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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER June 26, 2017 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


Adventures in Storytelling: Film Connection student
Brandon Russell broadens his horizons!

Film Connection student Brandon Russell (Clarksville, TN) grew up with a love for the arts, but it wasn’t until high school that he realized he was a natural storyteller.   “We had a creative writing class that I was thrown into,” he says, “and we had to write a Halloween story, and I wrote it and my teacher absolutely loved it. That’s what ended up making me realize that I love to write, that I am good at that craft. So I would make a whole bunch of short stories, a whole bunch of small books, and then just let people read them and see what their input was.”   So how did he move into film?   “As I got older, I started to realize people didn’t read books as much,” says Brandon. “I wanted to still get my ideas out there to people. So I ended up getting a camera, shot my first short film real quick, and then instantly fell in love with it.”   Hailing from Evansville, Indiana, Brandon initially planned to move to Florida to attend Full Sail for film school, but then something changed his mind…   “I have a cousin who lives in Nashville who ended up telling me about how I should just get a mentorship instead,” he says. “A full-on school isn’t going to get you anything; it’s about who you know.”   That bit of advice soon led Brandon to the Film Connection, and ultimately a move to the Nashville area so he could apprentice with Zac Adams of Skydive Films. Skydive’s roster is always packed with projects, and Brandon quickly found himself in the deep end of the pool.   “My first shoot, which was only my second time coming to Nashville, was for the short film that we did, called Sweet Tooth,” he says. “That was a week with 20+ hour days just constant every day. And then after that, I was on some of the reconstruction of his award-winning documentary Iron Will. And then we’ve been doing some other stuff down in Florida over here, over there.”   While Brandon admits to feeling a bit overwhelmed at first, he says the busy schedule didn’t deter him, and he picked things up quickly. “I like to be busy constantly,” he says, “and then being around the people that I was around, with being around other artists and other people with creative minds, it just felt homey and that I could get along with anyone on set.”   Since coming to the Film Connection, not only has Brandon worked on several key projects with his mentor, but he’s had the chance to do a variety of projects of his own, including a recent documentary about a Nashville-based charity for families in need. “Zac likes us to try everything,” he says. “So he wants us to shoot a music video, he wants us to make our own short, and he also wants us to do a documentary just in case. That way we do try everything and we do realize if we like that or not.”   Brandon’s screenwriting mentor, Hollywood screenwriter Philip Halperin, known for screenplays such as Snow Dogs and The Wild, has challenged him to develop his screenwriting skills. “Every single time I sent my script in for the week to be finished,” says Brandon, “the first thing he would always tell me is, ‘It’s a story, but it’s not a book.’ So that was just the biggest thing, was I’m too descriptive about scenes and just everything.”   The diversity of experiences as an apprentice has also led to some pleasant surprises, like when Zac assigned Brandon to produce an EPK for Nashville singer/songwriter Morgan Clark, with fellow apprentice Caleb Dixon directing. “I didn’t realize I would be as good as a producer as I have been,” he says. “I just jumped in there, started doing all the messages, figuring out times, doing this, doing that, and it actually surprised me how good I actually was at that.”   Thanks in part to the wellspring of experience he’s received under Zac and Philip, Brandon now looks at his role as a storyteller in a new light. While he sees himself primarily as a screenwriter moving forward, he also looks forward to producing and directing as well. His advice?   “Figure out your craft, but also love your craft,” he says. “At the same time, try to pick up on more, because the business has so much competition that although you might be good at this, maybe a different area’s wanting something. So the more crafts you have, the luckier you will be at getting a gig.”   
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RRFC INTERVIEW: On “Connected,” Recording Connection mentor Jeramy Roberts gives solid advice on
monetizing your tracks (for real)!

As the founder of the Electronic Musicians Guild, and having served as an executive director of promotions for several production companies, Recording Connection mentor Jeramy Roberts knows a thing or two about monetizing music. An EDM producer himself, Jeramy has sold records in dozens countries and broken the Top 100 in several sales charts internationally.   During a recent episode of RRFC’s weekly show Connected, Jeramy chatted with co-hosts DJ IZ and Cloie Wyatt Taylor and fielded questions from viewers about how to get your music out to the people who want to hear it. He offered some tangible advice that was just too good not to share! We’ve printed the some of the most poignant moments from that interview below.  
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  DJ IZ: I think it’s important for folks to kind of just hear a breakdown on how the publishing aspect works, how it works as far as radio playing your music and you having an affiliate such like a BMI, SESAC, or ASCAP. Can you just break that down for our viewers on how that works and when is a good time to have that stuff in place?   Jeramy Roberts: Sure. So we can just start with the thing I hear most often. I hear it a couple times a week, and that is, “I just want to hear my stuff on the radio,” and your first option always being BMI, [ASCAP or SESAC]. The radio stations can’t touch you unless your works are published with [one of these]. So really what you want to do is go over there and open up a creator profile…then you can also take the second step and sign up…as a publisher. It costs about $150 with BMI, but once you do that and you start registering your works, all of a sudden you can solicit radio stations and certain labels, because really at the end of the day it’s all about money. They want to know who they’re going to pay, and if you’re not registered with BMI, [ASCAP or SESAC], they can’t even speak to you legally…So that would really be my advice. Your first stop is BMI.   DJ IZ: We’ve got Elliot from Madison, Wisconsin. “Can you explain the steps involved from completing my track to getting it out to the world?”   Jeramy: If you’re a producer and you kind of want to do things on your own, you can find a digital distributor. Your first step obviously is BMI, [ASCAP or SESAC]. You want to sign up for a publisher account, create a little music group, and then find a digital distributor. There are lots of small ones out there. I recommend going with one of the larger digital distributors like Symphonic Distribution. They’re going to take a percentage of your royalties, but…they have the staff to handle any problems you’re going to have, and they really have a good distribution network, especially when it comes to media companies. Media companies track all of the royalties, all of the tiny fractions of pennies that you can make when your music ends up somewhere on the Internet like YouTube, or somebody uses it for a commercial on VEVO or a home video, things like that. And you want to talk to Merlin. Doing business with them is free, and they just have a wealth of information and can actually help you go to the next level.   Another trick is to try to find a decent publisher, a decent label that you like that will publish you. Send them a message. You want to have your presentation ready, obviously, which is something that a lot of people miss. You’re going to want to have your artist logo. You’re going to want to have your label logo if that’s the route you’re going to take. You’re going to want to have a little mini press kit. You’re going to want to make everybody’s job easy to do business with you, and I think that’s really key, and people overlook that a lot.   DJ IZ: Okay, next question. Frida from Cerritos, CA . “What misconceptions do lots of people have about the way the EDM industry works?”   Jeramy: With EDM especially, people are stuck in the old mode of thinking to where they’re going to get discovered and a label is going to spend tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars billing them as an artist, recording them, promoting them, and that’s just not going to happen. You pretty much have to be a standalone these days to get your stuff out there.   Cloie Wyatt Taylor: We’ve got Martin from Gary, Indiana. IZ In regards to self-promotion, I love his description—he says, “I suck at it. What can I do?”   Jeramy: You have to realize that everybody you’re going to be dealing with has a boss. Everybody pretty much answers to somebody else. So what you want to do is make it easy for people to deal with you. So, if you want to promote locally and you want to get an article written, well, if you send an editor or a reporter a press kit that’s self-contained and has everything that they need and they don’t have to do very much to put some media out there about you, that just makes their job easier. If you are a podcast director for one of the music stores and you’re always looking for mixes, for example, if you send them a fully self-contained package with your mix that’s edited and mastered correctly, it’s got your press kit, it’s got all the photos, it’s got your one-sheet, your press flier, all of that stuff, all of a sudden that podcast director breathes a sigh of relief because they don’t have to do a follow-up and ask questions. It just makes their whole job easier. So I would really try to keep that in mind. Have your presentation ready.   DJ IZ: We have Frankie from Pomona, California. “What do you think about musicians starting their own labels?”   Jeramy: Yeah, that’s an easy one. I think everybody should own their own label. I mean, you can do it from your house. You can set aside a little room and a little command center like I have, and you can be really effective. Webcam up so you can have the Skype meetings. Go to BMI, make a music group, find a really good digital distributor, and start soliciting for new artists. I mean if you make a music group through BMI and get a label going through Symphonic Distribution, all of a sudden you can offer new artists legal publishing. Have your artists go and make a Creator profile at BMI and show them the ropes. So I think that’s a fantastic idea, and everybody should own a label, as far as I’m concerned.   DJ IZ:  We have Mark from Austin, Texas. “Someone told me I could put my single on other labels by getting it on compilations. True? If so, explain.”   Jeramy: Compilations are a really good way to get your music out there and to make money. That’s another thing that’s really making good money. So I’ll publish a track, a single, and then I’ll sell it to as many people as I possibly can, especially like Ministry of Sound is a really good one. They put together compilations of 30 tracks, they’re genre-specific… A DJ who has to find six hours of music a night really has to struggle to find that music. It’s much easier and cheaper just to buy a compilation from a label that he trusts. So I would say go for it. Compilations are definitely a valuable tool and should not be overlooked. “Licensers” is technically what the industry likes to call them.   
Like the straight-up advice? Join us on Connected, our live webcast, for exclusive job listings
and in-industry advice in music, film, radio, and the culinary arts!
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Film Connection student Peter Dubois (Las Vegas, NV), who apprentices with cinematographer Darko Nikolich, recently got some unexpected praise from his mentor: “About a month ago I showed my mentor Darko the completed interview that I shot with him two weeks prior. His response was overwhelmingly positive. He stated that he was genuinely surprised by how good the finished product was and that I had exceeded his expectations. There were a couple minor color correction issues I experienced from shooting on the two different Sony cameras, but nothing extremely glaring. My mentor said that I did an excellent job telling the story of my subject through editing and that the pacing of it was excellent.”     
Ableton mentor Alex Valente and Mike Menedjian at Abstract

Ableton mentor Alex Valente and Mike Menedjian at Abstract

Michael Menedjian (Los Angeles, CA) is expanding his knowledge of Ableton in rapid time, thanks to the guided instruction he’s getting at Abstract! So far, so good. Just finished my first month being a part of The Recording Connection…The entire staff is awesome at the Abstract Studio and they make it really easy for you to feel comfortable. I can now understand some of the concepts behind EQ and the importance of using effects like panning and velocity when I used to completely ignore them. The main thing I feel I have taken away in this last month was a much better understanding of Ableton. I no longer feel like I have hit a wall when I can’t figure something out on the first try. It still takes me much longer than I would like to do what I’m trying to do, but I can now see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”  
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