The Name of Professor
It`s time to get to know how does the music industry work and how every musician, producer and manager feels himself in the industry – how he earns his money, how he works, how he is protected by law and what are his perspectives in such career. We`ve got four different scenarios that we should describe, and we should give as many details as possible.
The first one to describe is a singer and/or a songwriter, who is not signed to any label. He performs his songs live, and his songs are sometimes played on the local radio. It`s obvious that not all songwriters are signed on recording label, but every one of them has a songwriting material. With this material comes the question of who will use the songs and who will own them. That`s why there are many publishers appearing for such cases. Without them, a songwriter risks not being paid for his songs at all when they are used, recorded and reprinted by others. Also, without publishers, a songwriter has more difficulties in legal protection of his songs in any case of author`s rights violations. However, many of them try to publish their songs by their own and professional of publishing doubt that this is the right decision. In particular they say that songwriters that want to totally own their songs sometimes don`t have the protection and advice of an experienced publisher, who can legally protect his songs, sell them properly and pay for them adequately. And furthermore, a songwriter is almost busy in creating new tunes and melodies, combining them into a new hit and obviously can`t pay enough attention to a publishing process, and that`s another advantage in being cooperative with a publisher.
The first step in getting known by listeners for a songwriter is to find a proper publisher and find the most suitable deal for a songwriter. He obviously shouldn`t agree for a bad deal as the first offered because he will be working with this publisher for a couple of years minimum and even more, that`s why he should choose wisely. As usual, a publisher asks a songwriter to sign over the copyrights for his songs to the publisher and offers a split income from the usage of the songs. It`s usually fifty percent shared by a publisher and a songwriter. From this moment, it`s publisher`s prerogative how to sell a songwriter`s music and who allow to use it anywhere. Songs in the movies, on the TV, performing the cover versions – all of these are regulated by a publisher. It`s also a publisher, who assumes the right to take legal measures against author`s right violators. Nevertheless, a songwriter needs also to be sure that the publisher is recognized by a legitimate performance right society, such as BMI, SESAC or ASCAP. Otherwise, songwriter risks of not getting paid if a third party performs his song.
When music is sold in printed form (sheet music and folio) through wholesalers and retailers the income is also differently calculated. Royalties for folios vary from 10% to 12% of a market retail price. However, the songwriter gets from five to seven cents per each music sheet, when a publisher gets 60-70% of income.
Another income stream for a songwriter is a performance royalty. For example, BBC Radio 1`s license fee pays approximately 18 GBP per minute of music they play, it`s almost 60 GBP for a record of three minutes. Moreover, it comes handy for unsigned songwriter when he wants to earn something. The procedures are controlled by a variety of societies in different countries. For example, in UK it`s done by Performing Rights Society. However, it`s not so easy to promote your own music to local radio level.
The second situation to describe is a four-piece band that is signed to a recording label. Two members compose music; another two only play it. The first thing to mention is that, in modern music business, it is not so important if only one musician composes music or all of them. The idea of a band is that they play together like the interrelated parts of the whole mechanism. Everyone is important and is inevitable. However, we have to admit, that it`s easier to change the member, who doesn`t compose music because the change of music composer changes the band dramatically.
Every band should come to the necessary set of agreements between each other. They should discuss the questions of income sharing between each other while everyone is together and how it will change when someone leaves the band, they should decide who is the owner of the band`s name and what will happen if every member suddenly wants to have a solo career. These agreements should also be legally confirmed by a lawyer and properly documented.
There are also two great advices for each band signed by a record label. The first is to be wise with the incomes the band gets while working with a label. Incomes of musicians are not stable and can end one day, and nobody can predict why. That`s why it`s better to be more saving than spending before you get a stable income, although it`s a feature of a famous artist, and in order to have this, a band needs to work hard and for a long time. The second piece of advice for a band is to look through the contract they are about to sign and always consult with a music lawyer to make an agreement between the band and recording label fair and mutually profitable.
Everybody thinks that the majority of band`s revenues are given by the record sales, and that`s why every band tries to get signed to a label. That`s not completely true. Statistics shows that it`s only 6% of musician`s income given by the sales of records. It`s mostly affected by nowadays piracy and spreading of records over Internet for free. The bigger percentage of income give the live performances and shows, almost 28%. 22% of the income is earned by teaching, that means that apart from a band work, every musician can earn 22% additionally by teaching music another people.
The developing band that has achieved the status of signed by a label should also be acquainted with a music agent, which is always hard to get and even harder to get a good one. When you are looking for someone suitable for this role, you should also consider the cooperation with societies like Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) in UK and there are many analogues of it in different countries. They look after the band or ensemble and legally protect before they find you the most professional agent for your music.
After signing to a proper label, a band should also promote themselves as a brand and an expensive one. This is an inevitable part of an agreement with a recording label because the last is a business and is supposed to earn money promoting a band as their merchandise. That`s why, if the band signs with recording label it should have individuality to be famous, profitable and independent. Without the last, recording label will conduct the image of the band, and in such situation no question about the band independence will appear.
The next role in the music industry is a role of music producer. Our assignment is to describe the one that work in the recording company and not an independent one. There are many advantages of being a studio producer against being an independent sound producer.
For example, the advantage of studio financing is the biggest one as the producer doesn`t need to look for the funds and resources to produce the record while an independent producer needs to find the necessary resources by himself. On the other hand, a studio producer is limited within the given funds and the instructions of a recording label; he can`t do anything that contradicts the image of a record and/or a band that was given by a label.
Distribution for a studio producer is also easier because a recording label has its base of retailers and wholesalers that will trade the completed record. He doesn`t need to think about delivering the records on festivals and free shows in which the band participates. Studio producer doesn`t even have to think about publicity and marketing of the record as it`s always done by a studio promoter, who is a separate person in a music industry, however, we have to admit that this is true only for big and famous recording labels. Small studios have a producer, distributor and promoter embodied in one person.
The payment of a studio producer is a fee paid by studio and depends on the size and fame of a recording label. Sometimes, a producer is paid even higher than a musician is because the first is considered to have much work and deep understanding in how music is supposed to be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics can`t show the exact figures of sound producer`s payment, but it shows a median for all entertainment producers that was $68,440 in 2010. The Berklee College of Music stated a low figure of $25,000 for record producers in 2010; however, the famous producers of Columbia Records can earn up to several millions of dollars.
As for the legislative protection of sound producers, it has developed drastically with the development of high technologies as with its development the increasing amount of pirated content has increased dramatically by the last years. Immediately after the implementation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent “cease and desist” letters to music web sites and online music service providers notifying them of a violation of author`s rights and asking for removal of the music from free access if this wasn`t agreed with a producer otherwise.
Furthermore, organizations like Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) and RIAA keep on insisting for music licenses to be implemented ad increasing awareness of pirates and listeners of a criminal nature of unauthorized access to sound recordings.
We have to admit, that nowadays, the role of studio producer is obviously the one of the hardest, as he is supposed to be the designer of a performer`s sound and how the last is supposed to perform and sound to be recognized and to be famous and popular. That makes a producer famous and well known too; however, he has to face a variety of challenges mentioned above.
The last role in the music industry is a role of singer, who performs other musicians and composers` music and is a dancer in addition. The first to mention that this role is a prerogative of performers in musicals and operettas, when such people are supposed to dance and sing in the same time as they add the elements of dance to attract more visitors and listeners. In such cases, they act themselves as actors taking their parts in different plays. That`s why their income depends on the popularity of theatre or music hall and the popularity of the play they take part in. Statistics state that the average figure of salary for such performers in New York is $79,000, which is 29% more than any other average New York performer.
As they perform almost classical music and operettas, they do not violate any author`s rights as they are free to perform through all over the world. However, if you want to record and sell your performance of such pieces, everything should be done according to the norms and procedures of copyright protection organizations, such as mentioned above.
Another case of performing the other people`s songs is nowadays well known by the term of “covering” these songs. For every performer it`s a great chance to add some familiarity to their music and shows; furthermore, the best option to get out of suspense is to perform a couple of covers on a famous musician/band because people that are new to performer`s repertoire will recognize the familiar tunes of cover and will take a look on a performer`s own music. It`s also a great help for selling music for the same reason. The people are sometimes suspicious and doubtful to every new sound, but when they hear something familiar, they will also consider about buying your product.
Moreover, there are many cover bands, tribute bands and their analogues through all over the world that haven`t composed and played something new, but the greatly perform almost written material, and they are even paid higher than bands with original music and sound. They have no creative development, but they have their fame and salary and they play the songs they love.
When a band/musician performs cover songs, the publishers and writers are paid through societies like ASCAP, BMI, PRS or SOCAN, they collect royalties as a fee from places, where such music is played. This is noted by a simple sticker on the window with the appropriate abbreviation of a protecting organization. The two main features of how it`s done:
- They only collect royalties for public shows and it`s considered a private use of music;
- A performer doesn`t have to pay any fees for playing cover songs because it`s already done by a venue in which you are supposed to play.
- You need to pay extra fee if you want to record your cover versions.
That`s how music industry work for a different musician/band/producer involved in the industry. They always work hard and are paid adequately; they are protected by government; however, they face many challenges of being pirated and left without any fee from recording the results of their long and hard work.
List of References
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