As we continue Financial Literacy Month, we speak to Lamont Graves of The Graves Firm, a music publishing and royalty consulting firm. Lamont shares his experiences in the music industry and his financial advice for creatives. If you want to learn more about royalty financing, read about music catalog sales.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the music industry.
I’m a music publishing and royalty consultant that assists music producers, artists & songwriters with matters of catalog management, mentorship, tracking potential black box royalties, song title registration, and more.
I got started in the professional music industry by assisting my very first client and relative, Jahlil Beats, with managing his ASCAP account. Early in his career and throughout, he has had substantial records on the radio. Part of my job was to ensure he was collecting royalties for these records and facilitating communication with those royalty sources.
What is The Graves Firm?
The Graves Firm is a music publishing and royalty consultation firm aimed at educating producers, songwriters, and artists on the music business. We assist in catalog management, monetization, and tracking of royalties earned on sound recording and composition copyrights. Basically, the music recording and music publishing industries.
What is the best piece of financial advice you could give to a producer?
Learn as much as possible about your royalty flow – basically, where you earn money as a producer. There are several key royalty sources that a music producer must be aware of, including performance, mechanical, direct licensing, and producer royalties from album placements.
Educate yourself on these royalties as much as possible because they will make up the bulk of your income. If you find yourself with a hit record, ensure you have a great CPA to assist you with managing your income, expenses, etc.
What is a common mistake you see artists in the industry make? What could they do to prevent that?
The most common mistake I see is that there are a lot of artists who may not understand the value of their copyrights; therefore, they often take deals that may be against their best interests financially.
Artists can prevent a great deal of potential revenue loss by simply educating themselves on how they earn income outside of live performances. If you aren’t getting booked much in the future after a long career, understanding the value of your copyrights beforehand is crucial.
There are also artists who do not understand that when songwriters sell their publishing royalties, they give up intellectual property that could be providing them with payments for the rest of their lives. A great attorney, business manager, and CPA can make a world’s difference.
The music industry evolved drastically. With streaming and paid online music subscriptions being widely accepted as the norm, how have you had to pivot your work with producers, and what are some of the key things you did?
That is a great question! I tell producers that pretty much the bulk of their income will come from streaming revenue if they have album placements or singles. That includes streaming performance royalties and streaming mechanical royalties. If they work with an artist with a large YouTube presence, that will make up a good deal of income as well. Broadcast royalties, producer royalties (aka points), synch, and mechanical units were the big money earners for producers prior to the streaming era.
I also tell them that now is the best time to be an independent producer; with streaming, the playing field has been leveled; producers can earn the same royalties as an artist on the Master by simply releasing instrumental albums or collaborating with artists. There are so many ways for producers to earn money that did not exist before, thanks to streaming and the internet.
Tell us about your experience with Sound Royalties.
My experience with Sound Royalties has been absolutely amazing! It’s my top recommendation for clients. I recommend it to producers, artists, labels & songwriters interested in funding their careers against royalty earnings without signing your traditional music publishing or recording agreement (which may not be in their best interest). It’s truly valuable because you have the chance to receive funding without giving up ownership. The process of applying for funding is seamless, and the team has been a complete joy to work with!
To learn more about The Graves Firm, visit here. Next week, be sure to check back on our latest Financial Literacy Month Q&A featuring business manager Victor Wlodinguer from Citrin Cooperman!