Beginners Guide to Business Structures


Many of us are setting up our own businesses. New ideas are being transformed into reality every day. Optimism is abundant, and just when things are starting to look up, you get to that last item on your checklist: “Choose Business Structure”.

Don’t fret! Choosing your business structure doesn’t have to be a scary thing. Just remember these three key tips:

  1. You can just call your Secretary of State. The people on the other end of the call understand that which perplexes you. Just ask.
  2. Still afraid and in doubt? Hire a lawyer. It not necessary, but it will provide you with well compensated relief, and peace of mind.
  3. Every state is going to have different regulations, requirements, and fees. It’s not you, it’s actually just confusing.

So in a nutshell, here’s what we’re dealing with:

1. Proprietorship:

This form does not require any licensing, is free to begin, has minimal accountability to the government, and comes with complete personal liability. If a proprietor is sued, they can not only lose wealth incurred from the business, but personal wealth assets as well.

New artists with little income would choose this option. Getting a business license can be costly, and may require legal guidance.

2. Partnership:

This option has more tax responsibility on each partner than a proprietorship, generally has limited liability exposure, each partner can act as the whole, and each partner is responsible if the whole comes into legal trouble.

This option is common with music groups.

3. Corporation

This option is more formal than the others. It requires registration with the secretary of the state, may require the assistance of a lawyer, and is government regulated. A corporation is its own entity separate from its shareholders, and thus has liability limited to the company’s revenue versus each individual being liable. Artists can still be sued, but corporations provide much more protection than the other options.

This would be an option for an established artist, because it offers more protection, but is expensive and difficult to establish.

4. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Similar to a corporation, an LLC offers protection from personal liability, and must be registered with the secretary of the state, but is much more affordable. Unlike a corporation, LLCs require taxation through personal taxes, and in some states can be made of only one member. It is not its own entity.

5. Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

LLPs are exactly identical to LLCs in every way except one; they require more than one member.

A LLC/LLP would be an ideal choice for any artist that can afford it. It offers protection with less legal complexities.

There are many other options; this list is nowhere near exhaustive. This article is not meant to provide legal advice, and you should consult a lawyer for such. You can also find more information at, the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Jay Frank – A Music Industry Must Know


jay frank

This guy is a complete oxymoron, an anomaly of sorts. You see he’s a leader in the record industry, but he doesn’t sell recordings; he gives them away. For FREE. Yes, I know, it’s a little strange, but you have to remember the times we live in. Everything is at our fingertips, literally (refer to current reading device), including our music. No need to pay for what we can stream, or what we can illegally download from the internet. It’s a victimless crime; nobody get hurt, right? Not necessarily, but Jay is the guy to look to for real solutions regarding this. He is passing out audio like Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets; in abundance, but with specificity and purpose. Spend some time learning the value of an email sign-up, among many other things here at:

His record label (Tip:grab a couple free downloads while you’re there)

His twitter

His awesome analysis into what makes a hit song

If you’re not quite sold, I’ll throw in a second Jay Frank for the price of one, just pay focus and attention. Below is an abundantly brief biography I wrote for you guys and gals. Enjoy!

Jay Frank

by LaTaevia Berry

Nashville Native, Jay Frank has this crazy idea that he can make money from giving away music. Preposterous right? Well, not really. Take some traditional marketing, and some non-traditional marketing, stir in Jay’s extensive industry experience, with a dash of his research on hits and low cost marketing, let it settle in the multiple boards he sits on, and the organizations he’s active in, then let it bake at 450 degrees for 4 minutes or less while he speaks at conferences such as MIDEM, and South by Southwest, and you’ve got yourself a fellow who actually knows how to make it work.

In addition to a rather impressive resume, he has found a way to do what dozens of record executives could not: give away music. His new model record label DigSin, short for digital single, is making a $14.99 album at Target look like highway robbery. For a century the recording industry has been clasping firmly to the idea that the only way to make money is to sell sheet music, recordings, and occasionally equipment for recordings. So how does one man solve a problem so many others couldn’t? For the fans of course. His business model is shaped after what people already want.

The demand for tailored music is there, and who better to meet it than a man who once filled the role of senior music director at The Box Music Network. The entire network revolved around people requesting exactly what they wanted to see and hear, one video at a time. I would go out on a limb and say, that model in some way inspired DigSin.


Five MTSU Recording Industry Major Trailblazers Part 1


Continuing the recognition from Four Artists You Didn’t Know Attended MTSU, here are five Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Recording Industry major (RIM) degree holding, movers and shakers, trailblazers, and downright way makers:

brett eldredgeFellow Illinoisan and transfer student, Brett Eldredge, made the switch to MTSU after singing before a Nashville crowd during his sophomore year at an Illinois college. Many writer’s nights, public performances as learning experiences, daily trips between Murfreesboro and Nashville, and a degree later, he is signed to Atlantic Records Nashville. In addition, his 2013 single “Don’t Ya” hit Number One on the Country Airplay chart.

You can find Brett Eldredge here:

dj williamsGuitarist, singer-songwriter, and producer Donald Jeffrey Ilory Williams, Jr, better known as D.J. Williams, walked through MTSU’s doors an experienced musician and performer. He honed these skills, as well as his music production skills until his graduation in 2003. An excellent example for current students, D.J. Williams began his music career two years before graduation. Since then he has he has toured in the US, Canada, and Europe, founded  the funky Richmond based band, DJ Williams Projekt, the hip-hop/R&B group, The Breaks, an acoustic duo, Williams & Jones, and performed as the guitarist for San Diego’s critically acclaimed group, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. He has even shared the stage with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Citizen Cope, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick, and more.

You can find  D.J. Williams here:

erin enderlinCountry Music artist and songwriter Erin Enderlin was born and raised on Country music in Conway, Arkansas. She has literally loved it since she was a small child. She even started her own music collection with singers such as Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, and Trisha Yearwood. She began to write and perform her own songs around Central Arkansas at an early age, and followed her passion to MTSU to pursue a career as an artist and songwriter immediately after high school. Her music has been recorded by Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, Randy Travis, and Terri Clark. She has also appeared twice on the Country Throwdown Tour as a member of their Bluebird Cafe songwriter stage. Specifically, Enderlin wrote Alan Jackson’s “Monday Morning Church” which went to number 5 on the Billboard Country Chart in 2004, “Last Call” which was recorded by Lee Ann Womack and went to number 14 on the same chart in 2008, and “You Don’t Know Jack” which was recorded by Luke Bryan for his Tailgates & Tanlines album in 2011, but was never chosen as a single. As an artist, Erin Enderlin has had two albums released, one recorded and produced by Jamey Johnson and Jim “Moose” Brown.

You can find Erin Enderlin at:

Fisher_PeteFourteen year Vice President and General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry, Pete Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University in Recording Industry Management, and was recognized as a distinguished alumnus in 2004. In addition, he recently chaired a search committee identifying their newly-appointed Dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, Ken Paulson. His industry service includes: National Trustee, 25-year voting member, and national membership committee Co-Chair, of The Recording Academy, best known for the Grammy Awards, Board member for The Recording Academy’s charitable arm, MusiCares, Governor for the Nashville Chapter of The Recording Academy, Board Member for the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund, Board member for the Academy of Country Music and its charitable arm, Lifting Lives, Board Member for the Professional Advisors for the Middle Tennessee State University College of Mass Communication, and Board Member for the Board of Advisors for the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University.

Fisher’s entertainment industry experience ranges from artist management to music publishing, with a special emphasis placed on service to a variety of music industry and charitable organizations.Prior to joining the Opry, he was a partner in Fisher Raines Entertainment where he managed the careers of Warner/Reprise Records artist Paul Brandt and Sony’s Marcus Hummon among others. In addition, Fisher spent seven years at WarnerSongs, Inc. as Director of Creative Services where he managed the joint-venture publishing operation between Warner/Reprise Records and Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. -

You can find Pete Fisher at:
The Grand Ole Opry
The MTSU Mass Communications Board of Professional Advisors

dave barnesMusician/singer and Grammy nominated songwriter David Mckee Barnes, better known as Dave Barnes, began attending MTSU to further his studies playing the drums, but as time progressed, began playing guitar and writing songs for fun. He was initially only interested in writing material for other performers, but was later encouraged by his peers to perform his works himself. Barnes took their advice and began performing on campus at Middle Tennessee State University, and then began performing at various nearby universities. After graduating from MTSU, Barnes began touring, and in 2002 released his five-song EP Three, Then Four, as a purely guitar-and-vocals release. With this release, the touring performed around it, and the assistance of internet promotion, Barnes’ fan following expanded. Barnes toured heavily for over a year after that. Since then he has released eight albums including two Christmas albums. His most recent album, Golden Days, was released January 28, 2014.

You can find Dave Barnes at:!/davebarnesmusic?ref=ts

I hope you were educated, and that you enjoyed. Tune in next Thursday for part two of “Five MTSU Recording Industry Major Trailblazers”!

Beginners guide to EPK sites


Electronic press kits (EPKs) are literally press kits, in an electronic form. A press kit is a folder containing informational and promotional materials about an artist, that can be distributed to the media. It contains, at minimum, artist bio(s), a press release, and a product, such as an album.

Many artists start their careers with limited or no representation, so here are three websites that will allow artists to create their own electronic press kits without the aid of a professional.


Price: $5.95+

Pros: ReverbNation offers exposure to venues, labels, managers, promoters, etc., that actually maintain profiles on the site, and allow ReverbNation to email press kits to them. To supplement EPKs, ReverbNation offers unlimited photo and audio storage, the ability to offer songs not offered on the fan page, fan demographics, the ability to create more than one kit, and localized charts allowing industry professionals to choose a location, and find artists that are making a buzz.

Cons: Reverb is so saturated with self-promoting artists, it can be difficult getting industry professionals to open your press kit, even when its sitting in their inbox. Also, ReverbNation can get costly after adding all the features an artist may want to use.


art e card

Price: $0-$18

Pros: ArtistEcard allows artists more freedom to customize than ReverbNation and SonicBids. Their contact section allows anyone viewing an artist’s e-card to send an internal “information request” as opposed to emailing the artist directly from a personal email. ArtistEcard also offers statistics so artists can keep up with how often their e-card is being viewed.

Cons: Although ArtistEcard offers customization to e-cards, their webside design isn’t the best. The site is easy to use, but lacks the professionalism that come with having a well-designed website. Also, The usability for artists can be difficult. Upon first use it seems more complicated than it really is, because there is so much to choose from and the layout isn’t designed well.



Price: $4.99 – $12.99

Pros: SonicBids primarily focuses on press kits and booking. They cover live shows, as well as licensing and broadcasting opportunities.  It has become the industry standard for bidding to get a spot in major festivals and events. The press kit an artist creates can also be shared outside the SonicBids community: viewers do not need an account to view you kit. Although this could be considered a con, I would argue that having an artist to promoter platform, as opposed to an artist to everyone, has set SonicBids apart, allowing them to focus solely on what works best for an artist to promoter relationship.

Cons: SonicBids faces the same over-saturation issue as ReverbNation. Many artists choose to use SonicBids as a tool to vastly expand their reach, but are drowned out by the longtime members, with better rankings.


Of the three I would recommend ReverbNation for EPKs. Although SonicBids offers a stronger opportunity to place a gig, ReverbNation offers a better opportunity to create a buzz, by providing a platform that makes your EPK available to anyone who is interested. One of the primary purposes of an EPK is to get gigs, but essentially, its purpose is to promote the artist, and ReverbNation does that best.

Four Artists You Didn’t Know Attended MTSU


Beyond blogging, I’m a Recording Industry major (RIM) senior at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). MTSU has one of the highest ranking Recording Industry programs in the nation, and produces many successful professionals in the field. After a recent discussion regarding the success of our program’s alumni, Zachary Scott Anderle decided to guest blog detailing the stories of several previous MTSU students:

Four Artists You Didn’t Know Attended MTSU

by Zachary Scott Anderle 

Edited by LaTaevia Berry

            Rockstars, businessmen, audio engineers – Some of the best come from Middle Tennessee State University. You may be a hardcore Belmont or Fullsail fan. But before you throw MTSU off the airplane into a deep dark pit filled with vile snakes, and I urge you to read on. Being a Recording Industry student, I have done some research on the university’s turnover rate for successful students. This list of former MTSU students is sure to make you not only reconsider the university as a leader in recording industry education, but as an university that develops the future trends and sounds of generations to come.


brandon-heath-promo2011a            Brandon Heath

Brandon Heath Graduated from MTSU with a BA in English. Don’t be discouraged, Heath took RIM classes during his time here. He even wrote songs in the Monohan dorm with his roommate, Dave Barnes (Grammy for Best Country Song, God Gave Me You).  Brandon Heath’s achievements include Dove awards for Best New Artist of 2008, Best Male Vocalist of 2009, Song Of The Year in 2009 for Give Me Your Eyes, and Best Vocalist in 2010 for Your Love, and Best Contemporary Christian Album Grammy nomination in 2012 for Leaving Eden. Enjoy a video below of Brandon Heath playing I’m Not Who I Was, at MTSU for a Christian Music Society event in 2011.


hillary-scott-cma-lvHillary Scott

            Hillary was a Recording Industry major from 2004-06, and is now the vocalist for the Grammy award winning band, Lady Antebellum. Hillary’s soothing pop vocals also carry the strong foundation of a country sound. The band has a Certified platinum album in the U.S., and her band’s single, Need You Now won Best Country Album and Album Of The Year in 2011. Their junior release, Own The Night also won Best Country Album. Listen to her speak on her love life during her time at MTSU.




Amy Lee

            This girl is responsible for defining the rock sound of the 2000’s. Amy Lee founded the Grammy award winning band, Evanescence. Her band has been hugely successful as number 6 on CBS’s Top Bestselling Albums of the Last 10 Years (2008), and Best Rock song of 2004 with Bring Me To Life. Amy Lee was also been awarded the Songwriter Icon Award in 2008 by National Music Publishers Association. She came to MTSU in 2000, but ended up ending her college career early to pursue the life of a rockstar.

Listen to the song that skyrocketed her journey, Bring Me To Life.




            One of the biggest artists in not only Holy Hip-Hop, but the urban industry in its entirety . Grammy award winning artist Lecrae is the rap model for Christian Music. He formed 116 Clique, started the 116 Movement, and founded Reach Records, the most successful Christian hip-hop label to date. Lecrae’s latest album, Gravity won a Grammy for Best Gospel Album and a Dove award for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album of 2013. Although Lecrae attended MTSU for one semester, he utilized the same on campus studios many other MTSU RIM students work in daily. He has walked past the KUC, and yes, probably struggled in the same classes and most RIM students.

Read more on Lecre and his journey at MTSU here,

Jonathan McReynolds! Life Music 2?


Stop it! Just stop what you’re doing and give this guy a listen whilst you read this post:

I’ll wait….Ok, it’s playing?

I know! He’s great isn’t he!!

He is a Chicago native, but it’s clear he has a foothold in the kingdom of God. His album has been nothing less than a blessing to the many ears he has reached. His lyrics are from the everyday perspective of anyone walking with Christ. Combine that with some killer acoustic guitar skills, and a vocal range I imagine I could only obtain in the shower, and you’ve got thee Jonathan McReynolds.

Throughout the entire album, I find myself smiling and reflecting on my own relationship with God. He has just been blessed with a gift to reach people in that way. His debut album is titled Life Music, and it is truly a soundtrack for life.

According to his website, not only is his second album in the works, but it is “fully written and ready to be recorded! …God is giving me songs inspired by my experiences, my friends’ experiences, and even YOUR testimonies.” (

You can find him online at:

Follow Ellee? Who is Ellee?



Displaced Chicagoan, Ellee Oulsay, is a student of life, and currently a senior at Middle Tennessee State University. After graduating with her B.S. in Music Business, she plans on single-handedly executing a hostile takeover of the Gospel recording industry, one reworked business practice at a time!! In reality she’s a collector of strange and eclectic Gospel songs on Spotify, but she also loves worship music in any form. She enjoys cooking, specifically the eating part. Most of all she loves learning, sharing knowledge, and helping people reach their goals, hence the blog. Here you will find a varied array of information that comes as God sends it. It may seem a tad disorderly at first, but let us not forget “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven“. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tweet me sometime @ElleeOulsay