Tips for Working with Recording Companies

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August 23, 2017

Signing your first deal? Here are the most important tips for working with recording companies. Many artist rush into their contract and end up right where they began. Broke and playing in a basement somewhere. Even popular groups like TLC, who sold over 60 million records, ended up in bankruptcy court! They didn’t fight for a good contract, and they decided their best option was to file for bankruptcy. Learn from their mistake by following these tips to success with recording companies.

  1. List your expectations and make sure they are reflected in your contract. If you are expecting your contract to help you bring in money, inspect that contract to make sure your expectations are reflected. Don’t skim over your contract or have someone else do it for you. You don’t want to be surprised if something goes against your expectations down the line.
  2. Hire a manager from outside the label. Be very careful about who you have managing you. Your manager needs to be somebody who will fight for you. If they are connected to the label, even just friends with an executive, it could potentially spell danger. You want to be sure they are dedicated to you, not the label. 
  3. Understand what each entity on the team is asking for. When TLC signed with the producer, they didn’t realize that the producer wasn’t also covering distribution and label. That means they had to pay out more cuts than they expected to random companies. While this is common practice, you should know who all of these people are and where your money is going. Make sure you aren’t paying out four different percentages to different companies. That can leave you with very little in the end.
  4. Read and understand your royalty agreement. So many artists fail to read and understand their royalty agreement until it’s too late. Don’t wait until you are broke and wondering why! Some artists, who came up with their own name and branding, end up paying the label for ownership of that trademark. TLC ended up paying one-million dollars for each letter of their name! If you are planning to sign with a company, be sure to register your own trademark. That way, you own your own name outright.
  5. Have your own attorney. Some labels will try to persuade you to use a specific attorney or use the same one they use. That can be dangerous conflict of interest. If you find yourself in a dispute with your label, your attorney may not fight for you like they should. I’m sure the record label will pay them a lot more than you can pay them.  
  6. Never lose your creative control. When you think “music business,” you are probably focusing on the word music. Your label and production team, however, focus on the business side. Many groups go through entire overhauls of their musical stylings, lyrics, and even how they can present themselves. It is sadly something that can’t easily be avoided. You can try to keep your creative rights by adding an agreement in your contract, but many labels won’t go for it. Read more about this and four other key things to consider in this article by Patrick Hess.   

Knowing Your Guitar

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August 25, 2017

Knowing your guitar will help you shred riffs like the stars. It can be hard to stay dedicated. Even finding the right guitar can leave you feeling the blues. It’s not the easiest hobby to pick up! There are a lot of things to keep in mind as you browse for your rock-out gear. Body style, materials, bridges, necks and pickups all have very distinct influence on how your music will sound. Even just going over those is just an introductory course on getting your shred on.

I am here to help you get introduced to some of the basics. If you haven’t been playing for years, there are probably some elements you don’t even need to concern yourself with right now. Here I will brief you on the basic body styles and pickups, which are (most people believe) the most important parts of your guitar’s overall build. I will also help you ask yourself the important questions that will help you make the right choices. Once you have all this down, the next step is to check out the best drink coolers to get your crew over for a jam session!

Guitar Body Styles

Solid Body

This style is the most common, and some of the most iconic axes utilize it. The Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster both have solid bodies. This body style is known for it’s capability to create the widest range of tones. It also reduces feedback and can give you a better sustained note. You can’t really go wrong starting out with this body style, no matter what kind of music you are looking to play. It is mostly used by rock and alternative musicians.

Hollow Body

This is the original design that introduced the world to the power of electric guitars. Like an acoustic guitar, it has a completely hollow inside. They first were used in jazz ensembles, like the Gibson ES-150. Later, these guitars were adapted for folk, country, and even rock stylings. The hollow body allows the guitar to produce mellow, warm tonalities. They are more prone to producing feedback, but you can use distorters to achieve a different sound if you are careful. These is a great option for people who are leaning toward playing blues and classic rock.

Semi-Hollow Body

If you are looking for an all-purpose guitar, a semi-hollow body is the perfect compromise between the previous two styles. These guitars are solid through the center and hollow on both sides. This design allows them to increase how long notes play (sustain). It also gives less feedback than completely hollow bodied guitars. You can also still achieve those mellow tones we love.

Guitar Pickups

The pickup is important because it is the device that actually takes the vibrations of the string and translates it into an electrical signal to be amplified. They are small coil wire wrapped magnets. These feel the vibration and send the electric signal to your amp, which better be turned to eleven.

You can choose from two main pickup styles– single coil or humbuckers (AKA double coil). Basically, single coil pickups are the simplest design, with only one coil. These pickups give you punchy, bright tones. The downside is they can produce a lot of extra noise. Some people choose a P90 pickup. The single coil is thicker than traditional single coils. They make a louder, but duller sound. Punk and alternative artists usually choose thin single coil pickups because the hum lends itself well to those killer stylings.

Dual coil pickups are also known as humbuckers because they get rid of the extra hum. They use two sets of single coil pickups, grouped near each other. This allows your guitar to make more powerful tones perfect for jamming out power chords. Be sure to test out both styles. Many people think that choosing the humbucker is always the better option, however some musicians prefer the brighter tones they produce. Blues and classic rock artists usually prefer the cleaner tones that humbuckers offer. You can even find guitars that allow you to switch between single, and dual coil modes, if you are not sure which style you will end up being called toward.

I hope this helps you move forward toward picking out your new rocking piece of equipment!