Tag Archives: musician

Making a PPL claim

pukingAs a musician, I lack the ‘admin chromosome’.  This means that doing things like accounts, paperwork and form-filling makes me ill.

So doing a PPL claim is not top of the list of fun things to do on a Monday night.  But if you have played on a commercial recording, you should be registered, to receive royalties.  With the help of this video, I’m asking you to feel the fear, grab a bucket, and do it anyway.

PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) collects royalties on behalf of musicians who have played on recordings that are broadcast on TV and Radio.  It’s not a lot, but if the track is popular then it can build up to a significant sum.

Sometimes, your contribution to a recording is registered with PPL by the record label, more often, you have to do it yourself and the PPL website, in my experience, is not the most user-friendly experience, until you have navigated its quirky features.

This video takes you through the steps of a claim, in a way that I believe works!  If I have made any errors or omissions (as I was vomiting whilst making this, obviously) please comment here.  To see the vid in better detail, watch full-screen on the Vimeo page.

Expose Yourself!

You probably don’t even stop to think about it, but if you are a musician and you write online (blogs, forums, social networks), you are topping up the vast library of learning resources by exposing your methods.

Communities share knowledge, and by reading, discussing, analysing and mashing-up this knowledge, we learn.  Do you feel you give knowledge, or take it?  Don’t answer that, because the response is most likely both!

But if we are happy to take knowledge from the web, do we have a responsibility to give as well?  We know that technology has changed the way we work and learn and communicate, but maybe it’s changed society too, and with it, social responsibility –  a responsibility to contribute to knowledge, to share ideas that will in turn help others to learn.

What can you tell others about your professional practice?   Just informal stuff, personal to your way of working, perhaps to do with workflow, or creativity, or musical language, or technology; we all have specialisms or unique takes on the business of making music.  There are some great examples at SCOREcastonline, but sharing knowledge isn’t  restricted to seasoned professionals; whatever stage in your professional experience you may have reached, you will have something to share.  And equally, we all have something new to learn.

In the big world of formal education they are trying to understand how all this informal stuff fits in.  What is the role of teachers, now that we can manage our own learning on the web?  Why should we freely share our knowledge and skills online?

I put this last question to David Kernohan, a programme manager for the eLearning Team at JISC, the UK’s leading organisation promoting technology for learning.

“As well as exposing the quality of our own practice, we are offering a model of that practice to others just starting out in the field. Does this mean giving away the secrets of that one amazing guitar lick that means you always get booked? – well eventually someone is going to copy it anyway. And why not come up with something else? Licks don’t stay fresh forever. But your practice regime, how you approach auditions and interviews, how you *get* auditions and interviews – why not share this? Or a couple of short samples of your work. If someone uses a (cc-licensed) drum fill in a production then (1) you get a credit for work that you wouldn’t otherwise have got, which means (2) you get your name under the noses of people who wouldn’t otherwise see it.”

David is active in promoting the work of the OER (Open Educational Resources) community and this quote is published under a CC-BY license.

So go on, expose yourself.  You’ll get something from the experience and you’ll be fulfilling a little C21 social responsibility.  Here are some  music blogs that expose professional practice:

Ken Lewis (music producer, NY NY)

Tim Prebble (sound designer and editor, Wellington, New Zealand)

James Semple (composer, London, England)

Ian Shepherd (mastering engineer and producer, London, England)

A musician’s online identity

A musician’s online identity. It’s good to talk.

Read it or listen to it.

Getting work as a freelancer in the music business is a lifelong challenge! I don’t want to tempt fate here, but it never ceases to amaze me that I keep working (touch wood) in this dysfuntional but strangely inter-connected community. In the (bad) old days, networking and socialising had to be physical. Your contacts grew in studios, cafes, bars, over the telephone, and the maxim that if you were working, you kept working was very true – if your face was ‘in’ then you generally kept getting more work. If you disappeared off the radar, then people quickly forgot about you.

Undoubtedly, that sort of personal contact still counts for much. My credits page has turned into a record of my job sheet per quarter and well over half of those sources of work this year come from people I have known a long time, or via that other catalyst for employment, personal recommendation. But I’ve tried to increase my chances of connecting with people who want to work with me, by having an identity online.

I’ve approached this in a couple of ways. Straightforward, in your face advertising and the more gentle, human approach of talking through self-publishing. For advertising, I’m using google adwords and spending about a pound a day for those sponsored links that come up with a google search. I’m on a couple of virtual musician sites too – screenedmusic.co.uk and esession.com. Screen Music has a modest subscription charge and is aimed at media composers, while esession takes a fee from the producer who wants to hire you and seems to be more of a songwriters community. I’m new to both so I can’t offer any more advice from experience on these yet!

My website is also an advert but it crosses over into the other side of promoting yourself – socialising, or simply talking, having your say, self-publishing. When you express yourself you are not only saying something specific, you are projecting your identity. And, warts and all, that’s what I’m doing here. I’m expressing opinions, I’m relating experiences, I’m demonstrating that I have a keen interest in working in music, and hopefully building an identity that suggests I’m competent. My list of credits show I can do the job I say I can, but it’s my identity that should show I’m OK to work with.

Expressing myself is only half of a conversation. I’m not a prolific blogger and I only get a smattering of comments on my blog; but I respond to other bloggers, or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and some other social sites like composers forum, and I publish videos on subjects that interest me on YouTube and blip.tv. This isn’t about saying ‘gimme a job’ it’s just simply joining in the music business conversations because it’s good to talk. And a by product is that I have a kind of professional-cum-personal identity online.

I don’t pretend I’m doing the self-publishing thing fantastically well, but here are a few of the music blogs I respect – great examples of online identities in the music business.

Ian Shepherd
Adrian Ellis
Tim Prebble
Ken Lewis
Sentric Music