Justin Hoffman is a 2014 MTSU grad with a degree in Audio Production Engineering. He’s also a recent graduate of Craft Masters, SoundCorps’ 8-week music industry intensive. After spending some time on Music Row working for OmniSound Studios, he heard rumors about Chattanooga’s growing music industry and moved with the intent of jumping right into its bursting scene.
Tell me a little bit more about you and Honest Ox.
Justin: My wife and I moved here and jumped right into things as SoundCorps was starting up. It was cool to see what opportunities would be coming up to help out in the music industry. I saw what people like Jamion Williams and Ethen Martin were doing in town, and realized that high quality work was being done. Jamion is a local music who worked with some of Chattanooga's finest to record his most recent album; he’s what I consider to be a great songwriter. Ethen recorded the album in his studio, Barefoot Music Productions, with some pretty stellar gear.
It became clear that local musicians need help understanding how to make money off of their music. Honest Ox Publishing is a way for me to do the business side of things that I’m good at, with the creative spin of being able to get songwriters into the studio and develop songs to pitch to recording artists or to help the songs find new life in TV or film.
Essentially, a publisher rents songs. You’re not selling or giving away that song to anybody, you’re renting it so you as a songwriter or artist make money every time it’s used. What I do is help artists secure their copyrights and help them collect their royalties after their song is used. I also try to place those songs in avenues where they can make money. That comes through TV and film licensing, royalties through streaming and Youtube videos, other artists covering their songs, and the mechanical side of the royalties with streaming. Sometimes you can’t collect royalties unless you are registered with a publishing entity. There’s actually money out there for lots of artists that they can’t collect because they have to be affiliated with a publishing entity like Harry Fox Agency. A big part of Honest Ox is developing these artists so their music can get recorded and the other side is educating people on how to make money with their music.
How do you get an artist’s music out to TV and film?
Justin: I do the business side of things so the artists can focus on their art. They don’t have to worry about the finances or the marketing. I’m affiliated with lots of organizations in Nashville and across the country that allow me to get songs into the hands of people who make those decisions for TV and film. I worked with one artist in Nashville who I recently placed in a movie in Greensboro, NC that is now going for distribution in LA. That was his first sync licensing placement because I knew a director in North Carolina. It’s a matter of building connections; I go to L.A. or Nashville and meet people at networking conferences or do that here in town because we have so much going on in film and the surrounding entertainment outlets in the greater Chattanooga area. It’s also a matter of helping local producers find great local music and setting the bar really high for finding top notch stuff.
What are some of your goals for the next six months?
Justin: I would love to sign some new artists and continue to network. In November I’ll be going to L.A. to different networking conferences, BMI and ASCAP, the performing rights organizations, and building a lot more relationships with publishers in Nashville and Atlanta to help the artists that I’ll be signing get co-ownership rights to the songs that we will be putting out there. In the coming months, I also want to help people understand how they can make money with what they do. I can’t sign everybody, but I can help them have knowledge of the industry.
In educating people on making their music make money, a lot of people don’t realize that they are owed royalties every time they play their own music at a venue. Let’s say you book a show at Track 29 or Granfalloon and you’re playing your own songs. Those venues have paid a blanket license to all of the publishing organizations to have music played at their venue. If you are registered with a publishing rights organization (from now on referred to as a PRO), you just let the PRO know which songs you played at the show. It’s super simple. BMI has a tab for live performances on their website, where you can report the show you played and the songs you played, and they’ll send you a check in the mail for playing your own songs. People play hundreds of shows and never do that. That’s a big one people overlook.
It’s also important to register your songs with a PRO, just so you’re able to bring in royalties. One thing that my company does is take care of the registering of the songs so nobody steals them or the collections of the royalties. It’s important to have a publishing plan before you release stuff because that money gets lost if your YouTube videos don’t have an I.D. thumbprint. You’ll lose money on the thousands of streams you may get.
How can fellow Chattanoogans support your project?
Justin: They can keep making music and let me know about it. As a newer publishing company, I’m looking for new music that has a lot of potential so I can connect them with local studios and market their projects.
To follow and connect with Honest Ox, or to become more involved with this project go to https://www.facebook.com/honestox/