Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jay And Chandler From Music Geek Services On The Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Bobby Owsinski's Inner Circle Podcast image
If you're into marketing yourself and your music, you'll love this week's Inner Circle Podcast. It features Jay and Chandler Coyle from Music Geek Services and they'll describe how they help artists and bands enlarge their audiences and sell more merch.

Also featured this week is an in-depth explanation of the "1,000 Fan Theory" of a making a living from a core audience, and a discussion of my 10 favorite microphones.

Check it out at

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Get More Video Views With A Custom Video Thumbnail

Adding a custom thumbnail image
Loading a custom thumbnail
One of the easiest ways to get more views for your video is by having an appealing thumbnail image. Here's an excerpt from my Social Media Promotion for Musicians book that describes the simple process of creating a thumbnail that really sells the video.

"When you upload a video, YouTube usually selects three screen grabs from which you can select the thumbnail. The problem is that it’s likely that none of these provide an image that instantly tells the potential viewer much about your video. A customized image can now be used as the thumbnail instead of the selections made by YouTube. Here’s what to do:
  • Find the perfect still shot. Search through your original video (the one you had before you uploaded it to YouTube) until you find that one shot that perfectly describes what the video is all about. This might be an action shot, or it could be a close-up of a face or product, or it could be anything that grabs the viewer’s attention. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s relevant to the video. When you’ve found it, export it as a jpeg or PNG image.
  • Add text. Use an image editor like Photoshop, GIMP or even Preview to add text to identify the video. Make sure that the text is large enough to read easily on a small screen found on a smartphone. The file size should be less than 2MB.
  • Click on the Custom Thumbnail icon and upload. This can be found on the Info and Settings page, which is accessible from the first icon (the first one) at the bottom of the video viewer. Viewers will now see your custom thumbnail."
To read additional excerpts from Social Media Promotion for Musicians or my other books, go to the excerpts section of

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What To Charge For A T-shirt

T-shirt image
One of the biggest concerns that artists and bands have when it comes to merch sales is how much to charge, especially for everyone's favorite - the T-shirt. There's an interesting article about this on the NPR blog, but I've also touched on this a bit in a sidebar in the latest Music Connection magazine and in my Selling Music Merchandise course.

Here's the formula: After you’ve determined your cost per item (make sure you include all your costs including design, setup and shipping), the next thing is to determine the sales price of the item. One way is to just ball park the price at what you think it should sell for, which is fairly unscientific and subject to errors that can cost you money, or do it by a adding a certain percentage over your costs, which is called your markup.

Let’s say a t-shirt cost you $10. If you were to mark up it 50%, that would mean you would sell it for $10 plus a $5 markup, or $15.
10 x 50% = 5  10 + 5 = 15

Many businesses like to mark up a small item by at least 2 or 3 times, or 200 or 300% or even more. That means that an item like a guitar pick that costs 25 cents can easily be sold for $1 or even more, if the market will bear it. On an item that costs you more, like our $10 t-shirt, your market might not bear a 100% markup (although you find shirts that cost more than that all the time), so you’ll have to settle for a smaller percentage.

No matter what, don’t drop your markup below 20% though. You have to make something for your efforts, no matter how small, just to cover those contingent costs that seem to pop up later.

Although you may see T-shirts priced around between $30 and $40 at concerts for A-list artists, don't think that you can get away with the same price. The typical going rate is actually between $15 and $20, but check what you're competitors are charging first.

Here's the "Welcome" video from Selling Music Merchandise course that describes what it covers. Get 7 days of free access by clicking here.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Millennial's Choice For Social Networks

Millennials love their smartphones and they love their social networks. Here's an interesting Statista infographic derived from comScore and Mobile Metrix info that shows their most popular social networks while using their phones.

What's interesting is that Facebook is still the number 1 choice by far, followed by Instagram and Snapchat. Now you can see why Snapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook last year.

What this chart tells artists, bands and musicians is that no matter how badly you feel treated on Facebook, don't give up on it yet. It can still be a powerful marketing tool if you know how to use it.


Monday, August 11, 2014

A Basic Music Publishing Glossary

publishing contract image
It's unfortunate that many songwriters are so good at their craft yet don't understand the basics of protecting and controlling their work. Here's a quick basic glossary of frequently used publishing -related terms thanks to the Music Business Association.

Remember that each song has two rights attached to it. The first is for the composition itself (both lyrics and music) and the second is for the recording of that song by the artist.

Composition - The song written by the songwriter(s).

Copyright - The ownership or control of an intellectual property like a song.

Label - The record label, who sign the artist and usually control the copyright of the master recordings. They are responsible for licensing and distributing the recordings, then paying a percentage (a royalty) of the money earned to the artist.

Master - The produced sound recording of a song.

Mechanical License - The license to reproduce and distribute the master recordings in a physical or digital format. CDs, vinyl records and digital downloads all require this license from the publisher of the composition in exchange for a royalty for each sale.

Public Performance License - The license to transmit the compositions to the public via live concerts, radio, television and streaming.

Performance Rights Organization (PRO) - The entity that collects public performance royalties for the songwriter. This includes ASCAP, BMI and SESAC in the US.

Publisher - An entity that controls the copyright of a songwriter's compositions. The publisher is responsible for collecting the royalties on the artist's behalf.

Soundexchange - The entity that collects performance royalties for artists and labels for non-interactive streaming such as Pandora.

Sound Recording Performance License - The license issued by Soundexchange that provides the right to transmit masters via non-interactive streaming.

Synchronization (Sync) License - The license required to add music to moving images, including film, television, DVDs and video games.

Publishing is a deep subject and there are many more terms to become familiar with if you really want to get a handle on how it all works. That said, if you're unclear of the concept, these terms are an excellent place to begin.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Owners Of More Than 25% of US Digital Masters Don't Get Paid

Streaming Music image
According to the digital rights administration service Audiam, anywhere from 25 to 45% of all master recordings streamed are not properly documented and therefore not associated with the composition. As a result, the royalties from these streams are not paid out.

Audiam estimates this amount to be as much as $5 million a day and includes everything from download stores, streaming services, scan and match locker services, digitally delivered background music, ringtones, ringback tones, text message music clips, YouTube and other digital uses.

And it gets worse - 25% of all compositions on US digital services aren't licensed at all, so that money doesn't make it back to the composer or artist either. Then you have the situations where there's lots of unpaid or unallocated money just sitting in escrow, or even worse, paid to the wrong entities.

What's the one simple thing that you can do to alleviate this situation? Make sure that you always completely fill out any documentation (including metadata) on your song when uploading to a publisher, music distribution service or performance rights organization. Sloppy paperwork leads to more problems in getting paid than anything else in this digital age, although we'll cover a number of other reasons in some upcoming posts.


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