100 Things Every Musician Should Know

100 things this musician needs to know

1. The difference between a recording and a composition.

2. The difference between a record label and a publisher.

3. Who owns the rights to your recordings, and who owns the rights to your publishing.

4. What publishing is.

5. How lyrics fit into publishing, and how splits around lyrics are calculated.

6. Whether you need a deal with a publisher.

7. What a typical publishing contract looks like in 2016.

8. What a typical recording contract looks like in 2016.

9. What a ‘360’ degree label contract is.

10. Whether a major label contract makes sense for you, and the trade-offs involved.

11. Whether an indie label contract makes sense for you, and the trade-offs involved.

12. Why a production company deal is usually a very bad deal.

13. Whether your label is properly paying you for royalties accrued.

14. How to audit your label if you suspect you aren’t being paid properly.

15. The costs involved with auditing your label.

16. Whether that effort makes sense from a time and resource standpoint.

17. How to cheaply produce a great music video.

18. How to make an amazing lyrics video.

19. The legal details involved in shooting any music video.

20. How to upload your videos into a YouTube channel.

21. How to track and monetize your YouTube views from your channel.

22. What ContentID is, and why it matters for your content.

23. The difference between Vimeo and YouTube.

24. How big YouTube is when compared to every other online platform.

25. The difference between non-interactive streaming (internet radio) and on-demand streaming.

26. Whether your music is being played on Pandora or other internet radio platforms like iHeartRadio.

27. The difference between the royalties paid by streaming radio and on-demand streaming platforms like Spotify.

28. What SoundExchange is.

29. Whether or not you are registered with SoundExchange.

30. If you are registered with SoundExchange, whether you’re getting properly paid by SoundExchange.

31. The difference between internet radio and traditional radio, and how each pays differently.

32. What traditional radio, particularly major market traditional radio, can mean for your career.

33. What a PRO is.

34. Whether all of your songs are properly registered with a PRO (i.e., ASCAP, BMI, SESAC in the US)

35. Whether you are receiving proper statements from your PRO, and the lag times involved.

36. If you are receiving statements, whether these statements make sense.

37. That you can submit logs of your own performances to your PRO for royalty consideration.

38. Whether your music is being played overseas, and whether your PRO is collecting money on your behalf from a foreign PRO.

39. How long it takes to make a vinyl record.

40. How much it costs to make a vinyl record.

41. Whether any of your fans are interested in buying a vinyl records.

42. What Digital Music News is.

43. How much money you’re making off of on-demand streaming, overall and from each platform.

44. The difference between streaming royalties paid by YouTube, Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, and Deezer.

45. Whether your label is paying your properly for all of your streams (on-demand and non-interactive)

46. What windowing is, and whether it makes sense for your release strategy.

47. What your merch strategy is, and what your best-selling merch items are.

48. How many merch items you’ll probably need for your upcoming tour.

49. Who’s going to ‘man the merch table’ on your tour, and how they are going to do it.

50. How to properly work with the sound guy at a show.

51. Whether every member of your band can survive on a multi-day or multi-week tour, especially in a cramped tour van.

52. A reasonable understanding of the financial issues that will arise on your upcoming tour, including the cost of gas.

53. What to do when your tour van breaks down, even if that’s calling AAA.

54. How to show up on time at the venue, with ample time for sound check.

55. Exactly how much money you should be getting paid from every gig you play.

56. How to promote yourself in local markets before your shows.

57. How to properly pitch your band to a club owner or promoter.

58. What a ‘pay for play’ promoter or venue arrangement is.

59. How ‘revenue-share’ agreements are often structured with a venue.

60. What a booking agent is.

61. How to map an efficient tour route that isn’t a zig-zag and conserves gas, time, and other precious resources.

62. Your musicians’ insurance policy number.

63. How to properly manage inevitable conflicts within the band.

64. How to pass a tip jar around effectively at a gig.

65. The huge financial advantages of being a solo performer or DJ.

66. How to deal with assholes and hecklers at shows.

67. How not to be an insufferable rock star asshole yourself.

68. Who’s handling your mailing list, and the best ways to add fans to it.

69. How to target emails to specific fans to avoid burning your list or spamming your fans.

70. What a ‘cover gig’ is, and how to make money from it.

71. The psychological hurdles that sometimes prevent artists from making money from ‘cover gigs,’ and how to overcome them.

72. What a synchronization, or ‘sync’ license, is.

73. The types of deals and contracts that accompany sync placements.

74. What a mechanical license is.

75. What HFA, or Harry Fox Agency, is.

76. What an ‘NOI’ from a streaming service is.

77. What to do if you aren’t getting paid your mechanical licenses.

78. Why Spotify is getting sued for $200 million for not paying mechanical licenses properly.

79. What your fans are actually buying from you, and how the recording fits into that picture.

80. Whether piracy is helping you, or hurting you.

81. The best and most reasonable options for counteracting piracy of your music.

82. What to do if someone samples your music without your permission.

83. That a cover of a song that you wrote by another artist is legal under US Copyright Law, as long as you release the work first yourself.

84. That any politician, including Donald Trump, can legally use your music at a rally without seeking your permission beforehand.

85. The different types of producer agreements, and how each is typically constructed.

86. What a manager is.

87. Qualities you should avoid in a manager.

88. The different types of managers that exist, and the best type of manager for your career stage.

89. How to properly structure an agreement with a music manager.

90. The different types of people you typically need on your team, in addition to a manager.

91. How to identify and avoid scam services that prey on vulnerable artists.

92. Whether an album makes sense for your audience anymore.

93. Whether Facebook makes sense for your audience anymore.

94. Whether a singing TV show contest makes sense for your career.

95. Whether a publicist really makes sense for your career.

96. How to get your music into a podcast.

97. Why age doesn’t really matter when it comes to success.

98. Why it’s still important to have a website.

99. How to crowdsource from your fans, via Kickstarter, Patreon, Indiegogo, or another platform.


100. Your audience.

Image by Pablo Bou, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.o).

5 Responses

  1. Rudy

    Is this in order?

    I don’t know a single musician, or even a non-musician, who does not know the difference between a recording and a composition or what a cover gig is.

    “Your Audience” should be first.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve had to explain the difference between master and composition to several artists that I’ve worked with. Some of which are pretty successful, too.

  2. Anonymous

    101: What MFN is, and why encorporating it into licenses for your music is important.


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