record label

How to Put Together a Professional Musician's Promo Kit

Your promo kit is critical when you are trying to get a deal, so make sure you spend enough time and money on it. In many cases, your promotional package will be your first impression to someone in the music industry, so it has to be as professional as possible. Take into account that whoever is viewing your package has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of promo kits. So don’t expect to wow them with a huge package that proves you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. Keep it simple, lean, and clean. You really only need a short biography, a good picture, an example of your music, and maybe some sort of press information.

Put all of that in a nice binder that can be kept together easily, and make sure that your name, address, phone, and other contact information are printed on everything that will be removed from the package, including the cassette case and the cassette, or the CD case and the CD. I’ve received lots of packages, and sometimes I’ve lost the CD cover but had the CD, or vice versa. Even if I thought the music was great, sometimes I couldn’t get in touch with the artist because there was no contact information on the CD.

Dealing with an independent record label

The real upside to signing with any of the major labels is that they have the money for big recording budgets, tour support, and the like. Also, the Big 5 labels have the marketing and promotion muscle to make sure your record is played on the radio in all major markets. However, the major record labels are a lot like a big cruise ship—once they get moving in one direction, they have a really hard time stopping or turning in other directions, such as niche markets that can be very profitable for all those involved. So even if you can’t get a deal with a major record label, you should not give up, because there are always the independent labels.

What is an independent record label?

An independent record label is basically any label that is not affi liated with any of the Big 5, and that uses different distributors than the major labels to get its music to the retailers. An independent label may be the only place you can go for a record deal, especially if your music is not in the mainstream or doesn’t have huge market potential.

But this doesn’t mean that these independent labels can’t help you out. In fact, often they’re better suited to niche markets and can adapt more readily to changes in the marketplace. Furthermore, an independent label may be much more willing to take a chance on developing an act even after the majors have passed it.

How to earn royalties on your copyrighted music: types of licenses

It is very important to understand that there is a bundle of rights exclusive to a copyright owner. This bundle of rights includes the right to reproduce, distribute, and perform copyrighted material. Furthermore, these rights can be exercised by anyone that the creator or original owner of the copyright authorizes to do so. Usually, to authorize others to use a copyright, the owner of the copyright will enter into some type of licensing agreement. As far as the music industry goes, the most common types of licenses are performance licenses, mechanical licenses, synchronization rights, and print licenses.

Performance licenses

Performance licenses are usually granted to radio, television, concert venues, businesses, and other places so that they can play your songs publicly. The money you receive from these licenses is commonly referred to as a royalty. And we all know what that means: mailbox money! There are a lot of songwriters out there who will never have to work again because some songs they wrote a very long time ago are still raking in the money due to licensing and exploitation of those copyrights.

How to get your first record deal?

I’ve received hundreds, if not thousands, of promotional packages from all sorts of people trying to get a deal. These people were savvy enough to know that an entertainment lawyer or a reputable manager was the only way they were going to get their foot in the door. So, you might like to know what I was looking for when people asked me to help them get a deal.

QUALITY PRODUCT

I’ve had enough experience as a musician to know what it takes to make a living, get a gig, or attract someone’s attention in the music industry. I also have plenty of experience in seeing how many opinions there are about “good” music. Early on, I realized that the music I liked and the music that ended up on the radio were not always the same thing. Therefore, when I began practicing entertainment law, I had to take an objective look at music. Getting someone a deal wasn’t always about what I thought was good music. It was more about what was commercially exploitable.

So, the first thing I looked for was quality product. To the record labels, publishing companies, etc., musical talent is really just a product, a commodity—a widget, if you like. Therefore, I was always looking for an act or writer who was a total package, someone who labels or publishers could mold into something commercially exploitable. This meant my clients had to have not only talent, but depth of material and versatility. They also had to have a good attitude and be a team player.