Let’s Hear From the Songwriter Part 2 – Scarlet Keys


Scarlet Keys is a songwriting professor at the Berklee College of Music where she also attended receiving a B.M. in 1991. Scarlet is a talented and nationally touring vocalist and pianist. She has played solo piano for the past fourteen years in San Diego, Nashville, Boston, and New Hampshire. She has performed with Anna Wilson and with the hit songwriter/producer Monty Powell at the New Orleans Arena at the Bass Masters Classic for ESPN. She was a full-time staff songwriter for Warner Chappell Music/The New Company for two years in Nashville, and has written and performed with some of the best songwriters, producers, and artists in Nashville and Sweden. Her recordings include “Gonna Dance,” cowritten with recording artist Anna Wilson, “I Wanna Be Rich” by Canadian artist Krysta Scoggins, and “So Much Love to Make” by Swedish artist Jill Johnson, which went gold in its first month. She released her first CD, Pieces, in 2000 and is planning another CD of original music soon.

“I create an environment in the classroom that is relaxed, fun, and creative because although craft is an intellectual pursuit, creativity needs to run rampant. It’s like a child learning to walk; it needs to have the freedom to try things out, to play and discover itself.”

–       Scarlet Keys


Here is an interview held with Ms. Scarlet Keys.

Interviewer: How did you get into music? Songwriting?

Scarlet Keys: My mother was a singer and a piano player and my dad was a singer.  He had his own daytime t.v. show where he sang and interviewed guests etc.. a lot like Merv Griffin at the time.  My brother was also a professional singer and it all felt like a very natural path to pursue.

I used to write lyrics to my piano teacher’s melodies but really found songwriting while I was a student at Berklee.  It was something I tried once after of course, a heart break and it all felt so natural and fun and I fell in love with writing.

Interviewer: Who are some of your influences?  

Scarlet Keys: As with any music lover, my influences are vast.  For piano playing, I love Bruce Hornsby.  For singing, Ella Fitzgerald, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Lamontange.  And For songwriters, I would say: Joni Mitchell, and many Nashville writer’s who I have studied, like Gary Burr for example.  All the Tin Pan Alley writers of the Great American Songbook era and just everyone from Ellington to John Mayer.

Interviewer: What was one of your biggest songwriting dreams? Most valued career accomplishments/collaborations?

Scarlet Keys: My biggest dream that came true was to get signed at a publishing company as a full time staff writer and then, to teach at Berklee in the Songwriting Department.  My biggest accomplishments have been getting my publishing deal, having cuts with artists, having a song go Gold and getting the chance to work with great singers and writers such as Blue Miller (India Arie’s guitar player/co-writer), and many great writers in Sweden, Nashville and Boston too.  I am still finding the next dream in my writing, but so far, I have enjoyed the ride of each co-writing session and each class I’ve taught.

Interviewer: How do you feel about the way technology has changed the music industry? Recording, Distribution, Kickstarter, Youtube, Blogs…?

Scarlet Keys: I think the changes are great! I think the craft of writing is the same, it’s just the process that’s a bit different and how track writing has become such an art in itself.  I think all of the new ways to get your music heard is wonderful for artists because they control their careers, their music and have a much better chance of reaching an audience than through the old channels of the music executives. They have a better chance of writing for the sake of art without the pressure of a corporation behind them and maybe music will have even more heart and art in the future.

Interviewer: Have you heard of, used or encouraged others to use any of these platforms? Ramen Music, Taxi Music, Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Blogspot.   

Scarlet Keys: Yes, I belong to Taxi.

Interviewer: There are many ways to break into songwriting. What are few helpful ways?

Join a performance rights organization: A.S.C.A.P, S.E.S.A.C. or B.M.I and meet the writer representatives and get them interested in your writing so they can help you get meetings with publishers or set you up with co-writers.  You can also join Taxi, and collaborate with as many people as you can, especially artists who need songs, meet the talented people here at Berklee now, they are going to be the next big thing.

Interviewer: What are your plans for the future?

Scarlet Keys: My plans as a writer are to continue doing what I’m doing, writing, co-writing and learning to be a better producer and to create better tracks for my own songs.  To travel more for co-writing sessions and to continue to grow as a writer.

Interviewer: Any advice to upcoming songwriters.

Scarlet Keys: My advice for upcoming songwriters is to WRITE! Get as good as you can, learn an instrument and especially learn protools so you can create your own tracks.  Meet as many people as you can, don’t burn bridges, be professional, be on time, work hard and be fun to work with and be good!

Cd baby http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ScarletKeys

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/pub/scarlet-keys/4/549/973



Let’s Hear from the Songwriter Part 1 – Moana A.


Coming straight from the Caribbean island of St Martin, Moana Avvenenti is a singer-songwriter full of exotic grooves blended with pop flavors. Her unique style is influenced by pop/rock and soul from the United States, combined with the carnival traditions of the Caribbean. She’s been surrounded by musicians and constantly attended live performances her whole life, as her father is a bass and guitar player. Following his footsteps, by the time she was 13, she was performing for music festivals, ceremonies, and talent showcases, singing and accompanying herself on piano, and later on guitar.
At age 16, Moana had her own musical group, and recorded her first album as a lead singer: “Moana and the Toopah Peas.” Moana attended the great contemporary music school, Berklee College of Music, in Boston, MA, on generous scholarships. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2011.

Moana is currently working as a Stage Manager (Live Sound, Light Design and Stage Set-Up) in Berklee’s prestigious venues, as well as devoting her time teaching music classes, while maintaining a highly active performing career.

Moana is in the process of recording an album. Surrounding herself with top musicians from all over the world, Moana will release this album of exclusively original music in the Spring of 2013. She recently released the first single of the album “Anything” and you can watch the video HERE.

Here I conducted an interview to learn more about Moana.

Interviewer: How did you get into music?

Moana A.: My father is a musician, so I grew up going to his concerts all the time. Every few years, he would experiment with a new style, and since rehearsals were usually at my house, I got to be exposed to a lot of genres. There was always music in my house; in fact, I remember complaining a few Sunday mornings for being waken up by loud bass at 7AM. I always sang. It felt natural. My mom always tells me that I was singing before I was speaking, and that I would sing so loud in my stroller that tourists would stop and listen to me. So I guess I was an early performer! 
My dad and I formed a band when I was 17 and we started performing regularly around the island. 
I don’t know when I started writing songs. I feel like I’ve always done it. Since I was a kid, I’ve been recording ideas on old cassettes, and hiding lyrics in a locked box, wearing the key to the lock as a necklace. I was really shy with my compositions until very recently. Actually, I still am, but I’m forcing myself to get over it. It’s just so personal. I express a lot of things in my songs, and I feel like I’m giving people my open heart with my songs, which is terrifying!

Interviewer: Who are some Influences?

 Moana A.: I’ve had a lot of musical influences, of course. I am a big Michael Jackson fan. I just love the arrangements of his songs. They are so well done. You can distinctively sing any part of any instrument of any of his songs, and people will know what song you are singing! That’s really rare. I think we have to thank Quincy Jones for that. What brilliant writing. 
Other singers I have been inspired by are Erykah Badu, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Esperanza Spalding, KT Tunstall, Amy Winehouse, etc. And if I am honest, I have to admit that the Spice Girls and Avril Lavigne were a big influence at some point in my life, too. Style-wise, I’ve had influences from Caribbean artists that were big for carnivals, like Destra Garcia for soca, or Beenie Man for Dancehall.


Interviewer: How do you feel about the way technology has changed the music industry? Recording, Kickstarter, Indiegogo…?

Moana A.: There are some good and bad things. I feel like we are still in the transition phase, trying to figure it out. I understand the frustration of artists not selling as many physical copies, and I certainly feel it myself as well. But at the same time, I really enjoy being able to type in the name of a song or even just a line from the lyrics and being able to listen to it in seconds. We still need to find a way to make it more lucrative and effective for the artists, but I feel like Spotify and Youtube advertisements are a step in the right direction. We will get there…

As far as Indiegogo and such fundraising platforms are concerned, I obviously think they offer a great alternative for our new trend of Indie artists. You don’t get all the support that a label would give, but you can keep your independence and your artistic freedom, which is amazing! I also find it interesting that they reversed the stress: with the advance of a label, you take a big risk when you record without the assurance that the project will make enough money to pay back what the label invested. Whereas with those online campaigns, you sell your project before you make it; that’s just genius! You are nervous for the duration of your campaign, but once you reach the goal, you can go to the studio stress-free. You’ve already sold CD’s so whatever happens; and on top of that, all the support and encouragement you get during the campaign motivates and inspires you even more. It’s a triple win.

Interviewer: How was your experience with Indiegogo?

Moana A.: Overall, It was great for the simple fact that I have reached my goal! 
I personally think that there are still some flaws in the system and if I could go back, there are a few things I would do differently. But I don’t have time to think about what can’t be undone: I have an album to make!


Interviewer: When is the album planned for release? What will be on the album? Styles, stories, content?

Moana A.: I originally had 13 songs for the album. But I cut one of them out. I might replace it with a strange vocal arrangement that I did, but I want to hear the other songs first before making a decision. 
It’s always hard for me to describe my general “style” because I have a lot of fun writing each song in a different style. But I think the common thread is pop-rock with an occasional Caribbean influence. At the same time, there will be a Blues, a Hip Hop and a NeoSoul song on there too, but I feel like they are all still somewhat pop-rock-Caribbean tainted, if that makes any sense. 
We started recording the rhythm section and I am working with a producer on 2 electronic tracks. For the electronic tracks, we had a lot of fun. I sequenced a demo of one of my songs and I brought it to this producer that makes really cool tracks. I also brought him another one where I was singing every single instrument line. He made his own version of the 2 songs, but he liked the idea of singing the instruments, so we decided to experiment with that. So he played the tracks and made me improvise. I was singing “ooh’s” and “ah’s,” Instrument lines, strange percussion sounds, etc. It felt so good and I felt really creative! He “robotized” some of the sounds I sang too. The mix of the vocal stuff with the very electronic instruments is very interesting! I love it. Sometimes, it has kind of an Imogen Heap style to it, and then it flips to dubstep, and then pop. I’m excited to hear the final results! As far as the “real instruments” tracks, I am currently recording the overdubs. I’m adding steel pan (which is very Caribbean), and strings in the same tracks. So here again, the mix of the styles should be original. It’s all coming together but it takes time because I want to use so many instruments: drums, bass, electric and acoustic guitars, percussion, piano, organ, synth, string sections, steel pan, etc. 
I want to be involved in everything, so I’m busy writing string parts, working on the graphic and album art, and supervising every single editing and overdub session. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but it’s a job that I love. 
I can’t wait for you to hear the end result! Keep an ear out for the release in late spring!

Interviewer: What are your plans for the future?

Moana A.:
I’ve spent a lot of time being a GB band singer, and now I want to try and do more with my own music. This album is the first step to a long journey as an original artist.

Visit Moana HERE and HERE

Join Moana’s mailing list HERE

Anything video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtsPuzCVP0c







Songwriting Associations: Here for You

A great way to get connected with other inspiring and veteran songwriters is to join a songwriting association. There are many, many associations out there to support you and your music. They all offer different things but on a general basis you can receive attention and sponsorship for your music, assessment and direction with your songs, gain a larger network, receive better opportunities, chance to attend workshops, seminars and conferences and you will also be apart of different development programs.

Some great associations include the International Songwriting Association, which has been around since 1967. They offer beneficial advice and information on the industry for the songwriters and members, a broad network of current industry professionals, songwriters and artists, they offer contests and contracts that can help further your writing career and more. This as well as serving their current roster of member in the best ways capable is their mission. HERE is the link to their testimonials page.

The American Songwriting Association has three main locations with several studios in Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville. They provide many resources such as sponsors, a large network, songwriting contests, and information and consultation regarding publishing, copyrights and other songwriting matters. Their mission is to support the songwriter in their music, publishing, career moves, network and in any other way, while also supporting the songwriting community and industry. They strive to bring together all types of writers to increase creativity and great music for the public.

From our songwriting capital, the famous Nashville Songwriters Association International is likely the world’s largest trade organization. “It all begins with a song” is their slogan.  They have over 5,000 members of all types of genres from folk, to country, to Christian, to rap and more. Their mission is to have dedicated songwriters who strive to protect the songwriting industry and keep it moving forward.


Other associations are New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, West Coast, California and there are so many others to choose from.






International http://www.songwriter.co.uk/

American http://www.americansongwritersassociation.com/

Nasville http://www.nashvillesongwriters.com/

American Christian Songwriting Association http://christiansongwriter.org/

Ny, NC, Ohio http://www.songwriteruniverse.com/newyorksa.html

Central Carolina http://ccsa-raleigh.com/

West coast http://www.westcoastsongwriters.org/

Canada http://www.songwriters.ca/faq.aspx#Question%206


Songwriting Forums and Collaborative Platforms

There are many ways to increasing your skill in the art of songwriting. Some ways are reading books, attending workshops, collaborating in person with other songwriters. An additional, good way to learn more about songwriting is through online forums and online collaborative platforms.

You can often get quality information from experienced writers. It’s helpful in the way that you can just ask questions that you have and writers and even educators involved in that site will respond with their feedback from research and their personal experience.


Some forums include Songstuff, The Songwriters Forum, Harmony Central, MyBlogBand, Tunesmith forums, Gearslutz, and Songwriting Secrets.

Some collaborative platforms are Kompoz, Mixmatchmusic, WeMix, Indaba Music, MyOnlineBand, and Dopetracks.

One in particular is Songwriting Fever. Songwriting Fever is an online platform that offers the collaboration of songwriters. It was started in 2008 and now has 2100 members. This platform allows for lyricists to find songwriters to collaborate with for music for their lyrics and vice versa.  Here you can find all types of songwriters and musicians in all genres from all around the world here to write with you and to play on your projects.

How it works is you join by making an account and once you’ve done this you can browse through the all the database. There are two main categories of their database: lyrics and music. You can visit the composers profile and reach out to them by direct messaging them through the site. You can also upload your material and wait for someone to reach out to you. On the website there are also forums with testimonies and feedback to topics and questions. There is a page that includes songwriting tips and helpful hints to making your music better and also a page with the company’s blogs written to give updates and news.

Here is a quote from Tracy Chapman who currently uses this site. “I want to express my gratitude to you for your help through this site. I’ve been making more progress than ever with my songs, and being able work with other people who like creating songs keeps me perpetually motivated.”

You can subscribe by email HERE.



FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SongWritingFever

Twitter profile: https://twitter.com/WritingFever

Songwriting Platforms & Business Innovation: Sell Your Song Here

As I have written in my previous blogs there are many ways to get your music heard and there are also many platforms to sell your music. Researching, I came across two additional platforms that would be very helpful to the songwriter and helpful to the business minded leader in search for innovation.


To start with, there is MusikPitch created by Scott McIntosh. The company is based in Nashville, TN and was launched in April of 2011. Scott McIntosh came up with an idea to offer songwriters a way to earn money with their music.

How it works is, as the songwriter, you sign up (for free) on the website and set up your profile. From there you search the database for contests that people or company’s present. When you have found an appealing contest all you have to do is submit you project in mp3 form and wait to hear back. There are options for other MusikPitch members to rate your song or project by giving you a number out of 6. Before submitting it you are able to read the license agreement that was created by the person or company who created the contest. Most agreements you will be agreeing to give all rights to that contest holder in exchange for a fee you will earn. You would have to consent to that agreement to submit your project. If you are the winner your prize is the amount of money the contest holder has listed on the contest profile. These prize money amounts can range from $100 to over $2000. Each contest holder makes his own price. This is a great way to earn some cash while doing what you love.

Here is a screen shot of the license deal that was offered by a contest holder.

Screen shot 2013-05-03 at 6.19.55 PM

Here is a screen shot of contest that they have run. It gives the time it will be running and the date it will end, how much money you will win, other MusicPitch members who have submitted to the contest ( you can also listen to what those members have submitted), about the company or person offering the contest and all the requirements of the contest.

Screen shot 2013-05-03 at 6.16.28 PM

MusikPitch FAQ’s HERE

Second, we have Ramen Music, which was created by Sadura Williams. Ramen Music is based out of Vienna, Austria and is a site where Songwriters present their music on the profile they have made. An online issue of Ramen will be released every 2 months. On this issue will be downloadable tracks of the chosen artists of that time span.  So if your music is chosen you will be featured in the issue of that period with information of yourself and your music.

ramen music

There are two types of Ramen members: the Artist, who produces the music and the subscriber, who buys the subscription. The subscription cost is $39 annually and it comes with 6 issues for the year. In case of a subscription cancellation, Ramen Music refunds 100% for all subscriptions within 60 days of purchase. After 60 days, they issue refunds to paypal accounts.

20110607-pwjywa9jj21rwxytb5ck2x8gp9.png (an issue that was published)

Sadura and his team launched RamenMusic in 2010. As an innovator, Sadura created this platform for songwriters to have more options for pushing and distributing their music online. Sadura also has a platform called alonetone used for musicians and writers to distribute their music.

The members who are selling their music keep all rights and only grant Ramen Music non-exclusive and non-terminating rights to publish and distribute the music. This brings no harm to the writer, but as a company Ramen Music wants to have your music readily accessible for its consumers forever. Those chosen for the issue also get paid. Ramen pays its artist members right before that artists published issue. The members receive funds by paypal account, transfer or direct deposit.

Sadura is a musician and understands the struggle musicians face in creating and releasing an album or any music for that matter. He wanted musicians to be able to get their music out to the public easily and for free.

Ramen Music FAQ’s HERE




TAXI Music: May Take You to Where You Dream To Be


Have you heard of them? Well, supposedly they are here to help you get connected with and assist you in shopping your music to publishers, artists, labels, T.V. companies and more!

What is Taxi?

Founded in 1992 by CEO Michael Laskow, Taxi is a music-based A&R company that aids unsigned artists and composers in reaching their goals of finding record, publishing and film deals. They have the network to connect you with the best and big names you are looking to meet. Taxi is based in Los Angeles California and they have aided many songwriters and composers in receiving big deals.

TAXI member Sylvia Winsby poses with ASCAP V.P. Ralph Murphy and TAXI's CEO Michael Laskow after winning her brand new Taylor Guitar at the 2012 TAXI Road Rally.

TAXI member Sylvia Winsby poses with ASCAP V.P. Ralph Murphy and TAXI’s CEO Michael Laskow after winning her brand new Taylor Guitar at the 2012 TAXI Road Rally.

How to Join and Get Connected

To join Taxi you create an account on the website. You submit the membership fee of $299.95 for the whole year. Once you have done these things you have officially joined. Taxi provides industry listings from labels and companies looking for music. You then send your music to Taxi and they review your music and depending on which listings you use they give you helpful criticism on your songs. Your songs are sent by Taxi, directly to the company whose listing best matches your songs. Companies are more likely to listen to your music when it has been referred by a reliable source.

Taxi keeps in contact with many music companies and those companies reach out to taxi inquiring of new music and writers. They include what type of music they are looking to receive, for example the genre, the style, the theme or mood, for what type of project, being for film, T.V., an artist or what have you. Taxi posts those listings and you the taxi member submit music for the posting and receive feedback and hopefully a deal with that company (an example of a company listing HERE). There is no 100% guarantee that the company will choose your music, but the more you shop your music the more opportunity you will have.

How long does it take to hear back.

From reading a forum on the Taxi website the wait can range from a few days, to 6months, to over a year. The key here is to keep submitting your music, have all types and styles if able and have the patience to wait on a reply from the companies. Hang in there. There have been stories from this forum where people have wanted to quit, but by sticking it out they received contacts and deals from music companies.


Perks of Your Membership

Membership – You get an annual membership and a cheaper membership renewal fee.

Large Network  – connections to shop your music. Taxi has such a large number of companies in its database including EMI, ABC, Fox Sports, Columbia Records, Epic Records, Capitol records, CBS, Universal Music, MTV and way more.

The Road Rally, which is a free, three-day convention. There you are involved in many sessions, listening to panels and educated speakers. You can also bring a guest for free with your membership.

Taxi Road Rally Convention 2010

Taxi Road Rally Convention 2010

Feedback – You will get feedback about your music and songs when you submit them to Taxi before they send it to the companies. You are able to use their criticism to make you music better.

An Example of a critique sheet received by a member from Taxi.

An Example of a critique sheet received by a member from Taxi.

Referrals – They offer referrals for companies, lawyers and other information from their friendly and helpful staff.

Opportunity – The chance to submit your music to big names in the industry and have Taxi be a reference for you.

Free Music Business Newsletter – Taxi Meter and Recording Magazine are the two magazines put out by Taxi with industry updates and Taxi interviews and updates.

Money-Back Guarantee – If you aren’t satisfied you will get the full year cost of $299.95 back even after being with Taxi for a full year.



Is it for you?

Taxi is very proud of their customer service and they strive to be as helpful all around as possible from opportunities to feedback to a kind answer to your question.

Taxi does not take any percentage from your earnings; you get to keep 100% of your percentage. All they receive is the annual $300 membership fee, plus a $5 song submission fee for each song. To renew your membership it is only $199.95.

Don’t worry about having the best material or the best production of your song. The more you work at it, the more you show your music and the more feedback you get then the better you will get as a writer. This may be a good way for you. Go after your dreams. You can also begin your Taxi journey by subscribing to their email listing HERE and get an email from Taxi twice a month giving you industry updates. You can also check out Taxi’s youtube channel with advice, commentary and interviews HERE.

Success Stories

“TAXI is a great concept — it gives credible songwriters everywhere a way to get their songs heard.”
Shane Barrett — Director of A&R, MCA Records, Nashville

“I’ve already signed one TAXI act, and I’m looking at others that have been submitted.”
Tony Ferguson — VP of A&R, Interscope Records, LA

“I’ve signed a lot of deals with TAXI members. And a good percentage of those writers have had their music placed in TV shows and films as a direct result.”
Jim Long — CEO, One Music

“I received a giant BMI check from TV airplay that I probably wouldn’t have earned without TAXI.”
Julie Ann Bailey — TAXI Member

FAQs http://www.taxi.com/songwriting3/index.php?icid=TXINCN0000004B#faqs

Taxi testimonial videos HERE and HERE.







Ways to Getting Your Music Heard

As a songwriter, producer, and musician you want your music to be heard by others. You want to grow your fanbase, you want to inspire people and you want to make a good living out of what you love to do: Music. The question is, how to do it? Here are some ways to push you closer to the door of opportunities.

Get A Publisher
A Publisher helps you to promote your music and songs. They are there to help you connect your music with clients wanting to use your music. The publisher can also hire you as a writer for their company. This will lead to growth as a writer and exposure to connections. It is unlikely that you will need a manager for just selling our songs, but the publisher is a critical part of steering your songs into the direction of the right people.

Move to City with a Music Scene
Since the boom and growth of technology this factor is not so much the case it may have been a decade or two ago. We all know the main areas where music is happening and those places include New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville, urban cities and Metropolitan areas. Nashville is a place where songwriters are heavily populated. Some think that there is only country music here, even though that is the main style there, but there are other styles including pop, Gospel, folk, and it produces great songwriting as an art itself. New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and urban areas are great places to network and have small and large labels and publishers to shop your material and many, many great musicians and artists to play your music and spread the news.

Online & Websites
Don’t wait to get started. Everyone wants their music to be perfect and you should, but don’t wait too long until you have missed the opportunity. Of course you want to spend time improving your work. Have material ready to share along with working on better material. You want to put your material out there so people can hear it, so you can get helpful criticism and grow. That way as you are growing as a musician and writer your fanbase is also growing. Do you have your own website. Get one. Submit and enter your music into competitions and contests. Here are some other online places where you can put your music include: iTunes, Youtube, Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Napster, Pandora, Spotify, Facebook Music profile, Myspace, Tweewoo, Soundclick, last.fm, Muxtape, ArtistServer, iSound, Twitter, Ramen Music, Radio 1, AWAL, and Bandcamp.

Websites like Ramen Music, Radio 1, Taxi Music, Blogspot, Elbow Music Blog are great because not only can people learn about your music and hear it, but they can also learn about you. These are all platforms for blogs, interviews, making connections, networking and of course music. Blogspot and Elbow Music Blog are a place where bloggers post about new and recurring topics and artists. It is great to have bloggers about you and your music. It’s a great way to have your name spread around. Ramen Music and other websites like this are great ways to put your music on the site. See how it does and how people like it. On Ramen Music a song every 2 months is chosen to be the best song of that portion of time.  Get your music on the actual radio. This publicity is still and efficient way to increase your buzz. Radio 1 is a radio station based in the UK but is also heard internationally in the US, Canada, and more. Radio 1 and other Radio Stations are great for introducing yourself, advertising your product, and keeping people updated on what things you are working on and releasing. Taxi Music is a company that has been around for quite a while, but one not too many know about. You pay an annual fee and Taxi puts you in contact with big publishers, labels and Film directors to shop your music to them. These are good resources to have to get your music heard and used.

A huge contribution to your success will be networking and building relationships. The important point to get is to build lasting relationships.  When sending you material to companies or people, also send them a personal message. Choose to send your material to people for a reason and not just to get heard, because that reason is a given. Labels, publishers, and A&Rs are very aware that you want your music to be heard and their job is to help you. So, with this fact after honing your product and music be personal when reaching out and focus on that person at that moment. Focus on gaining and building that relationship so that it is long-term. Collaborate with other artists and songwriters. Force yourself to try something different. Share your music with local artists whose work you enjoy. Propose or write songs for them. If they like your work they will automatically spread the word. Check out their material. Listen and give other musicians and writers your helpful feedback and they will in return want to give you theirs. Have a good attitude when going into relationships and not only thinking of what you can get out of it, but also what you can put into it and what others can get out of it.

Most importantly work consistently on your art. Work hard and don’t stop moving. Keep making music and sharing it with those who may want to hear it and with those who can help you climb the ladder you have outlined for yourself. Never give up of this is truly your passion.











What the PROs Have to Offer

PRO’s – Performance Rights Organizations

What are they and what do they do? Because you or your publisher owns the copyright to your music people who want to perform or play it in a public place have to pay you as permission to do so. The job of the PRO’s is to grant services to those apart of its organization. The main service is to have those who perform or play your music pay a licensing fee. The PRO retrieve’s that payment of earnings from all who have played your music, for they also keep up and track the plays. They calculate the amount and divide it between you and any other involved. They deliver your payment or royalties to you. The people for the job are Ascap, BMI, Sesac, and SoundExchange.


ASCAP – American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

Ascap was founded in 1914 by songwriters, composers and publishers and has been going strong ever since.  It is a “member-run, non-profit organization who exist to protect our fellow members”, it says on its myspace profile. It is the only PRO with members that are the composers and publishers that also elect the Board of Directors.  Its headquarters are in New York, but there are Ascap offices in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Puerto Rico and London.

Ascap represents artists such as John Denver, Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones,Janis Joplin, Carly Simon, Ashford & Simpson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Lauryn Hill and Dr. Dre, The Ramones, Slayer and Marc Anthony. 

According to it’s website the last count done in February of 2013 they had 450,000 members. Of you were wondering what kind of contract it will be, it is a non-exclusive agreement, meaning…You must register your songs, after joining to receive payment.

Ascap offers its members benefit packages. They include access to many web tools, software and musical websites such as Sheet Music Direct and more, it includes gear, discounted subscriptions, distribution of Playback Magazine, MusicPro Dental, Health and other Insurances, manufacturing, investment services, online education, travel benefits and associations.

Ascap offers an annual, national conference devoted songwriters and composers called I Create Music EXPO, which includes panels, workshops, sessions and concerts. The next expo is a three-day event starting on Thursday, April 18th, 2013.

Getting Paid
When the song has been performed Ascap retrieves the license fee and the royalties are calculated and split between all parties involved including the writer and publisher. This is through Ascap’s system of Title Registration and Cue sheets. On their website it reads, “A writer’s or publisher’s royalty check is determined by multiplying the number of credits they earned for performances of their works during a quarter by the dollar value of a credit for that quarter. For example, if a writer earned 10,000 credits for performances of her works on radio and television in a three-month period and the value of one writer credit was $7.10, the writer’s royalty check would be $71,000 (10,000 X $7.10).”

The figures are completed and the royalties are distributed quarterly, directly to the writer and publisher involved via the writers choice of payment method including, direct deposit or check. Soon the writer is a happily paid writer.

If you have more questions, click HERE for the link to more information on Ascap.

BMI – Broadcasting Music Incorporated

BMI is a non-profit organization and was created by radio executives. According to the website, “BMI was the first to offer representation to songwriters of blues, country, jazz, r&b, gospel, folk, Latin and, ultimately, rock & roll. BMI was founded by radio executives to provide competition in the field of performing rights, to assure royalty payments to writers and publishers of music not represented by the existing performing right organization and to provide an alternative source of licensing for all music users. BMI has been in operation for more than 70 years, is recognized in U.S. copyright law as a licensor of music, and currently represents more than 550,000 copyright owners and their more than 7.5 million musical works.” They have an office in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville.

BMI represents and has represented artists and writers including Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Rihanna, Shakira, Maroon 5, Pink, Evanescence, Nickelback, Linkin Park, Death, Sam Cooke, Willie Nelson, Fats Domino, Dolly Parton, Harry Gregson-Williams, John Williams, Danny Elfman, and Richard & Robert Sherman.

It is not exactly a membership, but the writer can join as an affiliate Upon joining, the writer will have to sign a contract. (HERE is a link to their standard contract). It is free to sign up. You electronically submit the forms and you are apart of the team.

Benefits BMI offers benefits including online education, discounted subscriptions, gear, financial services, MusicPro Insurances, software and more.  BMI also offers bonuses such as the Standard Bonus and the Hit song bonus.

Getting Paid 
After registering the work to receive a payment BMI collects the license fees and combines that with the amount of play your song had to pay the writer. If there are 300 plays a quarter then the payment is based upon those 300 plays. After the calculations are completed the writer is either sent a check, usage of their ATM card provided by BMI or the money is received through direct deposit. http://www.bmi.com/creators/royalty_print/detail

Link to FAQ’s HERE

SESAC – (Once known as) Society of European Stage Artists and Composers. It is no longer called by this title, only Sesac itself. A German immigrant formed Sesac in 1930, and its service has lasted and passed the test of time. Their headquarters are in Nashville, TN with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami and London. Sesac is not a non-profit and earns it’s profit by way of receiving an amount of the royalty earnings.

Sesac represents (and represented) many great artists and composers such as Paul Shaffer, Bob Dylan, Shirley Caeser, Cassandra Wilson, Neil Diamond and more.

With Sesac there is no membership like that of Ascap. You can submit an application online and it will be reviewed. In contrast to BMI, you have to be accepted as an affiliate and it is completed at no cost.

Sesac offers benefits consisting of educational courses, discounted studio sessions, CD manufactures, distributions, Rental cars, subscriptions, insurances and more.

Getting Paid 
After registering your work, with all the proper information and song form, you can set up the receiving of your payment from the options: check or direct deposit. The songs and performances are track using cue sheets. Once those cue sheets are submitted and the royalty amount is calculated you then receive your payment.

Link to FAQ’s HERE 


SoundExchange is the newest and smallest of them all; created in 2003. It is a non-profit. Their headquarters are in Washington D.C. They have 74 employees, over 43,000 members and represents over 5,000 labels. The revenue of 2012 amounted to 20,958,592.  Revealed in 2013, $462 million total year-end royalty payments were distributed. “SoundExchange administers the statutory license, (A statutory royalty is a royalty based on a “statutory rate” set by Congress and appearing in the Copyright Act. These “statutory” royalties schemes allow a third party to use a work without the express consent of the copyright owner under certain conditions and according to specific requirements, in exchange for payment of royalties at a rate determined by the Copyright Royalty Board), which allows services to stream artistic content while paying a fixed rate for each play. SoundExchange collects and distributes royalties for the featured artist and the sound recording copyright owner when content is played on a non-interactive digital source,” reads their website. SoundExchange does not cover royalties for songwriting, publishing and composition. SoundExchange’s Board of Directors is a balanced representation of all parts of the music industry. “Major and independent labels, recording artists, artist representatives, and interested coalitions all have a seat at the SoundExchange table.”

SoundExchange represents artists and writers including the Foo Fighters, Cephas and Wiggins, Beck, Tower of Power, Kristine W., Garbage, Common, Queen of the Stone and more.

The membership cost is free and you can submit forms to join. Very Simple.

SoundExchange offers discounted equipment and discounted conference passes. You can also be apart of SoundExchange as well as one of the other PROs.

Getting Paid 
SoundExchange distributes money quarterly (March, June, September, and December). To receive a payment from SoundExchange, you must have accumulated at least $10 ($100 for a paper check) in royalties. Until you have reached this amount, SoundExchange will hold your royalties until you ensue enough royalties. They are keeping track of your songs and keeping the track information updated with Metadata When you receive a payment, through direct deposit or check from SoundExchange, you will also receive a statement that will detail the money you have earned for each track that has been played by various service providers.

Link to FAQ’s HERE 

Difference between SoungExchange and other PRO’s.
On the website in their “Top Ten reasons artists don’t register with SoundExchange” it reads, “Our friends at ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC pay songwriters and publishers. SoundExchange compensates performers and copyright owners for the sound recording itself. If you’re both the performer and the songwriter, you get paid twice. Either way, all performers who also write music should be signed up with either ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, and ALSO with SoundExchange. They’re two separate sources of money and are not in conflict.” This pretty much sums up the difference. You are encouraged to join SoundExchange and a party of the other PRO’s because they deal with different types of royalties. Do your research before deciding to join, but they all have great things to offer.









The Songwriters’ Life-long Partner

The Songwriter
Every songwriter’s goal for their song is to get it heard, sung or played, featured (for example in a film, commercial or on television) or all of the above.  Some writers want to perform their own work and others write for other artists to perform their work. Some do both. Apart from being an artist, songwriting is a great way to still be creative and make a living. In ways it may be better than only performing, because the more successful the song is the better the pay is in comparison to performing. One musical partner the songwriter will learn to appreciate is their publisher.

The Publisher                                                                                                      MP

There are three types of publishers called the administrator, independent and major. They all do the same job, but on different levels and they all take a commission or percentage of your earnings. The administrator tends to not help with the creative process and does not invest money in the beginning or advances. The independents do invest and target to the average successful songwriter. The major has the most money to invest, but will take a very large commission (which is relatively fair), but the rate can be high and difficult to negotiate.

What they do and why they are needed? The publisher’s main job is to promote your songs, sell your songs, and make sure you get paid for when those songs are used. They keep track of the song and track every place it gets played and guarantees the delivery of your royalties.

Similar to publishing companies are performance rights organizations (PRO’s) (AscapBMISesac and SoundExchange, a non-profit PRO). You ask, “What is the difference between a publishing company and a performance rights organization?” They both do similar jobs, but the main difference is that the PRO’s only collect your licensing fees and provide you with the performance royalties (live performances, radio play, etc.). The publishing company does this, but with the mechanical royalties (from CD’s, downloads, etc.). The publisher can also shop your song to artists, labels and organizations, invests in your artistry while just starting out, and can provide you with sheet music (depending on your contract with them).

How to reach the Publisher
The best way to find the best publisher for you is to research what publishers focus in what genre. Research the songs that you love and write similar to and research who their publisher is. Keep in mind the location you desire to be in and where the publisher is located.  Decide, which type of publisher you would like (administrator, independent or major). Discover what you want to gain and why you will choose who you choose. Once you have chosen send them an email expressing interest and along with that some sample songs for them to ponder on. Always, follow-up.

Working for the Publisher
Publishers normally hire a writer as a contracted staff writer, which produces a “work for hire”. It can be beneficial for the writer depending on their preference or copyright ownership and income from the works. The negative fact about “work for hire” is that the songs belong to the company and not the writer due to them working for the company. The writer will be paid a fee for the works created.


Can you publish your own music?  
You sure can publish your songs. The process may not be as easy as collaborating with a publishing company, but it can be worthwhile to start your own publishing company. Many Independent artists publish their own music. You can keep track of your music played through companies such as CD Baby and iTunes. There are also publishing companies that work specifically for independent artists, such as Kobalt and Imagem which will still take a commission, but will be doing the hard work for you. TAXI is a company that, “helps independent artists, songwriters and composers get record, publishing and Film/TV deals,” according to their website. They charge an annual fee for the services, but it seem very reliable and beneficial. Another way to start it is through a performance rights organization, for example BMI offers rates for registering a publishing company. The rates are under $300 for an individual and for a corporation. Being your own publisher has become very popular and the rate of those doing it has definitely increased through the years. So have faith and have the courage to set your own rules if that’s what you desire.









From Songwriting & Artistry to Innovating

New Projects                                                                                                                     Alicia Keys has been one of my favorite singers for a long time. I love and appreciate her knowledge of and passion for music. She sings, plays piano, composes, performs well, acts, and now innovates. She has owned her own business, AK Worldwide for a few years now and together with her staff Bento Box Interactive Holdings LLC, she has recently released her own app. The app is called The Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee. It is a children’s storybook with stories that read aloud to you. The different stories are told from different cultures to spread the awareness of other cultures. The app also has games that you can play, a journal you can write in, pictures you can color, a piano you can physically play and music you can listen to, of course composed by Keys.

This being her second app, she is now a pro at entrepreneurship. Her first app released is her Open Mic App, by Sony Music Entertainment, where you can play the instrumental track and sing along to it. You select the song, choose the level of difficulty, and then begin singing. While the tune is playing there is a little bird icon that shows the placement of the pitches by going up and down along with the notes you are to sing and the duration of the note to give you guidance (as shown in the photo below).mzl.gvhsjtxa

AK Worldwide                                                                                                             Keys is definitely broadening her horizons and truly delving into the business world. She has now launcher her own company, AK Worldwide, which assists her in her business affairs including her new apps.

“It [AK Worldwide] really explores the ways I can affect the world in a positive way, even outside of music,” says Keys. They are “in the business of inspiration”. The mission statement is “Be the architect of and invest in businesses that inspire the world”.

She has a website that will be starting up soon. It’s called I Am Super Woman. Here woman can encourage each other and share helpful information to each other. Keys calls it a “fresh new source for positive and inspiring news—a destination that empowers and unleashes the super woman in us all”.

Keys is the new Global Creative Director for BlackBerry. She has also partnered with Reebok Classics and has launched sneakers.

Keys is a philanthropist and is involved in many world-changing causes such as  Keep A Child Alive, where she is their co-founder and Global Ambassador. Keep a Child Alive uses its voice to raise awareness, mobilize people to take action, and rally resources in the global response to HIV.

 The Superwoman is On Fire                                                                                        With 5 albums, 14 Grammys, a viral video and biggest hit “No One” that has over 130 million views, a new album “Girl on Fire”, all of the business opportunities she has stepped into, a marriage and a beautiful baby boy when does she sleep? “This girl is on fire”, lyrics from chart topping single off that album, and she literally is with all that she is accomplishing. She is success in human form.