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IndieFlow Interview Groover – Result Driven Music Promotion Platform

IndieFlow met with Groover founder Dorian Perron for a conversation on the founding of Groover, result driven promotions for artists & music-tech startups.

Are you able to give us the story behind the founding of Groover? What inspired you guys to build a music-tech company? 

Of course! I started as an indie music blogger in 2013, sharing music that I liked and thought didn’t receive the attention it deserved. I also organized live acoustic sessions at my place and live shows in Paris with indie rock & pop musicians such as Asgeir, Pete Yorn, Plants and Animals etc. It was the coolest hobby in the world. Then I met with my co-founders Romain & Rafaël in UC Berkeley in 2018, they had music projects and had struggled with getting their new tracks heard from blogs, radios, record labels etc. On my side, even though my blog Indeflagration was quite small, I was receiving over 100 requests per day from artists wanting to get their music featured!

What was already certain is that we wanted to help independent artists. We knew they encountered many obstacles and wanted to do everything at once. But we started by taking phone calls with more than 200 musicians and music industry professionals during an entire month, and we understood that the most major issue they were facing was related to the nightmare they were experiencing to promote their music. They were mentioning how tough it was to have other people than their mom, their friends and their dogs listening to their music… 

It was not complicated to realize that artists needed help in order to stand out from the crowd when supposedly 80,000 new tracks are released each day on Spotify. We realized that the biggest bottleneck exists after the track is created, recorded, mixed. The barriers to production and distribution are already brought down thanks to production software such as ProTools and Ableton, streaming platforms and online distributors. 

Our goal from the start has been to help artists emerge through influential channels such as blogs, radios, playlist curators, starting with ensuring that their music would be listened to and that they’d receive feedback on it. To help them break this wall of the first listening that could change things, and sometimes change everything. That’s why we created Groover. Today, with over 100k artists using Groover and over 1.5 million pieces of feedback and counting, our mission is on the right track.

Groover Team Img
As a company started in Europe do you see yourself as approaching a specific market in the music industry or genre in the music industry? What kind of perspective and insight do you feel that starting in Europe has given you guys on the music industry and contributed to the success of the company?  

Interesting questions! We started working on Groover in California but we had the idea of servicing France from the start. It’s where we had our early network and where we had interviewed most of the artists that made us realize how game changer a localized music promotion service could be. So we focused on France first and on building a community of blogs, radios, record labels there, then on bringing artists to the party.

We’ve kept on using the same method to expand. We indeed develop Groover with a country by country approach, building real communities of curators and artists and bringing them together in cities and countries in which we’re present, such as Paris, NYC, Milan, Quebec (Canada), Brazil and more. We also organize shows – more than 50 already – and free call for applicants on Groover to offer more opportunities to emerging artists to showcase their projects and talents. 

Groover is now very international, with over 70% of our activity happening outside of France and artists from 120 different countries who have used the service. What’s interesting is that our fastest-growing country is the United States, while we initially thought it would be super complicated to grow there.

What we understood from our user research is that people in the US value a lot the fact that Groover is international, that it’s the only platform that can help them try to export their music in new markets such as France, Italy, Brazil etc. 

I think our relative success comes from that: having built strong localized communities in multiple locations, which trigger international network effects and attractiveness for artists all around the world 🙂

How does Groover differentiate itself from other similar services?

Everything lies in “similar” 😉 There are indeed many services which try to address the issue of helping artists get their music heard, but not many which do it with as much effort and/or with the same model as Groover. Our main differences lie in:

  • Our business model: artists send their track to music curators for €2 by contact selected (so approx. €60 for 30 curators for instance), the curators are paid €1 by piece of feedback given whatever their decision is, so they keep their editorial independence. We control the quality of feedback on a daily basis. If the curators haven’t listened to their track after 7 days, artists get Grooviz (our tokens) back to get in touch with new curators. So there’s really a guarantee that the curators contacted will listen to your music.
  • As I was mentioning earlier, we develop Groover with a country by country approach, building real communities of curators and artists and bringing them together in cities and countries in which we’re present around the world. We also organize gigs and free call for applicants on Groover to offer more opportunities to emerging artists to showcase their talents.
  • We focus on bringing high quality curators, real people of the music industry who are engaged locally
  • We focus a lot of energy on the user experiencein order for artists to promote their music easily and efficiently
  • Our customer service is probably one of the best in music since the very beginning, we answer super quickly and put a lot of effort into solving problems entirely, even bringing more value to the artists. Our customer service satisfaction rate is at 99% and we have no intention of allowing for it to decrease 😉
Groover Dashboard Img
Who are some of your favorite artists on the Groover platform?

There’s nothing more satisfying than witnessing artists who’ve been using Groover from the start getting amazing results, making life changing encounters, building their team through the platform… And killing it on stage! 

The artists that are part of our accelerator Groover Obsessions are particularly dear to me as it was a dream to be able to help artists boost their careers even further. The 50 artists & bands who are part of it are family now, and we have a team of 5 working every day on pushing them to where they deserve to be. 

If I had to mention just a few of those I’m the most “obsessed” with currently, I’d talk about Faux Real, Alvin Chris, Silk Skin Lovers, Mathieu Saïkaly, L.Teez – he’s so good on stage! -, Metò, Morena, thaïs, Magon – the very first Obsessions artist – and Nedelko. You can check them out in our Spotify playlist. That’s 10 out of 50, but please don’t ask me to limit this favorites list even more 🙏

How do you see Groover developing and growing in the next couple of years? 

Currently, we have over 100k artists and over 1,700 curators and professionals on Groover – and that number is growing every single day! Long may that continue because we feel we’re on the right path.

From a company perspective, our team is growing consistently. Alongside our HQ in Paris, we now have an office in Brooklyn NY and team members in the UK, Brazil, Italy and elsewhere.

To be more precise, we have 3 main strategic priorities:

  • Growing internationally. Groover started in France but over 75% of our activity takes place abroad now, especially in the US, Canada, Italy, the UK, the rest of Europe, Brazil etc. We’re growing our community of curators in every market and artists from more than 120 different countries have already used Groover
  • Improving the experience for artists for their first campaign but also their subsequent ones, especially by improving the artist dashboard with new features and a better experience. We expect that artists will be able to get the most out of their feedback, to better interact with curators, to get meaningful advice to accelerate their career and analyze their results better in order to send more relevant promotion campaigns afterwards
  • Developing Groover Obsessions, our artist accelerator: we select the best performing artists on Groover and bring them more services tailored to their projects in order for them to grow their visibility, connections and career in the right way. We already support over 60 artists from France, Canada, the UK, the US, Brazil and intend to support many more before the end of 2022.

On top of those priorities, we spend some time exploring new growth opportunities for artists, e.g. addressing Instagram/TikTok influencers and adapting the service in a more detailed way to each kind of curators.

Want to try Groover out? IndieFlow users can now enjoy a 10% discount. Sign up on Groover and use the code INDIEFLOWGROOVERVIP [more explanations on how to apply the special discount here].

Follow Groover on Instagram and Spotify.

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Backstage with: Jair

BACKSTAGE WITH: JAIR | JAIR MUSIC on SPOTIFY | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Your bio says that you’ve been making music since the age of 7 – that’s crazy impressive. What was it that got you inspired at such a young age?

A lot of my family & friends for real. Also around that age, there were a lot of video games & movies dropping with fire soundtracks that you had to know being in the mix. I would be rapping these songs back with my own little twist & the reactions people would give me inspired me a lot.

You’ve been putting out new music week for over 30 weeks, wow! How are you able to do it? Tell us a little bit about that process and the challenges you’ve faced.

Yes! First & foremost I’m rocking with a super producer that’s delivering heat nonstop, a supportive team, & staying focused.

I’m forever writing or recording so preparation for sure keeps things afloat. One challenge I would always have to hurtle was last minute uploading! That itself delayed a few releases from specific platforms.

Jair Magazine Article
What do you want people to know about you as an artist?

I want people to know that I’m for sure going to ride any record they hear me on. Whether it’s a R&B , pop, dance/hall track I want people to already know JAIR is about to come with some fire.

What song do you currently have on repeat?

Damage by H.E.R. 

What’s the best advice you would give yourself if you were just starting out your career today?

If I were just starting out today, I’d tell myself “Know when & how to block out what’s not for you”.

What can we expect from Jair in 5 years? Where do you hope to see yourself?

In 5 years you can expect some international shows, tours, even some partnerships with some popular brands. I can see myself investing time & energy into other entertainment avenues such as acting or gaming but more so a symbol of a change & hope in my community.

Jair IndieFlow Magazine Article
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Managing Your Social Media – 7 Post Ideas for Independent Musicians

Social media is the ultimate source to leverage followers and keep them in the know. Staying consistent with post frequency, quality and engaging content is key to build and grow your audience. However, coming up with new posts over and over again can be daunting and stressful. 

Most artists feel that the responsibility of creating engaging content on a regular basis and becoming a one-person production company does is not a skill they naturally have. 

Things don’t necessarily have to be that complicated! Simplicity is key when it comes to social media, and as you probably noticed, there is not one secret sauce to make fans magically come running to your door. You will eventually find your authentic voice. 

In the meantime, here are a few themes to help you step up your game:

The Making Of (Exposing Your Followers to the Creative Process)

The process of songwriting, producing, mixing and marketing is always intriguing! 

Especially if you have some good footage, captures from the studio, other talents who participated in the process and so forth. Sharing your creative process to your audience and fans makes exposes the story behind the song and spotlights the building blocks, motives, ideas behind the song. This additional exposure to your audience deepens the connection between the creator and fans.

When creating Making Of content for social media make sure to save your videos, photography and behind the scenes footage for marketing material!  Some ideas for useful Making Of content can be: videos of vocal recording sessions, raw takes of just you playing the song in a natural environment, sharing footage or the story of the inspiration behind the track.

Post a Lyric Video

Not every song needs to have a fully produced video clip. 

There are literally hundreds of websites out there with royalty free videos like: pexels.com, pixabay.com where you can use a few cool atmospheric videos for your track. 

Import the video into a movie editor software like i-Movie or Lightworks to add your lyrics. As a stand alone post it may not be the fastest post content you will create, but it could be an engaging, eye-capturing way for fans to interact with your music and also serve as content for your YouTube channel or other video outlets.

Share Nostalgic Styled or Throw Back Posts

Do you have any embarrassing moments from your childhood? A picture of you playing at your first concert? Post it! 

People love seeing older photos of others. It’s not only a way to reveal another part of yourself or your background, but also can be a humoristic, nostalgic moment which is always easy to connect with.

Cover A Favorite Song or Artist

Cover songs have quite a few advantages. It really depends on how far you want to take this. Anywhere from simple guitar covers shot from your phone to a multi instrumental studio session.

Share a Playlists of Influential Music

Creating playlists and sharing with your fans is a cool giveaway as well as another nice way to create a deeper connection with your fans. People who appreciate the same artists have something in common.

Build Up Posts and Teasers of Upcoming Releases

Pretty much a no brainer. This comes naturally to most artists. You’re probably super excited about your next release, whether it is a song , an album, a video, a vinyl, new merch. Anything new is exciting! And anything new gives reasons to start a conversation. 

Leverage this excitement and use it strategically by creating cool offers for early adopters. You can do a pre-save campaign for an upcoming track release, or start teasing with images of your new cool merch thats cooking, while creating discounted offers for whoever order in advance. 

You don’t have to think transactional necessarily. This can be simple excitement about an announcement of a new gig date you closed. The point here is don’t just wait for the announcement of a new event. Build up towards the day of announcement and be generous with your fans.

Collaborations with Similar Artists

Do some research and find a few artists to collaborate with. 

Collaborations on social media go way beyond just posting and  the beautiful thing about it is that you’re expanding your music network – which is the number one thing you need to focus on if you’re building a music career. 

There are endless ways to collaborate with musicians around you: You can produce a track with someone, do simple covers to each others songs, perform together, do a webinar on a mutual interest you both have and so much more. 

Whats nice about music is that when it comes to fans, you’re not necessarily in competition. On the contrary, if a fan loves your music, and a collaborator makes music in the same genre or style the fan will be happy to discover the collaborator through you. 

A collaborator’s strategy won’t only give you something to post about, it will help you grow and reach new fans.

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Backstage with: Sokamba

BACKSTAGE WITH: SOKAMBA | SOKAMBA MUSIC on SPOTIFY | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

What is Sokamba? How long did it take to make this project happen?

The Los Angeles based Sokamba Collective has been facilitating cross-media creation since its inception in 2012. Sokamba is made up of a diverse group of artists including dancers, acrobats, actors, musicians, visual artists, animators, cinematographers, educators and software engineers.

With collaboration and connection at our core, we produce multimedia art shows, educational workshops, and performing arts classes with the mission of fostering community, igniting social-emotional reflection, and creating space for growth, healing, and transformation.

We believe in using thoughtful creation to push boundaries, start conversations, and incite the shifts we hope to see in our social systems, politics, and interactions – utilizing the power of imagination individually and collectively to transform and revive our communities.

The show ‘Petrichor’ was an idea seed dating back to ~2015 – we had finished up our show ‘Thereafter,’ and were looking to take our shows to a new kind of canvas and community space. This led us to collaborate with the Vortex Dome in Los Angeles – an amazing group of individuals! We traded contacts and began planning the ‘how,’ as early as 2016.

How did this vision come to life? Which parts of it were planned and which parts of it just happened by accident?

Between 2016-17 we had a number of USC graduations in our collective so things were a bit busy, but we were able to begin the process of doing a demo show to test out some concepts, with the dome, alongside some one-off shows with the World Art Day organization, and a few performances at LA Artwalk (this is just stuff I was a part of – I know there are more experiences, including a collab with the Summit organization!). 

We were able to become artists-in-residence, with many Sokamba dancers and visual artists contributing efforts to the Dome’s other programming. We finally found the right moment in 2018; around April, after a few months of ‘almosts,’ and some preliminary fundraising rounds, things finally get set in motion! 

We had about 2 months by  to create the entire show from scratch, market it, continue to raise funding, and perform it. Let’s just say there have been months where we got a bit more sleep than that particular spell of time…

Sokamba Black White Image
What is Sokamba? How long did it take to make this project happen?

The Los Angeles based Sokamba Collective has been facilitating cross-media creation since its inception in 2012. Sokamba is made up of a diverse group of artists including dancers, acrobats, actors, musicians, visual artists, animators, cinematographers, educators and software engineers.

With collaboration and connection at our core, we produce multimedia art shows, educational workshops, and performing arts classes with the mission of fostering community, igniting social-emotional reflection, and creating space for growth, healing, and transformation.

We believe in using thoughtful creation to push boundaries, start conversations, and incite the shifts we hope to see in our social systems, politics, and interactions – utilizing the power of imagination individually and collectively to transform and revive our communities.

The show ‘Petrichor’ was an idea seed dating back to ~2015 – we had finished up our show ‘Thereafter,’ and were looking to take our shows to a new kind of canvas and community space. This led us to collaborate with the Vortex Dome in Los Angeles – an amazing group of individuals! We traded contacts and began planning the ‘how,’ as early as 2016.

How did this vision come to life? Which parts of it were planned and which parts of it just happened by accident?

Between 2016-17 we had a number of USC graduations in our collective so things were a bit busy, but we were able to begin the process of doing a demo show to test out some concepts, with the dome, alongside some one-off shows with the World Art Day organization, and a few performances at LA Artwalk (this is just stuff I was a part of – I know there are more experiences, including a collab with the Summit organization!). 

We were able to become artists-in-residence, with many Sokamba dancers and visual artists contributing efforts to the Dome’s other programming. We finally found the right moment in 2018; around April, after a few months of ‘almosts,’ and some preliminary fundraising rounds, things finally get set in motion! 

We had about 2 months by  to create the entire show from scratch, market it, continue to raise funding, and perform it. Let’s just say there have been months where we got a bit more sleep than that particular spell of time…

What were your main challenges in bringing this immersive experience to life?

There was so much we wanted to do – finding our limits was pretty difficult because our dreams are sometimes too big for a budget! 

Interactive animation and dance’s intersection is something we would’ve liked to explore in more detail, alongside having more time for animation, and pre- + post-show activities. There were some talks of sculpture. 

I can’t imagine that Rissi (our director) ever slept. She was coordinating everybody from a directorial standpoint and that is a monumental effort alongside a full time job. Communicating among the music team proved difficult as well – wish we’d had IndieFlow then! Also despite my best efforts, nobody artistic will seemingly ever stay on Slack for more than a week at best. 

I should also shoutout the intention to perform the whole show live, rather than using tracks, and also to mix that live show for spatial audio. That unfortunately was something we ran out of time for, although composer Casey Astorino (better known for her solo project ASTRINA) was absolutely instrumental in helping us translate some of the elements to the live stage.

How did you guys assemble so many people to be a part of this project?

That’s a credit to Rissi, Stevie, and those who built the Sokamba universe from the get-go. Everybody here is such a fire performer that the connections people have created are unreal, and not only that but they’re all people that love to nurture connections as opposed to ‘name-drop.’ USC’s music program also played a role in helping all of us come together, as did the Downtown LA Capoeira center, Downtown Dance, to name a few key places.

The Sokamba experience entitles various art formats. Animation, dance, sound design, and composition being the leading parts. How is a composition born and what happens afterwards? Describe the artistic process of getting to that final result?

While I can’t speak exactly to the process that led Rissi to create the unifying show vision – within that, we had broad categories. Some of the song names were actually simply the names of the original prompt we were given as a jumping off point, including the first few tracks, ‘Union, Seed & Womb, Breath, etc.’ That really helped us, though – a unifying vision.

Sound is the first developed sense, but movement comes naturally to many Sokambas – we initially split up the music composer team into individuals and pairs to each create from a prompt, and there would usually be dialog with the dance choreographer who was paired with the same prompt about the vibe of a piece.

Once a ~V3 was completed musically, dance would begin choreographing. Jamie Lew, the in-house animation genius, did most of the animation at the last step. We generally approach the music like ‘indie rock / electronic music’ – not as ‘film-score music bed,’ and any sound design linked to choreography is included as a sound within a ‘song.’

Many different artists and composers have joined forces to make this thing happen and it also sounds like there’s a lot of artistic freedom throughout the whole album. Did you use some sort of creative guideline to make sure all music pieces stay aligned?

Justin Bell came in to help me out as I was getting swamped trying to both music direct and help out on the interactive tech side, and he ended up saving the day, and he became the co-music director (but basically did all the intelligent organization + helped me ground ideas into reality (love you Justin!)).

Initially it was mostly about the choreographers catching a vibe from the music. Justin or I would help step in to make sure that pieces could flow together – we rearranged the order here and there, created an ‘intensity map’ and an ‘abstract to organic’ spectrum for the music and that helped us maintain a sense of flow across the pieces.

What are the goals for Sokamba down the line? Where do you wish to see yourselves 5 years from today?

I’m going to quote our mission statement first: 

With collaboration and connection at our core, we produce multimedia art shows, educational workshops, and performing arts classes with the mission of fostering community, igniting social-emotional reflection, and creating space for growth, healing, and transformation.

What could this all look like manifested? A Sokamba Center in Los Angeles, where education, free artistic practices, community-building, and performances can take place side by side, alongside a growing worldwide network of collaborators and amazing humans engaging in a beautifully flowing community.

Additionally, I imagine we’d love to keep pushing the boundaries within our individual artistic mediums and embracing new technologies that allow us to further facilitate community, as they come! You’ll also likely see further crossover with environmental and social activism efforts.

We love seeing independent projects like these and wanted to know what are your 3-4 main takeaways from the experience? What tips would you give someone who also tries to do something like this?

Concept is key! Unified concept is key.

Pitch decks and organizational frameworks for these kinds of shows should be developed early, well in advance.

Work with your sponsors to figure out when is best to reach out to them in a way that’s win-win as far as funding.

Don’t try to boil the ocean! Know your limits going in and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions along the way.
Communicate well! Communicate well! Communicate well! Meditate!

Tell us about the Dome experience and how did Covid affect your plans?

Thankfully we were able to perform the show in 2018, but the soundtrack album’s release was significantly delayed by a combination of incorrect metadata translation between myself and our original distributors (this was my first proper music distribution effort for an LP – I recommend starting slightly smaller if the pressure is on!), and then COVID hit and basically we got stuck in many inboxes forever, waiting to hear back from Apple Music about why something labeled ‘deluxe’ was considered erroneous, for example. 

All these little types of miscommunications that come down to nitpicky details that are specific to each streaming platform, basically stalled the distribution process in a very frustrating way. Multiply that by the COVID pandemic and nobody had the patience to handle this project without the extra nudge from the distributor (that is where IndieFlow came in & saved the day!). 

COVID also caused us to move our school programming to a virtual setting for now.

What is the Sokamba school?

Sokamba believes a healthy community is rooted in nurturing the full depth of our creative senses. We guide participants in learning artistic skills while reflecting collectively on social-emotional experiences. Through each course participants develop a creative project rooted in their personal story. Right now, we offer Virtual Dance, Music, Storytelling & Visual Art Courses!

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Backstage with: Kooma

BACKSTAGE WITH: KOOMA | KOOMA MUSIC on SPOTIFY | HELSINKI, FINLAND 🌍

Main influences on making music?

Musically Flume, Linkin Park, EDEN, PVRIS. I get a lot of influences from visual art as well since it challenges to create fitting soundtracks for certain scenes or photos. Music videos directed by Zhang & Knight, meme-ish animations by PilotRedSun and visuals on the releases of Japanese label FLAU are currently my fountains of creativity.

Would you be able to describe the electronic and hip hop scene in Finland? How did you start making music and how has the scene evolved in Scandinavia over the years?

To be honest, I don’t follow those specific scenes too much here in Finland, unfortunately. I know that both of the genres are more mainstream than what they used to be 10-15 years ago but that’s about it. I personally started making music because of the sound of Pendulum in the early 10s. At the time the fast-paced drum & bass played by a band felt mind-blowing to me.

Kooma_Finland
Seems that as an independent artist you are really thriving where other artists are learning, each one of your releases gets thousands of listeners on Spotify and your monthly listeners are over 70K! Can you share any learning on how to independently reach a mass audience and best practices you learned on the way?

From my personal experience collaborating with other like-minded people is single-handedly the best way to reach bigger audiences. 

 I would encourage artists to plan out how to get on user-based Spotify playlists, and to be clear, I’m not talking about the ones that have 10-100k followers. Instead, figure out how to secure spots on hundred different playlists with about 100 followers. I feel like those lists are more intimate and effective in the long term and they affect the algorithms really positively. 

Cover songs are also a great way to introduce your sound to the world: the original artist provides an existing listener base and you can simply flip the song to your own liking.

Can you tell us a bit about the origin of Kooma, how did you get started and what guides you in your brand and online persona?

The original name of the project was The Deepest Thoughts, which is pretty self-explanatory. 

The purpose of the whole thing was, and still is, to express my thoughts through music. 

The alias just didn’t resonate with me after a while so I changed it to Kooma, which translates to coma in English. I like to think that my brand presents sleep-like states while wide awake, varying from the voices of sleep paralysis demons to “What does flying in a dream mean?” soundscapes.

What does the work & recording process look like for Kooma? What drives you in making your music?

Messing around with different melodies on my guitar or keyboard is where most of my projects start. Surprising visual and sound aspects tend to trigger the need to play those instruments.

What are the feelings, emotions or messages you would like your listeners to take away when listening to music you make and produce?

You’re not alone.

Much of your workflow is around producing and working with collaborators. How do you choose the collaborators you work with? What attracts you to certain collaborators and what does the workflow look like when working with collaborators around the world?

I’m trying my best to collaborate with the people who’s music I’m personally listening to or who would fit on specific vibes. For the most part, the collaborative process itself is just playing catch with the audio files via email or Facebook until the end result is something that both parties are happy with.

What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?

Right now I’m working on two music videos for my mixtape “Stages of Hypothermia” and a couple of tracks with Joey Nato and Avy. I haven’t released anything with Joey before so it’s pretty exciting to see what the listeners think about our creations!

Kooma IndieFlow
Has COVID influenced your work as a musician? How are you adapting to a new era in music making?

Performing live isn’t really something I’ve done too much in the past so I must be one of the few musicians who haven’t been affected by the pandemic. Most of my revenue comes from digital streaming platforms and music licensing companies and I haven’t seen any downfalls in either area. At least now I have a good excuse to just stay inside and create new music!

Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business?

Set short- and long-term goals, be consistent and don’t make excuses.

Are you currently at the stage where you can support yourself financially from music? Is this a goal for you?

I quit my day job at the beginning of June in 2019 and I’ve been living off music since then. My income isn’t only reliable on Kooma though since I have another alias called Less Gravity.

Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?

Veela, To NY, Skywalk and DNTST are always my go-to collaborators. I’m also lucky enough to have my girlfriend by my side whenever I need help with music videos! Shoutout to my elder brother too who goes by the names LuffyMcDuck and Juhq. Hopefully, we’ll work more together in the future combining his drawings with my music.

Kooma Music Pic
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BACKSTAGE WITH: SURI WONG

BACKSTAGE WITH: SURI WONG | SURI WONG MUSIC on SPOTIFY | CHICAGO, IL

Main influences on making music? 

Mree, Aurora, Billie Eilish, Nina Simone

Can you tell us a bit about the Chicago music scene? How has living in Chicago influenced your art?

I’m super proud of Chicago’s local artists. I feel as if there is inevitably a rawness, an authenticity, and a groundedness to our creativity. It’s never too commercial, it celebrates music that has come before us, speaks the truths we hope to embody, yet is still accessible. 

All of this speaks to the nature of living through brutal Chicago winters into brilliant Chicago summers. We are all gonna make it through and it through and in style.

Suri Wong Holiday Article Photo
How has COVID-19 changed the way you work as an artist? What are the main challenges and how are you coping with the challenges at hand? 

There has been an obvious loss of playing live shows. This hasn’t been too much of a tragedy for me personally however, because I’ll admit that aside from Sofar shows and playing at the Uncommon Ground, live shows can be taxing for me. 

I was already building up my online game, presence, and really looking further into studio recording, so being stuck at home to focus on those things, while exploring livestream possibilities has been helpful.

How is the Chicago independent music scene adapting to changes brought by COVID? 

I think everyone is moving on and adapting as best as they can. Sadly, the reality is that many of our beloved venues have been closed due to state and city gathering guidelines. Best we can do is to support them as take-out restaurants and bars.

Also, many artists who have canceled entire tours (I had to cancel some out-of-state shows). On the other hand, I have seen my fellow artists take up studio recording, live streams, or tik toking to continuously connect with fans. 

Or, it could be the opposite, where the artists feel they need a solid break. All these options are good ones, and I feel like we should feel the freedom to do what we gotta do during this strange transitional period.

Holiday times are intense and filled with inspiration – you just released your Holiday Excuse Album, can you tell us a bit about the inspiration for the album? What did the creative and recording process look like for the album?

 One of the first albums I ever got for myself as a tween was Jaci Velasquez’s Christmas album. That was a magical album and I knew that it would be a dream come true to record one someday. 

The pandemic really got my moods down and while I tried working on my other music, it didn’t seem like any of it was really working. I had My Holiday Excuse written last year and I really wanted to make that song a reality so I searched for a solid jazz producer and instrumentalist and landed on Leo. 

We had so much fun working together, that the songs kept tumbling through. I wish I could say I played the piano on the studio recorded songs, but he did and it sparkles. I added in the voice memos because part of me wanted to put in “palate cleansers” and take everyone back to the living room piano moments when some family member clunks out holiday classics and there’s a family sing-along. Those moments aren’t necessarily glamorous or flawless, but they’re special.

Your voice on the album is unique and holds within it different ranges and colors of emotions. What feeling or thought would you like your audience to take away from the album and is there a specific song which reflects that feeling? 


I’m glad you can hear the colors and the emotions. Timbres depend on which part of my range I vocalize. Highs tend to be pure, whimsical, breathy like a Disney princess and the lows are dark, gritty, melancholic. 

The song in which I play with my range the most is “Christmas Time is Here”. We messed with 3 keys and in the end, I really wanted to bring out both my low range and my high one because the melancholic and childlike natures of the original really hit me at the core. I didn’t want to totally sound like a child, but I knew there was a part of my heart that understood the sweetness and innocence it needed. 

What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?

I oscillate between releasing singles and going for a full length album and in the end it might be something that incorporates both. I have a pile of love songs from my 20’s (I just turned 30 this year) that I need to get out of my system before I feel like I can truly move on. So I’m working on bringing them to life. 

I love them because they’re simple, sweet, naive, and quite catchy for what they are.

Which venue are you waiting to perform at? Why? 

The big dream would be Royal Albert Hall (merely a dream at this point). In Chicago, the MCA or Art Institute. But for now, I’d be content even just being able to sit in someone’s living room or back porch again to bring them magic. The intimate settings really get me.

Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business? 

Gosh I mean, I’m still an “up and coming artist”, so I’d be right there with all y’all. Always remember why you’re doing it. It’s not for the fame, the money, to validate your ego, identity, etc. If those are the reasons why you’re embarking at it, I assure you, no amount of business wisdom, no manager, no fan-base is gonna be good enough to pull you through the valleys into the mountains. 

If the music, the art, the beauty, the message aren’t enough, then I’d caution you to find yourself first, or else the stress, responsibilities, even successes will crush you.

Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?

Oh I have so many. I can’t just name one, but I’ll throw out my awesome collaborations of 2020. Leo from Leo Music/Leomode really blew me away with this holiday project. 

I also did a collaboration with Abstrak Mind, Koryn Orcutt, and Brian Squillace that I feel has given me a new lens for writing uplifting pop (check out Til the End). I can never thank my drummer, Mike Hoyt, enough for sticking through with me these past few years (Where Were You? Is his drumming chops). 

And last but never the least engineers: Brok Mende, Colin Althaus, and Sam Moses have done their magic to bring out the best in every project. 

All these people I couldn’t be more grateful for.

Suri My Holiday Excuse
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Backstage with: Samurai Velvet

BACKSTAGE WITH: SAMURAI VELVET | SAMURAI VELVET MUSIC on SPOTIFY | PITTSBURG, PA

Main influences on making music?

We honestly feel as though we’ve been influenced by everything we’ve ever listened to since we were kids, but we know that’s a cop-out answer so we’ll also say that some of our specific influences that we feel somewhat fit our own vibe are The Internet, Alina Baraz with Galimatias, James Blake, SZA, James Fauntleroy, and Ravyn Lenae.

More & more artists are coming out of Pittsburgh, would you be able to describe the music scene in the city? Does the city landscape have an influence on the music coming out of it?

We would say that Pittsburgh has a small and fairly tight-knit music community. As an artist in the city, even if you don’t know another artist personally, chances are you at least have mutual friends or have collaborated with some of the same people. 

Pittsburgh has an influential history with jazz, which we believe has a strong hand in the genre blending that’s so common in the scene today.

 

 

Samurai Velvet Backstage
What does the work & recording process look like for Samurai Velvet? What drives you in making your music?

The process is basically just us venting to one another about our lives, and then putting that energy into the music right after. The song may not necessarily be directly related to a situation in our personal lives, but the vibe of it comes from the safe space we create together as friends and creative partners.

Your album Suede was just released, what did the creative process of writing the album, through producing & recording look & feel like?

Well Joe has a ton of LED lights in his studio, so we’d like to think the process looked super cool – even if we were eating snacks for most of it. The full process took 3 years between that first recording session and getting back the final masters of the EP,  mostly because we both have other jobs and passions that took precedence at the time. 

That much time felt excessive, but actually turned into the happiest accident because the songs correspond with different times in our lives over those three years – our first time capsule.

While listening to the album it seems that your songs reflect a wide variation of feelings. What feeling or emotion would you like your listeners to take away from the album? 

We want them to feel empowered, whether that be sexually, socially, or emotionally. It takes a ton of audacity to record something about your life, so we just hope that our listeners leave with the confidence we had to have to make the project.

The name Samurai Velvet is unique. Can you describe the origination of the name & how you guys decided on working together as a duo?

We have a mutual friend, Zende, another artist who wanted Saige to record a hook on one of his songs. We linked up in Joe’s home studio to record it, and it went well. But then we just couldn’t stop thinking up new ideas. We kept remixing what we’d done into better and better songs, until the end result was a completely new track which eventually became Siren – the first song on our new EP:  SUEDE


So from there we decided to create an entire EP together centered around that sound. As we were working on that EP we’d often be working pretty late into the night, so sometimes we’d stop to take a break and watch the cartoon show Samurai Jack. We also had this kind of inside joke between us where we would say Saige’s voice sounded like soft velvet. So when we were trying to come up with a name we decided to combine those two things because we liked the personal connection, and honestly we just thought it sounded kind of cool.

How are Pittsburgh venues adapting to COVID-19, what have been your challenges as artists during these times?

Unfortunately we’re already seeing some venues permanently shutting down due to challenges with the pandemic. Brillobox was a real staple of the city’s music scene and they just announced that they were closing down for good earlier this week. That venue really encapsulated the Pittsburgh scene because it was a small venue that threw shows for pretty much any style of music you could think of – from hip hop to indie-rock to modern folk dance music nights. As an artist it was a great place to go meet up with all of your other friends from the music scene, and just to hear some great new music. Other venues and promoters are attempting to adapt by converting to virtual events and drive-in shows to comply with CDC guidelines. Those obviously don’t provide the same feeling as a typical live show, but during a time like this the creativity is especially appreciated.

As artists ourselves, the biggest challenge has been the absence of live shows. We had hopes of playing all over the city and even touring the country once we released our EP, but just like the venues we’ve had to adapt our expectations. We’ve turned our focus to social media promotion, and it’s been a pretty cool process learning how to connect with folks through the internet.

What venue are you waiting to perform at?

We have a spot here in Pittsburgh called Mr. Small’s, a church that’s been converted to a music venue. It looks so cool in there, and the artists always sound so good! We were invited to perform there earlier this year, but Saige had a theatre related conflict, so we’re just waiting for the call to come again once the scene starts to safely pick up again. Fingers crossed.

Samurai Velvet Performing
Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business?

For us the biggest motivator to really start taking things seriously was when we began our partnership with Launchpad Productions – a local artist-development label here in Pittsburgh. 

We’ve found that when we were the only ones holding ourselves responsible it was far too easy to push back deadlines or cancel rehearsals anytime something else came up. Now that we’re working with a full team where everyone needs to pull their weight in order for us to succeed, that’s pushed us to take the project much more seriously and allow it to become a much more integral part of our lives. 

It’s also so nice to be able to trust IndieFlow with our promotion responsibilities. That’s allowed us to focus more of our time and energy on the creative process while also motivating us to keep creating as that promotion has started bringing in new fans.

Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?

Some of our favorite collaborators are the producers that contributed to SUEDE. Ryan Matthew Tedder, Aaron Karsh, Martin Gesheff, Charles “Scootie” Anderson, and Rob Balotsky (aka Buku) all put in their production talents on a few of the tracks you’ll hear on the record. 

We also love working with Gengarcade, who shot our “Nite Out” and “Playback” music videos, and Daikonimation, who did a ton of artwork for us. And it’s always a good time collabing with fellow electronic artists, Pittsburgh Track Authority, and the NY based electronic duo, Bottler. When you get a chance, be sure to check out “If I Only Knew” on Pittsburgh Track Authority’s latest album, PA System, and “Soft Winds” pre-released on Bottler’s upcoming EP,  Grow, out October 16th!

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Streaming Platform Tools for Artists – An Overview

If you have released music before, you are probably familiar with Spotify for Artists. Spotify offers a great, simple tool for artists to understand where streams are coming from , which playlists your songs have been added to and also gives you the ability to pitch to editorial playlists. But what about the other big streaming platforms out there? Did you know that there are more free tools offered to artists by other streaming platforms with hundreds of millions of listeners?

 

Take for example JioSaavn- the second largest streaming platform in India who claim to have 104 Million active users. You can pitch your music directly to their editorial playlists! How about  discovering how many Alexa users asked to listen to your track on Amazon Music for Artists through voice recognition? Or how many people Shazamed your songs on Apple Music for Artists? 

 

We covered some of the tools out there from major streaming platforms that can help you get a better picture. 

 

Here are a few tools for artists that are very much worth exploring:

Amazon for Artists

Amazon releases its “Amazon for Artists”, giving artists a pretty standard overview on their stats with a few extras. After requesting to claim your artist profile, you can login through your desktop or download the app. Worth noting- if you have more than one project, it will take a while to claim since you can only send out one profile claim at a time and each artist claim takes a couple days to approve.

  The stats on Amazon for artists are pretty much the same as what Spotify or Apple Music for Artists provide. What’s unique about Amazon for Artists is Alexa stats, which shows you how many people requested your song by voice recognition.These songs can be requested by the name of the song, artist or even by saying part of the lyrics! 

 

Another cool thing about Amazon Music for Artists is that it can show you your superfans. Superfans are highly engaged fans that can’t stop listening to your music. The downside is that you won’t be able to engage with these fans. You will only see their numbers. Another cool thing to definitely take advantage of is the option to submit to editorial playlists is available. It can be a bit tedious though. Amazon encourages artists to submit to editorial playlists through their manager or label. 

 

Alternatively you can send an email here: music-submissions@amazon.com and you will be directed to the correct department.

amazon-for-musicians
Anghami 

Anghami is the leading streaming service in the Arab world. It’s market is spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Anghami also has its backend tool for artists. You can upload your content directly to Anghami without a distributor involved (just like you would with Youtube). Anghami gives a full backend system for users to upload, distribute directly, promote on the platform , receive stream reports and audience analytics. Nowadays, artists can also create a donation page to direct their fans to and allow them to donate funds.

Anghami-Artist-Analytics
Deezer Backstage

Deezer has pretty basic features at this point, allowing you to view streams and listeners stats as well as playlist additions. 

Another thing you can do with Deezer backstage is edit your profile information, tour dates, and add your social media links. 

Deezer Analytics
AMP by Pandora

Pandora has acquired “Next Big Sound” in 2015 and from there launched AMP – a platform that helps artists grow their fan base by delivering insights on fan engagement, market to fans and to get to know them better.

A few interesting features that this tool will allow you to do:

  • Connect your social media platforms to view stats.
  • Add events manually through annotations in your “Reports” section. This allows you to note any events on specific dates and see how it impacted streams on those dates. 
  • Save and tailor reports depending on what you would like to see
  • Data on how many spins you received, song skip rate, song completion rate, week by week comparison and more in depth insights. 

In regards to Pandora’s way of to amplify your tracks and promote them, they are offering a few pretty cool options:

  • Adding featured songs- you can decide which of your tracks are “featured”. Setting a song as “featured” allows you to get to a new audience based on the platform’s machine learning capabilities. Featured songs will “tell” pandora to play your song to listeners who are listening to similar songs. This is an 8 week process that can highly increase your numbers and it’s completely free.
  • Set engaging audio messages to existing fans- You can record a short description about your track very easily through AMP. This will help give personal context to your listeners and can improve your click through rates. 
  • Add call to action buttons to help listeners engage with your content
Pandora_Analytics
Apple Music For Artists

Apple releases their answer to “Spotify for Artists” with an obvious upside on the user experience aspect as Apple knows to do best. 

While information is pretty much the same (streams, locations, editorial playlist additions), what’s unique about Apple Music is that they present how many times your song was “Shazamed”. 

Another cool thing about Apple Music for Artists is that they give you insights of milestones that your music has gone through. With Apple Music you cannot submit your music to editorial playlists unfortunately which brings us to one of the major benefits of the next tool. 

Apple Music For Artists Pic
Spotify For Artists

Spotify has become an ecosystem within itself. Thanks to the masses of users on Spotify and the game changing option to allow these users to generate followers through playlists, musicians are not only dependent solely on the good will of editorial playlists. This truly opens doors for independent musicians to get discovered by individuals who are completely loyal to their personal taste. The reason why we bring this up here, is because it is what makes Spotify stand out from the rest. 

You could easily find influential curators (or submit to Spotify curators through tools like IndieFlow) and send your music directly to them. While an addition to an editorial playlist is pretty uncommon, getting added to privately curated playlists can be much more common and you can view exactly how many plays you got from each playlist. This can help in strategizing, building relationships with influential curators and track you how effective your last playlist campaign was. 

Another cool feature that Spotify enables is the ability to use “Spotify for Artists” as a team with different roles and access permissions. You can easily share stats with your label, manager, team etc.  

Spotify for Artists Platform Pic
YouTube for Artists

In addition to presenting data such as: demographics, avg. view duration, subscribers etc. With YouTube for Artists you have many more features that could help boost engagement, sell live tickets, customize your channel, and more. 

Here are some YouTube best practices which we recommend every artist performs when submitting music to YouTube:

  1. Consolidate all of your videos into one channel- You may have uploaded music to YouTube on your own, or through a distributor which could cause your content to be split across various channels and topics. YouTube for artists enables you to consolidate all of your content under one roof which helps gain control over all of your content. Heads up though, this can be enabled under the conditions below, and also be associated as a YouTube Partner directly or indirectly (through a label or manager).
  2. Own and operate a YouTube channel that represents one artist or band
  3. Have at least 3 official releases on YouTube delivered and distributed by a music distributor or label
  4.  Connect with fans through live streams, engaging content such as: gifs, polls etc, sell tickets directly to fans, customize your artist page layout, read private messages or view your channel’s subscriber list
  5. With Youtube’s analytics you can view real time analytics, audience engagement, content engagement, revenue (if you’re in the Youtube Partner Program) and demographics of your audience. You can get all of this data on Youtube Studio both available on web or mobile app.   
  6. Concerts and ticketing are available only in the United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. In order to sell concert tickets you need to add your events to any of the following: Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, See Tickets and AXS.
YouTube for Artists Platform Pic
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Backstage with: Iris Lune

BACKSTAGE WITH: IRIS LUNE | IRIS LUNE MUSIC on SPOTIFY | NEW YORK, NY

Main influences on making music?

 Björk, Bon Iver, James Blake, Radiohead, Sylvan Esso

For how long have you been operating as an independent artist and what are your main challenges?

This musical journey started for me back in Boston 2012, when I met my producer and co-writer, Asher Kurtz. My amazing bassist, Aaron Liao, has been with us from the very beginning but it took a while to find the perfect drummer. The final quartet only came together a few years later when Angelo Spampinato joined the team. So I’d say the first challenge was to find the perfect crew. Other than that I think the hardest part as an independent musician these days is to balance everything you need to do. 

We all just want to do the creative work but unfortunately there’s so much more technical work to be done and it can become exhausting. Also, the industry is constantly evolving and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the changes.

Iris Lune Close Up
What were the most significant actions you took that helped you build your fanbase?

Finding the right team has been instrumental. Aside from the band, I’ve been working with an incredible illustrator on our album cover arts and merch. He always has incredible ideas and manages to create a cohesive visual brand that evolves organically. 

Touring and making connections with other artists in the scene is inspiring and mind opening. Also, Facebook and Instagram advertisements have helped reach more people and gain a better understanding who my fanbase is. I know this might not sound as sexy, but it’s been one of the best things we’ve done to grow our fanbase and reach real people out of our comfort zone.

Do you have an external team to help you with management, booking, pr?

We’re working with Rachel Rossen from Tell All Your Friends PR for this album’s cycle. Other than that it’s all done in house. It’s definitely been challenging and I’d really love to work with a booking agent and manager, but as of now it’s mostly me and my bassist Aaron who helps me out immensely with the business side of things.

Iris Lune Band
Tell us about your new album, in what ways does this album stand out from your previous albums, and what were your main challenges of the creation process? 

lovelosslove is my first full length album. So far I’ve released three EPs, but this one is different in its essence and length. I co-wrote it with Asher about eight months after my mother passed away in the winter of 2018. I was trying to make sense of this new reality and to figure out how to keep living in a world that was empty of her physical existence, a world that was painful and didn’t make sense at all. 

Working with Asher on this was a healing experience, we pushed each other’s boundaries and both brought out a lot of vulnerability. We met three times a week for four months, improvised a lot, sampled sounds from our homes (me – Israel, him – Dallas, TX) and wove them into our music. Unlike the first three EPs, this album was different from the very beginning because we had the concept before we wrote a single note. 

We created a safe space, a non-judgmental space for us to create and explore. It was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever been a part of. I think the challenge was to keep pushing ourselves and not be afraid of diving into the deepest and darkest parts of our minds.

What is your personal favorite song from this album and why? 

Ahhhh, I can’t choose! They’re all so dear to my heart. I think that Note to Self and Summer Blue feel the most vulnerable and cathartic to me. Note to Self is a letter to myself after losing my mother and trying to figure out how to hold on to who I was before her death and find room for that person in this new reality. The first half of the second verse is a literal translation of one of the love letters my mom wrote to my dad in their early twenties. 

Summer Blue is about my mom and how much I miss her. I wrote it during the summer after her passing when  everything felt like it was painted in shades of blue. The chorus is a desperate plea to find a way to do the impossible – breathe underwater, swim above the sea. Both seemed just as impossible as living without my mother in the world. 

Your new album was created under the shadow of very emotional, contradictory circumstances: grief and new life. How did  that affect your writing, did it reposition your artistic standpoint? 

Absolutely. That was the whole point actually – to write while being in the midst of my grief journey. Writing these songs helped me process my emotions and made me understand myself better. When I wrote the album with Asher, about eight months after my mother’s death, my wife and I were planning to start a family. Having that in the back of my mind while writing about my mother’s passing helped me confront a lot of emotions and inner contradictions I had. 

There’s a fine line between birth and death, and you’d be surprised to find that there are a lot of similarities, not only juxtapositions, between the two.


Did music help you go through this period, serving as a place to contain all of those strong feelings, or was it it a challenge to even sit down and write?

Writing music has been a healing process for me, it’s the best way I know how to process my emotions (besides therapy!). It wasn’t always easy and there were times where I had to really dig deep and be honest about my choice of words. 

I wanted to be 100% true to my grief process and to make sure I wasn’t judging myself along the way. It’s tough being so vulnerable but it’s also rewarding. 

As one of my heroes, Brene Brown, says – you’ve got to put yourself in the arena. Otherwise, what’s the point?

In light of the new COVID-19 reality, have the last months proven to be in anyway inspirational for you as an artist?

It’s been a journey. I got stuck in my home country for months without my studio and all I had to write on was a fairly untuned piano. It’s been a while since I wrote songs on a piano (especially my childhood piano) and so it took me a few weeks to get to a point where I felt comfortable and inspired. 

Played a lot of Bach and looked for new music to inspire me. Eventually I started writing and finished a bunch of songs. It really helped me process everything that was going on.

What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?

Writing new music and exploring new sonic directions. Since a lot of my new songs were written on a piano and not a computer, it’ll be interesting to see how they develop in different ways and whether the starting point has an impact on their eventual production. 

Iris Lune Backstage
Which venue are you waiting to perform at? Why?

I’d love to perform again at National Sawdust in Brooklyn NYC. The crew there is super nice and professional and the venue itself is gorgeous. There’s always a really nice intimate connection with the audience. I’d also love to return to Rough Trade NYC, where we’ve played several times. The room sounds amazing and I just love the place, not only as a performer but as an audience member as well.

Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business? 

This is a tough question because you don’t always know what’s happening behind the scenes. However, up and coming artists that I love and seem to be doing well developing both the business and creative sides of their development are altopalo, Sammy Rae and Tali Rubinstein.

Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?

Well, obviously Asher Kurtz (aka Old Feels). Also my wife Mikhal Weiner who is an amazing lyricist and has become my editor and co-lyricist over the years. 

I loved collaborating with J. Viewz on a very fun project during quarantine. He posted a loop played on kalimba on Instagram stories and asked people to add their own musical ideas to it. Eventually, he had a bunch of musicians from all over the world record their parts and it ended up being a gorgeous and powerful track

Memory

Ella Joy Meir (Iris Lune) with her mother. <3

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Performing Rights Organizations & Royalties – The Basics

What are performing rights organizations? How many are there in the United States? What are the type of royalties that performing rights organizations are responsible to collect and who can receive these royalties?

These questions do sound complicated however they can somewhat be simplified! Below is an overview of the key items to understand while registering with a performance rights organization.

Performing right organizations as suggested by their name collect a royalties called Performance Royalties and pay out these royalties to songwriters and publishers.

Each country in the world has a performance rights organization that is responsible for collecting royalties for songwriters and publishers . Any musical artist is eligible to receive performance royalties if you were the author (lyrics), the composer or a publisher of a work. In many cases independent artists are defacto all three!

Who are performing royalties collected from?

Performance royalties are collected from: streaming services, radio stations, TV stations, bars, venues, restaurants and more. Pretty much anytime a song is played in public the broadcaster of the song is legally obligated to report back to the PROs that the song was played and pay out a small portion for the right to play the song.


How can artists collect their royalties?

It’s pretty simple to register with a PRO and usually requires a one-time membership fee. PROs from all over the world work together in order to collect royalties from all of the different territories. 

So if your song is registered with ASCAP and you have radio plays in Germany, GEMA (the German PRO would collect your royalties and transfer it to ASCAP). Just remember:  PROs pay songwriters (authors and composers) not Artists who perform the song. 

What performance rights organizations exist in the United States?

There are 3 main rights organizations in the US:

ASCAP – A non-profit organization managed by songwriters, composers and publishers. The board members and board of directors in ASCAP are elected by it’s society’s members.  750,000 members are registered as of 2020 and is one of the two dominating PROs in the US. You can join ASCAP both as a publisher and a songwriter for as little as $50 – one time membership. 

BMI – Holds 800,000 members. Just like ASCAP, BMI is also a non-profit organization. You can join BMI for free as a songwriter but as a publisher it will cost you $150 or $250 if you’re registering as a company.

SESAC – The only for profit organization with 30,000 members. Not everyone can become a member of SESAC, you would need to receive an invitation.


Some important points to remember:

  • Always remember that performance royalties are broken out into money that is paid out to both the songwriter and the publisher. We would definitely recommend to open both a writer and publisher account on a PRO to collect the two.
  • Performance royalties are a completely different type of royalty then streaming royalties paid out to a distributor. It is important to remember that on top of streaming royalties that you receive from your distributor the streaming services ALSO pay performance royalties to PROs. 
  • To benchmark the above point for you  – the royalty amount paid out to a PRO amounts to something in the ballpark of 7% in addition to what the artist receives from the distributor. So if in a given month an artist received $1,000 from his/her distributor,  they should expect another $70 to be paid out to him through the PROs. 
  • An artist & publisher can only be affiliated with one PRO in each country & the publisher must be registered in the same PRO that the artist is. So in the case where a publisher, publishes a song on ASCAP but the artist is on BMI – ASCAP wll not be able to collect the royalties on the artist or publisher behalf.

Hope this helps in generally summarizing what performance rights organizations do and the royalties they collect on behalf of artists. Always remember that if you are an independent artist you most likely own both the artist and publisher rights and are able to collect both by registering with the organizations. 

Please always keep in mind that in addition to performance royalties an independent artist is most likely entitled to receive other royalties from different organizations. More on this in our next articles! 

That wasn’t THAT complicated, was it?