Here are some questions we are frequently asked, and our answers ...

Why don't you record more rappers?

We actually do record quite a lot of rappers. In the cases where they are prepared, we either create their backing beats, or they bring professional beats they purchased licensing for. But in a lot of cases, they come unprepared, have no real recording budget, and a questionable backing track - often of low quality. We have no way of knowing if this is copyrighted music, or if the rapper has proper permission to use it. We welcome serious rappers, but please come prepared. We can also help with beats, by providing ones we've produced in advance. To hear a few samples, please follow this link: https://soundcloud.com/johnlistercomposer/sets/beats.

Why can't I sing with my Karaoke CD?

Your karaoke backing tracks are licensed for public or home performances only. The producers making these CDs pay a license to the record labels to provide the music, but only for personal performances at a bar or at home. To create a track of your voice over their music would be a copyright violation, so we cannot use any karaoke backing track. Here is more informaion found online: "To record your voice or instrument in a track and upload video to Youtube, iTunes, to burn your cd or dvd, video clip or any other commercial or promotional support, you need the phono-mechanic license of the record label and music producer." In other words, you may NOT re-record someone else's music to use as your backing without paying them a substantial fee. HOWEVER, this is where we come in, because we can re-create the backing music, playing each instrument until you have a fully produced song. For example, listen to Matthew Cameron's version of 'Cry Me A River' where we played each instrument that you hear.

Why don't you show your street address on your website?

We operate on an appointment basis only. In other words, we do not accept 'walk ins'. Our studio is in our home, and many home-based businesses do not publish their address for this reason. Once we talk with you and arrange a preliminary session, we'll be happy to give you our address and directions.

I am about to be discovered, so why can't I pay you after I'm signed to a label?

A number of people who contact us believe they are the 'next big thing' and we'll become rich if we are their producer. They say that if we work (for free) with them at the beginning, they'll keep us on as their producer once they make it to the top, and then we'll get paid nicely. Unfortunately, we can't work that way as we have bills to pay and must be paid for the work we do.

Isn't recording one track at a time a cop-out?

No. There was a time when a band had to play all at the same time, with the studio providing only a few microphones to record everything. Those days are long gone. Today, some bands still do record 'off the floor', but more often than not, they record individual tracks in order to maintain clarity and precision. The advantage is that a track may be re-recorded, or changed, without affecting any of the other tracks.

I'm a starving musician. Can you cut me a break on the price?

We offer a standard hourly rate, but we also provide lower rates for regular clients. Our equipment, operating expenses, software, etc. costs us money, and we have to generate enough money to stay in operation and be able to repair and upgrade equipment and software. When you consider that you are getting an engineer, producer, studio musicians, arranger, and mastering - all for one low hourly rate - we end up having the lowest rates around. Listen to the samples and you'll hear professional quality tracks.

Why aren't you in a building like other studios?

By dedicating space in our home, we can offer lower rates. We are home most of the time, so this also adds a level of security. Lastly, we don't need more space than what we have, so there would be no advantage to renting commercial space for what we can already accomplish here.

You're providing my backup instruments. What style are you?

We provide the style of music that the composer wants. If you need a hip-hop or rap beat, we can provide that. Or, if you come with a rock song, it will be rock, or the same for folk, country, jazz, etc. We are well-versed in many styles of music, and we provide what the client requires, not what we prefer. Beats are generally performed on virtual instruments, while other music is performed on traditional instruments. Often we'll do a blend of both.

Can you help me with artwork for my tunes?

Yes. We can create full CD covers, or small graphics for music sharing websites. We are also photographers and can take your photos as well. We can do basically anything you need from an artist logo, to a full CD insert, or just a simple graphic.

Can you get me signed to a record label?

No, as our specialty is in music production as opposed to music promotion. What we CAN do is provide you with the best quality tracks, suitable for radio, CDs, or online music streaming. By having your tracks professionally produced, you are one huge step ahead of the artists who are trying to get signed but only have live recordings or videos from a smart phone.

Is promotion on Facebook enough?

Ideally, all serious artists need a website to truly promote themselves. We can help. (We built our own Fingerman Studios website, and can do a similar one for any artist) If you do it yourself with page-builder software, you run the risk of poor Google search results. If we build it for you, it's a little harder to keep updated, (We'll have to be your webmaster) because we built it from scratch using html code. It ranks better in searches though, and will come up in search results a lot more than any Facebook or music sharing page.

Can you give me special pricing if I do a group of songs?

Yes. Our normal low hourly rate can be slashed to a lower one when you work with us for multiple hours. We usually recommend 3 hour sessions, as that keeps fatigue from being a factor, and the rate works out to be much lower than doing 1 hour at a time. Our rates includes any work you require, whether it be recording, adding instruments, mixing, producing, even graphic design for CDs, etc.

Why must I pay for your engineers to find cables, mike cabinets, etc.?

Although this is a normal part of the recording process, here at Fingerman Studios, we keep all of that to a minimum. For example, our bass and acoustic guitar channels are pre-leveled, pre equalized and pretty much ready for us to plug in and record. We've heard of some studios taking twenty minutes to find the right cable and get things set up to record a track. That will never happen here, and if it ever did, due to unforseen problems, we'd take that time 'off the clock' for you.

Do you have a pool table, offer bar drinks, or at least have a lounge we can chill in?

Perhaps some larger facilities offer these amenities, but we focus on recording you and making you sound awesome. If you want to chill, go to a bar. If you want to work on your music, come to us.

I created a video using the music I recorded with you.

Slow down there! You probably don't have legal permission to do that. According to BMI, a music performing rights organization who has been operating for 75 years, "If you hire a singer and/or musicians, you can only use their recorded performances in TV shows or films if they have granted you permission to do so. If you hire someone to produce your recording, or use a demo service to fulfill that function, you'll need their permission as well."

In other words, ASK FIRST! We generally only ask you to mention Fingerman Studios in the credits on your video, and to give us a mention anywhere you share that video online. Here it is in a nutshell: You or the composer have copyright over the lyrics and music. If we created the music, we have copyright over that, so the songwriting credits are sometimes shared. If we performed the instrumentation and recorded for you, we own recording copyright, and will arrange to grant you a license to re-use it in video or however you need. (usually in exchange for mentioning us)

I paid you when I recorded my compositions, so why do you claim copyright? The songs belong to me.

If you composed the music and lyrics, then yes, the songs belongs to you. All songwriting royalties should go only to you. If we or anyone else helped with the composition of your track, such as when creating a custom 'beat' for a rapper, then the songwriting copyright is split, based on the percentage of the final song that you and the other party created. It could be that you own 80% and the music co-composer 20%, or it could be 50/50, depending upon how much of their work resulted in the final lyrics and music.

But in addition to ownership of the song, meaning the composition of it, there is a second copyright for the sound recording of it. It is essentially the music producer's work of expression of the artist's piece of music, and may even include some changes to the composer's original concept of the song. Traditionally, studios were owned by record labels, and this copyright permitted the label to own the right to make copies of the recording, thus protecting themselves from unauthorized sales of their creative expression by other labels. Here at Fingerman Studios, we retain the recording copyright, but grant our customers a license to copy it in limited numbers for their own use, including selling CD's at concerts, etc. and digital distribution. But should one of our clients get signed to a label, we then reserve the right to negotiate with that label regarding royalties for the sound recording. Again, this is separate from songwriting royalties, which go only to whomever wrote the song. So when you work with us, you continue to own your own songs and have the right to sell copies of the recording to your fans.

When I record at your studio, do you guarantee to keep the master tracks?

We do our best to keep all master tracks safe by using a computer system with a RAID configuration, which means two hard drives are both saving and storing your data. If one drive fails, the other is there to take over and we replace the failed one as soon as possible.

However, as they say, sh*t happens, and sometimes a computer system will go down and take out the data on both drives. There is always that slight risk of a major loss of all of the master tracks. If you'd like, we can provide you with trackouts of your songs, which is a compressed file of the individual tracks that make up your song. It takes about fifteen minutes at the end of your recording session for us to do thia, so it won't put your pricing up much. Be sure to bring portable media such as a thumb drive with about one Gigabyte of free space for each song you would like a trackout for.