various departments. Tasks to deal with include finding
you a booking agent, a record deal, getting some press, trying
for some radio, finding ways to make your career expand and move
forward and keeping you advised of everything that
is happening. Meanwhile, the day-to-day operation has to stay
Once found, that
aforementioned booking agent needs to make sure you are on tour
and it is the right tour or date for you. The record company
needs to have someone to talk to (they really hate talking to
artists about business. Don't ask why, they just do). The manager
deals with lawyers, the press, promoters, and club owners/bookers.
When you have
dates, the contracts need to looked at and approved, the posters
and press kits need to go to the promoter. All the details you
used to do are now in the hands of the manager so you are free
to write and perform music.
that while your CEO is now in charge of the company,
it is still your business. The manager is running it on your
behalf. Naturally, then, you should talk to the manager every
day. And, as McCue puts it, "keep them by your creative
side." Make sure that what is happening is what you want.
Make sure you are doing dates which provide the correct forum
for your music.
The CEO needs
to hear from the owner or things won't work. And the owner needs
to keep all the machines greased with the substance that started
it all: music. New music. Because that's what keeps you and your
business going. And, the more music you make and the better it
is, the stronger your business.
Now, let's step
back to the beginning for a moment. You are at that point where
a manager is needed. How do you find the right one?
Start doing research.
There are books that list managers and who their clients are.
You may know people who have managers. Ask them if their person
would be interested, or if that manager knows other managers.
Find one who has clients that generally do what you do. If you
see yourself as the new Jewel, do not call someone who manages
else, it is who you know. If a friend of a friend of your
cousin knows the guy who manages so and so, try to get
your music to that person. Although it is possibly obscure, part
of the introduction has been made through the friend. A little
bit of that door is open. It may not open up any wider, but your
chances there are a little better than with a total stranger.
been researching managers and then one day a girl at one
of our odd bar gigs bought one of our self-burned four-song demo
CDs and played it for a friend of hers. That was Adam Raspler,
manager of the band 311 who now manages Sugarcult.
Finding a manager
should be a long and involved quest. Getting in the door in the
first place can be difficult. Managers get tons of both new and
seasoned artists requesting their time constantly. You have to
impress them in some way. whether it is with your professionalism,
your style or your persistence. Polite persistence. Don't drive
them crazy; you will never get in the door that way.
Keep in mind
that activity breeds activity. Be visible. While your search
is on, play every gig possible, be at every seminar, convention,
performance or party you can get to where managers might be in
attendance. You might think your music is the greatest that has
ever come along, but so does everyone else that a manager meets.
It may take time, but try to convey that you are professional
and unbelievably talented. That message doesn't get across by
just saying so. It may not get across by just playing a CD. Allow
some time for the manager of choice to see you perform, hear
new music, hear your career philosophy and some part of your
I meet with artists
several times and hang out as much as possible. It can take months
to make the final decision to work together. The fact is, if
this deal comes together, you and the manager will be spending
anywhere from two years to life with each other. You have to
believe the relationship will work.
Anne McCue says,
"Find a taskmaster, someone who won't bullshit you. A manager
should be able to tell you the truth about what you're doing.
You need to find someone whose judgment you trust."
President of Rebel Waltz Inc. and manager of the Offspring, Social
Distortion, Beck and No Doubt, got together with the Offspring
on a very loose basis and spent a lot of time with the band before
actually working with them.
I was managing
Social Distortion and was General Manager of A&M Records
at the time, recalls Guerinot. I spoke to Dexter
Holland, guitarist and vocalist for the band, while I was at
A&M. The Offspring had just put out their first record and
we would just talk. He would check in periodically and I'd give
him a little advice now and then. But I hadn't met him.
In fact, the
first time he went to see the band, I walked up rather
boldly to Dexter and introduced myself. Except it wasn't Dexter.
It was the drummer.
the foundation had been laid. Based on conversations, Holland
obviously trusted Guerinot and when it came time to get a manager,
they knew each other. The introduction had already taken place.
timing was right. The Offspring's record had just been added
to KROQ, the trendsetting radio station in L.A. But
Dexter was still carrying around the band's earnings in a briefcase
and obviously needed help, Guerinot says. And he was getting
a little tired of doing administration work at A&M. So
after a few months dealing with both Social Distortion and then
the Offspring and handling a day job, I moved on to full-time
The timing was
right. Jim Guerinot was ready and in a position to help, The
Offspring had reached a point where the job part
of their profession was overwhelming. They found someone they
The Offspring went on to sell 11 million copies of their first
recording and many more since. And Jim Guerinot still manages
You'll know when
you need a manager. Just be sure about what you want, what you
need and what your business requires. Put it all together and
the rest is...not easy. But that's another story.
you had responded to a past question regarding microphones recommending
the shure sm 57 and also octava condenser mics for lower-budget
mic options. I was ready to get the shure 57 but just got and
ad from guitar center advertising two octava condensers for $100
(can't remember the model). i am interested in using the mic
for home recording. the price seems right on the octava (just
a little more than the shure) but want a mic best suited to my
music. shure or octava? that is the question.
I hope you have your coffee close at hand. We are about to enter
the MICROPHONE ZOOOOOONNE!!!! (I am cc'ing Jack on this to make
sure I am not missing anything. I know he will whack me with
a rolled-up newspaper if I get this one wrong)
The short answer
is: Buy the condenser mics. You can stop here if you like, but
I'm having fun with the research and digging up packaging and
In order to answer your question fully, it is important to understand
the difference between a condenser mic and a dynamic mic. The
Octava you mentioned is a condenser and the SM57 is a dynamic
mic. In fact, I own an Octava myself, as well several of the
Shure SM57. I believe the Octava I have is the MK 219.
A dynamic microphone
is an iron core surrounded by a coil of copper wire much like
an electromagnet. When sound waves hit the core and move it,
it causes the core to move within the coil and generates electrical
impulses that can be translated into sound when they go through
a mic preamplifier. (like those XLR plugs on your mixing board).
A condenser mic
is made of two extremely thin, gold-coated membranes which are
separated by a thin layer of air. One side is positively charged,
the other is negatively charged. When sound pressure hits the
diaphragm, the near-impact between the two membranes creates
electrical impulses that become translated into sound when they
go through a mic preamp.
dynamic mics are less expensive, are less delicate, handle extreme
sound pressure levels better than condenser mics, but don't sound
as good as condenser mics. There are many situations in which
a dynamic mic is the better choice though. I use them on drums
of all types. They are very well-suited for high sound pressure
levels. I believe the SM57 to be the best all-purpose mic ever
made. In emergencies, it can handle a kick-drum or even a vocal.
For low budgets:
mic for vocals- The Shure SM58
mic for guitar- get a pickup installed!
mic for vocals-The Shure SM87-A
for studio- Neumann U-87
If you are employing
dynamic cardiod mics (like the Shure 58) during live performances,
when positioning microphones and monitor wedges on-stage be sure
that the back of the mic is pointing directly into the speaker
cone, in a perpendicular fashion, to take advantage of the cardioid
are generally richer sounding, and deliver more "detail."
But while they sound better, they are also more fragile and prone
to distortion if exposed to too much level. Condenser mics often
have variable pattern switches on them, allowing you to choose
a cardioid pattern (the heart shape), hyper-cardioid, figure
eight, or omni pattern. Keep reading if you want a headache.
Cardioid is roughly
heart-shaped, with the notch of the heart at the rear of the
microphone. In other words, the mic picks up best from the front,
with the frequency response tapering off at the sides, and practically
no ability to pick up from the rear. This type of pattern is
commonly used to eliminate bleed from other instruments. It is
also the most frequently used type of polar pattern. The SM57's
polar pattern can be viewed at http://www.shure.com/pdf/specsheets/spec_wiredmics/sm57.pdf
A polar pattern
is the pattern from which a microphone picks up the incoming
sound. There are several types of polar patterns including, omni,
cardioid, hyper-cardioid, and figure 8.
Omni is omni-directional,
meaning the mic picks up sound equally well from all directions.
is very much like cardioid, but with a tighter pattern, eliminating
even more bleed from other instruments.Figure 8 means that the
mic picks up from two sides. A practical use would be to place
a mic in figure 8 between a tom-tom and the cymbal that is above
it. In the figure 8 pattern, you would pick up sound from the
drum and the cymbal, but not from the tom-tom next to the one
you want to pick up, nor from any other instruments off to the
sides. For your project, you could use a figure 8 pattern and
place it between your mouth and the guitar, ponting at each.
Gary and I used this pattern with two mics (one for each of us)
when we recorded our submission for the Kerrville Folk Fest.
(no, we didn't win!)
Hope this helps.
Gimme a call at 832 715 5226 if it didn't.
want to solicit your opinion about the logistics of recording
a live CD. We did studio productions for our first 2 CDs, but
want to record our next one "live" at Anderson Fair
in October. We've spoken to Tim Leatherwood over there about
him recording the show (or shows) at Anderson Fair on his system,
then us taking that basic recording to someone else to mix, master,
etc, and he's willing. What are your thoughts about that approach?
Do you know anyone who's done this before? Any advice about the
process or who to take the basic recording to for final production?
I wanted to research a few other options before deciding.
any insight you have. Look forward to hearing from you.
In fact, the last person I know of was Davee Bryan on his project,
"Ya Had Ta Be There". He recorded with Tim at Anderson
Fair. He had Jack Saunders bring in some extremely high end mics
just for the show and recorded to hi-8 tape which Jack later
mixed and mastered at White Cat. I did his cover art and duplication.
Davee stopped by a couple of weeks ago to get a second pressing.
Just make sure that the recording signal is 'pre-fader' so that
there are no effects present on the raw tracks. Those are usually
added post production. You will need 6 tracks. two for your vocals,
two for your guitars and two for the 'room' (gotta get that applause
Of course recording your show over two or more nights will give
you more chances to make that 'magic' that is so important to
the project. If you only have one night in which to accomplish
this, you may want to explain to the audience that you *are*
recording, and for the sake of that recording, it may be necessary
to start over on a number or two. If they paid to come see you
then they are your fans, and will applaud just as loudly and
as genuinely as is it were your first take. Don't forget to get
those room mikes just as hot as you can. You may not be the ony
ones making memorable moments that night!
The SoundChick Recommends:
Listen to projects
of other musicians and take notes on the sound quality.
Read the credits
to see if the project was mastered.
Pop in your CD
and check to see if the song volumes are competitive with a big
when radio stations broadcast signal to their listeners, they
compress it again so that they get as much signal 'throw' as
mastering may cause your project to sound muddy in combination
with the compression that the radio station will add.
Q. I have recorded three songs with Clyde
Sayre for a small project and he has now recommended getting
them mastered. don't know if that is something that White Cat
Productions offers or not but thought I would check with you
accomplishes several things.
1) It 'optimizes' the signal to noise ratio, and lightly compresses
the signal so that you get good 'saturation' without introducing
or enhancing background noise already present.
2) In multiple song projects, it 'normalizes' the peak relative
volumes of the songs, so that the loudest part of each song competes
well with the loudest part of another song, even if the two songs
are a real thrash number vs. a ballad.
3) It also introduces 'black' (silence) between your songs, so
that one song does not start immediately on the heels of the
previous song. Selecting the right amount of 'black' to insert
can make the progression between songs on your album project
flow more smoothly to the listener. It provides enough time to
'digest' the impact of one song before proceeding to the next.
Older projects often used 3-5 seconds, newer records employ 1-2.5
4) The mastering process also includes internal EQ adjustments
that can do alot to remediate the sound of an inferior recording
5) You can also apply 'crossfades' to the beginning and end of
each song, so that each song fades in and out smoothly. These
crossfades employ a variety of 'curves', some fading in rapidly,
others more slowly.. The curves might be expressed as concave
or convex, depending on what is good for the song. You can also
assign how much time it takes to fade in or fade out of a song.
On multiple song projects, mastering is not optional!
There are several
levels of mastering that you can use. The first is digital mastering
We use an Alesis
to accomplish this. It is the same mastering I used on my last
two projects, and it sounds just great. If you don't believe
me, have a listen here. The files are sampled
low-res for my dial-up readers, but you'll recognize good mastering
when you hear it. The second type of mastering is analog mastering.
This is a tape format that some purists regard as superior to
digital, and rightly so. Analog mastering comes in 1/2",
1" and 2" formats, 2" being the most expensive
and best sounding.
Q. if not,
do you have any recommendations for mastering?
A. I recommend
White Cat for digital mastering because I am most familiar Jack
work and his work ethic.
There are several
mastering houses that offer analog services, the most notable
being Terra Nova studios in Austin, or Sugarhill in Houston.
I heard that SonRise Studios here in Houston also has analog
I do not know
the rates associated with analog mastering, but I do know that
the tape media alone is extremely expensive and can run up to
$1.00 per foot at a 1 : 0.5 speed ratio (what folks used to call
'half speed' mastering). You can re-use mastering tape, but I
have an irrational (rationalized?) fear of using old tape for
this purpose. After all, you will own the master when it is finished,
and you want it to be as clean as possible for analog.
It has been my
experience that over the radio, most folks cannot tell an analog
master apart from a digital one.
White Cat charges $55.00 per hour for digital mastering. If you
intend to sell your product or submit it for airplay, you need
mastering - otherwise your songs will not be as uniformly 'loud'
as competing songs played next to it. Mastering is not necessary
for pitching, as long as the lead vocal can be heard clearly
above the instrumentation.
I also need to know if the tape you are submitting is already
mixed. If Clyde gave you a CD of your songs, then it is already
a mix and only requires mastering. If he has given you a hi-8
tape or an ADAT, then your project will need to be mixed as well,
to apply effects, compression, levels, etc... Count on about
3 hours for each song in this case.
Performing (getting started)
daughter is a talented singer in the Houston area. She really
hasn't taken it very far, because she is young and still inexperienced.
I thought if she was interested in associating herself with the
music world here in Houston, She would be able to ask people
that have walked the walk.. talked the talk.
Are there places where bands look to find a female vocalist?
She needs to know what is best for her and what it actually takes
to succeed .
A. Wow. Big question!
I can start by
saying that everyone needs mentors. I had a vocal mentor, a recording
mentor, a songwriting mentor. I found them by hanging out where
they do: shows, music stores, recording studios, songwriters
If she wants
to search for a band to sing with, she'll need to let them know
who she is and what she likes to sing. If you go to GuitarCenter
on Westheimer, you will see a bulletin board in the back that
is filled with flyers about musicians looking for musicians.
She needs a demo recording of her voice to submit to parties
that might actually pick up her flyer and call. Her flyer needs
to have a picture of her, a phone number and a list of songs
she likes or other female vocalists who she might sound like.
See the other postings in the store before you make your flyer.
See the section on "demos" to get a recommendation for where she might
make her audition recording.
For less money,
she could go to the mall and just make a karaoke recording. Take
it to Church
here in town to get copies made. She'll need about 50. Keep these
copies in every car you own just in case!
She will also
need a press
Section to be added today!!
She can also
attend the local songwriter association's meetings to network
with songwriters who need vocalists for their recordings. It
won't make her famous (necessarily) but it might earn her some
money. Most songwriters are willing to pay 50-100 bucks for a
good vocalist to sing a song, especially if they think it could
be a hit. She will have to learn the song *before* she goes to
the studio to sing it.
She can also
sing songs at local open mics. If she has a friend who plays
guitar or piano, bring em along! She'll feel pretty naked if
she's singin tunes a capella! She needs three songs she can sing
all the way through. She can bring lyrics with her - remember
- its just an open mic - not Nashville Star!! Here is a database of local
They are held every night of the week all over Houston.
The SoundChick Recommends:
is a succesful and talented vocal coach. You can find her at
When you have
vocal trouble that stems from laryngitis, take an anti-inflammatory
such as Motrin or Aspirin. Tylenol won't work.
single cell in your body with water and breathe steam in the
shower, a hot tub or a Salton face steamer (which you can get
Rest and try
not to whisper. Talking is second worst, but light humming is
OK after about 6 hours after you begin your therapy.
In extreme cases,
when you just CAN'T miss a gig, you can visit your doctor and
ask for a corticosteriod shot. Some won't do it, as it is a radical
procedure and can create scar tissue too close to your vocal
I've done it,
but only for those shows that were potentially 'career-making'.
songwriters send their raw songs to record companies? or to publishing
A. If you are
submitting your songs 'as a songwriter', then publishers are
your target. If you are submitting material 'as an artist' then
labels are your target. Of course writers and artists end up
using both, but it's where you start that defines which hat you're
wearing. Pick a hat and wear it!
Also, the songs
you pitch for consideration do not need all the bells and whistles.
A simple recording of a great vocal and guitar or piano is just
fine, unless the song demands that a 'groove' be defined. (As
is the case with Rap/Hip-hop and R&B or orchestral arrangements).
If the publisher likes the songs, they will offer to produce
it and charge that expense against your first royalties (or not).
In any case, never fall for offers from 'songmills' that want
to charge you for 'producing' your demo. They'll tell you you
have a 'hit on your hands', and that you simply 'must' have better
production or Tim McGraw's manager will shit-can it immediately.
Hang up the phone and read the answer in the next question!!
is a multi-part question for the Earthwire program: What is the
best way to get an original song to someone who would be in a
position to pitch it to performers? Is it best to go to music
publishers, or to focus on producers of particular acts that
you think might be interested in the song? What's the best way
to make contacts?
A. (For the answer
to the second part of your question, see the answer in the question
above.) Back in the early days of recording, it used to be common
for bands and artists to receive songs at the back door of concert
venues from fans holding out cassettes and screaming, "Hey
man - listen to my songs!" Sometimes the band's manager
would take the tapes and sometimes not.
These days, artists
and publishers don't dare accept music this way. The risk of
copyright infringement lawsuits scares the pants off of them,
so you need to reduce the amount of risk they are exposed to
in order to get in.
The SoundChick Recommends:
When you are
ready to pitch your song to a publisher for use in commercial
radio, edit the intro to no more than 4 bars and eliminate any
instrumental solos. They are not interested in how good your
band is - they want to hear the SONG!
When you submit
your lyric sheet, make sure the words are in ALL CAPS. Don't
type the chorus over and over, either. A simple double spaced
line with the words "repeat chorus" are sufficient,
and will make the visual impact less intimidating.
Is your song
over 4 minutes?
Do you get to
the chorus in less than a minute?
If this advice
sounds formulaic remember, these guidelines are for pitching
to radio - not necessarily right for every venue.
When you have
completed your demo, send the publisher a postcard with a short
intro and questionairre: Say something like:
My name is (XXXXXX) and I am a singer/songwriter based in the
Houston, Texas area. I believe the new song I have written would
sound great with (ARTIST) performing it, and I am asking permission
to submit this work to your office. Please indicate your response
below and return it as soon as you can. I have stamped the other
side of this card and return-addressed it for your convenience.
If there is a mailcode that needs to be visible on my song submission,
please write it in the space indicated.
Regards, Joe Blow.
Yes, please send your demo
to me for review at this address_____________________ and write
this submission code _______________ on the outside of your envelope.
No, I am not accepting outside
material at this time
Try me again later
This way, the
ball is in their court, and you have made it as easy as possible
for them to accept your song.
requires that you attend other artists shows and attend songwriters
conferences and do a lot of co-writing. Sometimes your co-writer
may have better contacts and more experience than you do. Learn
If you have tapes
to hand out, you could try to get one into the hands of the artist's
tour bus driver. After all, he decides what they listen to while
they are on the road. Another way to get past the publisher is
to go through the artist's entertainment attorney. No safer avenue
than that for the artist.The
The Solicited Pitch happens when
you are approached by an agent who has found your stuff on the
internet. They want you to grant them a license to publish or
re-pitch a song. If they do not offer you money to 'hold' your
song - run. If they want to hold it for more than 60 days - run.
End of story.
The Unsolicited Pitch
The Unsolicited Pitch happens
when you approach an agent to listen to your songs. Money is
not discussed until they agree to take your song. There are several
avenues for this strategy. I have tried all of these to some
1) THE ABYSS - You post your
songs on myspace and spam the music community to listen to it.
2) COLD CALLING - You show up in Nashville and start knocking
3) THE PANHANDLER - You camp out on BMI's doorstep and play for
the receptionist until she assigns you a rep.
4) CASTING THE NET - When you make a daily practice of handing
out free samples of your work to anyone willing to listen to
it and hope they call you.
5) THE CONTESTANT - You enter songwriting contests and hope that
the prizes and exposure are worth more than they entry fee.
6) CATTLE CALL - You attend a songwriting convention or other
function where it is expected that paid industry panelists will
be reviewing material.
7) THE GENTLEMAN CALLER - You solicit permission in advance by
phone or by mail to submit material.
8) TARGETED SCANNING - You subscribe to a reputable tip sheet
for songs leads that are provided by publishers
a. THE COIN SORTER - You submit your work for a fee to a screening
agency that has requests for specific kinds of material
9) THE NASHVILLE HANDSHAKE - You approach an artist directly
to co-write or demo a song.
10) THE END RUN - You provide your songs to the artists' agent,
attorney or bus driver.
WHEN YOU GET THAT GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
You need a strategy for each part of the meeting.
Research the opportunity
Find out who the person represents
and pick songs that best match his client's voice, image and
genre. If the reviewer is a filmmaker, find out what the plot
synopsis is for each of the films he is involved in and bring
songs that are relevant to the story HE is trying to tell. Put
all of your songs on one CD with the song titles and your contact
info on the disc face. If you have instrumental mixes, be sure
to mention that too.
For radio artists, bring an assortment
of tempos, but start the interview with the one that has the
best story. Mention which artist of theirs you hear singing the
song. It will set them up to hear the song in a specific context,
even if the vocalist doesn't sound like them.
In either case, don't talk too
much before the first song is played. Start with a handshake
and something like, "Hello, Mr. _______ - thanks for making
time to see me. I thought we'd start with a <genre> themed
song I wrote called <song title>."
Refrain from explaining or defending
your song because you're afraid they won't 'get it'. If you have
to do that, then your song needs to be re-written. Just sit and
listen with him without fidgeting too much. They may press the
stop button after the first verse or chorus. It doesn't mean
they think your song sucks. If your intros are more than about
4 bars, he may stop the song after 10 seconds. Edit your intros
After each song, listen to the
reviewer's feedback carefully. Write down anything they think
would make the song stronger. If it's a minor issue, tell them
you are willing to re-record it and ask for permission to resubmit
it at a later date. If he is open to this idea, find out what
you need to write on the envelope so that it doesn't land in
the trash as unsolicited material the 2nd time around.
If it is discovered that your
material isn't right for his project, do your best to figure
out what IS. Likely you have a friend who can help him. Get permission
for that friend to interview with him if you're certain they
have material that is bang-on right for their needs. At least
your relationship with him won't end with the next handshake,
and he won't think of you as a waste of time. You will have become
a source of new, filtered material. This is called 'leaving the
Thank him again and follow up
with a greeting card. If you re-recorded your song to suit him,
you can send it along by mail. If he needs you after that, he'll
call you. It is also helpful to include a small picture of yourself
on the 2nd submission so that he'll remember who you are.
SoundChick! My band has just hired a booking agent and a manager.
I was really stoked that they would work for us, but we're just
about tapped out after the CD recording and the retainers and
everything. The booking agent wants $400.00 to make a presskit,
but will it really make that much difference? I am really bummed
out so far because we aren't getting many gigs, and we just don't
have another 400.00 to spend. Can I do this myself? What does
a press kit look like?
A. Hi! Glad you
made it here. Hope you stay awhile. You bring up a number of
issues, but the heart of your question is Presskits. We'll hit
Press kits are
your booking agent's primary advertising tool. They speak for
you when you cannot be there to speak for yourself!! Yes, you
need a presskit and it should contain the following basic elements:
(how elaborate they are depends on your skill as a graphic artist)
1. A Photo -
8x10 black and white glossies are always appropriate, but did
you know that newspaper music editors will always publish a color
photo first if given a choice? They want to make a splash too!
2. A Bio - Make
your bio interesting. They don't care how many brothers and sisters
you have or where you went to school, or that you sang in church
choir for 8 years. They want to know *why* you got into the business,
who your musical influences are, the number of people in your
band (maybe spend a sentence or two on someone other than yourself!).
Include any pro experience you have or a list of venues where
you have performed. Save newspaper clippings and flyers from
every gig you play - even the free ones.
3. A Set List
- even if the songs are original or obscure.
4. A Recording
- Live recordings are best. Studio recordings often do not accurately
depict what your live show is like and lack audience response.
You want the venue owner to feel as if he is mere feet from your
tip jar, even if he is listening in his car! It doesn't have
to be fancy at all. If you have original material in your act
point that out. Not every venue wants original material, or at
least show them you have the ability to play covers if you get
requests. My own kit has a 6-song mix with 3 originals and 3
Hey! The SoundChick
can help you with your live recording! (gratuitous plug)
- If you can remember to, get each happy venue to write a paragraph
or two, mentioning your good qualities , (e.g. on-time, entertaining,
) Include the reviewer's phone number so that they can talk to
each other about you! (no doubt they will!)
6. Contact Information
- You MUST write your contact information on every page of your
press kit - even the disc face and the photo!! These elements
get separated when the reviewers listen to them.
7. Your business
card - If you print your own, make sure the fonts are not too
When you write
your press kit elements, think about how the package will 'strike'
the reviewer. If you are a punk band, then make your press kit
look and feel 'punk'. Use funky type fonts, unique spellings
of words (i.e. "NOIZ") and unusual papers. Just don't
get too cheeky. If you are a classical pianist, stick with traditional
script fonts and white paper. The venue owner wants to know *who*
you are and *what* you 'feel' like. Don't mislead him/her with
a poorly thought-out press kit.
with fancy folders. Especially if the folder is the prettiest
part of your kit. I know one club owner who uses the folders
in lieu of purchasing his own office supplies. He laughs and
laughs about some of the lame kits he gets that come in $8.00
create an online presskit (you DO have a website, right?). This
can save you alot of money in the long run. When your physical
presskit is done, save them for submittal to festivals and house
concerts and clubs that you have a fair shot at.
If you have uploaded
your music to file sharing services or if you have a huge e-mail
list, you will eventually get solicitations from DJs overseas
that want your presskit. Before you send one out, check to make
sure that person actually *has* an internet radio station. Is
their name mentioned anywhere on it?
Hundreds of European
teens have taken to e-mailing American artists and posing as
internet jocks just to get free CDs. Send em your online kit
instead if you are unsure of their motives.
Visit http://www.smytheandtaylor.com/blackframepress.html to see an online press
kit for my duo - Smythe and Taylor.
If you want to
see what a great hard-copy press kit looks like, you can e-mail
me to order it. Hey, they are not free - they cost me about $6.00
each to make plus postage. Mine is *very* nice.
Now on to your
agent needs your press kit. But he doesn't have to make it for
you, and it certainly doesn't cost 400 bucks to put one together.
If you have any skill at all with Powerpoint or Photoshop, you
can easily do it yourself. In fact, some of the most interesting
kits I've seen were creatively handwritten or even painted! Just
try to use nice paper and proof it carefully after each addition
or change. Your physical kit won't be much different than the
online one I mentioned earlier.
Since you haven't
gotten many gigs, I wonder at the wisdom of having a manager
and a booking agent in the first place. (I don't, and I'm so
busy I don't have time to fart!) It may be true that you haven't
gotten gigs because of your lack of a promo kit, but they should
be able to cajole their club owner friends into trying you out
anyway. This does not speak well of his/her network. Same goes
for your manager.
My advice to
new artists is to walk a mile in these shoes first. Learn how
to book. Learn how to manage your band's issues and assets. Do
the homework, Do the math. Assign roles to everyone in the band.
The most outgoing
member should be the booking agent, not necessarily the lead
singer. The most introverted should be the manager. The gearhead
needs to run sound. Don't do it all yourself. This kind of delegation
can make you a more coherent team as a band! I know that many
artists are not good businesspeople, and don't want to be, but
if you have at least tried to do these jobs, you will be better
able to recognize a good agent/manager when you meet one. I have
seen too many bands sign 'in perpetuity' contracts with agents
that do absolutely nothing for them!
Hope this helps!
Q. If the
publisher gets 50% of the royalties and since Jen is self-published,
it's my understanding that she's got to sign up with BMI or ASCAP
as both writer and publisher. To me it looked like while BMI
was free for the writer, it was $100 for the publisher to join.
Seems steep, when we're probably not going to be seeing royalties
for awhile. So perhaps the question is, is the publisher part
retro-active? ie if 2-3 years from now, we're starting see royalties,
can we go to BMI and get the back-due, publisher royalties? ie
only sign up for publisher after we start seeing royalties? That's
why I was wondering if it's a good idea to put a "publishing
company" on the CD, even if we're not signed up with BMI
as one, something to make it easier to retroactively claim the
What did you do? Jen says you're signed up as BMI, did you also
sign up as publisher?
royalties are not retroactive in any case (I have already asked
that question, too)
As of right now, 95% of my sales are at the edge of the stage.
I get everything anyway.
If you do join as a publisher, don't forget to get her the assumed
name filing at the county courthouse. That way, she can still
collect checks written to JEN RATHBUN MUSIC without having to
incorporate. You *will* have to set up a seperate bank account
in this case.
Q. I have a talent for editing MIDI music. I have
created a Professional CD based on other people's midi's. I have
redone the music into an arrangement of my liking and I would
like to sell this CD.
I am not for stealing other people's work - this is why I am
asking these questions....
I do if the contact info is out of date?? What shall I do if
there is no contact info? Is it safe to assume the song was released
as public domain?
I want to be able to use someone else's music although the arrangement
is my own original work. I have created a CD, but before I even
think about getting it published I want to make sure I am in
the green. I don't believe in stealing music.
A. I want to
congratulate you on your principles. Most folks today think nothing
of ripping off the songwriters for their own gain.. Here's your
Even if the record
company has closed and everyone on the record is dead, you probably
still have to pay royalties. The song does not become public
domain until 95 years after the death of the songwriter. To Go
to http://www.harryfox.com and click on the 'mechanical
link. Then select the 'limited quantity
link if you intend to release fewer than 2500 copies. Then select
link. Then select the 'statutory mechanical
link. Write down the rate that applies to your song length. and
hit 'back' and fill out the song title
When your list
pops up, select the version that you are covering. There will
probably be several identical titles, so pick the one with your
artist's name on it. Repeat this process for each of the songs
you are covering.
The current statutory
rate for a typical song under 5 minutes is about 8 cents. You
have to purchase licenses for at least 500 copies. (Even if you
only burn 100). That means that you will pay $40.00 minimum for
each song you cover. This may affect how many songs you decide
to place on your CD, as well as how many you decide to manufacture.
You have to pay in advance of your release.
Now you know everything you need in order to produce a CD of
Q. I wrote
a set of lyrics for a song with a cowriter friend of mine, oh,
probably a little over a year ago. I had written most of the
lyrics and the cowriters share tended to be mostly, "what
if you used this word", or "this line could be stronger."
But I'm glad to share credits, that's not the problem.
at the time, had many more contacts than me and was sending it
around to melody writers to see if we could get any bites. We
didn't and time passed and I revisited the lyrics a time or two
and continued to rewrite a line here and there. I have tried
to contact the cowriter on more than 3 occasions over the past
year to see if they wanted to do anything with the song and as
of today have heard nothing from them.
The last time
I wrote to them I said that I would like to send it to a few
of the contacts that I have made and see if I could get a demo
of the song made. If they wanted to help out that was fine and
if they wanted out that was fine too, but still no response.
I feel that the lyrics are mine to do with as I please, but I
want to do the right thing. What is the proper time limit, number
of times to try to contact on something like this (is there one?)
and am I on the right track for this type of situation?
is not hopeless. Far from it.
You don't need
your co-writer's permission to get a demo made or to pitch it
to publisher, and there is no time limit. Either of you may pitch
the song as long as you continue to honor the co-writing credits.
Since he did not compose the music portion, you would have a
25/75 split in your favor, should you ever receive a royalty
from it. The credits would read, "Greatest Tune in the World"
by (words Author (just call it you and him)) and (music composer)
call this you)). The credits look like 50/50, but since you also
wrote lyrics, you should get a portion of that too.
In the future,
when you co-write a song, you should sign a co-writers agreement,
so that these issues don't get in the way of the song's success.
You can find a good one in John Braheny's book, "The
Craft and Business of Songwriting" available on amazon.com.
You should also
go ahead and copyright the song along with his last known contact
information. Use form PA located at the copyright office link
Q. I want
to record a song that I didn't write. Is it true I don't have
to worry about royalties to the songwriter if it is older than
20 years? Or if I make less than 10,000 copies?
A. I've been
dyin' for someone to ask me this question!!
I believe the
time limit your are refferring to is a reference to 'public domain'.
A song is considered public domain 70 years after the death
of the writer! Until then you are required to pay royalties for
its use. Even for ONE copy. However, this is not expensive. If
the song is listed in the database at the Harry Fox Agency, you can pay it online.
You must pay an $0.081 (eight point one cents) royalty for every
copy of a song on every CD you BURN - it is not based on actual
sales. e.g. - if you have burned 500 copies of a record with
one cover tune on it, (assuming the rest are your original compositions),
you would owe Harry Fox $40.50. Not bad... Harry Fox will see
that the money is distributed to the publisiher (minus their
If your own music
is being covered or parodied, you may want to register your works
with Harry Fox so you can get YOUR money too. Otherwise folks
who want to pay you can't find you. Make it easy for them.
you can contact the publisher for payment information, but they
will bog you down in paperwork amd make you wait forever if you
are not brining the 10,000 copies you mentioned. If you get caught
distributing cover music, the fines are up to $10,000 PER COPY
you have distributed that they can find.
Q. I got
myself a little vs-880 ex recorder and am trying to use the octava(?)
mics for guitar with mixed results- any guidance for mic placement
to the instrument as when i plug straight into the unit sounds
phony yet when micing guitar tone is muddy/flat any help is of
course much thanks!
my favorite answer to that question -
You are probably
getting the 'muddy' sound due to the mic being placed too close
to the sound hole. Answer - don't use the sound hole as the primary
source. Knowing what I know about your playing, I would suggest
you place the condenser mic perpendicular to the neck and about
8 inches out from the 12th fret.
or if you have
Use your ear
as if it were a microphone and have Gary or someone play the
guitar. Move your head around until you find the best sound at
close range. (about 6-8 inches) this can be very useful. If possible,
have two helpers. One to play the guitar, one to move the mic
around it until you (monitoring at the board) get what you want.
Hope this helps
want to start recording our gigs off the tape output on the PA
head and was wondering if you had any recommendations. I was
leaning toward a mini-disc recorder so I would be in the digital
domain and could import the files into my Pro Tools rig to massage
them. I am, however, not seeing a whole lot of mini-disc recorders
around these days; are they about to go the way of the 8-track?
the Soundchick recommend for a two channel recorder?
A. The minidisks
are certainly cheaper, but DATs (digital audio tape) are also
falling in price. I have a Sony DAT that I bought a couple of
years ago that has always been very dependable. Most studios
have no trouble importing data, and the tapes are less likely
to be damaged in transit as often happens to CDRs.
The thing to
remember is that your final format will be a 16-bit file. Mini-discs
can only record a few minutes of music at 16-bit resolution,
and even less at higher resolution. DAT tapes can be up to 2
hours long, allowing you to capture much more of your performance
without having to stop between songs and insert blank media.
Still, an inexpensive
CD recorder can be rack-mounted, and will give you excellent
results. the CD format is even more widely accepted than DAT.
One more thing
- If you want to record the best live gig, don't forget to place
a microphone in an area that will capture some of the audience
participation. A dry board mix won't sound very dynamic on the
CD. You'll want to relive the appluase, too, not just the performacne.
I haven't yet
written the article on the purposes of showcasing. Come back
band is starting to gig more often and it's time to get the mixing
board off the stage. I was on the Sound Chick website and I thought
I remembered a place to ask questions there, but I couldn't find
it. I want to purchase a snake (12 ch, 50 ft) and was wondering
if that is something that can be safely purchased used or are
they usually used up by the time someone parts with them. Don't
you have a used gear forum, or does that only happen from time
A. I have two
used snakes that are fine, but you should test it before you
Bring a microphone, 1 mic cable, 1 speaker, 1 speaker cord, 1
instrument cable, your guitar and your PA head to the seller
and do the following:
1. Plug the first 8 male channels of the snake into your pa head
in the numbered order.
2. Plug your microphone into channel 1 of the female end of the
3. Hook up your pa and turn it on - pull up ch. 1
4. Yell very loudly into the mic, "Is this thing on!?!"
5. If you hear a decent signal, plug the mic into channel 2 of
the female end of the snake and repeat step # 4, etc etc etc
until you have established that all channels are functioning
When you are finished with the XLR channels, test the 1/4"
6. Plug the first 1/4" male return into your PA head .
7. Plug channel 'a' of the female end of the snake into your
guitar with an instrument cable and turn up the gain on your
guitar, pull up the corresponding channel on the PA head.
8. Smack your guitar over the top of your PA head until you hear
a nice crunching sound through the speakers.
9. Repeat for returns b through d.
New 100' 16x4 snakes can be had for less than $300.00, so a 50'
12ch snake should be had for around 200.00 new. I'd pay up to
150.00 for a good used one.
Hope you had fun (I hope you know I was kidding about the guitar
of Ralph Murphy's article published at taxi.com.) His text is
in tan, mine in black.
You are the smallest
business in America. Your product is a vital part of many of
the largest businesses in the world (radio, TV, film, restaurants,
clubs, hotels, supermarkets, etc.). The only reason they use
your product is to make money. They grudgingly pay you a small
portion of what you earn them, and you must raise a family, pay
bills and create more product on that money. Demos are not cheap;
opportunities to pitch your work are few. It is a shame that
royalty structures are so poorly distributed. In 1901, a songwriter made $0.01 for
each copy of his sheetmusic. Today, we are paid $0.02. How do
we change this? Gotta write your senator or make an appointment
to talk with them. Write letters to your local newspaper's editorial
section, or join NSAI.
is researched knowing that as a creator you write what you want,
about what you want, how you choose to write it. However, when
you have completed your song, you MUST change hats and become
a small business person who understands what big business wants.
is the very reason I started SoundChick.net. We must wear more
than one hat in order to make a living!
I am constantly
asked why, when doing my research, I only check out the songs
that get to #1 on the charts. I am reminded that there are many
wonderful songs that only go Top 5 or even Top 10. Well, back
in the early '70s, my first Country hit ("Good Enough To
Be Your Wife" by Jeannie C. Riley) went to #2 and sat under
"I Never Promised You A Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson
for a while before slipping back down the charts. Consoled by
friends (who put another drink on my tab) that #2 was just as
good as #1, I was haunted by the wise words of an old dogsled
driver I used to know, "If you ain't the lead dog, the view
never changes." So with those thoughts in mind, let's look
at what worked for radio at #1 in Country music in the year 2002.
Here are the #1 Songs for 2002 (Billboard magazine Jan. 1 - Dec.
| SONG TITLE
Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)
Lyle, Todd Cerney
On The Rain
Montana, Helen Darling
Cowboy In Me
Wiseman, Jeffrey Steele, Al Anderson
Brady, Ronan Keating
Lindsey, Troy Verges, Brett James
In, I Breathe Out
Cagle, Jon Robbin
Bishop, Tim James
(For Daddy Gene)
And Living Well
Martin, Mark Nesler, Tom Shapiro
Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)
Paisley, Frank Rogers
Of The Red, White And Blue
Collins, Craig Wiseman
Lamar, Annie Roboff
Miss My Friend
Martin, Mark Nesler, Tom Shapiro
LeMaire, Clay Mills, Shane Minor
Rounds With Jose Cuervo
Beathard, Michael Heeney, Marla Cannon-Goodman
Urban, John Shanks
Paul Robson, Jeffrey Steele, Danny Mark Wells
Leave You With A Smile
Blackmon, Jay Knowles
About the only
thing that all 21 #1s had in common was the time signature (all
were 4/4). I guess that means not a lot of people are waltzing
out there - at least not during "drive time." Something
else these songs had in common was their race to the first use
of the title. 19 of 21 used the title within the first 60 seconds
(including intro!). Another
thing in common was that all the songs were co-written
except where the artist was a sole writer, as in the case of
Alan Jackson (who don' need no steenkin' co-writer!) and Toby
Keith, (who by being so offensive to women and to the left wing
that he can't get a co-writer).
While we're on
the topic of title use, let's check out the number of repetitions
of the title. The variance (including fades) went from 1.5 repetitions
("These Days" - Robson/Steele/Wells) to 14 repetitions
("Blessed" - James/Lindsey/Verges) with 8 of 21 having
five or fewer repetitions, 9 of 21 having six to 10 repetitions
and 4 of 21 having 10 or more repetitions of the title. 10 of
21 had five or six repetitions of the title.
Tempo and Intro
held 12 of the 21 top spots, mid-tempos had 3 of 21 and ballads
at 6 of 21. We have been told since the dawn of radio that 13
seconds is the perfect amount of intro. But, among the total
of 21 songs that reached #1 in 2002, the length of intro averaged
14.2 seconds. However, if you remove the exceedingly long intros
of "Who's Your Daddy" - Keith and "The Long Goodbye"
- Brady/Keating, - whose combined intros totaled 57 seconds -
the average intro time was... drum roll... ta-da, 13 seconds!
This may seem like you have to write 'in a formula', but in reality,
the 'formula' is what often gets published, but does not represent
what kinds of songs are written by hit writers on a day to day
basis. They do not necessarily start out writing this way, but
it does represent what the public has come to expect from
the momentum and pace of a hit song.
Theme & Person
Love Found "Somebody Like You", "Good Morning Beautiful", "Beautiful Mess"
Love Celebrated "Blessed", "The Good Stuff"
Love Lost "I Miss My Friend", "Bring On The Rain" "She'll leave You With A Smile", "The Long
Patriotism "Where Were You", "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue"
Drinking and Fishing "Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo" "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin'
Hey, wait a minute.
Love found, love celebrated, love lost, patriotism, drinking,
fishing, maybe we're getting back to real Country mus... oops,
sorry, lost my head there for a minute.
Anyway, the largest
percentage of 2002 #1s were about love/relationships. In addition,
16 of all 21 #1s used the first-person pronouns (I, me, you,
us) in line with Country songs being conversational and personal.
At this point,I
notice that Ralph did not categorize the remaining 7 songs. Their
category is :
Cowboy in Me". "I Breathe in I Breathe Out", "My
List", "Drive (for Daddy Gene)", "Living
and Living Well", "Unbroken" "These Days"
I point this
out, becuase many folk songs that are passed up by major artists
and publishers fall into this category. That means there is room
for 'folkies' in Country music and that's always been the case!
audience (women 25-40) did allow themselves to be distracted
from the love theme for a little patriotism "Where Were
You (When The World Stopped Turning)" "Courtesy Of
The Red, White And Blue", but only briefly. Both songs were
on and off the chart in fewer than 20 weeks. Women also tolerated
one of their own finishing second to a bass boat "I'm Gonna
Miss Her" and letting a man behave badly "Ten Rounds
With Jose Cuervo" for 31 weeks, probably secure in the knowledge
that after 10 rounds of tequila, the #@*!% would really feel
bad. My belief
is that male listeners were more responsible for these songs
becoming hits. Not because I don't like patriotic songs myself,
but because women like to dance, and men who *can* dance enjoy
material they can relate to and are much more likely to dance
to these numbers. If the women want to dance with a guy in a
night club, it's a better icebreaker if you pick a song that
you know a guy will like and want to dance to.
The other songs
that kept the listeners' attention for 30 or more weeks were
all love songs, whether lost, found or celebrated individually
or as a family. These 30-plus-week songs totaled 9 of 21. I have
a particular probelm with songs staying on the charts this long.
It leaves very little room for other good material to be published. I'm sure Ralph feels
the same way, but he's addressing reality here, not pipe dreams.
Radio stations pick their playlists weekly (on Tuesdays) and
only add 17 songs. You could fairly call it "Top 17 Radio".
observation is that there was only one #1 single under three
minutes ("She'll Leave You With A Smile". In fact,
four were four minutes or longer! A full 12 out of 21 #1s on
the chart were longer than 3 minutes 30 seconds. Although the
dean of Nashville songwriters, Harlan Howard, always said, "Only
a dumbass takes more than three minutes to tell anything,"
in defense of the songwriters, a large number of these songs
could have been three minutes or much shorter. Some of the fades
were a minute or more in length! Ralph addresses the art of song arrangement
- which arguably has more influence on a hit than the actual
story delivered by the song itself.
Other than the
larger number of topics writers were allowed to talk about in
2002, there was other good news. The 6th Form (BABACA) or "Rondeau"
reappeared at #1. (The basic Rondeau is Chorus-Verse-Chorus-
Instrumental-Bridge-Chorus.) "Good Morning Beautiful"
written in Rondeau, held the listener for 26 weeks to get to
#1, kept them singing along for six weeks at #1 and entertained
them for a further eight weeks after that in its most perfect
structure for a whopping 40 weeks on the chart!
Next came good
old 2nd Form (ABABAB) (Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Instrumental-Chorus).
This form has been used for decades by Country writers, Rockers
and Folkies to tell stories because of its flexibility - you
can add verses to tell the whole story if you feel you need them.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the patriotic themes of
"Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" and
" Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue" were best told
without the frills of bridges, middle 8ths, lifts, channels,
well-used form that seldom gets to #1 made three appearances.
The 5th Form had its time in the sun, well represented by "
Somebody Like You", "The Cowboy In Me" and "She'll
Leave You With A Smile". (The 5th Form's major distinction
is that there is no chorus (AAA); its verses have an AABA structure
with the first or last line of the verse being the title/hook.)
What "Somebody" and "Cowboy" shared was the
addition of an extra verse. The fun thing in any craft is learning
the rules and then breaking them-ask Picasso!
Some of my personal
favorite songs are written in 5th Form: "The Song Remembers
When," "Brown Eyed Girl," "Somewhere In My
Broken Heart" and so many more. I guess they don't fit the
needs of the drive-time listener all the time but, hey . . .
The lion's share
of #1s were written in drive time's best friends 3rd Form and
4th Form. 3rd Form at its most basic is (AABABCAB) Verse-(Verse
Optional) -Chorus -Verse -Chorus -Bridge- Instrumental-Chorus.
4th Form is (ACBACB)
Optional)-Chorus. Just to illustrate, the most pristine examples
of these forms are "I Breathe In, I Breathe Out" (3rd
Form) and "Living And Living Well" (4th Form).
I confess that
it's great to see writers stretch and bend these forms. For instance,
a couple of the 4th Form songs left out second verses entirely
"I'm Gonna Miss Her" and "Who's Your Daddy?",
yet still satisfied the listener and allowed the writer some
freedom to have fun.
Speaking of fun,
HUMOR and IRONY are huge factors in a big radio song. Compound
humor and irony with image-inducing detail ("under an old
brass paperweight" / "feet on a hardwood floor"
/ "electric choke"), and you have all these wonderful
ear-catching mini-hooks that expertly lead the listener to the
real "hook" or logical conclusion. By creating an expectation
and then so satisfactorily fulfilling it, the writer delivers.
Your best shot
I could ramble
on for pages about how much fun it is to watch writers exercise
their craft, but it's time to cut to the chase. Based on last
year's numbers, what's your best shot for getting a #1 record
As always, it
helps to be the artist or to write with the artist, but considering
the fact that two-thirds of the #1s in 2002 were not written
or co-written by the artist, roll up your sleeves, look at your
work. Start by selecting love songs with an average length of
three minutes to three minutes and thirty seconds, leaning toward
mid- to up-tempo, in 4/4 time and in 3rd or 4th Form, using conversational
first-person lyrics, heavy on humor and irony, packed with ear-catching
details. Throw in a 13-second introduction, get your listener
to the title in 60 seconds (or less) with the title repeating
no more than seven times, and you're in the running!
it comes to radio, your job is to hold the listener from the
car commercial to the soda jingle through multiple daily repetitions
for a minimum of five months (or in the case of "Good Morning
Beautiful"- 10 months!). You must create something so simple
that the listener gets it immediately yet so complex that it
holds his or her attention for a lifetime.
That's the easy
part! Now try getting an artist to record it . . .
is the reason why many of you are here. I can't begin to
approach the combined wisdom of the folks listed below, but I
have met all of them, so you can be sure you'll get the answers
you need if you give any of them a try. Much of what I have learned
has come from these sources. If the listing is a book, I've
read it, if it's a website, I know the author, and if it's an
organization, then I'm a member.
Q. I have
a Mackie 808s that I run in mono split between the mains and
monitors .What speakers would you say would work best for a crowd
of 150 people using vocals and the electronic drums in the mix.
A. It's kinda
hard to go wrong here! On a main/monitor mix, The most you can
push is 600w to front of house @ 2 ohms. Most speaker-pairs sold
today can handle this load even run full-out. I happen to own
JBL MP215s which I love, but I have also had good results using
my old Yamaha S112IV mains. If your room is large, you can achieve
a nice effect by daisy-chaining two pairs of mains in each corner
of the room, pointing inward and eliminate the monitors. (Tape
your cords down to prevent a tripping hazard, or better yet,
buy the rubberbacked carpets sold at restaurant supply stores
and lay them over the cords that cross doorways.)
To get the best power, pull out the amp routing switch, so you
can have access to all 1200w that the unit offers.
Sorry the response was so late in coming- I was busy at SxSW
this week. Does this help?
did you come to pick the JBL cabs for your rigs? You also mentioned
that you were using JBL speaker cabs, but I didn't catch the
model number. I've been looking at the Mackie C 300's and Yorkville
NX 20's, which are both passive 2-way speakers w/ 12 inch woofers.
I've also been looking at the Carvin catalog which speaks in
glowing terms of their products, but I've never actually seen
anybody using Carvin gear. What's your recommendation? I'd appreciate
any input you can give me.
1. Clean, accurate sound at reasonable listening volumes
2. Reliable, quality, dependable, QUIET gear
3. Portability and ease of set-up
4. World peace
A. The JBL cabs
I use are the M-Pro 215's. They top out at 1000w and are cheap
to fix. They also have the best low and high end response of
any passive speaker I have used. Kinda like eating a beefy/crispy
taco with your ears! What kind of taco are you putting in your
ears? Does it come with hot sauce? Ultimately you will purchase
what you can afford, but heck, you won't outgrow these anytime
soon. Here's the link to what I use for small
Q. You said
you're not a fan of powered monitors: how come?
A. I do not favor
powered mains and monitors for two reasons, mostly having to
do with the fact that I lack your upper body strength. However,
the other reason is that when the amplifiers in these units fail,
there is no way to get it going again. Passive speakers
can be repaired on the spot if they blow, by replacing a basket
or a horn or a relay. As long as your amp is powered up, you
should be able to push signal.
been using the boom tripod type mic stands that are light and
fold up for easy transport, but they are kind of tippy and take
up floor space. Are the round base stands better for live work?
A. The solid
round stands are definitely better for a number of reasons -
they take a smaller footprint - they don't tip easily, and they
are cheaper than tripod stands. Guitarcenter.com has them on
for 19.99 - but don't forget to buy the boom extension that goes
with it (additional 14.99). The only 'con' is that they don't
stack as neatly in the back of your car, and they are
The best way
to know what to buy for your band is to go see a good live show
of a touring band. What are they using on stage that you can
see? Important items to note are the brand of instrument/microphone
cords, amplifiers, incidental stage stands/hardware, road cases,
and microphones. Good bands don't use cheesy gear! They know
If you have more
than a few, I recommend buying a pole bag. Mic stands and speaker
poles have a nasty habit of falling off your cart while loading
in to a gig.
not an artist, but I am a big fan of TX indie music. However,
I work for the City of xxxx in Parks and Rec and we are putting
on a 4th of July Festival and will be looking for talent soon.
We know nothing about soliciting talent or how much to budget
for. I'm just looking for info, not bids, and was wondering what
is the best method to solicit presskits. I really like your straight-forward
approach and was hoping you'd help out an amateur from the other
side of the contract. I'd appreciate your help.
PS. I deeply
regret that since this is a City event we will be looking for
the safe artist and not necessarily the most interesting or talented
one. Big fan of Hayes, Davin and Ray!
Anonymous Grant Writer
A. Hi Grant! :)
You should decide on the 'flavor' of your event. Will you accept
artists of all genres, or are you sticking with Americana/Texas?
Once that's decided, you can begin to approach these artists.
You can use a booking agent to save labor, or you can do it yourself
to save money. When I was a booking agent, and the bands asked
me to find venues, I charged the bands 10% and of course the
bands built that into their fee to the venue. When venues hired
me to find bands, I charged $40.00 per band. I never ever EVER
charged both ends against the middle, and you should watch for
this by asking the band how much the agent paid them. That math
is not hard. You can avoid this by insisting that you pay the
band and the agent seperatly yourself. It takes about 3 hours
per band in phone time and faxing, e-mailing, confirming, reconfirming,
etc.. To see what i tell the bands about booking, read the article
will have a press kit with the elements described at http://www.soundchick.net/presskit.html You should ask where
they have played before and contact those venues to see if they
enjoyed the band. Of course bands will never share 'disaster
dates' with you, but give 'em the benefit of the doubt, if they
can come up with a couple of rave reviews.
Each band will expect to be able to sell merchandise and play
a 60 or 90 minute set for a festival. Of course this will depend
on the number of acts you have booked to your event. In the line-up,
allow 15-20 minutes between bands for load-in and soundcheck.
That'll tell you more or less how *many* acts you can book on
one stage. If you can rent or borrow backline gear (a drum kit,
bass rig and guitar amp), this time can be reduced and the bands
might actually reduce their fee for not having to load anything.
I can recommend a good backline list if you need one. The gear
needs to be as nice as what the players own themselves. It's
a matter of respect.
"festival music shall begin at noon and end at midnight"
1. Band #1 goes
on at noon sharp and plays until 1:30pm
2. DJ spins records while bands change out
3. Band #2 starts at 1:50pm and stops at 3:10pm
4. DJ spins until 3:30pm
5. Band number three starts at 3:50 and so on -so on - so on
The 4th of July weekend is historically a very 'booked' weekend
for professional musicians. As a rule, holiday weekends are at
a premium. Most professional bands will ask you for 100.00 to
150.00 or more per band member. Amateur bands will charge much
less. As a rule, a good duo can reduce your costs and provide
a contrast between big showbands. Naturally, you will want to
gravitate to smaller bands or lesser-known acts to stretch your
entertainment dollar. There are dozens of great unknown bands
in the Greater Houston area who will serve you just as well as
Davin or Hayes (although if you can get them, you should).
On a schedule
like this, you can have as many as 6 or 7 bands. Less if each
plays longer. My experience is that bands do not commonly charge
by the hour. That means two things: they don't give discounts
for short amounts of time, and conversely, will not charge more
for additional time. Your event is likely the only gig they will
plan for the day unless they play very early (before 4:00pm)
and can fit in travel time to another gig. Oh yeah, and if a
band comes from far away, they may require gas money or a room.
You are way ahead
of the curve in your timing. Most bands are booking May and June
right now , so availability will not be a problem in general.
Knowing the dates,
performance hours of the festival, size of the expected crowd,
and the size of your music budget would be extremely helpful.
I know some folks are reluctant to reveal their budgets, but
disclosing this info will not change the size of your budget.
No one can make you spend more money than you have! Also, don't
forget to budget for production. (sound system). The church PA
system will not suffice for a show of this sort. Pro musicians
want to sound as good as they are, and home stereo speakers just
won't do the job. You may have more experience than this, but
I thought I would say it, just in case. The budget for your sound
will depend on two factors - 1) the size of the crowd you expect
and 2) the amount of time the soundman needs to be there. Tip
- You can reduce this fee if you can provide a bit of muscle
to help load and unload. Expect to pay 500-1000 for a PA that
can entertain 1000 people for all day. Be sure to get a list
of the sound company's gear to share with the bands, so that
they can anticipate their own stage needs. Bands need to provide
the soundman with a 'plot' or layout of thier band's physical
layout and the kinds of equipment they will be bringing on their
I have lots to
ask in order to hook you up with whoever you need. If this becomes
a pain for you, I can assist with booking acts if needed. Since
you found my website, I guess you know I also perform, and have
a sound production company (shameless plug).
Thanks and How'dcha
Q. I think
that signing up for Taxi and submitting songs to them is a good
idea. We're currently on their e-mail list, so we get the weekly(?)
mailout of what the music industry is currently looking for.
Looks like there's at least some TV / Movie stuff that shows
up. Once Jen get's this CD done, we'll probably submit to some
of the Taxi listings to see where it leads.
A. Don't join
Taxi until you see a listing that is a 'bang-on' description
of one of her songs. It's no good to write a song for a specific
listing. It will seem too contrite and deliberate to come across
well. In any case, I do enjoy their service, even though there
are very few listings that suit my material. But $300.00 per
year is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, she needs to create (or
define) a budget for things like association memberships. I spend
about $1000/year on mine, and I need to cut back on a few.
are the benefits of joining the union?"
A. It must be
stated at the outset that Texas is an open shop state. That means
that no one can compel you to join a union.
in Houston sets minimum rates for artist compensation based on
the length of a gig or recording session. They also provide insurance
and health benefits that you can buy at reasonable rates. Best
of all, they have access to the only bank in Texas that will
loan a musician money to buy an instrument. Funny huh? A regular
Joe can get a loan for a piano at his credit union, but if you
state on your application that you are a self employed musician,
they don't want to see you.
The only 'con'
to this is that you must pay dues (about 125 per year) and you
have to agree never to play for below the going rate. If you
get caught, you can lose all your benefits.
I haven't joined
yet, but probably will.
do I get my music on XM Radio?"
A. Here is what
I recieved from the indiependent music program Director at XM
Thank you for
checking out XM Satellite Radio. We have over 10,000 CD's here
and another 70-80 new packages coming every day.
Simply put, the
music is coming in faster than we can process and listen. So
Please send your music to the address below. Please note that
we cannot follow up on your submission. it is physically impossible
to answer every email and every voicemail asking "where
is my CD", or "when will I be played". unfortunately
we are receiving SO MANY submissions, that we can only focus
on listening and putting the best stuff on. If Your music is
selected, YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED.
For more information
please visit http://unsigned.xmradio.com and click the submission
link which will take you here > http://www.xmradio.com/programming/xm_feature.jsp?ch=52&id=161
We ask that you
please bear with us, We are contacting bands and artists as we
add them to our play list, Thank you and we look forward to hearing
we do not accept MP3 files. Submit to this address and please
write on the outside of the envelope the genre or classification
of your music.
Radio Unsigned XM:52
XM SATELLiTE RADiO
1500 Eckington Place NE
Washington DC 20002-2194
TC, I have a question regarding copyright laws and all the information
I've been able to find online so far is kind of confusing so
I thought you might be able to answer my question.
back, a couple of friends and I started working on a sketch comedy
video show to post on youtube. We finished our first episode
and wanted to use "Soul Finger" by the Bar-Kays as
the theme music. I downloaded the form to fill out to get permission
to use the recording and our director said he'd go ahead and
fax it to the publisher. However, he forgot to do so and went
ahead and posted the video on youtube anyway. The video stayed
up so we figured there must not be a problem, but after about
a month youtube blocked the audio because of that song. We've
since written and recorded our own original theme music so that's
no longer a problem, but what I wanted to find out was if in
the future we want to use a particular song in one of the episodes,
what do we need to do to get permission? We will probably record
our own versions of the songs and not use the original recordings,
and we are not selling DVDs of the show, at least not at this
point. All the info I can find regarding cover recordings has
been for people planning to sell CDs. If you can enlighten me
in any way regarding this subject it would be greatly appreciated.
A: It is
possible to license music for online streaming. Harryfox.com
has "Soul Finger" listed in their catalog as they are
the authorized licensing agent for this piece. It will cost about
a dime every time someone listens to it on youtube. It's the
same rate as a mechanical license used for physical CDs.
However - even if you get a real DPD license, YouTube may still
pull it down. As a free service, they do not have the resources
to research the origin of the audio on each video. They have
a blanket policy to protect themselves that says - 'if you didn't
write it , it aint yours to distribute'. If you click the copyright
button and lie to upload it anyway, you're in violation of the
Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA). I know this is frustrating,
since 99% of everything on youtube is pirated. To further complicate
things, the original copyright holder will not be aware that
you have licensed it, and if he find it up there again, could
tell youtube to pull it down again.
The fact that your band is playing the song has no bearing on
this policy. The fact that you may never make any money on the
recording is also irrelevant. There are two potential copyrights
attached to every song - the recording engineer and artist's
copyright (only if they filed a form SR) and the PA copyright
which is split between the writer and the publisher.
Likely the audio was removed, not because youtube was looking
for it, but because the original owner found it and petitioned
to have it removed.
The best you can hope for is to license it through Harryfox,
contact the publisher to make sure they know the $$ came from
you, (Harry Fox will not do this) and then they might be less
likely to have it removed again if you put it back up.