Monday, January 6, 2014

Sole Proprietorship Isn’t for Musicians In the previous blog post I wrote entitled Why Record Labels Won’t Sign You, I embedded a table which listed several business entities, including Limited Liability Company (LLC), S Corporation and C Corporation (Inc.), Non-Profit, General Partnership, and Sole Proprietorship. Sole proprietors are the same as general partners, except that general partners are two or more individuals with ownership. One of the main reasons for choosing an entity is for taxing purposes, as one entity is best suited for you depending on your business. Entrepreneurs and investors weigh the pros and cons when choosing the appropriate entity. In some cases, they decide to change their entity to another, even long after the business first launched. But I want to encourage my fellow music professionals to never structure a business as a sole proprietor or general partnership. The only reason why I suggest against filing as such is because one’s personal belongings are at risk in the case of a lawsuit. When McDonald’s is sued, for example, none of the owners are personally liable for damages. That means the owners do not have to go in their personal bank accounts. The company itself is sued. However, as a sole proprietor, the individual and the business are the same. The music industry is very litigious. Too many lawsuits are filed. Copyright holders sue others in response to possible infringement. It is therefore too risky for musicians, record labels, songwriters, producers, composers/beat makers, and artist managers to file as sole proprietors. Imagine paying thousands of dollars out of your pocket. You’re bound to be in debt with the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, which isn’t good for your personal credit history. This is why those working in the music and entertainment industry are recommended to “incorporate.” The word incorporate means to create a body (person), as in a corpse. Your business becomes a person (although not human) and you conduct business on behalf of that person. So when a business face litigation, the incorporated body is in trouble, not you. On the other hand, a sole proprietorship and general partnership are considered as “unincorporated” businesses. If the business gets sued, the owner potentially loses his house, cars, and other personal possessions. Be sure to file as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation (Inc.). If you’re already a sole proprietor or general partnership, STOP making music. Don’t do anything else. Postpone all collaborations until you change your entity. If you haven’t filed as anything at all, then the government may see you as an individual contractor, which may be just as bad (so to speak) as a sole proprietorship. Christopher Patton Hot Bird Music The business and music development services at helps you beat 90% of musicians and companies that fail.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Music Business Defines Vocabulary for Warren Buffett Have you noticed that the music business has a set of vocabulary words not typically spoken in the rest of the business world? Of course, every industry has its jargon, but the music business tend to give occupations a title that significantly differs from what outsiders name it. This isn’t a reference to the terminology communicated among students of music theory, or tech words audio engineers can relate to. I’m regarding music-oriented corporations and freelancers that aren’t known by generic names. So if a record label needs a financial backing from, say, Warren Buffett, how would the owners of that record label define their products and operations in (business) laymen terms? What is the time efficient way to translate the language of the music industry before Mr. Buffett tilt his head backwards to a snore? As the famous Apostle Paul once wrote, “If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian.”1 Below is a cross-referencing table comparing the vocabulary of the music business to that of generally used business words. Some of these comparisons may seem obvious. For those of us already operating in the music industry, the benefit to reading this table is you’ll gain a clearer understanding of the music roles. .tftable {font-size:12px;color:#333333;width:100%;border-width: 1px;border-color: #000000;border-collapse: collapse;} .tftable th {font-size:12px;background-color:#EFEFEF;border-width: 1px;padding: 8px;border-style: solid;border-color: #000000;text-align:left;} .tftable tr {background-color:#ffffff;} .tftable td {font-size:12px;border-width: 1px;padding: 8px;border-style: solid;border-color: #000000;} .tftable tr:hover {background-color:#EFEFEF;} Music Business General Business A&R (Artist and Repertoire) Recruiter On-the-job Trainer Agent Booking Agent Artist Development Business and Operation Development Management Consulting Technical Consulting Professional Development Artist/Personal Manager Business Manager Operation Manager Sales Representative Business Manager Accountant Finance Officer Deal Contract Written Agreement Independent Record Label Small Business Major Record Label Big Corporation Performance Rights Organization Collection Agency Record Label Marketing Organization Brand Consulting Service Sales Force Record Label Manager Chief Executive Officer Record Producer Project Manager This list is not meant to be extensive, but to provide enough information about the prominent keywords investors and entrepreneurs outside the music business may possibly find confusing. Even music-oriented individuals will find this favorably palpable. Are there any pairs of vocabulary words you believe should be listed here? Please leave a comment below. P.S. I couldn’t figure out if there was a generic equivalent to the word “imprint,” or “music imprint.” In case you are wondering, it is a company that signs artists to its record deal, develop the artists’ music, and pitch the music to a record label for marketing and/or distribution purposes. The record label split royalties with the imprint, and the imprint pay artists their share. If you are already familiar with “production houses,” then this shouldn’t be a surprise, because an imprint is nothing more than a production house.2 Do not confuse an imprint/production company with being a record label. Christopher Patton Hot Bird Music The business and music development services at helps you beat 90% of musicians and companies that fail.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Entrepreneur Learns Deadly Lesson about Success One day I was at a barbershop when another guy there was already conversing with my barber. This guy must be in love with himself because he kept peering in the mirror he was holding and constantly brushing his hair. This 6-foot, 20-30-something, muscular pretty boy in a white t-shirt and jeans actually seem to be somewhat knowledgeable. As he and my barber were speaking, I would doze in and out of sleep, because I waited over 2 hours to get a haircut. Next time, I will make an appointment. When I finally sat in the barber chair, the guy told a story about a soon-to-be-entrepreneur. We’ll call this entrepreneur “Jake.” Jake had a soon-to-be-mentor. Let’s call him “Andrew.” Jake once told Andrew that he wanted to do big things in life. Andrew said, “Oh, yeah? Let’s meet up at the beach tomorrow and we can discuss your plans.” The next day, Jake wore a business suit as he walked to the picnic area of the beach and saw Andrew in a t-shirt with shorts. This is weird, Jake thought. The two seemed incompatible. Jake told Andrew a little more about what he wanted to do in life. They also discussed Jake’s weaknesses in life that may impair his success. That’s when Andrew made some sort of signal. Suddenly, Jake was surrounded by several guys. WTF, Jake thought to himself. All the men dragged and carried Jake to the sand area and threw him in the water, business suit in all. They were deliberately drowning him, allowing him to gasp for air in increments of a split of a second. Jake fought for his life, twisting and turning, arms flailing his arms wildly. But he was no match to the goons. After some time, Andrew finally told the other men to pull Jake out of the water. As Jake sat on the sand, his body shivered, water dripping down his face. He couldn’t speak. He was too busy taking fast, deep, and noisey breaths. Andrew looked at Jake and said, “Now you have an idea of what it means to be determined. As you were drowning, the only thing you were worried about was getting oxygen, right? As you were fighting for your life, you weren’t thinking about money or girls. You weren’t thinking about material things. You just wanted air. Now, apply this lesson to your business. Many people say they want to be a success, but they aren’t hungry enough. You gotta be hungry for this thing.” My barber and I looked at the storyteller and said our oohs and aahs. It was a great story. I’m not sure if it was a true story or something that actually happened. Crazy things like this do occur in life. I have to admit, though, I don’t have the story down to its accuracy as the storyteller said it. But the gist of it is precise. How do you feel about this story? Does it inspire you to be hungry? Christopher Patton Hot Bird Music The business and music development services at helps you beat 90% of musicians and companies that fail.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Simple Tricks to Polish Your Lyrics – Part 3: Using Rituals to Make Great Music

Some musicians found out that a particular order of events or sequence of circumstances can be purposefully manipulated in order to write great songs. They find participating in certain non-musical activities actually compel them to craft music. I'm not saying just any activity would do. For instance, some musicians and songwriters may realize taking a jog, bathing, and then watching television in that specific order drive them to creativity. Others, like Michael Jackson, may only feel comfortable writing music when their pet llama or pet donkey is in the same room with them. For you to be on your musical A-game, a ritual must occur in your day to trigger certain emotions, inciting you to grab a pen, paper, headphone, and possibly your crotch.


When I say "ritual," I'm not referring you to light candles around a pentagram. This is no séance. It's bad enough many of us already believe popular musicians joined the Illuminati. Your ritual should be a list of ordered activities carried out to induce musical inspiration.

Ask yourself this: "When was the last time I felt pretty good writing a song because the creativity kept coming to me?" After you remember that day, you must now remember what all took place that same day before you started writing. Be sure to write your answers down. Then think of another day when you were driven to write lyrics without being diseased with writer's block. Can you remember the events that occurred beforehand? Try to remember all of the days you performed well in generating a new song. Start documenting your everyday life. You will eventually notice a pattern leading to what works and doesn't work concerning the catalyst of your musical A-game.

As I said in Marijuana and Its Use for Creativity, some artists' ritual is to smoke to acheive creativity. And then there are Christian musicians and other singers with religious overtones who feel the need to say a prayer before they write or perform a song. These may be parts of a creative ritual, but I don't believe lone activities will spark craftsmanship. Again, the idea is for you to think back to all of the events that led up to the times you remember "being in the zone" jotting a new song. Smoking kush alone will not spark creativity, nor will the Holy Spirit because your faith in making great music is dead if you don't put in the work to hone your skills.

I found coming home from work in the morning and cleaning my office gave me energy to write lyrics. So what gives you energy? Remember to document what went on in your everyday life in order to see a pattern. Write everyday even if you don't plan on working on music for a particular day. Something that occurred two days ago in addition to what happened today may get your creative juices flowing. Commit to your newly discovered pattern whenever you need a personal push to write music.

Christopher Patton
Hot Bird Music

Need improvement with the production of your music? Or would you like to collaborate with a producer who can add new sounds to your work? Read the Pre-Production and Session Coaching catalog to see how Hot Bird Music can assist you.

This blog post appears on

Simple Tricks to Polish Your Lyrics – Part 2: Forming Your Cadence

In Simple Tricks to Polish Your Lyrics - Part 1, we learned to enhance our songs by avoiding cliché rhymes. Now we're going to learn to develop a vocal cadence, or rhythmic singing, for our music. For those of you specializing in rap music, you are probably more familiar with the term "flow" or "delivery." The way you sing (or rap) over an instrumental beat is an art and science in of itself. Always remember the saying: "It's not what you say, but how you say it." The same can apply to music. So let's delve into some examples of vocal cadences.

Image courtesy of Pixomar -

Image courtesy of Pixomar -

For the sake of this lesson, let's practice with a simple two-bar lyric:

I didn't fall in love, I stumbled upon you Like the rising sun, my love dawned on you

Now there is a combination of ways you can say the same exact words. You can experiment with adding pauses in between words, drag certain words out, and shorten the time you say other words. Here's an edited version of how you may recite the two bars

I didnnnnnnnn't fall in love... I stuuuumbleeeddd upooonnn you... Like the riiiiiiising sun... my loooove dawned on you

Notice I added three periods (...) to indicate a pause between words. And because I lengthened some of the syllables, the two bars may have expanded into four bars instead. It's a matter of playing around with your syllables until you come up with something comfortable.

Here's a fun game to try: Do you know the lyrics to the song Mary Had A Little Lamb? First, sing it in the traditional way in which you were taught. Now sing it differently by adding variations. This should give you an idea of how forming rhythmic words can give your own songs a twist, allowing your music to stand out from others.

Some artists, such as jazz and funk singers, may sometimes have a looser cadence by placing two or three words in a bar without dragging the words. They'll say those few words as if they were talking regularly and stride with long pauses before they sing the next bar. Here is what their lyrics may look like:

Hit me......C'mon...... Don't trick me...Whoa...

Pretty simple, right? But on the other hand, rap artists put more effort in writing their words for each bar. Eminem, for example, tend to have dense and complex rhyme schemes. He may write ten rhyming words within two bars alone. Fast pacing rappers, like Twista, have the ability to say 34 syllables in just one bar.

Another trick to forming a vocal cadence is to participate in scatting. Scatting is the idea of mumbling empty, nonsensical words to a beat. Before you begin writing any words on paper, scat to the rhythm of a drum pattern or to a melodic pattern you hear. You can either match your vocal cadence to the rhythmic pattern exactly as you hear it in the music, syncopate your cadence against the rhythmic pattern, or use a combination of both.

Remember, your voice is an extra instrument to an instrumental beat. Treat your voice as if it is being composed along with a kick drum, snare drum, hi hat, guitar riff, bassline, and synthesizer. When composing music, your instruments may engage in call-and-response or play in unison. Your voice, too, must play a roll. So when you're forming a vocal cadence, allow it to creatively interact with the other instruments.

Christopher Patton
Hot Bird Music

Need improvement with the production of your music? Or would you like to collaborate with a producer who can add new sounds to your work? Read the Pre-Production and Session Coaching catalog to see how Hot Bird Music can assist you.

Simple Tricks to Polish Your Lyrics – Part 1: Avoiding Cliché Rhymes

If you write your own song lyrics, do you tend to rhyme words that your listeners expect to hear from you? In other words, are you writing cliché rhyming words? Here's a test to see if you fall into the same exigency as other songwriters: Think of a word that rhymes with girl. Go ahead. Think of one. Imagine you're hearing the Jeopardy waiting tune with Alex Trebek. Did you think of a rhyming word? Good. If you chose "world" or "pearl" as your word, then there's a possibility some aspect of your lyrics are cliché and uninspiring.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

6 Steps to Making Your Own Music Video on the Cheap (Video)

QUOTE: So many bands and musicians have had success through viral music video outlets like Youtube. The demand for video is only increasing so it's time for you to get in on the action. Youtube is still the second largest search engine in the world, and in case you forgot, that's how Justin Bieber was discovered (how could you forget?) Here are six steps on how to make a music video on your own for free.

You can find more of Gregory Douglass's videos at

Don't leave your friends and band members hanging. Be a real pal and share this video with them. I'm pretty sure they want to make their own music video, too.

Christopher Patton
Hot Bird Music

This blog post appears on If you enjoyed reading this, click on the link and share it with your friends.

Like Hot Bird Music on Facebook
Follow Hot Bird Music on Twitter
Become a fan on Reverb Nation