Showing posts with label music licensing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music licensing. Show all posts

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Make Your Own Luck

I've never been a lucky person. Games of chance? Forget it. Slots? No. Prize drawings at work? I've stopped even entering. "Buy a raffle ticket for just one dollar!" Here, I'll just GIVE you a dollar. Go out and have yourself a good time.

I guess that's why I prefer games of skill. You know, I'd rather play video poker than slot machines. That way, at least, if I lose, I can blame my poor decision-making, as opposed to that arbitrary LUCK, which apparently shuns me and is ashamed to be seen in my company. Yes, I'd rather be known as a poor decider than an unlucky person. Being unlucky somehow makes people glance sideways at you, with a look of pity in their eyes. "Oh, such a shame about Gertie. She's UNLUCKY, you know."

So, what does all this have to do with music?

As an independent artist, striking gold is, in essence, impossible. For one thing, there are approximately (and I'm just making up this number) 45,000,000 independent artists out there hawking their wares.

Music licensing (you know, for TV and movies and commercials and I don't know, bathroom Muzak) once seemed like the savior of independent artists. I'm unfortunately, or fortunately, skeptical. We're hooked up with a multitude of licensing companies, from YouLicense to Music Supervisor to License Me For God's Sake. The companies run the gamut.

I get the emails. Sometimes I open them; sometimes they sit in my in-box, unopened for a week or two. The emails don't really care, mind you. They could just as well be titled, "Here Are Some Opportunities. You Don't Have a Chance in Hell of Qualifying For Them, So Read Them If You Feel Like It. If Not, Eh. We Just Send Them Out Because We're Obligated".

Sometimes, these companies send "Success Stories" emails. I bet they think these are "inspirational". They're not. All they do is make people like me feel like losers. I could just have a bad attitude; I don't know. I suppose it's great that the Shadow Sisters from Albuquerque, New Mexico got their latest quirky song picked up for an episode of "Fringe" (I hope that's an actual show).

And now, let's read an interview with the Shadow Sisters!

Q: How does it feel to have your song included in Fringe?
A: I don't know; all right, I guess.
Q: Have you had success with your music prior to this whole Fringe business?
A: Oh, this is our only song, to be honest. We just did it as sort of a joke.
Q: So, you've not been out there, pounding the pavement?
A: What does that mean?
Q: You know, promoting your music; trying to get heard.
A: Um, my boyfriend just told us, put on these short dresses and stand against that wall over there, and I'll take your picture. Oh, and take off your shoes. He said, try to look bored, and we said, hey, no problem. I guess that's what did it.
Q: Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?
A: I really was just humming.
Q: That's it?
A: Kinda.
Q: What advice would you have for aspiring artists who want to get their music licensed for television?
A: Take off your shoes? I don't know. Ask my boyfriend. I'm bored. Can I go home now?

So, you see? Luck. And a bad attitude, apparently.

Oh, don't get me wrong. The Shadow Sisters notwithstanding, there are (again, making this up) 43,000,000 great musicians and/or songwriters floating around out there in Cyberland (that leaves two million bad musicians and/or songwriters, if you're keeping score).

Those are bad odds. And don't even get me started on demographics.

So, what does an independent artist do?

Play a game of skill; not a game of luck.

Look for hidden opportunities. Be more clever than the other guy. Think local, for one. What's available out there in your stratosphere; something that will lower those 43,000,000 to 1 odds considerably? A television station? A local website looking for a theme song? A business needing a jingle? How about a local or regional contest that wants you to submit your best song about _______? How about trying to win a free vacation? (Okay, rather obscure, but more about that in a future post.)

Google is your friend. Use it. Explore the local and regional options that are available.

Think of the occasions that your song would fit. Did you write a song that would be appropriate for a wedding? Did you write something topical; something that's happenin' now? Take one of your songs; examine it; turn it upside down. Think about what its uses could be. If you don't find a matching opportunity, approach an entity and make an offer!

Honestly, you have to do it yourself. Uploading music to a licensing site is such a loooong longshot. Unless you're the Shadow Sisters.

Make your own luck.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Musicians = Gullible

Oh, not all musicians, of course. Just us amateurs. You know, those of us who make our own music, at home, in our $1.99 studios.

Maybe I should have titled this, "Musicians = Naively Hopeful". Because without hope, where are we? (That's true of life in general, isn't it?)

My husband and I went away for a few days; a long weekend; just us and the dog and cat (yes, my husband insists that we also take the cat). This makes for an interesting stay at a resort. Thankfully, the resort we stay at does not have maid service. Otherwise, bringing a cat is really kind of a losing proposition.

When we returned, I checked my email, and found the usual.

One email was titled, "Great News!" Okay, what could the great news be? Could we have had one of our tracks licensed? Yippeeee! Oh wait. No, the great news was, one of the sites we use for licensing is recommending yet another website, where we can upload our music. For what reason? Well, just because!

Another email proclaimed, "Fast-Track Your Music!" How much will it cost us? Well, it's such a great deal that the email didn't include the price! But it did say, "It's not going to be cheap!" Cool! Frankly, if it costs more than $50.00, it's a no-go! (I thought I would use exclamation points as well, just to feel like part of the clique!)

Here's one: "Imagine 6,500 Radio Programmers Getting Your Music!" Imagine! Imagine that I have anywhere from $100.00 to $600.00 dollars!

Those were the highlights from my in-box. I also had the usual, you know, "#@@!)$ is now following you on Twitter". Nice. The problem is, I rarely (meaning three times a year, tops) post anything on Twitter, plus all #@@!}$ wants to do is sell me something; some seminar about how to get rich in the music business, or something else just as useful.

Overall, I'll have to say, I felt darn special! And honored, really, to have been chosen to receive these once-in-a-lifetime offers.

Oh wait; you got them, too? Oh, never mind, then.

So, fame, or non-fame, as the case may be, is fleeting. And expensive, apparently.


But on a serious note, and speaking of fame, I don't want to be remiss in not noting the passing of Jeff Conaway today.

I don't watch reality shows as a rule, but I happened, one time, to catch an episode of something called Celebrity Rehab. It was too sad for me to even consider watching any additional episodes. Sad in a few ways. Sad that these people were so desperate that they were willing to air their troubles on a cable TV show, but more sad in that, addiction is a mean, heartless demon; one that will strip you of your dignity and your soul and your humanity. Some people make it through; a lot of people don't. Jeff didn't.

I remember when I watched that episode thinking, he doesn't have long in this world. Well, Jeff had a few more years, but ultimately, I believe he gave up, and said, enough is enough.

I prefer to remember Jeff like this:

Addiction affected my family in an all-encompassing way. My dad, and others in my family, made it through, by the grace of God. It's so easy to say, I give up. It's too hard. My dad said, I give up, and I give my life to a higher power.

It ain't easy. In fact, it's damn hard (and I promised myself I'd curtail the cursing, but I think it's appropriate here).

I think about all the little gripes that I have, and while it makes me feel better to write about them, I know, and everybody else knows, that I'm just bitching, just to bitch.

I do know what's important in life, and it's not some silly song, or somebody liking some silly song. Or somebody trying to wring money from us for our songs.

This is one I wrote for my dad. I wrote it the best I could. And that's what it's really about, right? That's why we do it, isn't it? That's really what this whole music thing is about; truth. It's not some fa-la-la thing. Or the right beats. At least, for me. It's about life.

I'm glad my dad made it.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Exploring The Avenues

Have you heard? The music business is dying. Yes, it's true. I read it in Entertainment Weekly. A bunch of labels have laid off a bunch of people, because nobody, apparently, is buying music anymore.

It's a sad state of affairs. These rocket scientists who are illegally downloading music haven't quite grasped yet that before long, there won't be any more music to illegally download. Because artists aren't going to make any new music if they're not making any money from it.

Oh, I'm not blaming it all on the illegal downloading brigade. The corporate dunderheads in charge of the music labels haven't exactly been doing a stellar job in releasing good music - the kind that people would actually pay money for. Take Nashville, for instance.

Say you have one male vocalist with a thin, reedy voice, who happens to catch on somehow with the public - maybe because he wears a black cowboy hat or something. Well, the Nashville scions say, hey! We gotta find us another lanky dude with a black cowboy hat and a thin, reedy voice! Voila! We'll be millionaires!

And then we'll find a bunch of songs about fishin' and people dyin' and pickup trucks and......hey! How about this? Combine all those things into one song? A guy goes fishin' with his buddy, and then his buddy dies, and then the guy who's still alive loads the dead guy onto the back of his pickup truck and as he drives on down to the funeral parlor, he ruminates about all the fun him and his friend had through the years. It'd be a real sad song, and it would sell MILLIONS.

Well, you get the picture.

So, since the music business is dying, what's an independent artist to do?

I've been exploring the option of licensing music for TV and movies.

There's a bunch of websites out there that will accept your music (if it's professionally done) and will stick your music on their site and wait to see if anybody in TV or the movies is interested.

It's a win-win.

Of course, nobody is creating any new TV or movies right now, due to the writer's strike. Just my luck. Bad timing, as usual.

But, be that as it may, I have found a few sites that have some potential. And dang, I'd be thrilled to hear one of our songs on a TV show, or better yet, in a movie. Who wouldn't?

Even if it didn't earn us more than $20.00, it would still be well worth it, just for the thrill alone.

So, if you're making music and don't have anywhere to go with it, do a Google search for music licensing. There's a bunch of sites out there; some better than others. Read their terms of service and make a decision for yourself if their site is the place for you. You never know!

P.S. Of all the sites I've found, one that offers SUPERIOR service, in my estimation, is Audiosparx. Great, great personalized service. I highly recommend it.