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Artist Handbook Archives - Happy Hour Beats

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Featured Artist Economics

Sep 19, 2017 by Happy Hour Beats - 0 Comments

Ever wonder why there are many ways to list a featured artist on a song? Over the years the “feature” was a way to show prominence on a track and receive credit. Today, a feature is structured for economic purposes. This is what we call the Featured Artist Economics.

45 Single Record Player

The History of the Feature:

If you have a record player with some old records nearby, you would notice that the word “featured” on records meant something different than today. Back in the 50’s, bands would compose music but collaborated with different singers who would add the vocals. This was the start of the concept of “featured artists.” Being a featured artist showed you are an important contributor to a song, but you are not the primary (or main) artist.

As Hip Hop and Electronic music became more prominent in the 80’s, the feature title changed. In this era, we saw a lot of “vs” in between two artist names. For Hip Hop, it was to signify a song where two artists battled each other. For Electronic music though, it signified a remix. New technology during this time allowed producers and DJs to sample songs for the first time. Thus, DJs started to remix songs and sample them to create new works. As a way to provide credit to the original artists, DJs added a “vs” and the artist name they sampled. It seemed to work and was relatively easy to understand by fans.

B52s Vs DJ Tonka

The Feature Today:

Since the late 90’s/early 2000’s, music collaborations have become instrumental in Pop, Electronic, and Hip Hop.

Once artist collaborations gained popularity and became a regular occurrence, the industry standardized the credit by adding a “Feat.” in either the title or artist line in the album liner notes. It was short for “Feature” and was rather simple to do. It worked just fine until we entered the streaming era of music. Since artists would list the “feat.” in either the title or artist section of the metadata, there was a discrepancy in how it displayed on streaming services. It’s not a good user experience, to be frank, but it also had economic implications as well.

To change that, artists have added the “x,” the “&,” and “with” to the many ways of showcasing a featured artist. The x&, and with all sit inside the artist metadata field. It helped showcase who the primary artists were for each song. These three additions also designate that a collaborator was instrumental in building the song. That person might’ve created it from scratch with the artist and are seen as having equal ownership of the song.

Featured Artist on Major Lazer Song

We still use the “feat.” today. It’s akin to what we’ve known it to be, an artist is a guest on a song. For Hip Hop, a featured artist would receive a “feat.” if they performed an 8 – 16 bar verse or sing on the chorus. In these instances, the featured artist isn’t a primary artist and would not receive a primary artist credit. Instead, their name would sit in either the secondary artist metadata field or in the title field.

Primary Artist credits are vital when it comes to making money on digital service providers (DSPs) a la, Spotify, Apple, etc.

The Primary Artist Credit

Each DSP has a way to ingest and show content for fans to go through and listen to. The foundation of organizing catalogs and making songs searchable is through the song’s metadata. The key piece of metadata that stands as the foundation for finding songs is the primary artist. This informs the service who the main artist is or better yet who’s song it is.

When Apple released iTunes, their platform didn’t have a way to showcase or organize artists that had a “vs” in the name. If it was Moby vs U2, the song would not show up in either Moby’s or U2’s artist page. Instead, it was treated as a new primary artist known as “Moby vs U2.” This made it difficult for fans to find these remixes and caused the industry to drop “vs.”

Since then, the services updated their metadata organization capabilities and use the Primary Artist section as a way to distribute songs to each artist’s page on the service.

Let’s look at how this plays into the economics of stream revenue.

The Economics:

Services like Spotify populate an artist’s latest release at the top fo their artist page. The way the algorithm does this is by searching a metadata field titled “primary artist” as mentioned above. For the most part, there would be one primary artist. A Drake song is going to have Drake as the primary artist. But when it comes to collaborations, remixes, etc. where two or more artists would want the song to appear on their artist page, they would both need to be listed as a primary artist. The most notable way of doing so is using the x, with, or & joiners.

Latest Release Spotify

This would add the new single to both of the artist’s pages “latest release” placement. Since this is prime real-estate for people to see and click play on, songs listed as the “latest release” tend to earn more plays and thus more revenue. It’s also helpful in building your fanbase if your song is now at the top of another artist’s page. You’ll have the opportunity to capture new fans from their fanbase. Here’s an example of that.

Let’s say you’re a new artist and are trying to break through. You are lucky enough to bump into Drake at Nobu in Malibu, spit him a few bars, and soon find yourself at his studio recording together. Not far fetched right? But let’s say you land a guest verse from Drake on your upcoming song. You may want to give him a primary artist credit as your song would then be listed at the top of Drake’s artist profile page. That could lead to hundreds of thousands to millions of plays. The economics build up and become the reason why artists fight hard for the primary artist credit.

Fight For Your Right As A Featured Artist

When you are the one featured on a track, you should make sure that your feature is credit appropriately. If you don’t deserve a Primary Artist credit, then be understanding of that and be grateful for a “feat.” credit. In some cases featured artists do not receive a “feat.” credit (such as Aloe Blacc for his singing on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”). Instead, they may receive “vocals by” credits that appear in the album booklet. The positive of this is that you’d still be eligible for some Grammy trophies if that song/album wins. The negative is that these credits are not searchable on streaming services. That’s another huge issue, but that’ll be another post.

For now, fight for your right to credits. If you don’t want to be the bad guy or ruin relationships, have your management or label do it for you. There’s no shame in earning what you deserve. It can make a huge difference for your career.

The next time you see a song with a featured artist, be sure to look at how it’s titled. The title alone can tell you a lot about the structure of the deal between these two artists.

Source: Guardian

Happy Hour Beats Free Beat Giveaway

Aug 17, 2017 by Happy Hour Beats - 0 Comments

FREE BEAT GIVEAWAY!

Do you want a free beat to use on your next album, EP, or mixtape? We’re giving away a Platinum Licensed track of your choice to one lucky winner (you can hear our beats here). It’s 100% free and there’s no purchase necessary to enter to win. 

To enter the giveaway, please follow these steps:

1) Follow Happy Hour Beats here on Instagram (here)

2) Like the original giveaway post on Instagram (here)

3) Tag 3 friends who are artists or are looking for beats in the comments below the original giveaway post on Instagram

For additional entries, you can:

  • Share the giveaway post on Instagram or Facebook and tag @happyhourbeats
  • Sign up to the Happy Hour Beats Newsletter
  • Follow us on Facebook

You can have up to 4 entries for the contest. This giveaway is not associated with Instagram or Facebook in any way. No purchase necessary to enter. 

Entries begin today, August 17, and will last until August 24 at 11:59pm PT. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced on August 25.

Good Luck!

What Can A Record Label Do For Me?

Aug 01, 2017 by Happy Hour Beats - 0 Comments

The music industry landscape is forever changing. Digital platforms such as Spotify, Soundcloud, and YouTube make it easier for artists to build their own audience and provide distribution direct to customers (D2C). With this cutting into services of that a record label typically provides, we have to rethink the positioning of the record label today. This poses the question: what can a record label do for me? Let’s take a look.

Distribution:

Perhaps one of the biggest services a record label provides is the ability to get your music into the market and heard by fans across the world. Of course services such as Soundcloud and YouTube are already allowing you to do this, there are extra benefits that record labels provide.

First, record labels have the ability to distribute globally both physically and digitally. Unless you have a warehouse to press hundreds of thousands of CDs and Vinyl to distribute around the world, you likely don’t have this capability. Major record labels have offices around the world and a team focused solely on pushing music in their country. Relationships with retail stores and digital services are already in order, so artists already have their foot in the door. This also allows an album to release in every market on the same day. On the flip side, you can sign with an independent distributor like TuneCore or INgrooves to have your music distributed. Some have a better presence globally than others so do your research!

Marketing:

Macklemore gains success thanks to record label

Continuing with the global aspect, record labels understand each territory your record will be released in. They know how to properly market your record so that it resonates with a territory’s demographic. This could mean re-titling tracks, having different cover art, or knowing which retailers are most popular in the market. Remember, an album cover that includes firearms or half naked people will not work for a country with certain restrictions. Record labels know the ins and outs and can set your album up for optimal success. Remember, at the end of the day they want it to be successful as much as you do.

On top of that, they are in daily communication with digital streaming services such as Spotify, Apple, etc. Record labels are constantly pitching your music to be included in these service’s top playlists and headline banners. You know, the big image that shows off what’s new or highlights a specific artist? Yeah, that’s the record label pitching and securing those placements for you. Since it’s limited space to feature artists, albums, or songs, it’s very unlikely a digital service will feature an unsigned artist (they do showcase artists signed to indie labels).

Lastly, one major benefit that can’t go unnoticed is the ability for record labels to market your song through the radio. Whether you like to admit it or not, radio still plays a huge factor in breaking songs. Although digital services are growing quickly, Spotify just announced it has 60M users, and are getting better at it, they are only a portion of the market. Radio still has the upper hand due to its mass reach. A record label has a whole department meant to build relationships with radio stations and pitching your music for airplay. Not many people realize that Macklemore used Warner Music’s distribution company (ADA) to have them push “Thrift Shop” to radio. This is what led to him reaching the top of the radio charts and breaking out as an artist. You can be independent, but major record labels still hold some keys to success.

Relationships:Record Label offers relationships

One key to success in this industry is the importance of relationships. There’s no question about it, record labels excel at relationships. If you’re looking to work with a specific songwriter, artist, or producer, your record label can make that introduction. For Chance The Rapper, he already had the relationships needed to find success. What are the chances? Consider him lucky and not the norm since his relationships helped him gain an audience and ultimately a distribution deal with Apple Music.

And then there are relationships most artists don’t tend to think about to help build their career. The first is with various brands. Did you know a record label has a department that pairs artists with various brands? These could be endorsements, commercials, or securing your song to be in a campaign. It’s becoming a huge revenue driver for talent, just look at all the social media posts with #ad or #sponsored. Those are paid advertisements and campaigns (you legally have to tell your fans it’s an ad).

Record Label provides relationships with music supervisors

Lastly, another key relationship is with music supervisors. These are the individuals who place your song in commercials, tv, and films. There is good money that comes with placements and it can help break your song. Apple’s iPod / iTunes commercials were notorious for propelling songs to the top of the charts, as was HBO’s Entourage. It’s an easy way to expose your song to millions of people in a short moment. This can then be used to influence your placements on digital playlists and radio airplay. From there the opportunities are endless.

What Can A Record Label Do For Me?

Well, for starters it can help with global distribution, marketing, and provide you with relationships that can help break your music. Although certain aspects of a label are being taken over by other companies, there are still many services a label provides that nobody is disrupting. Quite frankly, labels have decades of relationships and experience in these areas that it will be years before others can swoop that expertise away from them.

In our next blog, we’ll go through whether or not a Record Label is right for you. Until then, check out other Artist Handbook tips here!

What Is Audio Mixing & Mastering?

Jun 29, 2017 by Happy Hour Beats - 0 Comments

We get asked often about the difference between audio mixing & mastering. Although they are separate processes applied to a song, they go hand in hand. Once a song is recorded, the next step is audio mixing & mastering. Both help give your song that radio-friendly / album ready sound.

The process of audio mixing and mastering is to make the song sound as best as it possibly can. The goal is to prepare it for commercial release and give the song the shine it deserves! The question though is how do they differ? Below we break down the process for each and show the difference between the two with audio samples.

If you need beats for your next song, don’t forget to check out tracks from our producers here!

Audio Mixing:

Mix engineer is mixing a track

Ok, you recorded your song and excitedly play it on repeat. You’re ecstatic and can’t get enough of it! But then you make a mistake…. you compare it to a commercially released song. You notice that it sounds raw – right?

Do not worry, your song sounds like that because it has not gone through the audio mixing & mastering process. Let’s start with audio mixing. You’re song probably has clashing instruments, sounds thin, and it may be hard to hear every element of the track.

Sort of like this:

Audio mixing will solve all of that! It is the process of blending all the recorded tracks together to create a cohesive song. That means each vocal track, separate instrument, and all the individual drum sounds. The mixing engineer will take your session and make your song sound as best as it can.

Here are a few things an audio mix engineer will do:

  • Separate instruments to give them their own space in the song through EQing, panning, and setting audio levels
  • Make the vocals stand out from the instruments and ensure each word is audible
  • Give the song dynamics by automating the volume of the instruments and vocals
  • Apply effects to the tracks to help blend them together and enhance the listening experience
  • Creates width to the song to make it sound bigger

Perfecting The Mix

A proper mix will result in a song that sounds great on all types of speakers (in the car, at the club, and through your headphones). Here’s the mixed version of the raw example from above:

Sometimes it takes multiple attempts at mixing to reach the final product. It took Kanye’s team over 10 attempts to perfect the mix for his hit song “Stronger” because the kick sound didn’t thump enough. Therefore, he ended up asking Timbaland for help and going to mix guru Manny Marroquin for the final mix (you can read about it here). Audio mixing is a lengthy process, but it helps give your song the justice it deserves.

Audio Mastering:

Audio Mixing & Mastering Meter

Once you have the mix complete and the song sounds perfect, the next step is to have it mastered. Audio mastering is the final step before a song is finished. It is the process of making sure the song sounds sonically balanced.

The mastering engineer will receive a bounced stereo .WAV or .AIFF file of the final mix. They will then sonically listen to the song and balance it. This means listening to how each frequency range interacts with each other, and make any necessary changes to it.

Everything a mastering engineer does affects the full mix, not individual tracks. Therefore, if your vocals are too loud or sound boxy, a mastering engineer will not be able to fix it. There may be things a mastering engineer can do to help, but surgical changes need to be fixed during the mixing process. Hence why it’s very important to make sure you have a great mix first!

Here a few examples of what a mastering engineer can do:

  • EQ the song to cut overpowering frequencies
  • Boost frequencies that need more presence (mid-range to give more body)
  • Apply effects to give the song a wider presence
  • Compress frequencies to control any pitchiness (high-frequency harshness, booming 808 kick, etc.)
  • Apply in and out fades
  • Ensure each track on an album is sonically cohesive, have the same volume, and blend together
  • Boost the loudness of a song

Loudness vs Mastering

One misconception of mastering is tied to the last bullet point – making the song louder. While it’s true this occurs in the process, boosting a song’s volume doesn’t mean the song is properly mastered. The balancing of frequencies is what’s most important as it acts as the ‘glue’ that makes the song sound cohesive. Check out how the audio example sounds after mastering:

 

The Difference in Audio Mixing & Mastering:

Are you still unsure about the difference between audio mixing & audio mastering? The best way to put it is that audio mixing is akin to a car manufacturer putting all the pieces of a car together to create a finished product. Mastering is adding the paint, wax, and polish to help give the car that extra shine and make it appealing to the eye (or in this case to the ear).

Most of all, keep in mind that Audio mixing takes the individual tracks and blends them together to make the song sound complete. Audio mastering takes the stereo bounce of the mix and applies the final tweaks to ensure it’s sonically balanced and can compete with other songs volume-wise.  Below are the three audio examples to help you hear the difference once more.

Raw:

Mixed:

Mastered:

Audio Mixing & Mastering Services:

If you need any audio mixing & mastering applied to your songs, Happy Hour Beats has a roster of engineers who can mix and master your tracks. You can read more about the services we offer here! Please feel free to contact us for any questions you may have!

Boost Your Soundcloud Plays

May 03, 2017 by Happy Hour Beats - 0 Comments

Increasing your plays on Soundcloud is a difficult task. There’s no true and tested way to do so, which is why every little bit helps in increasing that number count. However, if you read the news today, you will know about a new feature the platform released that could help boost your SoundCloud plays.

Different Than The Rest

Soundcloud Is Different From The Rest

Unlike other streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, Soundcloud is the only music service that allows users to upload music. From artist mixtapes to DJ remixes, Soundcloud is the only one that has it all. Have you ever wonder why the others don’t offer a similar content offering? There’s a history behind it and it starts with YouTube, which you can read more about here.

With the ability for users to upload their own music, Soundcloud is able to increase their music library far above the other services. Although they haven’t released how many tracks are uploaded each week, the service has over 150M tracks compared to Spotify’s 30M. That’s a significant difference which creates an inherent problem for the service: discovery.

Soundcloud’s New Discovery Feature

Finding the perfect song to listen to on Spotify or Apple Music is daunting. Where do you start? By mood, playlist, or activity? Maybe I prefer to listen to the Gorillaz new album. In any case, Spotify has solved the music discovery problem best out of its competitors with their “Discover Weekly,” “Release Radar,” and “Daily Mix” offerings.

New Gorillaz Album

With 120M more tracks available, Soundcloud’s discovery experience is lacking. Their first discovery tool, “Suggested Tracks, was released only a year ago. This feature acted similarly to “Discover Weekly” by recommending similar tracks to what you already listen to. However, its downfall is the lack of new music. This is where their new “Discover” tab comes into play. It will suggest songs that 1) are similar to what you listen to and 2) were uploaded in the past few days. This acts more like “Release Radar” in comparison to Spotify. So how can this help boost your plays?

Boost Your Soundcloud Plays

Boost Your Soundcloud Plays

Although we don’t know the exact algorithm used for “Discovery,” we do know enough to figure ways to hack it. Follow the steps below and your presence on Soundcloud should increase, resulting in a boost in plays:

  • It starts with uploading quality music that attracts people’s attention. Great music will always be discovered and shared with others.
  • Make sure you include metadata tags that are relevant to the song you post so you can target people looking for that specific genre, mood, or feeling.
  • Include metadata tags that also match popular songs that are similar to yours. This will make your song “similar” to the popular tracks and trigger the Discovery algorithm to recommend yours on the Discovery tab.
  • Lastly, the most important step is to post more frequently!

Remember, the algorithm is heavily based on how recent a track was uploaded. Therefore if you’re posting daily or multiple times a day, your chances to be featured in the Discover tab increases.

YouTube’s algorithm is very similar in that they favor channels that post at least once a day to be featured on the front page and in the “Recommended Videos” pane. So what does this mean for you?

Well, it’s difficult to post a song a day unless your song catalog is very large. This algorithm will effectively help brands and companies that have multiple artists’ music they can post. This takes the burden off a single artist and is spread across many. In this case, we’d suggest pairing with a music group (hey, we’re always looking for people to join ours!) or building your own group.

Either way, you now have the knowledge to hack the algorithm and boost your plays. Give it a try and let us know your results in the comment section below!

Release Your Mixtape On Vinyl

Apr 21, 2017 by Happy Hour Beats - 0 Comments

Let me guess when your mixtape is ready to release do you only upload it to Datpiff and Soundcloud? Have you thought about releasing your mixtape on vinyl?

Vinyl Resurgence

Vinyl at Urban Outfitters

If you haven’t been keeping track, vinyl has made a resurgence in the industry these past 5 years. In fact, it’s become mainstream to the point Urban Outfitters and Barnes & Noble sells old and new releases on wax. In 2016, vinyl accounted for nearly 7% of total album sales. Vinyl is bringing in good money when you’re looking at a $16B industry for recorded music. It’s no longer far fetched to believe a company can make a business behind vinyl in 2017.

Mixtape On Vinyl

Vinyl Being Played

There’s a new boutique label in the UK called Omertà. The company releases two albums each month on vinyl. One of the releases is a catalog release (an album older than 18 months) from a major label.  The other is a mixtape from an upcoming artist. THAT ARTIST CAN BE YOU!

The Economics

The economics seem fairly straight forward. Omertà will pay the upfront costs to manufacture the album for you. Due to a limited 500-press quantity, each album will be a collectible and rare. Once the album is released, Omertà will collect royalties until total costs are recouped (this is standard), at which point royalties will be split between Omertà and the artist 50/50. It doesn’t get any better than that folks!

Get Me In Touch!

Currently, Omertà is hand selecting each release. However, it’s a good idea to get on their radar to be selected. We suggest reaching out to them through one of the channels mentioned below:

To read more about Omertà you can check out the Billboard write-up about them here. Once Omertà chooses your album, let us know so we can feature it here!

The Artist Handbook

Apr 20, 2017 by Happy Hour Beats - 0 Comments

Welcome to the Artist Handbook. Our passion at Happy Hour Beats is to help artists grow and navigate through the music industry. What good is a hot song if nobody can hear it? That’s where the Artist Handbook comes into play.

What To Expect

We will be drafting blog posts around various topics that ultimately help you, the artist. Some of those may include the following:

  • Music industry tips
  • The music business broken down to the artist point of view
  • How to get noticed by A&Rs
  • What is the role of the record label today
  • And so much More!

Oh, and for you producers + songwriters, you also have a section dedicated to tips. You can find that here. And if you want our insights on the latest news headlines, head to the Industry News section. We will break down how current news may affect your career.

Get Involved

Do you have tips that would be beneficial to artists, music producers or songwriters? If so, send them to Happy Hour Beats and we will feature them for you. Better yet, you can write your own post as a guest blogger. If this interests you, reach out to us by email here!