So, what are merchandisers? You can compare a merchandiser to a label, in a way. A merchandiser has the right (once you sign a contract with them) to use your name on goods. So, in short, they manufacture your goods, they look into the sales at your gigs and, the most important part, they pay you royalties for each sale.
Tour merchandise and retail merchandise are very alike, but depending on what kind of artist you are there can be important differences. There are many ways to go and avenues to choose in terms of merch and often artists forget the opportunities that merchandise can offer. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.
Live streaming and live content is a game changer in the music industry. Artists are now setting up gigs just to so that they have content for their marketing campaigns. It is important to utilise every opportunity you have to get video content to boost your engagement, and here is why:
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A lot of artists are ready to take the next step in their musical career, with that career there are a number of factors you need to know before you can rise and take over the world with your music. One of those things is SoundScan.
What is SoundScan?
SoundScan signs up stores and has a tracking system that is operated by ACNielsen (sounds familiar?) Nielsen tracks your music and music video sold in retail in America and Canada. Billboard uses these numbers for their charts that you can check regularly on their website.
How does it work?
Any song, video or album or any music product carries an UPC or EAN and a ISRC (barcode). This code is needed to track your music in sales with this system. Their sales numbers get collected weekly so it gets updated very often. Which is a good thing because sales don’t stand still. It is not used or royalty payments, but instead tracks song data for use in the charts.
Is this just for physical sales?
No, it isn’t just for physical sales. It also counts the music that sells in digital stores (like iTunes), but since 2014 they also include streaming into their tracking list. This makes it really easy, because everything comes from one source.
Are these numbers accurate?
In theory all the digital sales (streams and digital downloads) are completely correct. Because when labels and artists license digital rights to the seller, they need to report their sales to SoundScan. Digital is completely covered as you can’t really make up the streams or downloads that are shown.
There are a lot of independent stores that aren’t signed up to SoundScan. If they are not signed up, there is no way in knowing how much of your CDs or vinyl gets sold in that store. Which means there is a blind spot in the industry sales on physical music. Unless you want to contact every store one by one, this is the most accurate sales list you’ll get for in America and Canada.
How do I use it?
To start using SoundScan to track your sales data, you need to register your tracks with Nielsen and wait for them to be approved.
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What is Music Publishing?
Music publishing involves protecting the rights in your music and making sure that you’re paid the money that you’re entitled to.
In a nutshell, a music publisher will take care of all of the administrative work which leaves you as a composer or songwriter to focus on what you do best – creating music.
Different publishers may offer different things, but here is a list of things that could be part of their role:
Registering your works with collection societies such as PRS for Music in the UK.
Collection of performance and mechanical royalties and making royalty payments to you, which is explained here.
Securing licenses for the use of your music, for example synchronisation deals.
Encouraging and developing the skills of their writers and composers.
Producing or licensing printed sheet music.
Why Do I Need a Publisher?
The realm of music publishing can seem like a bit of a minefield to navigate yourself through. Music publishers are specialists in their field so you can rely on their expertise to ensure that you are getting all of the revenue that you are entitled to out of your songs.
If you’re the songwriter or composer, you’re entitled to royalties each time your song is reproduced on CD, Vinyl, MP3 etc., played in public, on radio, on television, downloaded, streamed, performed live or synced to visual media.
A publisher will collect these royalties for you on your behalf from their affiliated collection society, and in the case of synchronisation they will also negotiate the sync fee in order to use your music. In many cases, they are members of several collection societies across the world ensuring that your royalties flow back to you in the most direct and quickest way.
They will have good connections and contacts within the music industry such as the likes of music supervisors working on films, television shows and advertisements. So, they know how to get your music in front of the key influencers of this part of the industry. They will also be well versed in who is working on what projects meaning that they can present your music to the music supervisors who are looking for that particular style.
How to Get Started:
Try to find a publisher that is the right fit for you. Make sure they offer what you need at this stage in your career. Research their current roster to see if they work with your genre or style of music.
When approaching a music publisher, you need to ‘sell’ yourself in the best way possible. Each publisher will be different so it’s best to check out their website or give them a call to see if they accept unsolicited submissions and find out the best person to contact. It’s always good to get the name of the actual person you need to contact if possible. You also need to find out how they like to receive submissions, whether via email, post or through their website.
Once you have done this, keep your initial submission short and sweet. If submitting via email or online, it’s advisable to provide a link to your best track and make sure it’s accessible. If they need to sign up to a service or follow too many steps, they may be turned off and lose interest. Sites such as Box are great for sharing files as the audio can be streamed directly from the link and then the user has the option to download the track if they want to. (You can disable the download option at the time of creating your share link if you don’t want them to be able to do this).
Provide a short biography and remember you’re trying to make yourself stand out. Publishers will get multiple submissions a day so you really want to grab their attention – what’s your USP?
After this initial submission, hopefully they will be in touch and will want to find out more about you and hear more tracks. Don’t be too disheartened if they don’t reply straight away, remember a music publisher is inundated with submissions, but if you haven’t had a response in a few weeks’ time you can always do a gentle follow up.
How Can I Find a Music Publisher?
Doing a generic online search can help but the Music Publishers Association is a good place to start too. They have a directory of members where you can search by genre and also see if they accept unsolicited materials.
At Horus Music, we have an in-house publishing team who always love to hear new music. More information can be found here.
I’ve Got a Deal!
Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off.
Before signing on the dotted line, always read over the contract thoroughly and make sure you fully understand what both the publisher and yourself are agreeing to do.
Check the royalty splits, the term, if there’s any advance payable and exactly what they’re going to do for you. Make sure you’re aware of how many songs you are signing the deal for or committing to write under the agreement. As with any contract, it is advisable that you seek legal advice before signing.
Best of luck!
A one-sheet is, as the name suggests, a single sheet of paper detailing relevant information about your latest music release. It is a simple document to create, but an effective one-sheet can make a huge difference between a release that has support or promotion behind it and one that has nothing.
One-sheets can be used by for a variety of reasons, but we receive them when artists are interested in marketing or would like stores to promote their release. It should be in pdf format and can be as creative as you like, as long as it tells the reader all of the compelling reasons why your release should receive additional promotion.
You should have a different one-sheet for digital stores and physical stores as there is different information that is necessary for each of them, similar to how you would have a different CV for each job you apply for.
What Should It Include?
- Below is the information that you should include for digital stores:
- Artist name,
- Release name,
- Release date and upcoming tour dates,
- Barcode and catalogue number,
- Record label,
- Track listings (including bonus and hidden tracks),
- Parental Advisory (where relevant),
- Relevant and up to date promotional information and press coverage (including digital and print press as well as radio plays/interviews).
It is good to include a small paragraph about the artist, especially if there is something that could be genuinely interesting to other people and to the digital stores. A brief description about what makes the release different from your others can also be very useful. There should also be information about what territories the music will be available and where most of your marketing efforts will be taking place.
The information you include should all be factual information about which publications or radio stations have supported you, as opposed to simply where your music has been sent. You should list your upcoming tour dates or the performances that you will be doing to support your release, include details of where you will be performing and when. If you are touring with another artists include this here too, especially if they are well-known.
During a busy promotional campaign, the details can change every day so it is important to make sure that the one-sheet you are sending out is fully up-to-date. We recommend creating a new version every week so that we are aware of your progress and can pass on the information that is needed to stores, which can increase your chances of receiving support.
How Should It Look?
There are no set rules as to how a one-sheet should look, as long as it fits on one sheet of paper. You can be as creative as you like as long as the presentation and layout is clear and the information is easy to read – keep your text at an easily readable size.
Word documents can look different on each computer or device, so we recommend exporting your finished version as a PDF so it will look the same to everyone who views it.
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