Business, Education, Industry, Information, Money, Music

Royalties and Collections Societies – Make Music. Make Money.

Ok… So I realise this may not sound like my most interesting blog yet, but for anyone reading this who is an independent musician/songwriter/producer type, this could be incredibly useful to you.

I often find when talking to those who are trying to get into music, they are completely unaware of how to earn money by other means than being paid by the venue/promoter/event.

That’s not to say that royalties should REPLACE payment – far from it. There is a terrible situation in the industry these days where artists and performers are grossly underpaid if paid at all for their art. It is a sad state of affairs indeed, however you have a right to certain payments if you know where to get them.

The following information is an essay I recently got a high first for at university, so I am happy to say this information is accurate should you choose to read it and use it to your benefit.  Please spread the word – musicians, songwriters and producers should understand this information and gain these extra funds AS WELL AS getting paid for all their hard work.

I hope you enjoy this little knowledge nugget… x ❤ x

“Identify the key copyrights within the music industry, and how the royalties that are generated are created and distributed to the rights holders.  Identify all the appropriate collection societies and agencies involved in the process clearly.”

Copyright and royalty collection and distribution could be seen as complex and a little hard to understand. This essay aims to make clear the copyrights pertaining to the music industry and which societies and agencies are connected to the collection and distribution of the royalties for both written – lyrics and scores – and recorded musical works.

There are many ways in which royalties are generated and paid to the correct societies who then distribute them to the holders of the copyrights.

In order to understand fully how royalties are collected and distributed, it is important to first understand what the types of copyright are within the music industry and who is entitled to them. “There are three main types of copyright within music. These are composer, performer and producer.  There are generally at least three rights holders in any piece of recorded music. There are other rights in sound recordings, but this list sets out the key rights which most indie companies need to be aware of; 1. The composer, 2. The performer, 3. The producer.” AIM (2014)

The composer is someone who writes the music, lyrics and melody, or it can be more than one person who writes one, or a combination of these elements, meaning the rights to the composition of a musical work may be shared by more than one party. The rights to record or perform the composer(s) works can be licenced to other parties through a licencing agreement, or by the composer signing the rights to a publisher who then signs the rights to a third party.

A composer is likely to be a member of BASCA – the British Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors as the aim of this organisation is not only to help protect copyrights, but also to lobby for better royalty agreements where new formats such as streaming are involved. They also ensure the maintenance of fair income from better-known sources such as television and radio. “BASCA exists to support and protect the artistic, professional, commercial and copyright interests of songwriters, lyricists and composers of all genres of music and to celebrate and encourage excellence in British music writing.” BSCA (2014)

While it can cost £180 a year for a professional membership – those who commercially release music should take this option – there is a £20 option for music writers and students as a digital membership only that offers many of the basic facilities.

Even if the composer or lyricist is not performing on the recording, they will receive song writing royalties when the song is performed live whether this is in a venue, at a festival, on television or radio. They will also receive royalties if their song is recorded and subsequently played on radio, television, in clubs and bars, in stores of any kind, streamed, downloaded or bought in physical format such as CD or Vinyl. Royalties will also be paid if the song, music or lyrics are used for a movie, in a birthday card, on a DVD movie or box set or used for any internet or other syncing. In order to receive these royalties, in the UK a composer is usually a member of PRS or Performing Rights Society.

By joining PRS a songwriter or composer is assigning their copyrights for the term of the agreement in order for the association to collect royalties from the aforementioned streams on their behalf and then make combined payments to the author. PRS also collects royalties from other international collection societies such as JASRAC in Japan, ASCAP and BMI in America and SACEM in France, to name a few, in the event of radio airplay, movie showings and other performances in those territories. In such cases, the collection society in that country will collect those royalties and pass them on to PRS who then distribute them to the composers accordingly. It is important to note that as all licencing and publishing royalties are paid to PRS, in order for a songwriter to receive them, they must become a member. There is a one-off lifetime fee of £50 and it is certainly in the interests of music creators to take up membership.

Another collection society is VPL or Video Performance Limited Society. This is a society set up for the collection of royalties for performers and composers of the songs associated with videos. In the same way that PPL and PRS collect and distribute royalties, VPL is set up to be specifically for music videos. VPL licence the videos to bars, clubs, TV channels such as MTV and gyms – essentially, any venue or public place that wishes to play music videos publicly must pay a licencing fee to do so. This fee is collected by VPL who then distribute it to the rights owners of the videos. This is a subscription free organisation for the performers and composers.

A distinct difference between the rights of a composer and those of a performer are that a composer can stop the distribution of their song or a recording or performance of their song should they so choose, as long as they have not expressly signed over those rights to a third party. In most cases, a performer cannot stop the use of their performance, but they can receive royalties each time their recorded performance is played or sold, or when they perform it.

In order to receive royalties that are owed, performers in Britain can sign up to PPL, or Phonographic Performance Limited. By registering works they have performed on in a studio or live, musicians receive performance royalties from every download, stream, physical sale and synchronisation in much the same way as the composer. Therefore, if the composer also performs his or her works, they receive two types of royalties, thus being paid twice; once for writing or composing the song, and again for the performance. PPL is free to join.

Performers are well advised to become a member of The Musicians Union – MU. For an annual fee of £149 the MU offers free legal advice on every new contract, limited insurance of instruments on tour, advice on appropriate session musician fees and royalties, as well as information on everything from basic contract laws to how much a musician can charge for travel expenses. “As well as negotiating on behalf of musicians with all major employers in the industry, the MU offers a range of services tailored for the self-employed by providing assistance for the professional and student musicians of all ages” Musicians Union (2013)

The joining fee is considerably less for students at £20 a year and half price for members of AIM. The full membership fee is £149 a year.

The third and final type of rights concerning royalties involve production or Producers rights. If songs have been written and recorded independently then the royalties are split between performer and composer. However, if a record company produces the recordings, or advances monies to an artist in order to produce a recording then the performer and producer split that portion of the royalties 50/50. So, in the case of a composer also being the performer, if they are then signed to a record company who produces their record for them, they will receive full song writing royalties but will share the portion for performance equally with the producer or record company. “From a record company’s perspective, the producers’ rights in the sound recording are the most important, as they are the rights directly ‘owned’ by the record company, and for which the record company will earn royalties itself. The record company owns rights in the recording from the minute the recording is made and these rights exist independently of the rights of the authors and performers.” Phillips (2014)

As with performers and composers, there are unions and societies set up for the protection of the rights of producers. Most notably in the UK, MPG or Music Producers Guild was set up by music producers and sound engineers as a collective voice lobbying for rights for engineers, sound designers, producers, programmers, mixers and mastering engineers. As well as aiming to protect their rights, as PRS works for performers, MPG works behalf of producers etc., to ensure the best deals are struck regarding royalties and other appropriate and due payments, and that they have a voice which is collectively heard by the government. Producers can join the MPG free for a basic membership, but it can cost up to £125 a year for industry professionals needing to protect commercially released works.

Anyone involved in the process of the creation of the song, and therefore entitled to songwriters and composers royalties should be registered with PRS. It is the only way to ensure royalties are correctly collected and distributed. Radio play and other sync’s are tracked, and live performances can be registered, generating the royalties. All live music venues, clubs, bars, gyms and other public places playing music are legally bound to pay for a PRS licence. This is distributed amongst the members of PRS. Radio stations also pay licencing fees and submit playlists on a weekly basis to PRS so the composers and songwriters whose tracks get played receive the royalties. The same applies to videos played on TV or in Gyms – a licencing fee is paid to VPL who pass them on to PRS for the royalties to be distributed to the correct songwriters and composers.

In order to make sure the correct royalties are collected and distributed fairly between all parties, and that fair rates are negotiated for streaming and other performance or airplay, several trade unions have been set up specifically within the music industry to lobby on behalf of composers, performers and producers.

AIM, the Association of Independent Music represents over 800 record companies and independent artists, and strives to provide services that create new opportunities internationally. If new markets open up, AIM try to bring that information to the forefront to be maximised by the music community.

IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry aims to promote the value of recorded music – something that has been in decline since the download industry became a mainstream method of accessing music. While streaming services such as Spotify have increased earnings and lowered piracy levels, the industry is still recovering from the initial shock of websites like Napster. “It was only a matter of time before college students began posting large collections of MP3s on college servers and internet websites where they could be downloaded by anyone” – Kusek and Leonhard (2005) p5

IFPI also aims to protect the rights of creators and producers of music and enforce these rights.

Finally, BPI – The British Recorded Music Industry (Formerly the British Phonographic Institute) represents all the large record labels as well as 300 independent organisations. Companies associated with BPI release 85% of music released in Britain.

Trade unions such as BPI, IFPI and AIM work with companies like the MU and MPG and come together with PRS, PPL and MCPS in order to protect composers, performers and producers’ rights. They continually work together and independently to increase the value of recorded music, find new revenue streams for their members and to ensure fair rates through future revenue sources, such as online streaming via Spotify and YouTube.

All revenue streams are created through licencing whether a venue is paying for a PRS licence to play recorded music or have live acts on, or a gym pays VPL a licencing fee to be able to play music videos, or a royalty percentage payment is made per download or greetings card purchase. All these payments go to the correct societies, who then distribute these funds accordingly to the composers, performers and producers whose music is played, sold or performed.

Although there are costs involved in membership of all the appropriate unions and societies, the benefits and potential earnings far outweigh the initial investment and the support, advice and networking opportunities are invaluable to anyone working in the music industry.

References

BASCA (2014) About Us [online]. Available at: http://basca.org.uk/about-us/ [Accessed 27-10-2014]

Boosey and Hawkes (2014) Earn From It – Collections Societies [online]. Available at: https://www.boosey.com/pages/publishyourself/collectionSocieties.asp [Accessed 27-10-2014].

BPI (2014) About Us [online]. Available at: http://www.bpi.co.uk/about-bpi.aspx [Accessed 27-10-2014]

Equity (2014) Equity and other Organisations [online]. Available at: https://www.equity.org.uk/about-us/equity-and-other-organisations/ [Accessed 27-10-2014]

Fresh On The Net (2014) How To Get Paid Part 1 – Royalty Collecting Societies [online]. Available at: http://freshonthenet.co.uk/2012/04/how-to-get-paid-part-1-royalty-collecting-societies/ [Accessed 27-10-2014]

IFPI (2014) About [online]. Available at: http://www.ifpi.org/about.php [Accessed 27-10-2014]

Kusek, D and Leonhard, G (2005) The FutureOf Music 1st ed.Boston: Berkley Press. p5

The Music Producers Guild (2014) About The Music Producers Guild [online]. Available at: http://www.mpg.org.uk/about-mpg/about-the-music-producers-guild/ [Accessed 27-10-2014]

Musicians Union (2013) About Us [online]. Available at: http://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/about-us/ [Accessed 27-10-2014]

C.Phillips (2013) AIM Journal – Indie Label’s Guide To Performance Rights [online]. Available at: http://www.musicindie.com/news/1302 [Accessed 04-11-2014]

PPL (2011) What We Do [online]. Available at: http://www.ppluk.com/About-Us/What-We-Do/ [Accessed 27-10-2014]

PRS for Music (2014) MCPS Royalty Payments [online]. Available at: http://www.prsformusic.com/creators/memberresources/MCPSroyalties/Pages/MCPS.aspx [Accessed 27-10-2014]

PRS for Music (2014) About PRS For Music [online]. Available at: https://www.prsformusic.com/Pages/default.aspx [Accessed 27-10-2014]

The MMF (2014) About The MMF [online]. Available at: http://www.themmf.net/about-us/ [Accessed 27-10-2014]

UK Music (2013) About Us [online]. Available at: http://www.ukmusic.org/about-us [Accessed 27-10-2014]

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Women are vicious. Can we please stop?

I haven’t written a blog for ages. Weeks. Not because I haven’t had the time or haven’t wanted to but whenever I have gone to write one I haven’t felt like I have had anything relevant to say.

I like my blog to be about the sort of things I think are truly important. Certainly this subject is something I struggle with continually.

Before I go on, I have a statement to make;

I do not, in any way, believe that I am better than anyone else. Nor do I believe I am flawless as a human being. I make mistakes. I say hurtful things. Sometimes I say them and mean them. Sometimes I say them and hurt people without ever meaning to. I try to be a decent human. I don’t always manage it.

I make that statement because I don’t want people to read the rest of this blog and believe that I don’t think it relates to me too.

Recently I have had personal experiences of women attacking me. Not physically, but the kind of snide attacks that leave you questioning your character and feeling worn down on the inside.

I am blessed to have many friends. A lot of these friends are male. There have been several incidents in the last few months where I have had to distance myself from those friends because their girlfriends see me as a threat. That probably sounds arrogant, but I can tell you from personal experience in earlier years that when you decide to hate your boyfriend’s friend who happens to be female and you don’t know the first thing about her, it’s definitely not because you know she is the devil incarnate. It’s because somewhere deep down inside you are allowing yourself to feel insecure and inadequate.

It’s taken me a very long time to realise that if I was with someone and they cheated on me, be it with their friend, my friend or a complete stranger, that person would not deserve me anyway. Equally, choosing to dislike someone who is a friend of your partner will put strain on your relationship and unless that friend really is actually trying to get in your partner’s pants and they are letting it happen, that strain is YOUR FAULT.

A lot of the viciousness between women often comes from some sort of jealousy or assumption, and it usually involves a love interest or something similar.

Take Monday night for example. I went to a charity event. Watched some bands. Managed to get my friends and I into the after party. Met some of the musicians. All great fun. At one point I was chatting to a beautiful girl – perfect hair, amazing style, the most beautiful eyes. One of the musicians (male) came and stood next to me. His arm brushed mine. He had the softest skin EVER! I mentioned this. I am very open and honest and have no qualms with complimenting someone as and when I see fit. The girl I am chatting to lunges forward, turning the musician away, exclaiming rather loudly that I should stop trying to get into his pants as his girlfriend would not be happy about it…. Talk about embarrassing! Cue me trying to explain that I simply stated the facts – he had soft skin, end of, before quickly realising this chick wasn’t going to change her mind so I wandered off to find more beer and other people to chat to that weren’t so crazy. Needless to say her beauty seemed to fade before my eyes. A real shame.

I’ve also met some little girls recently at some of my gigs who are bullied. One in particular related to my song Little Big Mouth and even sang it at a girl in school as a way of getting her to stop being nasty (apparently it worked).
I was bullied at school. Called buck tooth, big foot, likened to a boy for having no boobs or hips, called a geek, suffered verbal and physical abuse… Women can be nasty!

The flip side of this is that women – ALL WOMEN – have the capacity to be motherly, nurturing, caring, considerate, beautiful people. If women could put down their insecurities and connect with each other on that level wouldn’t the World have so much more beauty in it?

I wrote a poem with all this in mind. The first part inspired by one of those friend’s girlfriends. The second part inspired by like minded people I have been blessed to meet and become friends with in recent months as well as the beautiful friends I have already.

Before I pop it here, I will sign off with this: For those of you ladies who are reading this and getting instantly vexed, ask yourself why. Is it really because you don’t agree, or is it because on a deeper level all this is ringing true and you don’t want it to?
Those of you nodding your heads and hopefully smiling, thank you for being the ones I seek continually and come back to for inspiration, guidance and love.

Guys – I am without doubt that some of this can be attributed to you too, be is the positives, the negatives or both. You lot could do with sharing more love too. 😉

Here’s my poem

“Girls”

Girls. Who have em eh?
But I get it,
Being erratic
Attacking other women
Because really, you want to be them

And I know you’re gonna read this
And say who the fuck do you think you are?
I’m not insecure, I just hate you, that’s all

But I’ve been there.
Not wanting to change who I am
But being threatened by who you are
Wondering if the man I have
Would rather be linked with your arm

It’s a prehistoric, inbuilt mechanism
We all have it there
But as we grow we make choices
Can I really be bothered to care?

Not not care about you
But not care about who’s better
I’d rather get on with my lot and love myself
So I can love you, whatever

Yeah I can love you
Through all of your spite
Because these days I just see another human
Not a competitor to fight

And this won’t change your mindset
It’s not gonna make us friends
But I’d like to say bless you
I hope love follows you, right to the end.

Women are strong. Beautiful. Motherly.
If we loved each other more I wager the World would be less ugly.
If only we could stop all the jealousy.
Stand together and spread love recklessly!

I reach out to my sisters, to those broken and torn
To ones with hidden scars as well as the physical ones worn
And I give you my hand, my head and my heart
Forgive me my trespasses. I am ready to be part.

Part of a sisterhood, part of a revolution
That will encompass our brothers, our parents, our children
To take back the power of that lost love and light
And to stand strong, together as each heart we ignite.

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Does It Still Hurt?

She screams silently into the back of her mind
Reaching out to the pain

A morbid bubble ripped open like a womb after birth

Open and fresh the tear is fingered over and over

Does it still hurt? Yes. Does it still hurt?

Her memories form twisted and charred
No longer the truth but a long line of guilt

Taunting and grabbing at each of her limbs and knocking on the echoing chambers of her heart
Tortured by the torture she lies in the dark

self pity and blame her blanket

It’s her fault he did it. Her fault.

Manipulation catapults her from hate for him to loathing of self

A merry go round never slowing

She scratches at her skin. Physical pain to numb the other.

Not the first. Won’t be the last.
She hasn’t learned to love herself

So she waits for the cycle to start again.

And so it does. And so it does.

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It’s not a complaint, it’s a celebration.

I’ve slept less than 6 hours a night and haven’t eaten a cooked meal in over a week. My bedroom resembles a car boot sale and I’m pretty sure my cats think my flat mates are their actual owners.

This isn’t a complaint, it’s a celebration.  I am so blessed to be so busy doing what I love.

However, I feel it’s time to lay bare some home truths about following your dreams as a musician.

I often get the impression that a vast majority believe that being a musician is having an elaborate hobby supported by full time work or generous and well off parents.

I gave up my 32k job to become a student. This gives me just enough in the form of student finance to live on. I spend the majority of this on rehearsal rooms, travel, accommodation and per diems for my musicians, advertising and other musically related expenses.

At my level playing small pubs and clubs with the occasional small festival thrown in for good measure, payment is sporadic at best. I am lucky to get expenses and when I do it rarely scratches the surface of the actual expenditure that made it possible for my musicians and I to play.

Again, this is not a complaint. Yes, it would be wonderful to be paid and make money from the music I lovingly create and play. The industry as it is does not allow for this. I am merely pointing this out and I am 100% grateful to those promoters and venues who do pay me, however much, as every penny goes back into doing what I love and goes a long way to make what I do possible!

I think it is important that the impression people have of following dreams is a real one. It’s not writing a few tunes and suddenly being a rock star. It’s working for years from the bottom up, hoping you’ll be able to pay your rent again this month and afford to get to the next gig while possibly NEVER being a so called star or being out of part time work and in full time music.

It is hard graft. Blood, sweat, tears… I’ve shed all of them to follow my dream. I’ll continue to do so. I love it.

Writing songs and booking gigs is just the beginning. It’s also sitting up til 6 in the morning sending emails to more promoters, blogs, magazines and radio stations asking for exposure then getting a few hours kip before packing a bag and getting a train to who-knows-where to play a gig or do a radio interview for 20 listeners because any airtime is worth the exhaustion. It’s working a part time bar job every night after a full day of rehearsals on minimum wage and thanking God for that £6 in tips because that’s your bus fare back to the studio the next day. Thick skin and determination is essential. Passion is everything.

Apart from my sheer love for the music, the other huge element to keeping me in this is the people. I now have many people who support me continuously by sharing my music, promoting me in venues, turning up to gigs, playing my music on their radio stations… They are my heroes. One person singing along propels me forward. To have as many people as I have to call friends, fans or colleagues is a huge gift.

Rather than waiting to have an album to credit people, I’m going to list some of the important people I have around me so far and thank them whole heartedly for their amazing support. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. If I have forgotten to list anyone, please forgive me.

Twitter Fam:
@MrPeepsSays
@BoltonAddick
@TrustFox
@SqrPig
@MusicForiTunes
@JonpPenny
@DaveyHub
@ryan_Unsigned
@krystaljonjo
@SpeedOfSoundUK
@GBH68

Blog Fam:
www.nijimagazine.com
www.thepunkarchive.blogspot.com
www.thebartonquandry.com
www.musicvstheworld.wordpress.com

Radio Fam:
Coral Rose Radio, Lancaster
Shoreditch Radio, London
Krystal Radio, Essex
BBC Intro, Norfolk
London Unsigned/Unsigned Gig Guide
#RKC, Paris

Promoter Fam:
Elena Katrina
Nick Jaques
Wayne Samways
Zaid Zarathustras
Cheeky Promotions
JakRock Music
Dan Littlechild

My Musicians:
Nzoyi – guitars, keys, MD, brother from another mother
Jeff Cramer – guitar
Ben Witherstone – guitar
Frankie P – bass
Sophie Lord – bass
Michael Osborne – drums
Shakira Malkani – drums
Paolo Gravanti – Cajon
Amanda Brown – drums

Band Fam:
Ghouls
Riskee and the Ridicule
Banjaxeld
Gifted Circus
Nakisha Esnard
Facio

Fave Venues: (for hospitality, promotion, and friendship)
Golden Lion Hotel, Carmarthen
The Kings Arms, Salford
Bar Vinyl, Camden
The Blueberry, Norwich
Milgi, Cardiff
The Tram And Social, Tooting Broadway
The Aquarium, Lowestoft
The Worlds End, Finsbury Park

Special thanks to www.archstudios.co.uk for their friendly, very accommodating and generous team. You look after me and my team so well!

Also, I humbly thank every friend, fan and family member near and far who have given me a couch/floor/bed to sleep on, a meal, come to a gig, chucked me a tenner in times of trouble… Too many to name but you all know who you are and I hope you know how much I love you.

May my struggle carry on and bear fruit to be given back to you in abundance.

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For Mum

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It’s Mother’s Day! Which is why my blog is dedicated to my favourite Mum in the World – MINE!

My Mum only ever asks for one thing on Mother’s Day from each of her children. A letter. She always says she wants for nothing, so for us to take a minute, or an hour to write a letter to her is the most thoughtful thing we could do, and seeing as I have started this blog I decided that this year I would publicly write mine because she’s wonderful and I wanted to let the World know. Or at least anyone that decides to read my blog 😉

This last year has been a mental one for me and I am pretty sure I gave her a fair few new white hairs as a result, if not a load of heart burn to boot!

At the beginning of last year I decided in the space of a week to apply for Uni, move house and quit a 32k job to throw myself back into education in order to have the time to be a full time musician or at least be pursuing music full time!  Mum was understandably scared. Her very stable daughter was deciding to turn her life upside down, reduce her incomings by drastic proportions and go into an industry where sales are continually dropping and is saturated with hopefuls more than ever. She supported me through it any way regardless of her misgivings. Don’t get me wrong – she believes in my abilities (like every proud Mum she thinks I’m the best singer songwriter in the World) but in realistic terms, no matter who you are or how good, chances of being successful in music are slim. It’s a tougher industry than ever!

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My Mum is my hero. She has faced so many tough challenges in her life and has managed to come through without an ounce of bitterness to become a strong, fiercely independent woman who above all else loves her children, her husband and God. She has fed us with next to no money, raised us with dignity and respect, provided us with the ability to learn music, dance, horse riding or whatever else we wanted, sometimes at the risk of her own health to pay for it.  As far as I am concerned, she is the most amazing mother, friend, confidant and advisor.  I won’t tell you too much – she doesn’t know I am doing this and I have no idea how much she would be happy with me saying! 

At the end of last year my Mum watched me get my heart broken. Not for the first time, but definitely the worst. She felt my weight loss, my night terrors and my depression as though it was her own.  She had seen it coming, but never judged my choices, advised but never ‘told me so’ and never got frustrated with my tears. She just sat and held me, listened and comforted me in any way she could. Over and over.  I know that she would still sit and listen to me for hours going over the same unanswered questions now too.

My Mum never asks for anything from us, but would give everything she has to see us happy and healthy. I know you’re going to read this Mum, because you subscribed to my blog and your my biggest fan.  I just want you to know how much you mean to me.  I could never wish for a better mother or friend. I love you so much. Thank you. For last year and all the years before it. For your protection, support, love, friendship, advice. All the hugs AND the tellings off that have shaped who I am today.  Thank you for being my biggest PR and Publicity person by telling EVERY person you meet that they have to listen to my music. Thank you for believing in me when I don’t feel like I can believe in myself. For all of this and everything I have forgotten to mention here. Thank you.

Happy Mothers Day Mum. You rock my World.

xxx

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