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Sunday
Jan312016

Cyber PR Q&A: 5 Questions For John Kellogg, Esq. Author Of Take Care Of Your Music Business

I have so many interesting friends and colleagues in the music industry that I call on for advice, I thought I’d start this series to help share some of their professional insight with you. Throughout this year, I will be posting five question interviews with some cool people in the business. 

Check back often for more interviews. If there is anyone that you would like to be a part of this series please let me know. The first interview of this series is with John Kellogg and, full disclosure, we were honored to represent him.

John Kellogg is a practicing entertainment lawyer and assistant chair of Music Business/
Management at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I met him when I spoke at Berklee and my firm was delighted to represent him for the release of his book Take Care of Your Music Business, Second Edition.

  1) Ariel: What’s the first step an artist should take to advance his career after the album is recorded?

Kellogg: The artist actually needs to take steps before the release of the album. They should test-market their songs before a live audience before deciding which ones to record and then record only the ones that are resonating with the audience. That way, they are not only building an audience but also finding out which songs are good for recording. 

After finishing the recording, they should copyright their compositions (music and lyrics) by filing a performing arts registration with the copyright office and protect their sound recordings (SR) or the fixation of sounds that make up a recording of the composition. 

If the artist is a do-it- yourself artist (DIY), they can affiliate with an aggregator like Tunecore, Nimbit, or CD Baby, to have their music distributed digitally and/or physically. If the artist is a songwriter, they should affiliate as a publisher and songwriter with a performance rights organization (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) to exploit their compositions and public performance rights. It’s also advisable to register with soundexchange as a record company and featured artist in order to exploit their digital performance rights. It wouldn’t hurt to make an interesting utube video of one or more of their songs to upload to that service. I also have to advise they hire both an Internet public relations firm and/or an independent record promoter to promote radio play in a number of media outlets.  

  2) Ariel: In your book you talk about ‘The Three Big P’s being the “keys to success in today’s new music industry.” Will you tell us about them? 

Kellogg: Powerful product is a great song, recording, live performance or even an app that best displays the creators talent. Powerful product stands the test of time – if, indeed, it is powerful. You’ll find the value of a powerful product appreciates over time. An example would be Roberta Flack’s mega hit from 1971, Killing Me Softly with Your Song. That song became a hit again in 1996 when it was recorded by the Fugees. 

The second big P is Proper Perspective. It’s important for artists to recognize that you don’t make it, or get rich, fast in this business. In order to have longevity in the music business, you not only have to have it, you have to work it in order to make it. By that I mean it’s important for artists to perform live and build an engaging live performance that will develop fan-loyalty which will last for a number of years. 

Then there’s Professional Attitude. I tell my clients and students, it’s very important for anyone in this business to understand that you have to have respect for the people you do business with throughout your career, from beginning to end. Artists and entertainers need to show respect to whomever they deal with no matter what position that person is in, because the person who is a receptionist today may eventually become the president of the company. And if you disrespect people you feel are at the lowest level, it could mean you, the artist, will be disrespected when the same receptionist is at the highest level. 

3) Ariel: What are some red flags which artists should be aware when they are approached by a label? 

Kellogg: Red flags. I say that everybody knows somebody in the music business. But you have to know who’s who. It’s important that the people artists meet who claim they want to sign and record them, are legitimately affiliated with and part of a label — not just a friend of a friend who may, in fact, not be with a label. It should go without saying to do research on a label that is courting the artist. You want to make certain the company is financially capable and can properly produce, market and distribute the artist’s recordings. Artists and the people working for them (managers, producers, etc.) have to verify the credentials so people don’t take advantage of them. 

4) Ariel: What is a 360 degree deal and will you explain the ‘101’ basics? 

Kellogg: A 360 degree or all-rights deal, allows a record company to participate in the complete circle (360 degrees) of an artist’s earnings. In addition to profiting from the sale and use of the artist’s recordings, the labels will also get a percentage of the artist’s live performance, publishing, endorsements, sponsorships, acting, and other types of earnings. 

My introduction to music business courses, or the equivalent of 101 basics, deal with entity formation, copyright basics, analysis of recording agreements, the role of managers and attorneys, and a history of popular music in today’s business trends. Knowing and understanding the workings, the basics, of the music business will prove to be invaluable to everyone who wants to move forward and be steps ahead of their peers. 

5) Ariel: What are the up-and-coming ways you predict artists will be making money in 2016?

Kellogg: Two ways, really. The primary ‘breadwinner’ or money-maker for artists in today’s music industry is going to come from earnings from live performances. And of course, that trend will continue. Second to that will be streaming. I believe artists will see an increase in earnings as revenue from the streaming of their music. Funds from this source have recently started to outpace the revenue from actual sales (on-ground/in-store) of music. Over the next ten years, as the number of subscribers to music-streaming services grows, creators of music will realize a more significant share of streaming revenue which hopefully, will offset the decrease in earnings from the sale of music. 

Cyber PR Q&A: 5 Questions For John Kellogg, Esq. Author of Take Care of Your Music Business

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