No one said you can’t write a good country song living in the urban Northeast, but it may be true that you’ll find more fodder on Southern terrain. Singer-songwriter Shawn Byrne make the pilgrimage from Boston to Nashville in pursuit of a career as a country artist, writing songs for the bright stars of Nashvegas and earning a SESAC award along the way. His music is canny, upbeat and polished to perfection. Tough As This Town celebrates the quiet nobility of small town life with big hooks and a vivid, visceral chorus you’ll want to sing along to. Simpleton is another romp and roll. Harmonicas wheeze and basses thump like a jug band that’s just getting warmed up. We happen to like the moodier stuff, from the driving, full-tilt gallop of That Train Keeps Me Up All Night to the dusty blues shuffle of Ol’ Cook Pot. Byrne’s a great songwriter ¦ it’s only a matter of time before his rep spreads beyond Nashville city limits.
Lights! Camera! Action! Remember when we were younger and believed that those words were the biggest part of filming a movie, commercial, or TV series? Now that we’re older, we know there are many more factors involved in the production of such projects, especially when it comes to soundtracks. This week’s Generation DIY is all about music supervision and ways you can get your music into new films, commercials and TV episodes that are currently in production.
First things first, when it comes to getting your music placed it is important to have it mastered professionally. This is the big leagues we’re talking about. Music placement not only means a relatively generous payout but also equals worldwide promotion, so don’t give these music supervisors basement recordings. A minimal searchs for music supervisors yields many useful sites. One that I’ve referred to before is Music Supervisor Guide, which has listings for many hot TV shows as well as video games, movies and advertising (Note: you have to sign up and pay in order to use). If you do plan on paying for a Web site, then I’d suggest joining BMI, SESAC or ASCAP and license your music through these organizations. Since they have good reputations behind them, you will be able to land some better opportunities, but again, this is the big league so make sure you are ready.
If you are looking to do it all on your own, as all of us DIYers do, then pick up some books on the subject and interview some music supervisors to get a better idea of what you need to do to make that connection. One contact I made through my travels was David Weiss and David Hnatiuk who wrote and published the book Music Supervision: The Complete Guide To Selecting Music For Movies, TV, Games & New Media. This is a great book to pick up to get a better understanding on how this industry works and what music supervisors are looking for. Be sure to check out their Web site to learn more about this great group.
Hopefully some of this information gets the wheels turning and pushes you in the right direction. As always, I want to hear your suggestions, comments, success stories and anything else that you would like to share.
This is YOUR year. Let’s make it count.
The other week I attended the New Found Glory/Saves The Day concert at the House of Blues in Boston, MA. Being a fan of both artists since their inception, I’ve collected the entirety of their respective discographies. New Found Glory put out an EP in 2000 called From the Screen to Your Stereo which consisted of 7 cover tracks of national artists used in motion pictures (in 2007 they released the follow-up album From the Screen to Your Stereo II ¦ clever huh?). In the history of music, many bands have recorded and released covers of their favorite artists, or of songs that they believed the public would enjoy (something played on Top 40 to gain more recognition in most cases). So, in this week’s “Generation DIY,” I’d like to talk about the process of covering a song and the legality behind doing so.
Writing and performing music is rewarding enough without ever making a dime. . . right?
Eff, no! If you’re like most serious musicians, you want to be able to support yourself solely on your music. Sure, chances are you’re not going to be on a yacht popping bottles of Cristal anytime soon, but you can at least start making some decent money (and get great exposure) by copywriting and licensing your music.
If that sounds like a lot of paperwork, rest assured it’s not. There are several huge organizations who will handle the whole business end of tracking your music and making sure you get paid anytime one of your songs is played in a public medium. All you have to do is register with one of the three performing rights organizations in the U.S. ”ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. All are similar in that they work as middlemen between you (the artist) and the organization interested in licensing your music (television and radio stations and networks, websites, ringtones and ringbacks, satellite audio services like XM and Sirius, nightclubs, discos, hotels, bars, restaurants and other venues, digital jukeboxes and live concerts).
Getting yourself in a position to make money off your music is easy. Here are the steps:
¢ Register with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. You can do this online for a $50 fee typically. All three disburse royalties quarterly.
¢ Register with Nielson Soundscan. It’s free, and allows you to track the sales of your hard-copy products (provided you put the Soundscan bar code on your packaging.) Each time your CD, DVD, etc., is scanned, the sale is logged by both Nielson and ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, so you’re sure to get paid.
Seems simple, right? Well, it is. And you can keep track of all your royalties online so you know what to expect when paytime comes around. Even if you’re not making enough to buy a house in the Hollywood Hills, you might be able to at least pay your electric bill. And that’s a start.