Kelsey Clark is a Music Business major studying at Southern Oregon University while recording her own music and playing in a local band.
Karla Geigle: Have you had any previous experience with publishing?
Kelsey Clark: I personally have not, but there are different ways to do that.
Music is basically copyrighted when it’s created. There are ways you can register your music to make it safer such as under major publishing companies, but yeah music is copyrighted when it’s created. Mail it to yourself and it’s proof that it’s yours.
A publisher basically initiates the copyright itself, you’re going to enter into a contract with them and they own part of the copyright, or even all of it.
Publishing used to be printing of the material; money was made off sheet music. Now the tables have turned and it’s not like that. Copyright wise, the songwriters gain part of the royalties and the copyrighters have some of the royalty.
KG: How did you get in contact with your publisher, copywriter, etc?
KC: We do not have a contract with a publisher, actually. Nor have we copyrighted any of our music. We have not registered it.
I personally have dealt a little with contracts between the publisher and the songwriters, I actually had to write one out in a project, but I’ve never done that with our band.
If I were to get in contact with somebody like that, I would speak with different contacts that I’ve met throughout working for my degree and that I’ve met through other bands.
KG: So, word of mouth?
KC: Yeah, I think word of mouth is huge. Just introducing yourself and making a brief impression. There are many people in Ashland involved in music publishing and the industry, so I would go to them first.
KG: And your second choice?
KC: I would definitely look online.
KG: I understand you produce some music in a home studio, is that right?
KC: Yup, that’s right.
KG: So, the production of your work is very important. Out of curiosity, what do you use to record your music at home? Does this differ any from what your publishers/producers use? In what ways is it better/worse?
KC: Umm, a huge part of a professional studio is having the equipment, and also the recording engineer. They are REALLY trained to have a good ear in the recording process. So you have the equipment that costs thousands and thousands of dollars… you can do the same with cheaper equipment sometimes, but you need to know what you’re doing.
A huge part is having good solid microphones, and also knowing the acoustics of a room. You can have the best equipment out there, but if the acoustics are off you won’t be able to
With less money you can get down and record without having to pay for it.
KG: And the flexibility as well?
KC: Yeah, definitely. You can sit down and get the music done, and spend as much time as you need to get it right and get the music out to the public.
A home studio – it really depends on who’s producing the music and has a good ear for mixing…
A great part of a professional studio is going in and there’s someone who knows what they’re doing, an expert in their field.
An example of someone who’s done well with their own studio is Imogen Heap. She started out in her own studio, has her own songwriting, and she’s definirtly gotten her music out there through publishers, advertising, etc.
Her music got big when it was placed on a TV show or movie, I can’t remember which right onw. So that’s an example of someone successful in their own home studio.
KG: Also, there’s Ben Folds. Before the band became Ben Folds Five, he created his complete CDs himself, right?
KC: Yes and it’s amazing, that’s a really good example. You can sit down with a basic guitar or vocal, and sit down with an editing program and add a whole band behind you.
With Ben Folds he created all the music on his own however. That’s pretty impressive. I don’t know if that was done in a home studio though…
KG: Yes, that’d be interesting to find out. So, how much of your content are you happy with?
KC: Oh wow, I haven’t actually heard any that I’m happy with. I guess it’s part of me being my own worst critic.
I think…I need to have more experience in the studio. I think I haven’t recorded enough in the studio, now have I taken advantage of the whole professional aspect, now recorded as much as I’d like. It’s tough to get a good recording.
And the thing is, I haven’t recorded on the home studio with the knowledge that I just came out of this class I took, the audio recording class. Which is interesting, there are so many things I’ve learned that I haven’t been able to use yet. And the home studio my parents have is very basic, I don’t think you could get radio quality stuff out of it.
But you never know, some computer whiz could come in and… *laughs* well, you know.
KG: How do you promote your work? Facebook, website, Twitter?
KC: Facebook, we don’t have a website up at the moment.
At this point we’re just doing word of mouth, Facebook… Facebook is a big thing right now so that helps.
Our band isn’t doing this as a full time job, so a website isn’t really needed.
KG: Famous sings/songwriters have someone to manage their social networking and promotion; does your band have someone who does this?
KC: Two friends not in the band tend to the networking and promotion. Courtney updates the Facebook page, puts photos, etc. Meredith presents packets of information about our bands to radio stations and more along the lines of promotion.
KG: So bringing the focus out a bit, how did your band get together?
KC: It started as a family, and just kind of grew from there. Me, Ryan, Justin, and Renee. It grew from there and my dad started playing with us too. He was the initiator, who encouraged us to get together.
We started playing more and acquired more band members as needed and the music advanced.
We started playing at different church events and fundraisers, and at get-togethers. We’ve done different competitions around the Valley one of which we actually won one. Small gigs and other shows.
We’ve expanded our music further, such as Redding where we’ve done several shows. We’ve also played in the coffee shop down at Mt. Shasta, which was really fun, to play there.
KG: Have you faced any large obstacles in getting your music “out there.”
KC: Umm, in terms of getting it “out there”…
One thing that’s held us back is getting quality recordings. We have a contract with a studio here in the Rogue Valley, but it’s still expensive and we rarely have time to go into the studio together (it’s cheaper that way, and quicker) to record.
It’s hurt us quite a bit in getting our music to the people, and producing quality music. A lot of our stuff is rough, because we do have a small recording studio at home but it’s not nearly the same quality as what you’d get in a professional studio.
Personal life holds us back as well, we’re very busy people. Well, I guess not really holds us back but you know what I mean! It’s higher priority than the band right now, but that could change if we expand further and this becomes kind of a full time thing.
Note: I didn’t have any recording equipment on hand, but the following content are real quotes taken from portions of our conversation.