18 Oct Ask What Your Song Demo Company Can Do For You
We talk with a lot of songwriters. Seriously, a lot. Many of our beloved customers may have tried other music recording services before ultimately joining the Demo My Song community. The stories we’ve heard over the years has given us some unique insights into what I consider to be some pretty consistent problems in our industry. This inspired us. In some ways it was a reminder of why I got into the song demo business in the first place – to help songwriters share an inspirational message. To put out great music. So what are some of the most common problems, as I see it, for songwriters hiring song demo companies to co-produce their material?
Get it in writing. I am floored every time I hear that a songwriter has paid a studio to help with writing and/or production, or perhaps even hired studio singers, and then did not get any form of signed agreement. I cannot stress this enough. If you hire a music recording studio and they are adding anything of their own to your song or lyrics, without a contract you are not getting what you paid for. Why? The laws on the copyright in the U.S. state that a work is automatically protected the moment it is created and committed to tangible form – i.e. a recording or sheet music. Let’s say for example you hire Joe Smith Music Inc. to make a song for your lyrics. If you do not sign any sort of agreement with Joe Smith Music Inc. stipulating ownership and who gets what, then they automatically keep their copyright for the elements they created for you. Unfortunately, we have found that many studios operating in the song demo industry do not send their customers any kind of agreement at all. We can stock this up to incompetence, but I have regrettably found it can also be nefarious in nature at times. Here is just one example of a story I just heard while talking with a new customer over the phone.
Jeff got a demo made of his lyrics from a company in Nashville. He wasn’t that pleased with it. The company said it was under Work For Hire meaning he should own all the rights to the finished song, but they didn’t give him any actual contract to sign. About a year later he contacted Demo My Song to re-work the music. But when he contacted the first demo company, they informed him that if he wanted to use the music he had hired them to make, he would have to buy out their songwriter rights. Outrageous! They also never gave him anything more than an mp3 with his order, which leads to my next point.
Get your full quality wav files. We all love our mp3’s. That’s how we send and share music easily with each-other over email and smartphones. But what about the quality? Even the best quality mp3 (320 kilobytes per second) is a dramatically reduced file size to it’s original – the .wav file (sometimes called wave). It may or may not be all that important for you to know this, but as an audiophile myself, I can honestly tell you file type matters. CD quality audio is a .wav file recorded at 16 bit, 44.1khz. DVD audio comes in a bit higher at 24bit, 48khz. An .mp3 or .m4a is what most of listen to nowadays, and is on average a reduction in overall quality of 60% or more. Anytime you hire a song demo company to record any of your music, I strongly recommend that you require them to deliver both .wav and .mp3 files of both the instrumental and full mixes. Anything less and you are not getting what you paid for.
Stems. Stems are track-by-track wav files of every instrument/voice in the mix. Keeping a backup of stems means you can go back to revisit the mix anytime in the future. It’s especially popular for creating remixes of your songs as well. Luckily, Demo My Song archives stems for all the songs we produce. So if you have ever been a customer of ours, your songs are already fully backed up. If ever you need a copy, just send us an email and we will be glad to help.
Sheet music. You can get sheet music made anytime as long as you have the recording. However, you will want to work with a company that knows what they are doing, and this means being adept at preparing lead sheets on a moment’s notice should you need them. Demo My Song will create sheet music for an extra fee with any song order.
P.R.O. Registration. Performing Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) monitor the use of your music in public places, i.e. radio and public venues. If your song is for demo purposes only, then you don’t need to worry about registering your song with one of the three P.R.O.’s (note that writers can only belong to one P.R.O. at a time). If however, you are planning to release your music to the public, getting registered with a P.R.O. is essential to ensuring you are not leaving any of your songwriter royalty money on the table.
U.S. Copyright Registration. Not all writers choose to take this step of protection. However, it turns out to be pretty important should you ever find yourself in a position of needing to prove your copyright ownership. So if it’s a song you intend to release, and you think it’s got legs, then it’s probably worth the fee. Plus it’s kind of cool to think about your physical documents filed away somewhere in the basement of the library of congress! It cost $45 to register a song ($55 for a song with multiple writers) with the U.S. Copyright Office, or you can add copyright registration to any song order and we will do it for you!
So those are some of the main things to consider when hiring a song demo company. Luckily if you hire Demo My Song for your next music recording project, we’ve got you covered on all fronts. We’ve been making song demos since 2004. A lot has changed since then, but one thing that hasn’t changed (at least in my opinion) is that most musicians are terrible administrators! You must wear many hats to find/create success in today’s music industry. All these can become a distraction from what we really hope to accomplish as artists. All the more reason that tackling them efficiently is so important. I hope some of these insights arm you with the data you need to make your next big move!