All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast by Judy Rodman: January 2022

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. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Mechanical Licenses For Recording Projects: What, When, How [updated]

Selling music? License first!

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear. 
 Available also on iTunes , Google PlayTuneIn Radio, Android apps

If you are doing a recording project of music that you intend to sell, you need to know about mechanical licenses. Of course, if you're a songwriter or publisher, and want to get paid properly for your intellectual property, you need to understand mechanicals, too!

In a nutshell, mechanical fees are paid on physical or digital products. This is different from radio play or venue performance fees, which are collected by PRO's - performance rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP and SESAC in the US, SOCAN in Canada, and others in other countries.

Let me address labels, and let's be clear, most indie artists today own their own labels. No matter how small a "run" of your project you print or make available for download, you need to understand the legal and ethical responsibilities you have to the publishers of your songs. Here's a simple summary from the Harry Fox site (Harry Fox is the leading provider of mechanical licenses in the US):
If you are manufacturing and distributing copies of a song which you did not write, and you have not already reached an agreement with the song's publisher, you need to obtain a mechanical license. This is required under U.S. Copyright Law, regardless of whether or not you are selling the copies that you made.

You do not need a mechanical license if you are recording and distributing a song you wrote yourself, or if the song is in the public domain. If you are not sure if the song you are looking to license is in the public domain, and therefore does not require license authority, we suggest you use the search on

How much does a mechanical license cost?

The current US statutory mechanical rights fee is $.091 (9.1 cents) per physical or digital copy. That 9.1 cents is to be divided among all publishers, who then distribute to their writers according to the contract they have with the writers (not the label's responsibility). So if a label want to buy a license for, say, 1000 units... divided as 500 physical plus 500 digital copies, they would divide $91 among all publishers per song on the recording project. In addition, if the license is obtained through Harry Fox, there is a small processing fee for their service.

How do you get these licenses?

The record label or label rep is legally obligated to obtain licenses either directly from the song publisher(s) or through the Harry Fox Agency if the song is licensed there. This is the tedious part... the label must contact and obtain mutually signed  mechanical licenses from all publishers and co-publishers who own each separate song. Publisher info can be obtained by contacting and asking the writers who their publishers are. If you're an independent songwriter not affiliated with Harry Fox... have a blank custom mechanical license handy that you can fill out with your info and provide a label when you find out they've cut your song! (scroll down to find a custom license with fillable fields!)

When do you need to get these licenses?

Before releasing the project! In fact, before recording the songs, labels should make sure the license is obtainable! The potential problem is: publishers have the right to choose who first releases their song. With a new unreleased song, the label needs to get the license to affirm they have permission for first release, or the recording budget for that song could be spent on something that can't be sold.

To recap... The label should pay for a mechanical license for each song before they are sold. The label would estimate how many digital or physical units they would want to sell at first and pay $ .091 per unit per song (for 1000 units this would be $91 per song) to split between publishers.

Information you'll need to collect for each song:

  • Writer and co-writer name(s), PRO(s) [BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc], percentage(s) and addresses

  • Publisher and co-pub name(s), PRO(s), percentage(s) and addresses for where to send payment

Other random FAQ's about mechanical licenses:

  • Licensor = Label rep would be whoever represents the record label.  Licensee = the publisher of that particular song.

  • Yes, you need a license form for each song, even with the same songwriter and publishing co.

  • No, the songwriter does not sign the license… the publisher does. The agreement is between label and publisher.

  • The label would then pay the publisher the mechanical license fee.

  • How the songwriter gets paid...  if contractually obligated, the publishing company will split mechanicals with the songwriter, according to the contract they have between them. This is not the label's responsibility; it's the publisher's.

Need A blank custom mechanical license?

When a record label approaches me concerning one of my songs, I give them any co-publishing information so they can contact those publishers, and I use a custom license from my own publishing company. I got the following form from an independent record label, and created a fillable form you can download here:

Free Download! Custom Mechanical License (blank fillable form)

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Creating a win-win situation for the artist/label and the writers/publishers keeps great music rewarding for all. Understanding mechanical licenses for music projects is information every record label, songwriter and publisher should have. If anyone has any other questions or can offer any other information about mechanicals, I welcome your comments!

Singers: For the best pre-production money you can spend, be sure to check out

Production teams: For the best training to know how to help your singers capture magic, check out .

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Monday, January 17, 2022

How To (REALLY) Make It In Music - Updated 2022

 What does your personal, unique picture of music success look like?

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Available also on iTunesTuneIn RadioStitcherSpotifyAmazonPodbean, most other podcast apps

So how do you know you've become 'successful'? Well, there's an old (unfortunately relevant) joke that goes 'how do you make a million dollars in the music business? By starting with 2 million!' Lets come up with some better strategy. I strongly advise you to decide on the front end of any money/time/heart that you spend on training/writing/production/performing or anything else: What would ‘success’ look like to you for you to consider your investment in music to be worth it?

Some goals and pictures of  music success you could go for:

  • You want to sing better (write/play, whatever you want to be able to do better). 

It’s important to your heart and part of your life-balance to be good at your music. It’s not necessary that you make music as a career, or that you ever make money at it. But you love doing it, and it fulfills you to do it well. Karaoke, choir singing, jam sessions with family and friends, the occasional show, that sort of thing.

  • You want to get good enough to compete

... or participate in a talent show of some kind and not embarrass yourself, maybe even place or win. Perhaps you want to audition for a college music program or for a part in a musical or other production.

  • You want to do seriously good music on the side.

Perhaps you want to do a recording project that may never pay for itself but is a legacy for you. You want to do some special performances, to get a casual band together to do some part-time gigging. It's important for your life-balance wholeness to be able to make some very good music and do it well.

  • You have a professional reason to get better at singing (playing, writing, etc). Such as...

    • You're a side-musician that need to sing background better on live tours,
    • you're getting live show background vocal, jingle or studio session work and want to go a level up, etc.
    • You're a songwriter and need to sing and/or play better to write better melodies and perform or demo your work.
    • You're a public speaker, salesperson, teacher, coach, voice-over talent, minister, receptionist, reporter, waiter. etc. and you may need to get rid of some vocal strain or gain vocal ability that will make you a more effective communicator.

  • Or perhaps you are potentially good enough to have a main career as a recording/performing artist, and decide to devote a certain amount of time to finding out if you can get the bandwagon rolling.

    • For this, you need to understand that the odds are great you’ll never break even. It’s a gamble you must be willing to take, and like all gambles, you need to be as fully informed of your chances as possible.
    • You will need to develop a network of industry insiders… and that takes time, patience and careful persistence. Your reputation with them will be based on things like your personality, ability, and usefulness to them and others.
    • You’ll need money for training, recording at least a demo, and gigging costs (at first you will play for free). You'll either have a backer, savings you're willing to dip into, a day job or all three.
    • You’ll need to develop a circle of accountability to keep you safe - an entertainment attorney, friends/family with good business instincts, other singers/writers/insiders who have gone down the road before you. A good circle will both caution you when you’re about to step off a cliff or be scammed, and encourage you when you’re almost there but losing heart. And you'll reciprocate by doing the same for them.
    • You’ll need a strong constitution for all the ‘no’s’ you will receive.
    • You’ll need to get and stay informed about the current music business marketing and promotion strategies that are working. Here are some sources for current music business training I recommend, some free blogs and podcasts, some paid personalized career guidance:
Wendy Parr
PCG Artist Development
Rick Barker
Bree Noble (and her Female Entrepreneur Podcast)
New Roots (for new female artists)
    • And you’ll need to be satisfied if at the end of the day you can’t make your career pay, that at least you tried, and it’s important enough for you to do so.

Now that your goals are clear - Get Practical!

Too many people are depressed or defeated in their music aspirations because they don't do what it takes to be successful at it. They worry, try, hope, gripe, give up or stay in a perpetual state of failing but they don't get practical and…

1. They don’t research what it takes to be successful with their music goals.
2. They don’t assess the vocal, musical or business skills they have at this point in time.
3. They don’t get to work on acquiring those skills and assets they’re missing.

Take a Step!

I used to counsel people in women's prisons and juvenile detention centers, in a trained volunteer program with 5 steps called "Better Decisions". The funny thing is, I learned as much as my inmate students did about getting to better places in life. You and I can use these same 5 steps:

1. Know the situation ( assess where you are right now)
2. Know what you want (where you want to be)
3. Brainstorm the possibilities (and get other sources to help you do this)
4. Evaluate and decide (choose your strategies and tactics according to your life values)
5. ACT! (without this step, the others are useless) You may need to do something, face something about yourself, learn something, network with someone, make some calls, try some experiments. Wishing isn’t enough… schedule these into your calendar!

Make a Plan!

You can't plan for every contingency, as the pandemic era has proven, but without a morphable plan, success is a pipedream - not a real one with legs and not just wings. I strongly advise long term and short term planning:
Create a 5 year plan, where do you want to be and what do you want to have accomplished by then?
Work back... what do you have to in year 1, 2, 3, 4 to reach your goals in year 5?
Work back further... what do you have to do in each month to work towards your 1 year goal?
Work back further still... what do you need to do for the next 4 weeks? for the next week? for the next 7 days? Today???
Create a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly agenda. Know that it will be a plan on rollerskates; revise as necessary but keep moving towards your goals.

Do your due diligence

,,, on anyone you’re thinking about working with. Never sign anything without running it by a good entertainment attorney. 

If you're thinking of working with me, here's how I can benefit you:
  • I will kindly but honestly assess your commercial potential for the music business (though I never say 'absolutely never' because a lot depends on your persistence in developing your craft and learning the biz, along with some luck)
  • I will make you the best singer you can be, helping you discover your uniqueness, conquer any vocal problems you have, max your ability and protect your voice.
  • I am also a studio producer and/or vocal producer with other production teams, and offer the best of those services, too. Or you can check out my training course Singing In The Studio.
  • You can use me as a wall to bounce off potential music business strategies your considering, but I do not promise any networking. That is up to you.

Don't Stop:

Don't ever stop dreaming, but do put legs under your wings. Don't waste any more time; do something proactive and get to work towards your chosen music goals, today!  

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Interview With Salem Jones - Empress of Rock

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Available also on iTunesTuneIn RadioStitcherSpotifyAmazonPodbean, most other podcast apps

PLEASE REVIEW at               

One Soul Thrust – aka 1ST – is a pure rock band based in western Canada. The lead singer/ songwriter/force to be reckoned with is SALEM JONES. She has one of the best female voices in rock – period... so good that Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes recorded a rare duet with her. She's also a warrior in the purest sense of the word. Listen to the interview as I ask Salem about her real life as Empress of Rock.

Points of Discussion:

  • How & why Salem came to choose the rock genre for her life and her work. 
  • Working with the band and her partner Jag
  • She explains how 'This band’s work is elemental. It comes from the bones; it goes back to the bones. With fire & pay-dirt…And the kind of endurance that only That Which is Real can ever have.'
  • She tells me about connecting and working with her renown producer Alessandro Del Veccio
  • We talk about doing her duet with Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, and I play a clip of the song 'Go Home and Melt'.
  • She tells me about Paul Rogers of Bad Company asking her to join him on stage.
  • We discuss the making of her 4th (new) album 'Slaves to the Sky, Masters to the Mess', which was released first on vinyl.
  • I ask her about what it means to be a life-long rocker, and a woman warrior living an excellent life.

More about Salem Jones

Salem Jones’s voice combines the clarity of Ann Wilson and the sass of Alice Cooper, with the vocal range and power of any rocker you wish to name. She has honed her voice carefully with years of study under several teachers, including I’m very honored to say, me. Salem writes some of the most intelligent and creative lyrics I’ve ever come across. They come from a deeply intuitive, creative and passionate combination of mind/heart/spirit.

Salem has also mastered the art of stage performance, weaving a spell-casting triumvirate of musical, lyrical and visual threads together. Every move she makes is an intentional balance between control and holding nothing back.Her story is, like she is, unique. Salem made history being the 2nd female singer in the world to record a duet with Glenn Hughes on the song ‘Go Home & Melt. Veteran Italian producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who has engineered and mastered hundreds of world-class Billboard chart-topping albums including collaborations from the most sought after rock groups in the world, has produced all One Soul Thrust CDs.


  • Website (Patreon Page):
  • Spotify
  • Reverb Nation
  • Twitter
  • Secret Rock Society (SRS)
Video from new album single 'Black Frank'...

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