Saturday, July 28, 2012


Lyor Cohen

  • Who: Lyor Cohen, US Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group, formerly of Island Def Jam Records
  • Born: October 3, 1959, New York City, USA
  • Significant Achievements: Expanding the Island Def Jam label
  • Years Active in the Industry: 1980s - present

The Early Years - On the Road with Run D.M.C.:

Lyor Cohen dabbled in the music industry throughout his college years, and after graduating University of Miami with a degree in business, he headed out to L.A. and started managing a club. Things changed for him when he booked a then new rap group Run D.M.C. This was the mid 1980s, and rap music was starting to cross over into the mainstream. Cohen left L.A to work as Run D.M.C.'s tour manager and eventually made his way to New York City, where he started working with Russell Simmons of Def Jam/Rush productions to set up a management business. Throughout the 80s, he continued to work as Run D.M.C.'s manager.

Rush Associated Labels:

In 1990, Cohen started Rush Associated Labels, aka RAL, to release music by some of the smaller acts managed by his and Simmon's Rush management company. RAL was essentially a feeder label for Def Jam Records - after acts were developed by RAL, they would go on to sign to Def Jam, which by then had major label backing, and receive a bigger push. RAL was Cohen's baby, and it's links to Def Jam proved to be a winning formula for both labels. In 1999, Cohen was instrumental in hammering out a $100 million deal with Universal to buy Def Jam. Universal then brought Cohen on board to run their new Island Def Jam imprint.

Growing Island Def Jam:

Under Cohen's leadership, Island Def Jam grew into one of Universal's biggest money makers, earning up to $700 million per year for the label. Cohen used his connections from his early music management days to bring some of the biggest independent labels into the fold, include:
Although Cohen had the golden touch as far as Universal was concerned, his time at Island Def Jam was not without controversy, and during his Island Def Jam years, Cohen found himself at the center of several lawsuits.

Irv Gotti, Murder Inc, and Money Laundering:

Cohen's work with Irv Gotti, head of Murder Inc, earned him his most serious brush with the law. Cohen helped Gotti set up Murder Inc Records, by giving Gotti $2 million in start up capital, distribution through Island Def Jam, office space at Universal and by serving as a board member. At this time, Gotti was under investigation by the FBI for drug trafficking and money laundering. Murder Inc's offices were raided and Gotti arrested. Cohen was investigated for involvement in the crimes, but claimed he couldn't remember what his role at Murder Inc was. Cohen was never charged and Gotti was eventually acquitted.

TVT Records and Contract Violations:

Cohen found himself in court again in 2002, this time defending himself against a civil suit filed by TVT Records against both Universal and Cohen personally. TVT charged that Cohen breeched a contract agreement with them, and initially, TVT won $132 million from Universal and $56 million from Cohen. After a series of appeals, the cumulative amount TVT received from Cohen and Universal was reduced to $126,000. Cohen came out of the case under a great deal of scrutiny, however, when the appeals court judge singled him out for "morally reprehensible" behavior and hinted he believed that Cohen had lied in his testimony.

The Move to Warner Music Group:

After his legal troubles at Island Def Jam, Cohen decided to jump ship and accepted a position at Warner Music Group in 2004. He rose the role of American chairman and CEO of the label and brought on board many familiar faces from his Island Def Jam days. One person he hasn't convinced to come with him is Irv Gotti, who still runs The Inc. Gotti was resentful of Cohen's treatment of his through his legal troubles and has opted to keep his label at Universal.

Def Jam

Def Jam Records: The Basics:

  • What: Hip hop label Def Jam Recordings, part of the Island Def Jam Music Group
  • Where: Headquartered in New York City, New York
  • Founded: 1984
  • Founded by: Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons (see more details below)

Starting Def Jam:

Technically speaking, Def Jam was founded by Rick Rubin alone. He started the label in his NYU dorm room to release a single by his band Hose (a punk group). DJ Jazzy Jay introduced Rubin to Russell Simmons, who quickly became his Def Jam partner. With Simmons, the single It's Yours (T La Rock and DJ Jazzy Jay) became the first single to bear a Def Jam logo, and as such Simmons is often credited as a co-founder.

The first releases to bear both a Def Jam logo and catalog number were released in 1984 (I Need a Beat by LL Cool J and Rock Hard by the Beastie Boys).

First Distribution Deal and OBR:

The first Def Jam singles garnered enough attention to allow the label to land a major label distribution deal with Columbia Records (which was a subsidiary of CBS Records, which was subsequently bought out by Sony). LL Cool J's classic Radio, released in 1985, was the first Def Jam release to receive major label distribution and their first full length album.
Around this time, Def Jam tried to get into the R&B business and founded the label OBR to cater to R&B artists. They had a hit with The Rain by Oran "Juice" Jones, but the label folded shortly after.

Def Jam: Varied Sounds and Rising Success:

During the course of the 1980s, Def Jam's success steadily increased. The 80s marked the move of hip hop from the underground to the mainstream, and Def Jam was instrumental in helping the genre make that transition. During the 1980s, however, the label was never completely a hip hop label. One of their biggest signings of the decade was metal group Slayer.
Def Jam achieved one of their biggest successes of the decade - and became the subject of a great of controversy - when they signed Public Enemy at the end of the decade.

Rubin vs Cohen :

During the 1980s, a power struggle was going on behind the scenes at Def Jam between founder Rick Rubin and Lyor Cohen, who had been working with Simmons on Simmons' management work with Run D.M.C. In 1988, Cohen was able to trump Rubin and landed the role of president of Def Jam. Rubin left the label and started Def American Records, which was soon renamed American Records.

Rush Associated Labels and Financial Troubles:

Cohen and Simmons founded Rush Associated Labels (RAL) in the early 1990s as an umbrella group for several different labels, including Def Jam. The new business ventures proved expensive. Def Jam had several multi-platinum releases in the early 1990s, including releases by ONYX and EPMD, but they were still facing severe financial troubles by 1992.
On the cusp of bankruptcy, Def Jam was bailed out when Polygram Records purchased 50% of the label. Polygram eventually gained a firm control, buying another 9.8%. Warren G's Regulate...The G Funk Era was a sales success and helped the label further recover financially.

RAL to Def Jam Music Group and Island Def Jam. :

In 1995, RAL was renamed Def Jam Music Group. Sales were good for the label at this time, thanks to releases by LL Cool J and Foxy Brown. Def Jam ended up under the Universal Music Group umbrella when Polygram was bought out by Seagrams, a division of Universal. Universal merged their Island label, creating Island Def Jam. Universal bought out Simmons for $100 million.
Simmons became distant from the label at this time, but Cohen stayed on. Def Jam launched several new ventures during this period, including Def Jam South. They also distributed Murder Inc. Records, which would land Cohen in legal trouble.

Power Struggles in the 2000s:

Def Jam Germany was launched in 2000 by Cohen, to expand the label's profile internationally. Trouble arose for Cohen in 2003, when Murder Inc. Records was investigated for money laundering. Cohen had championed the label, and the investigation led to a raid in Def Jam's building. Around the same time, Cohen left the label for Warner Music Group.

Antonio L.A. Reid took over Def Jam after Cohen's departure. Reid and Cohen fought for Jay-Z's contract, and to win the artist, Reid made Jay-Z president of Def Jam. Jay-Z's own Roc-a-Fella label had already been bought by Def Jam. Jay-Z's presidency contract expired in 2007, and it was not renewed, leaving Reid to step back into that role.

Should YOU Go to a Music Industry Convention?

The prospect of attending a music industry convention is understandably appealing for a musician. After all, lots of music biz reps will be in one place at one time, including possibly people from your dream label or that manager you'd love to get some face time with - it sounds like this could be your big chance. Plus, these events can be a lot of fun. There's tons of music, tons of music fans, and even tons of free drinks - what's not to like?

Well, one thing not to like is the price of admission. Music convention passes cost hundreds, and that's before you even consider things like travel and accommodation. Is it worth it? Should you suck it up and shell out the cash for the chance to work the crowds and promote your music? Should you become a music convention regular?

First things first - hands down, the best option any musician has for attending any music industry convention is to apply for a showcase show at the event. If you are picked by the convention to play a show, then you can rest assured that your show will be promoted effectively, giving you the best chance of getting an audience. Although it's unlikely you'll be paid for your gig, you are likely to get free admission to all of the events at the convention and maybe even a stipend for travel and accommodation. If you think you want to attend a particular music industry trade show, attempting to get a gig there should be your priority.

Naturally, competition to play these events is stiff, so what happens if this option doesn't pan out - should you still go? Tempting though it may be, musicians seldom get their money worth out of attending these events on their own. Here are some things to consider:
  • Attendees at music conventions have CDs, flyers, stickers, badges, pens, pencils - you name it - coming at them from all directions. Usually, for attendees, when the glow of the event wears off, they're left staring at a huge stack of business cards from people they're not sure they remember meeting and an even bigger stack of promo CDs to wade through (and yes, you guessed it, a fair few of them end up in the bin).
  • If you've got a demo and you're thinking of attending the event in hopes of getting a record deal, be aware that pitching your demo in person is not usually the best way to go about it. It's uncomfortable for everyone involved. You'd be hard pressed to find a label that wants to get an unsolicited demo from a musician in person and be put on the spot - if anything, you might hurt your chances because you'll be remembered for the awkward moment. Of course, you can simply give someone a CD and press pack and leave it at that, but then, you could do that with a stamp or internet connection - you don't need to pay the price of admission for that.
  • For many music biz types, there is actually work to be done at these events. These events are a central meeting spot to get some one on one time in person with all of the people they do business who live far away, and they usually have their own agenda to complete, like seeking new distribution or licensing deals or promoting new releases. Schedules can actually be quite busy and may not leave a lot of time for the demo ambush meeting.
  • Musicians who book gigs in town at the same time as a music convention but that are not connected to the convention seldom do well. Music trade shows do a good job of promoting their sponsored shows to attendees, so you'll be well off the radar.
For these reasons, you're unlikely to get enough bang for your buck to justify the cost of attending a music convention simply to market your demo. There are, however, times when attending a trade show could be a good thing:
  • If you are acting as your own record label, and you're going there with your label boss hat on, rather than simply your musician hat. Be aware here that you can increase your chances of success at the event even more if you have another artist on your label to talk about in addition to your own release.
  • If attending the show won't be a financial burden. You shouldn't divert money from important things like promotion or playing live, but if you can swing the cost of admission, attending a music convention is a great learning experience. Even the most experienced people walk away from music trade shows understanding more about the music industry, and you're likely to come away with lots of new ideas.
Of course, some music trade shows are more friendly environments for up and coming musicians than others.

Should I Self Release My Album?

If you have been sending your demo out to record labels and nothing seems to be happening - or even if you haven't - the idea of releasing your own album can be appealing. Self releasing an album can work, but don't underestimate the amount of hard graft involved. Whether self releasing is the right choice for you depends on a few factors:
  • Cost - Having an album pressed is not cheap, and without the backing of a label, you have to carry that cost yourself. Labels often get better rates with manufacturers because they can order in larger volume or because they have a distribution deal in which their distributor pays for pressing. Further, without any track record behind you, a manufacturer may not extend credit to you, meaning you have to shell out up front, before you make any money on your record. 
  • Distribution - Self releasing an album and selling it online is fine, but if you want your record in the shops, you are going to need some kind of distribution deal. Some distributors will take on your album and simply funnel it into shops if they happen to order it, but a good distributor takes your music and ACTIVELY sells it to the music stores. Getting one these distributors is pretty hard with your first album, so you may find that your sales avenues are fairly limited as you get started. 
  • Promotion - An established label, even a small one, will have relationships with press/radio that they can cash in on to generate some press buzz for their releases. Most labels will also hire PR companies, which may be too pricey for you to do on your own (again, this can be a question of volume - if a label runs a lot of business through a particular PR company, they can get a better price).
These things all have a way of tying in together - for instance, if you have a PR company lined up to work your release, a distributor will be more interested in working with you, because press attention makes your album easier to sell, and if you have a distributor, the manufacturer might be willing to extend credit to you, because the distributor will help you get sales to cover your bills.

Last but not least, you have to consider the nuts and bolts of the operation. Do you know how to release a record? Do you have time to dedicate to the project to make it worthwhile? Do you have the commitment to follow through with your ideas? Saying "yes" to all of these questions is crucial if you want to be successful at self releasing a record.

That's the reality check part of the answer - now here's the good news. You CAN self releases your record - and it can be a great thing for your music career. It comes down to setting realistic goals. If this is your first releases and you don't have any press coverage, start small. Sell your albums at your shows, try to get local independent record stores to take it on a consignment basis and try to drum up some press coverage. Don't forget to use your website to sell your album to your fans as well. When you have some sales under your belt and some press to show off, start looking for a distributor who can take your album out to a wider audience. 

Every success and every bit of progress, no matter how small, is a building block for your next step.
One caveat - if getting signed to a label is a major goal of yours, be aware that when you self release an album, a label may hesitate to release that album in the future. The reason is that if you have already gotten the press and the attention for those songs, they will be unable to re-promote them. If you want to get signed, and you want to self release an album in the meantime, consider either holding back some of your songs or continuing to write and record new ones while you are working your release. This way, a label has something brand new to work with.

The bottom line is that self releasing your album is unlikely to bring you international stardom. If you have the dedication, means and patience to treat it like a step towards something bigger, however, it can pay off for you down the line.

Use Twitter for Music Promotion

Can you use Twitter to promote your band, or is it just one more distraction? That all depends on how you use it. Find out how to use Twitter for your music career in a way that wins you fans.

Here's How:

  1. Set Up Your Twitter Page:
    First things first - you need to set up a Twitter account if you don't have one already. Getting your Twitter page started couldn't be easier. Simply visit the Twitter website and click the "sign up" button. Twitter will walk you through the steps of setting up your page and will teach you how to make your first "tweets" - the 140 character posts you send out to your followers to let them know what you're doing. The whole process takes just a few minutes, and you can use your account immediately.
  2. Start Following:
    Once your Twitter account is in place, it's time to start looking for other Twitter users to follow. If you know friends who use Twitter, start off by following them and then checking to see who else is following them - you might find more people to follow yourself in their list. The trick here is to get people to follow you - and the best way to do that is to start following them.

    Since you want to use Twitter to advance your music, your label or other music related business, look for fellow music types. Music fans, journalists, artists, labels, etc - these are the people you want to follow you.
  3. Tweet Wisely...:
    The beauty of Twitter is also its downfall - the TMI effect. Twitter can be a great way to not only keep fans informed about your news but it can also make them feel closer to the whole process when you tweet about things you're working on as you're doing them. The trick is not to go too far and overload people with so much info they ignore your tweets. For instance, peppering your tweets about your show dates with tweets like "out buying strings for the tour" can be fun for people to read, but chronicling every inhale and exhale is overkill. Your important info will get lost in the shuffle.

  4. ...But Do Be Personal:
    Although giving people too much info can be a Twitter turnoff, not giving them enough attention can be equally damaging. There are many services, like Twitterfeed that will pick up your blog RSS feeds and post them to your Twitter page, doing the tweeting for you. This is good for your blog traffic, but if your only tweets are through a feeder, than people will stop paying attention. Make sure you keep adding personal tweets in there with the tweets picked up but your feeder - otherwise people will think you ignore your Twitter page - and they'll start ignoring you.
  5. Join the Conversation...:
    Social interaction is the point of Twitter, so jump into the conversation. Not only may you end up building relationships with people that can help you in your music career, but you will also draw people back to your own Twitter page - where all of your news about your new release, tour dates and more can be found. You may even draw in some new fans.
  6. ...But Don't Waste Too Much Time:
    Like MySpace, Twitter can be an enormous time sucker. Don't substitute interaction on Twitter, MySpace or any social networking site for actually DOING something. Twitter can be a tool in your promotional arsenal, but it should never come before the basics like practicing, playing shows, and so on. Your number of Twitter followers, like your number of MySpace friends, is actually a pretty poor indicator of how much you're accomplishing, so don't forget most of what you need to do for your music career needs to happen outside of the virtual world.
  7. Good Things to Post on Twitter:
    Here are some ideas about things your can tweet about to keep music fans interested:

    • Updates from the studio when recording
    • Updates on the manufacturing process (announce when artwork is finished, when the master has been approved, when finished copies are delivered, etc)
    • Reminders about release dates, shows and other news
    • Updates from the road when you're on tour
    • News about deals it's ok to talk about (for instance -"just arranged digital distribution with such and such company")
    • Day to day work news (e.g., "just signed off on ad copy for magazine")

Before You Apply for Music Business Funding

Paying for a music career is just about the hardest part of keeping the whole thing going. Musicians, record labels, music managers, promoters, agents - you name it - all face a constant battle of completing their projects while paying the bills. But how you get your music business funding and what you do with the money makes a big difference. Before you start digging yourself one big old hole of debt, find what you need to know so that your money woes don't shut you down.

Know Your Sources

Where you get your money is just about the most important factor to consider. Getting a loan or an investment in your record label or other music business from a bad source can cause all kinds of problems, ranging from sky high interest rates that leave you no hope of paying off your bills in this lifetime to losing all creative control of your business - or at the very least having to consult someone who really gets on your nerves about all business decisions. Don't just take the cash and worry about it later. You have to be able to pay ALL of the prices that come with your loan/investment.

Know the Right Approach

There are many different potential funding sources, and there is a unique approach you need to take to dealing with each one. You may be able to convince family to throw some money your way by begging and pleading, but everyone else you deal with needs to see a bit more from you. The best way to make sure you're ready for anything is to write up a complete business plan. You won't get anywhere if you can't speak knowledgeably about your project, and writing a plan will help focus your own thoughts as well. And of course, know before you approach someone for money exactly what info they will expect from you.

Know How Much You Need

A very common mistake people make when they want a music business loan is that they think the amount of money they need is "as much as possible." Not true. If you're going to write a business plan, then coming up with a realistic budget will be part of the process. If you're going to skip the plan, you still need to do some research into the likely costs involved, how much you think you can make, and how long you think it will take you to make it. Doing this before you start going can put the brakes on those rather unnecessary expenses like "company cars" (indie labels with company cars - that one drives me nuts).

 Know How to Spend It

On a related point, know how to spend your music business investment or loan wisely. For instance, if you want to release a record, you need to make decisions about pressing, packaging and promotion expenses. You can decide to go all digital and skip the pressing and packaging - that's money in the bank - and you can decide to do your promotion in-house. If you decide to go for a physical pressing, then your real danger zone will be packaging. Yes, cool packaging looks, well, cool - but if you're trying to stay afloat, spending money on 32 page color booklets isn't a good call. The basic rule? Be cheap.

Summing It All Up

When you apply for a music business loan or other kind of funding, there are a few questions you should be able to answer:
  • Who is your ideal funding source, and how can you approach them?
  • How much money do you need to for your project?
  • How can you spend the money in a way that gives your project a good shot at being a success but that keeps costs down as much as possible?
The answers to these questions will help you figure out how to cover your costs and maybe even come out on top. If you're unsure about the answers, it's back to the drawing board to develop your plan a little more.

Prepare for a Music Trade Show

You shell out a lot of cold hard cash to attend a music trade show, so to make that trip worth the price tag, you need to be prepared. Here are a few simple tips to get you music convention ready so you walk out with tons of great new music industry contacts.
Time Required: Ongoing

Here's How:

  1. Register Early!:
    This is sometimes easier said than done - after all, you may not know if you'll have the cash to go to a music trade show until the last minute, or some new project that needs promotion might pop up at the last second. However, if at all possible, decide months ahead of the music convention that you want to attend and sign up as early as possible. Early registration can save you hundreds, plus, it gives you plenty of time to get your game together.
  2. Do Your Homework:
    Most conventions and trade shows will offer a list of registered attendees at some point before the show on the website. Sometimes the lists are just that - lists - but other times, you can find information about what kind of music a person is into and what they hope to find at the trade show. Reach out to people you think you might be able to work with well in advance of the trade show. Schedule a meeting if at all possible, and then follow up closer to the event.

  3. Prepare the Goods:
    Why are you attending the trade show? Do you want to score licensing or distribution, or maybe promote a new release? Now is the time to prepare things that can help you get the job done. Burn some promos, make some promo flyers, print up one sheets - make sure you have everything you need, and that it is organized and easy for you to access. Keep in mind that EVERYONE is handing out stuff at these events, so skip the 20 page press packs, but try to look for a way to make your product stand out. That can be as simple as using brightly colored sleeves or printing up some badges.

  4. Practice Your Spiel:
    Especially at larger music industry events, you may find yourself face to face with Mr/Ms Music Industry Hot Shot, who is giving you a withering look and daring you to waste their time. You'll have a very short amount of time to capture their attention - there will be tons more like you waiting in the wings for their shot - so you need to be able to confidentially speak about your music project, whatever it is. This takes some practice. Although you don't want to sound rehearsed, it's a good idea to give your speech a few dry runs so you feel good about covering all of the basic points.
  5. Brush Up on the Basics:
    If you're new to the music business, it's only natural to feel like you're a little out of the loop on music industry vocab - which will only add to the pressure these music trade shows sometimes create. If it increases your confidence, spend a little time learning some music biz basic lingo - this little cheat sheet can help.
  6. Learn More About Music Trade Shows:
    Need some help figuring out which trade shows are right for you? Check out these profiles:


Music Business Angels:

Music business angel investors can take several different forms. Your angel might be a family member or friend with deep pockets, or they may be a complete stranger with loads of cash who is interested in investing in start-up companies. Some music business angels are people who have made their money in music and want to pass along their good fortune AND their expertise. Other are simply people with money to spend who like the idea of getting involved in music. Angels will help with start-up cash, but your proposed business needs to be of a certain size to make it worth their time (see "Small Print" section below).

Venture Capitalists:

Venture capitalists (VCs) will invest in businesses both at start-up and at times when the company needs a cash injection to grow. If you're looking for VC funding, make sure you look for a group that has history of investing in music related businesses. Although VCs look for high risk investments, they're not always good matches with creative industries unless they're used to that realm. In other words, if you can even get them to take you seriously to begin with, they don't really care about your "artistic integrity" - they want the loot, and they want it fast.

Arts Councils:

Americans can all but forget about this one, but outside of the States, most countries have funding bodies that provide money for the arts, including the music industry. These arts funding groups can be great places to get the money you need because they are willing to work with music businesses of all sizes and have the ability to take chances on projects profit seekers like angels and VCs wouldn't touch. Even better, most of the time they give grants rather than loans, so you don't have to pay it back. You'll still need a good business plan to work with them, however - though in most cases, they can help you write it.

Major Labels:

For indie labels, investment by a major label is an option. This kind of investment will typically only after you've built a proven track record of success as a label and need money to expand - start-up cash from a major is usually only given to someone who has either run a successful indie label in the past or has a good sales record as an artist.
Of course, funding from a major will require cedeing some control of your label, which has not always ended well for indies. Learn more:


This is another one that is specific to labels, and it's getting a bit harder to find. However, in some cases, you may be able to get a distributor to invest in a release on a project basis. For instance, if you have a chance to work with a big name artist, but you can't really afford to come up with the advance or the money to give the album a proper push, your distributor might step in with an advance against future earnings on the album or with a loan that would make them an investor in the project, giving them a larger cut of the album's profits.
Distributors might also help with manufacturing.

The Small Print:

When you're looking for investors in your music business, it's important to remember that in exchange for the cash, you'll be giving up a chunk of your business, some of your autonomy, or both. Make sure you carefully consider the real cost of the investment - not only what you will have to pay back, but what you will be sacrificing when you work with an investor - and make sure you are clear on these points in advance. Some things to consider include:

  • Does your investor want to be involved in making business decisions? If so, do they have experience in the music industry or another creative industry (and if yes, do you share a similar philosophy in terms of the business)? Working with an investor with tons of music industry experience who wants to help you shape and build your business can be a great thing. Working with an investor who simply has a lot of money and wants to invest in your music related business because they think it would be kind of fun might not be such a great thing if they want some say-so in your business decisions. (Note that not all investors will want to become involved in your business. Some just want to make an investment and wait for the payoff.)

  • Make sure you understand if you are getting an investment or a loan. Investments bring risk for the investor, and so they understand they may lose their money. A loan needs to be paid back.

  • If your investor is pressuring you to sign over a large share of your business, be cautious. If large amounts of money and large shares are involved, get legal advice.
Another thing to remember when you're seeking investment is that the hardest kind of business to find funding for is a very small one. Generally speaking, VCs don't want to talk to you unless you need at least several hundreds of thousands in investment. Music business angels will invest in smaller companies than that, but typically they're looking for investment opportunities at least in the tens of thousands range. Raising a few thousand dollars is the hardest thing to do. In the absence of arts councils or generous family/friends, you may need to consider savings, personal loans and credit cards if you need a relatively small amount of money to get going.
Also, be aware that music investment is usually given to businesses like labels, promotion companies, etc. Bands looking for investment will have a difficult time going through one of these routes and will need to look to labels, distributors and so on for their needs.

Ways To Find Music Business Seminars and Conventions In Your Area...

Music business seminars provide you with the opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills and also helps you connect with other people in the business. 

Business is about relationships so these events are well worth the time and money you spend to attend. 

You'll find 6 good ways to track down seminars, conventions and other music business events in your area on the page below. 

1 - Use The Press...
Weekly and daily local newspapers and magazines publish articles and ads for music seminars and conventions. Grab a few of the latest issues and scan them for events which tickle your musical fancy. 

2 - Contact Colleges and Universities...
Local educational institutions, especially music schools and colleges, may host or know of music business seminars. Check their websites for contact details and phone them up! 

3 - Ask Music Organizations...
Music organizations often host or sponsor events so they can be a great way to discover events in your area. A good place on the Web to find these organizations in your area or field of speciality is the Open Directory Project site

4 - Hit the Search Engines...
Twitter Search, Google, Yahoo or Bing it. Search for "music business seminar [insert your city]" or "music convention [insert your city]" and variations. Enough said! 

5 - Scan Music Business News Sites...
Music business news sites often keep calendars of important events in the business. Two fine examples are... 

6 - Ask People In The Business.
Musicians, producers, engineers, promoters, publishers, booking agents, music journalists, radio hosts and music bloggers are all good people to ask about upcoming events or seminars.

Here are my top tips for reaching out to music Bloggers and web site owners...

  • Research - Make sure the Blogger writes about music similar to yours or topics which relate to your genre. Use to find the top Bloggers who write about music in your genre. 
  • Be real - Concentrate on building authentic relationships with the Bloggers you approach. Use the Blogger or Site Owners name when you approach.
  • Be nice - Compliment their work, flattery gets you everywhere. This doesn't mean you need to make things up. Find something you really like about their web site and simply let them know.
  • Have a story - Create your story or the story of the album before you contact Bloggers. Make the story interesting, something they would deem worthy enough to publish. It has to be more than just the fact that you are releasing an album.
  • Be easy - The less work the Blogger has to do the bigger your chances of being published. Prepare text they can publish and offer to provide any further information they need.
  • From the Desk of...

    Your music web site has three main goals...

    1) Attract and then convert potential tribe members into active tribe members...

    You want to use your web site to attract and engage the attention of your potential tribe members and then give them a ton of reasons to like you and trust you.
    You can offer free downloads with your E-zine sign-ups, you can offer streaming music, you can create give-aways and competitions.
    Your goal here is to start a relationship with potential tribe members, which turns them into active tribe members.

    2) Give current active tribe members reasons and tools to remain active...

    Your active tribe members are those who listen to your music, watch your videos, follow you online and those who tell their friends about you and your music.
    You want to update your content regularly to give active tribe members a reason to keep an eye on your site. Provide an RSS feed and an e-mail newsletter so tribe members can follow you with ease.
    You want to also give them the reasons (music, videos, competitions, give-aways) and the means (links and social networking widgets) to spread the word, and spread the word they will!

    3) Give active tribe members reasons to become core tribe members...

    Your Internet music marketing strategy should not be about advertising everywhere to try sell your music to everyone. You and I both see through people who try to sell, sell, sell. We spot fakes with ease.
    Your strategy should be to attract the attention of those most likely to become active members of your tribe and win their trust.
    Your core tribe members are those who spend money to support you and your music.
    Your goal therefore is to turn more potential tribe members into active tribe members and then turn active tribe members into core tribe members.
    You will in the long run grow your music career and business only when you build long term relationships with your core tribe members.
    Remember, active and supportive tribe members grow your music career and business while you sleep and make more music. We're talking bread and butter.

    Treat the attention of your potential, active and core tribe members with respect and your music business and career will grow.

    Music business talk with Antonio “L.A. Reid

    Antonio “L.A.” Reid has stayed professionally in tune since the 1980s, when he was part of R&B group The Deele and then co-founded LaFace Records with fellow member Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. The 55-year-old, who in July was officially named chairman and CEO of Epic Records, has had a hand in the careers of hit makers such as Usher, Pink, OutKast, and Mariah Carey. He also produced teen pop star Justin Bieber’s feature concert film Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, which was released earlier this year. In September, Reid hit prime time as a judge on Fox’s The X Factor, the latest music talent competition imported from the United Kingdom featuring music mogul Simon Cowell. Black Enterprise talked to the Grammy-winning producer and songwriter about the new show, how to get in the decision-making seats in the music business, and his  inspirations.

    What compelled you to do The X Factor?
    I always liked the idea of platforms to discover and identify talent. In the music industry, we have often struggled with those platforms, and one of the most innovative ideas was television talent competitions. So Simon [Cowell] talked to me about it, and I loved the idea and signed on. It’s really that simple.

    You started your career in music as a drummer. Had you always planned to be an executive?
    A little bit, yes. I’m inspired by legendary record men like Berry Gordy, Ahmet Ertegun, and Clive Davis. I always wanted to be a record man, at least probably since I was 18. So I came into the industry on the creative side and then I started management and learned more about the business.

    You took some classes at Harvard Business School.
    Harvard was a great experience. I did not attend college. I took the Harvard Advanced Management Program for close to 10 weeks, and I lived on campus in a dorm. I stopped running my business and I put 60 to 70 hours a week into the studies. I already knew how to successfully run my business, but it really prepared me to speak the language of corporate America and deal with some of the expectations. I am proud, though. I have Harvard paraphernalia around my office.

    What steps should an aspiring music executive take to get to that level?
    Start with music—whether you’re learning music, working around music, working in recording studios, or being a DJ. While what we sell and what our passion may be is music, executives have a great general education and a great general knowledge of the industry.

    What are you passionate about outside of music?
    I love my family. When I’m not with my family, I’m working. So I don’t have hobbies. I’m fascinated by successful people or people who I see on that course. I’m inspired by what’s in the DNA of a successful person. I want to do movies, biopics, on people that motivate me. I’d love to do Miles Davis. I’m inspired by him. I’d love to do the Mariah Carey story. I think she’s a fascinating woman. People who come from very trying backgrounds. I wish I could do the Jay-Z movie. I think he’s one of the most charismatic men on the planet.

    You mentioned Mariah Carey, and she’s somebody you’ve worked with. One would think that she would say you inspire or motivate her.

    I can’t work with artists unless they inspire me. I don’t even know what my effect on them may be; it doesn’t even matter to me. But I have to find something particularly compelling about them.

    L.A. Reid

    A Day in the Life of a Music Mogul

    There are countless backstage wizards in music-industry Oz, but very few with the track record — and the roster — of 55-year-old Antonio ''L.A.'' Reid. As a producer, songwriter, and executive (first at LaFace, then Arista, and now as chairman and CEO at Island Def Jam), he has nurtured two decades of top-level talent, including Kanye West, Rihanna, Pink, OutKast, Justin Bieber, TLC, Whitney Houston, Usher, Avril Lavigne, the Killers, and Toni Braxton. He's also earned a reputation for engineering the comebacks of established stars: Under his tutelage, a Glitter-tarnished Mariah Carey achieved one of the most spectacular turnarounds in pop history. Follow along as we spends the day with Reid: a 16-hour marathon that takes him from the executive boardroom to TV soundstages, tour-bus powwows, and beyond.

    6:30 am Wake up. ''I live on the Upper East Side — squaresville, where nothing's hip.''

    7:45 am Take 7-year-old son, Addison, to school.

    8:30 am Arrive at Good Morning America set in Times Square, where Rihanna performs two songs from her new album, LOUD. Backstage, she and Reid huddle in private discussion. ''Rihanna has had my full and undivided attention forever, and as far as I'm concerned she will always have it,'' he says. ''I spend a lot of time with Kanye West and I love him, but he is more self-contained. He's such an iconic genius that I'm almost intimidated to have an opinion about [his work], so I let him do his thing and I support him.''

    10:00 am Breakfast meeting with staff to discuss upcoming American Music Award performances by Bon Jovi, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Ne-Yo. ''There's no difference between what I did when I was in a band ['80s R&B outfit the Deele, with future LaFace cofounder Babyface] and what I do running a record company; it's the same job. It is always about identifying talent, identifying material, and marketing it, managing the personalities.''

    11:30 am Meet with staff regarding Jay-Z's The Hits Collection, Volume One, out the following week. ''I basically challenged my team, because I felt the book [Decoded, Jay's new memoir] was being marketed better than the record. It's unacceptable. So we had that conversation. [Pause] That's as much as I should say about that.''

    12:30 pm Interview with EW. Reid discusses his philosophy: ''We don't sign an artist to fill a void, ever. I'll never find a Taylor Swift. You can't find a new Madonna, you cannot find a Prince, a Bob Marley, a John Lennon. You won't find another Kanye West. We simply deal with people as they walk in, and we say we either love them or we don't.''

    1:30 pm Strategy confab with executives regarding Rihanna's single ''Only Girl (In the World)'' and the plan to temporarily lower its cost on iTunes to help drive it to No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart — a spot that her ''What's My Name?'' currently holds. Reid's stance is firm: ''These customers don't buy songs because they're less money, they buy because they want the song, because they f---ing love it, and that's the only thing that's gonna sell it.''

    2:00 pm Photo shoot with EW.

    2:30 pm Working lunch and phone call with Morgan Spurlock, the director of Super Size Me, regarding an interview for upcoming documentary on the importance of branding in the music industry.

    3:30 pm Meeting regarding Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. ''He and I were going back and forth most of the afternoon on what the next single should be.... I know what I want, and he knows what he wants, and [later tonight] we'll talk privately about it.''

    5:00 pm Discuss and approve new TV spots and billboards for the upcoming Justin Bieber docu-film Never Say Never, which Reid is producing. ''Justin's mother, Pattie, has so much footage of him, it's incredible. She must have filmed him every day growing up. She just gets it, man.''

    6:30 pm Backstage at New Jersey's Izod Center visiting Burnham, a pop-rock trio featuring three Vermont-bred teen brothers. The band is opening for Justin Bieber. ''I love those kids. All they need is one hit.''

    8:30 pm Meet up with Bieber backstage, and join preshow prayer circle. ''I swear, all he wants to do is go out and run around with those girls out there. But he won't. He's in there with his vocal coach, and he'll be in there until showtime.''

    9:45 pm Back to Manhattan for Ne-Yo's album-release party and performance. ''He's my boy.''

    11:00 pm Dinner at the Breslin with label staff, discussing why music videos still matter: ''Listen, we're still selling stardom. That doesn't go away because MTV decides they can't play videos or they want to program themselves more as a traditional TV station. Vevo and YouTube are like MTV online, and on demand.''

    12:30 am Back at the office to listen to new music and approve mixes.

    2:00 am Leave the office.

    3:00 am Lights out.

    Antonio "L.A." Reid (born June 7, 1956) is a US record executive, songwriter, and record producer. Best known as the co-founder of LaFace Records, he is responsible for signing and helping bring Avril Lavigne, Death Grips, Mariah Carey, Pink, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Kanye West, Toni Braxton, Kerli, Nicki Minaj, TLC, Usher, Ciara, OutKast, and Dido to multi-platinum album sales.

    He has won three Grammy Awards. He is the President and chief executive of Hitco Music Publishing, based in Atlanta and was the chairman and chief executive officer of Island Def Jam Music Group until 2011, when he signed up to appear as a judge on the 2011 U.S. version of The X Factor. He is currently the Chairman and CEO of Epic Records.

     Reid's first appearance on record was with Cincinnati funk rock outfit Pure Essence who released one solitary 45 in the middle 1970s as well as garnering an appearance on local FM rock radio station WEBN's second annual LP compilation, this time as Essence. Reid then became a member of the 1980s R&B band The Deele, best known for their 1988 hit "Two Occasions", a song on the remake by LA Production and Recording Studio Music Intersection. The band had broken up before the success of the single, then reunited to promote "Two Occasions" as it rose up the charts. The song peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    1989–2004: LaFace Records and Arista years

    After The Deele disbanded, Reid and band mate Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds founded LaFace in 1989 through a joint venture with Arista Records, with funding from Arista Records creator Clive Davis. The label soon became one of the premiere destinations for popular African-American entertainers who created Black Pop music that was easily accessible to both Urban and Top 40 radio formats. Reid signed 14 year old Usher to the label, whose six album releases have sold 65 million units worldwide. Other popular acts on the label during its peak include Toni Braxton, TLC, and Outkast. Initially headquartered in Atlanta, the label played a role in building the current landscape of the Atlanta music industry.

    In May 2000, Edmonds and Reid sold their remaining 50% stake in LaFace to parent company BMG. The label became an imprint of Arista Records, with Arista taking on sales, marketing, and promotional duties for its acts. At this time, Reid also succeeded his mentor, Clive Davis, as President of Arista Records. This happened after Davis refused to name a successor at the request of Arista parent company, BMG, due to the fact that Davis, who was 67, was beyond the company's mandatory retirement age. Davis went on to find success creating another BMG imprint named J Records, which signed global superstars such as Alicia Keys, Luther Vandross and Rod Stewart. Reid then took a six week executive course at the Harvard Business School in order to prepare himself to become CEO and President of Arista.

    As President of Arista Records, Reid brought the company great success by signing artists such as P!nk, Ciara and Avril Lavigne, whose debut album Let Go sold 6 million copies in the United States. Under Reid's tenure at Arista, Usher (whom Reid originally signed at LaFace) completed production on his multi-platinum hit 2004 album Confessions, which went on to spawn 4 #1 hit singles and sell 10 million copies in the United States alone. Outkast's Speakerboxx/Lovebelow also went on to sell 10 million copies and won a Grammy Award for Album of the year.

    2004–2011: Island Def Jam Music Group

    Following the merger of Sony and BMG, L.A. Reid was released from his contract at Arista in 2004 and quickly became the Chairman and CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group in February 2004. Reid is noted for bringing Mariah Carey's career back to prominence with her multi-platinum 2005 album The Emancipation Of Mimi after her career had stalled from 2001-2003 with less than stellar sales and general lack of public interest for her two previous projects Glitter and Charmbracelet.
    Reid has also played a role in the recent successes of artists such as Amerie, Kanye West, Rihanna (alongside Jay-Z), Bon Jovi, and most recently teenage pop phenomenon Justin Bieber. In the last few years, L.A. Reid has also been responsible for the recent high profile signings of major Pop music artists such as Janet Jackson (who left the company after her 2008 album, Discipline), Utada (who also left the company in 2010), as well as former Bad Boy rapper Shyne to the record company. However, in 2006, Reid's label dropped Lady Gaga after three months of signing her. This would eventually be the inspiration of Gaga's Marry The Night video. Reid stepped down as CEO and Chairman of Def Jam in March 2011.

    2011–present: The X Factor and Epic Records

    Reid became a judge on the U.S. version of the British singing competition The X Factor, alongside its creator and former American Idol judge Simon Cowell, 80s pop star Paula Abdul and former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger (who replaced British pop star Cheryl Cole). In July 2011, Reid became the Chairman and CEO of Epic Records which also includes various former Jive Records artists.
    Reid was assigned the Boys category throughout the competition, which was announced to him by phone whilst working in New York City, New York. He was aided by friend and singer Rihanna at the Judges' Houses stage of the competition in The Hamptons. His final four acts were Marcus Canty, Chris Rene, Astro and Phillip Lomax. Lomax was eliminated on week one of the Live Shows, with Astro being eliminated on week six. Marcus Canty came fourth in the competition and was eliminated by the public vote in the semi-final (week eight). Chris Rene was Reid's most successful act who came third overall in the competition, bested by Josh Krajcik (who was mentored by Nicole Scherzinger) in second place and Melanie Amaro (mentored by Simon Cowell) who won the show. After the season has ended, Reid is now working with Astro, Marcus Canty and Chris Rene on their music careers.

     In January 2012, it was confirmed by Cowell and Fox that major changes would be made to The X Factor for season 2. It was later confirmed that Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul had been axed from the panel, with Steve Jones being axed as host. Reid is returning for a second season alongside Simon Cowell who is returning to the panel, as well as new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. British X Factor judge Louis Walsh will also join Reid, Spears and Lovato at the season two auditions in Kansas City covering for Simon Cowell.

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