Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CLZL43O/ref=r_soa_w_d
After over two decades in the Canadian music business, Bob D’Eith has learned a lot about how independent artists have succeeded or failed. “A Career in Music: the other 12 step program,” was written to fill a void in the world of music business books. Bob observes that, “there are many music business books written from the U.S.A. or U.K. perspective, but none that I am aware of from the Canadian perspective.”
This book delves into the basic tools that every independent artist should have in today’s complicated and ever changing music industry. More than ever before, artists are being expected to develop themselves. That means understanding many parts of the business both traditional and cutting edge.
“A Career in Music” examines where the money is for Canadian artists and how to get it. Bob says, “half of the battle is knowing where to register and with what organizations.” As an eBook, Bob D’Eith has conveniently added links to all of the necessary online registration services.
Fully interactive, “A Career in Music” is full of useful links to other artists, websites and discussion examples. In addition, the book contains an appendix full of checklists, outlines, resources and more detailed discussions of topics addressed in the book.
EXCERPT FROM GRANT LAWRENCE FORWARD:
“…Bob D’Eith gets this [business]. In fact, as you are about to read, Bob understands far, far more about the music business that I ever could. For the past quarter century, Bob has done it all. He’s been a musician, a recording studio owner, a music publisher, the longtime executive director of Music BC, a chairman of FACTOR NAB, a JUNO rep, and is one of the co-founders of BC’s hugely successful artist development Peak Performance Project. Most importantly, Bob is an entertainment lawyer. He knows exactly what you as an artist can and cannot do legally speaking. It doesn’t get any more clear-cut than that.
I’m very glad that my friend Bob finally decided to get off his lazy ass and write this book. It needed to be written. I just wish he had done it 25 years earlier. It would have made my life as an independent musician much, much easier. Tap into his knowledge, enjoy the ride, and maybe even buy him a beer. He deserves it.”
Mythos “Journey” is now available on dozens of digital platforms around the world including iTunes:
I was just sent an article from a friend you can read here about legendary multi-instrumentalist and former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, who plays guitar and piano on two of my favorite Stones albums (Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street), among others. The article is a shocking and sad depiction of Mr. Taylor’s life, and the poverty-stricken state he currently finds himself in.
The article goes on to explain how this came to be, and how The Rolling Stones unilaterally decided to stop paying him royalties in 1982 based on advice from their new record label and publishing company, despite the fact that Taylor’s songwriting and musical contribution to some of the biggest Stones songs from this era is undeniable. Since then of course, the rest of the Stones have gone on to become multimillionaires and some of the most wealthy musicians in the world, and Mr. Taylor has received nothing.
If there ever was a real-life cautionary tale to sign a Band Agreement between you and your band mates, this is it!
- Kurt Dahl, March 13, 2013
Feeling pretty excited this week, as the latest single ‘Scarecrows’ by my band One Bad Son just cracked top 5 across Canada! The song is the first top 5 of our 8+ year career, and has been picked up from coast to coast. We just got back from a cross-Canada tour opening for Buckcherry, which really helped push the single to the next level at radio. You can hear the song on YouTube here. Crank it up and enjoy…
- Kurt Dahl, March 7, 2013
After six long years, Mythos has delivered 11 new tracks for release in the spring of 2013. We are very excited about this new record and we think that fans will fall in love with the music. Keep an eye out for cool pre-release promotions.
…don’t believe the hype!
In the past few days I’ve seen a bunch of Facebook friends post status updates that aim to protect their copyright, stating in part, “In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention)…”
The idea behind the “notice” is that Facebook’s listing as a publicly traded company will negatively affect its users’ privacy, which is not true. In reality, Facebook and its users are still bound to the same terms and conditions that were accepted by users when they signed up for the service. Posting a notice of this kind on your profile does nothing to change that.
It’s also worth noting that there is no ‘Berner Convention’. There is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (see here), but that typo isn’t the real issue in the post. There is also reference to the Uniform Commercial Code, a set of US-recommended laws that regulate the way states do business with each other. However, this doesn’t really apply to social networks.
The bottom line: anyone who creates a Facebook account agrees to their terms and conditions (found here). It would be like walking into a bank and posting a revised mortgage agreement on the wall, and expecting the existing terms of your signed mortgage to be instantly amended. Copying and pasting a made-up legal statement into your Facebook status doesn’t make an existing contractual agreement null and void.
So what are your options if you’ve already amended your privacy settings and still don’t agree with Facebook’s terms and conditions? Leave Facebook, or deal with it.
- Kurt Dahl, Entertainment Lawyer, Nov. 28, 2012
For some reason, the last week has seen me drafting or negotiating a ton of agreements between Artist and Producer, outlining what percentage of record sales the former will pay the latter. And yes, records do sell sometimes, so this can be important. If your record “goes Adele” and sells 25 million worldwide, you’ll rue the day you coughed an extra percentage point to your producer without reading this first.
Whether a producer should receive a percentage of record sales and/or songwriting points (or neither), was discussed by yours truly here. Once it is determined that they will receive a % of record sales (which is normally the case), the next question is: what amount does that percentage apply to?
The key to answering this question is understanding the acronyms SRLP and PPD, and their differences.
SRLP is the “suggested retail list price”, which is the approx. price charged by the retailer (HMV, Wal-Mart, or one of the few retailers left).
PPD is the “published price to dealers”, which is the approx. price that distributors charge their dealers, or the “wholesale price”. So – PPD is lower, SRLP higher.
Whichever royalty base is used, it must be clearly stated as such in the contract between Artist and Producer, so both parties know what to expect going forward. It can make a huge difference in terms of dollars. For example, a 3% royalty to Producer on an SRLP of $12.99 would be approx. $0.39 per record sold, but if based on PPD (about $6.50 — roughly 50% of retail) then you’d need to double the Producer’s royalty to about 6% to come up with the same royalty of $0.39 per record going to said Producer.
Whether you agree to pay the Producer a portion of PPD or SRLP, the calculated royalty should be proportionate. In other words, the royalty per record sold going to the Producer should be more or less the same whether you’re going SRLP or PPD.
Til next time, keep rockin’.
p.s. found this great old photo of Phil Spector, the ultimate producer for a time (until he started pulling guns on the acts he was recording…see here for more)
- Kurt Dahl, Nov. 7, 2012
Check out this interesting interview here with my dear friend Heather Morrison, actor/director extraordinaire in Saskatoon. The writer notes how horribly unremarkable many live bands, and how they could use a tip or two from talented actors in terms of engaging and entertaining the audience.
Having seen a lot of mediocre bands throughout my life, I have to agree! Actors don’t have an instrument to hide behind, yet the good ones seem to get you in the palm of their hand from the word go. On the other hand, musicians don’t have a storyline to hide behind and/or use to engage the audience…all they have is their songs and the performance of them. So I’m not sure which group has it harder. I mean, if I sit down and read you a story (and act it out) vs. play you some songs, which is more engaging? Almost seems easier to follow the story than get into a set of unknown songs…unless the songs are exceptional and I’m jumping around and yelling. Maybe this explains why Iggy Pop cut himself and rubbed raw meat on his chest during sets haha.
Anyway, some food for thought…
- Kurt Dahl, Oct. 17, 2012
thanks for the nice article from the University of Saskatchewan…though still feel a bit undeserving of the attention. There are people out there curing diseases, changing lives, saving the environment, etc…I just hit drums and stuff.
- Kurt Dahl, Sept. 10, 2012
An interesting infograph from Hypebot and ReverbNation on Facebook Timeline, based on the responses of 2200 musicians around the world. It appears that the initial reaction was more negative, but with further use (and some tweaks by Facebook), the response is getting more positive.
- Kurt Dahl, August 2, 2012
Was listening to Jack White’s great new album Blunderbuss on bike ride to work this morning, and heard something familiar in song two, entitled ‘Sixteen Saltines’. I couldn’t place it all morning, but felt like it was something from the Who catalog (my favorite band of all time, incidentally). So I threw on Live @ Leeds at work, and sure enough, hit the nail on the head with ‘I’m Free’. Check out the similar opening riffs below.
Obviously, Jack’s riff has less notes than Pete’s…but the similarity is surely there. And it is not a bad thing: that is rock and roll! Whether its Zeppelin taking from Willie Dixon, the Beatles from Buddy Holly, or every hip hop artist from James Brown…the great thing about music (and art) is that it is all derivative!
“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” – T.S. Eliot
- Kurt Dahl, July 25, 2012
Just read a great article on Music Think Tank here on getting the most out of your band’s Facebook Page…why is it that some posts really resonate with your fans and some drop dead? What is the typical lifespan of each post? What percentage of your fans actually see your posts? Why is a photo often better to post than a link? These questions and others are tackled and answered…well worth a read (and reread).
- Kurt Dahl, July 11, 2012
Just watched the entire 1.5 hour interview with Billy and Howard here, and to be honest…I never wanted it to end. Howard has such a gift for bringing out the most candid and unguarded side of everyone he interviews…it is truly impressive.
What amazed me was how frank Billy is about his former band mates, the last 10 years of his career, his romantic relationships with Courtney Love and Jessica Simpson, etc. Billy’s comments on Facebook and Twitter not selling records are interesting, as is his take on the Radiohead ‘hipsters’ out there.
Definitely worth an hour of your time.
- Kurt Dahl, June 27, 2012
Just read a very interesting article here about an ongoing dispute happening between US ‘dream pop’ duo Beach House and car manufacturer Volkswagen. The bone of contention is that VW ‘ripped off’ Beach House’s song ‘Take Care’ in their most recent ad campaign for the VW Polo.
Watch the VW Polo ad here:
Listen to ‘Take Care’ here:
Pretty similar! The VW song mirrors the key stylistic moments and key lyrics of “Take Care” (e.g. “I’ll take care of you” becomes “I’ll watch over you”, etc.). So the question is: can VW get away with this? Apparently, VW approached Beach House several times about using ‘Take Care’ in the ad, and Beach House refused each time. So VW simply created a similar song and avoided the hassle!
This reminds me of a battle fought by Tom Waits in 1989 against Doritos. Watch the summary here. Almost exactly the same situation: Doritos approaches Waits to be the new ‘voice’ of the new Doritos, he outright refuses, Doritos hires an impersonator! However, this case ended with Waits being awarded $2M in damages, as a jury found that an average listener would have thought it was him in the commercial. In the end, Doritos removed the Waits imitation from the air, and found another celebrity to voice their cause…the perennially hip Jay Leno!
So: what hope does Beach House have in this matter? If they have the time and the money to take this to court, and can prove that: a) the songs are similar enough to confuse the ‘reasonable listener’; and b) this confusion has caused damage to Beach House’s integrity, they should be successful.
The question, as is often the case, is whether this David has the means to get Goliath in front of a jury.
- Kurt Dahl, June 13, 2012
I had a great meeting with a friend the other day, and something that came up was the value that modern consumers put in songs. In monetary terms, the value in the 90s for example was quite high (ex: $20 for a 10 song CD = $2/song). In the iTunes realm, the monetary value per song is typically $0.99. But both these models are giving way to the ‘music like water’ system, where instead of paying for ‘copies’ of songs, consumers are able to stream-access nearly any song imaginable at the click of a button, for seemingly no cost.
In this new model, the monetary value of a song is greatly reduced…on services like Spotify and Rdio for example, most users pay pennies per listen. But my friend and I were discussing how the decrease in monetary value doesn’t necessarily coincide with an overall drop in intrinsic value for the listener…there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that people are enjoying music any less than people did in the 70s. Arguably, music is enjoyed more and forms a larger part of our everyday lives than ever before. It’s just that the entire model of how we enjoy it, and how artists are compensated for that enjoyment, has been totally overhauled.
Perhaps there needs to be a more accurate method for music lovers to show how they value a song or band. The major labels decreed that how you showed that value was $20 for a CD in 1990. iTunes sets the value at $0.99 for a download. But not all songs nor albums are created equally. Certainly a song like Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ has more value than one of the throwaway tunes on his much-maligned 1970 album Self Portrait. But maybe not. And maybe that’s the point, that wherever the future of music consumption is heading, it should include some method for consumers to name their price…be it on a song-by-song basis, or in the form of a simple donation to their favorite band. Not sure how this would be accomplished, but someone out there has gotta be working on it…
- Kurt Dahl, May 30, 2012
Interesting story here about a new partnership between Coke and Spotify, that promises to “provide consumers universal access to music”. The partnership will focus on four key pillars: global, technology, social, and a commitment to music. Spotify explained that Coca-Cola will be a huge factor in bringing Spotify to new markets and new corners of the world.
In 2011, Coke launched Coca-Cola Music, and 2013 will mark the evolution of that program. Spotify will be at the core of it. The new app will be unveiled for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Here’s the gist of the partnership: Coca-Cola plans to “invite consumers into Spotify through live events, TV, digital media,” and through the new app. In return, Coca-Cola gets kudos from fans for sponsoring an up-and-coming tech startup that puts music in the forefront. Considering the Coke Facebook page has over 41.5 million likes, this could indeed be a game changer.
Reaction to the announcement has been mixed. Some are of the opinion that this sort of partnership is exactly what Spotify needs to break to a larger audience around the world. Others, however, feel that this will create a more deeply-branded and heavily advertised music experience, which consumers will reject.
For now, I agree with music/tech writer David Chaitt, who notes that “Coca-cola needs to improve the Discovery and Amplification experiences of listeners without inauthentically injecting their beverages into conversation.” Otherwise, this thing will take off like a lead balloon…as the saying goes.
- Kurt Dahl, April 24, 2012
A very common question I get asked by my musician clients is whether they should give up part of their songwriting to the producer of their upcoming album/EP/single.
This question brings up a key distinction to be drawn between the songwriting copyright and the sound recording copyright (see my last blog for more on this).
Traditionally, artists would give producers 2-4 “points” on a record, which in simplified terms means that 2-4% of revenues generated from the sale of records would go to the producer. Only the sound recording copyright is involved here.
These days, as records sell less and less, I see more producers asking for a portion of the songwriting copyright. In some cases, this is justified…as the producer actually participates in the songwriting process and provides more than ‘producing’ duties…by adding melodies, harmonies, rhythms, song structure and/or instrumental arrangements. In other cases…is it totally unwarranted!
Now, the million dollar question is: where is the line drawn between producing and writing? You as artist are paying (and likely a significant fee) to obtain the various services that a producer offers, which may include some arrangement of your songs among other things. But does this arrangement constitute songwriting?
For example, if a producer changes a single chord in the chorus, is that songwriting? If he/she contributes all the lyrics to said chorus, is that songwriting? In my opinion, the answer to the former is no and latter is yes, but often the producer’s contribution is somewhere in between these two extremes. So it is a definite gray area.
What does the law say? As per the Sarah McLachlan case (see Neudorf v. McLachlan et al, BC Supreme Court), there must be proof of mutual intent between artist and producer that co-authorship will take place, and evidence that such co-authorship did indeed occur. So bands and producers are going to sit down and discuss all this important stuff beforehand right? Right. I won’t hold my breath.
In the meantime, just know that as an artist, you should not be giving away any of your songwriting unless real co-writing is happening with your producer. Now, how to define that co-writing is another thing…
As always, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
- Kurt Dahl, March 28, 2012
Most artists I talk with have a difficult time understanding the different copyrights and revenue streams that flow from their songs. And I don’t blame them. Our copyright system has developed in bits and pieces over decades, so there are layers of complexity that still confuse me (only once in awhile though, and early in the morning).
In every recorded song there exists two copyrights: one in the written song itself (the songwriting copyright) and one in the recording of the song (the sound recording copyright).
The revenue streams generated from the songwriting copyright include performance royalties (from radio play, live performance of the song, etc…your SOCAN cheque), mechanical license royalties (a fee paid per song for every copy of the song made), synchronization fees (if the song is ‘synched’ to film or television), as well as others.
The revenue streams generated from the sound recording copyright include record sales revenue (both digital and physical), and master use license fees (to use the actual recording of the song in film/tv/etc.).
When you sign a publishing deal, you are dealing with your catalog of songwriting copyrights. When you sign a record deal, the label is acquiring rights to the sound recording copyright.
In the pre-internet, pre-Napster world, the sound recording copyright generated a great deal of revenue, as records sold a lot more, record deals were aplenty, and all was good (not really, but you knew that). As the Dylan song goes, things have changed. To say that the sale of recorded music has taken a major hit is the understatement of this blog series. However, while the sale of music has gone down, the overall use of music (in film, tv, radio, internet, in restaurants, at sporting events, etc.) has never been higher.
What this means is the songwriting copyright has never been more important, as it generates revenue from the use of music, more than its sale.
So what does this mean for you as an artist?
First, the ability to write songs has never been more valuable.
Second, while everyone thinks of a record deal as the main indicator of success, a strong publishing deal may earn you far more money and open a lot more doors in the long run.
Third, be very careful when signing anything that mentions publishing or songwriting or an assignment of any rights as a writer.
Finally, while artists like Elvis and Frank Sinatra used to make a very good living performing/recording songs written by others, in today’s industry, those that can write their own songs (and put on an exceptional live show) are much more empowered to make a living from music. So long story short…keep writing.
Email me at email@example.com if you have any further questions, I’d be glad to help.
- Kurt Dahl, March 6, 2012
In a submission made here, the RIAA recently named the countries that it says “fail to provide adequate and effective protection for U.S. intellectual property”. The major offenders? China, Russia, India, and yes…Canada.
The report notes that “USTR placed Canada on the Watch List for making ‘little headway in addressing long-standing intellectual
property issues related to copyright and patent reform such as ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties.’ Furthermore, USTR
noted that ‘progress has stalled on the outstanding issue of national treatment of U.S. artists in the distribution of proceeds from
Canada’s private copying levy and its ‘neighboring rights’ regime.’”
The report comes at an important time in Canada’s ‘battle against piracy’, as an amendment to the Copyright Act is looming, and the opinions on either side of the debate seem to get more polarized.
- Kurt Dahl, Feb. 21, 2012