The Importance of Well-Produced Demos

The Importance of Well-Produced Demos

There are a lot of people writing high-quality songs these days. Some producers, performers and record companies’ A&R (Artists and Repertoire) people find themselves trawling through hundreds of demos a month to find the next big artist they want to work with. With your demos you have maybe thirty seconds to capture the attention of these key industry decision makers. Look at it from their perspective: they have a mountain of material they have to get through by 5pm. They’re going to be making snap decisions and anything that could be a little red flag that says ‘not professional’ is a simple way for them to add one more ‘no’ and get one closer to the bottom of the pile. That’s why the quality of your songs matters in every respect. Some writers are at a stage in their careers where they can afford a pro home-setup and they have a ton of top-quality performer contacts – good for them. But, if that’s not you, it’s definitely worth considering getting a music production company to take care of your production needs. Here are some reasons why:   Professional-quality demos have become the norm It’s nice to think a great song will shine through even a shoddy demo. And that probably was true back when quick demos we’re thrown together in one take on cassette. As technology has progressed, the key industry players looking at your material started hearing better and better quality demos. They’re just not used to using their imagination to compensate for amateur recordings anymore. You’re putting yourself at a major disadvantage if your music sounds anything...
Seven Simple Steps to Songwriting Success

Seven Simple Steps to Songwriting Success

If you’re like many people today, you might like to think anything can be done in just a few, easy, Google-able steps. And you wouldn’t be totally wrong: there’s a quickest, most efficient route to accomplishing anything. But you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think you can accomplish anything worthwhile just like that. Building a songwriting career included. In our usual style of no-bullshit tough-love, here’s The Song Foundry’s patented seven steps to getting there, all in good time.   1. Face reality Once again: there is no shortcut to achieving anything truly worthwhile. No one became an award-winning, hit-spinning songwriter overnight. These steps are simple but not easy. They take years of dedication, perseverance and self-belief to put into effect. No one is exempted from that. Let’s get a reality check: if you’re looking for shortcuts you’re in the wrong profession.   2. Lose any and all sense of entitlement Building a career as an artist is one of the most challenging things you can do (see Step 1). There is no correlation between talent, fame, notoriety and income. Art imitates life: life is unfair; art isn’t any better. Still, there is nothing to be gained by telling yourself you’re owed or entitled to anything. Period. It creates a needy self-limiting victim mentality which undermines your ability to do positive things that keep you moving forward. People can sense entitlement and, even if it’s justified, it’s not a quality that endears you to others. Fight it at all costs. You need to build good relationships with people (see Step 5) and self-entitlement isn’t going to help you do that. Replace any sense of...
Copyright Basics: Part Two

Copyright Basics: Part Two

This is a two-part article. The first part is here.   Welcome back! In Part I we looked at what Copyright is, what rights it affords you and how you can register Copyright in your country. In Part II we’ll take a look at what happens when other people get involved.   Contracts and Work for Hire Like regular property, Copyright can be bought and sold. A relevant example is when record companies own the Copyright in their signed artists’ work. This means drawing up a contract which outlines what the artists get in return for selling their Copyright, and other terms such as whether the sale of this right is permanent or temporary. While the record company own the Copyright, it becomes their prerogative how the work is used, distributed, sold, adapted etc., which is why it’s important to agree how this is going to happen before the transfer takes place. It’s also why entertainment lawyers will always have plenty of work. It’s also possible for new material to be created as Work for Hire. This is common for jingles and other commercial music: it means that, for example, Colgate give you a one-off payment of $20,000 to set the music to the words ‘Whiter than White! Brighter than Bright! That’s Colgate!!’. You sign an agreement acknowledging it was Work for Hire, so there’s no future royalties and it’s up to Colgate to do what they like with the jingle. It’s worth noting that outside of corporate work songwriters very rarely create Work for Hire.   Collaboration Things get a bit trickier once more than one person creates something. If you and your mate Dave write a...
Copyright Basics: Part One

Copyright Basics: Part One

This is a two-part article. The second part is here.   The world of Copyright Law is shrouded in all kinds of myths, rumors and half-truths. When you’re a high flyer you’ll have a team to take care of all your legal needs, but in the meantime it’s worth getting some basic principles straight. First, an obvious disclaimer included at the insistence of my lawyer friends: this is obviously not legal advice. I’m just a guy who writes songs trying to help you all out. If you need proper advice, hire a professional.   Intellectual Property The concept central to Copyright Law is that of Intellectual Property, or IP. It works pretty much the way ordinary property works: to avoid society descending into chaos, humankind developed the concept of ownership. Loosely put, if I own a T-shirt, a ham sandwich or a bronze statuette of Napoleon Bonaparte I’m at liberty to decide what happens to it. I can choose to give or lend it to someone, with or without taking money in return. If someone else does something with it I don’t approve (such as taking it without permission) I’m entitled to object and, in serious cases, even have that person taken care of by our legal system. The difference between IP and regular property is that you can’t touch IP. It’s made up of ideas, creativity and expression. Some people find it hard to equate the value of these intangible things to actual objects, but there’s a really important concept behind it: namely, that ideas are really important. Cast your minds back to the Fifteenth Century. America wasn’t even called that yet. The Black Death was doing away...

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