Google Inc. and Universal Music Group are in talks to enter a partnership that would create a new music video hub powered by YouTube, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal .

Under the partnership, Universal would use YouTube technology and ad sales to distribute content around the Web.

The hub, which has the working title “Vivo” according to the Journal, would allow Mountain View-based Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to sell higher priced ads around the professional music videos. There’s no word on whether the other major music companies are also in talks with Google.

If hub gets support from Universal and the other labels, it would mirror MySpace Music, a Los Angeles-based joint venture between MySpace and the four major music labels — Universal, Warner, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Group — which launched last year.

MySpace Music allows users to stream songs for free. The labels and MySpace share the ad revenue from the site.

Universal Music is a subsidiary of Vivendi and has headquarters in Santa Monica and New York.

As reported by the Los Angeles Business journal

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It’s time for you to get serious about selling your product. The same way you created a music Myspace site for fans to preview your music – you need to build your presence in the digital space for fans to purchase your music. Continuing our theme of ways to reaching & marketing more fans, let’s explore the easiest option for you to sell albums – Digital Distribution. This feat is easier than most might expect. In fact, with the increase in numbers different digital distributor companies, it’s not only easy but extremely cost effective. With a great digital deal you’re able to get your albums on iTunes, Amazon.com, eMusic, Rhapsody, and Snocap. There’s a possibility for your music to reach the mobile market as well (Verizon, Sprint, etc.). Here are a few names to jump start your research —

CD Baby is still the industry heavyweight, now more so than ever with their recent Disc Makers backing. With the CD Baby service you are afforded all the perks of the digi deal as well as having all your physical cds sold. This way the pressed copies of your album won’t have to go to waste. A fee of $35 for each album you’d like to sell (digital or physical) and a 9% fee for each song downloaded.

TuneCore is a good CD Baby alternative. Although TuneCore can’t help you move the physical copies of your album, their 100% digital service is one of the more economical choices. Their best feature is the option to choose the outlets you would like to distribute to. TuneCore charges $0.99 per track, $0.99 per store per album, and $19.98 per album per year storage and maintenance. Or, just put up one song as a single for a flat price of $9.99 per year, all stores included.

The newest player is, the still in beta, RouteNote. Professing to be the most inexpensive way to reach a worldwide audience, RouteNote is the independent distributor to the independents. Their greatest attribute is the fact that “everything is free until you sell your first track, at which point they’ll take only 10% of the revenue that comes back.” In efforts of building interest and clients the company has gone so far as to complete a comparisson chart explaining why you should choose their service above all the rest. See it here.

Regardless of your choice in digital distributor, remember as with everything else it’s your responsibility to promote your music. The services I’ve explained are just offer an easier way for your fans to support your efforts.

mdday-courtyard1Congratulations! Everything on your mixtape, EP, or LP is mixed, mastered, packaged and ready to go. Now comes the fun part – finding your outlet. Creating a buzz, and ultimately building an audience, is one of the most difficult aspects of this business. First, let’s do away with solely relying on Myspace. Forget about it! Myspace is now used as a major outlet for big names and many times indie artists (such as yourself) get lost in the shuffle. By all means, create a myspace site to help showcase your music but PLEASE use it to supplement your additional efforts of marketing and selling your material.

For people like you it’s time to start thinking outside of the box and very, very creatively. Here are a couple of ideas to serve as a starting point —

College & University Campuses

So, after paying for beats, studio time, blank cds, jewel cases, etc. you’re dead broke. Not only that but it’s quite probable you’re in debt. You can’t possibly afford distribution. No problem. The student center or courtyard at the nearest college campus is your best bet. Set up a table, lay out your packaged cd’s and talk to anyone in listening range. From morning to night, they’ll be plenty of students passing by or killing time in between classes. Campuses are great proving grounds because there is arguably no better time for minds to be open to new and experimental  music than during college years. This is also a great way to network and possibly find someone working as a campus representative with a major label. College Reps jobs primarily consist of street team work for established acts but they are also on the look out for people just like you!

Independent / Student Films

This is a great medium for you to get your music heard and add credits to your resume . Find a film school and speak with anyone interested in scoring or looking to place music within their project. Chances are they’ll be on a limited budget (after all they’re as indie as you are) but if you’re lucky you can squeeze a couple of dollars out of them. If nothing else they’ll be more than willing to create a “Step Deal“. In this case, you won’t receive payment initially but if the movie takes off and becomes a major hit (for example, gets entered into the Cannes Film Festival) you’ll recoup your money if the project hits certain milestones or whatever terms you agree upon. For example, if the movie is good enough to be entered at the festival, you can ask for a certain dollar amount. If it goes on to win, ask for a larger amount. If the movie is picked up by a major distributor, you can ask for a MAJOR amount. Step deals are great relationship builders. Who knows? You may come across the next Spielberg, Coppola, or Scorsese and build a great working relationship.

In-Stores

So what you don’t have a presence in major retail outlets? And so what you dont have a million dollar video directed by Hype Williams, featuring Hollywood heavyweights Samuel L. Jackson and Ron Howard? (see Jamie Foxx’s Blame It video here) You may still be able to talk your way into creating a mini-concert or “in-store performance” at your favorite store. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of artists hosting these events by simply asking to do so. If you’re lucky, you still may have a mom & pop record store somewhere in your area. Chances are these brick-and-mortar stores will be absolutely elated to have a new way to bring customers into their stores. Just ask. It can’t hurt. If you don’t happen to a record store in your area try out clothing outlets, cafe’s, etc. Of course you’re type of music has to fit their consumer demographic but once you find a good fit…you can set up shop, possibly on a routine basis.

The main idea in all of this is think outside the box when trying to market your music. Networking will get you everywhere! Anything “traditional” or “conventional” is not going to stand out and thus – slip into obscurity. Go out & hustle!

ascap_bmiSo, which one is better for you? First, allow me to explain what they do and why you need them. Performance Rights Organizations were created in efforts of collecting performance rights on your behalf. After all, you’re a superstar. Your focus should remain on creating more hits! You don’t have time to track down all the mainstream & college radio stations, nightclubs, bars, hotel lobbies, doctor offices, major or independent released films, and waiting rooms, that play…ahem “publicly perform”, your music. The PRO keeps track of who is playing what and how often. The different mediums must pay PROs a performance fee in order to play your music. The collected fee is sent to your publisher. (After your publisher takes out their cut) the remainder is sent to you. This payment are called your performance royalties. If you don’t have a publisher – the check is sent directly to you.

It suffices to say, if you write a big enough hit and have enough clout to negotiate a large split with your publishing company (or even better, if you own the publishing company), you stand to make a living off of royalty checks alone! **This is why I made the first post about copyrighting your music. After all…you can’t collect on music you don’t properly own. And until you do, PROs will not entertain the thought of you or your music.

So, which is better for you? Speak to 5 different people, you’ll get 5 different opinions. It all comes down to which one works best for you personally. As with anything, you’ll have to do your research. Read the brief contracts and speak with any available PRO representatives to find out which will work in your best interest. Each organization asks that you sign to a 2 year exclusive agreement, so you can only be associated with one PRO at a time. In other words, it’s best that you choose wisely. For a quick overview video from ASCAP’s Vice President, click here. For a point-by-point comparison, see the chart here.

I’ve attached links to each PRO for you to review — ASCAP, BMI.

During my time at one P.R.O., I was surprised at how many ‘artists’ had no idea how to correctly register songs with the United States Copyright Office. You MUST become owners of your own material. After all you’ve put so much time & passion into the creation of the work – why not make sure you’re protected against people that may want to steal it? Now, it’s true once your songs are in tangible form, i.e. a cd, the material is technically copyright protected. But in the midst of litigation and dealing with the federal government , you don’t want to base your copyright infringement case on a technicality. **The mailbox rule is another falsehood. Mailing a copy of your song to yourself with a postmarked date upon the package means nothing.

The two copyright forms you’ll need to know immediately are PASR.

Form PA is used for published and unpublished performance arts. PA generally includes any work that is planned to be “performed” directly before an audience or indirectly via “means of devices or process”.  This includes motion pictures, audiovisual presentations,  musical works, etc. Here’s an example – if you’re a producer and you create a demo with lyrics and accompanying music but you’re only interested in claiming ownership to the underlying music, this is the form for you.

Form SR is used for published and unpublished sound recordings. It is used for registration of the particular sounds or a particular recorded performance. SR should be used if you wish to make a single registration for both sound recording and original work (music composition). You may make a single registration only if the copyright claimant is the same for both sound recording and musical composition. For example – as the producer you would like to seek ownership on both the underlying music and lyrics of only this particular recording, this is the form for you.

Processing takes approx. 1-2 months and costs $45, however, the copyright office has streamlined the process by creating an online form (Form CO). Its processed much faster and the fee is lowered to $35. Simply follow the instructions provided (here by musicbizadvice). If you prefer the basic way, it will cost you the regular $45 fee. Visit http://www.copyright.gov, find the necessary document, print, fill, sign, and mail to:

U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000