General Entertainment Advice

1. How do I copyright my material?

In the US, your material is considered to be copyrighted if it exists in a fixed form. This means once you write the song out on paper or to a computer disk file and put your name on it, it is copyrighted.

There is also the method of registering a copyright. In this case, one sends their material in a fixed form to a copyright office, where it is filed. This is considered (by many) to be the strongest form of protection for material, meaning it is the most likely to hold up
in court should someone attempt to use your material without permission.

2. Should I register my material with a copyright office before sending it to a Record Company, Publisher, OR posting it to the net, etc?

If you are at all concerned about protecting your material and getting compensated for it, you should copyright your material before making it available to the public. You will get the maximum protection available to you under the law if you register your material with the copyright office for the country you live in. If someone tries to use your material without your permission, you can bring charges against them. To obtain US copyright forms, write the Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20559 or call the Forms Hotline at +1 202-707-9100. This number operates 24 hours a day and allows you to leave a recorded request for forms you need.

3. How do I get a record deal?

This is a difficult question to answer in a short space, but the most important thing to remember is that the music business *is* a business; record labels want to make a profit off of your music. That may seem somewhat mercenary, since some (many?) people like to think of music as something done purely out of love. If you go into negotiations with labels with the attitude that you are doing business, you will save yourself a lot of disappointment and frustration.

4. What are royalties? How do they work?

Royalties are money that is paid for the sale or use of music. The amount of money you get from royalties depends on the type of contract you sign with the record label and the performing rights organization you join. Essentially is you write or co-write the music you perform as an Artist you will be paid Artist Royalties and Mechanical Royalties from the Record Label. You will be paid performance royalties from ASCAP/BMI/SESAC who collect these monies on your behalf. Public Performance includes live performances of songs, songs featured on television, songs played in the clothing stores, at the mall, etc…Synchronization and Digital royalties also are becoming big items.

5. What’s the deal with mix-tapes?

Mix-tapes have been around for years they are nothing new, but now a lot of artists/producers/independent labels use them to build street credibility and buzz before attempting to release a retail project through normal distribution networks. The legality of mix-tapes depends on a number of factors. If the distributor has cleared all the music performances and features on the mix-tape they are perfectly legal. However, if the music performances and features have not been cleared than there is a violation of companies and people who own copyrights to the material on your mix-tape even if you are giving it away for free.

6. How do I clear a sample?

Clearing samples basically involves getting permission to use music and lyrics from 2 property rights. SR Copyright is normally controlled by the Record Company and you have to get permission from the Record Company to clear the SR Copyright (The SR Copyright represents the Sound Recording itself (the CD). The PA Copyright is normally controlled by Publishers and you have to get permission from the Publishers to clear the PA Copyright (The PA Copyright represents the music and lyrics that actually appear on the CD)).

7. How do I get my music out and let people know about me?

There is no simple answer to this question, but the most common factor is passion. You must grind and grind and grind some more. I represent platinum and gold artists, but to this very day, they have to grind. They are constantly on the road, flying to do shows, interviews, endorsement obligations, etc… it is a hard life. Your circle might not be as large as a platinum artist, but where you are, you got to grind. Do features, perform live, put product out, and set up a Facebook Fan Page featuring with your music….grind….

8. Do I need to join ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, or a similar organization in order to collect royalties?

Yes, you need to join one of these organizations to collect royalties from users of your music, because you're not equipped to seek out all the individuals and companies who will eventually want to use your music.

9. What is the difference between a hip-hop beat-maker and a hip-hop producer?

A hip hop beat maker is obviously a person who makes instrumentals, instrumentals, and hip hop music but a producer takes the job to the next level. A producer makes it his duty to work with the artists and to make sure that they are getting more than just a beat. A hip hop beat makers job stops after he is done making his music. Hip hop producers have the difficult job in communicating with rappers, recording rappers, and dealing with all things that come up when working with rap artists.

10. How do I get my music played on the radio?

Generally speaking, to get your music played on the radio, the music or program directors of the stations you want your music to be played on need to approve it. So, it is a good idea to try to get to know music and program directors of radio stations to find out what their policies are for accepting music.

Commercial stations tend to get their music directly from the labels or on compilations put out by large distributors. So, if you want to get your music on a commercial station, you should probably try to use one of the methods described above for getting record or publishing deals. There are some commercial stations that are willing to accept music from small indie labels, but they tend to be in the minority. On rare occasions, commercial stations will accept tapes (DAT tapes are preferred since the audio quality is better). However, CDs are generally preferred.

Noncommercial stations, and college stations in particular are generally more flexible about accepting new music, since they are not (usually) in the business of competing for listeners, so they are more free to present a diverse mix of music to their audiences.
They are also usually more willing to accept tapes, although CDs are also generally preferred. Many noncoms and college stations feature some sort of live showcase of new music, which is another opportunity for getting your music on the air.

So, in general, the best thing to do is to get to know the music and program directors at the stations that you want your music to be played on. If possible, visit the stations to get an idea of how they're run.

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