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Archive for April, 2012

Music and the Copyright Topic

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

11291075025_dbb999d8a5_nThe Copyright Topic

The music should be free because artists make a fortune from their concert appearances.  Interesting concept, but it’s not how the music industry looks at the pirating issue.  Allow me to break down the analog to digital discussion and explain how the law attempts to regulate this activity.

There is a lot of music and spoken word recordings available for downloading on the Internet.  How did we arrive to this massive pirating of copyritten material? It’s because people assume that if you can download it, downloading must be ok.  Just because you can find and download a recording on the Internet does not mean it’s legal.

In The United States

There are still an artists and record companies that believe if you want another copy, you should BUY IT!  It is how they make their living!

Right now, the music industry is in turmoil.  It is so easy to infringe on the copyright that people sometimes do it every day and most are not even aware of what they did.  Listed below are a few statements found on one of the leading sites regarding this.

Examples of easy ways you could violate the law:

Somebody you don’t even know e-mails you a copy of a copyrighted song and then you turn around and e-mail copies to all of your friends.

You make an MP3 copy of a song because the CD you bought expressly permits you to do so. But then you put your MP3 copy on the Internet, using a file-sharing network, so that millions of other people can download it.

Even if you don’t illegally offer recordings to others, you join a file-sharing network and download unauthorized copies of all the copyrighted music you want for free from the computers of other network members.

You have a computer with a CD burner, which you use to burn copies of music you have downloaded onto writeable CDs for all of your friends.

When It Comes to Copying Music, What’s Okay … And What’s Not:

Technology has made digital copying easier than ever. But just because advances in technology make it possible to copy music doesn’t mean it’s legal to do so. Here are tips from some record labels on how to enjoy the music while respecting rights of others. Stick with these, and you’ll be doing right according to the people who created the music.

Internet Copying

It’s okay to download music from authorized websites of authors who are by the owners of the copyrighted music, whether or not such sites charge a fee. Tom Petty recently released a digital album for fan club members.  Paul McCartney has also released songs on his website for fan club members at no cost.

It’s never okay to download unauthorized music from pirate sites or peer-to-peer systems. Although peer-to-peer sites quickly go live, they are eventually taken down like Napster and Limewire.

It’s never okay to make unauthorized copies of music available to others (that is, uploading music) on peer-to-peer systems.

Copying CDs

It’s okay to copy music onto an analog cassette, but not for commercial purposes.

Burning a copy of a copyrighted CD onto a CD-R, or transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player, won’t usually raise concerns so long as:

The copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own.

The copy is just for your personal use.  It is not personal use, in fact, it’s illegal – to give away the copy or lend it to others for copying.

Remember, it’s never okay to sell or make commercial use of a copy that you make.

Are there occasionally exceptions to these rules? Sure. A “garage band” or unsigned artist might want you to download their own music.  They own their own music and are free to make it available legally by licensing it. Remember that there are lots of authorized sites where music can be downloaded for free.

Multiple Formats

In this digital age there is a large selection of alternate formats that you may want to use for listening to your music; Compact Disc (CD), computer, iPod…etc.  Before you send out your material to be reproduced, decide what you want to do with it in the end.  For example if you want to play it in your car or living room CD player, you need just a standard AIFF 44.1K CD.  In my opinion, this is the best sounding playback source.

To sum up this discussion, remember that illegally downloading music is not right even if everybody else does it.  Artists currently live on the royalties they make from a music composition.  Authors deserve a fair fee for their music or other intellectual property.  Most importantly, if you are ever caught with an illegal copy of a published composition, the penalty can be pretty hefty.

Picture from freedigitalphotos.net 

photo credit: Image taken from page 332 of ‘Five Years in Siam from 1891 to 1896 … With maps and illustrations by the author’ via photopin (license)

The Law and Transferring Analog Cassette Tapes to Digital

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShould you convert your cassette tapes to digital formats?  This is a great topic that includes some areas that are debated daily by a lot of people.

Is this cassette a personal recording (family conversations or gatherings, etc.)?

Is this cassette a copyrighted recording?

If it is copyrighted, are you the holder of the copyright?

Is this cassette a professional recording of copyrighted material?

Here are few considerations when converting and the legality involved.  The following information also applies to all recorded material that you wish to copy like CD’s, Cassette’s, 8 Track tapes and vinyl records.

Copyrighted Material

You have a cassette tape of your favorite 70’s band that you want to be able to play on your MP3 player.  This is a copyrighted product and law prohibits you from making a copy in any format. So the correct answer in the United States is NO: you cannot copy that recording because you do not hold the copyright.

Now as a side bar, will the record companies or the artist track you down and prosecute you?  Not likely!

In some public statements record companies have said they don’t mind when someone who has purchased a tape makes an upgraded copy for themselves.  The record companies also have stated that they don’t mind if you make a CD back up of your legally purchased CD.

Now this does hit a gray area because you have to be very careful with what you do with this conversion or backup.  For instance, if you make more then one copy and give one to a friend or even a family member, that still constitutes as distribution (even if you didn’t sell it!).  This big violation currently has a penalty of $250,000 and up to five years behind bars.  Ouch!

Personal Recordings (Non-Copyrighted)

If you have a personal cassette or some other format that you want to make a digital copy of, you can do so as long as it is not copyrighted. In today’s world it is not very hard to do.  You can contact just about any recording studio and they can convert it for you, or you can acquire the tools and do it yourself.

You can look online and find production companies, transfer houses or recording studios that specialize in analog to digital transfer.

You may have the ability with your own computer to do it yourself.  Computers come with a basic audio program that will record audio and burn to CD or save as MP3 files. You can also go online and find free software programs and free trials that do this.

One of the differences between having it done by a professional house and doing it yourself is that the professional has trained audio engineers who can remove tape hiss and add noise reduction professionally to restore the sound to today’s standards.  Tape hiss is the steady airy type sound that you can hear in between songs or during pauses on the tape.


Professionals also will make sure that the levels meet the industry standard and the sound is restored professionally.  Pros have the tools to do it right and they know how to use those tools.  So if you would like your analog to digital recording to sound the best, look for a pro to help.  If it is just for you and you don’t mind spending the time, go ahead and do it yourself.

In the end, you can make a copy of an analog tape as long as the copy is for personal use and the law does not prohibit you from making a copy.  You can also copy your own material.  Use audio software or take advantage of professional services to restore the sound when transferring your analog tape to a digital format.

Product Ideas and Managing the Creative Process

Friday, April 20th, 2012

366216477_615c380b52_nThere are many different types of product you could create. If you are a professional speaker, you might want to create an audio series. Motivational or instructional audio programs are just two categories among many. How about something industry-specific that could better position you as an expert? Perhaps even get your clients involved in the production by interviewing them. I have had much success over the years conducting interviews as a method of discovering potential product content. Interview programs make good products. How about an audio business card or audio newsletter? Audio business cards have been very successful for marketing in the financial planning and insurance industries.

Lots of ways to create opportunity.

Audio newsletters have proven themselves over time. You could produce a different one for each of your industries. You can be very productive in the use of live video footage. First, you could lift clips out of the footage already shot to make a video brochure (if you’re in the speaking business) or a video sampler (if you are in music or comedy). Secondly, you could produce a full-length product by adding open and closing graphics and music. Lastly, you could lift the audio track off the video and create a separate or companion audio product.

Do what works.

In the training industry, it’s good to have a video. It is even better to complement it with an audio version to reinforce the material. In the speaking business, you can increase your bookings by accommodating your prospects with an audio of your video brochure. Accommodating your audience with a choice of mediums gives them every opportunity to take advantage of your message.

How about an interactive CD-ROM product?

A CD-ROM (or ECD) lets you do it all. You can put audio that will play anywhere (a car, computer or CD player), video and printed materials that are easy to access from a computer. A professional speaker, Connie Podesta, was one of the first professional speakers to put their video brochure on business card CD-ROM. She told me about an experience she had where this mini-CD got her a gig. She was flying in first-class when she got involved in a conversation with her seatmate. He asked what she did. Instead of just telling him, she pulled out a mini CD-ROM and gave it to him to play in his laptop. He was blown away. The gentleman ended up booking her for an upcoming conference.

Get advice from your audio/video professional.

Ask the audio/video professional with whom you have teamed up to help you figure out what will work best for you. How about a video if you are a musician or comedian? Is your material good enough to sell? You could hire a 2-camera crew for around $1,500 to $2,000. Add some titling and graphics and, voila, there’s your product.

Plan for success.

You can save yourself a lot of time and money, and avoid potential mistakes, by doing one thing: design a plan of execution. I have included sample questionnaires (see appendix) for you to use to help you design a business plan for your production. A business plan gives you the vision of the “preferred future,” as my friend Chuck Cote would say.

It allows you to begin with a clear idea of where you want to end up. It can include a budget, timeline and list of players or your production’s cast of characters, the “dream team.” If you are a musician, the dream team would consist of the musicians you want to play on the project. The questionnaires are to be used to help you focus when interviewing your prospective production professional or production company. They will also trigger other ideas and questions applicable to your production.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

photo credit: Potsdamer Platz via photopin (license)

Are You Ready to Create a Product?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Calgary Corporate Video Production CompanyFirst, let me say, if you are a performer, one way or another, you need a product. If you do not want to work full-time for the rest of your life you need a product. If you want to be the best at what you do then you need a product.

Now to see if you’re ready, ask yourself these questions:

1. Would you like additional bookings?

2. Do you believe that you have a message or song worth sharing with the world?

3. Do you want supplemental income?

4. Do you believe you are at your best performance level ever?

5. Do people come up to you after your performance and ask if you have a product available for purchase?

6. Would you like to be better positioned as an expert at your craft?

7. Do you wish to leave a legacy in your area of expertise?

8. Are you in a financial position to invest in product development?

9. Could your product benefit those who purchase it?

10. Are you willing to offer a money-back guarantee to anyone who purchases your product and is not satisfied?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you are ready to create a product. If you answered no to any of them, then you need to go back and determine what needs to be changed or improved in order for you to be ready.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

Five Benefits of Selling Your Product

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

moneyYour products are a passive marketing tool for you; another way of marketing your performance when you are not there. Think about it like this: someone sees your show and enjoys it enough to buy your video or audio product. They take it home and share with their family, friends and co-workers. If they are trying to share your lessons on sales or time management, then your product becomes a vehicle for repetitive instruction. By offering a product, you raise your potential for incremental growth, in terms of income and your “brand” awareness.

Think of it as a secondary marketing campaign.

Nothing will work harder for you to build public awareness. Bands that make audio or videotaped product have a better potential for getting booked than the bands that have no product.

Some of my favorite music is by the Beatles. I have rewound those tapes a few thousand times, just like my favorite motivational tapes by Napoleon Hill, Your Right to be Rich, which contains excerpts from a lecture based on his book Think and Grow Rich. Those tapes have served me well by being so accommodating as a teacher. They allowed me to learn at my own speed.

I produced several videos for Professional Humor Being Steve Rizzo, which, to this day, are some of my best productions. They are about thirty minutes long and their main purpose was to get Steve more speaking engagements. It’s so good; people take it home to show their families. We heard about one lady who booked Steve because of the video, and took it to a family reunion! Do you think he gets great additional visibility as a result of this secondary market?

You can take it to the bank.

Your product will provide you with additional income stream for years to come. Once the initial production costs are amortized and recouped, then that product goes on to earn you passive income for years. In the music business, royalty checks are a sight for sore eyes to the artist that has not had a gig in ages. In the speaking and training business, catalogs are a great vehicle for moving product. Websites are another. After the live engagement, your product gives you the opportunity to walk away from the gig with extra cash in your pocket.

An investment in your posterity.

Think of the future benefits of having a product. This production will be around long after you’re retired from the business. Your product is your legacy! Throughout your career, your live performances will always be limited by the number of seats in your venue, and the number of minutes in your day. You can only reach so many people, no matter how packed your schedule may be.

But, through a video or CD, your venue is suddenly timeless and limitless. Products rip away any barriers to your ability to touch others. You could perform for thousands of people throughout the course of your performing years.

Take your art to a higher place.

Going through the recording and production process will also help you become a better performer. Similarly, in the music world, a singer in a studio working on a song experiences the same benefits of growth. They may have come to the studio with an idea or concept of how a song comes together but it’s the studio environment and the recording process that helps them develop it.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

Why Do You Want a Product, Anyway?

Friday, April 6th, 2012

3835564701_31f53d70bb_nThree important reasons to want a product: 1) to earn extra income, 2) self-promotion, and 3) to create higher perceived-value, based on your level of experience or expertise.

It’s a fact that experts earn more than novices do! Not just on product sales but on higher performance fees. Webster defines an expert as one who has knowledge or great skill; especially skilled or learned; an authority. Professionals with great knowledge and skill earn more income and recognition. A good product line, with a book, and video or audio products will go a long way to establish your authority in program offerings.

By offering a product, you also show your commitment to your particular area of expertise. Your belief in what you say comes through more energetically, with more passion. By creating a product, you’re saying to your audience this is important, vital information — important enough to put your blood, sweat and tears (and money!) into it.

Do you think the Beatles would have been as big as they were without products to sell? To illustrate my point, let’s review the Beatles product line: Fan club mailings, fan club records, stamps, magazines, school binders, lunch boxes, comic books, plastic guitars, wigs, several different dolls, bubblegum cards — and much more, but you see the point.

Next time you’re in downtown Chicago, check out the Hard Rock Cafe. They have a great display of what I consider to be one of the best marketing-driven product lines ever. Do you think Tony Robbins would be where he is today without products? Bill Cosby’s speedy rise to the top had a lot to do with the comedy record albums he made.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

photo credit: The Gherkin via photopin (license)

The Production Budget: Your Return on Investment

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

THE BUDGET: Getting all your bucks in a row.

935756569_18aac96892_nBefore beginning your production you should consider the entire cost of production so you can plan accordingly. There is nothing sadder than a project that has run out of money. And you’ll want to budget your time too. Let’s look at a sample budget and amortization schedule for a single audio-CD.



Recording digital 2-track: 6 hours @ $95/hour……………………………………… $570

Load recording into computer for editing: 6 hours @ $100/hour ……………….. 600

Editing for content and formatting: 24 hours @ $100/ hour …………………… 2,400

Record introduction, professional announcer: 1⁄2 hour @ $100/hour …………. 50

Professional announcer fee:…………………………………………………………………… 100

Mix announcer, music for intro and ending: 1 hour @ $100/ hour……………… 100


SUBTOTAL: ……………………………………………………………………………………… $75

DUPLICATION/REPLICATION ……………………………………………………… 3,895

(300) CDs replicated @ $1.75 each: ……………………………………………………… 525

4-color computer generated labels @ $.25 each:

SUBTOTAL:…………………………………………………………………. 75

PACKAGING: …………………………………………………………….. 600

Cover design: …………………………………………………………….. 350

Printing:……………………………………………………………………… 50

Insert art into covers — (300) units @ $.15 each: ……………………… 5

Shrink-wrap (300) units @ $.25 each:

SUBTOTAL: ……………………………………………………………………………………… 75

SUB TOTAL:………………………………………………………………………………….. $1,120

GRAND TOTAL:…………………………………………………………………………… $5,615


Now, using the previous example, if you sell all 300 units at $16 each, for example, you will gross $4,800. Do you want to amortize the entire cost of studio production over only 300 units? If so, you’ll come short of breaking even at the retail price at $16 each. Adjust the numbers until you end up where you want to be. Maybe you need to cut your production costs a little? If you lower your entire production cost below $4,800, keep your retail-selling price at $16 each, then all units you sell after the first 300 will have a higher profit margin because your production costs have already been recouped in the initial 300 units produced.

Shop the country for the right style and price.

In different metropolitan markets, prices will vary for the various services, production styles, and recording and production techniques as well as resources (for cover artwork design). In my opinion, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has the coolest studio rhythm sections in this country, as well as scenery.

Muscle Shoals has its own regional style of production just as do studios in L.A., New York or my hometown of Detroit. This uniqueness will result in a unique budget.

If you have a producer, they will supervise the recording process and keep the project in budget. If you’re acting as producer, try to meet with the production staff, recording engineer or whomever you are working with prior to the billed session, so you can discover their style and plan your budget accordingly. Evaluate them based on their experience with products similar to yours; ask how they did it and how much that project cost. They might even help you develop your budget. It’s in your best interest to go with the flow of the studio or production facility for your project. You’ll pay less in the long run than if you try to design a new process just for your project.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

photo credit: George is Keeping an Eye On You! via photopin (license)

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