I love Jango. I just decided.

Jango

I’d been a free member for quite a while, but I hadn’t even logged in. I was on the verge of cancelling it because it now costs $10 per month. Then, on a whim, I decided to give it a real chance before I did. I added a few credits to my account, chose some similar artists…and let it ride for a week or two. All of a sudden, I started getting fans…meaning, people who listened to my music liked it and clicked a button to become a fan of mine. This made me really curious…so I decided to investigate further…

If you are an indie musician, you can give Jango a try here.

 

In the last two months I’ve started to investigate some of Jango’s newer features…and I’m dumbfounded with how cool Jango is now. Dumbfounded. It’s better than MySpace and MP3.com ever thought about being. In fact, it’s what they SHOULD have been…it introduces your music to people who are looking for artists that sound like you…and it lets you get stats about the listeners and meet them…and Jango seems to has a viable business model for the artists and the site…and almost no spam…(can you hear me MySpace??)…but don’t get me started…

Here are the basics: Jango is a website—actually, it’s two. There’s a listener site and an artist’s site. As a listener, you can log in and listen to music based on artists you like (Prince, Beatles, Hendrix, Maroon 5, whoever)…and you can do the normal social networking thing you can do on sites like Facebook and MySpace (create a profile, friend people, comment, send emails, etc.). It’s cool for listeners, because they get music pushed to them based on their preferences (a la Pandora). In other words, they get a radio station to listen to.  They don’t have to dig around for music like on MySpace…or on the web. The music comes to them–and it’s based on the bands they like.  They also get to hear cool, new independent artists—like me and you—right alongside their favorite major label artists!

The benefits for listeners include:

  • They get to hear music based on their preferences–without paying for it.  They don’t have to go out looking for music.
  • They get to interact with other music buffs in a familiar social-networking kind of way.
  • They get to interact with artists–including fanning artists they like.
  • They won’t get spammed by artists they’ve never heard of.

On the Jango artist site, artists can buy or build credits…and apply those credits for airplay, by song. You get a couple of hundred credits for signing up, and your $10/month gets you 250 credits per month. You can even refer other musicians to Jango to get referral credits (like I’m doing with the Jango links in this article–if you sign up after clicking one of these links, I get a few airplay credits for recommending it to you). You can allocate any of those credits you buy or earn to the songs you upload…and you can target your airplay by location, similar artists, and age. For example, if you music is suitable for Prince fans (like mine), you can choose Prince as a similar artist and your music will be played for listeners who have said they like Prince.

Not only that, but you get stats on who has listened to your song, when, and where they are located (geographically). Not only that, but you get it real-time! Imagine being able to see who is listening to your music as they are listening to it!! (This doesn’t exist anywhere else that I know of right now.) Notice I said “listeners” and not fans. The stats I’m talking about now are for those casual listeners who your song as been played for…these folks don’t have to be your fans for you to get important feedback from them…like how old they are, what city/state they are from, and what other artists they like.

Here’s an example of some of the reports you can run:

Jango listeners report

Jango demographics overview page

But (as they say) wait—there’s more! Jango suggests other similar artists for you to add to your list. For example, my music is suitable for fans of Prince, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and the Beatles. (At least, I think so.) I have them as similar artists. After a couple of weeks, however, I noticed that Bon Jovi fans liked one of my songs. Bon Jovi fans? Really? My music is funk-and-roll…a mixture of funk and classic rock…and I’m a huge fan of great lyrics and spoken word poetry…sure, I’m a child of the 80′s…but Bon Jovi? Really? Hey—the stats don’t lie…so I added Bon Jovi to my similar artists. Now, I can test that using their reports and see if I get any more fans that way.

Speaking of “fans”…Jango lets “listeners” who really like your music become “fans”…i.e. they get to connect to you and appear in your fan list. You can then message your entire fan base or you can message them individually.

If you are an indie musician, give Jango a try here.

 

Jango fans report

Imagine for a minute, how powerful this is. Imagine how fast you could convert listeners into fans into paying customers. Let’s assume you have a great mailing list set up…like through Aweber and some autoresponders…and you know what percentage of people on your mailing list will eventually make a purchase or come to your show. In short, imagine that you have your “back-end” process set up and you knew how much each member of your mailing list is worth…if you use Jango as part of your front-end to generate your leads…and put in about $10/month until you figure out what works…and up it only when you know how many of your Jango fans will buy your music, imagine what kind of fanbase you could start generating. Ok, I know most musicians don’t necessarily know how to do the email list back-end stuff very effectively…but it’s a skill you can easily acquire. In fact, I may offer a course on it at some point…email me (brian@brianhartzog.com) if you’re interested. And if that feels a little advanced for you right now…I think Jango is still worth it…I mean, it’s worth it for the stats alone. Where else can you have your music played for people who like similiar artists and get immediate feedback and demographics on who likes your music enough to become a fan. You can learn a lot from the listener stats just by uploading a couple of songs and choosing some similar artists.

I think Jango has a LOT of potential…in fact, I think it’s what indie artists needed a long time ago.

You can give Jango a try for free at: http://airplay.jango.com/invites/22606

And if you do…make sure to leave a comment to let me know about your experience…

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Jesses Song Play Poster

The Play Poster for Jesses Song

If you’re into theatre, there’s a new rock musical called Jessie’s Song that will be read for the first time on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010. The play will feature 9 original songs by Charlotte songwriters–including a song of mine! My song “Don’t Say No” will be performed by Randy Franklin and will conclude the first act. (You can pick up a copy of my song from iTunes here:
Don’t Say No – One-Way Ticket

Here’s the info about the reading:


JESSIE’S SONG
By Morgan Renfrew

You are invited to a play reading of a new rock musical
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at Story Slam! 7:30 pm

Live music with 9 original songs by Charlotte songwriters

FREE, but limited seating, first come first served

Brief talkback with the audience to give your impressions.

Contains Adult Themes and Language

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Have you transcribed your own music yet?

Do you think its fun to play the songs you wrote? Then, rest assured, some of your fans will to. Transcribing your songs will give them a way they can jam along with your CD. In fact, it may actually give them another reason to BUY your CD!

Offering sheet music or tablature makes good business sense. You can offer up the chords or a single song’s tablature for free, in exchange for the person’s email address…or you can offer PDF’s of your song transcriptions for sale. You can even group them into song books for sale online and at shows. The thing is, offering transcriptions also provides creative satisfaction…I mean, in addition to keeping your notation chops in shape, you would also have the satisfaction of getting a legion of musicians singing and playing your tune. I mean, how cool would it be to have other musicians learning and playing your songs? Answer for me: very cool!

Don’t underestimate the power of this idea. It has been used by some major indie artist successes–including David Nevue and Jonathan Coulton (both of whom have made the transition to being full-time musicians). David Nevue, for example, considers his transcriptions a significant stream of income. He sells PDFs of his sheet music online, and he often sells printed sheet music at his house concerts. The thing is, he doesn’t even read or write music. He actually pays someone to transcribe his songs for him, and he just offers them for sale. Meanwhile, Jonathan Coulton gives away the chord sheets for his songs; and his fans respond by creating youtube videos of themselves performing them. Talk about viral!

Probably the best reason to provide notation of your songs is that it opens up a whole new potential audience for you: aspiring musicians. While members of your existing fan base may jump at the opportunity to buy the notation or tablature of their favorite song of yours, there are also plenty of forums, mailing lists, and online communities targeting musicians where you can find new fans. David Nevue uses his connection to piano players as the main pillar of how he has built an audience and created a music career online. He found them in forums and via his online radio station that only plays piano music, and his connection with them help him build an audience.

If you don’t feel like you have the notation chops to transcribe your songs, hire someone! You can probably find a music friend, a bandmate, or a student at the local university willing to do this for cheap…like maybe $25 to $50 per page. If you can’t find anyone locally, maybe post your request on a site like ehire.com or odesk.com.

I know this sounds like a bit of work, but in the end…if it brings you one step closer to making music on your own terms and getting paid for it, it’s a bit of work worth doing!! Don’t cha think?

I now offer the tablature for Daily Grind for sale on my website…Check it out! Let me know when you can play it all the way through. (Maybe I’ll come over to jam!)

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I was going through my junk email folder this weekend and I found a link to a video that a director had sent me. It’s a short video for a training class that uses two instrumental tracks from my 2nd CD, One-Way Ticket. The clip opens with the instrumental version of my song Motha Funky. It concludes with the instrumental version of Alright To Drive. Check it out:

The Problem with ReMax Video/Brian Hartzog's Music
http://corporatainment.com/2164709.htm

Note: I’m amazed by how well Motha Funky works…I had reservations about even pitching the instrumental version of that track…mainly because the music has so many stops and starts…and I thought that stops and starts would not work well with a filmed scene. As it turns out, that is the thing that makes that part of the video clip so cool. (Ok, I know I’m biased…) Please let me know what you think.

P.S. If you want to use my music in your videos, you can do so for FREE as long as you aren’t making money on the video. (I offer my “free-ness” this under a Creative Commons license.) You can purchase a copy of my CDs here, and you can get a copy of my instrumental CD here. Once you have the music, you are welcome to use it in any of your non-commercial productions. If you intend to make money on your tv/film/video production (like the above clip), simply contact me and we can work out a deal…and I can guide you through the process if you haven’t done it before.

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How to license your music for theatre

I’m not sure I’m the right person to write this post, but it’s a question I’m dealing with this week…so I’m gonna give it a try. Please add your thoughts and comments if you have tips to add or if you spot mistakes I’ve made.
Although I have a fair amount of experience licensing my music to TV and film, I’ve actually only licensed my music to a theatre production once before. However, now that I’ve been approached a second time, I think it’s time for me to try to figure out the process a little better. I guess this blog is as good a place as any…I hope this post helps you or someone you know. Please chime in if you have some licensing tips to offer.
When you write and copyright a song, the U.S. government grants you certain privileges of ownership–the right to record the song, the right to publish it in sheet music form, the right to synchronize it to moving pictures, etc. One of the rights that is explicitly spelled out in the law is the right to have your song included in a dramatic work. For example, a play. With this right, you (as the copyright owner) have the ability to license your song for use in theatre productions as you see fit. Of course, you can give away this license for free, or you can charge for it, or you can decide not to allow someone to use it…it’s entirely your choice as the copyright owner.
If someone approaches you to use an existing song of yours in a theatre production, you should start by asking the following questions:
1. Which song(s) of mine do you want to use?
2. How will the song be used in the play–which scene, will it be sung by a character, will it be in the background, will it be the main focus of the action, will it be performed live (and by whom)…etc.? You should ask for a copy of the script if you think you’ll have time to read it.
3. Where will the play be performed? Will it be a local production or a touring group?
4. Will the production company charge admission to see the play? I offer my music for FREE to anyone who wants to create something based on it–as long as they don’t make money on their new work. If the playwrite/director intends to put on a free production–that’s great…they can use my music free-of-charge. I do this through a Creative Commons license. However, if they intend to make money on it, I think it’s only fair they pay me as well.
5. How long will the play run for? (They may not know, but they may indicate how large a production you’re dealing with.)
6. What is the music budget?
The answers to these questions will help you determine:
-If you want your music to be a part of the production.
-If you want to license some or all of the music they want for free.
-How much they’ll offer for the license to use the song.
When you figure this out, you can work out a deal for the song(s) and issue them a license.
For smaller productions, you’ll probably have to draft your own license.

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Following my last post, I got a question from a musician/songwriter that I thought I’d address with this post, which is–what is the secret to finding tv and film opportunities to pitch your original music to?
Before beginning the pitching process, I’d strongly recommend that you complete the steps I outlined in my first post: How I got two original songs licensed. I personally don’t think you will be consistently successful without completing those steps. Nuff said.
So…now that you’ve read that and you’ve got your songs or musical cues and your business head together, let’s talk about the secret to finding pitching opportunities…
Pitching to tv/film is all about research, persistence, and timing. The right way is to pitch (as best as I can tell) is:
1. Find out about potential projects by either:
-Watching tv shows and checking out the credits. If you find a show that uses the kind of music you have recorded, note the music supervisor’s name in the credits…and find the contact information of that person. If you can’t find it online via Google or IMDB.com, call the production company for that show and ask who handles their music licensing.
-Checking out the industry rags for tv & film listings–i.e. Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Look for shows that are in production or in post production. When you find a potential project, use Google, IMDB.com, and the plain ole phone or TV to find the music supervisor on that project.
-Checking out tip sheets and music supervisors’ websites for opportunities. Some music supervisors have email lists or project pages where you can get current info about their music needs. I like the job email list at Film Music Network. There are also tip sheet/pitching opportunities you can pay for like SongU.com, Taxi, and Broadjam.com. If you have a favorite, please leave me a comment.
-Meeting directors and asking them what projects they are working on. Follow this with a question about who is handling the music on those projects. You can meet directors at local film club meetings or by cold calling them based on in-production listings in trade magazines like Variety and Hollywood Reporter. Meeting local directors is a great way to build your credits while you get some experience. It’s also much easier to get placements that way…plus, it’s fun!
-Meeting music supervisors and asking them what their music needs are. You can get a list of music supervisors from musicregistry.com. Be sure to ask them what they need, not what they are working on. These folks are very busy and don’t often have a lot of time to give you a run-down on everything they are juggling. Be polite and brief.
2. After you’ve found an opportunity, find out as much as you can about the project and about who’s working on it…before you contact them. If they give musical examples of what they need, listen to them. Try to answer questions like: What genres of music do they typically use for this project? Do they use any songs with lyrics in the show? What have the key players worked on before? Are they currently in production? What is their company name and address? Don’t forget to watch the tv show or trailers if they are available.
3. Contact the music supervisor and ask what kind of music they are looking for. Be brief and let them know you have seen their work if you have. (And you should have!) Pitch only what matches their needs. If you don’t have what they need, tell them you’ll contact them again in a month or so. Also, ask how they’d like to receive the music–on CD, via an email attachment, via a link to a website.
4. Send them exactly what they requested. If you’re sending CDs, use a full-sized CD jewel case that is labeled on the spine…this will ensure they find your CD in their stacks and stacks of music. Make sure the CD plays, and label everything with your name and phone number–including the CD itself. If you don’t have what they need, send them your best CD.
5. Follow up in a couple of weeks or so to ask if you can send more of your catalog. If you can get a CD of your music into their office, it may get used months or years later. As you can see, that recently happened to me when I got two of my original songs licensed.
6. Repeat this process with new contacts and new music until you get your music licensed. If you want to get really serious about it (and you can write and record really quickly), you could write music for specific pitch opportunities. You need to be able to create and record music pretty quickly–like within 1 day to 1 week..2 weeks max. To do this, use your tip sheets or contacts with music supervisors to figure out what they need…then write a piece that meets those requirements, record it, and send it to them. If you can keep this going, it will produce results…and you may start getting specific requests from music supervisors.

Remember to keep a list of your credits (i.e your successful placements)…this will help you open more doors and will ultimately lead to more placements.

I hope that helps! Remember to post your comments and questions.

Brian

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I got a call yesterday from someone who wanted to license two of my instrumental tracks for a video project he was working on. OK, that’s not really true. He actually called me LAST WEEK!…and I didn’t bother to check my messages until yesterday when I called him back. I’m TERRIBLE! Sure, I was traveling, very busy, etc., but is that really an excuse?? Which reminds me–always email or twitter or facebook me if you need me…I guess I’m just an anti-social geekoid like that. I always seem to get those messages first. Human interaction scary. Machines good. Ug!

Anyway…so the guy is working with a film editor in Wilmington, NC and wants to use 8 seconds of one of my tracks and 6 seconds or so of another. I worked out a deal with him and pocketed $300…which is about $21.42 per second.

I thought I’d describe how I did this in case it helps any of you musicians out there.
It started two years ago…I submitted my music to a couple of guys in Wilmington, NC who were making an independent film called Half-Empty. I honestly can’t remember if I sought them out or they sought me out first…but I do remember getting an email from them saying they liked my music. In response to that, I sent them a couple of CDs of my songs–including instrumental versions of each track from my last album.

Apparently, those discs are still hanging around the editor’s studio…and when one of his friends came in to put together a video project for the company he worked for, he took a listen and liked a couple of the instrumental tracks for the project. He gave me a call and I agreed to the terms and to put together the licenses for him.
I think this kind of thing happens a good bit–where your music gets used a few years after you submitted it…and it gets used for something you didn’t even submit for. Here’s what I recommend for those of you who want to replicate this…or who want to get into the world of licensing:

1. Make sure you are satisfied with your songs and recordings. If you are wondering if you should replay that last bar of the solo, or re-sing that background vocal track–DO!!

2. After you are satisfied with your mixes, make sure you spend another few minutes on each track to create an instrumental mix. By this I mean just mute all the vocals and background vox and run down the mix again with the same mixer and FX settings. This will be used by directors a lot more than your vox mixes because the vox in the vox mixes tend to interfere with the dialog in a tv show or film. Even if your lyrical content happens to match the action on screen, the editor may still edit in the instrumental version when the characters are speaking to make room for the dialog.

3. Make mp3′s of your instrumental tracks, just like you do of the versions you intend to put on your CD. Emailing mp3′s is how you’ll get a lot of your gigs…and if you have them at the ready, you’re more likely to submit them–especially to those opportunities that pop up at the last minute. Also, you’ll be surprised (and horrified) by how many times they just use your low fidelity mp3 in the actual tv show!

4. Make sure you title and tag all your mp3 files. Include your name, email, and website in the tags. Include your artist/band name in the file name. This ensures that whoever ends up with your track can contact you. If you have a lot of files to tag at one time, use STAMP ID3 tag editor.

5. Do some reading to understand how licensing works. You should know what a master use license is, what a synchronization license is, what the responsibilities are of each person you may encounter are (director, editor, music supervisor).

6. Get your business self together: i.e. make a plan for what music you’re willing to give away and for how much. For example, will you allow your music to be used in commercials? Will you let an indie filmmaker use your music in a feature at film festivals for free? Will you let a political party use a song? How much will you let your best song be licensed for in a tv series? Will you let MTV use your song in a reality show for free? You don’t have to have all the answers together before you start pitching, but you need to have a basic licensing strategy that you can communicate when opportunities arrive…and you need to make sure you can talk intelligently when someone calls to work out a deal. Also, you should be prepared to educate film guys a bit about how a licensing deal works. It’s been my experience that the first opportunities you’ll run across are going to be from indie (maybe even local) filmmakers who don’t have much experience in how to legally license music. I license my songs for free via a Creative Commons license–anyone can use them for free as long as they aren’t making money on them. If they want to make money on their creation with my music in it, they need to approach me for the sync and master licenses.

Another thing you should put together is a basic sync and master use contract template. While each deal is different and you’ll definitely need a lawyer before signing a contract someone else develops, you’ll also need a couple of basic contract templates (one for master use, one for synchronization) that you can customize to handle the small deals. I got mine out of a book and tweaked it to fit my needs.

7. When someone is interested in your music, follow up with them to send them all of your tracks. Who knows, if your CD is in their studio and it’s labeled and it sounds good–it’s much more likely to be used.

That’s basically what I’d recommend to do to get prepared for tv/film licensing…of course, I didn’t describe where to look for opportunities…but you need to get the above things in place first. Maybe in an upcoming post I’ll describe where to look for licensing opportunities.

That’s all for now…email me if you have any questions.

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I’m undertaking a new way to make music. Wanna help? I’m going to let my friends and fans…MY AUDIENCE…YOU…help me create my next set of songs. While I haven’t yet figured out exactly how I’m going to make this all work…or if it will work at all, I do know that it will involve me asking you which direction I should go next…or which of the ideas I’ve created interests you most… If you can take the time to check out what I’m doing and respond, I’ll do my best to incorporate your feedback and show you how it comes out.

I’m currently fascinated with this idea for several reasons. First, I’ve had a tendency to create a bunch of music before packaging it and letting everyone hear it….that’s the traditional model of how songs have been released, really. It tends to take a long time between releases…(Just think of how long it is between U2 albums.) I think this model is dying. Indie artists like me should be the first ones to kill it! (Where’s my knife?) The delay between when a songwriter has an initial idea and when he or she gets real feedback on that idea from their fans is way too long…especially for me…especially these days when I’m juggling complicated work life, home life, and music. In addition, I find that when I do put out a batch of new songs, the ones you (my audience) choose as your favorites often surprise me. I want to get your feedback sooner.

Secondly, I want to let you into my creative process in the hopes you will support what I’m doing…by that I mean, I want you listen to it as it develops…to think about where it’s going before it gets there…to tell your friends about the music we create together…and, of course, I wouldn’t mind if you buy some of my music when it’s done…

Finally, I think this idea is interesting because I believe it is the next step in interactive music. Artists that have tried to let their fans into the creative process up until now have mostly still held too tight a control on what they let the audience do. For example, they’ll release individual tracks from the master tape and let the audience mix it. This means, the song is written, the tracks are recorded, and the tracks are often submixed, and then they are given to the audience to twist a few knobs with. Or….like Weezer did, they’ll let the audience put together the recorded tracks into a song…i.e. a very light-weight remix. Or even, they’ll supply the music and let the audience write the lyrics. That’s better, but still pretty tightly controlled. What I want to do is to let you help me decided what is good, bad, and mediocre about what I’m doing as I’m doing it. I’ll be doing all the work, but you’ll be providing your opinions. And when you see a spot where there’s a hair out-of-place, I’ll get out the razor. (Where IS my knife??)

I won’t be asking you to join the band (yet)…but I will think of you as an outside producer…one who will help shape what comes out of me with your opinions…kind of like my very own 5th Beatle. In fact, that’s what I’ll call this…The 5th Beatle Project!

In case you missed my first survey, you can take it now. Here the results so far. I find them very interesting…I’m interested to see what the first song will be.

I hope you’ll join my mailing list or fan me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter…or do all three…so you can be a part of this project. My next set of funk and roll depends on YOU!

Wanna play?

Please join my mailing list so I can keep you up-to-date with my progress. In my next post, you can pick which song idea I work on first…

Brian
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Now that it’s February, have you thrown out any New Year’s resolutions yet?

January is a time everyone makes resolutions and BIG PLANS for the new year. I do, do you? I’m sure I’m not the only one who starts out the year with BIG PLANS…I mean, every January the gym parking lot is so full of “resolutioners” that you have to show up 20 minutes early for the class you always attend to make sure you can even get in. All year, the class is empty, and in January…boom, there are no seats. The funny thing is…by mid February, it’s empty again.

My music plans are no exception to this annual ritual…every year, I think about what I want to accomplish…and I dream up a giant list…and, like those January fitness resolutioners, by mid-February my grand list of plans settles into something much more workable…and by late August, I’m doing something that wasn’t even on my original list…but this year, I’m doing something differently. This year, I’m gonna ask you for your help in choosing what music I write next. If people take me up on it, I may even ask for your help as I’m putting the songs together. I want to try to this because I want to know what you guys want to hear me create…There are always several directions I can go with a song, but I’m curious to what we can create together…

Will you help me? All I ask is that you take this 8-question survey to point me in the right direction:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2DGL9RD

Thanks,

Brian

P.S. Please forward this to anyone else you know who is a musician, loves music, or knows me. The more opinions I can get, the more confident I can be that I’m giving everyone what they want to hear. Thanks!

Brian

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