Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo studios?

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Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo studios?

Post by geercom7 » Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:29 am

If you write country or pop country songs and use songwriter demo recording studios that provide complete services based on your demo and lyrics, what firms do you recommend and why? Links please if you would.

Thank you.

Best Regards,

David Geer

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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by funsongs » Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:05 am

Sent you info via a PM, David... hope it works for you.
Cheers.
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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by Kolstad » Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:35 am

That would depend upon what you intend to do with the recording. Are you doing demos used only for artist pitches, or are you looking to pitch the recording to tv/film also?
This is important, as film/tv won't deal with demos with union musicians on as they require additional fees (even if it's work-for-hire).

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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by 1BabeyBlue » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:03 pm

Hi there! Honestly, for what is best for you, I'd suggest doing a search on google for "Nashville demo studio." You can shop for your preferences and needs. Some of the best have really nice websites that let you hear all of their singers, see their rates per package, list instruments, etc. Some even let you be involved via Skype or phone for the production.

It really is up to what you want and what you are willing to pay. Nashville is so overflowing with talent that you are going to get great quality as long as you pick a studio that has a track record (not some pop up, bad website "we'll make you a demo for $100" sort of thing.)

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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by AndrewCavanagh » Fri May 13, 2016 7:26 am

First be aware of the difference between demos and masters.

Demos legally speaking are meant for pitching the song to get it recorded.

With a master you own everything and can sell the song, get placements in TV/Film, get it played on radio etc etc.

Masters cost around 30% more depending on the studio and the musicians used in the session and what they want.


There's also differences in the types of demos done in a studio with multiple musicians:
Guitar vocal
Piano vocal
Full Band with vocal

Or done by a "track guy" (often one guy doing programmed drums and playing most of the parts himself).

My first recommendation is Jay's Place...
https://www.facebook.com/jay.vern.50?fref=ts

I've had multiple full band demos there running at around $500 a song and the musicians playing were the best you can hire in the industry.
In one session we have a guitarist who was in the Musicians hall of fame and we worked out that in that session between the 3 of them the musicians were on records that had sold over 300 million copies. Every musician Jay brings in has serious chops and experience.

You'd expect to pay an extra $100 to $150 per song on top of that $500 price for a session singer so you're running around the $600 to $650 mark for a full band demo.

Jay is highly creative, incredibly skilled and manages the project from start to finish which is different to the way most studios work.


My tips for doing a demo:
Do the best work tape you can
You don't have to do a Nashville chart. They'll do that for you from the work tape.

Be very specific about what kind of groove you want...name songs that have the groove you want...that is the language Nashville pros use...a Live Like You Were Dying groove or a Chillin It groove. This is REALLY important. The biggest reason people don't get the kind of demo they want is because they're not clear about what they're looking for. Nashville session musicians working on Music Row can do pretty much anything but they need you to tell them what they want.

It helps enormously if you can be in the studio yourself. If not getting your session singer to come in and do the scratch vocal will help the musicians enormously to put down riffs, fills etc. that really match the song.

You send a message to Jay Vernali at Jay's Place here...
https://www.facebook.com/jay.vern.50?fref=ts
Andrew Cavanagh's songwriting notes...
http://www.andrewcavanagh.com/sw

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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by VanderBoegh » Fri May 13, 2016 10:48 am

Hey David, I realize your post was initially written a few months ago, so you may have already found a good spot to get some country demos done. But just in case you're still looking for options, try the 515 Studio in Nashville (http://www.the515studio.com). The owner - Chip Hardy - is a regular presenter at the Taxi Road Rally, and in the couple times I've met him seems to be a genuine nice guy that actually wants to help make and find great music, rather than just a guy who wants your money.

~~Matt

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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by geercom7 » Fri May 13, 2016 11:20 am

Thank you, everyone.

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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by mojobone » Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:04 pm

Kolstad wrote:That would depend upon what you intend to do with the recording. Are you doing demos used only for artist pitches, or are you looking to pitch the recording to tv/film also?
This is important, as film/tv won't deal with demos with union musicians on as they require additional fees (even if it's work-for-hire).
Sorry Magne, but this could use some clarification; If you work with a union shop and your tracks are to be used 'as is' for film and TV (in other words, they're NOT being pitched to artists for later re-recording) you must pay the union's Master rate and obtain a work-for-hire agreement from everyone on the session. If you are recording a demo that will be pitched to artists, you can pay a lower Demo rate, which is usually comparable to the rates of non-union shops, where at least in Nashville, you often find the same musicians as the union shops, but working 'off-the-card'.

In either case, if you have work-for-hire agreements in place, you're covered for master uses; in my experience, no library or publisher has ever asked whether the musicians were union or not.
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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by Kolstad » Sat Jun 25, 2016 3:50 pm

mojobone wrote:
Kolstad wrote:That would depend upon what you intend to do with the recording. Are you doing demos used only for artist pitches, or are you looking to pitch the recording to tv/film also?
This is important, as film/tv won't deal with demos with union musicians on as they require additional fees (even if it's work-for-hire).
Sorry Magne, but this could use some clarification; If you work with a union shop and your tracks are to be used 'as is' for film and TV (in other words, they're NOT being pitched to artists for later re-recording) you must pay the union's Master rate and obtain a work-for-hire agreement from everyone on the session. If you are recording a demo that will be pitched to artists, you can pay a lower Demo rate, which is usually comparable to the rates of non-union shops, where at least in Nashville, you often find the same musicians as the union shops, but working 'off-the-card'.

In either case, if you have work-for-hire agreements in place, you're covered for master uses; in my experience, no library or publisher has ever asked whether the musicians were union or not.
I agree this is important, Mojo. If my post was unclear, it's certainly important to clarify this, so newcomers won't get into trouble. Copyright law is a specialist area, there are very few practitioners world wide, and I'm not a lawyer for sure. I will only share what I've been close reading as a songwriter interested in these issues.

Pitching a demo to an artist, and then rerecording the song, is not considered re-use as far as I know.

You can safely pay a lower rate for a demo in Nashville or elsewhere, because this is considered non-commercial use. A "demo" is a demonstration recording only, used in B2B, that you won't make a dime from pitching. BUT if you plan to use this demo for commercial use, like tv/film, you will get in trouble if the music is used. Libraries have issues with union recordings, because unions claim re-use and new-use fees ("clip use" is a new use fee, where a short section of an existing recording is re-used again in a different production), everytime a master is used for a new show, and these fees are more than the sync and license fees alltogether.

While it may be true that some Nashville musicians would work "off the card", they are actually not allowed to sign a work-for-hire agreement as union members. So, here's one liability, which may fall back on the songwriter as the "employer" of a union member. In the US it is the employers responsibility to check if the worker is allowed to work for you or not (and you must use the term "employer" in the work-for-hire contract in order for it to be valid, as sound recordings cannot be made work-for-hire under US Copyright Act). This is not the employees responsibility, which is why this is usually not a problem up front.

Here's the thing, if you have union musicians on your demo, and get the buy out (the master) with a work-for-hire deal. The work-for-hire may be valid, but the union or the state can sue you for putting a union musician on a work-for-hire (which you are not allowed). Even if the work-for-hire is valid, and the library signs the song. The union can claim for new use fees if the song is used more than once in different productions, because of the dispute with the union musician, and it will fall back on you, because the library will not be liable for paying these fees. So, buying out the master may not be enough, you also have to make sure that there are no union musicians on it. The studios can sell you any master rights you want, but in the end it is the songwriters responsibility to make sure the work-for-hire is done by the book.

Libraries may not ask you, but some does in fact include information on union musicians in their FAQ (PM me if you need an example). It will state something like you are responsible to pay new-use/ re-use fees yourself, as they will not accept these terms. So, while it is true libraries will not ask you, it is not true that they are not explicit about this.

All of this is why it's smart to produce your own music when doing film/tv, or work with Taxi members who produce their own music.

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Re: Savvy, high-quality country / pop country song demo stud

Post by mojobone » Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:27 am

Kolstad wrote: I agree this is important, Mojo. If my post was unclear, it's certainly important to clarify this, so newcomers won't get into trouble. Copyright law is a specialist area, there are very few practitioners world wide, and I'm not a lawyer for sure. I will only share what I've been close reading as a songwriter interested in these issues.

Pitching a demo to an artist, and then rerecording the song, is not considered re-use as far as I know.

You can safely pay a lower rate for a demo in Nashville or elsewhere, because this is considered non-commercial use. A "demo" is a demonstration recording only, used in B2B, that you won't make a dime from pitching. BUT if you plan to use this demo for commercial use, like tv/film, you will get in trouble if the music is used. Libraries have issues with union recordings, because unions claim re-use and new-use fees ("clip use" is a new use fee, where a short section of an existing recording is re-used again in a different production), everytime a master is used for a new show, and these fees are more than the sync and license fees alltogether.

While it may be true that some Nashville musicians would work "off the card", they are actually not allowed to sign a work-for-hire agreement as union members. So, here's one liability, which may fall back on the songwriter as the "employer" of a union member. In the US it is the employers responsibility to check if the worker is allowed to work for you or not (and you must use the term "employer" in the work-for-hire contract in order for it to be valid, as sound recordings cannot be made work-for-hire under US Copyright Act). This is not the employees responsibility, which is why this is usually not a problem up front.

Here's the thing, if you have union musicians on your demo, and get the buy out (the master) with a work-for-hire deal. The work-for-hire may be valid, but the union or the state can sue you for putting a union musician on a work-for-hire (which you are not allowed). Even if the work-for-hire is valid, and the library signs the song. The union can claim for new use fees if the song is used more than once in different productions, because of the dispute with the union musician, and it will fall back on you, because the library will not be liable for paying these fees. So, buying out the master may not be enough, you also have to make sure that there are no union musicians on it. The studios can sell you any master rights you want, but in the end it is the songwriters responsibility to make sure the work-for-hire is done by the book.

Libraries may not ask you, but some does in fact include information on union musicians in their FAQ (PM me if you need an example). It will state something like you are responsible to pay new-use/ re-use fees yourself, as they will not accept these terms. So, while it is true libraries will not ask you, it is not true that they are not explicit about this.

All of this is why it's smart to produce your own music when doing film/tv, or work with Taxi members who produce their own music.
To my mind this is the major difference between working in Nashville and working in LA; LA studio musicians don't work off the card because they mostly work for thoroughly unionized major studios rather than primarily for publishers and songwriters as they do in Tennessee. It's why you see some prominent LA sidemen working under assumed names from time to time. (well, that and some of them also have record deals of their own and are under exclusive contract, but that's another kettle of worms) LA musicians working directly on television shows collect fees, plus residuals, when the shows are re-broadcast, which is another fairly major difference.

It's maybe important to note that I'm not talking about double and triple-scale guys who play on records by major country acts; these are blue collar guys/gals doing grunt work for publishers and playing in road bands. There's never been as much work in Nashville as LA, so the union gives them and independent, unsigned writers a break; I'm sure the rules are similar, but down there, they don't yank your card for trying to put food on the table. This is also the case for live music pretty much anywhere in the country, aside from New York and LA, because there simply aren't enough union gigs to make a living. Now, on to specifics...

A work for hire agreement is essentially a quit-claim to future royalties by an employee of the contractor; in Nashville, you just tell whoever does your tracks that they're masters and you need work-for-hire agreements from all concerned, and it's the contractor's responsibility to hire appropriately; you do not have to vet whether anybody is union or not.

By all means, if you go to a union shop and pay a demo rate, the union can enforce their master rates on any and all master usage; it happens from time to time, and it's a simple matter of paying the difference between the two rates. You're correct that libraries accept no responsibility for this; why would they? However, you pay this once, and your demos are now masters; they're not coming after a piece of every sync fee from here to eternity as your post implies, though the rate difference will almost certainly amount to several thousand dollars, which is a lot more than most sync fees. If this should happen for some reason, you'll have to work out whether the cost outweighs the benefit.


The bit about re-use fees I believe applies to sampled portions of the phonorecording; that just muddies the waters here, and this:
Kolstad wrote:In the US it is the employers responsibility to check if the worker is allowed to work for you or not (and you must use the term "employer" in the work-for-hire contract in order for it to be valid, as sound recordings cannot be made work-for-hire under US Copyright Act).
Is fundamentally incorrect, otherwise no work-for-hire agreement would be valid in the US; it applies to the song, not the recording thereof.
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