Q: What is VUA/The Very Us Artists?
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A: The Very Us Artists (VUA) is a collection of musicians and other artists seeking to widen their exposure and challenge their abilities by releasing collaborative products that are both compilations of original music and a works of art. Albums are released irregularly, and each one is unified under a different theme or concept common to all aspects of the album. Themes may be topical (e.g., songs about a particular subject or evoking a particular mood), structural (e.g., following specific rules or using a particular kind of instrument), or based on whatever other fanciful ideas we dream up.
The overall aim of The Very Us Artists is to bring a variety of musicians and other artists together to work on a single project that might otherwise never come to be, its contributors never coming into contact with one another. It is a chance to cross-market and expose all the artists to new audiences—the audiences of the other artists on each album. Established musicians with loyal fan bases can benefit by getting music out to a greater variety of people, many of whom might not normally hear their work. For lesser-known musicians, it is a chance to reach the ears of a diverse assortment of listeners and establish a fan base.
On each album, the line-up of musicians and composers varies from song to song. In essence, Very Us Artists albums are indeed "various artists" albums, with the difference being that they're not mere compilations of previously existing music but collections of songs written specifically for inclusion on a specific Very Us Artists album. Artists submit music for inclusion and the best work is chosen by the VUA staff. Each artist whose work is included becomes a Very Us Artist and will be with bios, photos, and links. We promote contributing artists' individual websites through VeryUsArtists.com, so those with web presences will be able to draw new visitors through us.
Just as each album's musical line-up is different, so is its cover artist, whose art also reflects the theme of the particular album. Each album is released as a physical CD (with digital singles also available on the website) in a uniquely designed jacket we call a parallelogram. This packaging is intended to be more than just the housing for the CD. It is, in fact, a work of art itself. While it folds up into standard CD display dimensions, it unfolds into the parallelogram which contains all the relevant text and logos on one side and an artist's work of art on the other. On a larger scale, the artwork of each of these individual parallelograms lines up with preceding and subsequent albums, like individual pieces of a puzzle. When all the albums of each series of albums (known as an opus) are properly aligned, they create a larger, complete piece of artwork. If you like, you can hang it up or even frame it like a piece of fine art. This further unifies all the albums of a particular opus as well as reinforces the main mission of The Very Us Artists: collaboration and cooperative creation.
We embrace all music types and encourage unusual and unique creation. If this sounds like you, join us!
Q: Can I submit previously created work if it fits the theme?
A: Although it's against the spirit of what The Very Us Artists are all about, yes. We do really want to push for new material, but previously created works which have gotten little exposure and certainly have never been published or released may be considered for inclusion. But we would recommend that rather than submitting it as is, you consider some sort of revision—something to make this version of your work unique*. Of course, you should let us know right away if you think you may like to submit anything of this nature.
Q: How does compensation work for artists who contribute to VUA?
A: This is detailed in the contract, but basically, we pay royalties annually, through PayPal or by paper check. For physical album (CD) sales, 76% of the net proceeds of a particular album are divided among all of that album's contributors (including the cover artist). For digital downloads, we give the artist much more of the share when calculating royalties, but in keeping with the mission and spirit of VUA, everyone on a specific album also receives royalties from each digital download for the album on which the track appears. The royalty structure is clearly defined in the official contract, so you should read that for all the nitty-gritty details.
Q: How Do I need my own recording equipment to contribute music?
A: For the most part, yes. Either that or know someone who does. Each Very Us Artist is responsible for producing their own recordings, whether that means you've got a studio at home or can afford the time and resources to take your composition to some one else's. In the end, you'll need to deliver a high-quality* digital recording. You'll be able to either send us a CD or upload WAV or AIFF files (minimum 16-bit/44.1 kHz) to the website. If you're not sure what that all means, don't be intimidated. Just ask!
Q: Are there any restrictions on the length of musical contributions?
A: Well... not exactly. There is a finite amount of space on the album, so if your contribution is especially long, it will just depend on how much time the other accepted contributions end up running in total. If your piece is particularly brief, there's no inherent limitation there. If it seems like a substantial enough song or would otherwise be an asset to the album despite its shortness, the more power to you! In either case, if you think you may like to contribute an especially long or short piece, your best bet is to let us know right away what you've got in mind so we can be sure it will work within the album's program.
Q: Are there any restrictions on the content of music or artwork submitted?
A: There are almost no specific restrictions on the artistic content you may submit. However, it should go without saying that if your submission seriously advocates hate, intolerance, violence or anything else truly unsavory, it's unlikely we'll accept it. Obscenity and profanity are strongly discouraged, but we won't outright reject it. We realize that virtually any topic may have artistic merit when presented in the right way, and we'd be loath to really censor your artistic expression. So, if you plan on submitting material which we might feasibly find objectionable, please do run it by us first so we can give you some indication whether or not it'll fly.
Q: Is there a schedule for for how often new albums will be released?
A: We'd sure like to think so and while our aim is/was to have a new album released every other month, it hasn’t really worked out that way. Maybe one day when we can quit our jobs and do this full time, it'll be monthly, or at least more regular, but for now we’re releasing a few albums a year and spending the time necessary to ensure they’re really great ones, even if it isn’t as frequent as we’d like. In any case, you can see what we've got coming down the pike by having a look at our calendar.
Q: Can I suggest themes or contribute to VUA in ways other than submitting music or artwork?
A: You can definitely suggest an idea for a future Very Us Artists album. We've got a buttload of crazy ideas already, but there's always room for one more. If it's a new idea to us and we choose to use it as the basis of a future VUA album, we'll give you credit. We'll stick your name in the album's liner notes and praise your genius on the website, too. But beyond themes, music, and artwork, um...sure! What have you got in mind? Let us know.
Q: What rights does VUA have to my work if I submit it?
A: The nitty-gritty details of that can be read about in the contract. But the short answer is this: If we accept your submitted work for inclusion, we then reserve the right to use it in any way to promote The Very Us Artists, and we may edit it as we see fit to make it work for the album. Of course, we'll work hard to make sure you're as happy with any edits as we are. Artwork that appears on the album cover proper will remain completely unchanged, and the digital singles will remain unchanged. Of course, you will receive royalties for any album sales on which your contribution appears. And your artwork is still yours to do with what you will, as long as you always make note that it was originally created for The Very Us Artists. Again, check the contract for the nitty-gritty details.
Q: Do I receive any complimentary copies of an album if my work is on it?
A: Each contributing entity will receive a copy of the album (limit one per person.) If you're part of an ensemble of some sort, we'll send you up to three copies. If you've got more members than that, you'll just have to fight amongst yourselves to decide who gets one of the precious three. We at the Very Us Artists love nothing more than to sow discontent rivalry and between band members. We're sort of like Yoko Ono in that way.
Q: Can I contribute more than one track for a theme?
A: Yes. But: In the event that there are more accepted contributions to an album than can all be worked in, one of your multiple entries will be the first to go. Of course, if you're contributing as a part of different ensembles, that won't quite apply. We won't punish your band for you solo career. But if it's a case where you're sending in several contributions which are just you with different artist names, one of those may still be one of the first to go on an overcrowded album.