Welcome to Just Plain Notes
Just Plain Notes: Volume 2.010, August 31st, 2013
Written by Brian Austin Whitney
Visit the Website: www.jpfolks.com
Mail CD's @ 5327 Kit Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46237
Copyright 2013 Just Plain Folks Productions.
Just Plain Folks Member Population: 50,118
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Would you like to join the JPF Networking Message Boards? It's quick and easy. Just click the link and choose a password and user name and you'll be posting in no time! We'd love to hear from and about you. You can get peer feedback on your music or lyrics, find people to co-write with, get answers to just about any music related question and promote yourself and your gigs on the appropriate boards. It's a very friendly place where over 20,000 of your peers hang out!
To register: (It's a separate registration from JPF membership): http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?action=agree
Just Plain Quotes:
"It's going to come true like you knew it, but it's not going to feel like you think." -Rosie O'Donnell
"My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?" -Charles M. Schulz
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -Alan Kay
"It is in his pleasure that a man really lives; it is from his leisure that he constructs the true fabric of self." -Agnes Repplier (1855 - 1950)
"Once they were men. Now they are land crabs." -dialogue from 'Attack of the Crab Monsters'
"The difference between what is possible and impossible, what is true or false and success or failure is usually less than a hair's breadth." -Brian Austin Whitney
I was thinking about my friends this morning. Some of them work boring jobs they hate, some are unemployed and have given up, others were once famous musicians but now can't get anyone to listen to their new music and others are still rock stars with throngs of adoring fans who treat them like Gods/Goddesses. I wondered how it was possible that I cared so much about all these people equally even though the world views them all so differently. In my view they are all great people, some with nice families or growing kids who are already wonderful in their own right, others who are divorced or who aren't allowed to be married in the first place. I can't think of one of them who is without talents I wished I possessed while at the same time being devoid of talents I myself enjoy. Then a light bulb went off in my head.
The difference between what is possible and impossible, what is true or false and success or failure is usually less than a hair's breadth. A minimal nudge one way or another could (or already has) change all of their lives completely. We're all dancing on the head of a pin, moments from stepping off, but also capable of enjoying that view from the top should we find ourselves on the other side of that hair's breath at any given moment in our lives.
Folks, if you want to live your dreams, with the right effort at the right time going the right direction, you will find yourself living it. And sure enough, it can all be taken away just as quickly or never achieved. In the end, Charles M. Schultz, the beloved creator of that loveable failure Charlie Brown, had it right. Stop living your life worrying about which side of that hair you might be on and instead, just live, laugh, love and enjoy our brief time on earth. My friends from above all have found what seems like more than their share of happiness in their lives even though an outsider would never connect them in any logical way (except for better or worse they have me for a friend). But trust me, even the most successful among us have had what seems like more than their share of sadness and tragedy to go around. Don't let a hair's breadth rule your life.
And think of the bright side, at least we haven't been turned into giant land crabs!
Learn, Succeed and Thrive. We're all in this together!
Table of Contents:
We have a wonderful article/interview with a peer who is finding success in TV/Film placements. It is worth your time if you are interested in this pursuit! Please give it a read and I am ALWAYS interest in hearing your thoughts, so reply and tell me your thoughts!
01. Success Stories: TV and Film Placements of JPF member John Schick
02. Success Stories: Send us yours for a chance to be featured.
03. 2013 Just Plain Folks Music Awards Entry Information
04. Singing/Acting Opportunity for JPF Members!
05. Just Plain Folks finally has a Facebook Page!
Note About Our Website: We are working on a brand new website which we can use to feature your videos, bios and music files. Don't be fooled by the outdated home page which shows our 2009 Award winners. It's simply a placeholder until we launch a new site. The JPF message boards linked near the top of this newsletter are very active daily with thousands of your peers! Please join us there!
2013 Just Plain Folks Community Partner Sponsors!
TAXI: The world's leading independent A&R company, has been successfully helping Songwriters, Artists and Composers get their music heard and signed by top Publishers, Major & Indie Labels, and Film & TV music supervisors since 1992. TAXI, is your best bet! See them at www.TAXI.com.
CDBaby: The best place to sell your CD's or music files on line. They also have the best on-line hosting service called Hostbaby. Nobody else even comes close. See them at www.CDBaby.com
(FROM BRIAN: Often we run articles from famous people sharing their advice on how they got there, or experts who educate you on a given topic. Those can all be valuable, but I want to also include articles from the peers of those of you who just want something cool to happen with your music, whether you become famous or have big hit songs or not. In that spirit, I am sharing with you an article from JPF Member John Schick, who has accomplished some really cool success, well beyond the radar of fame. After his story, I will tell you how you can be featured here in the future! Enjoy John's story, just one of your peers who has placed his music in some amazing places, where any of us would love to hear our own music!)
Success Stories: John Schick, from making $12 dollars playing the accordion to having his music all over television and films!
Q: John, tell me about how you got started in music?
A: My first gig… was in 1957 I believe. I was 7-8 years old. My brother and I played accordions at the American House in downtown Stroudsburg for a party of elderly ladies. I played Fascination and my brother brought it home with the Clarinet Polka. The ladies passed the hat and I believe we split $12 between us. Quite a bundle. Hey, $12 would have purchased 240 packs of baseball cards back then. What a night! BTW, I signed two accordion tracks this year to a music library. Probably influenced by those early accordion years. LOL Little did I know I was preparing for a career in Music Libraries back then. Good training. I've composed several French & Italian café tracks for libraries this year.
Q: You really cut your teeth in a garage band, cover band, house band, backing band and all the other stuff so many of your peers have done right?
A: Yes, I performed in a teen rock band and then a standard's band. Later I became a Keyboardist in night club house band. We had our own show but also backed-up all the acts that came in. From singers (many genres), comedians, belly dancers, magicians, illusionists, strippers, impressionists, etc. Sometimes it was a bit stressful having a singer throw 30 pages of music at me a half-hour before Show Time. Being the “key” man the weight fell on me. So I learned the art of “faking it” quickly. This was probably the best preparation for music library work one could ever have. I was exposed to such a huge variety of music in all genres. And best of all I acquired the art of faking it. LOL
Q: But later in life., you had to adjust to the realities of life, having a family etc.
A: I continued with music studies, working a day job, gigging at night, teaching piano, and all the stuff that goes with being a family man. It’s strange, today I only compose, but I still feel strapped for time. Don’t know how I managed my time during those bustling early years. I reckon we all complain about not having enough time. The clock is ticking.
Q: Let's shift to what you're doing today. Folks out there probably relate to your story as the typical reality for many musicians that find the realities of life, whether it is their need to get day jobs, getting married, raising a family etc., leave them with little time to gig a lot, tour, or try to scrape by on what playing live music pays a non label act these days. For those that find they have time for composing music at home, I think they'll find your success helpful as an example for what can be next.
A. To be clear I'm a music library composer, not a film score writer, quite a difference. Though I'm open to the latter if it ever comes my way. My first success was with a print music publisher who (many years ago*) paid me $50 dollars to purchase my compositions outright. Back then I was ONLY interested in the art and the recognition of a composer of his stature and at the time, that was great for me. I spent many years studying piano and composition. Much of the latter I learned from Sherman Storr’s rewrites. My noteworthy piano studies came from the late Paul Schocker. A concert pianist that encouraged my composing through the years. I'll be ever in gratitude to Paul for his devotion to music and for having an inspiring presence in my life.
(*NOTE FROM BRIAN: NEVER sell your music OUTRIGHT to anyone. You may be selling something worth a lifetime of earnings and setting yourself up for a lifetime of grief! Do not do it! And don't buy music from others outright. It's just not a legitimate business practice on either side! The only exception is a work for hire. If you don't know what that is, learn all about it before you do it!).
Q. What was your first experience with a music library?
A. My very first was through an exclusive library I found via a TAXI.com forward. Though many of my pieces were accepted, I was not satisfied with the communication or the relationship so after 5 years I invoked my reversion clause and I ended it. My second library was another TAXI.com forward to Editors Choice Music (exclusive library). Emmy Award winning composer Gary Fitzgerald is the owner. Both of us being pianists, we communicate well. I remember Gary wanting a “happy” piano rag from me. I ended up composing 16 piano rags and finally composed one that met his “happy” specification. He once said he hears a bit of tragedy in everything I compose. I signed all 16 rags with his library. Some of these have been placed. He signed many of my classical piano solos. I've talked with Gary many times on the phone and have a solid relationship with him.
Q. Can you share some additional positive experiences you've had with libraries?
A. I have about 70-80 tracks with Pump Audio/ Getty Images (non-exclusive library). They seem to get quite a few placements. I think their connection with Getty has boosted their activity. Some composers stopped dealing with them when they cut the up front licensing for the writer from 50% to 35% (still 100% PRO royalties to writer). Though still not a bad deal for non-exclusive tracks. Anyone submitting tracks to Pump Audio plan on a long wait for approval and being entered into their catalog. Minimum wait from my experience is one year. It may take longer before the tracks are made available to clients.
Also, I have some tracks with Transition Music. No up front money, but 100% writer’s PRO royalties. They've gotten me some placements. One placement that’s been showing up every quarter on ASCAP statements for several years. They email requests from clients from time to time.
Q. I notice you now deal mostly with exclusive versus non exclusive.*
(*OPINION FROM BRIAN: For those not aware of the difference, it's a big and important one which everyone should think long and hard about. Exclusive simply means that the library you sign with will be the ONLY place that music can be licensed through. The benefits are significant. Many buyers of music licenses prefer exclusive sources (many refuse to work with non-exclusive entirely) because they know there will be no confusion later as to who should get paid and on what terms. If someone uses a non exclusive library, the bonus is that you can also license through other non exclusive libraries or even directly on your own. The downside is that many buyers will not license non exclusive content period. It is just too much of a hassle if multiple entities claim they were the source of the material. To combat this issue, many non exclusive libraries have started changing the names of the music in their libraries and even listing themselves as the author to protect their own interests. Sadly, if the music is licensed this way, it is very difficult for the writer to track where their music was used or to be sure they are getting paid or that their names appear in the credits as the writer of their own material. To be fair, there are many differing opinions on this issue, so please research on your own. In my (Brian's) opinion, I would not license anything non-exclusively and I would carefully follow any music previously licensed non exclusively and when the agreement permits, I would remove my material from any of these entities as soon as legally possible. Now back to John's answer.)
A. The tracks I sign (some exceptions) these days are exclusive and pay some percent of up front licensing. I'm not in this business to get rich, but by getting up front licensing there’s more of a chance in finding out where my music is placed. Too often cue sheets aren't turned in, so without the up front licensing you may never know where some of your music is placed – save digital fingerprinting.
Q. Can you give me another example of a library you like?
A. One aggressive newer library is Jingle Punks. Run by a dozen or so youngsters (at least youngsters to me LOL ). These people are on the ball. Getting into everything from reality shows to major network shows. I’m constantly seeing new shows popping up on my ASCAP cue sheet and statement pages from their placements. Some upfront licensing, but many are gratis deals where only PRO royalties are paid. Interesting submitting process. The writer is allowed to submit 15 tracks at a time and no more till those 15 have been approved. Usually a 2-3 week wait, though some wait much longer. Jingle Punks wants to keep their catalog streamlined. Also they do retire/delete tracks regularly from their Jingle Player (mechanism that plays tracks to clients). Every so often I request a list of my retired tracks so I can submit them elsewhere. The writer can sign non-exclusively or exclusively. If you sign exclusively your music is made available to both non-exclusive and exclusive clients. If signing non-exclusive it’s made available only to clients using non-exclusive music. I’ve been exclusive with them since last summer. I believe they have a one year reversion clause.
Q. How about some other names you've signed with?
A. I've signed a couple dozen tracks with Q Music Collective. I've gotten some placements through them. I also signed music with Muziko, MUSYNC, Scorekeepers, Soundscape Medea, Silk & Denim, Music Supervisor, Liberty Music Tracks, Crucial Music, Eric Hester Music Library, Music Dealers, Tunefruit, and probably a couple other ones I’ve forgotten about. Haven’t seen much action with these, though that’s how it goes. Certain libraries can work well for some and be a dead-end for others. One never knows where the next placement is coming from. Though there’s always possibilities when music is made available for licensing.
Q. For the record, we (Just Plain Folks) had a very unfortunate negative experience with Audio Sparx. However, in the interest of fairness, you (John Schick) have had a positive experience that we'd like you to share?
A. My experience with Audio Sparx has been a positive one. I've gotten several placements from them. Not the traditional library. The writer sets his/her own price for each track. Enters the descriptions of each track, decides on exclusive/ non-exclusivity of each track, and the writer can decide if they want to use Audio Sparx as their publisher. I chose this option. And I must say, of all my publishers they are the quickest to register my tracks with ASCAP (usually within 2 days of uploading). These are business people that keep up with the bookwork and have always given me encouragement and kind words.
Q. We've avoided discussing companies you've had problems with because we prefer to focus on people who have done a good job with you. But in one instance, you said an important and unfortunate lesson was learned. Can you share the mistake you made?
A. Graffiti/ Premier Tracks –in my opinion avoid them. The worst contract I ever signed. I signed away 30 piano solos forever (no reversion clause). What can I say? This publishing dame sweet talked me. My ego did my thinking and my brain was on vacation. Never again will I fall for such lunacy.
(NOTE FROM BRIAN: No matter WHO the company is you are dealing with, NEVER sign a contract with NO REVERSION CLAUSE. A reversion clause means after a period of time and/or under certain circumstances (such as no placements etc.) the music reverts back to you and away from that company. If you do not have a reversion clause, you may never earn a dime from your music AND you may never have the right to do anything else with it, not even release it yourself!).
Q. What is the most exciting licensing opportunity to date?
A. Client X – I won't reveal the identity of this high profile person that licensed one of my tracks. Floored me when I received a phone call from Client X. I never would have imagined a person of this distinction being interested in the music of an unknown like me.
Q. You've placed over 1500 tracks, have you made money off of all of them?
A. Not even close to being paid for 1,500 tracks (I wish LOL). Maybe 15% of the 1,500 tracks have been placed. I’ve realized music libraries tend to be a numbers game. The more tracks with them, the better chance the clients will hear them. Most of my music will never be placed. That’s just the cold reality of the music library business. There’s an over-kill in quantity.
Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. I'm sure I've forgotten some of the libraries I've signed with. I have 1,500 plus tracks and it gets kind of confusing and time consuming following all of these. Though I do keep good records of who has what (especially the ones signed exclusively). I would suggest using “Music Library Report” http://musiclibraryreport.com/
before signing with a library. A good source of information on 400+ libraries there.
My top two libraries are exclusive libraries. None of my libraries take any of the writer’s credit. Don't even know any libraries that do. I definitely wouldn't work with such a library.
Also, sometimes when a client uses one of your tracks he/she becomes a returning customer. Probably the most important thing is forming relationships with your music contacts/ publishers. It’s much better than becoming just a number on the roulette wheel. Though never get pushy. Oh, “Pushy Publishing”, I forgot about them. I think I had one placement with them long ago. Time to make contact… And time to make music… that’s what it’s all about. Much more important than the placements I get.
Thanks to John Schick for sharing his experience. Now in case you doubt his success, here's just a partial list of his placements. Wouldn't YOU love to have your music in these shows and films?
Some of John Schick's Credits:
Dateline NBC, The Voice, Fringe DVD (1st Season), Mindy McCredy"Fallen Angel", Jessica Brown Findlay Interview at Vanity Fair, "Take A Bow: Ingrid Clarfield Story" (Film), Canada's Got Talent , Disappeared, History Detectives, Abandoned, Angry Planet, Today Show, The Bad Girls Club, Colbert Report Global Edition, The Secret Lives of Women, Travel In Style, Inside the Michael Jackson Mansion, Chelsea Lately Show, iGenuis How Steve Jobs Changed the World, Carson Daly Show, Turnaround King, La Casa de al Lado, Levantate, Big Easy Brides, What Not to Wear, Fatal Encounters, Real Housewives of Atlanta, American Pickers, Goldfathers, My Crazy Obsession, MTV News, Pets TV, Extreme Sea World, Passport to Europe, BMW Promo, Sex News and Rock & Roll, Kickin' It (Byron Allen), Entertainment Studio Networks, The Dish, Maria, Vrak La Vie, My Destination TV, Entertainers Byron Allen, A-List, Homicide Hunter, Panic 911, IFAA Promo, My Little Terror, "Dog and Beth On the Hunt" (The Preview Special on CMT), Rap City, MTV Live, Movie Night, Buckwild, Black & Decker Steam Mops promo. CBS & NBC Promos: NCIS, 48 Hrs, Mentalist, Made in Jersey, NFL Football, General Hospital, Dancing With the Stars, Modern Family, The View, The Middle, 2 Broke Girls, Hawaii Five-O, How I Met Your Mother, The Late, Late Show (Craig Ferguson), The Price Is Right, and Best In Film, Recording Magazine (awarded 5 Star, spotlight rating for a virtual orchestra track): http://schicksville.com/Music/Recording%20Magazine%20Review.docx
You might be wondering what a music track needs to sound like to make it into these productions. Well John has been kind enough to share a sample of some tracks AND tell us WHICH productions they have been used in. So if you are curious about it all, please check out John's samples of music placement tracks. Perhaps it will inspire YOU to get started.
Many of these were placed on several episodes of the shows. "Cutthroat" received a 5 Star Spotlight review from Recording Magazine: http://www.recordingmag.com/tapereviews/2010/05/107.html
Middle East Café (Fatal Encounters)http://schicksville.com/Middle%20East%20Cafe.mp3
Ibiza Nights (Mindy McCready "Fallen Angel")http://schicksville.com/Ibiza%20Nights.mp3
Cutthroat (The Today Show)http://schicksville.com/Cutthroat.mp3
Italian Cafe Romance (Black & Decker Steam Mop Promo)http://schicksville.com/Italian%20Cafe%20Romance.mp3
Bedlam (Dissapeared, Fatal Encounters,, La Casa De Al Lado)http://schicksville.com/Bedlam.mp3
Haunting Melody (Jessica Brown Findlay "Vanity Fair"): http://www.vanityfair.com/video/2012/10/1894976727001
Thriller (The Voice, Big Easy Brides, Gold Fathers, Last Call with Carson Daly)http://schicksville.com/Thriller.mp3
Suspense Drone (Dateline NBC, American Pickers, Turnaround King)http://schicksville.com/Suspence%20Drone.mp3
One publisher ask me for 20-30 stingers. Here's one that was used in a couple reality shows:
3-Note Horror (Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda)http://schicksville.com/3-Note%20Horror.mp3
Thanks again to JPF Member John Schick for all his helpful information! If you are new to all of this and want a good place to dip your toes in the water of Music Licensing and Libraries, I strongly suggest visiting www.TAXI.com
who is one resource John Schick uses and who have been the biggest supporters of Just Plain Folks since we first met them back in the 90's!
Share your own Success Stories!
We plan to feature other members success stories in future newsletters. If you'd like to share your own success story with the rest of us, please post all about it on our special SUCCESS STORIES message board on our website. Here is a direct link: http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/postlist/Board/53/page/1
You can also email them to me at email@example.com. Make sure you include your contact info if you email. It is not needed if you post it on line however. IF you are not already registered to post on the message boards, you must register separately of just being a member. The link to join is at the top of this newsletter.
2013/2014 Just Plain Folks Music Awards
We are still on hold figuring out details before opening digital entries via our long time Music Awards partners CD Baby. While we wait, you can enter your music right now for free by following the instructions below.
We are now officially accepting entries via CD directly to JPF. Send us any CD's released AFTER January of 2008. We expect to continue accepting entries through much of 2013 directly and will give you plenty of warning before we cut off entries. Much of it depends on our Digital Entry process. If you already have music ready to go, please go ahead and send us a CD copy. We accept ALL genres of music and last time around we had 100 different genres of music from 168 different countries submitted for the awards. The bar is set pretty high, but if you have what it takes, let's hear what you have!
Inside your package, please include ALL contact info including full name and position (singer, artist, drummer, manager, publisher, attorney, whatever), your full mailing address, your phone number and cell number, and if your CD case does not include a listing of all song titles and songwriters, including whether or not the song is a cover or public domain, you MUST include a listing of this information for your music to be considered in the awards process. In addition, please include your contact info on the physical CD's itself (meaning unwrap it and write it with a sharpie or in some other clearly readable way) because CD's are quickly separated from their cases in our screening process and if your CD has no contact info, band name, album name and song listing, we may not know who you are and would have no way to find you.
Once you've met those requirements, you may also include band bios or whatever else you want. (Press kits, T-shirts (3X is the size), Hats etc. as we collect them and if they fit, I wear them while attending events, showcases, tours, conferences etc. If we get enough cool shirts and hats this year, we may even have a category for best Promotional Item).
Send the package to Just Plain Folks, 5327 Kit Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46237.
We do NOT return CD's and we cannot offer direct feedback or critiques simply because we receive thousands of CD's a year and during the awards the numbers are much higher. But we do listen to all the CD's we receive in the order we receive them.
JPF Founder Brian Austin Whitney is working on a music/film/documentary project:
We have had some truly AMAZING people express interest in this project. We still need to fill some roles however as the project is still in development and is ever changing. If you have previously submitted, don't worry if we haven't contacted you yet. Several of you will likely make it into the final project, but we're still developing the characters and some plot changes, so please be patient! This film won't shoot until next summer!
Remember, we need males and females of all ages, shapes and types. You must be able to sing and/or play an instrument! Please include links to headshots and links to your music and any video clips as well as your resumes etc. See below!
New Girl Group forming for possible indie film/TV series and live performances:
Female Vocalists of all styles: We need POWERFUL vocalists in all genres of music who can demonstrate the ability to harmonize with others across multiple genres of music. Preferred Age: 20-50. Acting experience a huge plus, acting talent required because you will be on film playing a musician. Size and looks less important but vocal ability is a must. You must have live performance experience.
Please email the following:
Contact Info, Links to: (no files please) Electronic Press Kit (if available), Performance Resume (including age and general music performance & acting experience), YouTube clip of at least one live solo/featured and group harmony performance, Links to 3 music tracks featuring your voice as well as at least one example of you harmonizing with others. We also need to see what you look like in at least 2 different looks as well as full body shots in everyday street clothes and make up so we can see how tall and heavy/thin you are. We need diverse body types and looks, so please show us who you really are so we can cast appropriately from among those who qualify vocally. Please DO NOT spend ANY money putting this together. This is simply a project in development. If you are missing any of the above, tell us about your interest and experience and we'll let you know what else we need if we're interested.
Place: Singing Project (along with your name) in the subject line and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is NOT a reality show format. This is an album, film/TV and online project.
Note: We are now also looking for 2 male vocalists/actors and cast members to add to this project. One must be able to perform on an instrument, act and sing, the other must be able to perform on an instrument and act and can be older in the 35-65 age range.
Just Plain Folks (Finally) Has a Facebook Page:
Okay, so I avoided it for a long long time. But I finally gave in and dipped my toe into the Facebook world. I barely have my own page and the JPF page is mostly a stub so far but I'd love to have you join us. And, anyone who considers themselves a Facebook expert, please help us out to build a nice community page there! Like the page or better yet, join us there! Here's the link:
Official JPF Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JustPlainFolks
Copyright 2013 Just Plain Folks Productions