"Real questions on how to make money from record deals, money from publishing deals.

Questions from songwriters and music makers and real answers that can help you and your song writing plus music making"

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The Boss, Dec, in full flow ...

Quick Reference: Free advice on making money from song writing, record deals and publishing deals for songwriters plus a songwriter's Professional questions and answers guide on how to make money from your music.

Check the numbers of the questions then scroll to the answer.....why not ask your own question on song writing? This is only a tiny indication of what you can get from:

1) I am in the process of updating my small but modest studio.

2) I am asking please, for your opinion about all of the reasonableness of this...we do have a potential hit record here.

3) I can't seem to relocate that information in the books so please help me get the best out of any further recordings.

4) There is definitely something I am missing? Do you know what that something is???

5) Would you still do it or rather "follow your heart" and stick with your own favourite kind of music?

1 .... Hi Dec I read with interest the bits and pieces about the Apple Mac computers you recently published. I am in the process of updating my small but modest studio.

I am considering one of two Macs, either the 17" MacBook Pro or a G5 system both will be required to use ProTools. The benefits of the MacBook Pro is that it is a lap top and therefore can be used almost anywhere, whereas the G5 is desk top, but I’m not sure which to jump. Any advice would be welcomed.


B**** I*****


In my experience and in the experience of many others having your main installation on lap top is flawed ….

Yes, I have seen guys recording in the dressing room while waiting to appear on stage … but this, to me is the stuff of ‘vanity, hobby recording'.

I could not, in a million years contemplate doing the sort of commercial recording that I do on a lap top.

You will be constrained by a basic memory [which will affect the speed] and the sheer size of the whole thing. For instance, I use two 18” monitors screens. Since using two instead of using one and flicking between edit screen and mixer screen, I could never go back to flicking between.

Likewise, since upgrading to Mac 5 Dual core Leopard with ProTools 8, I would never dream of going back to Mac 4 with ProTools 7.

A lapTop installation would only be useful for an occasional emergency recording. You see, the most important factor in recording is the acoustics and ambience of the recording environment … a LapTop emergency recording, would be, therefore in a bad recording environment and would not fit in with the other recordings done in a proper studio environment. Consider that you would also need easily tansportable DAW equipment … analogue signal to digital to access the sequencing software.

The ideal situation for you would be to purchase a stripped down Mac 5 …. Tiger [2006 vintage] will do as you can purchase the upgrade to Leopard for approx £60. Dual Core [or quad or octo] would be more than enough power for a home studio … massively powerful [that is what I use]. Stripped down meaning that you should not have any other programmes clogging up the system … use it purely for recording …. I only have Internet connected [strictly for progamme upgrades] and Safari [for Emailing or receiving music files only] and Toast Titanium [for handling Internet Music Files]

The ProTools set up I use is Digidesign 003 Rack Factory … which gives 8 inputs in and 8 outputs out. This should have ProTools8 …. But the upgrade again is only £60. The very latest 003 Rack Factory [$1495 new] is now available. just Google 'Digidesign 003'

Looking for a complete Pro Tools LE workstation geared for post production and music creation? Check out 003 Rack Factory Complete, which pairs 003 Rack Factory with the Complete Production Toolkit at great savings, providing full 7.1 surround mixing capabilities, up to 128 simultaneous audio tracks, and specialized tools and features for total post production and music creation versatility.

003 Rack Factory also includes over $3,000 worth of additional professional plug-ins, plus an iLok USB Smart Key to handle your plug-in authorizations.

10 inputs and 10 outputs.

Dec [Cluskey] dec@makehits.com

Join The Serious Writers Guild by purchasing "How to Make A $Million From Your Music" - lifetime membership is automatic ... and have total access to Dec by private phone, Email, text and even Skype [free Internet phone]


2 .... Hi Dec,

Congratulations on your recent album success...great to see you on the sales
stands. You may remember me, Nigel King writer of Small World [David Anthony demoed it for me on your advice]. I have met a 'name' producer who is working on the song vith a view to releasing I set up my own publishing co. on your advice... but its really only a name...the producer has a fully functioning publishing company

The suggestion is 50% split...they do the admin, sub-publishing deals etc and
writers get 50%...and - - - A middle 8 has been added to the song...it needed it... and the suggestion is this entitles that middle 8 writer to a 33% of the writer royalty that writer will be the artist to front it initially......plus (presumably) they will get the performance royalty... is that a separately negotiable item?

So I am asking please, for your opinion about all of the reasonableness of this...we do have a potential hit record here, and probably another to follow.

Thank you
N**** K***


[Any advice given shall not be construed as legal or accountancy advice within the laws of any country now or in the future]

<<<<<<<<< I set up my own publishing co. on your advice... but its really only a
name...the producer has a fully functioning publishing company. The suggestion is 50% split...they do the admin, sub-publishing deals etc and
writers get 50%...and - - ->>>>>>>>>>>

The idea of having your own publishing company is to ensure that you retain the 50% that the publisher will pick up. What he has suggested is exactly what you should be suggesting ...i.e. that YOU take the publisher's 50%.

There is little or no administration. You simply:

1) Issue an assignment contract [on the CDrom which you got with the publishing pack]
2) Alert the PRS of an imminent release giving catalogue number/releasing record company.
3) Join PRS as a writing member and as a Publishing Member [only when you have a caste iron release date and a positive income of money from the project]
4) If you want the company administered fully for you call MCS [Music Copyright Solutions] and organise their administration [they charge approx. 15%

If the other publishing company insist on a split publishing deal, then negotiate [50%/50% split of the publishing 50% is usual]. This only needs a simple letter of contract stating the split and the duration of the contract plus territories [which countries]. The writer would still get the arranged percentage [usually 50%]

<<<<<<< A middle 8 has been added to the song...it needed it... and the suggestion is this entitles that middle 8 writer to a 33% of the writer royalty>>>>>>>>>>>

It is normal to count the bars and calculate the percentage due ... always mindful of the fact that if you had not dreamed up the idea and created the song, then there would be no percentage to split .... a mid. 8 would probably be around 10%-15%.

<<<<<<< that writer will be the artist to front it initially......plus (presumably) they
will get the performance royalty... is that a separately negotiable item?>>>>>>>>>>

The performer will be the 'principal performer' and as such will be deemed that by PPL and VPL ... this is an independaent performer's royalty [nothing to do with the record company or you].... You MUST perform something on the track ... even if it is tambourine ... that will give you a PPL and VPL royalty as a contracted performer [back singer] or a session musician ... again you must alert PPL and VPL to your involvement and the catalogue number, release date etc.

As regards mechanicals [royalty split from actual sales, downloads, licensing for TV, films]... you are in complicated waters. It would be normal for a record company to have a contract direct with the principal performer.

Sometimes there is a contract direct between the production company and the release record company [a distribution deal?] In that instance, there would have to be a separate deal between the production company and the performer .... or a session fee paid as a 'buy-out'. This MUST be sorted before recording begins.

If you are paying for the recording then YOU own the recording copyright ... but you would still have to have an arrangement with the singer.... it is far too late after the record is released and at Number 3.

Remember IT IS ESSENTIAL to have all deals and contracts signed and in place BEFORE YOU SWITCH THE STUDIO LIGHTS ON. ESSENTIAL!

Dec [Cluskey] dec@makehits.com

Take Dec's advice and Start your Own Publishing Company for less than £100

3 ... Hi Dec,

Great to get the one minute with Dec again and just tolet you know my songwriting is geting better and better all the time. It's been a long time since I was in touch but I have a burning question that I know you will be able to answer very easily.

I've been a member of The Serious Writers Guild for a long time and I remember reading in the Master Class edition about how to get the best results when recording the voice track. I've had a few recordings done lately and the voice track does not seem to have any depth to it.

I can't seem to relocate that information in the books so please help me get the best out of any further recordings.

Yours Aye

H**** M**F*****


A very usual question ... and I fear you may not like the answer ... OR .... it might spur you on to greater efforts. By the way, you have my phone number.

Most guys who are not happy with voice recording blame completely the wrong items ... such as microphones, engineer's skill etc. The real reasons are under - in order of importance:

1) The ability and recording experience of the singer ... must be a thoroughly and often gigged voice. Must have all the modern movement and techniques in the voice ... following the 'aping' system in 'How to Make a $Million From your Music' ... which has 'made' great singers out of ordinary voices.
2) The ambience or acoustics of the recording space. It is ESSENTIAL that a vocal booth or small enclosed area is used for vocals ... extremely 'dead' with no echo, slap-back or room reverb. Studiospares sell a natty gismo which half surrounds tha back of the mic. ... singer sings into the mic. So all the voice is trapped by the gismo. The old standard way to accomplish a dead ambience was to put a mattress against the wall with the mic in a position that you sing into the mic. and into the mattress.
2) Record with no effect and no compression .... absolutely straight into the recording medium keeping the vocal as close to 0db on the meters as possible.

You will see that I make no reference to microphones or expensive pre-amps [Focusrite etc.] ... you only need top class condenser mics. when recording a choir or a classical singer/player where there is little musical backing [looking for a low noise floor mic.]

So there you have it ... easy? Just stay as close to the mic. As possible ... with your lips touching the pop-shield.

Of course, the magic comes from the vocal arrangement .... four tracks of each harmony ... and striving to have 5 differing vocal arrangement ideas working at the same time ... that is where the vocal depth and the commercial sound comes from.

But it all comes down to the singer .... as my sound engineer always puts it: "shit in - shit out!"

Dec [Cluskey] dec@makehits.com

4 .... Hi Dec,

Got a quick question regarding ReAmping guitars, should be an easy one for you, seem to remember you discussing it in the writers guild material.

Is there a trick to it? Every time I try I get a hollow weedy sounding tone through the amp... Assuming it's some impedance thing?

Basically, I have a straight un-effected di recorded signal (no limiters, comps or anything) coming from tools which I am assigning to it's own aux send (nothing else routed) via own channel on pristine new Audient 8024 desk and pumping that out into live room via wall box to amp.

There is definitely something I am missing?! Guessing there is some difference between signal straight out of guitar and the above setup... Do you know what that something is??? Is it gonna be "kicking myself" obvious?!

Many thanks for your time and sharing:)




You seem to be going all around the houses to record your guitar.
I have never heard the phrase <<<<< ReAmping guitars>>>>>>> I guess what you mean is recording straight from guitar to ProTools via a D.I. [direct injection] box.

You are then playing that recorded guitar from Protools [using a dedicated aux send] to a mixing desk channel and onwards to an amp. You do not say how you are then recording the sound of the amplifier [or what amp. You are using]

As I say, this is extremely complicated and cannot give an exciting sound. By the way, you do not say what particular sound you are after … clean acoustic, solo acoustic, crunch elec. Guitar, full on blasting overload solo?

My last book is now the Industry standard manual for recording guitar …. Go to "So you're thinking of Recording Guitar"

     Briefly, it all starts with the way you play … Brian May can make any guitar and any amp sound like the Brian May we all know … just give him 10 minutes to make a few adjustments.

Just like a voice through a microphone, there is no piece of equipment that will make a bad player, playing a bad guitar through a bad amp. sound like Slash. Slash makes Slash sound like Slash. There is, as we know, no piece of gadgetry in the studio that can make an ungigged, unmusically educated voice sound like Beyonce.
So the guitarist has got to make the sound …. Then the guitar has got to be Industry Standard … Fender Strat/Telecaster or Gibson Les Paul.- WITH NEW STRINGS!!!!!!
Then the amp. has got to be Marshall …. There is no other amp. used by the top guys …. Oh yes, they may endorse other amps but when push comes to shove they all play Marshall.

The book gives many Studio Standard ways of miking an amp. This is so important … the basic logic is that the more mics. you use the bigger the sound … but you have to know where to put the mics. Miking an acoustic guitar is, similarly, a ‘black art’.

Of course, one of the best ways to get that gobsmacking sound is through a Marshall JMP1 rack pre amp. This can either go straight into the ProTools as a Speaker Simulated Stereo left/right signal or into an amp.…. This will emulate all of the great Marshall amps through the years….. with patches created by Guitar Legends.
It is wise to create the desired sound before attempting to capture it on Computer or Hard Disc. This may be where you are going totally wrong.

I use the JMP1 with a Digitech 256 Effects unit … this goes straight into my Pro Tools using the JMP speaker emulator outputs … on stage I go from JMP1 to Digitech 256 and into a Marshall Valvestate rack amp which drives a Marshall 4X12 cabinet …. This is for me to hear on stage …. A separate feed goes from the JMP to the main Front of House Sound system. It means that I get the exact same sound in the studio for a track that I get on stage.

So there you have it …..

I would suggest you invest in "So you're thinking of Recording Guitar" and pick the method or methods that best suit what you are trying to create. The way you are trying at the moment is ‘strange’ to say the least!

The secret sequence for great guitar recording is

1) Great Player
2) Industry standard guitar always with new strings
3) Marshall Amplifier or Marshall JMP1 pre amp.
4) Straight into ProTools with all the finished effects added.
5) Add compression to taste while mixing [TLA Audio Fatman 1 is a stunning stereo valve compressor]

Remember that the more reverb added, the more the guitar signal will be pushed back into the mix …. You must learn the tricks of timing pre-delay before adding reverb [all in the book].

Compression is the mighty tool in recording acoustic guitar plus mic. positioning.

Dec [Cluskey] dec@makehits.com

5 .... Hi Dec,

Hope everything's good with you.

i need your advise. a friend of mine who has already had some success in the record industrie was offered to become a member of a very well know german folk music act.

he is uncertain if he should do it, because the kind of music they play is not really his favourite stuff. he is into teenie pop, but the group that he was offered to join is doing hard core german folk stuff. (the kind of music german grandmothers listen to).

since he doesn't really make a lot of money with his own material right now, it would be a good opportunity to make good cash, because they're gonna play a big tour & gonna make an album that will sell like crazy because they have a massive fan base.

the only thing that he is worried about is if he'll ever again be able to do other music than german folk stuff after a career like that.

would you still do it or rather "follow your heart" and stick with your own favourite kind of music???

best, m*****


I feel you should be the expert in answering this question [grin!]

The best 'attitude' to have in music is to 'MAKE MONEY'. It doesn't matter how you make it .... Just make it. Gradually you will find that the main money is being made from what you love .... That is a mysterious rule of the universe. You only make serious money from what you love.

Your friend's first goal should be to do the job offered to him exceptionally well. That way he will make money with his music. As with sweeping the floor you have to be the best floor sweeper in the world. It is easy to 'shine' in a band playing to a 3,000 audience ... It is impossible to shine sitting at home watching television.

The opportunity to hone his performing and playing talents is priceless.

Every major star can tell stories about being involved in crap stuff ... I was sent a CD the other day of me playing and back singing with a major soap star of today ... The CD was cut in 1965 ... It is awful .... But I earned from it and I learned from it.

Study Picasso .... He painted in every conceivable style ... I viewed an exhibition the other day in Madrid and was amazed at the differing styles ... Just the same as differing styles in music.

One day I am involved with Hip Hop then another day with a classic track ... Today I am remixing 'Halfway to Paradise' .. The 60's track. I just love music .... All kinds. They all make me money. The music makes money.

Isn't that what we are here for? Make money from music?

Dec [Cluskey] dec@makehits.com

You don't know whether your music is getting better unless you have regular demo consultations with Dec - the one the Pro's use: UK 01323.728005 [+44.1323.728005] http://www.makehits.co.uk/demo.htm


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  • “Hi Dec £170,000 I've made in the past six months ... so many projects I haven't a minute. Number 4 in Music Week chart ... can't wait for next year ... they are predicting huge chart success for my productions. Unbelievable.
    D**** E****”

  • In 2010 film, just budgeted in LA, for full theatrical in the US for $8.7mill with Paul Kay attached.
    Two Liverpool 08 commissions. First with 200 choir Second a major CD Brass Band album with Fairey Brass Band ... Phil Lawrence [UK]

  • I had my first Top Ten Hit in Germany as a songwriter, great things are happening ... I'm on tour all over Europe with the band that I'm producing. We're the official support act for 50 Cent. 15 shows in the greatest countries of Europe. Marcell Brell [Germany]

  • We played The Cavern Club in Liverpool

    Patchwork Grace were the best thing they'd ever seen!!

    Ian - Thanks again Dec! [UK]

  • I was asked to play at the Pepsi Music festival in Buenos Aires. The most important festival held on the whole South American continent. it lasts 10 days every major local star, as well as many international acts like Megadeath, The Wailers, Die Toten Hose, etc. Thanks again Dec ... Emiliano Canal [Argentina]

  • Recently I have finished a score for an independent movie called “Treehouse”. I am now composing tracks for various music libraries for licencing and am also discussing publishing the MUNKIE catalogue with various publishers. Jason Clarke. [N. Ireland]

  • This is Yosi & Ofir Nafkar from Israel member of The Serious Writer Guild Membership No NET0778030W. We wrote music for an Australian Movie By Kerry Bowden. She is a great woman who helps children in need. The movie and the music had a great success. Together we gathered 1million$. [Israel]

  • Hi Dec, some good news regarding my girlfriend Erin's songs, 3 are being used on a new American TV show. Anyway thanks again for your invaluable support, knowing your there makes this leap into the publishing world feel a lot safer ... Roger O'Donnell [The Cure]

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