Bathroom Music Videos

Bathroom Music Videos
by Sue Basko

A bathroom makes live music sound so good.

Barenaked Ladies - One Week


Wax - "Need"


Awake Awake


Elliott Smith - "Between the Bars"


Lykke Li


Beatbox in New Bathroom


Brandy - "A Change is Gonna Come"


Pigeon John - "Davey Rockit"





What's Really Wrong with SOPA and PIPA?


What’s Really Wrong with SOPA and PIPA?
by Sue Basko

What’s really wrong with SOPA and PIPA or any laws that propose to broaden punishment for small time individual users for online copyright infringement is that people do not understand Copyright law. Also, online users expect anything that is available or usable to be free.

During the recent SOPA/ PIPA drama, it became apparent that many peoples’ relationship to copyright law is like the ancients’ relationship to science: They do not understand it, and so they fear it, make up strange theories about it, demonize it, and go on witchhunts about it. I would not be surprised to see people wearing amulets to ward off the Copyright Monster.

Copyright law is so complex. Even many of those online users who seem to want to follow Copyright law appear clueless.

Let’s take youtube, for example. I often see videos that use others’ copyrighted songs (intellectual property), recordings, or film or video footage. Often, the youtube user will post some sort of disclaimer, such as: “No Copyright Intended.” They are clueless that copyright is about COPYING, not about their intention to claim the work as their own – although that is a more obscure form of copyright infringement.

I work with independent songwriters, musicians, studios, and little record labels. These are people in the music industry. Most of them seem to have only the slightest grasp on Copyright law.

When Copyright law was established, it was much more difficult for everyday people to violate it. Photocopy machines did not exist. The internet did not exist. Home computers did not exist. All of the digital means of copying and distributing songs, photos, videos, and written works that are now at the disposal of any 8 year old were not yet invented.

Not too long ago, making copies of a work was an expensive enterprise, and one for which a lawyer would be consulted. Not very long ago, to make a copy of a recording, one had to own the “master,” which was a big deal. The master was an expensive mold from which more identical records could be pressed. Old timey record label and recording studio contracts still talk about the master, as if a digital file could not be replicated a thousand generations with no quality loss.

Most of the Copyright laws have quite a bit of catching up to do so they comport with reality. I think most people want to reward songwriters, photographers, filmmakers, and writers. They also want to instantly share their works at no cost. Therein lies the quandary.

What’s the solution? I do not know, but whatever it is, it must be very simple and very user-friendly.

One of my favorite companies, Rights Flow, has made it easy to file for copyright on creative works. Under Limelight, they have also made it easy to obtain a compulsory license to record a cover song. This is the wave of the future.

It is fair for creative content creators to be able to earn money from their work. How to do so? Some say to offer a selection online for free and then offer premium items for sale. These are the musicians offering a few songs for free, in hope people will buy their other downloads or CDs. These are also photographers and graphic artists, sharing their photos and pictures freely online, but selling high quality prints. These are the bloggers, hoping that allowing readers to read their writing for free online will entice them to purchase books – either ebooks or the ones made of paper.

The least workable solution, in my opinion, is to go backwards in time. Today, violating copyright law is easy and quick and inexpensive (or free) and usually fun, so it becomes important to find solutions where following copyright law is also easy and quick and inexpensive (or free) and at least somewhat fun. User friendly is the key.


How to Register Copyright on a Song/
Easy Version!



How to Register Copyright on a Song/ Easy version!
by Sue Basko

These are easy instructions on how to register copyright on one song. You can register copyright on whichever parts are yours - the music, lyrics, and/or sound recording.

You can register at the U.S. Electronic Copyright Office online for $35 per song. This is their website, where you will read and follow the directions: http://www.copyright.gov/eco/ 

If you want more information on copyright on songs and on how to register a collection of unpublished songs with the U.S. Copyright Office, please see this series of 4 blog posts:

Demo Reels - Why and How-
with Darryl Harbeck



Demo Reels - Why and How - with Darryl Harbeck
by Sue Basko

A demo reel is a short video that edits together the highlights of the best work of an actor, or of a film director, editor, lighting person, set decorator, etc. If you are thinking of getting a demo reel -- this blog post is for you! You may also want to read related posts, What is a Talent Agent and How Do I Get One? , Character Actor: Interview with Dave Vescio and Rob Adler on Acting, Teaching Acting to Children and Adults, Games, and Other Thoughts

Today's special blog guest is Darryl Harbeck, of Hollywood, California, owner of Suntopia Films and Anexo 56, a new international computer motion graphics company. Darryl and I have been friends for many years. Darryl is a very good video editor and cameraman, but he also knows the other side of the business. Darryl's best friend growing up is now a very successful comedy writer. Darryl studied comedy improv at the Players Workshop of The Second City. Lately, he has produced and directed video for the famous Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theater in Los Angeles. He also studied acting in the school's intense classes.

Darryl has made demo reels for some of the best actors in Hollywood. Darryl is the go-to guy for managers and agents who want to get their clients a demo reel that is top-notch. I've watched Darryl at work making demo reels. I've seen the effort he goes through to pull out the best of the actor's work and turn it into a little gem.

"Demo reels" used to actually be reels of film, but now, they are DVDs and video on the internet. Click here to see some demo reels made by Darryl. If you view all 11 videos on the page, you'll have a good idea of the possibilities. You can get Darryl's contact info right there on the site, too, or email: Darryl@SunTopiaFilms.com

I threw some questions at Darryl, and he came up with helpful answers:

Sue: WHAT MAKES A GOOD DEMO REEL?

Darryl: A good reel shows the acting range of the actor in a very quick manner. An average reel can run 2.5 to 3.5 minutes, however, it's very common for reels to run even shorter.

A good editor is always looking for ways to cut long shots, shots on other actors, cut-aways and trim the dialogue of other actors to the bare minimum. Dramatic pauses may work for your movie, but they're cut down or removed for a demo reel. Foul language, gore and nudity is generally avoided.

Thinking of saving your best scene for last? Think again. Most people won't watch the whole reel. Put your best stuff right up front, shorter scenes first. This way, whoever is watching sees more of your best work in the shortest amount of time.

Avoid video and headshot montages to music. That's old school and just annoys people. Get right to the work, that's what people want to see...can you act, and what type(s) are you? The one exception to making a montage might be if you have a few "special talents" that you can show in short order (stunts, horseback riding, fire eating etc).

Don't make the mistake that many do...saving up material until you have enough to make a "brand new" reel. Rather, as soon as you get a new scene worthy of your reel...get it on there.

People want to see your latest and greatest. Your demo reel is ever changing, ever evolving...that is until you are a super star and don't need one anymore.


Sue: A BEGINNER COMES TO YOU FOR THEIR FIRST REEL. WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO HAVE AND IN WHAT FORMAT?

Darryl: I always prefer to work with the actor during the edit rather than them just dropping stuff off. Working together is more collaborative and more productive....and more cost-effective.

Actors should review the material in advance, make selections and write down the time-codes of where to find each scene on the file or DVD. Try not to identify more than 10-15 minutes of material that we'll be working with. Remember, you're cutting it down to a couple minutes and the editor doesn't need to see every frame of film you've been in.

If you have computer files of your work, bring them, but also bring a regular "playable DVD" as a backup (if you have it). That's a playable DVD that plays on a DVD player (not your computer).


Sue: WHAT DO THEY WALK AWAY WITH?

Darryl: You get a DVD Master. You can make copies from that on your computer, or have me make them for you.

You also get a digital internet version that you can upload to website of your choice (Actors Access, Youtube, Vimeo, your website...wherever). Then just send the link to the people that you want to view your reel.


Sue: HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A DEMO REEL? WHO DOES THE ACTOR GIVE ONE TO?

Darryl: Usually the first thing an agent, manager, casting director, producer or director will ask an actor is, "Do you have any tape on your self?". That's them asking for your reel. If you are prepared, you say "Of course". If not, you just sort of stammer and stutter. Demo reels don't "usually" get you an acting gig, but they can get you a meeting or an audition.


Sue: WHO ELSE HAS A DEMO REEL BESIDES ACTORS?

Darryl: Directors, Set Designers, Music Supervisors, Dancers, Stand-up Comics, Stunt People, Special Effects People....whoever wants to show someone else their work.


Sue: WHAT IS THE IDEAL DEMO REEL FOR ADVANCED BEGINNER?

Darryl: The same for everyone...one that shows your latest and greatest in short order.


Sue: DO DEMO REELS DIFFER REGIONALLY?

Darryl: Not really.

Click here to see some demo reels made by Darryl. If you view all 11 videos on the page, you'll have a good idea of the possibilities. You can get Darryl's contact info right there on the site, too, or email: Darryl@SunTopiaFilms.com

You may also want to read these related posts:

What is a Talent Agent and How Do I Get One?

Character Actor: Interview with Dave Vescio

Rob Adler on Acting, Teaching Acting to Children and Adults, Games, and Other Thoughts


Terry "Trademark" Martin and 40 Hz Productions: Beats, Samples, and Recording


Terry "Trademark" Martin and 40 Hz Productions:
Beats, Samples, and Recording
by Sue Basko

Terry "Trademark" Martin runs 40 Hz Productions as a joint effort with Max-a-Million and Morris Mills. 40 Hz Productions is a boutique or mini-recording studio, tucked into a room in the much larger Paragon Studios in Chicago's Fulton Market District, just northwest of the downtown Loop area. The trio are known for making dance pop or rap dance music, creating beats and samples, and for loving pancakes -- but that is a slightly different topic.

If you want to create music and you're not quite fully formed on your songs, Terry can help pull it together by creating beats, coaching vocals, and polishing a recording with instrumentals.

Terry has been so kind to answer my probing questions:

What's the name of your production and recording company and who is involved?

40 Hz Productions is myself, Max-A-Million, and Morris Mills.

Your studio is small but sweet. What do you have in there?

I have an Apple iMac running Pro-Tools 9 with all kinds of industry standard plug-ins. My main music production tools would be the Roland Fantom G6 and Akai MPC 2500. For recording, I use an Avalon channel strip with high quality condenser microphones.

You make beats and samples. Tell me about this process.

I create my samples from old records, drum machines, synthesizers, and any sounds I can capture with my iPhone. That way when I have an idea, I'll have a collection of sounds to play with and mold them into a beat.

How about making beats and samples to order, for a client?

I'm constantly adding new material to my library but I can also create custom tracks for clients. Give me the idea and I'll paint the picture.

Did you attend school for recording?

Yes, I'm a Full Sail University graduate of 2003. I studied recording arts there.

What are some of your favorite projects that you've worked on?

Anything with Max-A-Million is a pleasure. He's my music mentor and we always have a great time in the studio. Recording the Legendary Drifters was also a wonderful project to be part of.

If someone comes to you and sort of vaguely wants to record some songs, but they are not sure what, can you help them out?

Most definitely. I believe I can take someone's ideas and help them create their masterpiece.

Can you create music?

Yes, I compose and produce all kinds of music.

Do you play any instruments?

Yes. I play guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums.

What led up to where you are today?

A love for music. Creating and helping others create.

Let's talk about that pancake song. It's clever. How did it come about?

Thanks. I like pancakes. One night it just came out lol.

Can you see making songs for commercial sponsors? Writing songs to order?

Totally. I would love to do that. Stuff like that just comes naturally to me.

Times are tough financially. Got any deals going?

$100 for 4 hours of recording/mixing time.

What are your life goals?

To create the best music I can.

What are your favorite mind-expanders?

I find inspiration in film, traveling, and art. That's when I get out of the studio of course.

Terry TradeMark Martin

40 Hz Productions

(708) 415-1119

Terry@40HzProductions.com

www.40HzProductions.com

www.facebook.com/trademarkchicago

www.facebook.com/40HzProductions


Five (5) Ways to Kill a Rock Band



Five (5) Ways to Kill a Rock Band
by Sue Basko

Rock bands, other musical groups, and solo acts are sometimes (often) on a path to limited success or outright self-destruction. My observations of many music acts leads to this list:

1. The singer cannot really sing. The singer does not realize he or she cannot really sing. No one will tell the singer he or she cannot really sing. The singer gets to be the singer, because the singer is: a) a solo act; or b) the one that started the band; or c) the one that declared himself or herself as the singer, due to being popular, cute, or feeling singer-ish; d) the one with the car, money, practice space, or other necessary ingredient.

2. A boyfriend or girlfriend gets involved in running the act. This is almost always disastrous. It is hard enough to run a relationship, but having one entangled in with a musical career will likely lead to disaster. Do you notice your popularity waning? It's because no one wants to deal with the toxic boy/girlfriend. If people must approve of your boy/girlfriend to like your act, you are doomed. If bookers, managers, or fans have to jump through hoops created by a jealous/ protective/ control freak/ clingy boy/girlfriend -- they won't. On the flip side -- parents often make very good managers for a musical career, especially if they have some background in music or entertainment.

3. Someone is causing trouble by abusing drugs, alcohol, or having personal problems. Someone is arguing, not showing up, not practicing, being late, etc. The person needs to take care of the problem, and the sooner, the better.

4. Someone is a control freak. Someone is stopping up creativity, hampering friendly public relations, stressing people out, irritating venue owners and audio people, and in general, limiting the flow by trying to control everyone and everything.

5. Too much other responsibility. Jobs that do not allow the freedom needed to be in a musical act, marriage, kids, mortgages - all these usually limit one's ability to engage fully in a musical career. If a person can only give a few hours a week to the music career, it is not going to go too far.

-- Sue Basko suebaskomusic@gmail.com



Picking a Name for Your Rock Band



Picking a Name for Your Rock Band: 7 Rules
by Sue Basko



When you start a rock band, you choose a name for it. You should do this strategically so it enhances the future of the band, rather than causing problems. In this article, I give some general rules, and many of these rules also apply to choosing a stage name for a singer, or even to picking a name for a movie, company, or website. The information here should be helpful, but it is not legal advice for anyone’s particular situation. To get that, you would need to speak directly with a lawyer.


If you choose a name and it must be changed later, you then lose the goodwill, name recognition, booking power, following, and sales power that you had built up associated with the band name. This can be a big deterrent for a record label, agent, manager, or touring company that is considering signing your band. Their lawyers know you have to change your name and the question arises whether you are going to be able to build up your same “fame” afterwards, and how long it is going to take. There is the additional problem that legal work, such as contracts, have used the band name, and all that is going to have to be adjusted. A band that needs a name change is not likely to be signed, period.

RULE 1: Pick a name that is not being used or has not been used by another musical band.

HOW TO: You should pick a name that is not the same or similar to any other band in rock or any other genre, in use anywhere that you can find it in the English-speaking parts of the world. Google extensively on the internet, on all possible spellings of the main words.

WHY: You must choose a name that cannot be confused with any other group, for purposes of booking and promotion. You need a name that you can trademark if you decide to do so. If a record label or promotion or touring company wants to sign your band, they will make you change your name if it can be confused with another group. Also, if the other group notices you are using their name, they can force you to stop using it.

RULE 2: Pick a name that has not been used by any other rock band in the past, even if that band is no longer operational.

HOW TO: Some more very in-depth Googling, searching on youtube, asking music geeks.

WHY: Chances are, someone still owns the rights to that name or uses that name for some purposes, such as song publishing, band reunions, vintage merch, etc.

I have seen instances where a big band in the swing music genre or a jazz band uses the name of its famous leader. When the leader dies, sometimes the band continues on using the name. For example, I think this is the case with The Artie Shaw Orchestra. This will be a situation where the right of publicity and trademark/ service mark to use the name must reside with either the group or with an ownership entity of the group, such as a company. If you are looking ahead, it makes sense to plan for the death of the namesake leader, so that his or her music can live on in the best way to continue to please audiences. This is best done with legal paperwork done in advance, rather than with lawsuits after the fact.

RULE 3: Pick a name that is not the same or similar to that of any band you were ever in before, whether that band is still operational or not.

HOW TO: Be honest. If you were in a band called “Hopscotch,” you cannot name your new band “Hop Scotch.”

WHY: Every rock band is a business entity and in most cases, the name belongs to the entity and not to any given band member. There are some exceptions to this, such as when a “band leader” (or core unit) starts and organizes a band and maintains a sort of ownership control over the band. Then, as the peripheral band members come and go, that band leader will keep the same band name. An example of this is The Rolling Stones.

However, one band member, or one of the core group members, cannot form a new band and take the name.

However, still, ownership of the name may reside in the group as a whole. This is where a lawyer should definitely be consulted. Example on this rule: The name “Pink Floyd” has been trademarked and is owned by a business entity and not by any given person. Roger Waters has lately been touring as “The Wall.”

This situation can become very sticky when one or more members of a defunct band want to reunite and/or add other musicians, and perform for a “comeback” tour. If ownership of the name has not been clarified legally, this often results in lawsuits and/ or hard feelings. It can also result in audience disappointment. Anyone thinking of forming such a comeback should consult a good lawyer. Anyone forming a band now should think ahead to such future possibilities and choose the right name and have the paperwork done properly from the get-go.

Some "comebacks" are not really so. For example, a few years ago, there was a band that was said to be a comeback of The Byrds. This band had none of the original members and its connection to the influential 1960s California band was tenuous. When called on this, the band said it did not actually use the name "The Byrds," but "The Byrds Celebration." The fine line between being a cover or tribute band, and pretending to be the real thing, had been breached. See Rule 7 below for Cover bands.

If the band name itself contains the actual or stage name(s) of the band members, and if one or more of those band members leaves the band, then the legally correct thing to do is to change the name to reflect the membership. The legal rules behind this may include trademark, right of publicity, and in some cases, fraud. Examples: “Simon and Garfunkel” is only Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel performing together, and could not be used by either of them for their solo career or other bands. The same with “Sonny and Cher.” If Dave Matthews were no longer performing, no one should be selling tickets to the “Dave Matthews Band.”

RULE 4: Pick a name that is not used or owned by any other company or organization of any type.

HOW TO: Google extensively. Also, have a lawyer do a trademark search.

WHY: So you are not possibly violating anyone else’s trademark or other rights. Also, to give yourself maximum SEO (search engine optimization). If you have a unique name, a search on your name will likely place you on top.

RULE 5: Pick a name that is not the same as or cannot be confused with the name of any product, movie, TV show, book, comic book, character in any kind of book or show, the name of any other person, etc.

HOW: Google, google, google. Trademark search.

WHY: So you do not violate anyone’s trademark, copyright, right of publicity, privacy rights, or anything else. You might think it is cute to name your band after a Disney character, but Disney lawyers will let you know fast and firmly that it is not acceptable.

RULE 6: If you want mainstream success to any extent, pick a name that is not profane, violent, racist, sexist, offensive to any religion, apparently Satanic, or in poor taste, either in words or implication.

If a major goal of your music is that you want to shock, offend, or appeal to a limited audience while scaring away others, then you may want to choose a name that shows this. However, your band is likely to be banned from college campuses, high schools, community festivals, city-sponsored events, church-sponsored events, performances in stores and shopping malls, radio airplay, performing or use of your songs in advertising, placing your own ads in most media (they have standards), many commercial venues, websites, contests, online music sales sites, etc.

What about NWA or the Dead Kennedys, you may ask. They did not make it to huge mainstream success, and they began many years ago. In the intervening years, society has become much more concerned about appearing to treat others with civility, as well as with the perceived dangers of rock music. The influence of certain rock groups has been named as a factor in writings regarding school shootings, murders, and suicides. If, after considering all this, you still insist on calling your band the Satanic Nazi Marines, or The Defective Sperm, by all means, give it a whirl.

RULE 7: If you are a cover band or tribute band, pick a name that cannot confuse anyone into thinking you are the real band. A cover or tribute band is a band that performs and/or records the music of a famous band. Sometimes the cover band will try to look, act, and sound like the famous band, in which case, it is a tribute band. There are many Beatles tribute bands. If the famous band is still performing, great care must be taken not to violate their copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity, etc. A lawyer must be consulted. If the famous band is not still performing, great care must also be taken.

HOW: Pick a name that does not use the actual words from the name of the original band, the name of any of their songs, or anything that sounds similar. The band also cannot use the name of the original band in advertising. For example, there is a successful Beatles tribute band in the midwest called "American English." That name is a good choice, because it does not confuse and yet implies what type of music will be played. There is a Grateful Dead tribute band from Florida called "Uncle John's Band." That is skating on thin ice, because that is the name of a Grateful Dead song. There is a Led Zeppelin tribute band in Los Angeles called "Led Zepagain" that records and performs the songs of the original band. If Led Zepagain has not licensed use of the Led Zeppelin name, (and their website gives no indication that they have), I would expect the lawsuits to fly any time now. Why? Violation of trademark, violation of service mark, violation of right of publicity.

There are instances where a famous rock band will license out use of its name to a tribute band. For example, right now, there is a touring show called Led Zeppelin 2. I do not know for a fact, but I am certain this touring group must have contracted with the real Led Zeppelin to use their name for this tour. Otherwise, the owners of the Led Zeppelin name could sue them.

Led Zeppelin 2 is a group of highly talented musicians, mostly from Chicago. From the photos and videos, I'd say most of them are wearing wigs and trying to look like the real Led Zeppelin from that band's heyday. It looks like Led Zeppelin 2 puts on a very good show musically. You can bet that the real Led Zeppelin is making money on each ticket. My guess is that some unwary ticket-buyers probably think they are going to see the real Led Zeppelin. If so, they must believe in the fountain of youth.

The real Robert Plant is touring with his new band, Band of Joy, and they are quite excellent. They play acoustic versions of some of the old classic Led Zeppelin songs. But, truth be told, if you want "realistic" Led Zeppelin excitement, the Led Zeppelin 2 imitators are the ones delivering it. The point is, to do this, you better believe they have a contract with the real Led Zeppelin and are paying dearly to use the name, stage likeness, performance styles, and music.

The name Led Zeppelin is registered as a trademark for goods and services (music sales) by Robert Plant, James Page, Robert Baldwin aka John Paul Jones, and the Estate of John Bonham. They do not have it registered as a service mark for performance, perhaps because they are not currently performing under that name or perhaps due to oversight. Nevertheless, I think they would legally own the sole right to perform under that name, since they have so come to "dominate the field" of rock music under that name, whether or not it is registered. And they definitely own the sole right to sell music under the Led Zeppelin name.

-- To contact me, please email: SueBaskoMusic@gmail.com