I feel compelled, after this issue has come up in recent discussions, to share a warning re: the tempting draw of uploading one's music to an internet platform....And there are hundreds of them, all promising exposure  for the artist's music.

I touched on this subject delicately in a response/article to the question which was posed here on Tradconncect re: selling your music on and off line, where I expound on the state of selling one's music....And generating income with your craft/musical talents.

Working for the last 2-3 years as musician, artist, and manager for Smitty's Kitchen (http://smittyskitchenmusic.com/ ) I have been winding my way through the music industry, with some help from my son, who works in it.

My exerience has been that the internet is a useful tool, but a dangerous one, as well.  I have also watched the music industry change drastically in the last 2 yrs.  

It is almost impossible for an independent artist to depend on cd sales since one can now download music for pennies, or free.  An artist can livestream their music once they have built up a fan base and have a "name"....And that takes time.  Music liscensing is the best way to make money with music....And the music industry has been quick to recognize and pounce on this fact.

So, in uploading one's music to a platform, and there are hundreds, the vile clause in the terms of use which says, "you give us the right to sublicense any music you upload, without any royalties or payments due to you", or something similar to that, can be found in just about every platform.  By agreeing to the terms of use, which contain this clause, the artist says, "OK, you can use my music however you like, and not owe me any payments for any licensing deal you make with it".

The terms of use are usually very long and cumbersome to read, and almost always in very small font! 

There are a few very nice platforms such as this one, Tradconnect, where one can safely upload their music and share information with fellow musicians, but note the word "few".

So, beware, be savvy and be careful....And read through the terms of use of any platform before uploading your precious heart and soul, i.e. your music!

Cynthia Smith

Smitty's Kitchen, http://smittyskitchenmusic.com/

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Cynthia.  We have spoken on this issues and thanks for adding this discussion.  Prior to the last 2 years I would never have paid much attention to the internet and to this issue.  Yes I would be on there and would flick through pages, Facebook etc.  Working on this site for two years I am only getting to understand how all this works or could work for an artist. I stress "only getting" as it will take some time.

Artists I guess visit the web and follow the usual route through Facebook and other sites like this. Not many I would guess ( and maybe I am wrong ) stop too long to really work out what is going on. The arrival of Spotify, Deezer and other sites are changing that significantly as we move forward.

I have always been one to buy a lot of albums over the years ( close to 1,500 ) thinking that in my middle age I would be unable to buy them and would listen away to my hearts content.  Now I can probably listen to all these albums on Spotify for free. I don't see the next generation coming through being big purchasers of traditional CD's/albums.

It is my desire to get to the bottom of these issues through talking to artists and trying to get feed back and understanding.  At the moment the industry seems to be split between some of the top touring artists and artists that work a day job and record an album or two on the side.  The goal for the latter would seem to be to make a few albums to record for future generations their input into the tradition.  They can spend a couple of thousand on the production of an album and hope to recover that cost slowly by selling the cd's at gigs, launches etc. They may go on maybe make a second album etc. Some may make a living teaching privately and at schools, festivals, just getting by.  How does Spotify/CdBaby impact on this latter group.  Maybe not a lot. How it affects the top touring acts I do not know.  Somebody remarked to me recently that despite the internet revolution of the last 15 years the industry has never been more alive with some fantastic albums being recorded and a great live circuit.

These are just my initial observations and things are moving so quickly it is difficult for everyone to keep up.  This is a good thread and I will push it and promote it as the answers generated could be very useful, for artists reading.

So if you are a recording artist please give us your views.

Yes, Tony, you are absolutely right in saying that things are moving so quickly!   The changes in the music industry over the last two years (maybe 10 really) have been mind-boggling....Although one thing never changes, and that is that the music industry is enormous, involves huge sums of money, and is often exploitive.

In response to your observation that there seems to be a split between some of the top touring artists and the artist who must work a day job, I might guess that the top touring artists, have for the most part, signed on with a label.....If they were lucky enough to find a label that didn't require them to sell their "musical souls" .  Those labels have agents and promoters all hired to do the job of getting their artist to the "top"....So, everyone gets paid and those artists don't need that day job.

For those in the day job group like us, Smitty's Kitchen, or anyone who chooses to remain an independent artist, CDBaby has been a godsend, providing info, links and opportunities, and acting as a sort of guardian....But as I warned, beware of the internet platforms.  I have sore eyes from reading through hundreds of terms of use.

I do agree as well, that the music industry is vibrant and producing some of the finest music.  There are so many tools available to the average day job kind of musician/artist now, that were in the past, only available to signed artists....And the independent artist can focus on their music without the distraction of having to comply with expectations.  One must still, then do the work of manager, which requires constant vigilance to keep up with what's happening in the music business. 

And I would love to see your cd/album collection!!  Good Lord!!  I would also like to thank you for providing this lovely site for all of us tradheads to enjoy!

Best,

Cynthia Smith

Smitty's Kitchen, http://smittyskitchenmusic.com/

 

Yes an interesting discussion here indeed. The Internet is so vast, it's hard to keep up with it at times! For an independent full-time musician like myself, the Internet is vital these days. I can get my music, updates and news out to a lot of people instantly and that's great. One problem that I have is that there is so much social networking to keep going, facebook, twitter, google plus etc... All great but hard to keep them all updated. 

Cynthia, you make a valid point about reading the small print. Musicians should make sure that get their cut from payments and royalties. Some sites are very good such as CDBaby, TradConnect(Plug, Plug Tony!), ITunes etc.. but then some are not. I recently uploaded my first album "The Winding Clock" to www.bandcamp.com. The music is available to buy but then one can also listen to the full album on the site which makes little about actually buying or downloading the album. You can't blame one for not purchasing if the album is already fully online to listen to! 

I suppose I am a little bit old fashioned in that I always like getting my hands on the hard copy of the album and reading the sleeve notes and information about the musician(s) and tunes. I have tried to give as much information on my new album "Síocháin na Tuaithe" as possible on the sleeve notes although I have went down the DigiPak route this time instead of the jewel case. I know some albums have booklets with up to 16 pages in some cases but for someone like me starting out on a professional music career, this is not a route I can go for obvious reasons. 

I also agree with Cythnia's point about being manager and musician all at once. That is me for sure! I do a lot of teaching now which helps financially but there seems to be more and more administration and networking to keep up with for sure. 

So interested in other musician's views? 

Enda

I'm not a musician..

I do think though, that a musicians expectations and direction has to change.

The expectation to actually make money on sales of a recording is old hat. The modern musician should instead spend time developing a profile for him/herself and expect to 'gig' much much more. This where the money is at the moment.

The internet is a perfect platform to this end.. You gotta figure out how to work it though. 

Unfortunately, it's harder to make money in the industry now.. But fortunately it's a lot cheaper and simpler to make an album.

In reply to Matt....The purpose of this article/discussion was to alert fellow musicians to the dangers of uploading music to internet platforms which require one to agree to their terms of use, which almost always contain the stipulation that you give the "platform" the right to license your music without any compensation to you, the artist.

I agree that is difficult to earn an income creating music and presenting it to the public.  If it wasn't for the fact that music is part of who I am, I would not even bother.  There is nothing so satisfying as having your "audio-vision" become reality.

However, the reality is that recording costs money, and as an artist, it's important to protect your music from being hi-jacked. 

Music liscensing is the best alternative for earning money with one's music.  So, I have presented this information to alert musicians to the fact the this is becoming an exploitation on the part of the music industry.

That being said, I would still stand by my comments in the discussion re: selling music on and off line, that the best ways to earn income as a musician are to teach your instrument.  Playing gigs can help, but that is not always a dependable source of income, esp. if one tours and spend more money for the tour than is made because of the tour.

But....We'll see where live-streaming goes!  Another internet resource!

Cynthia Smith

Smitty's Kitchen http://smittyskitchenmusic.com/

 

Apologies if my post was off topic. 

Apologies for the off topic post..


Cynthia Smith said:

In reply to Matt....The purpose of this article/discussion was to alert fellow musicians to the dangers of uploading music to internet platforms which require one to agree to their terms of use, which almost always contain the stipulation that you give the "platform" the right to license your music without any compensation to you, the artist.

I agree that is difficult to earn an income creating music and presenting it to the public.  If it wasn't for the fact that music is part of who I am, I would not even bother.  There is nothing so satisfying as having your "audio-vision" become reality.

However, the reality is that recording costs money, and as an artist, it's important to protect your music from being hi-jacked. 

Music liscensing is the best alternative for earning money with one's music.  So, I have presented this information to alert musicians to the fact the this is becoming an exploitation on the part of the music industry.

That being said, I would still stand by my comments in the discussion re: selling music on and off line, that the best ways to earn income as a musician are to teach your instrument.  Playing gigs can help, but that is not always a dependable source of income, esp. if one tours and spend more money for the tour than is made because of the tour.

But....We'll see where live-streaming goes!  Another internet resource!

Cynthia Smith

Smitty's Kitchen http://smittyskitchenmusic.com/

 

No worries!  Easy to go off topic on this complicated issue! 

My head spins daily as I wiggle my way around the internet and the music industry maze. 

I know I posted this before, but I think its relevant to this discussion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix4BHHWTdqA&feature=youtu.be

Excellent discussion, Cynthia. I am leaving this comment because I want to be notified of any newly posted comments to this discussion. My own experience goes back to when I had done some studio work for some friends years ago (before internet,... in fact, before CDs). Recording companies, recognizing talent and the possibilites of making money, often played to the EGOs of artists, with the promise of "recognition" & "fame", not to mention "making money". I've seen some people get screwed by these very same companies,...losing rights and revenues, and eventually personal integrity. Since then, I became untrusting of selling my own music, but didn't know how to get it out there independantly. Current artists like Loreena McKennitt (Quinlan Road Music Limited), start their own production/publishing company, and strictly maintain control over every aspect of their music (copyrighting, studio production, sales & promotion, marketing, distribution, etc.). Still, it seems to be alot of work for one person without a staff of workers. Your comment of "Music Licensing is the best alternative for earning money with one's music" drew my interest and I wonder if you would expound on this more with details of exactly what that means. Also, any info/advice on Copyrighting music might be helpful. As I said, "GREAT DISCUSSION"!!!! Anxiuously waiting for the next posted comment to see where this goes. Cheers,

Danny

Thank you Ian, for the youtube video post.  Unfortunately, I'm having trouble watching it since the video keeps breaking up.

Thank you Danny, for your interest. 

I can hardly blame anyone for using extreme caution in re: to approaching any part of the music industry. 

On our new album, we are recording a version of October Song, by Robin Willliamson.  In calling him to ask his permission, he gave us his blessing, but informed me that we have to purchase the publishing rights.  In essence, he really doesn't entirely own his music.  The publisher, i.e. the label does.  So, if we do not record a version of the song that is acceptable to Mr. W., but his publisher agrees to sell the publishing rights, we can include it on our album.  Go figure! 

Now one could argue, well, Robin signed the contract, after all. True!  If he is not pleased with it, we will not include it, out of respect.  As an independent artist, this whole scenario makes me very cautious when I approach a label, or vice versa.  I'm responsible for the musical creations of the band, http://smittyskitchenmusic.com/ as a whole. 

So, our band records as Smitty's Kitchen, a Smitty's Kitchen Production.   I hire my own engineers, use my own studio, etc.  I publish the music via Discmakers/CDBaby, where it is catalogued.  I have it distributed via their digital bundle package and cd/music store.  I use their agent, Rumblefish.  This way, when publishing rights for our music are requested, the profits from publishing rights go to Smitty's Kitchen.  I have not been required to sign any terms of use agreement for the digital distribution.....It is available for download only on these sites.  I have not been required to sign any terms of use agreement for Rumblefish, since CDBaby has a partnership with them.  Any music licensing deals must be presented to the band via myself, the  manager.

That being said, I have become more savvy as to what is required to make one's music available for licensing.  The bandmates have all signed an agreement re: our upcoming album, for licensing.  The music will be properly cleared and mastered to meet the levels required, etc., etc., etc.  Licensing is basically making your music available for use for TV, film, commercials, documentaries, etc.

Now, I'm becoming  aware recently of 3rd party agents.  For instance, MTV has our music in their database, available for licensing.  If they should land a licensing deal with our music, MTV would take the agent's share, which is usually 50%.  I have no idea how our music got into their database!  I'm still trying to figure the legality of this....I just discovered this recently.

Re: copyrights advise...I shy from elaboration for personal safety reasons, but I will say that Smitty's Kitchen has their music "produced" on a tangible article, i.e. cd, with the "all rights reserved" clause.  Our music is in a database with Discmakers and CDBaby.  This is what we do in  lieu of trying to work with the US copyright office.  If we had to go to litigation, we can prove when the music was recorded and published.

Hope this answers some of your questions....And maybe explains a bit more about music licensing and the dangers of signing a terms of use with an internet platform that requires such, and offers no compensation to the artist.

Cynthia Smith

Hiya Cynthia,  I am honoured & thank you for your invite to "friendship". Your comments about Robin Williams' "October Song" reminded me of my attempts to contact Brian MacNeill (Battlefield Band) for permission to use his beautiful aire music of "Peace and Plenty". I had written lyrics to it and tried more than a few times to contact him and the publisher for permission to use & record the song, but never received a reply. I was (am) tempted to re-write the music (as a close variation to the piece), but I feel it would be stealing (kind of???). It was (is) HIS song that gave me the inspiration to set words to it. I know that many songwriters have been accused of stealing music in this way (George Harrison's "MY SWEET LORD" comes to mind, although, right now, I can't remember the name of the other song that fits this description/accusation. Once upon a time this was a big deal in the news.). With any song that uses basic three chord progression and a simplistic melody this is not uncommon (especially with early Rock & Roll). Also, I believe that a song must be at least 50 years old before it becomes "public domain', allowing its usage by any and all (although I could be wrong in this). I was just wondering what your thoughts would be on this. Cheers,

 Danny

P.S.: I think I may know of you through my membership with the Lehigh Valley Celtic Music Meet-Up group. Home concerts in NJ???? Ring a bell???

Hi Danny! 

I would entirely shy away from this topic of editing music to fit one's lyrics....Maybe should be a whole 'nother discussion thread, other than Artist, Beware of the Internet Platfrom. 

Yes, after 50 years music becomes public domain, but I understand that Paul MacCartney's music is in litigation to extend his ownership of his music, for obvious reasons.

I have no idea where we would have met, but if you are in the greater Phila. area, it could have been a number of places....But not the Lehigh Valley Celtic Music Meet-up, althought that sounds interesting.  If you saw a silver-haired lady blasting away on a whistle somewhere, might have been myself.

Best,

Cynthia Smith

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