Aaron Davison.com

Self Development For Musicians

Connecting With People In The Industry

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I recently interviewed Chris Davison (no relation to me), The owner of the music licensing company Fliktrax, for my upcoming monthly member’s only site. Chris echoed something that I have heard over and over from people working in the music licensing business, which is if you want to find out about licensing opportunities you need to stay in regular communication with the people who are representing your music. Most opportunities in this business aren’t going to come to you, but if you take the time to reach out to people you can find out about a lot of opportunities you would otherwise miss out on.

After I got my first placement with my original publisher I was so excited that I asked her what I could do to get more. She instructed me to email her once a week and ask if there was anything new I could pitch to. This way she said, I would be on her mind more frequently and she would remember me when relevant projects came up that I would be a good fit for. This led to multiple placements that I probably never would have had had I not been actively communicating with my publisher.

EVERY single person I’ve interviewed for the last six months or so has basically said the same thing – if you want to find out what’s going on, just ask. If you’ve signed your music to a company that’s representing you, it means they like your music and want to license it, so go the extra mile and reach out on a regular basis to people you’re working with. In my experience, nine out of ten times they’ll respond and they’ll let you know what they’re pitching to. Then if you have something relevant, or if you are able to create something last minute, you’ll be able to be pitched for the project. If you don’t know about what projects are being pitched to, obviously you won’t be in a position to submit your music. So stay in regular contact with the people and places you work with and keep yourself in the loop!

Written by aarondavison

January 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

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Music Licensing Tips – Success Breeds Success

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Let’s face it. The music business can be a tough nut to crack. It can be discouraging at times. If you don’t have really thick skin it can be very easy to second guess yourself. I’m sure you’ve all heard stories about how bands like the Beatles were turned down by a gazillion record labels before they signed their first deal. Basically every artist who has succeeded in the music industry has a story that is a variation of this story. You are inevitably going to be facing lots of obstacles on your path to success.

Why is this and what can you do about it? Well first let’s look at the obvious. There are, simply put, a lot of musicians trying to “make it” in the music business. There are several MILLION bands on myspace alone. Of course a lot of those bands aren’t very good…. but I’m digressing. There is a lot of competition. But if you love making music and you’re passionate about it I don’t think you should let that slow you down one bit. Music is personal and although there are a lot artists making music no one is making the music that you make. And the more you cultivate your craft the more true this becomes. And a lot of the competition will simply quit and resign themselves to working in a cubicle for the rest of their lives. Sad but true.

OK. So you accept that there is a lot of competition and you’re not going to let that stop you. Now what? Well there are two things you can do consistently that if you keep doing will take you as far as you can conceivably go, in time of course. Are you ready? The first thing you should do, on a regular basis, is educate yourself about the music business. This should seem pretty obvious. If you want to succeed in the music business you need to know how the music business works – how things happen. The path to success in this industry has a lot of variables but there are overlapping elements that exist in almost all success stories. What are those elements? Well you should think about this and come up with your own list. But obviously exposure is a big one. If no one is exposed to your music no one is going to know you exist in the first place!

So start thinking about how you can generate more exposure. There are lots of ways. I focus on music licensing as an avenue to generate more exposure. This is a great path to pursue because you can pursue licensing deals from anywhere, regardless of age or image, and it also happens to pay well too! You need money to stay in the game. But there are certainly other avenues for generating exposure. I’ve shared several success stories of artists who marketed themselves creatively and generated a lot of press and CD sales as a result of their marketing strategies. Hopefully these stories have provided some inspiration. Be as creative with your marketing as you are with your music!

Next, you need to take the education and strategies that you’ve armed yourself with and implement what you’ve learned. Then, and this is key, celebrate every success you have along the way. Success breeds more success. At the risk of sounding all new agey and woo woo I can’t emphasize this enough. When you start having success you will find ways to create more success and when you shift your focus to your victories, as opposed to your obstacles, you’ll feel much more empowered and you’ll create the momentum you need to keep going.

So if you want to start licensing your music get started by taking action every day. Make a new contact, pick up the phone, work on a new track, read my newsletter, network with other songwriters, submit your music to different places, etc… If you take action in this way every day things will start to happen. It worked this way for me when I first started licensing my own music and I’m currently going through the same process with my new music marketing company. If you build it they really will come. Well…. if you build it well…

For more information on how to license your music in TV And Films be sure to check out my free newsletter by going to http://www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com

Written by aarondavison

August 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

How Music Is Used In TV And Film

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There is a WIDE variety of music used in television broadcasts. Instrumental music and vocal music from multiple genres are used on a regular basis. There is a good chance that you’re already making music that could be used in Television broadcasts.

Here’s an excersize I suggest to anyone looking to get into licensing their music for use in Television: The next time you have a couple hours do some channel surfing while actively listening for music used in the background. I think you’ll be surprised at just how many different styles of music you’ll hear. Keep in mind while you’re listening that every single piece of music you hear was licensed from someone! Someone is gettig paid for all of the music being used on television, why not you?

Music that is used in television shows and films is used to enhance the plotlines of whatever tv show or film music is being licensed to. There are a wide variety of topics that are potentially applicable, in terms of subject matter of vocal songs. Since most stories involve relationships, songs that are about relationships will always be needed. Other topics like overcoming adversity, dealing with loss and coming of age are also great topics, as these themes tend to pop up in a lot of stories as well.

When you’re first starting out in the licensing business, chances are you aren’t writing for specific projects. If you’re actively pursuing licensing opportunities it’s important to think about HOW you’re songs will potentially be used in the context of film and television. Doing so will greatly increase your chances of creating music that there is actually a need for.

For more information on how to license your music in TV and Films check out my free newsletter by going to www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com

Written by aarondavison

July 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Exclusive Partial Buyout Music Licensing Deals

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In a previous post I explained how “buyout” deals work. In case you missed that one, the simple explanation is that you get paid upfront to write a piece of music for a music library. The library then owns the publishing of the song and the only other time you get paid is when you get performance royalties if and when your song is placed. These types of deals tend to be more common for writers of instrumental “production” music than for vocal music.

Yet another variation of this kind of a deal is something known as an exclusive “partial buyout” deal. The way this works is that you get paid upfront to write a piece of music for a library and in addition to getting performance royalties you also get a percentage of any licensing fees the library is able to collect for the use of your music. Typically you get between 25 and 50 percent of licensing fees for these types of deals.

I personally think these deals are better deals for songwriters than full “buyout deals”. The upfront money is usually smaller for these types of deals, but if your music ends up being used frequently you stand to make much more money on the back end through licensing fees and royalties. The downside of signing these types of deals is that you give up your rights to pitch your tracks to other pubslishers and supervisors. The writers that I know who sign a lot of buyout deals are typically instrumental writers that sign a combination of both exclusive and non exclusive contracts. This way they are able to make some money upfront that they can rely on, while also retaining control over they portion of their catalog that they sign to other publishers and libraries on a non exclusive basis.

For more information on how to get your music in TV and Films, visit http://www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com for a free ebook and video about music licensing.

Written by aarondavison

June 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm

How To Leverage Your Success

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Whatever your goals are as a musician, whether you want to become the next U2 or Bruce Springsten, or if you want to simply be able to wake up every day and make a living playing music, it’s important that you have success. Success, even small success, breeds more success. When I first heard my music on national television it was thrilling beyond words. I was literally jumping up and down I was so excited. And I can remember thinking that it was only a matter of time before I became as famous as Coldplay or U2. I’ve always been just a little delusional at times! Although I’ve yet to become a household name, that single step forward gave me the confidence and inspiration to keep going and over the years I’ve accumulated a variety of accomplishments that I’m extremely proud of. The success that I had came at just the right time and without it, I sometimes wonder if I would have kept going forward.

It’s frustrating and demoralizing when you’re trying and trying to do something and you’re not getting anywhere. I’m not going to use the word failure because I don’t really believe in the concept of failure. But sometimes you fail to get the results you want and when this happens consistently it really, well, sucks! It’s the opposite of inspiring. It drains your energy and leaves you feeling unmotivated. When this happens long enough it can lead many people to just give up altogether.

On the other hand when you do have success it’s awesome! Trying something and then succeeding and getting the results you’re after leads to feeling more motivated and more inspired and makes acheiving more success even easier. We can see this principle all around us, like how people in relationships usually, paradoxically, find it easier to attract other partners. Or how the rich tend to get richer, and conversely how the poor often get poorer. Success tends to come to people more easily who are successful.

This principle is of course pretty logical in many ways. It’s easier to open doors once you’re in the building so to speak. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think there’s also a psychological aspect to this principle. I think you can leverage success. Each victory you achieve and celebrate gives you a little more confidence to go after and achieve your next goal which gives you even more confidence and motivation to go after the next and so on.

One of the smartest things you can do to have more success is to simply pursue more opportunities. If you really want to make a living as a musician you should be pursuing new opportunities and new leads EVERY day. As I pointed out in my recent video, How To License More Of Your Songs And Make More Money, there are essentially two areas you should be focusing on; your music and your marketing. If you have a great manager who is diligently marketing your music for you, then great, but if not then you need to take it upon yourself to take charge of this area. Most career opportunities are not going to fall into your lap, you’re going to need to go after them.

For more information on how to get your music in TV and Films be sure to check out my free newsletter by going to my website, www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com

Written by aarondavison

June 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Develop A Game Plan For Success

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I have to warn you in advance that this particular post might sound a little self-helpish, but I can’t help myself. After helping people get involved in the music licensing business for over two years now some very clear patterns have emerged both in terms of what allows people to succeed in this business and conversely what holds people back. Some of what I have to say may seem obvious, or at least it should seem obvious, but after working with dozens of people one on one I’m never amazed at how often I see the same things working against people.

The biggest thing that seems to be holding most people back that I’ve worked with is just simply failing to take action. It should be painfully obvious, but if you want to accomplish something like licensing your music, you have to take action. There are some very simple steps you have to take in order to get your music licensed, but you HAVE to take them. It’s not optional. I’m never amazed at how many people just seem so reluctant to get their feet wet when it comes to something new. I guess it’s good news for the rest of us who are a little more daring!

The second biggest obstacle that seems to prevent people from getting what they want is the actual feedback they get when they do take action. If you’re really lucky you might sign the first song you submit to the first publisher you contact. But more than likely you’re going to face a few obstacles. This is perfectly fine and it’s perfectly normal. But it’s how people react to these obstacles that really makes all the difference. The feedback that you receive when you start going for your goals and trying to get your music licensed is critical. If you actually take it in and consider it, especially if it’s something you’re hearing over and over, it will literally guide you to success. Don’t take rejection personally, instead learn from it and move forward. This is the path to success I see over and over again in people I know that are doing well in both the music licensing industry and in general.

I hear from people all the time who have used my materials and had their songs licensed, placed, published, etc. They’ve studied the material that I present, they’ve implemented what they’ve learned and they keep taking action until they accomplish their goals. It sounds simple, and it really is, but it does take a little time to unfold. But, of course it’s well worth the wait. I told you this was going to sound self-help like!

For more information on how to get your music in TV and Films, visit my website: http://www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com

Written by aarondavison

June 8, 2010 at 12:32 am

Music Licensing Tips – Balancing Art And Commerce

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When you start pursuing music as a profession, sooner or later you are confronted with reconciling the need to maintain a sense of artistic integrity with the need to pay your bills and make money. This can be tricky, because on one hand I think most musicians are drawn to writing songs and playing music because of the sense of inspiration and purity that comes with writing music. There’s something very pure and genuine about tapping into that part of yourself where music comes from. It feels great and I think most people who write songs want to share that feeling with as many people as possible. I think it’s safe to say that this is a big part of what motivates us as musicians, regardless of what style of music we create or where we are in our careers.

But on the other hand, anyone who has been a part of the music business for more than like 60 seconds, knows that the music business is about much more than… well… music. For better or worse, everyone involved in the music business side of the music industry needs to make money in order to make the whole thing sustainable. This reality doesn’t really make me cynical anymore (it used to) because I understand it for what it is. When you book a show at a club, the club owner needs to make money to stay in business. No matter how great your band or act is, if no one shows up, it’s hard to stay in business. The same principle is true for every aspect of the music business. If you get signed to a record label, they need to make a profit from your music in order to pay their rent, staff, electricity and all the other expenses that go along with running a business.

The music licensing industry is certainly no exception to this rule. Your music needs to be “marketable” in order to be licensed. If you already write music that fits into that sometimes elusive category, great. But sometimes the rest of us have to be flexible and make short term compromises in order to achieve our long term goals. On my path I’ve made some compromises here and there with my music and my vision. I’ve written songs that sound like bands I didn’t really like that were used on TV shows (soap operas!) I didn’t really like. BUT… I don’t have an ounce of regret and I’m EXTREMELY grateful for the placements I’ve had – all of them! Why? Well besides the obvious fact that it’s helped me financially, I also think any endeavor in life is a process. By writing music for money and having my songs aired on TV shows, it’s both kept me connected to the music industry and has kept me connected to my love for songwriting. And believe it or not by exploring styles that I’m not normally drawn to, it’s also really improved my overall songwriting chops and has really helped me solidify and appreciate my own sound.

The other upside of succesfully licensing your music is that it creates a very positive feedback loop. It feels great to know that your music is appreciated and it inspires you to keep going! It sure has for me at least. I love writing music so much I would probably keep doing it whether I made any money from it or not, but when you start generating income from your music it really inspires you to keep going and keep honing your craft. It’s a great impetuous for moving forward and continually improving. And of course the more money you’re making from your music the more time you’ll have to write music and stay true to your overall vision!

So… there’s my two cents on this issue. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I think it’s important that we as musicians and songwriters not lose sight of what really inspired us to write music in the first place. We also have to eat though:)

For more information on how to get your music in TV and Films be sure to check out my free newsletter by going to http://www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com

Written by aarondavison

June 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Music Licensing Tips – How To License More Songs And Make More Money

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I recently made a new video all about how to make more money by licensing your music. It’s called “How To License More Of Your Songs And Make More Money”.

Check it out here:

Written by aarondavison

June 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm

New Video Blog Post: Music Licensing And The REAL State Of The Music Business

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I recently created a new video blog about the music licensing business. I just posted a brand new video called “Music Licensing And The REAL State Of The Music Business”. In this video I dispel the misconception that the music business is in dire straits and share some suprising statistics that support why I think the music licensing busines and the music business are not only in great shape, but in many ways are healthier than ever!

Go check it out here: http://www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com/music_licensing_video_blog2

Happy Songwriting!
Aaron Davison

Written by aarondavison

May 27, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Success In Music Licensing And Your Mindset

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Today I want to address a topic that is a little more esoteric than the technical aspects of the music business that I often discuss, but nonetheless is just as important. The topic is how to cultivate the right mindset for acheiving success in the music industry.

I really think to be successful in the music industry you need to have both talent and very thick skin. You need to be extremely determined, ambitious and motivated. I know I’m not telling you something you don’t already know, but let’s think about what this really means. Let’s break it down, step by step.

The music industry is an industry a lot of people are drawn to because, let’s face it, writing and playing music is just freaking fun! And of course it also has a perception of being cool and if you’re a guy playing music can help you meet girls, and if you’re a girl I guess it can’t hurt with meeting guys. Music is awesome and if you have a knack for it why wouldn’t you want to share it with others.

Because of this coolness and fun factor a lot of people pursue music, both as a hobby and as a profession. This creates a lot of competition, on all levels. Everything from getting a good slot at a nightclub, or getting your song onto a TV show or Film, or landing a record deal, involve in one way or another, you competing with somebody else.

Now I don’t think competition in its modern day form is insidious or bad. For the most part, here in the western world, we are not beating each other with clubs to get what we want. Competition has a tendency to make us work harder, and if embraced in a healthy way can make us better musicians and better people. When we know something isn’t easy we tend to work harder for it and are forced to expand and grow.

It’s when the inevitable rejections and setbacks we face get the best of us that the competitive nature of the music industry turns into an ugly and insidious thing. But if we cultivate the right mindset we can take these events in stride and move forward un-phased.

A couple of years ago I ended what was nearly a six year relationship with my girlfriend at the time. After about six months or so of being single and not dating very much at all I asked a girl out who was drop dead gorgeous and to my surprise she said yes. We went out and I was a complete nervous wreck. I placed so much pressure on myself and on her to make this night a success that I came across as stilted and weird and I never heard from her again.

I was disappointed the next few days but I immediately realized what had happened. I then decided to cast a much wider net, so to speak. I started meeting girls online, in clubs, on the street, in trains. When I really opened my eyes there were opportunities to meet girls literally everywhere. Over the next few months I started actively dating many different women and what happened was really amazing. I was meeting so many different women that I stopped looking at each date and interaction as such a big deal. This allowed me to be myself and just meet women being very present and in the moment. I’ve now been happily involved with one woman for close to a year now.

Why am I telling you this story? I think this same sort of strategy can be applied to anything and works particularly well when applied to your music career. When you’re pursuing one or two opportunities it’s easy to get discouraged when they don’t work out. But if you’re pursuing many different opportunities, not only are you exponentially increasing your odds that one of them will come through for you, but you will relax when you realize that there are many different ways to achieve success with your music. If you don’t get your music on one show, pursue another. If you don’t get booked into club x, pursue club z. This is the mindset you need. Don’t worry about any one particular goal, pursue them all with equal fervor and enthusiasm and success will become a matter of when and not if.

For more information on how to get your music in TV and Films, visit my website http://www.howtolicenseyourmusic.com for a free newsletter and ebook about the music licensing business.

Written by aarondavison

April 24, 2010 at 5:17 pm