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The Great Escape 2012: Top tips for new artists

By | Published on Thursday 10 May 2012

The Great Escape

As well as PRS For Music’s sessions, the other big strand taking place at the CMU-programmed Great Escape today focuses on the DIY approach, ie artists going it alone, either in a bid to keep more creative and commercial control over their careers, or simply to make themselves more attractive to future label partners down the line.

The first practical session in this strand will provide insights galore for new acts, and before the experts providing the advice took to the stage, CMU got some top tips from each of them.

First up, DIY artist MJ Hibbett told us: “Don’t wait around for just the right gig or release, get on with it – after all the most important part of ‘Do It Yourself’ is ‘Do It’! Get a diary and use it to plan out what you’re going to do – not just gigs, but notes to yourself to ring people, set up recordings, re-hassle people for gigs – everything”.

He added: “Don’t pay somebody else to do something if you can earn to do it yourself. Learning how to set artwork up into the correct format, for instance, is a colossal pain the first time you have to do it, but once you’ve learnt how it works you can do it forever and save yourself time and money”.

Thinking about the copyrights songwriters create, Simon Pursehouse from Sentric Music says: “As an emerging artist you’ll probably make more money from your music publishing rights than anywhere else – so ensure you’re registered with a performing rights organisation and that you’re claiming what is rightfully yours”.

As for the sync potential of those rights, Pursehouse adds: “Landing syncs isn’t easy and competition is fierce, but get a good representative in this space, and then make sure they have everything they need – WAVs, key information and correct metadata”.

In terms of selling recordings, Mark McQuillan of Brighton-based distributors Republic Of Music advises: “Believe in your product and work as hard as possible to engage your core fanbase to purchase – signed CDs, bonus discs and added value items will help. Don’t just sit back and wait for orders to come in, as it ain’t gonna happen, so be prepared to work for every sale”.

He continued: “Have strong distribution, if possible, as they can open doors into all the key first stage stores (and the best indies, iTunes and the online retailers) and listen to any advice your distributer offers regarding release strategy, release dates, formats and added value. And try not to overspend on promo costs or over budget on initial sales potential – it will leave you no options for phase two and beyond. It takes time to build a release, but small well planned steps can get you there”.

And finally, from a legal angle, Josh Little of ACUMEN told us: “Check the availability of your band name early and register a trademark. Your band is your brand so you need to protect it early on. And as much as possible, don’t enter into agreements on a handshake. They will only cause you pain later on. Oh, and copyright is free and automatic. You don’t need to register it – just able to prove when you created your work”.

So, that’s a lot of tips to be getting on with. Look out for a plethora of useful advice coming out of the Old Courtroom at The Great Escape today. We’ll document a helping of it here at