With the year almost coming to an end, here are a couple of things that YOU, as an independent musician can get right for a smooth transition into 2023.
- Get things in writing and once you do, read the fine print. Over and over again if necessary. Know your obligations, covenants, rights, warranties and representations
- Ask questions, discuss your exit clauses, have a strategy and a back-up plan for when things go south.
- It is important to have a mutually agreed dispute resolution mechanism, discuss terms such as jurisdiction, nature and quantity of works and the mode of payment.
- Discuss the term until which the rights subsist. Know what happens to your work after the term ends. Discuss the distribution of intellectual property.
- Know what is legally binding and what is not. Know whether the agreement is mutual, understand if it is expressed or implied. Do not rely on implied terms.
- Sign Non- Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s)
- Great if you can afford a lawyer, but if you can’t, GOOGLE IT. Look up the basic stuff on the internet. There are many free and economical sources and organizations providing legal advice and consultations.
- Ask for credit and give credit where it’s due. Mention the singer, songwriter, composer, producer and anyone involved in the song making process.
- Send your credits and your splits (the percentage you contribute to a track) to the appropriate people before a track is released.
- If you don’t do this already, log on to Spotify and ensure that the songs you wrote, entirely or in part, display the appropriate credits and mention the songwriter, producer, and performer as part of the metadata.
- Royalties can be royalties received from live performances and public streaming, mechanical royalties from the (online/offline) sale of each song, royalties received from Sync licensing or sampling. ASK FOR YOUR ROYALTIES.
- Register yourself with Performing Rights Organizations (PRO’s) to receive royalties. The PRO’s operating in India are IPRS, ISRA and agents like PPL.
- Creative growth + Royalties & credits + Timely payment + Appreciation to art is the secret formula but unfortunately, there is no secret way to it.
- Get an ADVANCE PAYMENT before commencing any new project.
- Have an invoice template. Pre-determine and communicate your fee structure. You can make it fancy (Canva) or make it bland (Ms. Word), serves the same purpose.
- Taxes: Earlier VAT & Service Tax applied on freelancers. Now, these taxes have been replaced by GST. Understand your GST, TDS and advance tax applicability. There is no one shoe that fits all when it comes to taxes. The deductions are dependent on the income you are making as an individual.
- Think of every possible way to monetise your music. Some of the ways are:
Streaming and downloads
Monetising through YouTube
Synching your music to a visual content.
- Practice your craft, learn more about how you can sell your music. Learn about the scope of the NFT marketplace to market your music.
- Research and know your audience, know what could possibly go wrong in the short and the long terms.
- RELEASE PLATFORM: Choose the appropriate release platform for you. Here’s how you can identify your right fit:
If there is enough investment- Labels
If you happen to have a setup + release plan + investment + fanbase + additional tracks in the making – Distribution services
If you happen to be a new and novice musician, the ideal way would be to use DIY musician platforms.
- PITCH YOURSELF & YOUR MUSIC: It’s the age of social media, market yourself. Here are simple ways to get the pitch right:
Formulate a proper formal pitch
Email the labels with appropriate attachments such as the social media handles, drive links to music, and the like.
Create an appropriate portfolio
- Focus on community building. Set boundaries, believe in your work, stand for what you believe in.
- Consider FORCE MAJURE events, acknowledge you can’t perform certain events if it is beyond your control.
About the author: Pratyusha is a Music Business enthusiast and a transactional IP, Tech & Entertainment lawyer. You can reach her on firstname.lastname@example.org or @pratyushaganesh on IG.