Musicians :: Understanding Music Business And How Record Labels Work!

Most of the Record labels are publishers. Others offer 360 deals while some 270 maximum. But lets first dissect and understand what they do.

Record labels hire and employ the best musical writers. When an artist signs a record deal they are forced to give up their Master Recording copyright to the publisher. The publisher then sets them to work with THEIR writers to write songs that the artist sings. The money that comes in from licensing (putting songs on the radio, in films, in tv, etc.) goes to the publisher who gets half and the other half goes to the writers that the publisher employs and If the artist wrote something in the song they get their percentage of the half that the writers get. The publisher also makes the artist sign a mechanical licensing deal. That allows the publisher to put out CD’s, records, and sell downloads. Typically, the artist gets one dime from every unit sold. The artist, since they receive very little EARNED money, is then forced to go out and tour in order to make a living off the take from ticket sales and merchandise AND payback the generous ADVANCES given to them by the publisher. The artist, the performer, is the lowest of the low on the business totem pole. Meanwhile, the publisher is raking in money hand over first from licensing deals using the Master Recording copyright. The artist is indebted to the publisher, usually with advances in the millions. That money has to be paid back from the sale of CD’s, records, and downloads. The artist is usually on the hook also for many more albums promised to the publisher. If an artist rebels the publisher stops promoting their works and sales dwindle, putting the screws onto the artist. When they are under enough pressure, the artist is allowed to be dropped, in exchange for giving up any and all rights to their own music. When that happens the publisher then begins promoting the artist to the hilt – because the publisher their writers get all the money. None for the artist. This is the sad truth about how the music industry really works in the real world.

As an Artist always :-

  1. Keep your publishing rights to the Master Recording,
  2. Always write your own songs.
  3. Register your copyright with the government copyright office ( find registered bodies that collect royalties in your country) and then join a PRO (Ascap or BMI in America ) and register your songs yourself.

As an Artist, are you signed? How has your record label helped you? What are some of the challenges you face as an indie or Signed artist?

Studying Song Structure Can Help You Learn New Material Quickly!

Strategies that involve focused listening and practice are key to learning new material quickly, and looking closely at song structure can lessen the amount of time it takes you to get from first listen to a strong, quality performance.

Prioritize structure

Wrapping your head around a sonic roadmap is often the best way to demystify a new song you’re trying to learn. Does the tune follow a standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus progression? Or is it something a little more unconventional — verse-verse-verse-bridge-verse, for example? Are all of the verses the same length, or do some jump to the pre-chorus more quickly? If you can break a song structure down so you always know what’s coming next, you’ll be in a great position to deliver a strong performance, even with minimal prep time.

Prioritize key elements

When you have a lot of music to learn and not enough to time to do it, think about it practically and ruthlessly.

When it comes to the performance itself, will it make a huge difference if you don’t play the specific chord voicings indicated on the song’s bridge, as long as you stay in time and stick to the basic harmonic structure? Perhaps not.

On the other hand, will it screw up the flow of the song if you miss the big break at the end of the second verse, leading into the anthemic chorus? Yeah, probably.

If you have extremely limited time, try to identify the points in the song that are the most critical for you to get absolutely right and make sure that those are locked in. The parts you can hack your way through? Leave those for whatever time you have left, once you have the absolutely vital key elements solidified.

Identify trouble spots

Is there a certain chord progression that seems to throw you whenever you play the song? If, after two or three times through, you still find yourself repeatedly tripping over the same musical element, it’s time to stop, drop, and focus. Run the measure or measures in question repeatedly, and slowed down, until you feel like the section is pretty well burned into your brain. Then, slowly pick up the tempo and start to play that trouble spot in context. You may still minorly trip over it when you reach it in context of the larger song, but the more time you can spend focusing on those individual difficult spots, the easier it will be for you integrate them seamlessly into your overall performance — and pick yourself up without losing a beat if you do stumble in performance.

Look for patterns

I recently was asked to sight read what appeared to be a very challenging song for a new singer I was working with. Luckily, there was sheet music — but unluckily, there were no chord symbols to follow and the music was dense and highly chromatic.

As we went through it, though, I began to notice there was a lot of repetition within the song, at least in what I was being asked to play. One rhythmic and melodic figure, for example, seemed to occur over and over, just transposed to different keys and played in the context of different chords.

Once I made this connection, I was able to shift my attention from trying to read every single note as it came flying at me to figuring out where that particular pattern would go next — and how to play it in a way that would best support the singer in her performance. This was a much more fun, useful, and successful approach than simply trying to cut my way through a forest of notes, sharps, and flats.

When you’re learning new songs yourself, look for any sort of pattern, whether it’s a repetition of a chord structure, rhythm, melodic line, or other element. The more patterns you can identify, the more attention you’ll be able to pay to other elements of the song — including having fun and delivering a great performance.

Look for similarities with other songs

With genres like pop, rock, blues, and country, chord patterns and rhythms can often be similar from one song to the next. Does the bridge of this new tune you’re learning follow the same harmonic progression as your favorite Beatles song? Do the underlying rhythmic hits of the chorus remind you of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”? Use those similarities to your advantage — the more you can reference material that you already know as you’re shedding new tunes, the less you have to learn from scratch and the more energy you can invest in delivering a memorable and musical performance.

How do you approach learning lots of music quickly?


Courtesy Of

Why is “Christian Rap” Going Mainstream?

Much has been written about mainstream rap’s religious revival. Popular hip-hop artists — most notably Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Kanye West — are weaving Christian themes into their music without apology. Surprisingly, the secular music marketplace is eating it up.

image: Lecrae and Kanye West.

But as mainstream rap has become more Christian, Christian rap has become more mainstream. Artists like Lecrae are signing with secular music labels and refusing to be called “Christian rappers.” Many other prominent Christian artists are releasing records that focus more on political commentary than preaching and are incorporating provocative lyrics that may easily offend conservative Christian fans.

Wanting to know more, I decided to speak with Propaganda. The Los Angeles-based artist is one of the most prominent Christian rappers today and someone at the heart of this trend. His newest album “Crooked” is rife with straight talk about racism and injustice that will make many white Christians squirm. “God” is only mentioned in one song. Here we discuss the trends and why they matter.

RNS: Mainstream hip-hop artists from Kendrick to Chance seem to be getting more explicitly religious. Kanye even described his album as worship music. Why the shift?

PROP: First, I honestly think it has much to do with Lecrae’s success. He proved the market was ready for a new answer to culture. And people wanted to be a little more honest about where they are coming from and still sell records. Secondly, I think hip-hop has in some way had a religious tone, whether it was 5%er or Muslim. A Christian voice was just missing.

RNS: How is hip-hop uniquely positioned to raise spiritual questions and speak to matters of the soul?

PROP: Hip-hop sits in the stream of black music a la negro spiritual, jazz, blues, rock and roll, etcetera. Black music is not so much be right but must feel right. For music to feel right, it’s gotta speak to deeper parts of the human experience, whether lyrics or sound. It’s gotta hit you right in the feels. Hip-hop that stands the test of time does that.

RNS: As mainstream hip-hop gets more religious, Christian hip-hop artists seem to be growing more mainstream. Rather than just preaching through song, they are confronting issues like immigration, poverty, and racism. What do you make of this?

PROP: Well, my music has always sat in that justice space. It’s pretty much my lane. But to your question, I think the election and sociopolitical climate has brought out that undercurrent of institutional racism and sexism that marginalized people groups inside and outside the church have been wrestling with for years. I feel like this season made these things impossible to not speak out about. It feels like the very soul of our faith is at stake.

RNS: Lifeway banned an album that Humble Beast put out for referencing the word “penis.” What does this say about the state of conservative Christianity?

PROP: It’s on its last breath if it don’t evolve.

RNS: Do you think that underlying racism influenced their decision?

PROP: Absolutely. However, I think it also had to do with just some fear of loss of revenue. You gotta protect the core audience. I get that. We are not their core at all. Plus, it wasn’t necessary a choice of the whole organization but one or two buyers. The racial untone is unavoidable though because the Patriot Bible is still on the self.

RNS: You’ve said on social media and elsewhere that white Christianity has a race problem. How bad is it?

PROP: It’s an epidemic, bro, and what makes it worse is how long it’s festered. Take Abraham Kuyper, for instance. He’s a hero in the faith who stated that there is no part of the universe over which God doesn’t cry “mine.” But he also asserted that the African man’s brain is hopelessly childish and underdeveloped and will always need the white man to save him from himself.

Having said that, I am not hopeless because it’s white Christians that made the Underground Railroad possible. And it’s that duality that is at the core of this record.

RNS: Your new single “Darkie” is a prime example of this. The shockingly raw lyrics expose culture’s biases against physical features of blackness such as “nappy” hair. What do you hope to accomplish?

PROP: Well it’s one part of a whole story arc of the record. But in particular, “Darkie” is in an articulation of what happens when whiteness is centered as the ideal and becomes internalized and then weaponized among our own people. In many Latino countries and in Asian culture also being dark means you work in the fields. Fair skin is a sign of wealth.

I personally wrestled through loving my darkness. My hope is to encourage folks to enjoy whatever the Lord gave you — light or dark.

RNS: The song doesn’t really even reference God. Why? Will this be a problem for your Christian fans?

PROP: There is no reference to God on the entire album until the last song. This is def by design. Because that’s what life has been for a lot of us. We go through ugly things, ups and downs, and really don’t see God in there. Sometimes we don’t see any redemptive themes until years and years later. At least that’s what my life has been.

RNS: It seems to me that Christian rap is becoming less overtly Christian. 

PROP: Well, Christian hip-hop as a whole has traditionally had two basic approaches — one is the very apologetic overt approach, and the other is more like the subversive approach. I think that that apologetic side has remained consistently overt. Granted, that fan base has shrunk, but it’s still there. I think the success of Lecrae has made it seem like the move is toward subversiveness. But that’s just because he is at top of the food chain.

Courtesy of RNS

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