MAY Venue of the Month: Spider House Ballroom

SPIDERHOUSE_logowithsparklesOnce a community art space called the United States Art Authority, Spider House Ballroom has grown into one of the most unique, extensive, culture-rich music venues in the heart of Austin, Texas. Between its ever-growing property and regularly booked-up schedule, Spider House Ballroom has managed to keep the community at the heart of the business.

Eva Mueller, general manager

Eva Mueller, Events Programming and Production Director

“The history of the space, mixed with our strong focus on community, separates us from other venues who are new, aren’t rich with the culture, and haven’t evolved in the way that Spider House has,” said the Ballroom’s Events Programming and Production Director Eva Mueller.

“What once began as a coffee house is now a giant property in Hyde Park, with 5 stages, a full-service restaurant and bar, an events venue, tattoo shop, food trailers, and more,” she said.

Specializing in what Eva described as “good music,” the Ballroom hosts a wide variety of live music, as well as comedy, dance parties, film and cabarets, seven days a week.

“In the last two years, I have made it one of my primary focuses to improve the quality of production that would allow for excellent sound, as well as offer a friendly and inviting staff of people, to make all feel welcomed and loved,” Mueller said. “Can’t say you get that everywhere in town.”

When it comes to booking a show at Spider House Ballroom, it can sometimes be difficult to stand out amongst the high volume of inquiries.

So, how can you get on the bill?

“Make it easy for the booking agent,” said Mueller. “Include links to your music, Facebook and website. Tell them where you have played, who you have played with, and give them a general sense of what your promotional tactics are.”

“The quicker the booker can access all of that information, the quicker they can consider you for a bill,” she said.

On Friday, May 8th, Austin Music Foundation will be hosting a kick-off party at Spider House Ballroom for Pachanga, an annual Latino music festival, featuring Macaxeira Funk, La Vida Buena and Kiko Villamizar.

The Spider House Patio Bar, Café and Ballroom are located at 2906 and 2908 Fruth Street, near the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. For booking inquiries, email or visit

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Workshop Recap – Business of Songs 101: The Basics of Copyright

  • What is Copyright?

One of the biggest myths about copyright is that you must “apply” with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to receive copyright protection. In actuality, a copyright exists as soon an idea is in a tangible form. The textbook definition of copyright refers to a legal concept, enacted by the government, which gives the creator of an original work a group of exclusive rights to the work, usually for a limited number of years.

In order for a work to be copyright protected it must 1) be an original work, 2) a work of authorship and 3) fixed in a tangible form. Matter that is protectable include works of literature, music, drama, architecture, pictorials, graphics, sound recordings and sculpture.

UntitledAll of the works that have copyright are represented with one of two symbols. The first being the designated circled “C”which is the symbol used in copyright notices for all works mentioned in section 102 of the copyright act other than sound recordings. This symbol indicates that the publishers/composers of the music own the compositions. The second symbol that designates whether a matter is copyrighted or copyrightPnot is the circled “P.” This is the used in copyright notices to provide notice of copyright in sound recording (phonogram) and indicates that the labels/artists are the ones who own the sound recordings.

  • What rights are granted to artists and songwriters?

Artists and songwriters are granted six exclusive rights:

  1. Reproduction – right to reproduce the copyrighted work (applies to sound recording and composition)
  2. Derivative work – right to prepare derivative works based on copyrighted work (applies to sound recording and composition)
  3. Distribution – right to distribute copies to all public (applies to sound recording and composition)
  4. Public Performance – right to perform copyrighted works publicly (applies to composition ONLY)
  5. Public Display – right to display copyrighted works publicly
  6. Public Performance – right to perform work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission (sound recording ONLY)

Master rights: the right of the actual “master” sound recording, owned by the record label and/or artist. When copying a sound recording, a license from the rights holders is required.

Mechanical rights: the right of the author, composer and publisher of the musical composition, the song’s music and lyrics, referred to legally as the “underlying composition.”

Performance rights: the right to publicly perform a musical composition that includes live performances as well as the use of any form of music player, including but not limited to, an mp3 or CD player or any form of broadcast, such as AM/FM or satellite radio.

  • The Copyright Office and registering works

The U.S. Copyright Office maintains public records of all copyrighted material that has been filed. The Office’s registration system and the companion recordation system constitute the world’s largest database of copyrighted works and copyright ownership information. It also provides basic copyright information services such as copyright searches.

There are two main benefits of registering work through the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration establishes public record of the copyright claim enabling others to view the works as well as keeping infringement claims from being made until a work is completely registered.

How do you register your work?

The first step is going to the U.S. Copyright Office website This page provides many downloadable resources, guides and tutorials to help with the process of registering. If registering for compositions, use the Form PA located at the bottom of the page. If registering for sound recordings and/or compositions embodied in the same sound recording, use Form SR.

The cost to file your registration electronically (recommended) is generally $35-$55 with an estimated processing time of up to 8 months. Filing paper forms generally takes up to 13 months to process and is harder to track the status of the application.

  • What is publishing?

Publishing is the contractual relationship between a songwriter or music composer and a music publisher, whereby the writer assigns part or all of his/her music copyrights to the publisher in exchange for the publisher’s commercial exploitation of the music.

The roles of a publisher vary but can be simplified into 3 main categories:

  1. Nurture songwriters. Publishers can introduce other songwriters for collaboration opportunities as well as helping maintain and foster the growth of the artist.
  2. Exploit songs. Publishers have a say on album cuts and sync placements.
  3. Admin of catalog and rights. Registering copyright, conducting agreements with co-writers and notifying sub-publishers are all ways a publisher protects the artist. They also issue licenses for mechanical, sync, print and other media uses as well as collecting and distributing royalties earned from licenses.

This was the first of a three course workshop that will continue to build knowledge on the business of music throughout the next two workshops. Austin Music Foundation thanks Nigel Finley and John Guertin for hosting and putting together the content provided in these workshops. We hope to see you at the next meeting! If you have any questions feel free to email

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APRIL Venue of the Month: Strange Brew – Lounge Side

At the 33rd Annual Austin Music Awards, one venue took the top spot in a number of categories, including Best Live Music Venue, Best Club Sound and the overall award for Best Music Venue in Austin.

With an unmatched vibe and impeccable sound, Strange Brew – Lounge Side has risen above other Austin venues, offering musicians the perfect atmosphere to showcase their talent, no matter the genre.

strangebrew-loungeside“Although we host a lot of singer- songwriter and American acts, it is our goal to offer a wide variety of musical performances,” said Company President Scott Ward. “Our bookings consist of big bands, rock, pop, blues, jazz, country, folk and many more.”

When asked what genre, if any, can be heard at Strange Brew more so than others, Ward replied, “the good kind.”

Although it started out as just a coffee lounge, Ward had always planned to have music at Strange Brew.

“We had music on the weekend for the first six months of business,” he said. “One day, Guy Forsyth came through the line and I asked him how I could get him to play there. He looked around and said ‘How are you going to pay me? You can’t charge a cover.’”

“At that moment, I decided that I needed a separate room that I could use as a music venue,” Ward said. “The space next door became available and I started to build what is now the Lounge Side as you know it today.”

So, how would Scott Ward describe his venue in one word?

“Extraordinary,” he replied. “Strange Brew – Lounge Side offers a high-quality environment, great equipment, engineers and a friendly staff.”

Of all of the great upcoming music on the schedule this month, Ward recommended Wrenfro, a resident band that plays every Wednesday at 8 p.m.

More information about Strange Brew – Lounge side, as well as a schedule of upcoming events, can be found on their website at

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MARCH Venue of the Month: Holy Mountain

VOTM-MarchOccupying the once-glittery space at 617 East 7th Street, Holy Mountain took the vintage, dance club vibe of the former Beauty Bar and transformed it into a comfortable, edgy live-music spot, sitting in the midst of the thriving Red River Cultural District.

So, what’s the story behind the name?

“Holy Mountain is a 1973 movie by Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s also an album by the metal band Sleep,” said General Manager James Taylor. “Both are amazing.”

Since the opening of its doors in October of 2012, Holy Mountain has become a classic among Austin venues. “It has definitely grown, in terms of developing an identity and a reputation as a great room with good character,” Taylor said. “We’ve got some more remodeling plans, post-SXSW, that I think are going to position us to adapt and change with the growth of the Red River Cultural District.”

With a capacity of 230 people, Holy Mountain is a perfect size to host a variety of shows comfortably.


James Taylor                               Photo by Maurice Eagle

“We can host smaller, new local bands who are still trying to cut their teeth, do sold out Red Bull Sound Select, Transmission or C3 shows, or big underplays during SXSW and other festivals,” Taylor said.  “When it’s packed, it’s rowdy and fun, and on a slower night, it doesn’t look painfully empty.”

When asked to describe Holy Mountain in one word, Taylor chose ‘respect.’

“I think bands respect the club and our staff respects the bands,” he said.

Open every night, Holy Mountain hosts a variety of acts, including live music every Tuesday through Sunday and stand-up comedy on Monday nights. Happy Hour is from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and all night on Sunday and Monday.

Coming up this month, on March 21st, Holy Mountain will be hosting a “Best of Austin” SXSW party. The free event will feature all local bands from 12-7 p.m.

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Panel Recap — Protecting Your Music


Last Wednesday, musicians, band managers and promoters alike gathered together at Soundcheck Studios to garner invaluable advice on topics such as copyrights, band agreements and trademarks at our Protecting Your Music legal panel. Four of Austin’s top entertainment lawyers spoke on the topics: Joe Stallone, Andrea Villareal, Mike Tolleson, and Craig Barker.  They offered their insights and provided great takeaway lessons for anybody trying to educate themselves on the legal side of things. If you missed the panel, not to worry…we took notes.


The biggest lesson we learned from Joe Stallone on trademarks is that your most invaluable asset is your band’s name. It is your identity. You can use your band name to generate other streams of revenue, such as licensing, merchandise, etc. While your band name is technically a “service mark” and not a trademark, people tend to use those terms interchangeably, and it is crucial to protect that. How do you do that? You can search for and register service/trade marks through the US Patent and Trademark Office ( Before you start selling tickets, albums, and other merch with your band name, check to make sure it is not being used. Nothing can deflate your authenticity like some random band in another state also gaining popularity with the same name.

Band Member Agreements

Mike Tolleson told us something important right off the bat: when you work with your bandmate(s), you sometimes unintentionally enter into a partnership with those people, and without a band agreement, you will jointly own intellectual property and assets. If there is no band contract, there can be confusion as to who owns what. To avoid this misunderstanding, a written agreement is necessary to distinguish how your properties will be divided in the event that the band splits up and members go their separate ways. Tolleson also said that having an LLC as a band is good for investors. It gives them something tangible and more established to “plug into”. If you don’t have a band agreement, you could suffer some pretty hefty consequences. You can be held responsible for the actions of another band member, which can sometimes affect your personal assets. Bottom line — create a band agreement. Anybody who’s worth teaming up with should understand this is a necessary part of the process.


“If you get nothing out of this, the main takeaway is that you should get EVERYTHING in writing”. This was what Andrea Villareal led with as she schooled us on the multifaceted topic of copyrights. She explained that they are a piece of intellectual property, and that in a song there are actually two different copyrights: the musical composition and the master/sound recording. The musical composition copyright is a copyright on the intangible part of the song, such as the melody and lyrics. The master/sound recording copyright covers that particular recording of a song. Most people don’t realize there are two different copyrights in one song. You can register your copyright at and when you do so, you are given a “bundle of rights”: The right to reproduce, the right to distribute, the right to publicly perform the work, the right to create derivative works, and the right to display the work in printed form. This bundle of rights can help protect you and your music.


Craig Barker spoke to us about the importance of spending quality time with your budget and told us that money goes into much more than just recording. Even if you have a really great album, the greatness itself doesn’t guarantee success or that you’ll get anywhere with it. Marketing is crucial. Anything from radio promotion to publicity to touring is going to cost you money too, and you might be low on funds after spending your money to create this rockin’ album of yours. This is where investors can be handy. You should choose them wisely, as they are going to want to have a stake in your business. Make sure to have fair and reasonable terms with which you will be repaying them. Accredited investors know that sometimes money doesn’t get paid back in a short amount of time, and it is legally necessary to disclose to unaccredited investors that there is a possibility that will happen.

Needless to say, there was a LOT of information covered! Within the next couple of weeks, we will have an audio recording of the panel from start to finish on our YouTube channel ( It will have all of this information PLUS some Q&A with attendees at the end.

If you need more help or have questions, that’s what AMF is here for! Feel free to schedule a consultation by calling our office at (512) 542-0077 or send an email to

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Panel Recap — Rattling The Cage: How to Effectively Promote Your Music


We had such an informative panel last week, thank you all for coming out! If you missed it, we’ve got the recap right here with insights from: Tyler Cannon, Gina Chavez, Carter Delloro, Tommy Blank, Jesse Atwell and AMF’s Executive Director, Kellie Goldstein.

Good promotion takes lead-time

In the beginning stages of your next big single, album, tour, etc., you’ll want to come up with a strategic plan for promotion. The first thing our panelists agreed on was that being flexible with your deadline is important. As excited as you may be that you just recorded a new album, there’s no reason to rush things just to get it out there if you aren’t ready. Putting in your due diligence and doing it right is worth extending the release date, rather than just putting it out there with no promotion (unless you’re Beyoncé).

When pitching, be genuine

Panelist Carter Delloro of explained how important a good artist bio is, as well as the right way to reach out to bloggers. You have to come across genuinely and thoughtfully to get someone to press play on your music and ultimately, give you favorable press. In terms of your approach, personalization and attention to detail will pay off. Show the person you are pitching that you know who you’re talking to by referencing the ‘about’ section of the outlet or even a recent article they wrote. Sending the same email to 100 bloggers will reap low rewards, so treat different people and outlets differently. Another thing, be sure to follow up regularly. Bloggers are overwhelmed with emails and usually can’t get to them all, but if they recognize your name and notice your tenacity, they’ll eventually get around to listening to what you have to say. A memorable and/or catchy subject line will also help you stand out among hundreds of other emails. If you get press out of it, don’t forget to say thank you!!

Find another artist you admire

In order to really delve into your target market and identify outlets more prone to covering you – find someone with a similar sound to yours that is doing well and imitate their marketing efforts and/or pitch where they get coverage. Another way of identifying the people really digging your music is to simply notice those in the audience coming back again and again to your shows and tapping their feet at your performances. Interact with your fans and take note of the demographic you’re speaking to so you can tailor your message online.

Be smart about where you’re touring

Gina Chavez spoke about the importance of developing new markets wisely. Meaning, don’t tour everywhere just because, but really gain a fan base one market at a time and develop a presence before you move on to the next state. If you plan on taking on a new area, be sure to take note of the places that had a good vibe and good crowd and then go back again and again so you can create a really strong community.

Everywhere, everything, all the time is not a strategy

Just like with touring, you shouldn’t utilize every online marketing tool and social media outlet out there just because it exists. Don’t struggle to keep up with 3 social media outlets or feel pressured to have more than you have time for. Pick those that are doing exceptionally well or are growing and get really good at just a couple to get started. There’s nothing worse than posting just to post. Say something to your fans like you are talking to your friend, meaning post when you’ve got something important to say and be genuine about it. No one wants to follow someone who posts every day at 2pm just because they feel like they have to.

You have to write your own rulebook

Quiet Company’s Tommy Blank expanded upon their free hugs campaign, proving that thinking outside of the box and hitting the pavement usually works. On that note, find what works for you depending on where you are in your career. When asked what they would do if they only had $500 to spend promoting their music, our panelists had different thoughts that were all great. Ideas ranged from hiring someone to write your bio to taking a boom box playing your music to the streets with some flyers.

Don’t hire a publicist if…

If you’re just barely getting shows and struggling to gather a crowd, now is not the time for a publicist. If you are building momentum and getting great feedback, make sure you like the publicist, and that they LOVE your music. If they aren’t excited about it, then don’t give them your money. Trust your gut and talk to a lot of publicists before you choose one. This is your baby and you are the boss. If they don’t reply to your emails then they obviously aren’t that excited to have you. If you do take on a publicist, be ready for interviews and hone in on those communication skills.

When talking to fans, be transparent

Email marketing is a fantastic and sustainable way to speak directly to your fans. You never know when Facebook will become extinct like MySpace, but growing and nurturing a solid email list that you own will never go out of style. The key is to let fans opt-in and use it sparingly. No one likes to be tricked into signing up for a newsletter, so always be upfront. On that note, sweepstakes and giveaways are great ways to grow that email list so long as they have the option to sign up for your newsletter. One newsletter/month is the most we would recommend to avoid unsubscribes.

If you need more help or have questions, that’s what AMF is here for! Feel free to schedule a consultation by calling our office at (512) 542-0077 or send an email to

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Panel Recap: Health Care Reform


This past week, HealthMarkets gave us a very informative look at what Health Care Reform really is, when it will go into effect, when you need to get signed up and much more! All of this information can be found on this Power Point presentation.

In their presentation, HealthMarkets stressed some key points about the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Continue reading

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Panel Recap: Breaking the Sound Barrier


This past week’s sound panel was full of valuable information on how musicians and sound engineers can work more harmoniously together. For those of you who couldn’t attend, or for those who just need a refresher – we’ve got you covered!

To start, we’ll go over the issues musicians and sound engineers typically face. Common complaints musicians have are that the sound guy or girl is always grumpy or always screwing up. For the sound engineer, common complaints are that the musicians are always yelling at them, never giving specific information or not knowing their name.

Sound familiar? If so, the solution is simple: communicate, communicate, communicate. This is a team effort that requires the artist and sound engineer to work together and be nice to one another. Continue reading

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Panel Recap: Planning Ahead


We recently hosted our first panel for the New Year covering the basics of planning ahead and getting your priorities in order. Thank you so much to everyone who came out. For those who couldn’t make it, you’re in luck because we’ve got the highlights!

Now, for those of you starting to write this off as a subject that doesn’t need your attention, think again. No one ever tripped into success. Most of it is preparing, of course with a little bit of luck sprinkled in. Even the bands that you think are not that great on the radio had a great plan (because, well, they’re on the radio). Continue reading

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A Creative State of Mind

Creative tips

As a musician, you are in the business of being creative. However, as we get older, busier and more set in our ways, it can feel as though our creativity is on a continual decline. Each new song, album or music video gets harder and harder to produce, and the blocks to creativity seem to increase. Thankfully, creativity is not just for the young. Creativity declining with age is not a real and present danger, and you are 100% capable of creating fresh and relevant ideas.

Musician or not, we can all benefit from out-of-the-box thinking. Taking different approaches when solving problems or creating art can lead you down a bountiful path into the unknown – and that’s exciting.

To prevent yourself from suffering from a loss of creativity, try out some of our suggestions below: Continue reading

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