Guest Music Pros

The Importance of Cue Sheets: How You Get Paid

Posted by Mike McCready | December 9th, 2015 | No responses

Pulse Records


The Importance of Cue Sheets: How You Get Paid

Music Industry Professional Guest Post from Pulse Records

Keeping track of all the music used in films and on television shows is a formidable task, but one that all P.R.O.’s (Performing Rights Organization) enthusiastically undertake to ensure its writers and publishers receive the royalties they are due. While each P.R.O. (U.S. and international) maintains vast computer databases logging the music registered by its publishers, composers, writers, etc., these databases cannot reflect all of the music used in new productions, nor can it guess how long music was used, how it was used or how many time it may have re-aired. Making sure all of the music used is amply compensated for is made feasible only by the use of cue sheets.

So what is a Cue Sheet? Cue sheets are entry logs that can be summarized as the written version of the music used in a production. When a show or movie is created, producers and their teams submit cue sheets to P.R.O.’s to track the use of music in films and TV. This can be done on a quarterly basis, semi-annually or even annually. Without cue sheets, it would be virtually impossible for composers and publishers to be compensated for their work. With upfront sync fees diminishing in respect to the compensation we saw in the 80’s, 90’s and even the early 00’s, it is vital that your royalties are being tracked, paid out on time and accurately. Therefore, your Metadata is paramount.

See a sample industry standard cue sheet here –>

Who fills out a cue sheet? Completing a cue falls on the shoulders of the network staff, typically handled by a junior exec, junior admin or even interns. Beware: if they can’t readily find your information via metadata embedded in your master recordings or even online via P.R.O. databases or the ISWC database, they may just skip it or move along to another project with the intention to return to the daunting task of research. Things slip through the cracks and human error also factors into the equation no matter how righteous the intentions may be to accurately complete the cue sheet. However, never let anyone’s time crunch, lack of attention to detail or malaise for dreaded paperwork infringe upon your right to be accurately compensated. With the rise of independent producers and cable operations, the filing of accurate cue sheets has become even more crucial to tracking the use of music in film and television productions. These newcomers to the industry are sometimes unfamiliar with, or unaware of, the legal and professional responsibilities involved in using the music of composers and publishers whose rights are represented by performing rights societies.

Information includes:

  • Series/Film Title
  • Series/Film Title AKA
  • Episode Title
  • Episode Title AKA
  • Episode Number
  • Air Date
  • Show Length
  • Music Length
  • Production Company Information
  • Song/Cue Title
  • Composer
  • Publisher
  • Performing rights society
  • Timing
  • Usage
  • Key acronyms are: ISWC No., CAE No (s), Publisher CAE, ISRC etc.
  • (Standard metadata)

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your cue sheets are completed as accurately as possible:

  1. Be upfront if you share publishing/writers when submitting or pitching; it helps editors and producers know what cuts and splits will come. If there is more than one composer for an individual piece of music, or if the writer and publisher split their royalties other than on a 50/50 basis, this must also be indicated on the cue sheet, and these become important factors in P.R.O. payment calculations
  2. Have your information/metadata available via email when you and/or your representative submits music to editors and music supervisors. Being thorough is never unappreciated. Help producers do their work, which is to produce, don’t give them an additional task of tracking your information down.
  3. Checking in with networks/production companies to make sure that the cue sheets have been prepared and filed is good insurance for receiving accurate compensation for your compositions.

Pulse Records places and pitches music internationally. We want to ensure that you are educated, prepared and fully versed on how the industry works from the inside out. Since music royalty infrastructure and language are standardized from the US to overseas, if done correctly, royalties earned from licensing can pay your bills and the bills of future generations to come. Music is an asset, treat it as such and let it work for you. Although completing cue sheets are not the task of artists, publishers or admins, having your information organized, registered and accurate will greatly affect proper payment on your next royalty statement.

Learn more about Pulse Records and see their opportunities here:


“There has been no genuine A&R filter in the industry… We are building that now.”- Guest Post by Jack Ponti

Posted by Mike McCready | February 23rd, 2014 | 27 Responses

This article was originally posted by Jack Ponti as a response to this pov piece written by Music Xray Co-founder & CEO, Mike McCready.


There’s a vast misconception concerning the way new music and talent is discovered in the new paradigm of the Internet.

Where are all the DIY success stories?

While it’s true that anyone can now simply create a web page, populate every social media site there is, and virtually self-promote and distribute music, the reality is that 99.99% of that music will only be heard by family and friends. If the rallying cry of “we can do it ourselves” were true, then why are there not thousands of success stories? Because the ability to market and promote inside a clogged bandwidth is virtually impossible. You can’t build critical mass. This also creates a big problem for the industry. There is no filter.

Now, one may say the lack of a filter, gate keeper, standard, etc. has allowed music that would have never been heard a chance to be heard. But by who? Surely not the masses. It’s most likely to be heard by only a few. Sure, now anyone with a song can go full-bore Internet crazy and do all the wonderful things that people claim will help build their career, but it’s just not true. Again, where are all the success stories?

The industry’s pre-Internet filter:

Pre-Internet, the music industry had a filter. Perhaps it didn’t work all of the time and I am certain some great music was lost along the way due to that filter. The filter involved the artist knowing someone with genuine access who could get their music to someone who could actually do something about it. The filter also involved a policy of “no unsolicited material”. Meaning it would not be listened to unless someone vouched for it.

There was a dual role in the no unsolicited material policy.

One, was it avoided deep pocketed and pointless lawsuits. If unsolicited submissions were allowed, someone could randomly send in a demo and then months later find some ambulance chasing attorney to file suit claiming infringement, hoping the label/artist would settle. But the primary reason for the policy was that if you allowed unsolicited material you opened the door to everyone on Earth who believes they have talent. And most don’t. The mountain of material that would have been sent in would have taken thousands of people to sift through. So yes, we more than likely lost some genius talent due to the restriction of that filter but we also found plenty as well.

The industry believed that if a known manager, lawyer, publisher, producer, etc. was presenting music, it must be somewhat good. Now granted, it sometimes wasn’t. But for the most part, it met a standard and certain level of professionalism. It also spoke of the artist’s, writer’s, or producers’s, own ability to hustle and get to someone with genuine access. It worked well, as evidenced by decades of music.

But I have always said, the next Beatles were in a basement somewhere and will never be discovered due to lack of industry access. I’m sure we missed out on plenty.

In my 35 plus years in this business, wearing every possible hat that you can, 99.99% of my success was directly due to a filter. I was hammered by one of my clients to listen to India Arie. My manager introduced me to Jon Bon Jovi. A&R men brought me countless projects in development. Lawyers made introductions. The list is endless.

So here we are in the Internet age. No filter, no gate keeper, it’s a free for all!

But what do you do to genuinely find exceptional talent? Google search “good music”? Good luck with that. YouTube? If you have a decade of time on your hands. Reverbnation, Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, sure there are a multitude of possible places, but none of this has been filtered.

Unfortunately without a filter, you have to sift through hours of horrendous music to find even a remote possibility. Why? Because just like in pre-Internet days, anyone who can play any instrument or remotely sing is now convinced they “have what it takes” and they just clog the bandwidth with music.

Even from a psychological point of view, pre-Internet, people somewhat filtered themselves, thinking (or knowing) they were just OK, and why bother. But with the proliferation of TV shows like American Idol, we are now in the “yes I can” stage. Though that is wonderful, it can also be painfully unrealistic. Then with the advent of sites like CD Baby, people assume stardom is around the corner. For some it is. For many it’s not. But the illusion is real and by having a web site and distribution, suddenly you are there, or so you think.

I am not condemning that nor making fun of it. It’s wonderful to share your music with people and even if that means sharing it with only one other person that is a success and should be applauded.

What’s needed?

However the heartbeat of the music business is new talent and there is a tremendous amount of undiscovered new and brilliant talent lurking out there caught in the miasma of a clogged Internet. Like I said, we missed some great talent along the way and truth be told, we are missing way more now.

A true and accurate filter will bring that talent to the forefront in rapid time. I salute and respect those who chose to go it alone, DIY, indie, whatever you chose to call it. But this business needs new talent and for those who want to be within that framework, they need to be discovered. Be it an artist, writer, producer; they need to have access and we, as an industry, need to access them or we’re all in trouble.

There has been a method of A&R research in place for over a decade now. It works very well, however it relies on spotting blips on the radar screen of something already in motion, something that has traction. Be it local or regional sales or radio airplay, it is already moving.

The same can be said for the recently announced deals with Twitter and Shazam moving into the label space. That is not discovery of talent, rather that is identifying moving targets after they start moving. The very essence of how Shazam works is you have to be searching for something you have already been exposed to. The same can be said for the concept of using Twitter as an identifier. Both are post, not pre.

There has been no genuine, and accurate, A&R filter in the entire industry to sift through the clogged space that we are currently subjected to. In order to do that properly you need to create the proper mechanism that is human based and software synergistic.

As you know, Mike [McCready of Music Xray] and I began in a highly acrimonious relationship, one of war. We have been speaking and meeting for months now, coming from opposite ends of the spectrum to find a genuine solution for the lack of a true A&R filter. We had opposing views but have come to agree. Chances are this is something monumental. I am convinced we are building that now.

The benefits to both the artists and the industry are enormous and I truly believe we can make a difference.


Musicians can submit music to Jack Ponti’s Merovee records by clicking here.

Why Aren’t People Listening To My Music?

Posted by Mike McCready | December 27th, 2011 | No responses


If you’re an indie artist wondering why your career is not moving in the direction you had envisioned then it is time to take on a personal inventory of yourself and your approach to the industry.

I started out in the music business in 1998 and decided to embrace the internet as my partner in leading me down the path of success. In many ways it has done just that. The Worldwide Web was a doorway to the unknown, and it still is, however it does allow you complete freedom to pick and choose what road you would like to travel. It takes years of hard work and a lot of trial and error to find what works sometimes but there is no excuse for ignorance nor is there a lack of information in these times to help you find your way.

I want to share some of my experiences working with artists and hopefully shed some light on the keys to being successful or a failure in marketing your music. I understand how much time and effort goes into making music and most folks that are in the indie music industry have day jobs just like me and the music is a sideline that you hope someday will become more than that.

The one aspect that is most important is how you use the time available to you. This is where many artists are spinning their wheels and getting absolutely nowhere. I cannot tell you how baffled I am at the blatant ignorance and arrogance people have. Artists seem to be allergic to reading what is right in front of them and following specific directions that are given to actually help them. That is not to say there is a minority out there that have their act together, have a plan, and then know how to use the tools available to get that plan into action. There should be a lot more people out there that operate this way. The excuse of not having the resources available or in some cases the capital, just does not cut it anymore. There is tons of free information out there and sites that let you create profiles and give you the ability to upload tracks including the most useful and popular ones such as Facebook and Twitter. Regardless of this plethora of choices some artists are stuck in a rut and cannot seem to get out, and this mind you is because they have not paid attention, taken good advice, made the wrong choices, were told they did and pushed ahead anyway without any direction thus ending up right back where they started every time.

The one thing people forget about is targeting the right audience and people in the media. I run different events online and I recently started a free event for artists to submit their tracks for consideration to be my Prog Rock Featured Artist on my blog dedicated to that genre. Within a matter of weeks I have close to 600 submittals and around 10 of them are actually progressive rock! I clearly stated PROGRESSIVE ROCK ONLY but yet the majority has decided to submit their tracks anyway and to totally ignore that guideline. I have rap, hip hop, blues, all kinds of genres and I am not going to waste my time and listen to any of the submissions. Some folks have even labeled their music prog-rock in hopes that I would listen. The mindset is “Why not submit, it’s free and maybe they will listen”. That could not be further from the truth, it just annoys the hell out of me and forced me to change the end date of the event prematurely. Even on events that I put a price tag on, people insist on submitting outside the targeted genres. So where does this get you? Nowhere. So now not only are you wasting your time, other people’s time, and worst yet wasting your hard earned cash. How ill-advised is that? And to top it off some of the artists react like children when they are rejected, just like a two year old that does not get their toy they want and goes stomping and screaming out of the store.

Here is my point, if you want to be taken seriously by industry professionals then act like one, fake it until you make it if you have to. Even if everything is smoke and mirrors for a while that can change once you stake your claim to your own slice of the pie in cyberspace, create a following and build a solid reputation. None of this can be accomplished by going at it half-baked and merely hoping for the best results.

One of the biggest mistakes I see artists making is not having their own website; they are opting for a Myspace page or something similar, which is becoming less and less relevant every day. Using Facebook for your homepage is a big mistake. It’s a social network and people want attention so they post things on your wall, how does that help people focus on your music? Use Facebook and Twitter for announcements, reviews, and anything else related to your music that is linked at your Homepage. This way the people who are really interested in your music will be clicking on the links and going to your site. It is likely that many of your so called “friends” are people that want to post on your wall and talk about themselves or could care less about you or your music! It is a great way to create a buzz about something but remember they are tools to get people to go to your website!

Social Networking needs to be part of your strategy to reach an audience, however it should be an add-on to your main site. Use Twitter, Facebook, Reverb Nation etc. to bring attention to your music and your home base, your own website, where everything can be found in one place by potential fans or industry professionals. Another thing that blows me away is how hard it is to find a simple email address or how to purchase music on an artist site. How are people supposed to communicate with you and offer you opportunities if you are making it impossible for them to find any basic information about you? These are simple no-brainer things that are being discarded or forgotten. How does that happen? We are living in a world of instant gratification and you will lose fans and professionals alike if you do not get your ducks in a row and implement these simple procedures to afford your music exposure and the right opportunities. Remember if a web surfer does not see what they want on your homepage they are gone in a matter of seconds, so make it obvious what you want them to pay attention to!

The entire point of this article is to help artists focus on the basic steps first. It is ok to look at the big picture but you have to hook up the horse to the cart before it moves. If you are genuinely serious about your music and want to go somewhere with it then you need a plan, discipline, and most of all an understanding of how the internet really works and what your audience wants.


By: Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck


Dave’s Music Corner – Be Ready For Success

Posted by Mike McCready | December 6th, 2011 | No responses


Music Xray Blog #2
“Dave’s Music Corner”
Be Ready For Success


1) Have additional material ready and organized.

2) Record rough demos of songs even if you do not have perfect demos.

3) Know how to talk about your music and style, don’t sound confused.


Hello members.


This is David Snow, producer and owner of Little Hipster Music.

Today’s subject of discussion is called “Be Ready For Success”.


Many artists who have not had deals etc., have indeed had momentary contact with music industry professionals. They have had industry professionals interested and then LOST their chance.

This would be an example of an artist not being prepared for success and dropping the ball when their small moment of opportunity came by.

You get a “bite” from a producer or A&R man. And they ask for MORE material.

Are you ready for that? You’d be surprised how many are NOT.


1) Is your song catalog ORGANIZED?

You will be surprised of how many artists I get into discussions with, only to hear that they have to go find, round up, resurrect, etc. a 2nd, 3rd and 4th song they want me to hear.

They tell me they would like to have me produce a song. Of course, I then want to make sure I am producing an artists’ BEST song.

So I ask for other songs, even rough demos, to hear what an artist has been up to and to make sure I am being asked to produce the BEST song.

And the artist suddenly sounds confused, unsure of where songs are, which version to send to me, etc.


Have it ready. Have it categorized.

So, if you have not done so, start rounding up ALL of your songs NOW. Don’t rely on the one or three songs you send to an A&R guy or a producer. Of course, you have led off with your best song, that’s great! Now, get the acoustic version together if you have it. Or… know where the 3 other songs are that came before the song you pitched and HAVE THEM READY.

When a producer or A&R guy contacts you, the ball is already rolling. It is a terrible waste of energy to slow it down by not being ready. I have seen weeks go by. I have seen artists disappear, never to be heard from again! This can be annoying to the producer or A&R guy and you don’t want that.

When asked, “do you have something else I can listen to” have a lightening quick answer, ” Yes, I have ———–, how would you like me to get it to you?”

Ok you say, “But what if I don’t have a 2nd song demoed and professionally recorded Mr. Smarty pants”? Lol…



2) Round up your up and coming rough drafts of songs.

Put them on a tape recorder, record them into your lap top, or go to radio shack or a guitar center and buy a cheap recorder.

The producer or A&R guy wants to know where you are headed.

If your first demo got an A&R guy’s interest, many will be willing to listen to rougher up and coming material.

They already have an idea of your best potential from the first demo so, if you explain that the next songs are roughs to get an idea of other written material, that should be ok.

Having new, up and coming material has been the biggest slow down of all with past artists I have dealt with. I get interested, I want to know if we should re-produce the demo I got interested in or is there a “GEM” the guy has just finished that would be BETTER to produce.

And the artist says- “Let me get that together for you and call you back”.

Three weeks later, I am too busy to take the call, or there is no call. Energy wasted, opportunity lost.


3) Know how to talk about your music.

You’d be surprised how many artists stumble when asked “what is your music like?”

This might sound silly but, practice explaining your music with yourself. Tape yourself and listen back. Do you sound clear, does your explanation create interest? Or do you sound unsure and a bit confused or boring? Have a little script by the phone if needed.

Reference it when you CONFIDENTLY, (yet nicely), tell the producer or A&R guy about your style of music.

Remember, the producer or A&R guy is kind of watching the “YOU” show. He’s listening, wanting to know. Be smooth, confident and friendly. When you explain it, it needs to sound like something that will make a person want to hear more.

Think this is too obvious? Ok, I’ll make a deal with you. Tape yourself and listen back. Let me know how your first explanations sounded? Lol…


So be READY for success. Get organized. Expect questions about your current, past and future songs. Have that stuff ready ok?


Hope that helps, stay tuned for more blogs.

I look forward to hearing from you all.


Please feel free to submit your music to:



Good luck to you all,
David Snow


Dave’s Music Corner – Make Every Second Count

Posted by Mike McCready | October 1st, 2011 | 2 Responses


Music Xray Blog #1
“Dave’s Music Corner”
“Make Every Second Count”

Hello members.

This is David Snow, producer and owner of Little Hipster Music.
Thank you for submitting wonderful music to my company, it has been a pleasure to meet and talk to all of you.
Here begins my first installment of “Dave’s Music Corner”
We’ll start simple and move on to more and more advanced concepts in future blogs..
In this column, blog etc, I will attempt to give you all some advise from a “Producer and A&R perspective” so that your presentations and music can have the greatest chance of succeeding.
This first column could be called: “Make Every Second Count”
You should be aware of the fact that, as a producer or A&R person, or even an agent booking a gig, time is very short and valuable. Though you put weeks and months into your music, though you personally know every note and know that your guitar solo in song three or vocal high note in song two, are INCREDIBLE, you may have but few seconds to impress an A&R person, Producer or agent.
It seems that many artists are overly optimistic that a Producer or A&R person will take the time to fish out the little gems in your EPK and or submissions. I wish this were true. But in reality, you may only have seconds to impress.
Having received what must be thousands of submissions from artists by now, I have noticed a few consistent errors in presentation that I’d like to address to you all.
The main AVOIDABLE mistakes I see are incorrect song ordering on an EPK and intros that are either too long or boring.
I’d like to give you two rules to start off with:
1) Put your best song and production first.
2) Keep your intros short or if not, make sure they are absolutely amazing.
First of all, please please put your best song and production first in your EPK.
This may seem like a “no-brainer” to many of you, and I too would have thought so, but
in phone conversations with artists, I have often been asked to “listen to song # 3”, being promised that “song #3 is our hit”. If it is the hit, why is it all the way back to the 3rd position in the list?, (or even later sometimes).
At most, and agent or A&R rep will only have time to listen to the first three songs, IF they like the 1st. And if song #1 doesn’t catch his/her attention, each subsequent song heard will be met with more and more doubt about the group or artist.
What industry and A&R reps do when looking over an EPK is immediately listen to the FIRST SONG. Make it your BEST song. If you are not sure, poll your friends and family asking for honest criticism.
A&R reps are in a tremendous hurry. The first song will make or break you, even the first few seconds or notes are important.
This brings me to another mistake I have noticed. The first song might be a great song, but if it’s intro is too long, mixed badly, or not as good as the song, you are hurting your chances. Keep your intro either 1) Short..or 2) Absolutely amazing!!!
It literally can be a 5 sec make or break ball game for your music so, make every second count.
Lead with your best song. Make sure the intro isn’t too long and is interesting.
Hope that helps, stay tuned for more blogs.
I look forward to hearing from you all.
Please feel free to submit your music to:
Good luck to you all,
David Snow