Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Biggest Factor in Negotiating: Knowing Your Worth!

When it comes to negotiating, there are many factors that come into play. How you negotiate determines the outcome. Knowing how to effectively negotiate is crucial because most times, you are negotiating something that could possible affect your life. While talking to Coach Philip Wallace, who happens to be a high school track coach in one of the Chicago Public Schools, he said that knowing your worth is important when negotiating. From time to time, Coach Wallace helps students that are going on to college negotiate contracts that will benefit them. So out of all things why might this be important?
Let’s say that you are offered a deal somewhere and it is a very good deal but there is something missing. What is missing? The value that you add to the team or company that you are negotiating with! The value that you add to a team or a company can be the changing factor in a negotiating. This applies to any situation in life where there is a deal that needs to be made.
When negotiating, it is really about what the two parties bring to the table and how it will be mutually benefiting for both parties to agree on the terms. Maybe the party that you are negotiating with has overlooked something that you can bring to the table. Therefore you can bring that into the negotiation and so that they can take that into consideration.
Its also important to stand firm when negotiating because they are some times when you may just want to give in but you have to think about how this deal could impact your life. Sometimes you may have to say if we cannot agree to these terms, then I cannot sign this contract. You may find that sometimes that is all the party that you are negotiating with is really looking for.
Sometimes people just want to see if you will stand up for yourself or how well you can stand on your own. These are good things to keep in mind because the entertainment industry is a tough industry that is strictly business! It is all about the best deal and the right person for the deal.
Just like most artists make different amounts of money, many athletes make different amounts of money as well, even if they are on the same team. You will find that the bigger artists such as Jay-z, Sean “puffy” Combs, etc. are the ones that have been able to negotiate better because they understand that it is business. Not only that, they know what they are capable of and what they can bring to the table.
Always make sure that a contract is in your best interest! You do not want to sign anything without carefully reading it over first. Independent Artist JNan “IAm Chicago”, who has had much success in the entertainment industry says that he sends all contracts to a lawyer but he still does not sign it without looking it over at least 3 times.  Jnan also says that you have to be able to market yourself and again it all goes back to what you can bring to the table.
So always remember to know your worth! Never settle for less, no matter how promising the situation seems but also be able to compromise. Make sure the compromise benefits you though. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Putting Together and Financing Your Own Concert

Financing one’s own concert is a topic that interests me. I thought this would be encouraging, informative, and intriguing for an independent or unsigned artist. For some independent or unsigned artist, having a concert would probably be the last thing or their “to do” list.  I realize that most are focused on simply making music, putting their music out there, and getting people’s support. I also understand that some independent or unsigned artist may feel like they do not have the funds to do something like this. Of course, they may be looking from the stance of an artist that is already signed.

When I think about signed artist that have concerts, I see the big sold out shows; Ticketmaster is always a company that comes to mind. I even see the not so big shows but still the venue is sold out. That may discourage an artist, who is not signed, but I am here to tell you that you can do what they do. I mean you have to start somewhere, might as well give it a try but be smart about it. One may be wondering who am I to give advice on a subject such as this? Well I am definitely no expert but research and passion can take you a long way. I have a love/hate relationship with the entertainment field and therefore I am determined to bring a more positive and encourage note to it in the future. I have had some small events and I have also research and studied event planning but of course nothing to big, but at the same time I am not talking about big right now. I am just talking about making a concert happen!

So what would be the best steps to work towards financing your own concert (in my opinion)? First, I would say getting an idea of exactly what kind of concert you want it to be. You could have a benefit concert, a fundraiser, you could have a concert with different artist or you can simply just have a concert featuring YOU (how great would that be right?) So after you decided that what is the next step? Well the next step would be to develop some kind of budget, figure out what you are willing to spend because that’s normally how the event is going to take place. Start researching venues (which is the next step) that are in your price range and of course get people to help you. You can also ask for businesses support, it never hurts to ask. Some other things that are important to consider are how many hours the concert is going to be, how many people you expect and would like to show up, if you are charging figure out the amount that you are going to charge, and figure out how you are going to advertise and promote.

So now you may be saying that sounds like a lot but if you actually plan things out it really wont seem like a lot. Of course there is going to be hard work, when you are pursing your dreams you have to work hard but you will LOVE doing it and it will be rewarding in the end. I recommend planning at least 6 months to a year in advance. I believe that is a good time frame to prepare, plan, and execute the plan. So you many be saying is it really that important to have a concert and I will tell you that yes it is and here is why! Having a concert, especially for an independent or unsigned artist, builds support.
Yes you may already have the support of your family and friends but what about the people in your community? Do they know about you? What about the people in your state? This is an opportunity to invite people in your life and allow them to get to know you and what you are doing. Because if you ever get signed, there will be no invitations into your life, people will just bulldoze their way in and it may not always be positive.

Think about shows like American Idol and X Factor, they give the contestants a chance to go home and visit but not only that, once they get there they have a concert in their hometown. The thing about this is once they have been on the show for a while and they come home they have wayyy more support than they did before they left, they have people coming to their concert that they do not even know. Now it is easy to say ok Nicole, these people have been on television though BUT it’s the same thing! Most of these people were just like you and me, they were sitting at home saying man I want sing, I want to rap, etc and they decided to go try out for a show and they made it.

Now you may be one that says I don’t need to go on a show so there you go then, the only difference is that you didn’t go on the show but you can still have a concert and you can still gain the support of your community as well. You have to let people know that you exist and having a concert is a great way. So you may not be able to have it at a big expensive venue well maybe try a park district, a community center, your old high school, an arts center, there are plenty of places that you can use. You just have to do your research.

So maybe you want to sell tickets and you say well, I can’t do Ticketmaster (which actually you could do Ticketmaster for a fee) but there are many other great low budget systems just like Ticketmaster that you can use. You might be wondering how I know? Well, I have tried them for myself, check out sites such as Event Brite , Show Clix or Ticket Leap , they are great sites that you can use for FREE to sell tickets.Of course you can sell tickets offline as well. If your low on funds you can use social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to promote, you just have to know how to use them!

Of course you know I wouldn’t leave you without sharing what other people had to say on this subject. I did come across three articles that I found useful, How To Set Up And Organize A Small Outdoor Concert, Organizing Concerts, and How Concert Tours Work. Feel free to check them out! I hope that someone was encouraged by this, remember you can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens you. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Be Creative With What You Have or Can Afford

Since I have recently started my “entertainment business finance” class, I wanted to write something that dealt with that while at the same time staying true to the tone of my blog as well as the readers. So I was trying to find something, Entertainment Business Finance is a new subject for me, so I cannot say that I actually can relate yet. Sometimes we look so much that we tend to overlook and sometimes well most times, when you stop looking you end up finding what you were looking for. So once I stopped searching, I log onto my school and I saw an article titled “ You don’t have to break the bank to make a hit”.

This article was written by one of the associate course directors (John Haupert) at my school, Full Sail University but it made a lot of since. Basically he was saying that long gone are the days where you have to spend a lot of money in order to have a studio. These days with the technology advancements that have surfaced, all you need is the right equipment. So what is the right equipment? Well for starters, a laptop, most people prefer a MacBook, the right recording programs: Logic Pro, Pro Tools, etc. Mr. Haupert gives examples of people who have had hit records and even won Grammies from just having the right the equipment.

One example that John used was RedOne who is a two time Grammy award winner, he is a producer and a songwriter. He is best known for producing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face”. Redone says that the only equipment he uses is a  MacBook, Logic, an Oxygen 8 keyboard, and an Apogee Duet audio interface”. I thought to myself how inspiring is that! I think that would inspire most artist, producers, etc to know that these days you do not have to have a big fancy studio to get things done! In fact, John states that you really only need a studio for tracking vocals, which I believe is true.

John also used examples of the producers such as StarGate (a group of producers) who has produced artists such as Katy Perry and Rihanna and Dr. Luke who has produced for artists such as Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Ke$ha and Pink. Stargate mentions that they use Pro Tools and that all you really need is a laptop and a small keyboard.  Dr. Luke says that he uses a Yamaha Keyboard but that he made his number 1 hit with a 20-dollar keyboard! So that goes to show you that it is not really how much you pay for the equipment but it is about how well you use what you have.

I decided to do a little research and reach out to the Independent Artists that I knew and see what they use to record their songs. I thought that would be interested to see how it compared to the article that I read by John Haupert. I reached out to my classmate and business partner Mr. T’Andre Harris from Fort Wayne, Indiana also known as Phenom!  When asked about the equipment that is used, he stated that he uses “Pro Tools software on the mac book pro, a digi design mini m box, a condenser microphone and two sound monitors”.

Next I went to Mr. Salter also know as Moze Ella hailing from Aurora, IL, says that he uses Samplitude or Pro Tools depending on where he is at. Anthony "Atlaz" Swoope from Chicago, IL stated that he uses Logic Pro for recording and also Cubase, which is good for rock and singers. He also mentioned that he uses Pro Tools and his brother uses FL studios (fruity loops) for producing beats and he said that Adobe Audition is good as well. Lastly Mr. Darious "Church' Lyles also hailing from Chicago, IL stated that he uses FL studios, Logic Pro and Pro Tools.

So there you have it! As you can see most of the artists that I spoke with are in fact using some of the same equipment that Mr. Haubert talked about in his article. So where can you find these products at? I am sure that there are many places but you are for sure to find them at or Best Buy. You may even be able to find them cheaper floating around the Internet somewhere!  So to the all the aspiring artist out there, I say to you as usually BE ENCOURAGED! Things may not happen over night but they will happen. Take time to plan and just make use of what you have and can afford right now and be creative!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


As I was searching on for class, a website that I had never heard of before, I clicked on inspiring (because thats the type of person I am) and I saw a video that stood out to me more than all the other ones. The name of the video was "How to live before you die". Not only was the title intriguing to me but what was most intriguing was the person speaking in the video, who happened to be Mr. Steve Jobs. As we all know Mr. Steve Jobs was the CEO of Apple, He is the reason for majority of the technology that we have now. I just knew that this video was going to be inspiring, seeing as how Steve Job passed last year and the title of this video was "How to live before you die". I believe and see that this was a man who stood and lived for what he believed in.

Steve Jobs story was very inspiring, as he stood before the students getting ready to graduate from Stanford, he passionately told a story that I am very sure the students will remember for as long as they live. Steve started off telling about how his parents gave him up for adoption, they wanted so badly for him to succeed so they sought out couples who were college graduates to adopt him. As I heard that, i started to think about how many parents push their kids to go to college without really finding out what their children's dreams and goals are. I started thinking about how many people enter into college pursing a major that their parents wanted them to pursue. Now do not get me wrong, I definitely think that college is great but not when it is forced and most importantly not when your not going for something that you have a passion for.

Continuing on with Steve's story, The adopted parents did not meet his real parents expectations because they had not graduated from college but his real parents allow them to adopt him only if they promised that steve would go to college which they did and HE did. The greatest part of this story is simply steve because guess what? Steve DID in fact go to college BUT Steve did not graduate from college. As with most college students, steve was bored with the classes that did not apply to his major. I can definitely relate to that, when I first started undergrad, I too got bored with the classes that did not apply to my major. Instead steve chose to leave college and guess what? HE IS AND WILL FOREVER BE ONE OF THOSE MOST SUCCESSFUL NOT ONLY MEN BUT PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

What I admire about steve was that he never gave up, he said that we should follow our passions no matter what other people say or think about us which is something that I firmly believe because guess what? Those people do not have to live your life, you have to live your life. Steve said to hold on to your faith or whatever it is that drive your passions! I felt like steve was speaking to me as I watched this video. I remember steve talking about when he first got fired from Apple and how he felt like a failure. I can relate to him not the being fired part but I remember when I first graduated from college in 2007 and as time went by not being able to find a job and I started feeling like a failure. I spent all this time into going to school and I can't find a job for what I went to school for but during that/this time I have decided to follow my own dreams and goals and that is what is best about the time that I have had between first graduating and now.

Now that I am in graduate school for something that I have a passion for, I can honestly say that there is a HUGE difference when you are going to school for something that you LOVE versus something that you think will make you some money. At the end of the day money is nice but you need be happy with what you are doing because being miserable and having money is not a good thing. Toward the end of Steve's speech, he began to repeat "stay hungry, stay foolish" and that sparked something in me and that stuck with me and that is why this is the title of this blog post. So just like Mr. Steve Jobs, I want to encourage you to "STAY HUNGRY AND FOOLISH"! Now what does that mean? I can only imagine that the meaning will vary for different people BUT for me it means that you should always keep striving, always keep believing, always keep moving forward and never give up(stay hungry) and also that people are not always going to agree with you, they may not even support you. In fact, they may even think that what you want to do or your ideas are FOOLISH but you must keep on going. You must know that God has giving you your passion, talents and gifts from a reason so STAY FOOLISH as long as you know that you have a purpose. So I will end on this quote "STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH"

Here is the video of Steve Jobs speech at Stanford University

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What resources are available to the Independent Artist (Part 1)

This blog post will basically address some resources out there for independent artist. I think that many independent artists do not know about all the resources that are out there for them. I also think that some artist stray away from being independent because they feel there is no support. There are many associations out there for independent artists that will provide them with an array of information and guide them along their career. Some of those associations are American Association of Independent Music, Association of Independent Music Publishers, Independent Music Companies Association, The American Christian Music Association, and The National and Independent Gospel Music Association.
So what do all of these associations have in common? They are all advocates for the independent artist, no matter what genre you consider yourself, there is an association out there for you. These associations have the resources and the knowledge to help the independent artist become successful in their careers. I would encourage you to visit one of those sites and see what they have that can benefit you as an independent artist.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, which discussed the importance of Artist Development, The industry is something that has to be learned, an artist cannot just enter into the industry knowing everything. I believe the associations listed above will guide you and help you learn about the industry and some of these associations even work closely with major record labels. All of these associations have workshops and conferences that are beneficial to the independent artist. Joining one of these associations will probably one the one time where an artist would be happy to be guilty by ASSOCATION!

Most times people say it’s not what you know but about whom you know but I personally believe it is both as it pertains to the entertainment industry. You have to have knowledge about the industry in order to succeed and yes it does help to know some people to but as the saying goes “Knowledge is power”. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog.

Check out this video clip regarding the important of networking through professional organizations from Dave Olsen, the VP of Alfred Publishing.