4 Tips on Getting a Mechanical License for a Cover Song

Signing your mechanical licensing In December, I recorded a demo of cover songs for distribution to venues, and also as a stocking stuffer for family. Since I technically needed a mechanical license for each of the songs I was recording, I decided to go through the whole process of obtaining the licenses. I figured it would be good practice for the future, and might even be interesting.

A mechanical license is basically permission from a publisher to record and distribute a song they own the rights to. The process can be a bit intimidating, and I don’t think I was alone in feeling a slight sense of dread at the term whenever it came up. Now that I’ve gone through the process, it’s definitely not as it terrifying as it seemed at first. Here are some lessons I learned:

  1. Figure Out if You Need a Mechanical License. You need a mechanical license if you are planning on recording a song whose rights are owned by a publisher. For example, if you are recording “Let it Be” by the Beatles, you are going to need to obtain a mechanical licensing agreement from Sony. If you are recording your own song, or a song that is considered public domain, you wouldn’t need to obtain a mechanical license for it. For example, I was recording “Danny Boy” as one of my tracks, and since the song’s publishing rights now lie in the public domain, I didn’t need to get a mechanical license for it.
  2. Begin the Process of Obtaining the Licenses Before You Record. This is an important one. Some licenses are easier to get than others, and for certain songs it may be nearly impossible to obtain the license. I recorded six songs in my day at the studio, and I ended up not being able to use one of the tracks because I couldn’t get in touch with the publisher to get the license. If you plan ahead and get your licenses before you head to the studio, you won’t end up recording any music that you later find out you can’t use.
  3. Internet Research is Your Friend. Luckily, finding out who owns the rights to certain songs, and applying for a license for them is a lot easier with the internet. In Canada, two companies represent most of the major music reproduction rights of publishers: the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers in Canada (SODRAC), and the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA). They both have databases on their websites where you can look up specific songs, and who owns the rights to them. You can check here for SODRAC’s database, and here for CMRRA’s. If either SODRAC or CMRRA represent the publisher of the song you are covering, you will be able to apply for the rights directly through them. Even if they don’t, they will list the publisher for the song, so you can use that information to contact the publisher directly.

    In the States, the Harry Fox Agency is the largest provider of mechanical licensing agreements, and you can check out their database here. If they represent the song you want to record, you will also be able to apply online through them for the license. Another service you can consider using if you live in the States is Limelight. Limelight will take care of the whole process of obtaining your mechanical licenses for you from start to finish, so all you have to do is submit the songs you want to use to them, the formats you want to distribute them in, and pay them the associated fee for obtaining them. You can check out their website here.

  4. Savour the Feeling of Signing Your Agreements. Once your licenses come in the mail, savour the moment of opening them up, unfolding them, and signing each one. Some songs have multiple agreements with publishers, so you may get to practice this a few times in a row.

Good luck with your questing for a mechanical license, and if you have any tips or questions, feel free to post them in the comments here!

Posted by Justin on 05/30/2012 | 1 comment
Dave Cool

Musician Video Website Review: MeganLynch.net

We recently announced the Grand Prize Winner for the Hypebot/Bandzoogle Video Website Review Contest, which was Megan Lynch, who won a year of Bandzoogle Pro service. Below is the video review of her website: www.meganlynch.net

In the review, we go over the Design, Organization & Navigation, and Content of Megan’s website, and discuss ways she can make improvements. We thought the Bandzoogle community would also find the review helpful, so here it is:

Stay tuned for more video website reviews from the contest winners in the upcoming weeks!
Posted by Dave Cool on 05/28/2012 | 4 comments

Musician website love: Jam Hammer

Every week, we highlight one of our favorite websites on Bandzoogle.

Who: Jan Hammer
What: Multi-Grammy award winning composer and performer who has worked on major motion pictures (Miami Vice), and with rock legends (Eddie Van Halen and Jeff Beck)
Where: Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia he now lives in the US.
Why his website rocks:  When you have a history and career like Jan Hammer, it's easy to come up with content for your site, but organization gets complicated. This is a great example of how to create an easy to navigate, robust website. The design is simple and elegant, which makes his content king. You don't have to scroll down endlessly to read through his goings on; Jan has created an Archive page dedicated to any news that is not current. Also, by creating his own buttons and using the external link option, Jan shows the flexibility of a Bandzoogle website.
Check it out at http://janhammer.com/

Posted by Stacey on 05/25/2012 | 3 comments
Dave Cool

The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Post-Show

The “Four P’s” is a term used to describe the traditional Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. I’m borrowing from that expression to talk about the Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation, Promotion, Performance, and Post-Show. This series of blog posts will cover the things that you can be doing as a live performer to maximize each show. In the final part of this series, we’ll go over what to do after your show is finished:

The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Post-Show

It would be tempting to start this blog post talking about the things you can do starting the day after your show, but the truth is that the real work begins the minute you step off stage. Once your show is over, it is arguably the most important time to solidify relationships with your fans, with the bands you’ve played with, and with the venue. Here are 5 things to do right after your show that will help you do just that:

1. Go to the merch table and greet fans

Right after you finish performing, whatever you do, don’t go hide backstage. The days of elusive rock stars is over, and the new music industry is all about connecting directly with your fans. Yes, you can do that on social media, but nothing beats meeting your fans in person, where you can really strengthen those connections.

So even though you might be tired, and you have to work early the next day, instead of having a drink backstage and then heading home, go straight to the merch table to hang out, and stay there until every fan has left.

2. Thank the staff

Before leaving your show, be sure to personally thank the soundman, bartenders, wait staff, and booker (if they’re at the show). Shake their hands and thank them for the opportunity to perform at their venue. This goes a long way in developing a strong relationship with the venue.

3. Thank other bands that performed

One commenter named Greg over at Music Think Tank suggested this, and I completely agree. Don’t forget to thank the other bands that performed that night. Creating a strong sense of community with other bands is never a bad thing, and acknowledging their performance goes a long way to developing and strengthening those relationships.

4. Load-up and leave on time

Don’t overstay your welcome at the venue. If they close at a certain time, make sure you’re out the door at that time. After a long night, it can be demoralizing for staff to stay later, especially if people aren't buying drinks or food anymore, but simply hanging out and chatting. Which leads to the next point...

5. After party

You can take the direct-to-fan relationship even further and organize an after party. Invite fans to go out for drinks or a bite to eat after your show and get to know them even better.

Post-Show Marketing

It might sound strange to continue marketing after your show, but to complete the full promotional cycle for a live show, there are a few things you can do in the days following to get the most impact for your show:

Thank fans on Twitter & Facebook

The night of or day after your show, post a short thank you note on Facebook & Twitter. Photos tend to get more likes, shares, and re-tweets, so include a nice photo of your band performing along with the note.

Send a thank you note to everyone who signed up to your mailing list

As noted artist manager Emily White has said, an email list is "an artist’s retirement plan”. A mailing list is still the best way to stay in touch with your fans, so treat those email addresses like gold. In the days following your show, send a personal thank you note to everyone who signs up to your list.

Post a photo gallery on your website

Create a photo gallery on your website of the best photos from your show, which will help drive people to your website, and also give people a taste of how fun your live show is.

Write a blog post about the show

In other posts, we’ve stressed how important blogging is in strengthening the connection with your fans and driving people to your website. So writing a review/wrap-up of your live shows is an easy to create a blog post that will accomplish both of those things. Fans who were at the show will get to know what your perspective of the show was, and if you include some photos of the fans who were there, even better.

Record a video for your fans

Even if you’re on the road touring, taking a few minutes to record a quick video thank you for your fans from the tour van/hotel room/train station is a great gesture that fans will appreciate. You get to show off your personality, maybe tell an interesting story from the show/tour, and express your gratitude to your fans.

Post-Show Evaluation

OK, you’re almost done. As we mentioned in the blog post about “Performance”, you should try to record your show on video. It’s really important for you to be able to evaluate your performance so you can make improvements that will make your live show better. Here are some things to look out for:

Performance (technical)

Did you make any mistakes from a technical standpoint? i.e. Did you screw up any songs? Do some songs need more practice? Were the transitions between songs smooth? Did any equipment malfunction?

Stage Presence

How was your stage presence? How did the band look on stage? Nervous? Bored? Comfortable? Confident? Did you show passion during your performance?

Set List

How did the set list go over with the crowd? Did the songs do well in that order? Could a different song order or different songs improve the flow of the show?

Fan Interaction

How was your interaction with the audience? Did you thank them? Ask them questions? Did you make sure to mention your mailing list and merch from the stage?

And you’re done... sort of

Now all you have to do is repeat all “4 P’s” for your next show! I know this all sounded like a lot of work, maybe even too much work, but to get the most out of your live shows, you really have to go the extra mile.

The wonderful thing about the new music industry is that every artist out there can record, distribute and promote their music for next to nothing. However, this has created an environment where you’re now competing with thousands (and thousands) of other artists, which in turn has brought on new challenges for artists, most importantly standing out from the crowd and fan retention.

Great music will always need to be the base of your promotional strategy, and a great live performance is close behind. But those two things alone aren’t enough anymore, and you need to work just as hard, or harder, than every other artist out there if you want to forge a sustainable career in the music industry.

Thank You

Thanks for reading, I really hope you enjoyed the “Four P’s of Playing Live” Blog Series. After spending several years booking venues in Montreal, I wanted to share some of the best practices I had seen over the course of programming 500+ events. I hope there was some information in these blog posts that will bring your live show to the next level, help you get more gigs, and help you make a stronger connection to your fans.


Dave Cool
Director of Artist Relations

The 4 P’s of Playing Live

1. Preparation
2. Promotion
3. Performance
4. Post-Show

Special thanks to Elida Arrizza for the image concept for the blog series.

Posted by Dave Cool on 05/23/2012 | 1 comment
Dave Cool

Free Workshop for Musicians: Building Your Online Brand & Website

Bandzoogle member Jennifer Grassman has created a new and innovative online-only conference called SeeTalkGrow. An "Unconventional Convention," SeeTalkGrow is a 100% Online Music, Film, Technology, & Communications Industry Conference & Festival.

With a focus on education and networking, they host live webcast workshops, panels, artist showcases, and networking mixers, so you can stay up to date with industry news, and educate yourself, all without ever having to leave your home or office.

On Tuesday, May 22 at 8PM CT / 9PM ET, the SeeTalkGrow conference will be hosting a free workshop called Building Your Online Brand & Website with Bandzoogle’s Director of Artist Relations, Dave Cool. During the 1-hour interview they will discuss:

  • Easy Ways To Build a Cost Effective Website
  • Creating an Online Persona that Moves Product + Gets Gigs
  • The Benefits of Blogging
  • Effective & Meaningful Social Networking

Audience members will be able to ask questions throughout the workshop. And remember, the event is totally free and you can “attend” from anywhere in the world!


Building Your Online Brand & Website w/ Dave Cool of Bandzoogle

*8:00 PM - 9:00 PM May 22, 2012

To attend the workshop, simply visit: www.seetalkgrow.com/attend

*Please note the start time is in Central Time (CST / CDT).
Posted by Dave Cool on 05/21/2012 | 8 comments

Musician website love: Lera Lynn

Every week, we highlight one of our favorite websites on Bandzoogle.

Who: Lera Lynn
What: Internationally acclaimed songstress
Where: Houston born, Lera hangs her hat in Athens, GA
Why her website rocks:  This site has substance - a sultry design that matches Lera's musical style, combined with interesting and frequently updated content. By adding new videos and promotional content to her landing page (listen to a streaming broadcast, download 2 new tracks, etc.), it's sure to get Lera re-occurring traffic to her site. Well done!
Check it out at http://leralynn.com

Posted by Stacey on 05/18/2012 | 2 comments

5 Musician Blog Posts You Can Write Now

So you added a blog on your website, posted a “Welcome to my blog” post and it’s been collecting dust ever since huh? Between making music, practicing, setting up gigs, promoting your music, and (possibly) sleeping, who has time to maintain a blog right? Well I’m here to tell you it’s easier than you may think. It will take a bit of time and dedication, but once you commit to it, it will be a great addition to your marketing tool belt.

Remember the goal of a blog is to drive traffic to your website. To do this you must add inviting content often, get others involved, and generate interest. Non-artist types delight in reading about the life of a musician regardless of how un-glamourous it really is. Fans want a behind-the-scenes pass to you, your band and your music.

Your blog posts don't have to be long or involved. Sometimes a short five or six line update is all a fan has time to read anyway. You can post many short updates and then add more in-depth blog topics bi-weekly or monthly. As mentioned above, you are already making music, practicing, setting up gigs, promoting your music, so why not document it along the way? This will not only bring fans into your world, but will give you a nice record of your musical journey as well.

Here are 5 ideas to jumpstart your blog today:

1) The making of your album. The most obvious way to draw fans in is to give them access to your music making process. If you have a songwriting session, commit 20 more minutes to update your blog about how it went. Maybe share one verse as a sort of 'sneak peek' of what's to come. Write about your inspiration for the song and how the idea came about.

When you're in the studio take pictures and videos and blog about it. Share the funny little things that happen in the booth. Or the frustrations of a bad session. Good news or bad news - it's all news that fans are interested in.

Blog about the process of choosing your CD title, what songs made the cut (or didn't make it ) onto your album, choosing your cover art, etc. Give each of these their own post so you have many posts spread out over a few days.

2) The band – a retrospective. This is the type of post true fans crave. Gather up those old childhood photos of you playing in the 6th grade honor band, or you singing in the church choir and post about your humble beginnings. Fans want to know where you came from, how you got started, how the band came up with their name, and all the other details of the Making of the Band. 

To capitalize on this idea you could even do one post a week highlighting each band member, then a final piece about the forming of the band. Even if you're a solo artist, producer, label owner, or other music executive - people want to know your story.   Pinto and the Bean covers this well in a couple posts: The Birth of Our Band and 93 Band Name Ideas We Had Before Choosing 'Pinto and the Bean'

3) From the stage. Similar to the 'making of your album' idea, this blog topic puts the fan on the other side of the action. Instead of just being a spectator, you can take them backstage and on to the stage by writing about it from your perspective. Have a crew member or friend snap some shots from the stage so you can include your 'view' while performing. And who knows....a few fans may even see themselves in the crowd photo and Tweet or re-post that blog to other potential fans. (remember....it's all about driving traffic and creating interest!).

LA Music Blog
as a great example highlighting one band's performance from the stage. Although written from a fan perspective, you or your band can do the same thing but in your own blogging voice. Piano man Tyler Kealey does a great job of this in a recent post on a Christmas time performance.   

As well as indie rock band Dexter Jones for a recent After Race Concert.

4) Respond to an opinion article. There are many music industry blogs spouting opinions, predictions and rants about the state of music today. Find one (or more) and either write a post in support or opposition to it. Comment on the original post with a link to your post. Then make sure to link back to the original, especially if you are adding quotes from it in your own post. Here are a few popular music industry blogs to start with:
Music Think Tank
Digital Music News

5) Interview another like band or artist in your area. If you've been around the local music scene for awhile I'm sure you're familiar with other players in your area. You may have even shared the stage or a few beers a couple times, so why not work together? Offer to post an interview with a 'like' band or artist in your area. Hopefully they are the blogging type as well and they will return the favor. If so, this will create instant crossover fans because the people who listen to the other band will most likely enjoy your music as well.

Here are a few other musician bloggers to watch who continue to post interesting content often:

Raiatea - Hawaiian Singer/Songwriter posts of performances, fundraisers, interviews, and her community support by reading to local children.

Jennifer Grassman - Vocalist/Songwriter who keeps her blog full of intersting content both musical and personal. 

Amanda Palmer - Punk rocker with engaging and real deal commentary (with a bit of R-rated content to boot)

Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Review - Great blog keeping fans updated on upcoming events, past performances, new songs, and more.

Lera Lynn - Country/Folk singer who takes her readers on the road with her tour updates.

What are some other blog topics you've found to spark your fans interest? Post up your blog links if you are doing any of the above - we'd love to read about it!
Posted by Allison on 05/15/2012 | 8 comments

Musician Website Love: Amy Lauren

Every week, we highlight one of our favorite websites on Bandzoogle.

Who: Amy Lauren
What: Classical trained pianist with an elegant, new age sound
Where: Wisconsin, USA
Why her website rocks: Aside from her excellent background image and simple design, Amy's multiple pages are well-organized, making it easy to find whatever information you're looking for on her site. She also makes awesome use of the Bandzoogle Store feature to sell not only her physical CDs, but also sheet music for her compositions, and even licensing agreements for songs from her albums.
Check it out at http://amylaurenpiano.com

Posted by Justin on 05/11/2012 | 5 comments
Dave Cool

Musician Website Quick Fix #7: Add Social Links

We always say that your website needs to be the hub of your online strategy (and we mean it). But, when people visit your website, they might only have a short time to check out your content. Also, let’s face it, social network sites are amazing tools to engage with fans and create frequent, short-lived interactions with them.

If you add quick and easy ways to connect with you on your social media profiles, it will capture even the most casual fans. That way, even if they spent a minute on your website, they can quickly “Like” your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter. Then, you can draw them back to your website with the content you put out through those social media profiles.


Where to place widgets and icons on your website


Social media widgets work best right on your Homepage. If you’re active on those networks, you can place a Facebook “Like” box, as well as a Twitter Feed on the sidebar (left or right side of the page), so people can find and connect with you right away when they land on your site.

Here’s an example of a Facebook “Like box” from Bandzoogle member Sara Tindley’s website:

And here’s an example of a Twitter feed from Bandzoogle member Alex Vissia’s website:

Facebook Like box: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box/

Twitter feed widget: https://twitter.com/about/resources/widgets (if you’re a Bandzoogle member, there is an option to add a Twitter feed through your account, as Alex Vissia did on her website)

Note: Having these widgets on every page of your site isn’t necessary. Just placing them on your Homepage would be enough.

Social Media Icons

Another option to get people to connect with you on social media through your website is to display icons that link to the various social media sites you’re most active on.

Here’s an example from Static Cycle’s Homepage, where the social media icons are right below the header image:

These icons can be displayed throughout your site, either running along the top of the page, sidebar, or footer. But besides your Homepage, another section of your site where you want to be sure to have social media links is on your Contact page. Often people click on a Contact page to see how and where they can connect with you, so it’s a good idea to have your social media links included in that section.

Note: If you’re a Bandzoogle member, this is easily done using the “My Sites” feature, which has 32 different sites to choose from, as well as several different icon styles.

Don’t Over Do It

You should simply link to the social media networks that you are most active on. The goal isn’t to send people away to 10 different places other than your website, but to make it easy for them to keep up with your latest activity.

Chances are, people will click on the link to the social media site that they themselves are most active on, so if they see a page that hasn’t been updated for months, it will create a negative impression. Don’t feel like you have to put a link to every social media site that you’ve created a profile for. Your website isn’t a display for your collection of website profiles! If you’re most active on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you can simply display those links.

 Do you have social media widgets on your website? Where are they placed? Which social media sites do you link to? Let us know in the comments!

 Previous Website Quick Fix posts:

Musician Website Quick Fix #6: Host Your Own Blog

Musician Website Quick Fix #5: Add a Mailing List Sign-Up

Musician Website Quick Fix #4: Make it easy to listen to your music

Musician Website Quick Fix #3: Focus on one Call-to-Action

Musician Website Quick Fix #2: Lose the Intro Page

Musician Website Quick Fix #1: Turn off auto-start music

Posted by Dave Cool on 05/10/2012 | 2 comments
Dave Cool

Musicians, Got Data?

This is a guest blog post by Matt Urmy, CEO of Artist Growth. Artist Growth is a mobile platform that puts the business of artist development directly in the artist's hands. You can manage your gigs, finances, track daily tasks and coordinate team projects, all from the phone in your pocket. In this post, Matt discusses the importance of collecting data for today’s musicians, and how they can leverage that data to advance their careers. Enjoy!

Musicians, Got Data?

In Today’s Music Business, what’s most important?

In my humble opinion, it’s the same thing that’s always been important: Great Music. What’s the next most important thing? …how about getting it to the people?

But then what? How do you create a career…create a team that can help you spread your music and make a living? Well, in today’s world, to do that you have to have data: Touring history. Sales. Fan-Base Size. Social Media Impressions...the list can go on and on...

Anyone involved in business today bases the majority of their decisions upon data analytics, and if they don’t, they should. Just about every organization demands data to back up claims on performance...whether it’s the IRS, a promoter, or record company executive...it’s just today’s reality.

If you are a songwriter, a musician in a band, a manager of an artist(s)...if you are engaged in the process of developing a career in music (yours or somebody else’s), then you have be able to use data and analytics to move the needle of that career.

In the last several years, there have been several online services that have launched, and each of them offers artists and their teams a little bit of insight into how well their careers are progressing, how well their businesses are performing. Whether it is digital sales data, website analytics, or social media traction, the tools continue to be designed.

Despite this trend of emergent digital music services, there has not yet been a total paradigm shift in the consciousness of artists around the world. So many artists still suffer from the disease of:

“Someday somebody will hear my song and ‘get it’ so much that they’ll make me famous.”

The short and simple reality is this: If you want to build a team of professionals that will help you reach the height of your potential as a successful artist, after you show them that you make great music, you have to show them:

  1. That you understand the basic principles of business (Profit and Loss, Accounting, Marketing, etc.).
  2. That you have already begun to put those principles to work, on your own.

The fastest way to demonstrate both to a potential business partner = data.

Some managers and labels would rather receive a business plan from an artist than a demo. What does that tell you?

Today the tools that exist to help you record and market your music are great…however, with every new solution comes a new set of challenges.

Too many logins to manage, data is spread thin over a myriad of different online services. Not to mention the box full of old receipts (when you remembered to save them), the crumpled email sign up sheets in the trunk of your car...sound familiar? The list goes on and on.

One of the greatest challenges in any business is tracking each small piece of data. So much falls through the cracks. In music, we work in places where most everyone is drinking, and at all hours of the night…and are constantly moving from one place to another…it’s so challenging when your office is a car, van, or tour bus.

It’s also so competitive. How do you make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd? While you are proving that you make great music, prove that you understand the value of data in business at the same time.

Run Your Business Like You Mix A Record

Noise, Noise, Noise. There is plenty of it in music these days.

You have to filter out the distracting frequencies. You have to balance the landscape.

Mixing a record is about putting every sound in its place, to create the truest and most accurate rendering of the performance of your songs…you have to do the same thing with the performance of your business.

Plain and simple, we built Artist Growth to be a mixing console for your music career…the business side of it. Instead of a master tape, you get quantified data. You get the proof that you are growing.

It’s designed so that the business to-do’s don’t take too much energy away from your creative life.

Yes, you eventually need a team around you. A manager, A booking agent...etc. BUT, in the meantime (if you don’t have that in place yet), you can build a portfolio of data that shows you are an artist that is worth making an investment in.

Two things you have to have to be able to build a great team today: 

  1. Great Music. This is a must.
  2. Data that supports the claim that you are a good business investment.

The tools exist that allow you to make both of those happen completely on your own. You are in control if you want to be. It’s never been a more exciting time to be an artist, if you really believe in yourself, and are willing to do the work...

It’s your life. Your dream. Don’t fuck around with it…and certainly don’t let anyone else fuck around with it. It’s your music business now.

Posted by Dave Cool on 05/08/2012 | 2 comments