10 Areas Of The Music Business The Parents Of Talented Kids Need To Study

Nov 13 / Vinny Ribas
The music industry can be a fickle and sometimes dangerous one. This is partly because it is fed by strong egos, lofty dreams, the insatiable desire for creative expression and more. That alone is not a challenge. However, the challenge comes when a singer, musician, or the parents of a talented child ignores or does not understand how the music business works. That's when sharks sneak in and often take advantage of the situation, often to the tune of thousands of lost dollars.

To prevent this, here are ten areas of the industry that every parent of a talented child should strive to understand. There are more, but understanding these basics will enable you to avoid the most common issues and scams.

1) Copyright and contract law: It's critical to know the laws around copyrights, especially song and recording ownership. This will ensure that you (or your child) maintain ownership of your intellectual property (songs, recordings, etc.) There are always people out to steal other people's great works. It's also critical to understand the basics of publishing contracts, management contracts etc. Never sign a contract that you haven't had an attorney who specializes in entertainment  law review. And lastly, some states have very important laws regarding underage entertainers.

2) The business of recording: This includes what to expect when you go to a studio, how to speak the language, what the deliverables should be, and especially how to ensure that the producer or engineer who is recording you is not taking advantage of you. There are many studios who 1) overcharge, 2) steal all or part ownership of your masters recordings, 3) try to steal part of full ownership of the copyrights to your songs, and 4) hold your recordings hostage until you pay much more than you initially agreed to.

3. The structure the industry: It's important to understand who the major players are, such as artist developers, labels, managers, booking agents, publicists, etc. It's also critical to understand the sequence in which things should be done. Without a working knowledge of the roles in the industry and the acceptable practices and processes, it's too easy to get misled or taken for a ride. In addition, you often end up making very costly mistakes. 

4. The business of songwriting:  There are many laws and 'rules' you need to know regarding songwriting as well as co-writing with others. Of course, the big one is understanding copyrights. But you also need to know about agreements between songwriters, what a publisher does and how to spot a bad one, what a song-plugger does and how to avoid an unscrupulous one, and more. You also need to understand what Performing Rights Organizations do and how to register your songs with them.

5. The business of gigs: There are countless areas of booking and playing gigs that must be understood. These include how to book gigs, what to expect at a gig, booking contracts, what a stage plot and rider are, how a booking agent works, how to price your act, how to set up a tour and much more. This is one area in which many unknowing artists are taken advantage of!

6. Making connections: It's critical to know how to make reputable connections in the music industry. This includes attending the right conferences, connecting with people on social media, attending industry events, joining industry organizations and more. Most importantly, it's critical to know how to determine if a connection is honest , respected and competent. It's not important to know everyone. It's important to trust and earn the trust of a small # of people who can help move your career forward.  

7. Marketing basics:  Knowing the basics of social media will help you go a long way. In particular, knowing how each platform works, knowing where your target market is and how to reach them, knowing the basics of content creation etc. are all important. Understanding how to avoid online predators is also critical. How to market a new song, a new album or a new video are major areas you should also be familiar with. 

8. Organizations:  There are numerous organizations that can benefit you by making vital connections, educating you on the inner workings of parts of the business, understanding the nuances within specific genres, offering showcase opportunities and more. This includes songwriting organizations, genre-specific organizations, business organizations, skill -based- organizations, local networking organizations and more. Choosing and getting involved in the right organizations can sped up your growth and notoriety in the industry.

 9. Distribution: It's important to know how get your music and videos properly distributed to all of the platforms like Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Vevo, Apple Music etc. worldwide. There are companies that excel at this and others who do the bare minimum, if anything. Some will  effectively monitor and collect all of your royalties, but others say they will just to charge you another fee. It's important to do your homework so you don't get tied to the wrong  people or entities. 

10. Income streams: It is vital to understand all of the ways artists and songwriters get paid. This includes everything from collecting the wide variety of songwriter and artist royalties, selling merch, playing gigs, getting your music placed in films, TV or commercials, artist fan clubs and much more. If you don't know all of the ways you get paid, you inevitably leave money that you've earned on the table. You're also an easy target for predators. 

The bottom line is that having a basic working knowledge of the music industry is critical to your or your child's success. In addition, the laws, trends, tools and technology constantly change, making it even more vital to stay up on everything. It's too easy to throw away time, money and even your reputation because you didn't take the time to learn the ropes. And the chances of getting scammed or ripped off increase dramatically the more popular you or your child gets! 

About Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder of Indie Connect, an artist management and consulting company. He is also the founder of www.Cartne.com, a platform that recruits industry experts to explain the inner workings of the music industry.

Vinny has been a full time touring performer, a booking agent, the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair, a producer, a studio owner,  a songwriter, an author, a speaker at music conferences and more. 
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