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Careers In Culture
Music and Sound Recording - What You Need to Know
Focus On Your Career
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Reach for the sky
Brave New World
Advances in technology will make life easier for people working in music and sound recording. The quality will be unsurpassed. The distribution and promotion of music to a global marketplace, through online retailing, is greatly enhanced. Electronic touring and busking will allow exposure to a wider market without the difficulties and expense of traveling. Technological advances will also mean bold new electronic collaborations worldwide, leading to artistic partnerships never before imagined. Are you interested in a career in music? Then don't get left behind. Stay informed about these new and exciting technologies.
A Little Surfing Music, Please
Now that most problems with acoustic transmission have been sorted out, original music and audio-based applications are making a big splash in cyberspace. Protection of copyright continues to be a big challenge, with international efforts being directed to developing effective models for protecting creators’ rights in the digital age. Nonetheless, the Internet is a growth area of limitless potential. Why don't you catch a wave?
So Many Entertainment Options
With more TV specialty channels, new programs will be produced, requiring singers, musicians and music composers. With the arrival of satellite radio, internet radio stations, and podcasts, demand has increased for new songs of longer duration than the traditional three-minute-maximum commercial radio play format. These days, musicians have expanded their opportunities way beyond getting paid for a live gig. Now music is used in so many places and ways – a great thing for musicians, but it means that understanding and protecting your copyright just got more important too. So stay informed while taking advantage of these new market opportunities.
Rights and Wrongs
Protecting your copyright and performance rights – your ownership of the music you create and record – has become increasingly important in the digital age. A piece of music can be recorded once and then used in myriad ways: on a CD, in a film or television soundtrack, as part of an advertising campaign for a product or an idea, as sound on a website, and in as many other ways as our multimedia environment can imagine. For example, you're paid to write a jingle for a software company. The company then uses your music on its website. Then it “samples” a clip and adopts it as the musical logo on its commercial product line. Did you give the company permission for these additional rights? As an artist, it is very important that you protect your intellectual property and that you get fairly paid for all uses of your work. You protect your rights by establishing contractual relationships. When you negotiate a contract, make sure you keep the rights to supplemental markets, even for commercial jobs such as soundtrack for a film. Make sure your contract specifies compensation for such things as CD/DVD sales, television and serialization rights, Internet use, etc. If you are not sure of future uses of a work, only include specified rights in any contract you sign, leaving negotiation of any other rights for a later date.
For help learning how to protect your copyright, check out these websites:
- Access Copyright
- Canadian Heritage’s information on copyright
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s copyright guide
- Canadian Music Publishers Association
- Creators Rights Alliance
- International Trade Canada’s Virtual Trade Commissioner
- Société de droits de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs du Québec (SODRAC)
Music biz quiz
Lifelong Learning – Sound Advice
What are you going to do to ensure that you have the necessary practical skills to survive in the fiercely competitive music business? If you're thinking seriously about a career in music and sound recording, you'll need a solid grounding in marketing and promotion, résumé-writing, auditioning, contract negotiation and copyright law. It is equally important to know when to ask for help, such as from your professional association/union. Furthermore, you will need to focus on learning about new technologies as they emerge. How will you get this knowledge? Think about enrolling in a business course or a computer class. Or start to read some of the many industry trade magazines to get as much practical advice as you can.
Reality Check: Can you guess which of the following statements about a career in music and sound recording ring true and which sound a false note?
Question 1: One hit is all it takes.
Question 2: You've got talent - you don't need anything else.
Question 3: You don't need an education.
Question 4: You can make the big bucks.
Question 5: Hey! It beats getting a real job.
Record companies are looking for artists with potential for long-term careers. They want hit acts that endure, not just hit songs.
A lot of people have talent. You need to supplement your creative skills with marketing, business and technical expertise and entrepreneurial savvy.
Education gives you skills that will help you in your music career or whatever you end up doing with your work life. Think of your education as providing options to fall back on should your dreams not work out.
There is one percent who do hit the jackpot but they are the exception - not the rule. Be prepared for a struggle.
What people don't see are the personal sacrifices, the hours of practice, the traveling and the grueling schedules. And many artists are forced to get so-called "real jobs" which they hope will pay the bills.
A Last World on Technology
New technologies are revolutionizing the creation and delivery of music but content is still the key. Songs still have to be written. Melodies and lyrics still have to be sung. Instruments still have to be played. All the sophisticated gear in the world, by itself, does not make any music. The “perfect” recording is made by competent musicians and people who know what settings to use and have the finely-tuned ears to recognize a great take. Technological advances are making things easier, but the emphasis still must remain on the traditional skills of composing, playing and singing, even as the tools change. Learn the technology. Embrace it. But remember, there’s no substitute for talent and hard work.
If all of this information seems overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. Remember that you already have a number of skills – and you may be a great musician, too – so make a plan to learn more whenever the chance presents itself and keep on getting involved in whatever music and sound recording opportunities that you can find.