Music Publishing and Licensing Blog

Dick Dale music business advice

This LicenseQuote article includes a YouTube video and transcript of an interview (by Tommy Liberto) with the legendary king of surf guitar about the music publishing and commercial licensing business. The basic principals of Dick Dale’s advice can be applied to most music composers, singer-songwriters, bands and record producers, etc. There’s lots to learn in the music business but Dick Dale cuts right to the chase on the important issues.

Is there any good words of advice you can give up and coming musicians?

Yes, and here it is.

Don’t sign with a label, don’t sign with a record company, ’cause the minute you sign your name you’ll lose all the rights to your music and you’ll never see a dime. So what you should do is build up you’re following by continuously playing, save up your money and record your own stuff on your own CDs and then learn to market yourself.

Sell your own CDs right out of your vehicle, right out of your shows just like Johnny Cash sold his records right out the trunk of his car. By doing that you’ll make all of the money of the CD and you’ll make back your money ten times faster, and you can take that money and then advertise in magazines with your picture so people will see you.

Learn how to market… and then once you do that you’ll control everything so that when a company like Mountain Dew or a company like Nissan comes up to you and wants to offer you $100,000 dollars for 30 seconds of your song, you will control all of it, you can make your own deals with them and because if you sign with a label, the label will take it all and you won’t see one nickel.

And that’s the reason why labels will give you a million dollars up front, put you on the cover of Rolling Stone, make you a big star, they’ll invest $4 million into you and they’ll take about $14 million making that kind of money off of you and you’ll end up owning them $2 million. So you’ll never see a dime of anything that you do.

And when you start you make money for the company you make record another song so that you’ll go back in the hole again (the company does) so that’s the reason you’ll never see a dime in royalties. You’ll be lucky if they they even give you even $0.35 cents per record, whereas if you make/sell your own CD, whatever it costs you to make the CD above and beyond that you will put in your pocket.

So get smart, forget about trying to be the “big man” and be famous as one calls it on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Become a business person and market your product, the proper way, and you’ll make a hundred times more money and you’ll be “powerful” and strong within yourself.

Plus, you will own everything! You’ll own your music forever to give to your children. And that’s why I’ve started my own company, I own everything, my own publishing company; and they all deal staight through me, and I don’t pay anybody anything.

Excellent, thank you very much sir.

And then also, save up and pay for magazine called PollStar and go through the PollStar and book yourself across the United States. In other words you can go right into these places, go in there and play for nothing at first, and if you start drawing people then work out a deal to get paid. And then, you know don’t be so egotistical that you don’t want to do free gigs.  Do the free gigs so that you’ll build up a following. And I mean, once you get going you can make (do) a $1,000 a night just in T-shirts or your records.  Alright, good night!

Exellent… Thank you very much sir, it was nice meeting you!

And that’s the reason why the system hates Dick Dale.

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