Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros

August 25, 2011

How to Sell & License Cover Songs, YouTube, Pomplamoose & More

I just posted part one of a great two-part interview with Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn of the duo Pomplamoose. They explain how they've used a combination of cover songs and originals to attract more than 300,000 YouTube subscribers and 60+ million video views.

They also sell more than 100,000 digital music downloads a year through iTunes and their own website. These online sales are comprised of both cover songs and originals.

Which has led to a ton of questions from artists wondering:

How does Pomplamoose (and many other musicians like them) legally post cover songs on YouTube and then sell them?

Some of these cover song issues will be addressed in part two of the Pomplamoose interview. But since a lot of people are asking now, here is what I know about this topic ...

There are two separate aspects to this:

1) Recording your version of someone else's song and POSTING it on YouTube - where anyone can watch it for free

2) Recording your version of someone else's song and SELLING it on iTunes, Amazon, your own site, etc.

Regarding #1 ... Admittedly, this is a gray area with no clear-cut answers. YouTube probably has a blanket license from BMI and ASCAP for this purpose. Much like a live music venue should have a license that allows you to play cover songs in a club.

Based on my research of this topic, the main reason a cover song video might be removed from YouTube is if someone files a complaint or the copyright holder objects to it. This has happened with some videos. But considering the thousands (if not millions) of cover songs on YouTube, it is rare to have such a video pulled.

There's currently no easy system in place to get permission or purchase what's called a "sync license" before posting your rendition of a popular song on YouTube. So most indie artists simply upload them for the world to see. If an artist, record label or publisher does object, it seems the worst that happens is that YouTube deactivates that video.

Warning: There is some evidence that YouTube has a "three strikes" rule -- meaning that after three such copyright deactivations they will shut down your entire channel. So if you've had complaints in the past, you might want to steer clear of cover songs on that channel.

(Note: All of these guidelines pertain to YOUR RENDITION of a song! Do NOT post the original recording of someone's else song. THAT is a definite no-no.)

Thanks to Suzanne Lainson who provided this link to a much more in-depth overview of this topic.

Regarding #2 ... To SELL your recorded version of someone else's song, you must purchase a mechanical license. As Jack and Nataly will point out in part two, this is incredibly easy and affordable to do -- especially for digital download sales in small quantities.

Pomplamoose uses the Harry Fox Agency, which you can find at or simply

Many indie musicians use Limelight at -- which some have said is even easier to use.

Using either one of these sites, you could buy the mechanical rights to sell 100 digital downloads of a cover song for as little as $24 USD. (That includes a $15 fee to Limelight or Harry Fox, plus $9.10 for royalties to the publisher.)

Pretty simple, huh?

Note that there are different rates and rules for songs over five minutes in length, sampling, parodies, etc. But for a simple rendition of a cover song, it's pretty easy.

If I missed anything, please leave a comment below.

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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:31 AM   14 comments

August 09, 2011

Don't Let the Bastards in the Door! The Cure for Economic Doom & Gloom

I've had it with those Bastards, and I will no longer let them in my door. And ... I highly recommend you do the same.

What? Let me explain ...

Yes, I'm frustrated with U.S. politicians in D.C. But I'm not talking about them. Yes, I'm not at all happy with Wall Street insiders focused on short-term greed. But I'm not talking about them either.

I'm also fed up with the head honchos at media outlets who choose to report fear and loathing 24 hours a day. But they are not the Bastards I refer to here.

Like you, I've been bombarded with messages about debt ceilings, downgrades, downturns, shortages, layoffs, foreclosures, and more. I've had my fill.

And now I refuse to let the Bastards in my door!

The Bastards I'm talking about here are not people or corporate entities. They are the negative and destructive thought forms that are hypnotizing you and me and much of the population these days.

If you want to truly survive and thrive through this (or any other) economy, you must send these Bastards packing and not let them get anywhere near the door to your psyche.

Note of Clarification ...

I am NOT talking about burying your head in the sand and denying that many people are hurting financially these days. There is some very real pain being experienced by good people. There's a pretty strong chance that someone close to you is facing an economic challenge, or even you yourself are.

I get that. I have felt the pinch myself, and I have watched and am watching good friends wrestle with it.

But the best way for you to help them and help yourself is to rise above the misery mentality. Don't buy into the mass consciousness of lack and limitation. That will serve no one.

It's one thing to be aware of global economics and have empathy for those who have been affected. It's quite another to shrivel up and become a card-carrying member of the Doom and Gloom Association.

The Bastards are trying to infiltrate your brain, your mindset, and your entire belief system. Don't let them in the door!

The Best Medicine for Economic Doom and Gloom

Again, these Bastards (with a capital B) are not people or things. They are perceptions, attitudes, and highly contagious viruses of the mind that must be obliterated from your life at all costs.

They must be dealt with like the diseases that they are with swift and radical treatment. Otherwise, they will continue to fester and grow within you -- and before you know it, your physical world will reflect the sickness that permeates your mind.

In fact, your current circumstances already reflect your internal belief system -- whether you know it or not. Your physical reality is formed by what you think is possible, combined with the actions you take and how you show up in the world.

The U.S. government may have a debt ceiling, but you have internal ceilings of your own. And one of them can be described as a "growth ceiling."

That's right, your personal experience of income, joy, creativity, love and much more is very much determined by what you believe is possible and what you feel you deserve.

These factors are at work in your life whether the media is saying the economy is soaring, plummeting or in neutral. So it's a good idea to not let the Bastards in your door at any time. But during times of mass gloom-filled hypnosis, it's especially important to stand guard at the doorway to your mind.

I Repeat ... Don't Let the Bastards in the Door!

By remaining in control of your attitude and outlook, you are in a much better position to see opportunities, maintain your enthusiasm, and take constructive steps to get out of any financial mess you may be in (or to help loved ones get through a challenge they are going through).

The other choice is to be sucked into the doomsday rhetoric, let the Bastards get a foot in your door, and before long your entire mental house will be filled with poison. This will cause you to retreat, miss opportunities because you are too pessimistic to see them, withhold taking action because "everyone is hurting now," and on and on.

In which position would you rather be?

One way you remain empowered and in control. The other way you succumb to being a victim.

Here are three quick ways you can keep the Bastards outside your door:

1) Go on a news and media diet. It's okay to be aware of world events and to be an informed consumer and citizen. But that doesn't mean you have to submit yourself to a constant barrage of negative news programming. (There's a reason it's called "programming.") Cut way back on your weekly intake of traditional media.

To keep the Bastards from getting in your door and infecting your mind, you may need a big dose of preventative medicine. My drugs of choice are books and audio programs that remind me of my potential and recharge my outlook and skills set. Doing this will strengthen the hinges on your mental door.

The media would have you believe there's a boogeyman "out there" trying to get you. But the real culprit is the Bastard that you willingly allow inside your door!

2) Be extremely grateful for what you have. I don't want to get all "Oprah" on you and tell you to start journaling (although that can be very helpful if you're into it). But I can't stress enough the power of appreciating what you already have. So start today to count your many blessings.

When you truly appreciate the richness and abundance of the life you already lead, it gives you a much firmer launching pad from which to grow. When you only focus on what's missing and what's wrong, there's little gas in the tank to get you moving.

So, what are you grateful for? Your health or your family? Do you have a place to live, a car to drive, or clothes to wear? What about the amazing technology we have today that allows us to communicate so effortlessly? How about your gifts, talents, friends, fans, and the good deeds you have personally witnessed recently?

Going on a "rampage of appreciation" will improve your outlook. I guarantee it!

3) Be open, available and eager for more. Hand in hand with your extreme gratitude should be an openness and eagerness to experience more. Being deeply appreciative of what you have and where you are does not mean you have to settle - that this is as good as it will ever get.

Life is all about growth, evolution and expansion. All you have to do is observe nature for a while to understand this concept. You should live your life in accordance with these natural laws too. Appreciate what you have, and simultaneously open yourself up to be, do, have, and create more.

Both factors are needed. Gratitude without growth can lead to stagnation. And wanting more without appreciating what you have will leave you feeling empty along the journey. So appreciate where you are AND where you are going!

Of course, this state of eagerness for growth must be combined with action. The good news is, your actions will flow more energetically and much easier once these three steps are fully embraced.

There you have it. My prescription for overcoming the disease of economic doom and gloom: Go on a news and media diet; be extremely grateful for what you have; be open, available and eager for more; take affirmative action.

I hope these ideas help you through this and any other troubling time ahead. But whatever you do ...

Don't let the Bastards in the door!


P.S. I welcome your comments below.
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posted by Bob Baker @ 12:43 PM   34 comments