Artists House Music

Apr-02-2014 11:23am

FIRST KISS viral video (the music was used with permission)

Blog post submitted by: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M. 

The FIRST KISS video that went viral in mid-March is a digital advertising phenomenon that uses music with permission! Giving a shout out the folks involved for doing it right! Here, the clothing company Wren created a three-and-a-half-minute video featuring pairs of strangers kissing for the first time accompanied by the musician Soko’s song, “We Might Be Dead Tomorrow,” which was licensed for use in the video. Within days of being released on YouTube, the video went viral… and over 73 million views later, both the clothing company and the musician are selling more and making more money.

First Kiss 

According to a recent NY Times article, “there has been a ‘significant bump’ in sales on Wren’s online store since the video made its debut. And the song accompanying the video, Soko’s ‘We Might Be Dead Tomorrow,’ sold 10,000 copies in North America on Tuesday and Wednesday [following the video’s release].”  It’s also reported that sales for Soko’s album featuring the song went up too and that the video was made on a modest budget of about $1,300.

Three cheers for the entrepreneurial ladies (clothing designer, musician and video director) for their successful collaboration on the FIRST KISS viral video phenomenon.   Gotta love a happy ending.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at

See also: YouTube video link at; The NY Times Article by J. Koblin, “A Kiss Is Just a Kiss, Unless It’s an Ad for a Clothing Company” at; Wren’s website at; @iplegalfreebies and


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Mar-31-2014 12:39pm

Explaining the Getty Images “freebies” (see the fine print)

Blog post submitted by: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

In a revolutionary move, Getty Images has just made some of its stock photos free to use on websites, blogs and social media so long as the photos are used for editorial purposes and with Getty Images’ new Embedded Viewer.  Undoubtedly, Getty Images is motivated to try to control and “cash in” on the rampant on-line photo piracy.  In exchange for “free use” of Getty Images’ photos and images, folks will authorize data collection and advertising by Getty Images and others.  Here is how Getty Images explains their new Embedded Viewer and defines the permitted editorial purposes in their website Terms of Use:

Embedded Viewer

Where enabled, you may embed Getty Images Content on a website, blog or social media platform using the embedded viewer (the “Embedded Viewer”). Not all Getty Images Content will be available for embedded use, and availability may change without notice. Getty Images reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove Getty Images Content from the Embedded Viewer. Upon request, you agree to take prompt action to stop using the Embedded Viewer and/or Getty Images Content. You may only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest). Embedded Getty Images Content may not be used: (a) for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship; (b) in violation of any stated restriction; (c) in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or (d) outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer.

Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you. (

As you can see, Getty reserves the rights to 1) change the terms, 2) remove the image, 3) place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer, 4) collect data from folks who use an embedded image, 5) permit 3rd parties to collect data from folks who use an embedded image.

This is an interesting way for Getty Images to “make new rules” regarding free use of their images on blogs, websites and social media.   It will be interesting to see if folks who are currently copying and using Getty Images’ photos without permission take the time to use the Embedded Viewer.  Using the Embedded Viewer has more steps than simply right clicking and copying an image, which is how I’d guess most infringers currently access Getty Images’ photos.  To use an image with Getty Images’ Embedded Viewer, HTML code provided by Getty Images needs to be copied and pasted into the source code of a website.  Here is a link to steps for using the Embedded Viewer and a screen shot of the code that needs to be used in order to embed an image of a surprised guy:


Embedding an image from Getty Images

Embedding an image from Getty Images 

Will be interesting to follow this development and see how it goes.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at 

For more information see, Getty Images websites at; and the Terms of Use at;  an article by Russell Brandom in The Verge website titled, The World’s Largest Photo Service Just Made Its Pictures Free To Use available at; for other blog posts on Photo Copyright; @iplegalfreebies and


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Mar-11-2014 12:32pm

Title Copycats – (Titles are not protected by copyright)

Evidently, Stieg Larsson’s popular trilogy of books The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest have inspired a plethora of title copycats.  NINETY-ONE title copycats as per a recent count that have used a similar title since 2010 when The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo became an international sensation.  This raises an interesting and common copyright question regarding the copyright protection vested in the TITLE of a copyrighted work.

Does Copyright Protect The Title of a Work?  In the US the short answer is NO.  US Copyright Law does not protect titles, names, short phrases or expressions.  Even if the title is original or distinctive it cannot be protected by copyright.  Entirely different works can have the same or a similar title.  This may seem counter intuitive; since, US Copyright Law does protect “original works of authorship” in the form of literary, musical, pictorial or graphic expression.  However, titles, names and other short phrases do not meet the requirements for copyright protection.  (Some names and short phrases can be protected by trademark).

Back to the 91 title copycats who have recently published books similar to the titles of Larsson’s popular Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series.  A few of my personal favorite of the copycat titles are: The Girl With the Thistle Tattoo; The Girl With the Sandwich Tattoo; The Girl With the Iron Touch, The Girl with the Golden Parasol; The Girl With the Brave Heart and The Girl With Chipmunk Hands.  (All can be purchased on Amazon… target difference age ranges and cover a wide range of topics). 

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at

For more information see, Circular 34: Copyright Protection Not Available For Names, Titles and Short Phrases published by the US Copyright Office; The Title With The 91 Imitators by H. O’Neill in New York Magazine; earlier posts “How to Write a © copyright notice and why to use it?” and “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35“; @iplegalfreebies and

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Jan-21-2014 2:22pm

Benefits of US Copyright Registration

Blog post submitted by: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

 Copyright vests automatically in an original work once it is ‘fixed’ in a tangible form.  While copyright vests automatically, it can also be advantageous to register an original work for copyright registration with the US Copyright Office.  Registering a work with the US Copyright Office is not a requirement but it can be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Registration with the US Copyright Office establishes a public record of the basic facts including ownership of an original work.
  • Before an lawsuit may be filed against someone infringing your work, registration is necessary with the US Copyright Office for works of US origin.
  • If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions.  Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • If registration is made within 5 years of publication of the work, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • Registration with the US Copyright Office allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the US Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.

It is possible to file for US Copyright Registration at anytime within the life of the copyrighted work.  Currently, it only costs $35 to file an application with the US Copyright Office for registration.

The term of copyright protection for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is for the life of the author plus 70 years (or if a work is made for hire the term of copyright protection is 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first.)

Wishing all of you reading this post a Happy New Year!   Starting off the new year with a reminder that all your original creative content that is written down, drawn, painted, recorded, sculpted or otherwise fixed… is automatically vested with copyright feels auspicious.  As detailed above, taking the extra step to register your work with the US Copyright Office can be beneficial.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at

For more information see, Circular 1, Copyright Basics; Circular 15A, Duration of Copyright. and all the information circulars and fact sheets available at the US Copyright Office website:; and also an earlier post “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35”; @iplegalfreebies and

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Jan-08-2014 12:03pm

Why do musicians always feel disappointed about their career?

5 out of 6 reasons are THEIR fault. Time for retrospection.

By Tommy Darker. The essay was originally published in The Musicpreneur on Medium.

I was at a gig last night and I saw three amazing bands rocking out the stage and making people dance very hard. Note: it’s London, normally people don’t dance that hard.

The sad realization I made is that none of these bands actually makes money. Isn’t it sad? The band entertains you, makes you feel great, you pay the bar for drinks, but the musician gets nothing of monetary nature.

That brought an avalanche of thoughts and I started jotting them down! I quickly came down to 6 main reasons of failure, which you’ll definitely relate with (if you’re a musician).

Note: this order IS hierarchical. In other words, if you haven’t solved issue #1, don’t try to solve #3.

Let’s go.

1. Lack of focus on a specific goal and vision.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll 

Instead of blaming the system, musicians should blame themselves for not knowing where they’re going and having ambivalent goals. 

A solo artist needs a long-term goal to focus on and a grander vision to accomplish. A band—to make matters more complicated—needs to maintain a mutual and clear route for all the 3-4-5 members that constitute it. Everybody needs to agree. 

If you don’t, don’t blame the audience when you hear the phrase: 

“You’re good, but you sound/look like (name other—probably well-known—artist)”

That is, you don’t stand out. Because you haven’t spend any time to refine what art means to you, who you are and why you’re different from the others.

And I don’t mean you need to be enormously ambitious to have focus on a goal. It’s good enough to say: “I will be the busker that all the people of Camden (neighbourhood of London) will talk about.”

2. They suck at communication.

Ok, let’s not hide behind our fingers. If you do have a vision, I guarantee that nobody will know about it if you haven’t communicated it properly to the world.

You can communicate a message in two ways: with words and with actions.

Speaking about actions, let me just drop some food for thought (and the hungry Musicpreneurs will get it): 

The quality and nature of one’s vision is appraised according to the perception created by the context, the consistency and the progress of the visible bit of the vision.

All three must be present. In humanese: how do you expect someone to be convinced of your grand vision when you keep playing in bars and open mic nights all the time? Nobody says you don’t have a great plan behind it, but if people don’t see the signs to keep up with it, you’ve lost them forever. And that’s because of the bad communication on your part.

Actions speak loud, however copywriting is a forgotten but essential art for artists. As about verbal communication, I stated: 

“Always try to build a bond and relationships that go through YOU, not through your band’s name or profile.

Everyone might be able to ignore a band’s music, but nobody can ignore the fiery passion and vision of a PERSONALITY. This is what you should sell them. Everybody’s got good music. 

In other words, if you’re a charismatic communicator, this quality will rub off on your artistic profile as well. If you don’t have this inclination, work on it and become a great verbal communicator.

3. Has anyone heard of persistence? 

The vision is there, you feel confident and you got some great people supporting you. But you are on the verge of giving up.

Persistence is the key. Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?

You constantly consider giving up because you haven’t tasted the corn yet after months of harvesting. It’s alright, keep harvesting. Adding value is not a race. It’s a life-long process.


The rewards will come sooner or later. It seems you still have steps to do, you’re not there yet. How can you expect to reach the goal if you haven’t executed all the steps? That’s unnatural, dude! 

An example (for you to face reality):

What would the value of Ferrari be without years of persistence to build a luxury brand, which is valued according to its durability in time? Wouldn’t it be stupid (and funny) for Enzo Ferrari to say ‘it’s too hard, I quit’, while building something that exceptional? 

An advice (for you to feel better):

Do you want to feel better and quit less often? Keep following the vision you have in mind, but slice it in small, measurable and attainable sub-goals, which will help you be accountable to yourself, boost your confidence and will give you shots of gratification to keep going.

And do you want to hear the harsh truth?

Nobody owes you a living and you need to go after it. With persistence.


4. Tools are there. Know-how isnt.


Yes, I’m saying that most musicians don’t know how to use the vast majority of tools available to them. That’s sad, so much potential goes to waste.

I’m not implying that all tools out there are relevant and useful to every musician. But when you combine strategically and skillfully some of them, you can effortlessly and cheaply create a system that will vigorously work on your behalf. Think beyond Bandcamp and Soundcloud, this is not all there is.

This is the power of the web, it shouldn’t go wasted. Especially if you have laid a coherent plan, talent and persistence on the table, the next step is the investment in knowledge. Knowing how and why.

You won’t get far without having a clear overview of the media world and the related industries that comprise it. You need to be sure where you stand in this map, and that only comes with knowledge. Some of the tools that I found most useful have nothing to do with musicians. And this is where the treasure is hidden, you cannot spot it unless you’ve build a media world map in your head. Oh Lord, how creative can this process be! You can’t imagine.

Investing in bodies of knowledge indirectly connected with the music industry is the way to go.

What kind of knowledge? A few examples: how startups work, psychology of copywriting, neuromarketing, design, how perception is formed and so on. A musician in the future will need to know about all these topicswhy not invest in the future today? 

5. Business model: whats yours?

Here’s where most heads will get scratched. But this is where the root of all evil lies. 

Most musicians have no business model at all or just—badly—clone existing ones. (Because this is what others do) 

What a business model is NOT, to begin with:

A business model is not how you make people spend more money on what you do.

What a business model is (my favorite definition):

A business model describes how you create, deliver and capture value (economic, social, cultural or other).


In other words, you might not sell anything, but you need to have a business model! Even non-profits, whose purpose is to deliver value, need a business model. This way, they organize how they deliver that value to the world and survive in an economic environment (because everybody needs some money to sustain what they do).

What happened here? Did the hateful attitude towards the word ‘business’ reverse? Yes it did.

Business is any operation that requires some form of transaction to progress. As a musician, you’re transacting (a lot): emotions, music, experiences, products, money.

Read the Business Model Generation (a book worth buying) to get a full idea of how you can organize your assets and activities, offer more value, balance costs and revenue to make a profit. Organizeoffer valuemake profit. Splendid!

Having a solid vision, knowing how to translate it in words for the real world, knowing how not to quit and arming with knowledge. Assemble all that under the umbrella of a business model.

This is your part. Lots of things to sort out. You’re alone up to that point. But soon you’ll need external help. #6 it is.

6. Everyone needs some budget to get things done.

This is the #1 excuse of a musician, but in reality it’s the least important factor when it comes to building strong foundations as a band-business.

Money will be used to scale up, not to build something exceptional. I’m a big fan of bootstrapping and experimenting, just like the lean startup framework suggests. The more you experiment and play small, the more chances that you’ll create something truly exceptional.

Money is not a part of this equation. Despite the fact that most musicians think it is. Money will bring money (aka it will be used to scale up something that already makes money).

So, stop thinking about how you can fund something, start building something minimal that stands out instead. Cliché? Hell, can’t be truer.

Money is a multiplier, not a foundation.

What will you need money for?

To create a team around your project and compensate them for their time, to develop some concepts that require a budget, to use publicity services.

Where will you find that money?

1.    Kickstart the well-defined project you’ve planned. You must have created some traction and gained some fans, right?

2.    Find an angel investor to fund you. You’ll be accountable to them and that’s an extra motivational force. Your ‘product’ needs to be investable and scalable for Angels to be attracted.

3.    Borrow that money. You believe much in your project, don’t you? That means you won’t be afraid to get in debt to pursue it.

What do I do next, Tommy?

Alright, hopefully you’ve read the whole article. What do you do now? How does this translate in the real music world? 

Re-evaluate who you are and why you create art. What is the outcome you want: legacy, money, fame, freedom? Prioritize things and mainly focus on the number one. You can’t have it all (or at least focus on all of them on simultaneously). I focus on freedom and then legacy.

Arm yourself with knowledge. It has never been so fun and easy to learn and pursue what you want. But the good resources of knowledge are floating in a vast web. Some free, high quality knowledge sources can be found in CourseraUdacityedXKhanAcademyArtistHouseMusic, while great paid courses can be found on Udemy and Skillshare.

Start transforming from a hobbyist to a Musicpreneur. Start with this course on how to build a Band as a Business and a more advanced on How to Build a Startup (both are free). Follow my updates on Think Beyond The Band and read my extended report about the Musicpreneur. Watch the videos of Darker Music Talks.

Stop thinking about money. Release yourself from those thoughts. Money for scaling up comes last.

“The best way to maximize profits over the long term is not to make them the primary goal of the business” John Mackey

Go lean and experiment to find the perfect business model! The reality is I cannot give you specific advice on how to become successful and make money, because there is no universal solution yet. That’s good, only the serious Musicpreneurs will make a living, nobody owes you one! Start learning about the lean thinking and create a business model that suits your integrity. Again, this book is a must and a foundation.

For more essays like this as soon as they’re published, enter your email here.

I love starting conversations. If you share the same mindset, find me on Facebook and Twitter and let’s talk!

I’m Tommy Darker, the writing alter ego of an imaginative independent musician. I started ‘Think Beyond The Band’because I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and I like helping other fellow musicians that struggle with the same problems.


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Nov-12-2013 12:57pm

Copyright in music… a bundle of exclusive rights

Blog post submitted by: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

Music is one type of “original works of authorship” that copyright law protects. Copyright protection gives the authors or owners of copyrighted music the exclusive rights to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • TO REPRODUCE the copyrighted music;
  • TO PREPARE DERIVATIVE WORKS based upon the copyrighted music;
  • TO DISTRIBUTE COPIES of the copyrighted music to the public by SALE or OTHER TRANSFER of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • TO PERFORM the copyrighted music publicly;
  • TO DISPLAY the copyrighted work publicly. (Display may be less applicable to music; although, in today’s digital age it could be possible and worth mentioning).

These exclusive rights in copyrighted works, including music, are outlined in Section 106 of the US Copyright Act. Violating any of the rights vested in the owner of copyrighted music is illegal. However, it is important to note that there are some exceptions and limitations to these rights. One major limitation is the doctrine of “fair use.”

While copyright exists in any piece of original music (and any original work) from the time the work is created in a fixed form, registering the music with the US Copyright Office has additional advantages including: 1) establishing a public record of the copyright; and 2) assisting with any infringement actions that may arise.  Keep in mind that copyright registration is affordable and only costs $35.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at

See also, the US Copyright Act at; the US Copyright Circular 1 on Copyright basics at; the US Copyright Office Website at; other blog posts on copyright registration of original works; @iplegalfreebies and

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