An Open Letter to Maria Cantwell: Vote Yes on the Music Modernization Act

Dear Senator Cantwell,

As a songwriter and musician, I implore you to back the Music Modernization Act. We are currently being paid off copyright precedents set back in 1908.

Album purchases are at an all-time low (as I’m sure you’re well aware of) and streaming companies have taken over the industry. While great for the consumer, compensation for streams are minuscule compared to the sale for a single/album.

Here’s some real-word context:

If a song has 100 million streams, it creates around $3.5 million on the mastered copy for record labels and artists — but only 4% of that goes to the publishing. So in that case, it’s creating around $140k in mechanical royalties for songwriters. And that’s often split four ways, which leaves about $35,000 per person. There are currently 12 songs that have a billion streams. That creates about $35 million on the master side, and only 4% of that goes to the writers (source: Forbes).

To make matter more dire, streaming companies are currently operating under a model where they are not paying mechanical licensing royalties – meaning songwriters are not being paid for their work. Believe it or not, music copyrights are more heavily regulated than all other major industries – including Tobacco. We – as songwriters – have no bargaining power. In fact, we are LEGALLY UNABLE to negotiate on our own behalf.

Some stances have been raised a counter saying this is an attack on the consumer. This is false. The consumer won’t be picking up the bill here. On a per sale / stream basis, we’re talking a matter of cents.

Now, the Music Modernization Act has the ability to remedy some of the challenges we’re facing, and was passed 415-0 in the House of Representatives.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and pray you do the right thing.

Best,

Duncan Byargeon

Episode 6: Phillip Johnson

Today’s guest has been writing and photographing for Seattle Music News coming on three-and-a-half years now. From Dave Matthews and The Struts to your favorite up-and-coming local acts – this man shoots it all! Please say hello to man who’s photo career was kick-started by a tax refund, Phillip Johnson.

We chat about how he got into concert photography, Seattle secret shows, camera gear talk, and battle with Pro Tools. You can see his work and get fantastic insight on the Seattle music scene via  his Instagram @philstogramm. 

Be sure to listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here!

If you want to hear the different artists we talk about, check out our Spotify playlist here.

About

Made for Music is a podcast that explores how to navigate the Northwest music scene, the resources available, and most importantly, the stories behind the people making things happen.

The podcast is hosted by Duncan Byargeon, the lead singer / guitarist of Deify – a hard rock group hailing from Seattle, WA.

Contact Information

Duncan Byargeon, Host of Made for Music Email: mfm.podcast@outlook.com

Episode 5: Nightpulse

Hailing from San Diego, she traded piano for drums at age 11 and hasn’t looked back since. She was the drummer, co-vocalist, and songwriter fro Bad Things, which toured with the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars and Phantogram, played Lollapalooza, and appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Since then, she’s launched her own solo artist career, releasing three singles and two music vidoes. Say hello to Nightpulse (aka Lena Zawaideh).

We chat about everything from self-producing, her upcoming EP, her latest music video for “The Rush“, compared the LA and Seattle music scenes, and plenty more! You can view both music videos we discussed, “Delirious” and “The Rush“, as well as a host of drum covers on her  YouTube channel . 

Be sure to listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here!

If you want to hear the different artists we talk about, check out our Spotify playlist here.

About

Made for Music is a podcast that explores how to navigate the Northwest music scene, the resources available, and most importantly, the stories behind the people making things happen.

The podcast is hosted by Duncan Byargeon, the lead singer / guitarist of Deify – a hard rock group hailing from Seattle, WA.

Contact Information

Duncan Byargeon, Host of Made for Music Email: mfm.podcast@outlook.com

Episode 3: Evan Johnson

Hailing from Minnesota, this man has become a pivotal piece of the Seattle scene on both the local and national level. He kick-started his career in music as an intern at KEXP in the programming department. Shortly thereafter he moved into booking, and is now theTalent Buyer for Neumos. Say hello to the man every local artist wants to be recognized by (and on good terms with), Evan Johnson.

We discuss everything from how he got into the business side of music, best practices for booking shows, the best shows that he’s book, and much more!

Be sure to listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here!

If you want to hear the different artists we talk about, check out our Spotify playlist here.

About

Made for Music is a podcast that explores how to navigate the Northwest music scene, the resources available, and most importantly, the stories behind the people making things happen.

The podcast is hosted by Duncan Byargeon, the lead singer / guitarist of Deify – a hard rock group hailing from Seattle, WA.

Contact Information

Duncan Byargeon, Host of Made for Music Email: mfm.podcast@outlook.com

Episode 2: Chris Carlson

Currently one of the busiest drummers in the Seattle music scene,  Chris Carlson has quite the resume. Currently in five bands, he plays with Seattle-local favorites Rafael Tranquilino, James Redfern, and Chance McKinney.

Prior to moving back to the Northwest in 2012, this Berklee School of Music graduate lived was in Nashville performing with budding country acts Claire Dunn, Josh Wilson, and Austin Janckes (from The Voice).

This episode explores how Chris got started on the drums, his post-grad journey (Boston to Seattle, to Nashville, and back to Seattle.), how he balances playing with so many different acts, approaches to recording, and how he networks in the music business.

Be sure to listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here!

If you want to hear the different artists we talk about, check out our Spotify playlist here.

About

Made for Music is a podcast that explores how to navigate the Northwest music scene, the resources available, and most importantly, the stories behind the people making things happen.

The podcast is hosted by Duncan Byargeon, the lead singer / guitarist of Deify – a hard rock group hailing from Seattle, WA.

Contact Information

Duncan Byargeon, Host of Made for Music Email: mfm.podcast@outlook.com

 

Made for Music: The podcast set to explore the Northwest Music Scene

It’s been a long time coming, but I am thrilled to announce the launch of Made for Music.

I grew up in the Greater Seattle area and have lived in the Pacific Northwest my whole life. There’s a wonderful, vibrant music scene up here, with an incredibly welcoming community. Growing up, music was my ultimate passion, but I didn’t know how to get started.

So, this podcast will explore the Northwest music scene, how to navigate it, the resources available to you, and most importantly, the stories behind the people making things happen.

Episodes will be released every two weeks, highlighting different artists, producers, and business people who have established (or are establishing) themselves in the music scene.

The first episode is set for release Tuesday, January 9, 2018  (TODAY) featuring Sarah St. Albin. Check out our Spotify playlist to listen to the different artists we chat about, including Tobias the Owl, J GRGRY, and Sarah McLauchlan.

Be sure to check out our website and follow us on our socials to experience this journey every step of the way!

Website: https://www.madeformusicpodcast.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeformusicpodcast/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mfm_pod

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mfm_podcast/

Contact Information

Contact: Duncan Byargeon, Host and CEO of Deify Entertainment

Phone: 425.503.3714

Email: dbyargeon@deifyentertainment.com

Why Songwriters Should be Listening to “And the Writer Is…”

Did you know that songwriter compensation is established by three judges in DC every five years, based on two laws – from 1909 and 1976, respectively? Or that, until this year, songwriters were not eligible for “Album of the Year” awards at the Grammys for records that they wrote?

My guess is that your answer to the first question was a hard “no,” and unless you’ve been on an award-winning song, you also answered” no” to the second. How could you have known? There isn’t a whole of information out there for aspiring songwriters. In many cases, people who love to write songs may not even be aware that they can pursue a career as a songwriter.

“And the Writer Is…” is a podcast hosted by multi-platinum songwriter, Ross Golan. Each episode, with a few exceptions, he sits down with the songwriters behind the biggest hits in the world. He delves into their upbringing, their journey into songwriting, and the stories behind some of your favorite songs.

Why These Episodes Are Important

Music Business Education

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Hollens at a workshop at the University of Oregon. He discussed the lack of business education in university music programs, and how learning the business behind the music industry may be one of the more important things when trying to make it as an artist (or songwriter).

Every single episode of “And the Writer is…” discusses the business dealings of each songwriter, from their own lens. What you’ll find is that there are seemingly endless ways that people “make it,” but how many of them face the same challenges.

At the very least, listen to Episode 28 featuring David Israelite. He is the President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), where he has achieved landmark successes for publisher and songwriter royalty rate agreements and increasing the value of intellectual property. During this episode, he explains everything you need to know about getting paid in the streaming era and provides the history of copyrights.

Credible Sources

Who better to learn from than the experts?

Let’s start with the host, Ross Golan. He’s penned some of the biggest hits of the decade, including “Same Old Love” (Selena Gomez), “My House” (Flo Rida), “Compass” (Lady Antebellum), and “Dangerous Woman” (Ariana Grande). He was a touring musician, released a critically acclaimed musical (The Wrong Man), and won BMI’s Pop Songwriter of the Year in 2016.

His guests include:

  • Desmond Child – songwriter and producer who has had top 10 hits in five different decades (Kiss, Cher, Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez)
  • Bonnie McKee – one of Katy Perry’s most trusted writing partners, and a solo-artist
  • Mike Caren – an A&R executive and esteemed songwriter (Bruno Mars, Kanye West, Beyonce, and more)
  • J-Cash – the songwriter behind hits from Charlie Puth, Jason Derulo, and Maroon 5.

Why You’ll Love This Podcast

As a songwriter, it’s nearly impossible to find content that provides tangible, real-world guidance. Most of the materials available are music theory books. Even then, it can be difficult to access premium materials unless you’re attending school specifically for songwriting – in which case you’re spending thousands of dollars.

So…the question remains: outside of “critical information,” why will you love this podcast?

It Will Inspire You

From love and loss, to getting songs recognized and struggling to put food on the table – it’s all there. Hearing how writers have gone from rock bottom to the top of the charts (in some cases more than once) and they lay their hearts out in these episodes. Knowing that the biggest writers in music have been in your shoes is comforting. Moreover, listening to people geek out about their passion – which also happens to be yours, will get you FIRED UP!

Each Episode is a Lot of Fun

Ross has known some of the guests for years, making for some hilarious stories and some true “behind the scenes” discussions.

Listening to how some of the biggest songs in the world came to be are fascinating. Often, the personalities behind those songs are even more interesting. Ever wondered how Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” came to be? Want to hear a happily married man explain his wife’s thoughts on hearing him write “Side to Side” for Ariana Grande? Curious as to how “My House” by Flo Rida was originally intended to be an Adele ballad?

…what are you waiting for? GO LISTEN TO IT!

 

Top 5 Episodes

1.      Episode 28: David Israelite

David Israelite delves into the business of music copywrites, publishing, and his continued fight for songwriter rights. It’s all you need to know about how songwriters are getting paid, and the political climate surrounding their rights.

2.      Episode 3: Savan Kotecha

Savan Kotecha is responsible for writing and producing some of the world’s biggest records and is considered to be one of the elite top liners (one who writes vocal parts over pre-made music) in the industry.

Recommended Tracks:

  • Confident – Demi Lovato
  • Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
  • Side to Side – Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj

3.      Episode 30: Rhett Akins

Featuring an esteemed artist, one of the top country songwriters (25+ number one hits), and the proud father of Thomas Rhett. From playing frat parties to writing with the likes of Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Rhett Akins delivers one of the most honest, humble, and funny episodes in the podcast’s history.

Recommended Tracks:

  • Hey Girl – Billy Currington
  • Boys ‘Round Here (feat. Pistol Annies & Friends) – Blake Shelton
  • Drink a Little Beer – Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins

4.      Episode 8: Evan Bogart

This songwriter has a story unlike many others. Unlike most, he didn’t break into the industry as a writer, but as an executive. As a side-gig, he wrote hits like Beyonce’s “Halo,” Ashley Tisdale’s “He Said, She Said”, and Rihanna’s “SOS”. He also happens to be married to one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE ARTISTS, ZZ Ward.

Recommended Tracks:

  • Criminal – ZZ Ward
  • SOS – Rihanna
  • Ride – ZZ Ward, Gary Clark Jr.

5.      Episode 25: Charlie Puth

One of the biggest up-and-coming artists, a man with PERFECT PITCH! This episode may have the most energy out of any guest, as Ross and Charlie dig into what exactly constitutes perfect pitch, how it plays into Charlie’s writing, and how Justin Bieber inspired him to kickstart his career.

Recommended Tracks:

  • How Long – Charlie Puth
  • Attention – Charlie Puth
  • See You Again – Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth

 

“And the Writer is…” is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and other podcast listening apps. Visit their website for more information: http://www.andthewriteris.com 

Black Stone Cherry’s First Seattle Headlining Show

Review of Black Stone Cherry’s First Seattle Headlining Show

After five worldwide releases, mainstream rock radio success, and sold-out arena tours across the US and Europe, you’d think that Kentucky’s finest southern hard-rock group would have headlined The Town. Not so! Though overdue, as guitarist Ben Wells stated mid-set, El Corazon’s “dirty, sweaty, basement atmosphere” was the most fitting – and rock n roll – setting for their first Seattle headlining show.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram| Spotify

Performance Highlights

Chris Robertson’s Vocal Delivery

They don’t call this guy the “Big Mouth of the South” for nothing. This guy belts it out, no-holds-barred. I’ve watched their “Thank You: Livin Live Birmingham UK” DVD  and countless YouTube videos of them performing from the likes of Germany’s Rock am Ring to hidden gems like fan footage of them rocking Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, and I was still not prepared for the gusto this guy has on the mic.

Ben Wells’ Energy

The dude was head banging and kicking like a mad man. All the while, he was singing every word and cutting through insane southern rock/metal riffs for a solid 90 minutes straight. He made sure that everyone stage-right was engaged the whole night.

Okay…so there was a break where he sat down and played an acoustic guitar for “The Rambler”. You got me. But I’m sure he was still moshing in his head.

I feel obligated to note that the whole band had an incredible amount of energy. The rest of the band still blew the roof off the place.

John Fred Young’s Harmonica/Drum Solo

The man was jamming out on the harmonica AND playing a drum solo. Such an act was something I’d never heard of and I don’t think I’ll ever see anyone do it better. This may have been the most joyous moment of the concert. I can’t put my finger on it, but there was something special about this moment. Throughout the show, I was amazed by his chops. I’m convinced that he’s one of the most underrated drummers in the business.

Jon Lawhon: The Friendliest Guy On & Off the Stage

Jon was a close second in the energy department. If Ben went stage-left, he was jumping right up to the front of the stage. Throughout the night, he and a woman who was clearly an avid Black Stone Cherry fan went back-and-forth all-night yelling, dancing (head banging), and screaming every lyric. He made sure he was at the center of the camera for every photo/video she took, including a mid-song selfie. Towards the final third of the show, he walked directly up to her and handed her a pick.

After the show, while waiting for my Uber ride he took the time to chat with me on the curb by their tour bus. It felt like talking to an old friend. We talked the band’s journey over the past 16 years, rock n roll’s dominance in Europe (and the contrast here in the US), his home-town in Kentucky, and the band’s day off in Eugene (where I went to school – hence my excitement).

If he ever reads this, I do want him to know that two canceled rides was truly the reason I was out-front for so long and that I wasn’t using that time to trick him into hanging out.

Dean: The Gentleman Working the Merch Table

The Black Stone Cherry experience is rife with genuine, kind men. This guy isn’t around just to hustle merch, but making genuine connections with the fans at these shows. What started as buying some shirts turned into a night-long conversation. Between each set I made my way back to the merch table to chat with him. Like with Jon, it felt like talking to a life-long friend. It was fascinating to hear a different perspective on the tour-cycle, how things have changed since the band switched labels, and why none of them have the desire to call any place other than Kentucky “home”.

When you go see these guys on tour, make sure you say hi to Dean and throw a few tips his way.

Best Songs

“Devil’s Queen” – this is one of my favorite Black Stone Cherry songs, hailing from their second album Folklore & Superstition, and I did not think this would be played. It served as a kick-ass opener.

“White Trash Millionaire” – a talk box, heavy guitars, and talk of “trans-ams in primer paint”. What’s not to love?

“Soul Machine” – my favorite song off of the new album Kentucky, which I feel is the epitome of the band. Fresh, yet still a throwback to their older material.

“The Rambler” – this was the most heart-felt performance from Mr. Chris Robertson. The performance featured Ben on acoustic guitar and Chris on the mic. You could feel the heartache the man feels from being on the road and away from his family.

Honorable Mentions

Citizen Zero (2nd Opener)

I was familiar with their material and they did not disappoint. I’d go as far as saying that they’re better live than they are on their records. “State of Mind” and “Save the Queen” were my favorite songs of their set. The Detroit rockers brought the party to Seattle on a Tuesday night. If these guys come back around, don’t hesitate to buy a ticket.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram| Spotify

Letters from the Fire (1st Opener)

I only caught the last 3 songs of their set, but the lead singer has PIPES! I wish I had more here, but they certainly showed that they deserved to be sharing the stage with the likes of Black Stone Cherry and Citizen Zero.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram| Spotify

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post! Hit me up on Twitter at @duncanbyargeon.

Until next time,

Duncan Byargeon

 

Highlights of Sasquatch 2017

Sasquatch is a fantastic festival for many reasons. The Gorge Amphitheatre has phenomenal scenery, as the main stage overlooks the Columbia River Gorge. Frankly, I’m not sure if there is a more beautiful place to go see a show. The festival’s eclectic mix of artists ensures that there will be something for everyone.

Company is also crucial to the success of one’s festival experience, and I was fortunate to go with my best friends for the weekend. While hanging out together was the best part of the weekend, I’ll remain focused on the music acts themselves.

Me and Kayla with Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis of July Talk

Favorite Act: July Talk

July Talk was the band I was most excited to see going into the festival. Not only did they meet expectations, they smashed them. The chemistry between the two singers, Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis is unmatched. Not only that, but they seem like they’re truly having a blast up there. Moreover, they know how to get a crowd going. Peter didn’t stop moving for a single moment throughout the hour-long set, banging his head while bent over the keys and while wailing on his guitar. Leah engaged most with the crowd, hopping up on the barrier, coming into the crowd for the limbo, and standing on crates in front of the stage to get up close and personal with the front row.

The entire July Talk experience, from soundcheck to getting to meet them after the show, was the highlight of my festival experience.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram| Spotify

 

Awesome picture I took of July Talk that I feel obligated to share.

 

Favorite Stage Setup: LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem – Standing Stage Right

LCD Soundsystem was a last-minute headliner to replace Frank Ocean, but they certainly delivered a high-octane performance. The stage was set up like an industrial mad-house, reminiscent of Oingo Boingo. Each section of the stage was used to create different sounds, live. This sounds redundant, but with today’s EDM culture, most electronic/dance music is simply a DJ mixing on a turntable. LCD Soundsystem plays every single sound live, and it’s fascinating to watch the band bring the songs to life. For the LCD fans out there, the singer announced during the set that their album was just finished. Other news outlets are reporting that it could be out in as little as six weeks. Keep you eyes and ears peeled!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify

 

Favorite Song From a Superhero [Anti-Hero] Movie Performance: Heathens – Twenty One Pilots

95% of the reason I was excited to see Twenty One Pilots was because of their song “Heathens” which was written for Suicide Squad. The song itself was the primary reason I wanted to see the movie, though I have yet to see it (though I found out today that it’s on HBO, so I’ll be watching it this weekend). The band drew a massive crowd, nearly filling the Gorge Amphitheatre to the brim. This set was only rivaled (if not beat out) by Chance the Rapper. The performance was aesthetically pleasing, and the two guys had some entertaining gimmicks – drummer performed on a platform being held up by the crowd, and the singer ran over the crowd in a giant hamster ball.

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Saturdays are still for the Boys

Biggest Surprise: Vulfpeck

These guys are FUNKY! I have to admit, I’m very hit-or-miss on their recorded material. I saw that they essentially had a headlining spot on the second stage (Bigfoot) on Saturday, from 9:30pm – 10:30pm. The band may have been the most musically gifted group at the festival, with members switching instruments throughout the set. The guys were funny, tightly knit, and knew how to throw a dance party. This is a band that I will certainly go out of my way to see when they come through town, from now on.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify

Honorable Mentions:

Chance the Rapper:

No one can deny that this man has soul. His hits were a blast and he seemed truly grateful to everyone who came out. I really dug the gospel vibe that he brought to close out the Sasquatch (main) stage for the weekend. No labels will be stopping this guy any time soon.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | SoundCloud

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires:

This fella has some PIPES! Having only heard his recorded music, I was taken aback by how soft-spoken of a man Charles was. Like Chance, he was extremely grateful to the crowd and delivered one of the most inspired performances of the weekend.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify

Boogie: I didn’t know any of their songs (and still don’t) but the crowd was one of the most hyped ones that I witnessed throughout all of Sasquatch. I was just there to snag front row for July Talk after the crowd dispersed. I wouldn’t be surprised if this group quickly works its way up towards the top of future festival lineups.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify

 

Advice to Artists:

  1. Don’t cut your set 30 minutes short to go “hang out with [your] sorority sisters”. Or just don’t tell the crowd that’s why. You know who you are.
  2. Get a lawyer (see blog posts 1-3)

Artists Must Become a Media Company

The world of music has changed drastically over the past two decades. With the evolution of music software and technology, the average Joe now has access to all of the tools necessary to create professional-grade music. For Deify’s upcoming record, we utilized ProTools software and an Akai 4-track interface, Shure Beta 52A kick drum mic, CAD D80 dynamic mic for the snare, a used Blue Spark (drum overhead and vocals), and a Shure SM7B microphone (vocals) that my friend Rob lent me while he travels Europe. The entire album was recorded in our basement over the course of the past 14 months. Certainly, the recording process would have been much shorter had we rented out a studio, but we would have had less flexibility around re-recording or adding tracks in an ad-hoc fashion. Delving into the DIY recording process is for another blog. The point I am trying to make here is that artists can take full ownership of the product lifecycle.

Never Stop Learning

Turning your music into a business requires a great deal of knowledge. It will take time before you are able to create a refined product. Technology makes a great deal of tools and knowledge accessible. Industry standard recording suites, such as ProTools, are much more affordable than renting out a studio for weeks at a time but are tough beasts to tackle. I’ve owned ProTools 10 for five years now and am still learning how to navigate it. 

In my opinion, the best way to learn is to reach out to your fellow musicians and their engineers. This past album cycle I had the privilege of sitting down with a sound engineer to watch him prepare our tracks to be mixed. Witnessing how he set up the session alone taught me more about ProTools and sound engineering than I had learned on my own in the prior 5 years. Now, there are a plethora of videos on YouTube about how to properly go about mixing and mastering, but one-on-one time with an expert will always provide more value.

The Seattle Music Scene is very lucky to have avid supporters of the local music scene, from its radio stations to billionaires like Paul Allen. Leading up to the Upstream Music Festival – the festival founded by Paul Allen – has partnered with KEXP to put on free workshops leading up to the festival for musicians to learn about different facets of the music business. Attending events like this should be at the top of your priorities list. These are opportunities for you to hear from leaders in the local music scene and your peers.

How do they go about recording? Where do they perform? Who designs their merchandise? How do they distribute their music? Do they know anyone who could do photography of your band?

Take on projects with your friends. Getting outside perspectives into your work will help you hone your craft. Moreover, engaging in others’ approach to writing and musical performance will push your personal boundaries and introduce you to influences outside of your own. Guns n Roses has one of the most distinctive sounds in music. This is a result of a blues-rock fanatic (Slash), a jazz/punk/metal songwriter (Izzy Stradlin), a Seattle punk rocker on bass (Duff McKagan), a heavy metal drummer (Steve Adler) and an avid Queen/Elton John fan (Axl Rose) coming to the table with very different perspectives on music.

Craft Your Brand

As I touched on in my first blog, artists must operate as a media company to navigate the current musical landscape. Content is key for artists in this age. The most challenging aspect of content is figuring out differentiation. Before moving to creation, it is important to identify what your mission is. All companies have mission statements. Your band should be no different. For many creative type, branding is the last thing they want to do and view such exercises as a distraction. I would argue that knowing what you (and your bandmates) stand for will make the rest of your branding easy. Aligning with a mission statement will make it easier to develop a pointed image from which all marketing and branding can stem from.

If your mission is to be the most uplifting music group in town, your image should follow. It wouldn’t make much sense for you to be posing in a rainy Seattle alleyway with your black leather jacket and torn jeans. The copy on your website and social media posts should be positive and engaging. Your merchandise, logo, and photos should have a similar, bright color scheme to ensure consistency with your audience.

Speaking of consistency, this is imperative for your social media tags and website address. For Deify, everything revolves around “deifymusic”. Our social media tags are @deifymusic (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat), our Soundcloud and Facebook sites have /deifymusic.com, and our band website is deifymusic.com. you want it to be easy for your audience to find you. If your current fans can’t find you, it’s going to be nearly impossible to turn new listeners into fans if they can’t find their way back to you.

Be Engaged

For your band (brand) to truly come to life, you need to create a community. The age of digital and social media makes it easy to connect with fans and peers in the music community. That said, there’s nothing like personal interaction. Get involved with causes that are in line with your image (this is where your authenticity comes into play – if they are causes that are truly important to you, this won’t feel like branding at all). Support bands in your scene. Better yet, collaborate with them. Jam together. Play shows together. Hang out together. It’ll make it all more fun, and you’ll learn a lot along the way.

A great way to bring all of these things together is a benefit show. Align with a cause or charity that you feel passionate about and put on a show with like-minded artists. You’ll be giving back to the community that is fostering your musical career growth, gaining exposure, and building a community of artists and fans alike.

Throw Events

Don’t wait for venues to come to you. If you want to play, make it happen. Host your own show at your house (or a friend’s house). There are plenty of ways to perform outside of traditional venues. Such shows will also give you exposure to an audience and enable you to draw a crowd when you finally do get booked at a venue.

More importantly, you can make it about more than just you. Invite friends that are photographers and videographers. Give them the opportunity to experiment with their art and generate content. Their careers are even more dependent on consistent content generation.

See what I’m getting at here? You can provide a lot of value for those around you. Cherish your inner circle. It’s what will bring you to the next level.

Network 

Whether you like it or not, you are in sales. The most obvious scenarios are album and merchandise sales. When it comes time to book shows, you are selling your image, your musicianship, and your community. The music industry is all about who you know. Knowing bands who play in the local circuit, and the people that book them, are key. This takes us back to my point earlier – GO TO SHOWS! If you show other people (genuine) support, they will reciprocate it.

Reach out to journalists. Having them on your side will help you saturate your market, and expand into others. When doing so, put some thought into your message. An album release and simply wanting coverage doesn’t differentiate you at all. Have a point-of-view. Why are you relevant? What makes you different? What’s your story? What went into the production of your album? What are your aspirations?

Lastly, it’s difficult to do everything yourself. There’s no shame in outsourcing. You’d be surprised how many people in your personal network can help. I work at a marketing agency that has entire Creative department. You better bet that I’ll be strolling through their section of the office when it comes to any graphic design and photography work.

Ugh…You’re Going to Need a Lawyer

There are a lot of hoops to navigate through when you are trying to “be legit”. Trademarks are one of the most important beasts to tackle. From talking with fellow independent musicians, to books, to the Upstream Music Festival Summit, the advice was the same. Get a lawyer. Trademarks aren’t nearly as straight forward as something such as a copyright. There are nuances surrounding font type, logos, public presentation, etc. The last thing you want is to gain some momentum just to find that you’re illegitimate, don’t have legal ownership of your band name, and have to start over again.

If you’re in a band, for the purpose of filing taxes (bleah) on your earnings, you’ll want to explore various options – such as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC); if you’re a solo artist, Sole Proprietorship may be a better route[1]. For all the complexities behind the filings, you want to ensure that it’s done properly. Online legal services, such as LegalZoom, are relatively affordable and easy-to-use.

The music industry has been around longer than all of us, and corporate law is embedded in every corner. Even for those of you “against the man,” there are some rules we must follow so we can continue making our music.

 

Hit me up on Twitter at @duncanbyargeon to let me know what you thought of this post!

 

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[1] This is an opinion piece based on my experience. In no way should this work be taken as legal advice. For such, deal directly with a legal expert.