Artist Services and Practical Advice
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For practical advice on how to further your goals as an artist or band, please take the time to read the following information first.
It is recommended before you do anything with your music online you electronically time stamp (ETS) your work. This will easily and cheaply give you basic copyright protection . Then if someone steals your work, you can at least prove you were the original creator. Beware of song sharks who will steal your songs, or charge you for normally free music services.
A step beyond time stamping is to go through the more lengthy and expensive full copyright process . You can also publish your music through a publishing company.
Publishing companies can be a good or bad idea, depending on your individual circumstances. They will take up to half of your revenue, but they might get you more sales. They have a team of lawyers who will go after fees due to you (and them), but some radio stations won't play you because they can't afford the fees, which can hurt exposure.
Pitfalls to Avoid
You can also start your own label or join someone else's, but BEWARE. Do not sign anything before doing your " homework " first, and also getting the contract checked by a specialized entertainment lawyer. There are many " horror stories " of artists who were lured into signing with unscrupulous labels and regretted it later.
At Indie Gospel, various labels and industry professionals cruise for new talent but be very cautious. It can seem " flattering " if someone tells you your are " good" enough to be with their label. However, the music industry is notorious for scams and corruption of every description.
Don't get me wrong, being with a good supportive label, can be a great career move for some people. It's not like the old days where a label was a necessity, but it can still be helpful, depending on your individual situation and the quality of the label. They can do some of the " heavy lifting " for you, and due to the diminishing need for labels, some are willing to do new types of deals.
When approached, you must decide - is this just HYPE, or do they provide real and quantifiable value? Sadly, there are a lot " huckster s" peddling hype, and they can be " slick " enough to make you actually feel blessed to be partnered with their so called " Christian " label.
In the publishing world their are legitimate companies that pay authors advances and royalties to publish their book, and then there are " vanity presses " that will publish anyone for a price. They are also called " author mills ". The same sort of thing happens in the music industry, there are " vanity labels " or " artist mills ". A good rule of thumb is - are they paying you to be on their label, or are you paying them?
Some will charge up to $2,000 (or more) and part of your publishing rights to be with them. They will promise promotion and distribution services for your money. Do your " homework " and Google the label's name followed by words like scam, fraud, rip-off report. See what artists say who have already gone down that path with them. Use discretion, be careful, be thorough, and don't sign anything that isn't checked by a specialized entertainment lawyer .
Also, if someone says leave your current music sites to be exclusively with them, they probably don't have your best interests at heart. They may tell you they are trying to control your " image " for better promotion, but really want to rope you into getting paid services through them. They don't want you to know about the same services for less (or free) elsewhere. They may tell you not to waste your time on such and such a site, we will promote you better - RUN.
Why RUN? Exposure is good, and the more people you reach the more souls you can win. If you have downloads, the more places you promote them, the more sales you will make. It doesn't matter if you are with a label or not, try to have a presence everywhere you can , and make it easy for people to connect with your music. A good label will want you here, there, and everywhere - not just on their site. They will encourage you to self promote, not restrict you. They don't care if you know about everyone else's music services, because theirs are better, or at least competitive.
Don't get me wrong, It's OK to direct traffic to your " official site" , or to your labels store, or to the site that gives you the best deal, but don't keep all your " eggs in one basket" . You still want people to find you elsewhere, on their favorite music site.
For example, if a person buys exclusively from i-tunes and you are not there - too bad, so sad. It doesn't matter how " pretty " your site is, or what " other merchandise " you have for sale, you just lost that potential fan because you were not also in i-tunes (Amazon, Napster, etc.).
I have also seen outfits charge up to $2,000 a month for " artist development " services. If you have " money to burn" , be my guest, but what are you really paying for? A coach, a consultant, a " guru " who provides you with the benefit of their experience. This is the information age, use a search engine and some common sense and you will find all the advice you can handle. You can also join a forum like ours (or countless others) and post questions. " Crowd source" your advice from supportive communities of artists and labels for free.
Another gimmick I've seen used on artists, is stating that some prize package, or special promotion is a $5,000 value (or whatever the number). Who assigns that value? What do you really get? Is it an arbitrary figure assigned by them (or their subsidiaries) who provide the " touted " services?
Practical Common Sense Advice
If you or your band are without any sort of management and are wondering how to bring your content to market, here are some common sense tips. Generally, you need to put your music in as many download outlets as you can, and get exposure on as many social and music sites as you can. Fortunately, today it is easier than ever to self promote, and to avail yourself of specialized services at reasonable fees - without signing your life away.
Outfits like the Indie Pool (Canada) or CD Baby (U.S.A.) will put you in dozens of major download stores (i-tunes, Amazon, etc.) for a reasonable one time fee . Be advised, this does nothing to guarantee sales, and typically you only receive 50% if you do make a sale. This distribution system will only benefit you if live performance and other exposure drives people to search for you. You are one of thousands upon thousands of talented artists, and even great artists and albums often languish in obscurity. However, if you can afford the fee, it's an easy way to have an instant and wide distribution system.
In addition, put your content on ReverbNation, Last.fm, and as many other music sites as you can. Promote on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Never pay for what you can get for free, and while you should let songs play full length for exposure, don't go above 128 bitrate MP3. Protect your high quality files and sell them as downloads. Never let the hi fi's play full length online because even if they are download protected, they can still be robbed with " stream recorders ".
Also, if you have the tech savvy, or it's cost effective to hire someone, make your own official website where you can showcase your band, and where you can make direct sales without giving up 50% to a download store. Be in every outlet you can, because some people only buy from i-tunes, some only buy from Amazon, etc. However, when giving directions, send fans to your official site (if you have one), or the site that gives you the best deal, or where you have the most merchandising.
If you only have the time and patience to develop your presence on one sales outlet, our Jukebox is all you really need. However, to protect yourself, avoid pitfalls, and for maximum exposure - please strongly consider all of the above.
The " Indie Gospel " Artist Services
Your profile page has " drag & drop " modules, which means you can change their position on the page. The theme and color scheme is also editable, just go to " Customize My Page" under your profile pic. Build your page your way , with your best links, merchandising, and Ministry resources - " showcase " your band.
We have hundreds of industry reps, fans, and Ministries who can find you, if you post content. All of your content links to you and you can sell or link anything from your customizable page. This social platform is built on Ning which is discontinuing it's players. Therefore, we have developed the future proof Gospel-Jukebox site to warehouse audio/visual content and provide sales outlets, radio, and other professional services. Upload your songs and videos there for maximum exposure.
Gospel-Jukebox - This is our commercial media portal. Sell your digital downloads and keep 95%. If an affiliate sells them for you - you still keep 70%. This is well beyond the industry average, and it costs nothing to be there.
Even fantastic albums, with paid promotion, can be in all the major download stores for years and never make a sale. Most artists will tell you it's almost impossible to sell music today, perhaps because there is such a " glut " of free and " pirated " music out there. So, to drive sales we have an extremely generous affiliate program , and it's simple to use.
For example, if an affiliate of CD Baby's store posts a widget, they get just $1. on an album sale, and it's only for the first sale within a 7 day tracking period. Amazon, i-tunes, and the rest, are all similar in the sense that the incentives for affiliates are very small .
By contrast, our Gospel-Jukebox pays a whopping 25% for all sales, credits, and subscriptions (not just the 1st) in a 60 day tracking period (not just 7). Post your affiliate link or widget and keep 95% on your own content and 25% on everyone else's.
You get a free Electronic Press Kit, statistics tracking, download sales, a multi-page website, and more. You can also sell your books, videos, your Cd's, t-shirts, and so on. You can even set-up your own streaming radio or TV feed (or be part of ours). Every professional tool for artists is there. Sign-up is free , with enough space (100MB) to get your stuff out there .
Then there are paid levels of membership, scaled to space and bandwidth, not services. All services are functional even for free members, and they are the best tools in the business. They are not used to bait you into a two tiered paid system like other sites do.
Some places allow you to keep 100% of your sales (knowing most artists can't sell anything) but charge you $20 a month just to be in their shopping cart - DO THE MATH. Some sites give you basic services for free but for a EPK (or some other tool), you must pay a subscription fee.
We don't play those types of games with you. By charging only on the basis of extra space and bandwidth, we give most artists a free ride, and we can even accommodate large record labels with hundreds of artists, at very little cost.
Eagle Ads - This is the advertising wing of our network. It has powerful tools which you can use to promote your Ministry, your book, your album, or whatever you wish. Use it to reach 10's of thousands of affiliate marketers who work on commission.
Our Jukebox gives you an easy way to facilitate sales, tracking, and commissions, but with Eagle Ads you can leverage the power of affiliate marketing on a massive scale.
We provide a Christian themed working environment, which acts as a portal to safely place ads on 4 huge marketing networks. These networks have subscribed marketers of every description, who are seeking quality products and services to promote. Why not have them promote you - learn more HERE .
Other Professional Services
Indie Pool - (Canada) can tailor a package for your specific needs, and even provide services like domain name re-directs, and website design. They also have a great digital distribution service. It's a one stop shop for web design, mastering, cover design, distribution, - practically anything you require. At their site you can read about their services in general, but phone contact is necessary to arrange anything. It's not primarily " self serve ".
Diskmakers - (U.S.A.) can't be beat on Cd production runs, but will simply point you to Cd Baby for distribution. They don't provide some of the services that the Indie Pool in Canada does, but if you don't need those services, they are currently the king of the hill for cost effective disk manufacturing. Their site is set up with self serve options .
These men below are busy professionals, who make their living providing artists with the right packages. Please do not bother them for inappropriate reasons. Go to the websites first, do your homework (as best you can), and if you have a legitimate question about a product or service that interests you, then contact them.
For practical advice on how to protect yourself, avoid pitfalls, and succeed in the music industry, be sure to read this entire page starting HERE . It may take 10 minutes to get through it all, but it is well worth the time.