Category Archives: Guest Blog

Guest Blog: The Truth About Royalty Checks (Part 2)

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Casual reminder: All information posed here is for educational purposes only. If royalties are in any way relevant to what you’re doing, you should already have an attorney(or a professional acting on your best interests)!

As music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. We work very hard for very little. We live, bleed, and sweat our music. Don’t you think that we deserve a distributor that will work equally hard for us?

When it comes to the digital music distribution arena, not every option is created equal. It’s a tricky business, and never forget that these companies are out to make money from you, not the other way around. As with anything there are pros and cons but one thing is painfully clear – if you want to be in any way relevant as an artist in today’s music industry you’ll have to choose one.

Customer service is something that should weigh heavily in your choice here. You want your music to available to the public with as few headaches as possible, and when (yes, when) you do encounter an issue you want it to be resolved in the most timely and least frustrating way possible.

If your head is spinning with all the distributor options, the amount of stores that they funnel your music to is even more immense. You may be wondering, “Do all of these stores matter?”

The short answer is, “No.”

Some matter a great deal more than others, those being Spotify, Pandora, Amazon MP3, Google Play, and iTunes. While all are relevant, these are the most important and most used.

Another important issue to take into account is the legality of signing up with one of the companies. You have to sign a ‘blanket’ contract, meaning there is absolutely no room for negotiation (though some do offer at least a little bit of wiggle room).

Termination clauses and terms of agreement are important to note as well. The point is to get popular enough to move up the ladder, but labels interested in your catalog might be deterred if you’re attached to a previous agreement. Most of the large aggregators offer an indefinite contract with a general 30-60 day termination policy.

There are a plethora of digital distribution options available to the independent artist today. Some of the most popular include Tunecore, CD Baby, Soundexchange, Loudr, and Distrokid, just to name a few. They all have their pros and cons. Bear in mind that some have submission criteria and have a mandatory screening period. I won’t attempt to form a comparison, as the provided links will show you a great breakdown between them all:

I won’t attempt to state which is the ‘best’ option as everyone’s situation is different. I have extensive experience with Tunecore and use it still.

thieves and lovers brandonAbout the Author: Brandon Stoner has been in and around the music business for over a decade. He is the owner of Audio Ecstasy Productions and LoudLife Media, as well as the lead vocalist and guitarist in the band Thieves & Lovers. He resides in sunny Los Angeles, Califonia with his dog Max.

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Guest Blog: Los Angelics’ Sara Coda on Practicing

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Practicing and Practicing Practicing

Mastering an instrument is a skill. It takes a lot of practice. But something we dont think about often is that practice itself is a skill. You can get better at guitar and you can get better at how you practice guitar.

Here are some tips for learning a new song on any instrument.

– Learn the hardest part first.

– Take it bit by bit, a measure at a time if you have to.

– When you are reading the music and learning to play it, hum along, or hum it, then play it.

– Commit that bit to memory immediately, as you are learning to play it

– Master that bit before moving on. Think quality not quantity. Even if all you do is learn one measure in one day, the bottom line is, it has to be mastered. Learn it correctly the first time. It is much easier than having to correct it later.

– When youve learned the whole piece or a section of a piece, identify your weak spots. For example, do you always lag transitioning from one part to the next? If youre only going to play the whole piece or section from beginning to end, its going to take a good while before you get your weak spot nailed down, if ever. Practice the transition (whatever it is, maybe its just two chords), just the transition over and over and overas many times as it takes to master it. If you practice just the weak spot, say 50 times back to back, you will get a lot more mileage out of your time and energy.

– Practice without the sustain pedal or reverb. This will make it easier to hear detail, and will make everything significantly tighter.

– Call it a day when you have noticeably slowed down on how quickly you pick up on things, usually around 2-3 hours.

– End on a good note. Play what youve learned correctly, then stop. The last thing you do will be the thing you remember clearest.

– Take a nap. Seriously! Thats how it soaks in and eventually becomes second nature.

Sara Coda is the lead vocalist for electro-pop band Los Angelics, who recently released their new EP, Land Of The Brave and Dangerous, which you can purchase HERE.

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GUEST BLOG: The Truth About Royalty Checks

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Let’s get this out of the way. All information posed here is for educational purposes only. If royalties are in any way relevant to what you’re doing, you should already have an attorney (or a professional acting on your best interests)!

Getting paid for doing what you love – making music – that’s the dream of every starry-eyed kid with posters of their heroes plastered all over their bedroom walls. It seems an impossible feat, maybe now more-so than ever…
The music business used to be a veritable minefield of artist exploitation; hidden clauses, shady managers, unfair contracts, conflicts of interest, you name it. It’s no secret that the music industry has gone through massive changes in the past two decades, ever since Lars Ulrich decided to litigate against some dorm room wunderkinds who found a way to bring a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry to its knees.

The internet, for better or worse, has revolutionized how music is made, played, distributed, and sold. There is sage advice available via a few choice keywords that just years ago would have only been accessible through an intermediary (and definitely NOT for free) like a manager, attorney, or producer. Streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Youtube have made instant audio gratification attainable for new artists and legacy artists alike (with a few famous names turning themselves into martyrs…).

One of the biggest ways that the industry has shifted is how royalties are handled. It’s also a hot button issue with everyone up the music ladder, from record label heads to the artists themselves. Put simply, there are two main royalty streams for artists, performing (sometimes called publishing) and mechanical. Though times have changed, these two categories are still vital to your income as a musician. Let’s break it down!

Performance royalties means essentially being paid for any “live performance” of registered material. The term “live performance” can mean when the recording is played on terrestrial radio (that’s earth), satellite radio (that’s space), or streamed via internet radio (that’s Spotify, and Pandora, and…you get it). It also applies to music licensed for film and video games.

Mechanical royalties come from record sales, and are based on the number of recordings sold. The term originated from when copies of recordings had to be physically reproduced (vinyl, cassette, 8 track). Whoever owns the master recording (a record label, the artist) is technically to be paid for every reproduction. This includes digital copies sold and streams as well.

That bears repeating.

This includes digital copies sold and streams as well. This is where many take issue with streaming services, even those that are subscription-based. Another fun fact about mechanical royalties? Performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI) aren’t responsible for collecting mechanicals, only performance royalties. Some good news is that Under U.S. law, download retailers include the mechanical royalty as part of the net payment, though it’s a significantly lower rate than it would be for physical sales. This no doubt due to the fact that digital sales outnumber physical sales.

Next week we’ll dive more into royalties, and look at some digital distribution options.

thieves and loversAbout the Author: Brandon Stoner has been in and around the music business for over a decade. He is the owner of Audio Ecstasy Productions and LoudLife Media, as well as the lead vocalist and guitarist in the band Thieves & Lovers. He resides in sunny Los Angeles, Califonia with his dog Max.

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Guest Blog: Los Angelics’ Sara Coda on Finding Songs

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Sometimes, a muse will come whisper a song into your ear. Sometimes, all you have to do is hold the guitar and before you know it, you come walking out of a fog with an entire song that you have no memory of writing. But, look! Look at the handwriting! Its yours. That sneaky muse drugged you, wrote a song, and even forged your handwriting. Its a song about things you didnt even know you think and feelings you didnt know you feel. You cant even take credit for it. But when your muse is MIA, and youre itching to write, where can you find songs?

  • First, whatever you do, get away from electronic devices. Come on, you knew that was coming. You will not find a song scrolling through Instagram on the toilet. Thats a promise.
  • Talk to strangers. The weirder the better. The less you have in common the better. Sit back and listen. Its only a matter of time before he/she says something uniquely poetic. Maybe use the buddy system on this one.
  • Go on an adventure. You dont have to go far. Just get away from the surroundings youre used to seeing. Observe without judgement.
  • Eavesdrop. Its unethical, but so what? If you have a sister, hide under her bed when shes on the phone. If youre sister is more of a texter than a talker, go to a restaurant and eavesdrop there. You would be surprised how many people break up in restaurants.
  • Keep a notebook by your bed for when you have an idea in your sleep. Sometimes your brain will try to sabotage you and it will tell you oh, this song is sooo good that theres no way you can forget it.Trust: You will forget it. Wake up and write it down. If its a melody, make a voice note.
  • If you want writer’s block, try to come up with something original! If not, steal ideas. Steal titles and ideas from books, movies and even other songs. Rewrite great songs by tweaking the melody, using similar chord progressions, or saying the same thing in a different way! “Influence” is just a euphemism for “straight up theft.” Even the songs you’re stealing from have been stolen. May you be so lucky as to have to worry about a lawsuit. 

That should keep you busy until your muse returns! And dont forget to have fun. Thats the whole reason you did this in the first place.

Sara Coda is the lead vocalist for electro-pop band Los Angelics, who recently released their new EP, Land Of The Brave and Dangerous, which you can purchase HERE.

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GUEST BLOG: Los Angelics’ Sara Coda on How To Prep For a Show

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2 Weeks before:
  • Create a Facebook event.
  • Email your mailing list and let them know you’re having a show. Put the Facebook event link in your email.
  • Email the venue a breakdown of your setup, your bio, band picture, social media links, and Facebook event link.
  • Incentives: spread the word on your Facebook invite and email of games or incentives? A free t-shirt if someone brings 2 friends that have never been to your show?
  • Look on Bandsintown or a similar app for shows playing in the area that you could flyer. Try to find a band/artist in the same genre so that you can target people with similar musical sensibilities. 
  • Start flyering those shows (2 shows a week is a good start)
  • Is the show you booked an all-ages show? Start flyering high schools and malls in the area. (This is a numbers game. Hand them out to anyone and everyone)
  • Schedule the rehearsals with your band mates.
  • Call your friends and let them know you’re having a show. Don’t be afraid to ask them to do things for you, i.e. “Hey you should bring your neighbor! He hasn’t seen us play yet.” (Do not send out a mass text. They are off-putting.)
  • Find out who the other bands on the bill are and cross promote.
The Week of:
  • How many rehearsals you need depends on your band, but at least get one run through of the set a week or less before the show.
  • Depending on your band’s goals, you might want to record rehearsal. Watch it back as soon as you can. Make mental notes, then let it go.
  • Flyer the venue you’re going to be playing. Those people are already there. Chances are they are regulars. This kind of flyering can be more personal and involved. Introduce yourself, ask them about their music taste and describe your music to them. If it seems like something they would be interested in, it might be worth it to give them a CD or flashdrive. 
  • While you’re at the venue, have a chat with the sound guy. Let him know you’re doing a show, what your set up is, and ask him what he’ll need from you. Give him your music so he knows what you like your mix to sound like.
The Day before:
  • Send another email to the people on your mailing list to remind them about the show. Include details like venue address, parking, etc.
  • Send a reminder text to your friends who said they would/might go to the show.
  • Email the venue the names of the people you’re putting on the guest list.
The Day of:
  • Make sure your go-pro or cam-corder is charged and ready to record your show.
  • Put a blast on all social media.
  • We recommend a light work out. Enough to get rid of nervous energy but not enough to make you tired.
  • Run through a checklist. Do you have your merch? Mailing list sign up sheet? CDs and flash drives? Camera? All your musical equipment? Load it into the car early so you’re not rushing.

Sara Coda is the lead vocalist for electro-pop band Los Angelics, who recently released their new EP, Land Of The Brave and Dangerous, which you can purchase HERE.

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