Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Advice from entertainment lawyer Cheryl L. Slay

I had the great pleasure of hearing Cheryl L. Slay, LLC speak on strategies for indie marketing recently. The event was one of the new "Indie Connect" networking meetings for independent music marketing.

Ms. Slay is an entertainment attorney and also a jazz/blues singer/songwriter. She has been very deliberate in charting her own unique course which included moving to Nashville this year and extending the law practice she has enjoyed in Maryland. She markets and books herself, and speaks from first hand experience, both hers and the clients she councils.

One thing I really loved: she suggested that each one of us ask ourselves what success means to us. Do we need a label, a major label, or do we just want to sing out some places? Do we want to do music only part time and somehow make a little money at it? Do we actually WANT to play out or do we want to write songs and let others take them on the road? Success can be a terrific MySpace page if we can make as much money as we put into the site.

Among the high points she covered:

Three strategies for artists-

BUSINESS STRATEGIES:
  • Plan for how you will make money.

  • Most indie artists will need a narrower focus than is presented by the major books on the entertainment industry; business strategies you choose should make sense for your individual situation.

  • You can make money from performance, recordings, merchandise and sales of other services. Often recordings don't make an indie artist as much as the other things - in fact, these days they often are used more to promote the artist than to be the main source of income.

  • Indie artists should run lean, try to eliminate the middle man wherever possible, experiment with different progression of business models.

  • You must stay on top of changes in the industry. Where is the next big thing? Reading such publications as Music Row, Billboard, Variety, Fortune 500, Wall St Journal can help you stay on top of new and emerging business strategies.

  • Set goals with time tables! For instance, one might set a goal to sign with a music publisher in 1 year, get a major cut within 2 years, then cut a demo and begin seeking a record deal the 3rd year. even if the time line changes, Setting flexible goals will get you much farther than just drifting along day to day with no particular end in sight.
ARTISTIC STRATEGIES:
  • You must figure out who you are. What is your authentic voice in the world? What do you know that an audience needs to hear?

  • Create an image for yourself which feels right.

  • Perfect your voice, musical and writing skills and physical appearance.

  • Create or find a body of song material that can represent you well.
LEGAL STRATEGIES:
  • Find an entertainment attorney.
Look for these three determining factors:
  • They must have expertise in the music and entertainment field.
  • Their personalities should click with you.
  • They should have connections that can move you forward.
If you can't afford an attorney, check out the Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

If you would like to contact Cheryl L. Slay, LLC, visit her website, email her at cls@slaylaw.com or call her at (615) 469-0610.

If you'd like to come to the Indie Connect luncheons hosted by Vinny Ribas, go the the Indie Connect website and figure out what speaker meeting you want to attend. You can contact Vinny at vinny@indieconnect.net. The meetings are held at Corkey's restaurant in Brentwood every Monday at 11:00am - 1:30pm. I'll be at some of them when my schedule permits.

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