Bomb The Music Industry: Industry pros chime in on the first step artists and bands should take before monetizing the music

Agreements, royalties, splits, marketing and more — getting started isn't as hard as it seems.

The music industry is intriguing. Not just because of the product its pushing, but the way in which artists find their way into our ear holes. CL is testing a series of articles titled Bomb The Music Industry where we'll tap local music industry insiders for some commentary on what it takes thrive in the music industry.

We're hoping that sequential articles will go in a step-by-step fashion that will illustrate the steps needed to protect, spread and grow your music career.

Featured in the articles are Davey Jay (a partner at Meehle & Jay) who'll help you "paper it," Camille Barbone (a music consultant and coach) who'll help you "do it," Symphonic Distribution's marketing exec Janette Berrios who'll help you spread your music and Benton entertainment's Carol Soto who'll help you show the music off.

Symphonic Distribution's new, 4,000-square-foot downtown Tampa headquarters (PHOTOS) 

In this first article, we asked insiders how the hell your band is gonna make it. First, what items should you cross off a list before you start making money on  my music? Lets go with the basics.

The prospect of legitimately making money as an independent can be examined through various lenses. One makes it look bleak and kinda like swimming across the Bering Strait with a kangaroo standing on your back. Other outlooks are a little more sunny, like your Facebook posts claiming that you’re making moves and ready to dominate the world.

Let’s start this journey from somewhere in between those two.

Like anything worth doing, making money making music is hard. But like everything in life, nothing can happen if you just read this post and do nothing.

Action breeds reaction, and if you’re not moving, well, then we’re not sure how to motivate you. What follows below are a few industry insiders’ thoughts on topics independent musicians should be aware of.

Like we said, joining us for this series will be Janette Berrios who is the Director of Marketing for Symphonic Distribution. Her company manages a global roster that includes scores of independent artists — including many from Tampa Bay. Also present is Camille Barbone a entertainment industry coach and consultant , with tons of artist management and artists development  experience, who managed and mentored Madonna as the pop star found her way. Davey Jay — an entertainment lawyer specializing in Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property, and Business Transactions — is here, and so is Carol Soto, co-founder of Benton Entertainment and Tampa Music Conference where we all pretty much got acquainted.

We want you to dream. We want your music to be heard, and we want you to make a living while you’re at it.  You may agree with our opinions, you may disagree. And we want you to tell us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In the meantime, let’s start with that most basic question.  >What items should I cross off a list before starting to make money on my music?

Davey Jay: Get it on paper. Band agreements, or the lack of them, can derail a dream right out of the gates. It’s not as difficult of a conversation as it seems, but Jay seems to think that these are a few things settled before the train leaves the station.

Camille Barbone:  Think about who you want as part of your talent development team.  People that help you make progress; band-members, management, an attorney,  a label or distributor, an agent, press person, producer, publisher, someone to help you market your talent.  Do you need them all? Think about what you need and the people that “have what you want, ” “want what you want” and push you to grow and achieve more.  If you lack the drive, surround yourself with people that have it. If you can’t stay organized, find someone to help keep things on track. It’s all about developing a team that connects and share the same process to reach the same goals.

Janette Berrios: Once you’ve thought about the ideas above, get signed up to a distribution service like Symphonic Distribution. Basically we will help in delivering your music to over 100 partners like Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, TIDAL and more. This will allow you to start getting traction on your music to audiences that are not necessarily in your backyard.

But before actually releasing it out to the world, make sure you have a marketing plan in place. Make sure you have an online presence to be able to promote your release. Don’t over compromise when it comes to social media, only sign up for the ones you will realistically be able to manage consistently. If you don’t have a graphic designer to help you out, try services like or Adobe Spark to help you in creating assets that can help you promote your music looking professional. If you need more ideas, check out our 2018 Checklist For A Kickass Year.

Carol Soto: There are three thing that we always encourage our artist to have in place before their release. The first, is to try to have an active and lively social media presence. We encourage them to have genuine interactions with their fans. The second recommendation is to have split sheets done for the songs where more than one songwriter/composer collaborated.  A split sheet simply states who collaborated in the creation of the song and how the royalties will be distributed. The last piece of advice we give our artist is to make sure their recordings are of professional quality. We understand that the indie budget is often stretched, but sound quality should not be sacrificed. At the very least use one of the online tools that provide mastering at affordable rates.


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Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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