Back in the dark ages (the 90s) of Indie music, your music didn’t come out- it escaped! You had to record in some sort of professional studio, buy tape (or ADAT, Google it!), pay a company to print up CDs or tapes, and then— well, it was actually quite hard. Aside from getting on MTV or Radio, there weren’t many avenues to get your music out there. There was no YouTube, iTunes, or Facebook, so unless you were Fugazi or Ani Difranco doing a total DIY style release and/or touring constantly, your printed up records usually stayed in storage. However, the future is now! Musicians have a worldwide indie AND mainstream music store where anybody can sell their music. Keep reading to find out how:
RECORD YOUR MUSIC
As you will see in the next step, anybody can put any legal recorded music up on iTunes for sale. In other words you could record air on a micro-cassette recorder, convert it to MP3, and have it for sale all across the world in days. I do not recommend this! Since the whole world has access to iTunes, you are going to want to record music that will distinguish yourself. If you have the money, try to record in a professional music studio. If you want to record it yourself, consider tracking in your home studio and then taking it to a professional engineer to mix it. Regardless of where you record it, invest a little bit of money for a professional mastering engineer. If you are unfamiliar with Mastering, it is essentially the last step of the recording process where a fresh set of ears tweaks all the audio levels so that it can sound good on the radio as well as coming out of your iPod.
CHOOSE YOUR ONLINE DISTRIBUTOR
What’s funny is that Apple’s original plan was that iTunes would not be available to anybody and would only feature “quality artists” (read about this here: http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/11/cd-baby-founder-recounts-a-tale-of-steve-jobs-itunes-and-broken-promises/). However, now iTunes is pretty much open to anybody and there are several digital music distributors that can facilitate this. The two biggest companies doing this are TuneCore and CD Baby:
TuneCore is the largest—it distributes artists as diverse as Nine Inch Nails and Ziggy Marley as well as many unsigned bands. TuneCore charges $9.99 per single and $49.99 per album. TuneCore takes none of the money from the sale of your music. For the iTunes U.S. store, you receive $0.70 per song sold individually and $7.00 per album with 11 or more songs sold in its entirety. Your music typically appears on iTunes within 72 hours. For more info visit: http://www.tunecore.com/
CD Baby has been around longer than iTunes and was one of the first companies to offer bands cheap CD printing and distribution via their website. Times have changed and CD Baby is now the second largest digital music distributor. CD Baby handles distribution for $9.95 per single and $39 per album. On their website, they boast, “We keep 9% of the net income paid to us by our partners and you keep the rest.” To learn more about CD Baby check out: http://www.cdbaby.com
FINALIZE YOUR MATERIALS
You have your mastered song files, and have signed up for either TuneCore or CD Baby, and then you are ready to go. Follow the instructions of your distributor on how they want the files uploaded. You will need to come up with song titles, album or single names, and most importantly digital album artwork. Make sure you take some extra care to have your artwork look good because it will be displayed on everybody’s iPods and iPhones and can often set the mood nicely for the music. The last step is usually payment and then you will have to continuously check iTunes to see when it appears.
Good luck out there, fellow musicians. Make sure you only put up music that you feel shows the best side of your ability. Don’t just throw up something just because you crafted some songs. Now the hard part begins, getting people to buy your music! Look forward to a future installment on how to promote your music on iTunes. In the meantime, get uploading!
According to today’s article on CNET, smartphone demand continues to soar – more than 50% of all new cell phone purchases are smartphones. Whether the Blackberry, iPhone or Droid we see a lot of our music students walking around with a plenty of “high-IQ” phones. When you are done with your calls, texts and playing Angry Birds, don’t forget to check out some of the incredible musician-friendly apps that are not only fun but will keep your mind nice and sharp musically. Here are five of our faves:
Some people might not be fans of jazz, but you would be hard pressed to find a serious musician who doesn’t have appreciation for that genre. Some of the greatest musical minds come from Jazz. Have you ever jumped into a jam session and not known what scales to play over the chords? This amazing little App can figure out what key the jam is in by entering the chords and get you soloing in no time. Of course, if you are a jazz-focused LAMA student chances are you can do this by ear:
HARMONIC EAR TRAINER
If you find that after your music theory classes, you still want to practice listening skills, check out the Harmonic Ear Trainer App! Harmonic Ear Trainer gives you the tools you need to master identifying the quality of intervals, triads and seventh chords. All intervals between a minor second and a perfect octave are included, as well as all common triads and seventh chords. Brush up on these skills – they will make you a better musician!
Kill some time with Ocarina, which turns your smart phone into an ancient flute. With no musical training required, you’ll “blow” away your friends and family with your new talent. If it sounds good with no musical training imagine what a LAMA voice student would be able to do with it:
It’s 2011, which means you can practice and learn more about the piano on your smartphone! Not only can you practice as you travel, you can also take lessons. Sure beats reading a newspaper!
What good is all this musical stuff if you can’t record it and play it for others? You don’t want to see what a four-track recorder used to look like in the 90s– the fact that one fits on your phone is incredible. Use this app to record vocals or even plug in instruments. They have a nifty feature where you can even upload directly to SoundCloud when you have a finished track. The future is now!
These are just SOME of our favorite apps, but there are thousands more to choose from in the various app stores. If you want to get extra creative, start your own app! Be careful though, don’t rely too much on technology. Your practice room and gear still need your love and attention.
All this talk about smartphones and musicians means we have to refer you to the band “Atomic Tom” — might have taken iPhone musicianship to the next level:
We turn to our financial guru Clemens Kownatzki, author of Money Music 101, for Get to the Music’s first post in the Q&A series. From an LA Music Academy student:
Q: I put my songs up on Tunecore and make about $20 a month. Do I need to report this on my tax return? If so, how?
A: Technically, you are required to report all of your taxable income no matter whether you are selling songs on Tunecore or CDs on the Internet. Anytime you are engaged in selling a product or a service at a profit you must report the income from that activity.
The frequency or the amount of your income from selling songs are not the point actually. Instead, the question focuses on whether you are selling something at a net profit. Net Profit means the revenue or proceeds from selling a product or service minus the expenses associated with the production and marketing of it. When it comes to selling a song for instance, the problem is to demonstrate what costs you incurred from producing the song. That can be quite complex in fact. It is not just the cost of hiring a studio, manufacturing the CD or producing the MP3 and marketing your music etc. but also the hours that went into writing the song.
This can get very complex and in terms of reporting you are best advised to consult a CPA familiar with these types of transactions.
Clemens Kownatzki, one of our guest bloggers, teaches a finance elective at LA Music Academy College of Music.
He is the author of the just released Music Money 101 (pictured at left; available on Amazon).
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