JULY 28th – August 6th, 2023 ANAHEIM
Welcome to the first of a four part series on the poison contained in a major label record deal and how you can level the playing field once you understand what’s really going on.
A lot of what happens in the music business occurs behind closed doors, and this series is dedicated to young performers (like you!) who want to know just what they are dealing with.
First, a bit about me for anyone who is already skeptical. I have been producing music for over forty three years. More than 200 records during that time. Multiple Grammys. Multiple Grammy nominations. I produce large multi-day music festivals. I have a law degree. I have written four books on our industry.
What follows are my opinions, based on first hand dealings with major labels.
Ok, I’m not angry. Disappointed? Yes. Disillusioned. Yes. But once I figured out what was really happening, I stopped being angry.
Believe it or not, being signed to a major label was never meant to be a career move for any of you. No matter what you hear about the advantages of being on a major label, it’s all bogus, and the purpose of this series is for me to prove it to you.
Ok, let’s jump in to the deep end.
Let’s review some basics – a major label is owned by many people. A public company. Each of the owners, or shareholders, has a stake in the success of the label. Therefore, the job of a label, or any corporation for that matter, is to increase the value of the company to the benefit of the shareholders. The more money the label makes, the more money each shareholder makes. Increased shareholder value provides job security for those working at any corporation or record label.
Signing you to a major label is a strategy on their part. Some might say it’s a gamble. But, like all gambling, the house always wins. The label has to win. You must remember that a major label’s business is their business, not your business – if that makes any sense. A recording contract was never designed to be fair or equitable to you. It was never created with your success in mind.
That would be bad for business – their business. Should you receive a bit of success, the label would be forced to provide you with better and better terms, and once the tipping point is
achieved, the label cannot afford to lose you. Then, the label becomes your playtoy! Everything changes.
For those unfamiliar with the industry, should a major label sign an artist, it’s usually cause for a celebration. Not anymore! While the label may shower you with praise and adulation, feeding your ego, there’s a much bigger play, at play. You, as an artist, are but a small, temporary cog in a much larger machine. Let me repeat – temporary.
Why are you being signed?
Outside of the surface reasons why a major label is signing you, did you ever pause to think why are you really being signed?
Do you really know what’s going on with your career? Maybe you believe you are on your way since you are finally being signed. Truthfully, this is not the case.
Could it be that you’re being signed because the label needs a tax write-off? Ever think of that? It happens constantly!
Perhaps, let’s say, that you are really talented and a major is bending over backwards to sign you. What if you sound and look like someone they have already signed and are heavily invested in that artist’s recordings, their videos, and their marketing and promotion. They’re all in on this artist and you come around and they know that once your record drops, attention will fall away quickly from the artist they spent a ton of money on. What better way to eliminate the competition than to sign you to the label, record your project, and simply put it on the shelf, never to be released. Wait….can that really happen??? Yup. Happens all the time!
What just happened? Well, the house wins. Here’s how it works – Number 1 – you are signed exclusively to the label. Number 2 – Exclusivity means that you are not allowed to record for another label. Number 3 – The label gave you a ton of money for your project, and you cannot hope to buy your masters back to go elsewhere. You’re stuck. The result? Your career is over…!
But, can they really do that?
Did you not see the clause in your contract that specifically states that the label is under no obligation to release your project? The label has total discretion as to when or if they will release your project. Sounds crazy – right? They know that if they don’t release your record, you can sue them and obtain a release from your contract so you can go elsewhere. So, they insert this particular clause.
They spent a fortune to make your recording in the first place, so why wouldn’t they want to release your record in the hopes it will sell and make a return on their investment. See – you’re thinking logically. Big mistake…! Major labels are gamblers, and the sure bet, in their minds, is to stay with what’s been working for them. Part of that thinking is to eliminate the competition, and that means you! It’s a business decision that happens all the time – not just in the music business, but in all businesses.
Ok, but what if the label decides to release your record. Surely, your career wouldn’t be over then, right? Not so fast…! There is nothing – absolutely nothing in a recording contract that indicates that the label is obligated to market and promote your record. What if they don’t? So, with 100,000 tracks being released every day, if your record is released but no one knows about it, isn’t the result the same?
Coming up in part 2 of the series – True stories of nonsense , tragedy and triumph.
©2022 Jeffrey Weber, Stark Raving Group. Contact Jeff at: email@example.com
by Javier Ronceros, working actor for 30 years
I am sure you have heard time and time again, “ The eyes are windows to the soul”
If this is true, then your lashes are the blinds/curtains so it is important to dress them accordingly. Since mascara is the most commonly worn piece of makeup between makeup pros and non makeup wearers alike, I thought it was important we get down to business with mascara! Here is a basic breakdown of the different types of mascara and what they will do for your lashes. I also included some of our favorites so that your walk down the makeup aisle doesn’t have to be a complicated one.
Everyone needs a good waterproof mascara for all that life has to throw at us. From pool parties to your best friend’s wedding and every fancy event in between. Waterproof is an absolute must for performers, weddings and walking the red carpet. Avoid looking like a smudged streaky mess and tuck that waterproof mascara into your bag before you leave the house.
At the top of our list is eyeko beach waterproof mascara. Not only does it have lasting power but it also has spf to protect your lashes and ingredients like coconut oil to nourish them. We also love the tube packaging! $24
I love a good volumizing mascara for some added depth and drama. Volumizing mascara adds more thickness to your lash giving the illusion of false eyelashes without the glue!
L’Oréal Paris Voluminous mascara made our top pick for a few reasons. It is super affordable and has ingredients like panthenol and ceramide-R to build and thicken lashes for healthy and supple lashes. Bonus, it comes in carbon black (blacker than black) for stand out lashes! $9-12
If long, silky lashes are what you are looking for then look no further than lengthening mascara. It makes your lashes look elongated and stretched out. A lengthening mascara will evenly coat your lashes and dramatically improve the length without adding clumps.
Why we love Benefit they’re real mascara. This mascara is a lengthening mascara that also curls, volumizes and separates lashes for that flawless lash finish every time. I was astonished the first time I used this mascara. It really does everything! It also comes in a mini travel size too which is super convenient and really cute too. $14 (mini) – $27 (full size)
Curling mascara can be your best friend if you have eyelashes that are straight or point downward. What curling mascara does is pull your eyelashes upward making your lashes appear longer and your eyes more open and awake. Combine this mascara with an eyelash curler for maximum results.
The MAC extended play perm me up lash made it into our favorites because it has an extended curl time of 16 hours of curl volume and lengthening combined. It is also smudge proof, humidity resistant, clump free and safe for contact lense wearers. $26
If you have sensitive eyes that are easily irritated or wear contact lenses then please know there are mascaras out there for you. Hypoallergenic and sensitive are two different things that can oftentimes be confused. Let me do my best to help clarify. Hypoallergenic in a mascara means it is usually free of any irritants that may cause redness or itchiness. They usually tend to flake less making it ideal for contact lens wearers. Mascara for sensitive eyes can have similar qualities but not necessarily be labeled “hypoallergenic”
Mascara for sensitive eyes is usually fragrance free, flake free and easy to wash off. Also ideal for contact lense wearers and people with sensitive eyes.
Which brings me to my next favorite, Essence lash princess false lash effect mascara. Let me start off with the fact that although this mascara is not labeled “hypoallergenic” it popped up in so many good reviews it had me curious! With much research I discovered that this mascara is truly amazing. It is cruelty free, ophthalmologist tested, free of alcohol, oil, parabens and fragrance. Just when you thought I wasn’t finished, it comes in at a whopping price tag of $4.99
Thank you for taking this mascara flight with me. I hope you enjoyed your trip. Cheers to finding the right mascara and remember the only drama you need in your life is in your lashes. Xoxo 💋
Red Lip Ink
Interview with Richard Delancy – Hollywood Talent Manager
What are the benefits to having a talent manager?
When you have your own manager they are involved in every facet of your career. You will have a professional that looks out for YOUR best interests. They give you personal attention and guidance with everything from developing your ‘look’ to developing your talent. YOU will benefit from their knowledge of the business. However, if you are an Artist that feels you already have all the answers you shouldn’t pursue a Manager… you will just butt heads. Remember it is their time, money and connections that are at stake. This is a job/career not a hobby.
How to find the right talent manager for you?
What you need to find is a manager that sees your potential and is willing to invest their time and money in your career. That being said, the Artist still has the responsibility to pay for their training (that is ongoing), pictures and reels.
What Hollywood scams should you watch out for?
Advanced Fee. Never pay for an agent or a manager up front. Managers are commission only. That rate is what you negotiate with them but commonly between fifteen (15) to Twenty (20) percent of gross income.
What do I need to do to get a commercial?
Get trained on camera. Be comfortable with who you are. Be yourself. Commercially imperfection is perfection .
What are the steps to getting hired on a cruise ship?
Have a current Passport. Be a triple threat, able to Sing, Dance and Act – Broadway style. They look for strong trained performers with proven solid work ethic and a resume to back it up.
How do I find work if I don’t live in the US?
With the internet, global talent can find acting work. As long as you have a solid background in acting and on camera classes. The Bigger Networks are able to bring you to the table if your work warrants it. I personally have international clients in South Africa, Guatemala and Trinidad. And they get auditions regularly.
Tips on getting the job
Remember what they say, ” It is better to be ready than to have to get ready” really does apply. Treat it as a career/ job. NOT a hobby. On camera training is the best due to so many auditions being virtual these days.
What should my resume look like?
Show your current work if any. If not, put your talents and training into practice. Also if you can’t do a skill at a high level do not put it on your resume.
What should my photos look like?
Like you, not photo-shopped. Casting directors want to see what you really look like.
Richard Delancy has been a Hollywood Talent Manager for over 40 years. His clients can been seen on Disney, Nickelodeon, Netflix and Network Television. His clients also have multiple National Commercials and Print campaigns. He represents clients from newborn to Seniors.
Being a parent of a young actor in the entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart, especially
when 90% of auditions are self-tapes.
Auditions are a primary part of all actor’s journeys. However, over the course of the last 2 plus years,
audition processes have changed. Here are my top five tips for your young actor (or any actor, really)
for a successful self-tape.
Tip #1: Location
When deciding where to film your self-tape remember: Location! Location!! Location!!! You don’t have
to spend hundreds of dollars to have a great home audition space. Here are a few essentials that you
need for successful self-tape.
● A Wall – a neutral, solid color wall in your house that has indirect lighting or a space for some
additional lighting. Find a space in your house that does not have books, pictures or any other
distracting elements that could steal focus from your performance. In my house, I have a grey
sheet that I pin up along one wall in my house, and use that as my backdrop for self-tapes.
● Lighting – Natural light is great as long as it is indirect. The goal with lighting is that we can see
you. A good rule of thumb when filming is – can Casting see the color of your eyes? Ring lights
are great if you still need some additional lighting in your space. An inexpensive ring light will
work just fine, two will be even better as you can position them on each side of your camera
which can help to eliminate “ring light eyes.”
Again, remember – expensive does not necessarily mean better. Your self-tape space also does not
need to takeover an entire room in your house. An easy setup is always a less-stressful self-tape
Tip #2: Filming Your Audition
I’ve had clients spend a lot of money on a camera to use at home. However, the camera on your cell
phone is usually more than enough for your self-tape needs.
● Any reliable device that captures a clear picture and good quality audio will successfully get the
job done. iPhone, tablet, digital recorder, etc. Once you have a tripod to mount your camera,
you are ready to go.
● Don’t worry about a microphone. Unless your young actor is auditioning or booking voiceover
work, there is no need to spend additional money on a separate microphone. I have a nice
microphone setup in my home studio for voice over auditions, but have never had to use it for
Tip #3: The Actual Audition
Lights! Camera! Action! Now that you have everything setup, it’s time for filming. Here are a few things
that I have found make for a very successful audition.
● Slating – Generally speaking a slate will consist of name, age (if under 18), height and where
you are based (location). Where you’re based is very important due to Covid filming guidelines. Even if you live in Las Vegas and can get to Los Angeles in four hours – you want Casting to know that you are based in Las Vegas. Your slate is given directly to camera.
● Dialogue/The Scene – Unless your young actor has a series regular audition that’s ten pages
and they want it by the end of the day, actors should have their lines memorized. When you’re
filming from home, Casting knows you’ve had the opportunity for multiple takes. So memorize
and work on your scene.
● Sightlines are important. During your scene do not look directly at the camera. Your sightlines
should be just to the left or right of the camera. If you’re talking to multiple people in a scene,
place one on either side of the camera and make sure you’re never being filmed in profile. If
you’re in profile, Casting won’t be able to see your reactions.
● Props/Pantomime – Props can be distracting – pantomime even more so. When in doubt, less is
more. Most physical activity in your sides doesn’t need to be done in your self-tape, unless
Casting asks for it specifically. For example you don’t need to pantomime eating a sandwich or
hugging a person that isn’t there. The only exception I have seen across the board is the use of
a cell phone.
Tip #4: Follow Directions
The things we have discussed so far are the generally accepted guidelines of a self-tape. However,
different casting directors may have additional requirements for self-tape audition submissions. Please
make sure to read the entire breakdown before filming.
● Be sure to know your angles – close-up shot, medium shot, wide shot
● Have they asked for two takes? If so make sure they are both strong choices
● Make sure you label your audition correctly. Casting usually included details instructions on how
to label and upload your auditions.
Tip #5: Be Prepared
Making sure you are ready to film is important. Even more important is being prepared for your
audition. In addition to memorizing your sides, make sure you understand what the scene is about and
what your character’s truth is within the scene.
In most cases, an Acting Coach can be a great first step in your self-tape audition process. An Acting
Coach will help you learn how to make strong, truthful choices in your audition and, in some cases, will
be able to record your self-tape for you at the time of coaching. I coach many of my clients and we
record the takes that can then be directly uploaded for the audition.
However you decide to set up and film your auditions, remember this should be fun!
Stephanie Lesh-Farrell has been a professional acting instructor for working actors in LA for the past 15+ years. Her clients can be seen in numerous TV/Film, commercial and theatre. Including The Avengers, Man of Steel, Benjamin Button, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and many TV shows: THe Magicians, Arrow, PEN 15, Teen Wolf, Everything Sucks, Bella and the Bulldogs & Criminal Minds to name a few.
Much of her coaching success comes from her on set knowledge as an actress. Stephanie can be seen in several shows including: Dirty John, Greys Anatomy, Veep, Lucifer, Scandal and The Office.
For more information on coaching and classes please go to her website at https://tigle3.wixsite.com/stephanieleshfarrell/reel or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have to confess, that even after forty-three years producing music, and multiple Grammy awards, I still get a touch of anxiety when someone evaluates my music productions.
How about you? Do you get anxious when playing or singing in front of someone who will judge your performance? Some say it’s like having “butterflies” in your stomach!
I thought about it for a long time, and I realized that having a bit of anxiety is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes, at the top of our game. I asked a bunch of well-known performers about this very thing, and it turns out that they all have that small sense of dread when they are being judged.
And, of course, our industry is 100% judgmental, 100% of the time!
So what can you do?
First, and probably most important, believe in yourself. Validation comes from within, not from the comments of others. Remember that “Belief Is Contagious!” If you believe in you, others will, too. Just watch what happens!
Believing in yourself doesn’t mean evaluating your own performances. If you do, either you’re going to think you’re amazing or you’re going to think you’re horrible and want to quit right then and there. The truth is probably somewhere in-between.
And, don’t ask your parents, whatever you do! They’re either going to tell you you’re amazing or they’re going to think you’re horrible and ask you about your Plan B.
What you really need is a neutral third party with enough experience to communicate with you effectively without making you feel miserable about yourself. Someone with experience can be a life-saver for you. That person, who shouldn’t have a hidden agenda, should be able to tell you the truth in such a way that it lifts you up rather than drags you down.
For me, when I evaluate a performance, I am only interested in one thing – did the performer make me believe him or her? Was the performer authentic? Did the performer commit to the lyric in such a complete way that the listener was drawn in to the emotion of the song.
For me, performance is perfection – not technique and certainly not technology.
Remember that a critique is simply one person’s opinion. It is not the final word on anything. And, if you ask five people to evaluate your performance, you will, most likely, receive five completely different opinions!
Along the way, ask yourself who are you singing the song for. A live show? A talent contest? Your sister’s birthday? This really assists you in song selection – a crucial component in the success of your performance.
And, finally, regardless of being judged, ALWAYS sing as if it’s your last day on this planet, and your performance will cement your legacy in the minds and hearts of your family and friends. The size of the audience doesn’t matter. The size of your heart does.
(If you see me at a future WCOPA, please come up and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you!)
About Jeffrey Weber
Jeffrey Weber has been a widely-recognized music industry professional for over forty years. He has produced over 200 albums with releases on just about every major label as well as a host of independent labels. Along the way, his projects have yielded two Grammys, seven Grammy nominations, at least seventeen top ten albums, two number one albums and an assortment of other honors. He also produces large, multi-day music festivals and is an author with four books to his credit.
I get it. I am just as you are with this pandemic. Like you, my life as an actor has been dormant for almost two years and the job if an actor has gotten more and more challenging. But, all is not lost. I am here to tell you that there are plenty of things you can do as an actor to improve your craft and continue growing as an artist. It was apparent to me in the beginning of the shut down. In some ways, I welcomed the break from chasing down acting opportunities through online submissions. I could do with the traffic going to and from the set, theatre, or casting meetings. Be careful what you wish for. After about a week, I was ready to grab my mask and head over to each of the major studies in town and demand to read for any part. Then came Zoom. An opportunity to still participate in the pursuit of acting jobs was just an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook away.
Online casting wasn’t invented during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, most every audition I attended was either recorded or stream to directors and producers on location. The difference with using the internet for casting as the only way to cast actors, would become the norm. What about acting classes, performances, and films. Zoom was the home of comedy improv, plays, and even online coaching sessions. My frustration grew, but so did my perseverance as an actor to envelope myself in my craft.
I figured that this pandemic and being an actor would be a formidable challenge to overcome. So, I decided to focus my energies in things I could control. I watched movies and television shows specifically to study and reverse engineer the brilliance of my favourite actor. Their commitment to character and the engagement the actors had with their scene partners and their own scripted arcs. I read plays and practiced monologues. I would use my iPhone to record myself performing monologues and then put my performance under the same scrutiny that I afforded Streep, DeNiro, Cumberbatch, and Coleman, to name a few. I also ventured into online I would also use FaceTime to connect with fellow actors and do scenes or chat about the craft. To be the passion alive I also felt that “being in class” was another avenue to explore. Online acting classes or coaching sessions were available and still are. I was, at first, a bit sceptical. I taught classes in person with a room full of people performing in front of me. I brought in concepts and exercises that were dependant on an in person experience. But, what I have now found out is that these online acting experiences can be beneficial. As of this moment it is the only game in town, but the doesn’t mean we can’t benefit as actor by this experience. The other thing to consider is that whomever is watching you through their screens are watching you perform on camera from anywhere in the world. If you are contemplating a career in front of the camera, this is an opportunity to see how believable you come off on camera.
There are enough challenges in an actor’s life not to consider all aspects of acting and learning your craft. We cannot wait for the virus to dictate our passion for storytelling and inhabiting interesting and relatable characters. An Online experience isn’t a replacement for the in person experience, but it is the best we got at this moment.
Javier Ronceros has worked with numerous award winning actors, producers & directors over a 30 year career in Television, Film and theatre. He co-starred with Mark Wahlberg in the 2019 film “Instant Family.” He has taught Acting at the SAG Conservatory Los Angeles, American Film Institute, privately for many years and is also a Director and Writer.