Saturday, May 22, 2010

Releasing Your Own Record

Releasing Your Own Record:
A Common Sense Checklist
Chino Rodriguez - Entertainment Executive, May 22, 2010

Legal Ease

For artists who are releasing their own record for the first time, without the involvement or assistance of a label, the process can be a little intimidating. It can be easy to miss some key legal details in the process.

Here, therefore, is a very basic checklist of issues to be considered when releasing a record. Bear in mind, though, that your own particular circumstances may dictate that you take certain steps that are different from, or in addition to, the various steps mentioned below. Also, it has been necessary to greatly oversimplify some of the issues discussed below due to space limitations.

Agreement Between Members of Group. If it is a group (as opposed to a solo artist) releasing the record, and if the group has not already formalized its relationship by way of a partnership agreement, incorporation, or limited liability company ("LLC"), there should at least be a clear and simple written agreement among the group members about how the finances of the recording project will be handled. Also, it is always a good idea to deal with the issue of the ownership of the group's name as early in the group's career as possible.

Investors. If there are investors involved, documents will need to be prepared in order to comply with certain Federal and State securities laws. Be especially careful here.

Distribution and Promotion Strategy. Think ahead about how the record will be distributed, advertised, and promoted, and how much money will be needed to effectively market the record. Sometimes all (or almost all) of the budget for a project is spent on recording and manufacturing costs, and there is little or no money left to effectively advertise or promote the record. This, of course, is not really a legal issue but is such a common (and often fatal) problem that I feel obliged to mention it here.

Mechanical Licenses. For any cover songs appearing on the record, you must obtain a mechanical license from the owner of the song (i.e., the song's publisher), authorizing the song to be recorded and providing for the payment of mechanical royalties. In many cases this license can be obtained from The Harry Fox Agency (212/ 370-5330) or the new RightsFlow / LimeLight Agency (212/ 202-8353). Allow eight to fourteen weeks for this process, and be prepared to pay advance royalties per cover song (which could start from $100.00 to many times that, depends on the song and the publisher and how many CDs or Downloads you estimate selling in the first six months).

For songs not licensable through Harry Fox or Lime Light, you must contact the publisher directly. Usually the easiest way to do so is to obtain the publisher's contact info from the "song indexing" departments at ASCAP and BMI.

Sampling Clearances. If you are including any samples on your record, you need to obtain sample clearances from the publisher of the musical composition being sampled AND, separately, the record label that owns the master being sampled. Do this as early as possible, as there will be some instances in which either the publisher or label will not be willing to issue a license, or the licensing fee which they require may not be affordable.

Also, some duplicators will require you to sign a form stating that either you have not used any samples, or that if you have done so, you have obtained all necessary clearances. If there is any obvious sampling done, the duplicator may require you to show them the clearance documentation.

"Work for Hire" Agreements. For any session people, engineers, etc. whom you are hiring, it is wise to have them sign a short and simple "work for hire" agreement, to preclude any possible future claims by them that they are owed royalties or that they have ownership rights in the masters. Do this BEFORE you go into the studio.

Producer Agreement. If you are using an outside producer, there needs to be a producer agreement signed, defining (among other things) how the various costs of the recording sessions will be handled, what advances (if any) will be paid to the producer, and what producer royalties will be paid to the producer. Just as in the case of the Work for Hire agreements mentioned above, do this BEFORE you go into the studio.

Production Credits. Make sure that the production credits listed in the liner notes--for session people, producers, and others--conform to any contractual requirements. For example, the producer agreement will often be very specific about how the producer's credits are to be listed. For musicians performing on the record who are signed to a label, they will normally need to be credited as appearing "Courtesy Of" their label.

Liability Releases/Permission Forms. You need to consider the possible necessity of getting a liability release or permission form signed in any of the following scenarios: (a) If a photograph and/or artistic image of an individual outside the group is included in the artwork; (b) If any of the artwork which you are going to use is owned by any third party; or (c) If any logos or trademarks owned by third parties appear in your artwork. There can be some tricky legal issues in this area, so be very careful here.

Copyright Notices for Songs. Be sure that the liner notes contain the correct copyright notices for all of the songs on the record, i.e., both for your original songs and any cover songs that you are using. Information about copyright notices can be obtained here. Also, make sure that the song credits correctly state for each song the name of the song's publisher and the publisher's performing rights society (i.e., ASCAP, BMI, etc.).

A non-legal sidenote: At the same time you are working on the artwork and the copyright notices, etc., doublecheck to make sure that your artwork meets all technical specs of whoever will be printing the artwork. Also, if you will be distributing the record through a record distributor, make sure that your artwork conforms to the distributor's specs.

Copyrighting Your Original Material. Certain copyright applications need to be filed promptly for your recordings and for your own original songs. Use "Form SR" for copyrighting the masters of the songs, "Form PA" for each of your original songs on the record, and "Form VA" for the artwork (if you own the artwork and want to copyright it). You can download the copyright application forms from the Copyright Office's website.

In some instances, it is possible to file an SR form to cover both the musical composition and your particular recording of that musical composition. The instructions for Form SR discuss when and how you can do this.

Registering Your Original Songs with BMI/ASCAP. Assuming that the record contains one or more songs that you have written, and assuming that you are affiliated with ASCAP or BMI, or are in the course of becoming affiliated, you will need to file "title registration" forms for each of your original songs appearing on the record. This will enable your rights society (i.e., ASCAP or BMI) to monitor any airplay of your material.

13) Trademark Notices/Registrations. Be very sure that you have the legal right to use the group name and label name which you have chosen, and consider the advantages of filing trademark applications for those names. Also, make sure that your liner notes contain a proper trademark notice for the name of your group, and (if applicable) the name of your label. Information about trademark notices can be obtained at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site.

Obtaining A Bar Code. For information about bar codes, visit the Uniform Code Council website, or call the Uniform Code Council at (937) 435-3870 (Dayton, Ohio). Also, many CD duplicators will, as part of their service and at no additional charge, provide you with a bar code for your record. Ask about this when getting quotes from duplicators. Also, for the reason mentioned in the next paragraph below, you may want to make sure that any bar code you obtain from a duplicator will identify your particular record, and not someone else's record.

Registering with SoundScan. If you anticipate significant sales and want to come to the attention of record labels, it's a good idea to register your record with SoundScan, a private company. SoundScan compiles record sales data based on the scanning of bar codes from sales at retail stores and then sells that information to its subscribers, which include all of the major record companies.You can obtain a SoundScan application form from SoundScan.

Note: If you plan on submitting a SoundScan as well as BDS, Mediabase or other reporting companies application, be sure that you obtain a bar code specifically for your own record. If, instead, you "borrow" someone else's barcode (or the duplicator's general barcode), your sales and broadcast will be credited to them and not to you.

15) Registering with BDS, Mediabase and any other. If you anticipate significant sales and want to come to the attention of record labels, it's a good idea to register your record with BDS, Media Base and any other tracking company that the Radio stations and TV stations use to report what they broadcast on the air. These companies compiles play spins and vid feeds data based on the scanning of bar codes from the broadcast of Radio and TV shows and then sells that information to its subscribers, which include all of the major record companies. You can obtain a BDS and Media Base application form from SoundScan or do a search on google from their website. So why do you need to be concerned about this type of tracking, because this is how the retail stores determine if your record is popular enough for them to order it from the distributor and also how many records they should order. Now of course there are many other factors for the retail store to look at besides those reports, but if your record is brand new those retail outlets are looking for the song to be broadcast many time on many radio stations to determine if they should purchase 500 records or just 1. On the subject of catalog items the other type of report that is looked at is advertising reports which show if your Record that was re-issued is being advertised and in what formats to determine whether they should buy it for stock item sales. This report is given to them by the sales person of the distributor or by the originating product company (You / see study on Marketing for this type of campaign).


Hopefully, the above checklist will help to reduce, at least slightly, some of the stress and strain of putting out your own records. The key, of course, is to think ahead as much as possible. Some of the steps mentioned above, such as obtaining sampling clearances and mechanical licenses, can take some time and a lack of planning can unnecessarily increase your costs and/or delay the release date.

Also, make sure that you have all of your "ducks in a row" before you schedule any record release event. It's not an enjoyable experience to be locked into a record release date, only to find out at the last minute that you aren't going to be receiving your CDs from the duplicator by the time of the event or that there are legal or technical problems with either the CD or the CD artwork.

By thinking ahead, the odds are much better that your record release will proceed smoothly and that, after the record release, you will be able to spend your time and budget effectively promoting the record, rather than having to spend time doing repair damage.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to Do the Worst Interview EVER!

How to Do the Worst Interview EVER!
The Best Ways to Make a Reporter Think You're stupid

Okay so first I did not write this I am posting because it is on the Money and I have been the advisor to many artist who have use this as a guide - so when I read this it was like I wrote it, but this person Marsha Friedman - must have read my mind
.... So I had to Post it....

Thank You Marsha - you said exactly what I have been telling these Artist for Years....

Over the years, I've given out reams of advice to people on how to do great press interviews, but sometimes it's difficult to cover all the bases. After all, the way I got smart about the media was to make mistakes and learn from them. So I thought it might be fun and informative if I assembled some tips from the reverse angle - the best mistakes to make. I mean, if you're going to mess up, why not do it in epic fashion so people remember you.
  • Don't focus on the interview. By all means, feel free to talk about whatever stream of consciousness pops into your head. Your family, your spouse, your health problems and the fact that your neighbor's dog is doing his business on your front lawn. Make as much nervous small talk as possible, and if the reporter grew up in the same town as you, feel free to grill him for an hour to see if he had any of the same teachers as you in high school. After all, it's not like he's a media professional on deadline whose time is at a premium. There is nothing more he'd rather do than to talk about anything, except of course, the reason he's interviewing you.
  • Preparation, shmeperation. Journalists get a kick out of people who are not prepared for the interview, who don't know the reporter's name or the publication for which they toil. They completely understand when you don't know what area of interest they cover in their columns, or when you tell them you've never read any of their stories. The only way to score more points is to tell them you've read their stuff, and you think they don't have a clue what they are writing about most of the time.
  • Schedules are for wimps. Don't worry about being on time. Feel free to be late - in fact, be VERY late, especially if you are actually meeting them in person. These guys don't like going back to the office, so the longer you can keep them out of the office - especially if they are waiting at a diner or coffee shop that's at least 30 minutes away from the office - the better.
  • Trash talk is gold. Do you know what really plays well in the media? Trash talking your competition. There is nothing more fun than shooting off your mouth to a reporter, and then watching the sparks fly in the morning when the paper hits the streets. Your attorney will love you for it, because the fees you pay him to defend you in the business defamation lawsuit your competitor files are finally going to make him enough money to buy that new boat.
  • Lie, and then lie about lying. Nothing will get you more ink than if you lie, because reporters are pretty good at discovering the truth. And when they do, that means they'll write another story about you. In fact, the bigger the lie, the better, because then you get the news coverage hat trick - the original story, the follow-up when they expose your lie, and the contrite news conference where you fall on your sword and admit the truth. I mean, think about all the people in the news today who lied, or who are accused of lying, and continue to dot the headlines. Of course, as with the trash talk tip, make sure you have a good legal budget, because a good long court battle over the lies is a sure way to keep stringing out those headlines.
Okay, it was fun getting all that off my chest. As you know, my usual writing style is more "positive and inspiring" than "bitingly humorous," but it's good to shake things up now and then. And when you think about the points above, we see these mistakes made in the press, in some shape or form, every single day. It always makes me wonder, if these mistakes are so obvious to me, why aren't they obvious to the people who make them? Or their advisors?
The bottom line is that no matter how unschooled you are in public relations, common sense is a good baseline to guide your forays into the media. And if you're just not sure about the best conduct during a media interview, get a good PR person, or a good attorney.
Or maybe both, just to be safe.
Warm regards,
Marsha - Marsha - Marsha

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Booking - No Passports

Well here is another problem, Booking Artist who tell you they have Passports to Travel when they have never Traveled period and they were waiting to get booked before getting a Passport, well waiting to get booked to get your passport may seem to be a logical thing to do however they did not consider the time frame to get the passport, so now I have a promoter asking me to please send the passports so he can purchase the Visas to enter and exit that country, but these artist wasted time and ordered passports when I sold a gig. This is driving me nuts, I am about to lose this gig of booking 5 acts because all of them don't have passports. God why me...

Onesheet Done and Record is up online

Well I got the info from Ana E. Sanchez for the one sheet a great job. And deal seems to be done with Major Distribution Stream, But as all things, the problems start, I found many sites offering the Single song for FREE, man why is it that people just start assuming it's okay to prirate music I mean the song just got up on iTunes and others are putting it up for Free, along with the Lyrics.. this is not good. I am going to request them to pull it down and if not I am going to have to send the Lawyers after them. Well, on to the next issues.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Growing Pains

OMG Feb 24, 2010 - Well Release date is almost here and looking at all the i's and T's is just overwhelming - making sure all is in place so that when this record starts to explode sales will be ready. Today I just got info of Rafy Santana's Authorization paper concerning his CD. I now need to contact Fania and this label Kalimba Records and Latina Sound Recording Studios with a stop letter. Also I need to get Giro's one sheet ready with finding someone to review the Album and writing about it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

OMG has arrived

Well what can I say, Giro Lopez first single is out on the Market and is being played in Puerto Rico Radio!!!! I am soooooo happy, now with that there is always a thorn and that is La India's new CD has just been released and with the Major distribution (Sony/BMG) I think she will be everywhere. I do hope that her song is well received, and I do hope her record Label does not use dirty tactics to pull Giro's duet with La India off the air. I know both can survive and help each other. My artist Giro need this break right now, hey who am I kidding WE need this break. Giro needs his Fan base to request the song on their favorite Radio station be it a real Radio or Website.
"Islas en el mar" from the album "Todavia Hay Amor". So fans help Giro out !!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jazz Con Clave: Do You Really Want Your Music To Be Heard?

Jazz Con Clave: Do You Really Want Your Music To Be Heard?

Do You Really Want Your Music To Be Heard? Follow-Up by Chino Rodriguez

George your on the money, I'm reading this now January 2010, I did not check when you first wrote this but you had seen the future. Today is just like you said, Infact a Hot Salsa Artist such as Victor Manuel has been taken off Sony, he told me he is thinking of starting his own label now. A new Hybrid Label started called Oriente Music Group and it's not signing artist but asking the artist to become sole proprietors of their own Production Labels, and is only signing Production Labels... Forcing the artist to really learn their business. Giro Lopez has taken up the challenge and started Giro Productions under OMG and will be releasing his new CD to iTunes and all those internet download sites. Giro Productions is also releasing the entire collection of Los Chicos of Puerto Rico which was never sold on CD, he is digitally reMastering those tapes now. So George you are a fortune teller and didn't know it. Chino Rodriguez - CEO & President of Oriente Music Group, LLC - "OMG"