• August 28, 2018 7:04 PM | Linda Wilson (Administrator)

    The article on Booking (below) was submitted by an ANONYMOUS artist who we requested put together an on-the-ground view of booking gigs.  So here is some great insight and things to consider when trying to book yourself. Go into it with an open mind and glean from the experience of this person.  You'll be glad you did! LKW

    ************************************************************************************

    WRITER'S DISCLAIMER:

    This article might hurt your feelings. If your feelings are easily hurt, avoid reading this article, keep your instrument(s) at home, and never leave there.

    I will attempt to share what I know as a 26-year old artist who has built an, at the least, sustainable career over the past several years as a working musician, band leader, artist, songwriter, manager, and ultimately CEO of his business.  I am by no means a “Pat Green” or a “Cody Johnson” and most definitely cannot speak with the same credit that artists of their stature have earned. I will attempt to share some strategies for booking your band gigs that is entirely based on anecdotal experience, as well as years of being mentored. These strategies will inevitably be considered wrong, right, and hit or miss by some or many other musicians and music industry personnel. Who knows, maybe I’ll be corrected in some areas! I’d be glad to. Know why? Because like you, I’m trying to grow my business, and to do so we must be open to criticism.

    So, keep your mind open, know that if you haven’t been going about booking in the ways I will mention that it’s fine, and ultimately take my advice with a grain of salt and for what it’s worth to you. 

    Alright? Alright! And here we go

    BOOKING: THE RECURRING NIGHTMARE

    On a scale of 1-10, 10 being best, how would you answer this statement: 

    “I confidently, consistently thrive in booking my band gigs 

    on the road and at home.”

    If you answered a 10, I want to meet you and shake your hand. If you answered below a 7, I want to hug you because I completely sympathize.

    Booking. Can. Be. A. Nightmare.

    This nightmare though, doesn’t go away until you apply the right prescription. I understand that you’re a creative and that you just, “wanna play my guitar and write the songs, man”. However, you must get off your ass and do something about it. Not only do you have to do something about it, but that something should be intelligently executed – which brings us to our dilemma. 

    You want gigs. You need gigs. You’re not getting them. 

    The art of booking requires patience, constant hustle, organization, the ability to form and maintain relationships, and level-headedness. The art form itself has been, and will continue to be a constant evolution. LIFE HACK: We live in a world with internet and the ability to reach the entire global population in seconds. We are in the age of the email. Long gone are the days of cold calling venues, and even the short era of the infamous “Reverbnation” Press Kits are dissipating faster than you can tweet. If you want to be successful at booking, you must be current with the process. You must follow the trend. You are not special, sorry. You are one of the hundreds of thousands of bands or solo acts, all throughout the world, who are vying for the spotlight. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming it’s because you want to book more gigs, meaning that you’re not exactly The Beatles just yet. That being said, you need the venues more than they need you, right now. It’s okay though, take a deep breath, swallow that down along with your pride. You play their game, they don’t need to play yours. Therefore, we email. 

    Before we can cover how to send a (to my knowledge) proper booking email, we need to cover the meat and potatoes of what all is going in it first. You need all the ingredients laid out before you can start making the soup. 

    You will need, in no order of importance:

    PHOTOS -

    Professional, legitimate photos of yourself. These photos must match the tones of the music you make. Huh? Yes, match them. Do you know how to match your clothes when you dress? I hope so. It’s the same concept. A hippy-flower-child songstress should perhaps have bright, vibrant colors and backgrounds in her photos. A death-metal band should perhaps have dark, ominous lighting in theirs. Country singer? You should work to avoid the “by the railroad tracks, in an open field” cliché, in all honesty. Look up photos of artist you aspire to. What are those like? Where are those photos taken? Bars? Fields? What kind of lighting do they have? What colors are present?

    VIDEOS -

    These should be as professional as possible. The more professional they are, the better off you’ll be. If you are still with an iPhone recording, the good news is that the quality keeps getting better with time and advancement in technology. Use your better judgement before posting these up on YouTube. Is the audio clear? Does it capture the band at its best? Does it look like the band, the crowd, and everyone there is having a good time? These are all things that a venue owner/talent buyer will be looking for, and they will likely look at these first – so be armed with great videos to make a lasting impression.

    STUDIO RECORDINGS -

    These MUST be professional. I will not allow you to cut corners on this. Your livelihood as a musician depends on it. This is by far the most expensive product you will invest in, but trust me when I say that it’s worth every penny. You can spend a small 2k to record an album or an EP and make a hopefully decent product that no one will listen to because the quality is that bad OR you can invest in a much more expensive 10k – 50k range product that is going to rock the socks off everyone who hears it. The term “radio friendly” comes to mind. Ask yourself, do my recordings sound professional and are they on caliber with what is on the radio right now? Your goal might not be to sound clean cut and dressed up – maybe you’re a ragged Americana act. Whatever. Make sure it fits. Again, look to the artists you aspire to. What are they doing? What are they putting out? What’s the quality like? If you cut corners on your studio recordings, I genuinely feel sorry for you. This is one thing that you will leave behind when you pass on to meet the author of our world. This is your legacy. This is what people will have to remember you by. You’d better make it a good one. I don’t want to hear any excuses about financing.  HUMBLE BRAG: I worked three jobs at once to pay for my debut full-length record. I also paid rent and fed myself while this happened. I busted my ass like many others before me. Your turn to do the same. How to go about ensuring a great product is a discussion for another essay, but you can start with finding a reputable producer. The rest tends to fall in place when that is accomplished.

    PRESS -

    What are important people saying about your music and your live show? Keyword: important. Make sure they matter to some extent. Do not quote what your friends and family think about your music. Chances are, they absolutely love it because they love you. Radio personalities, music critics, music blogs, magazines, newspapers, music podcasts are all examples of viable press options. Reach out to them! Don’t wait for it to happen on its own.

    THE BASICS - 

    Where are you based out of? What’s your genre? How many members? That kind of thing.

    WEBSITE - 

    WIX, Squarespace, GoDaddy, they all do the same thing. Go claim a URL if you haven’t already, and design a website. WIX and Squarespace are especially user-friendly and you should be able to figure this out yourself. Again, look to the artists you aspire to. What are they doing? 

    All that info brings us to what will be the most important document/link that will appear in your booking email – the Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Your EPK should have all the necessary components I have listed above, and maybe some more. It should have photos available for download as well as viewing, throw in your logo too. The venue can access these for promotion without really having to bother you to send them. It should have videos that the person your inquiring with about booking can view easily – one click away. It should have recordings to let the listener digest your sound to see if it’s a fit for their venue, again – one click away. It should have quotes from press that immediately upon reading, let the reader know you are reputable and have buzz. You should try to include a stage plot and an input list. If you don’t know what those are, a simple “googling” of this will teach you quickly. Leave your links to your social media accounts, as well as Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes, Apple Music and anything else important. The EPK will serve as your one-stop-shop for everything the venue needs to know about you. For some, this will be a tab on the website. For others, it basically is their website. Whatever the case, organize it wisely, and make sure it’s one link and one click away. 

    Take another breather. We are just getting started. Let’s jump into the email, now that we have our vital ingredients. 

    For the email.

    Let’s start with the subject line. “Hi!” and “Booking Inquiry” will not suffice. You will be to For the email: Let’s start with the subject line. “Hi!” and “Booking Inquiry” will not suffice. You will be tossed into the trash, or at least rapidly dismissed and remain unopened. Consider the time and manner of the venue owner/talent buyer’s job. They get hundreds of these a day or week, they are busy running other parts of their business, and don’t have time to get to all their emails. A poor reading subject line, to them, is already a telling sign that you’re a rookie. They will not have that. Your subject line should read something like:

    “Band Name // Booking // Venue Name // Specific Date” 

    See how much information we just threw in there? Aint’ that awesome? Right away, without even opening the email, the reader knows exactly what you want and when you want it. I’ve also heard of some people putting their genre in the subject line. It’s definitely something that can benefit! Use it if you feel like it fits. The insert of the “Venue Name” may seem redundant, but it actually plays to your advantage. You may be emailing someone that does the booking for several venues – this is common – and if you aren’t, it doesn’t hurt to put it in anyways. I cannot stress enough how specific dates are as a requirement to the subject line. Do not be loose with it. Know what date you are targeting and before you ask for that date, check their calendar on their website to see if it’s open. Granted, some venues may not have a posted calendar or a website. Check their Facebook page – if they don’t have one, do you even really want to play there? – and look for their events tab for some sense of a calendar. Some might even post their schedules regularly with a graphic, so look up their photos as a last resort.

    The main section of the email should be short and concise. Get to your point, quickly, and be professional and nice about it. A little, “hope your week is going well!” never hurt nobody. Start with the basics. Who are you? Where are you from? What kind of genre? Where are you trying to book and when are you trying to book it? This lead will be a small 1-2 sentence reiteration of your subject line.

    Now, get to the good stuff. Insert a quick 3-5 sentence description of your music and artists you categorize with. You might want to list any notable past performances at notable venues. Be honest about this, if you haven’t headlined the House of Blues, don’t say so. These are easily cross-examinable. This information is used to show the reader that you are legit, that your résumé is killer, and that you can handle performing professionally at their venue. If you have played in that area before, let them know when and where, and how much crowd you drew. Be honest about your potential crowd draw. Again, be HONEST. You want to build a relationship with this person so that you can continue to have a working, symbiotic experience together, do not start with a lie. If you cannot draw a crowd, or have never played in the area, emphasize that you will promote the show heavily online – as you should anyways. Maybe offer to throw a local band on the bill that can help with bringing in patrons. Everyone appreciates honesty, and they will respect you for being upfront with them that hopefully, they will take a chance on you if they like your music and think you’ll do well. Insert some press quotes if you’ve got the space left, and then ultimately direct them to your EPK, where the bulk of your artistry will be on display. This should be a URL link by now, leave the link – one click away. Leave them any other important links, such as your website, social media, yadda-yadda all that jazz. If there is a certain video that you want them to see first because maybe that’s your best foot forward, then leave that link there too. 

    End on a positive “thank you”. Show that you are appreciative of their time that they do not owe you. Leave your email and phone number for them to reach you at.

    Proof read. Send. 

    TROUBLESHOOTING:

    If you cannot find a booking contact on a venue’s website, call and tell them your name and reason for calling, explain that you were looking for a booking contact on their website but couldn’t find one, and ask what’s the best way to reach them to inquire about booking. Be ready with a pen and paper. Do NOT call them during lunch hours or rush hours. Be smart.

    I’ve reiterated enough times by now how busy these folks tend to get, so likely, your first email – as glorious as it might be – may get accidentally overlooked. If you haven’t heard from them within a week, follow up in the same email thread. Do NOT start a new one. This will push your original email back up to the top of their inbox, they will likely see the “(2)” that lets them know you’ve been trying to reach them. Be nice in the follow-up, express your gratitude for their time, and show some understanding of their busy job. You may have to do this for a third time, a few days to a week later. If after three emails you still have no response, call the venue and politely explain that you’ve been trying to reach them about booking and have sent a few emails already. Ask them if there’s a better way to reach them about booking. They will likely direct you to another email address, or handle the booking right then and there. Most talent buyers want to give you a fair shot, you just need to be consistent, polite, respectful and gracious. Yes, sometimes they opened your email checked you out, and didn’t want to book you. Do everything within reason that I’ve mentioned here and if it doesn’t work out, then you drop it and get back to booking other venues. 

    YOUR PERCEPTIONS V. REALITY

    Do not waste your time and energy trying to book a big room when you know you have no draw. For example, don’t inquire about the main stage at Gruene Hall if you’ve got maybe 200 devoted “fans” on Facebook. Be honest about your worth, where you are in your career, and find venues that are within your reach right now. 

    This segues nicely into something I have purposefully left out until now. Payout.

    You think you’re worth a certain price. The venue thinks you’re worth a certain price. The actual price you’re worth at this moment in time is the one you both AGREE upon. Your price will flex based upon where you are playing. You might draw 500 people in Austin and 3 people in Santa Fe. You cannot ask for the same price in Santa Fe as you do in Austin. Don’t be silly. I’m sure you play extremely well and y’all kickass everywhere you go, but until you can prove it in person or with numbers, you must be humble enough to accept the fact that your perception of your worth may not be the reality. I personally like to attempt to inch closer to confirming a date first before discussing payout. If a price is asked of me, I provide one. Navigating these waters is like looking for Atlantis. You want to give a price that is going to be mutually accepted. It’s the golden goose, the golden snitch, the…you get it. You may want to start only a little bit high since the counter will likely come down. Start too high, and you’re told to f*** off. Consider asking them what their normal payout is, and go from there, but know that by asking this, you do risk getting low-balled. Stand firm with what you can and cannot do, and show that you’re willing to flex until you can’t flex anymore. You will have to consider the worth of the gig from time to time. It may not be worth the time for the pay, maybe it will, that risk is on you. My recommendation is to balance out risks with certainties. Have gigs lined up where you will pocket some cash, because you’ll need it for when you have gigs that don’t pay out well. Make sure that you cover all bases with the venue. Do you keep 100% of your merch sales or do they take a percentage? Are you bringing your own PA or do they provide one? Are there any expenses that they take out of your pay for sound and promotion? These things do happen. Don’t get surprised and played for a fool.

    THE DO NOT’S:

    Do not hit up the venue on their Facebook page unless that is their expressed request. What are you, 15? You might actually be 15 and I just don’t know, so no offense! If you are young, that’s fine, but you’re still required to act like a professional if you want to get anywhere.

    Do not, under any circumstances, be rude. Yeah, you might have shrugged when you read that. Some experiences with venue owners are God-awful. Maybe they were disrespectful to you and your crew, maybe they screwed you on the pay, maybe they didn’t fulfill a requirement on the rider, I don’t know. Whatever the case, be nice. Let the powers that be work it out. Word travels fast. That terrible venue owner that you now hate for whatever reason still has a mouth and a reputation, just like you do. Be the bigger person. People will notice this, I promise.

    Do not walk into the venue and try to book face-to-face, in person. Promise me you won’t do this. Right now. Pinky-swear it. If you try to do this, you will 99.9% of the time fail and won’t be taken seriously. Allow me to explain why. When you walk into the venue, you are walking into the busiest workspace imaginable for everyone there. They are having meetings, they are answering phones, they are cleaning the place, maybe they have patrons they are taking care of, they are taking inventory, they are just BUSY. Would you want someone to bother you while you’re the busiest you’ll be all day? I hope not. Now, sometimes it just so happens that you were in the neighborhood and you figured you’d stop in. Fine. Ask for a contact for booking, leave a card – which you’d better have ready – let them know you’ll be in touch, thank them for their time, and walk away. Do this as fast as you possibly can. Do not take up more than 30 seconds of their time.

    Do not try to persuade a venue owner to book your band by buying them drinks, or attempt to book while they are drinking. You have more respect for yourself than this. If you truly believe in your band, you will go through the proper channels of booking and be successful. If you resort to this desperate attempt of booking, it’s probably time to call a rehearsal with the band and work at playing better.

    THE POST-GIG FOLLOW:

    I’m personally all for bringing back the hand-written letter of thanks. Now, you don’t have to write a letter for every gig, but oh my, you will be so respected if you did. Whether through a letter, a phone call, or an email, send them some form of thanks for having you and your band play there. Maybe the gig went so well that you’ll be back soon for another, maybe it didn’t go so hot and you screwed your chance, either way you should thank the venue for having you and taking care of you. This, like many other thoughtful touches, will go a long way. 

    “What does the world need with just another musician? What the world 

    needs is good people.” – Victor Wooten

    I wish you Godspeed in all your booking endeavors. Again, take this with a grain of salt. What has worked for me may not work completely for you. There is not a linear pathway to success. Surely, others have gone about booking in other ways and have been successful. This is merely a piece of what I do regularly to ensure that I stay as busy as I want to be. Use it if you found it helpful.

    Remember that on top of the mountain is a plateau, not a sharp peak. There is room for many folks on top of the mountain. Once you’ve made it to the top, reach back down and help the next in line.

  • August 20, 2018 6:05 PM | Linda Wilson (Administrator)

    The Texas Country Music Association is dedicated to helping those involved in the Texas Country Music industry by providing the best possible resources.. This topic on Copyrights, Trademarks and General Business Information provided by the Texas Music Office is vital information you can use.  The TMO offers many additional resources for the Texas Music Industry that can be found on their at www.texasmusicoffice.com.

    Copyrights, Trademarks and General Music Business Information


    Copyrights

    The Library of Congress handles all copyright applications through the Copyright Office. Beginning in mid-2008, the most current form for song registration is online Form CO, although the old forms for song registration - Form PA (Performing Arts) and Form SR (Sound Recording) - may still be requested and used.

    Advantages of filing a copyright registration using online Form CO include:

    • Lower filing fee of $55 for a basic claim;
    • Fastest processing time;
    • Online status tracking;
    • secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account;
    • the ability to upload recordings directly into eCO as electronic files.

     Before using the service, we recommend you first read eCO TipseCO FAQs, or eCO Tutorial (PowerPoint) eCO Tutorial (PDF).

    The two alternate methods to the online Form CO application for song registration include:

    1) Registration with Fill-In Form CO

    The next best option for registering basic claims is the new fill-in Form CO, which replaces Forms PA and SR. Using 2-D barcode scanning technology, the Office can process these forms much faster and more efficiently than paper forms completed manually. Simply complete Form CO on your personal computer, print it out, and mail it along with a check or money order and your deposit. The fee for a basic registration on Form CO is $55.

    2) Registration with Paper Forms

    Paper versions of Form PA (performing arts works, including motion pictures); Form SR (sound recordings) are still available. The fee for a basic registration using one of these forms is $85 payable by check or money order. Form CON (continuation sheet for applications) is also still available in paper. These paper forms are not accessible on the Copyright Office website; however, staff will send them to you by postal mail upon request.

    Remember that online registration through eCO and fill-in Form CO (see above) can be used for the categories of works applicable to Forms PA and SR. Form eCO was created in 2008 to replace and consolidate forms PA and SR. For personal assistance call (202) 707-3000 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST.

    If you want to determine the copyright ownership of a specific musical work, you can search the Library of Congress' online registration catalog for works registered since 1978. Contact the Library of Congress at (202) 707-6850 for additional information and fees.

    To determine the current publisher of a song, contact the Research and Information Department of BMI at (212) 586-2000 or ASCAP's Clearance Express (ACE) at (212) 621-6160. You must know the song title and name of the songwriter(s) prior to contacting either of these performing rights organizations. Publishing information for some of the songs contained in their repertoire is available online.

    Performing Rights Affiliations

    ASCAP
    Mike Doyle, Membership Relations
    2 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203
    (615) 742-5000; (800) 492-7227, (800) 910-7347; fax (615) 742-5020

    BMI
    Mark Mason, Director of Writer/Publisher Relations
    10 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203
    (615) 401-2000; fax (615) 401-2707

    SESAC
    Tim Fink, Associate Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations
    55 Music Square East
    Nashville, TN 37203
    (615) 320-0055; fax (615) 321-6290

    Mechanical Royalties and Licensing

    If you are a publisher (representing songwriters whose work has been licensed by record labels, online music services, ringtone companies, etc.) and are interested in affiliating with an agency to collect your mechanical royalties, or are a record company or other licensee that would like to request a license, contact:

    Harry Fox Agency
    711 Third Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017
    (212) 834-0100; fax (212) 953-2384

    Harry Fox Agency en Español has answers to frequently asked questions regarding HFA and music licensing, along with a direct email, esp@harryfox.com, which goes directly to the company's Latin Licensing agents.
    Contacto e español:
    Isabel Mayoral
    (212) 922-3290

    To request a license, contact the Client Services Department at (212) 834-0100. Additional organizations and businesses administer song catalogs; contact the Texas Music Office for a list of other administrators.

    Digital Performance Royalties

    SoundExchange is the first organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to collect digital performance royalties for featured recording artists, sound recording copyright owners (SRCOs) and non-featured artists when their sound recordings are performed on cable, Internet (non-interactive streaming) and satellite radio.

    SoundExchange is an independent nonprofit performance rights organization that currently represents over 800 record companies, their 3000+ labels and thousands of artists united in receiving a fair price for the licensing of their music in a new digital world. Members include both signed and unsigned recording artists and small, medium and large independent record companies, as well as the major label groups and artist-owned labels. For membership information and a step-by-step guide on how to join, please go to http://soundexchange.com/

    Sound Exchange
    1330 Connecticut Avenue, Northwest Suite 330
    Washington, DC 20036
    (202) 828-0120; fax: (202) 833-2141

    The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording which can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint. Encoded ISRC provide the means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.

    The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recommends that all music producers use ISRC. The ISRC system is the key to royalty collection for recordings in the digital information age.

    ISRC can be put into operation without requiring special investment in equipment or technologies. For further information about the ISRC system, please contact:

    RIAA
    1025 F Street NW, 10th Floor
    Washington, DC 20004
    (202) 775-0101, Fax: (202) 775-7253
    isrc [at] riaa.com
    Point of contact: Erik Liederbach

    Trademarks

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is the federal office that grants trademarks (such as to band names, instrument names, company names, etc.). A trademark protects a name, a design or a logo for goods and services.

    To register a nationwide trademark, download an application from the PTO website at http://uspto.gov. You can also order an application from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by calling (703) 308-9000 or (800) 786-9199. Ask for their brochure entitled, Basic Facts About Registering a Trademark. The brochure includes the application forms and all the necessary information on registering your service mark and/or trademark. The application must include: a drawing of the word or symbol being trademarked; three examples of its use (such as newspaper clippings or a press release); the completed application form; a self-addressed stamped envelope for return receipt of your serial number; and the $375 fee.

    You can now research whether or not your band/company name is available to be trademarked by accessing TESS, the Trademark Electronic Search System.

    The Texas trademark procedure mirrors the federal process, except that you may not register a Texas trademark until you have actually used the mark in business, and the fee is $50. To order the application forms for Texas trademark registration, contact the Secretary of State at (512) 463-5576 or (800) 735-2989, or download the forms from the office website at http://www.sos.state.tx.us/corp/trademark.shtml.

    Note: While you are waiting for approval of your mark, document your use of the band's name through club listings, advertising, and any other evidence of your usage. Keeping a record will help you establish your rights in the name prior to official registration.

    You can search federally registered trademarks at the following Patent and Trademark Depository libraries (searches must be done in person; this system does not include state, international or unregistered marks):
    University of Texas at Austin, McKinney Engineering Library 512-495-4511
    Texas A&M University, Evans Library, College Station 979-845-5741
    Dallas Public Library, Central Branch, 214-670-1468
    Texas Tech University Library, Lubbock 806-742-2282
    Rice University, Fondren Library, Houston 713-348-5483

    Filing An Assumed Name

    You may file a request to receive an Assumed Name Certificate (also referred to as filing a DBA, i.e., Doing Business As) at any one of the 254 county courthouses in Texas. To apply, contact the County Clerk’s office in the county in which you maintain an office. If your business does not have an office, then you must file a DBA in every county in which you do business.

    Filing Articles of Incorporation

    The Texas Office of the Secretary of State is the agency which grants charters for the following types of business entities: Corporations, professional associations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, registered limited liability partnerships, non-profit corporations, and assumed names for those entities. The Secretary of State also registers state trademarks and service marks.

    For more information, contact:
    Office of the Secretary of State
    Statutory Filings Division
    P.O. Box 13697, Austin, TX 78711
    (512) 463-5555

    Obtaining Universal Product Codes (UPC)

    Applications for a Universal Product Code (also called Bar Codes) are obtained through contacting
    GS1 US
    7887 Washington Village Drive, Suite 300, Dayton, OH 45459
    (937) 435-3870; fax (937) 435-7317.

    The fee is determined by the number of unique products a company needs to identify and as well as gross sales revenue. The Council assigns only the first six digits of your UPC; applicants are responsible for assigning the remaining five digits, and for having their bar codes printed.

    Retail Sales Tax Permits

    The Comptroller of Public Accounts is the state agency which licenses businesses to collect sales tax on the purchase of retail goods sold within Texas. The Comptroller has 33 field offices in Texas; check the blue pages of your local telephone directory for the office closest to you. For information: (800) 252-5555.

    For more information on other subjects, visit www.texascountrymusicoffice.com.




  • July 12, 2018 1:46 PM | Chrissy Bernal (Administrator)

    Country Artist Susan Giacona is living the dream.

    She's breaking barriers and demonstrating that switching gears and fulfilling your lifelong dream of being in music can be achieved.

    When I sat down to interview Susan, it felt more like having lunch with a friend. Having just come from a writing session, she was comfy chic and all smiles. Her excitement about her current and upcoming projects was infectious. It's clear that making the shift from working in Marketing & Advertising at a major corporation to following her musical dreams was the right move for this Texas songstress.

    One of her recent projects was for the Battleship Texas Foundation. She had the honor of featuring the historic vessel in a music video for her original "Walkin’ Away From Heaven" which depicts a timeless love story where a serviceman, who is a husband and father, is leaving during wartime. Battleship Texas was commissioned in 1914 as the most powerful weapon in the world and is credited with the introduction and innovation of advances in gunnery, aviation, and radar. The ship is the last surviving Dreadnought as well as the only battleship in existence today that fought in both World War I and World War II.

    Susan's patriotic song serves as a moving tribute to those who served their country and to the families they left behind. The music video is part of a campaign to raise awareness of and funding for the foundation as it provides financial support for the restoration and promotion of the Battleship Texas, in cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It also operates and organizes educational tours, such as the Overnight Program, and increases public awareness of the USS Texas' history as well as her current and future preservation needs. Additionally, it is engaged in assisting in sustaining an active veterans affairs program.

    Other recent projects and honors include licensing projects in the works for Netflix Original films produced by 430 Entertainment, and John Pocino Film Productions. Susan will have songs featured in the opening and closing credits for the John Pocino Film, “Destiny,” in which she will also have a small speaking role. She will also have a vocal performance scene in the film. “Destiny” is set to air on HBO as an HBO Original.

    Susan's song "Loving Me Into the Light" is featured in an upcoming Lifetime Original Film that has yet to be named but tells the story of poet and author, Dr. Beverly Johnson. Another film set to feature Susan's talent is the 2018 film "The Silent Warrior." She collaborated with hit songwriter, Marty Dodson (“Songs Like This” by Carrie Underwood, “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” by Kenny Chesney) to write “Kindness Matters” for the documentary film that explores "Bullycide" and the aftermath of what can happen when bullies push their victims over the edge. Susan’s music will also be used in a kids TV show, The Grimps, as well as various other TV ads.

    She received our Texas Country Music Association Single of the Year Award in 2017 for “Where Will I Be,” which was cut by The Darrin Morris Band. Additional accolades include being nominated by her fans for Songwriter of the Year, East Texas Music Awards. And she'll be awarded in Vegas in November at the 2018 Producer's Choice Honors for Female Solo Artist of the Year.

    Her upcoming debut EP, entitled "Take Me Back," is scheduled to drop in 2018, and is being produced in Texas by Chad Mauldin Productions at the historic KSIJ Radio Station/Recording Studio. Planning for the video for this EP's featured single is already in the works including a custom-designed dress by famed designer Nick Navarro.

    With a voice often described as one that combines the sound of the superstar LeAnn Rimes with the sound of Faith Hill, Susan’s soulful voice delivers each song she sings in a style all her own. You can see a recent recording of a live performance she did for In the Music Room Studio and Listening Room.

    She recently signed with the Clif Doyal Agency out of Nashville who will be focusing on placement of her music in films, live performances, modeling, sponsorship opportunities, and supporting her ongoing work for military charities.

    Susan resides in Texas with her husband, three boys, and two dogs. Her days are spent either creating new music, lending her voice to voice-over projects or volunteering at the various organizations for which she is deeply passionate. She donates her time serving on the Board of Directors of Wheelchairs for Warriors, a Texas-based non-profit dedicated to helping wounded veterans and first-responders obtain motorized wheelchairs enabling them to improve their quality of life. She is also a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children, and although she no longer researches cases and reports to the courts, she still volunteers for special fund-raising events.

    Susan is an avid traveler and has spent time in Italy, France, and many other European countries. When she’s not traveling for vacation, Susan splits her time between Nashville and Houston.

    For more information about Susan or to hear her music, head to her newly revamped website. And for booking, contact Clif Doyal at cdanashville@gmail.com.

  • July 07, 2018 4:30 PM | Linda Wilson (Administrator)


    Submitted By TCMA Correspondent Wayne Duke:

    First things first, I am a songwriter, not a lawyer. Anytime you’re entering into a contractual agreement with another party that has complex and complicated matters or laws attached to them, get the best lawyer you can afford to represent your interest in the matter. Not your Uncle Earl, Esquire, who doesn’t have any more clue about the music or publishing business than you.

     This will not be an exhaustive collection of knowledge of copyright law as I am still wading through those waters myself. I will share what I’ve been taught over the past couple of years from the most informed person I know. I will also share with you from where I received this education and how you can get your hands on it also.

     Let’s get started. You are writing songs that people other than granny and Uncle Earl say are good. This also means you have probably written somewhere between 500 - 1000 songs by yourself or with other like-minded souls and a few of them don’t make the dog run for cover. You have developed your craft into more than a hobby or “do it when I feel inspired to” kind of thing. You have started writing songs that connect with people about the human condition. You also have to write or your head will explode, metaphorically speaking. Now you need to know how do I protect my songs legally. I’m glad you asked.

     If you have written a song all by yourself, you own 100% of the rights to copy. At the time you placed it on paper and/or made a simple recording it is protected from anyone using it other than you or someone you have given consent to through the licensing process. At this time, you can go outside and bury it in the yard and nobody can touch it without your permission if that’s what you want to do. You can also register it at The Library of Congress at this time, but it wouldn’t be prudent. You can do that in bundles of songs on their website. You also will want to leave time for revision of the song and if you have already registered it, now you have to amend the song for an additional fee. Schedules of fees can be found at https//www.loc.gov under the Copyright header. If you register every song you write in a year and you write 100-150 songs a year it can get expensive. And besides, a song is never final until it’s vinyl. Publishing companies don’t even register the songs their writers write until they are cut. It’s a business and you have to start thinking about it this way. The best business practice is to wait until you or an artist cut the song to register it in the final form. As a side note, forget the poor man’s copyright, it won’t stand in court.

     I can hear the alarms going off as I type, “What if someone steals my song”? Not very likely. They would have to have heard it somewhere or been in the room with you when you wrote it. Now ideas, titles and chords are not protected. You may here a song on the radio written by someone else that has similarities to one you have written. If your song hasn’t been on the radio or played out live a lot, take it as a shot in the arm that you are actually writing songs like the pros do. Registration with the Copyright Office gives you the right to have standing in a federal courtroom. There have been two recent cases where the rights of a copyright holder have been found to be infringed upon. But even then, these are lose/lose propositions. If you get caught up in these kinds of things you’re more than likely done in the business. Take it as a compliment and move on. One more note on this, most music is stolen when it is file-shared or performed at a venue that does not operate with a license from a Performing Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC). I’ll save that for another time.

    Here is a simple formula to remember:  song © +license= $.

    If you are planning to perform and record or allowing an artist to record/ perform your song, you have to invest in an education or the school of hard knocks. The school of hard knocks just has too many dead ends, road blocks and land mines to satisfy me, although I tried it for a short time very unsuccessfully. An education from those who have done it and lived to tell about it are out there making themselves available to teach you how the road is navigated. There are no guarantees or shortcuts to success because they don’t exist. Knowledge is the key that opens doors. And there are a ton of things that you will need to be very familiar with before you will be able capitalize on your songwriting talent. Knowing how to take care of the business side of things will allow you to gain the respect of your peers and will let the people you are doing business with know that you are ready to work on their level. Professionally.

    I will get into the bundles of rights (licenses) in part 2. A list of sources is below for you to check out if you seriously want to go for success in the music world. They have been priceless for me.   

    Thanks for the opportunity to share!

    Wayne Duke

    TCMA Correspondent


    Songprenuers.com

    SongTownUSA.com

    Teascountrymusic.org

    NSAI

    Library Of Congress https//www.loc.gov/

    Amanda Colleen Williams

    Marty Dodson

    Clay Mills III


  • July 03, 2018 7:11 PM | Chrissy Bernal (Administrator)


    It's no secret that social media has changed the landscape of marketing. And it can be a very beneficial tool for artists. (It can also be a very harmful tool if used poorly.) Social media presents a very unique opportunity for artists to connect with fans on a regular basis and really build solid connections.

    Here are some tips to help you grow on social media:

    1.  Be there.

    You don't have to be on every social media platform, but at least pick one and do it well. Try to pick the platform where most of your audience is active. Check recent stats to help you decide where to go, and consider which platform would be most enjoyable for you.

    2.  Be complete.

    Social media profiles offer many places where your audience can learn more about you--your upcoming shows, your favorite things, how to book you for a gig, where to buy your music... So, fill out each section as much as possible, and use photo and videos to connect and inform your audience.

    3.  Keep it positive.

    Be careful when airing grievances on social media. Remember that it's not just fans reading your posts. (Although, they probably don't want to hear negativity either.) Potential sponsors, potential booking agents & potential managers are also reading your posts. If they consistently see you whining about something or speaking poorly about other artists, you risk looking like a whiny artist who might be hard to work with, or someone they simply wouldn't want to be around. Try to stay positive and avoid making things personal.

    4.  Be engaging.

    Don't just talk AT your fans, actually engage with them. Ignoring someone on social media is very similar to having someone compliment you at a gig, and then you ignore them. Even if your fan base is rather large and you can't possibly respond to every single comment, make sure you make as much effort to reply as a whole, acknowledge as a group, at least "like" their comments...

    You need to engage with fans and listeners instead of blasting them with links, videos, and requests to buy your album. Ask them questions, answer their questions...just interact.

    5.  Keep the quality.

    Avoid posting overly blurry or pixelated photos.

    Be thoughtful about what you post, too. Is it really something your audience will enjoy? Does it represent you well? This doesn't mean you must always post "perfect" things. A great way to connect with your audience is to show them the "candid" or "imperfect" posts such as band practice or brainstorming for a new song.

    6.  Be balanced.

    Go for content that is educational, funny and sometimes inside info about you that many people might not know. Post your polished moments, but balance that with authentic posts. This doesn't mean to post your dirty laundry or post during an after-gig drunken stupor. This just means balance your posts so that people see the image you want them to see, but also know that you're a real person, too.

    7.  Be considerate.

    Remember that it's easy to offend or irritate others online, so avoid doing things that will for sure leave a bad taste in your audience's mouth.

    For example, don't hijack someone else's post. If another artist posts about their new single, DON'T comment and include anything similar to "check out my new single." Just don't. Be happy for them, and keep it about them.

    Also, people might not tell you that it irritates them when you add them to groups or tag them without their permission, but unless they're highly involved in your projects, chances are, they're probably irritated that you've tagged or added them. I'm not saying it's not ok to do that but just think carefully about the people you add. Make sure it's someone who you really think wouldn't mind or actually would be glad you included them.

    Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have, and I'll do my best to either answer them directly or post about them in another post. 

    Happy posting!

    Chrissy Bernal
    Fractional Marketing & Creative Partner Specializing in Customer Perception & Communications

    CE Communications

          



  • June 10, 2018 3:20 PM | Chrissy Bernal (Administrator)

    The Texas Country Music Association proudly partners with others who also have a genuine desire to support and educate Texas artists; supporters such as Chris Fox with Texas Music Pickers.

    Chris Fox, Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers, describes himself as a Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and an avid Houston sports fan. While his professional background is in Business Administration and Marketing, Fox's innate love of music, specifically Texas music, inspires him to help artists at all levels gain industry knowledge, tools for honing their craft and assistance in increasing awareness of their music.

    He has been in the Music scene in unofficial capacities for over a decade, but he made it official about four years ago with the launch of Texas Music Pickers. What began with a website and a desire to help Texas artists succeed has now turned into an ever-growing and highly respected organization. Texas Country, Americana and Red Dirt music is currently the primary focus of the organization, and while much of their activity has been in Texas as of late, they see a dramatic uptick in popularity of Texas music in other states--and even other countries.

    One way they help artists gain exposure and hone their crafts is with their annual songwriter competition. Now in its fourth year, their songwriter competition is even more exciting and more beneficial for the artists than ever before. They've been able to secure an incredible prize pack for the winner. Artists get a shot at winning studio time from one of the top studios in Texas, radio promotion from an accomplished radio promoter, songwriting sessions with award-winning songwriters and more. They’ll also get the opportunity to perform in front of some of the scene’s top venue/festival talent buyers, booking agents, radio personnel, and more! Their competition is unique in that it focuses on multiple aspects of an artist's capabilities: songwriting, vocal ability, and musical performance. Note: Songwriters of all ages are encouraged to enter.

    A live competition is also part of the contest, which will incorporate showmanship as part of the judging. Artists will bring additional original music to perform in front of a live audience. The deadline to enter is TODAY, June 10. Artists contribute a nominal $20 to enter. Each artist will gain valuable exposure to top-level industry professionals; it is well worth it for songwriters to enter. Past competitions have resulted in artists being able to book gigs with venues that were previously unaware of that artist. This contest is sure to showcase how spectacular Texas talent is.

    Fox remarks that Texas music is so unique because its infrastructure is based around the music rather than a gatekeeper. It's authentic and real. It provides artists with an opportunity to pave their own career path and grow their fan base organically and genuinely.

    When asked his thoughts on what he sees as a common thing that trips up or stunts the growth of newer artists, he replied that often he sees newer artists limit themselves by thinking they can't be successful if they don't have a big-time manager or the backing of a label. While having that sort of official support can undoubtedly be advantageous, Fox notes that because of how well Texas artists can connect with their audiences and with professionals within the industry, they can certainly find immense success by pounding the pavement with their music and cutting their path themselves. Fox points out that growing your career this way is actually very beneficial in that the artist can retain more control over their music and can keep more of the profits. He adds that social media has also dramatically changed the way artists can find success. Artists would be remiss in neglecting social media as an outreach tool as it offers another avenue for grassroots support and consistent engagement with an artist's fans.

    Fox advises that artists wait until they simply cannot keep up with the logistics of their career before the seek assistance that would require them to share a portion of their revenue. He also says that artists should try to keep costs down as much as possible and to remember that it's a long journey that requires patience and tenacity. Even "overnight successes" have spent years growing their careers.

    Texas Music Pickers also has their own playlist on Spotify where they track songs that have either been submitted to them, that they've discovered on their own or that have made it on to various Texas radio charts. They focus on songs that are actively promoted as singles and have a Texas-based primary listening audience. Click here for more information on how to submit your songs to them.

    Fox said they also want to be informed about what artists have in their pipelines so they can help spread the word about upcoming gigs, events, exciting news...and attend as many events as possible. While they do track and follow numerous artists via social media, BandsinTown and by word of mouth, the best way to let them know about something is to email them. While they might not be able to reply to your message, there's about a 90% chance that they have indeed seen it if you email them. The commonly abused tactic of tagging dozens of people/companies in a post isn't the best way to ensure that they see your news. They attend as many events as they can all across Texas, and they've even begun to add out-of-state events to their calendars.  "We follow the music [Texas music] rather than geographical boundaries," Fox adds, "Texas music is experiencing some major growth." At the time when we spoke, he was currently working on a blog piece about the increased viability of being a musician. Be on the lookout for that.

    I asked him his thoughts about the commonly discussed notion that women are less likely to have a viable career in Country music. "If anybody says it's not tougher [for women], especially in the Texas Red Dirt scene, then they're not grasping the full picture...But the tide is starting to turn," he stated. "There is a lot of potential [such as Bri Bagwell, Sunny Sweeney & Kaitlin Butts] that is starting to come to fruition and pave the way and knock down the gender barriers that are currently in place."

    Fox offered a crucial piece of advice for female artists. "Don't be afraid to spread the message." He revealed that of all the submissions and correspondence they receive that 90% of it comes from male artists. So, when they sit down to compile their chart rankings, playlists, and coverage schedules, they're most likely going to result in male-dominated outcomes. He suggested that it could potentially not be the case if more women were more proactive about spreading the word about their music. He expressed that right now is an exciting time to be a female Texas artist and that the landscape of Texas music will most likely be very different in five to ten years.

    It's an exciting time for Texas indeed. Texas' reach is greatly expanding, and Texas artists are carving new paths to success. Fox and the rest of the Texas Music Pickers look forward to sharing and celebrating Texas' increased influence on the world. The Texas Country Music Association is proud to partner with them in supporting Texas artists.




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