The Recording Industry
Let me give you an example of the type of slick shit record industry insiders pull on a daily basis...
Let's say Record Label A is struggling and needs an new artist. Lets say they push rap records so they need a new rapper. Now they send out an A&R to find their rapper, which could be a cat with mild talent or just some guy they think has a marketable gimmick. Either way they eventually find their guy (usually through connection recommendations).
Next, they'll have a sit down with this young man and recreate his biography. Publicists are usually in charge of this. His age might suddenly change, events in their lives might be exagerated, etc...
Then you'll have some ghostwriters write a good portion of their first album and then, after a nice publicity campaign...this little known rapper suddenly becomes the next Nelly.
But let's put all that behind us for a moment...
If you're looking for a career in music as an artist or writer you potentially have multiple sources of income. you can make money from record sales, radio play, merchandise, concerts, having a record played on TV, film or advertising and more... But we'll start at the beginning. Before you get in on the action (on a large scale) you're going to need a record deal.
Whether you plan to start your own record label or plan to get signed to a specific label you might want to start by contacting some DJs or producers, putting together a demo (3-5 tracks), entering some freestyle competitions, getting your name out on college radio, maybe getting some gigs, basically developing some local contacts and building a buzz - which will require some work (but can be a lot of fun as well, especially if done with the help of others).
Then youll need to familiarize yourself with your three key advisors which means youll have to find:
1) A Personal Manager - Getting a good Personal Manager is crucial. The better he or she is the more comfortable and trusting a record label or A&R is going to be with you. A good PM will advise you on all aspects of your career.
He or she will handle promoting you, who you should/shouldn't sign with, where to tour, suggest what songs to record, plan publicity campaigns, deal with interview requests, etc. Most earn between 15% and 20% of the artist's gross earnings. It is better to give up 20% but have a great personal manager than to part with 15% of substantially less earnings by hiring a mediocre manager. Contracts are typically from 2 to 5 years but may be negotiated based on release dates, number of albums released, etc.
You should ask yourself...Does your personal manager really like your music?...who are their contacts in the industry?...how many artists are they managing? (how much time will they have for you?)
2) An Attorney - An attorney is important because they will be involved in negotiating and structuring the deals you make. Make sure your attorney is as knowledgeable about the music business as possible. Preferably they should specialize in music law.
Attorneys will usually charge a minimum fee plus an hourly rate which may range from $50-$250 or more depending on their level of expertise and your region (Attorneys in NY or LA where the market is more competitive will be more expensive).
Record deals are very tricky and have a number of what would appear to be "sneaky pitfalls" to the average person. He or she must look over any deal before you sign. Try and find the attorney with the most experience with musicians and it is important that you make sure he does not ALSO work for the record company you consider signing with (not uncommon).
3) An Agent - Your agent is in charge of booking you to the public (concerts, appearances, etc.) Find out if your agent (and his agency) will be in charge of booking ALL your concerts and appearances and also what is the geographical territory in which he represents you.
Your personal manager and attorney will be able to help you in choosing an agent.
It is normal for an agent to earn 10% of your gross earnings in the areas in which they render services (typically concert revenue and NOT from record sales, merchandise, song writing and publishing royalties).
You may be able to do a lot of what these advisors can do on your own, but if youre confident in your work, having a reputable representative will be more impressive to a record label, music director, etc and many times these advisors will work for a percentage of your gross earnings as an artist/songwriter, which means you pay little to nothing out of pocket.
Basically, their expertise will turn out very useful in helping to guide you towards your goals in the shortest amount of time possible.
*A portion of the above information has been put together with the help of
"The Music Business (Explained In Plain English) 2nd ed."
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