Fatback Band Letter

Bill Curtis
Selling Music on the Internet

June 11, 2010

This month, I want to talk to my old school artists and musicians who been thinking about selling their music on the internet but don’t have the nerves. The ones who primarily released albums through a record label. I’m not going to say that’s not still a viable option, but you don’t have to go that route in today’s world.

Now, I know all you young guys know how to do it. You can self-release your music through the many online music stores, such as CD Baby, iTunes, Tunecore and Amazon. There is still a market out there for R&B. The internet makes it possible, but you must get your ducks in a row to effectively sell your music online. These are some of the things you must do, even before you go in the studio to record. Remember, this is your business now and you don’t have the label doing the work for you anymore. If you don’t do it right, chances are you won’t get your money from your sales.

Here are things I think are most important:

Promote yourself: Bragging about your music is the hardest thing to do. It is hard trying to sell yourself. You got to be able to tell people what makes your music unique and say it vividly and succinctly; preferably get a good writer… unless you’re good.

Spelling and Punctuation: Why is this so important in the computer world? All details must precise and consistent each time you submit information about your recordings. Make sure that your artist name, album title, song title, song timings, release date is spelled correctly. If you used quotation marks in song title or misspelled a word… each time you submit info it must be the same, otherwise you risk difficulties when trying to track down your royalties that might be due to you. I’m still trying to find money that’s due to me now.

Artwork: Don’t waste your time trying to do it yourself. Hire a professional graphic designer who will produce high-quality, eye-catching cover art for you. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words!

I just want throw this in, all of what I’m telling you now, I did it wrong and I am still trying get it right. Just a few more things you need to know:

(UPC) Universal Product Code: The Barcodes on the back of most consumer products that’s used to track your music online. You need one UPC for each packaged release of your music and one for an album and one for single. You can get them free from CD Manufacturers. Mastering houses offer them for free; otherwise you can purchase a UPC from several online vendors.

(ISRC) International Standard Recording Code: A permanent identifier for one individual audio track. In other words, each song or composition on your album should have its own ISRC that’s used to track airplay on digital media and again some mastering studio will give it to you. If not, you can obtain them yourself for a one time $ 75 fee. It’s important to take note of the ISRC’s and use the same ones wherever you sell your music.

If you haven’t joined Sound Exchange, do so. It’s like BMI or ASCAP. But for Digital media such as Internet & Satellite radio…they collect your royalty payments from airplay if you own the sounds copyright to your recording or performed on the recording.

I didn’t get into pricing because most online stores don’t give you a choice. For myself, I prefer a company that lets me decide how much to charge and sell individual tracks albums are dying out. You don’t have to sell your single for 99 cents. If you have a good product, people are willing to pay a premium price. You are your best judge, whether good or bad.

Hey, these are just few things to get you on the right track of getting your music out. Just jump in and put it out there. But you young artists… if you’re not in it for the long haul, don’t waste your time and money. It’s about sacrifice. Talent is about fifty percent and desire is the rest.

Before I’m out of here I want share this with you. Facebook hooked me up with an old buddy I haven’t heard from in probably twenty years, Keith Frye. Keith was head of promotion for PolyGram Records Southern region. I asked him about another friend which was Brenda Smith and he said let’s get her on the phone 3-way. I won’t get into the small talk we had about old times, but I do want to thank them publicly for putting Fatback Band on the map. They believed in the music and they put their jobs on the line when no one else did. If the company would have listened to them, “King Tim III” would have been playing weeks before “Sugar Hill.” I asked for “King Tim III” for the “A” side and was told “No.” They wanted “You’re My Candy Sweet.” I said well then put “King Tim III” on the “B” side. That’s how Sugar Hill got national airplay before Fatback Band. Our record was on the market two weeks or more before theirs. You can make all the good music you want to, but if you don’t have a team believing in your work and going that extra mile for you… you can forget it. That’s what promotion men did back in the day. When they heard one that had it, they went for it. Keith & Brenda, I love you and I will never forget what you did for The Fatback Band and we are forever grateful!

Free MP3: “(Do the) Boogie Woogie”

“(Do the) Boogie Woogie” from our Brite Lites / Big City released 1979 written and arranged by Gerry Thomas is a Disco tune.

James Skelton - Keyboard
Fred Demery - Sax
George Williams - trumpet
Sam Culley - Percussion
Johnny Flippen - Bass
Bill Curtis - Drums
Earl Shelton- Sax
Gerry Thomas- keyboards
Cobra Butler--Guitar

Wild Sugar Background Voice
Robin Dunn
Desiree' Dunn
Deborah Cooper

Click here to download…

Fatback Live at the 02 in London 2009




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