After an unholy amount of time in the studio, your music is finally ready to release. Before publishing your songs, take a moment to familiarise yourself with these common newbie mistakes you need to avoid.
Many people are under the impression that sampling other music is fair game if the sample itself is kept short enough. This huge mistake could end up costing you a lot of money in court.
First off, make sure you have the correct licensing to use the sample. If you’re doing a cover, you’ll only need a mechanical license. If you’re using part of an original song in a new song of your own, or even mixing together other songs, you’ll need to get permission from the owner of the recording, most likely the artist or label.
It might seem like a problem that you’ll never have to deal with if you’ve had no luck in getting published until now, but getting your hard work stolen is depressingly common. Make sure that anybody who deserves credit is given their dues, and then you can start moving forward with deals. If you just start sending out your music left and right, it’s not very difficult for somebody else to end up taking all of the credit and future earnings from YOUR music.
So you’ve got in touch with a label or distributor of some kind and they’re interested. In your excitement, you send your entire catalogue of music to be published.
There are two ways this can go wrong. Firstly, you can put off your contact in the business by being too keen. The other danger, especially for those going at it alone, is that you’ll dilute your reputation. No matter how fond you might be of a song, your audience is going to be more picky. If the first song of yours they hear is a mediocre one, they aren’t going to wait to get to the great stuff before they move onto the next.
If you scan past so much as a single line in your contract, you could be throwing away everything. If you don’t know common industry terms, you better brush up on them. Even better is to have an experienced lawyer who understands your position on your side.
For example, more than a few musicians have completely lost out on ever getting royalties from successful music by agreeing to ‘work for hire’ contracts. Lopsided commissions are another way this can happen, in which everybody but the musician gets a hefty cut.
The music business never has an easy moment. Whether you’re just starting out recording your first demo or you’re getting calls left and right from excited agents and managers, you need to stay on your toes.
It’s easy to get complacent once you start seeing success, but in reality this is the point at which you need to be most alert. Don’t let what you’ve built get wasted at this stage.