Why Is It So Hard To Get Paid In the Music Industry?

Guest Post: Why Getting Paid In The Music Industry Is So Complicated, And How It Can Be Better

Guest Post: Why Getting Paid In The Music Industry Is So Complicated, And How It Can Be Better


David Balto is a lawyer and consumer advocate based in Washington, D.C., who previously served as the policy director of the Federal Trade Commission.

In Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow’s recent op-ed called The Penny Paradox, he asked, “Isn’t a song worth more than a penny?” The problem, as outlined by Portnow, is that artists aren’t being paid enough for their work. However, this is a gross oversimplification of a more complicated issue of payment in the music industry. An issue that, unfortunately, consumers (and artists) are caught in the middle of as powerful and less powerful interests fight over how to divide payments amongst themselves.

When Portnow is talking about a song being worth a penny he is, of course, not talking about someone being able to own a song for an actual penny. He is talking about the cost per listen of a single license. An interactive music streamer like Spotify needs two licenses to serve a single song to a customer, and three licenses under certain circumstances. When a consumer buys a song, they make one payment and own it forever. Streaming a song is not ownership, and royalties must be paid for each listen.

This leads to a complex picture of how artists earn money. They can get one payment from a fan that buys their album or a recurring payment as a fan continues to play their songs on a streaming service. Artists can also get paid both ways from a single fan — a correlation between internet radio “spins” and sales were found in 2014.

It gets even more complicated. Artists own different copyrights and get paid differently based on whether they wrote the song and/or recorded the song. They deal with different middlemen and the licensing is handled through different organizations: SoundExchange for sound recording rights, a publishing rights organization like ASCAP or BMI for the performance right and individual publishers for each song’s mechanical rights.

ASCAP and BMI are currently regulated through agreements made with the Department of Justice that are regulated by federal courts which stress fairness and transparency. These agreements were necessary because collective bargaining — like that done through ASCAP and BMI — is illegal under antitrust laws, but all parties considered it necessary to have a collective bargaining system to cut down contracting costs in a complex industry. In other words, it’s a narrow exception to the general rules of a competitive market.

And now it’s getting even more complicated. Publishers, some of which have market power, are lobbying the DOJ to make changes in the consent decrees to allow them to withhold music from radio, venues and streaming services. These changes would let publishers jump out of ASCAP and BMI when it suits them. So much for fairness and non-discrimination. And so much for fair prices for consumers.

Publishers will also be able to agree amongst themselves not to license a performance right unless all owners of a copyright assent. This will give even small owners of a copyright complete control, not just over performance rights but over the sound recording as well. If a five percent owner of the performance rights to Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” refuses to license, for instance, that not only affects other owners of the performance rights, but also Justin Bieber’s royalty payments for the sound recording. A music user has to license all rights to play a song, and if any fractional owner had veto rights they would be able to control the destiny of the entire song and every sound recording, not just what they own.

This didn’t matter when radio and venues could contract with ASCAP and BMI, each of which has to license to all comers at a fair rate. But in a world where publishers can be in and out of ASCAP and BMI, it suddenly matters a great deal. This has the potential to not only hurt consumers, but also artists who can’t get their song played because an owner of a small piece of it refuses to license. Ultimately, both consumers and artists will lose.

I do not agree with Portnow on the simple solution that payments for songs need to increase. This is the solution before the DOJ right now, and it will likely lead to tremendous harm to consumers and potentially artists (we don’t know how much of that increase, if any, will filter through to them and how much will be pocketed by the powerful publishers). However, I do agree that we can do better and that solutions must come from Congress.

Congress, for example, could set up a one-stop shop for the complete bundle of rights needed to play a song, and all the rights owners could divide those payments among themselves. This would make it easy to agree on a payment that is good for artists while still allowing streaming services to be profitable (important after the Copyright Royalty Board’s rate increase led to the closure of many smaller independent and local services). Congress also has many more options to make sure the most vulnerable parties, consumers, and artists, are protected.

Article Via Billboard.Biz



10 Guiding Principles for Effective Brand Building

10 Principles For Effective Brand Building

In “The Unexpected Universe” naturalist Loren Eisley tells of coming upon a spider in a forest spinning the sticky spokes of the web that extend her senses out into the world. Just so, brand planners need to find ways of extending their senses far beyond what can be directly perceived by their ears and eyes. Like the spider, brand planners sit in the middle of a complex web, listening, watching, waiting.

At the heart of brand building is the search for more meaningful ways to connect with customers or end consumers. Getting good at connecting with consumers and building strong and relevant brands requires an end consumer orientation regarding how you frame problems and ask questions. The brand planner needs to become the in-house consumer advocate, always taking the consumer perspective in evaluating all aspects of brand performance.

In my years of building the Nike, Starbucks and NBC Entertainment brands I discovered ten principles that proved helpful in the brand planning process.

1. Be Analytical

Annually tear down internal strengths and weaknesses in regards to how you are approaching the marketing process. What has worked? What has failed? What needs to change? There are often tacit assumptions (hidden but operative) about the way things should be done. Have the important hidden assumptions been exposed and scrutinized? Are we more concerned with being efficient than effective? As we look outward at the marketplace where are the emerging opportunities? Where are the threats coming from? Have realistic scenarios been generated that factor in the forces that are changing our business model and marketing effectiveness?

2. Be Mindful

Where is the emotional high ground in this category? Are we anywhere near it?
Do we really understand the consumption moment when it’s “as good as it gets”?
What situations, settings, moods, and feelings really define this high ground?
Be mindful of the deep insights around dream states. These can suggest unique brand points of view for connecting with the emotional high ground.

3. Be Curious

How can we more favorably alter our value proposition?
How can we enhance the brand persona/image? How can we generate buzz?
How can we take the high ground?
What passes for breakthrough advertising today in our category? Across categories?
What past positioning approaches have broken through? Does any of this past work contain deep insights that can be reinterpreted in a new light today?

4. Be Observant

Are any competitors more favorably positioned with groups that matter to us?
Who are we appealing to? How are these consumer groups defining our brand?
Do channel partners present our brand in it’s best light?
Is our storytelling in touch with the zeitgeist (spirit of the times)?
How do our views differ from the views of the people we’re trying to reach?

5. Be Human

All brand impressions work to build image. Do we project a human face? Are we seen as a good citizen? A company that cares? Does the brand seem to have a conscience? Are there warm human attributes and connection points in our story? Part of becoming more human as a brand involves understanding how to strengthen the connection in our customer relationship. In our messaging are we selling functional benefits, emotional benefits, values or personality? Which of these positioning choices are most salient, resonant and relevant – from an end consumer perspective?

6. Be Imaginative

Crafting a brand vision requires going beyond the logical into the imaginative. Creative teams tasked with envisioning the future need the freedom to take imaginative leaps. The essence of this kind of creativity is in seeing new connections between things where no apparent relationship existed before.

To expand the brand concept – expand the ways of looking and thinking about new brand opportunities. In early stages idea generation workshops can be productive. Special rules apply for getting the most out of ideation workshops. Rules like: get offsite, have some fun, think like a kid, relax old rules, keep the group small, invite a range of creative thinkers, use creative exercises and pre-planned stimulus to generate lots of ideas, no killing of ideas during ideation. Screen the ideas later for those with most potential, build and bulge on these ideas. Put them through a rigorous new business development filter.

There is an art to getting the ground fertile for really great concept generation workshops. Learn the art, create great group dynamics….push the edges of thinking. If there is a dearth of really great ideas bring in ideation experts. Explore how to add more meaning to your brand. What kinds of new stories, images and myths would add a great chapter to your brand history? What kinds of new products and services would connect with the brand essence? Can your brand presentation be elevated to the next level? Explore ways to layer on qualities that will add to your products perceived value. Imagine how to better connect with important consumer subcultures or activities.

7. Look For Integration Possibilities

Can communications be improved in regards to tying together brand equities, celebrity equities, and brand positioning themes? What creative ways are there to extend branding activity working with co-brands or creative partners?

8. Be The Storyteller

At the highest level brand planners are concerned with storytelling excellence. Is our approach to storytelling breaking through? How can we make our stories arresting, relevant and resonant so that they build better brand affinity?

9. Be Realistic

No brand or product is at the center of how consumers live their lives. Yet this assumption is often made in consumer research projects where a narrow set of options are presented for exploration and validation. Realistic context for understanding the consumer’s involvement and interest in the category is a prerequisite for effective brand planning.

10. Be Patient

Movement in brand image in very mature categories can be glacial in nature – taking years to accurately measure shifts in feelings towards the brand. A continuous stream of breakthrough advertising can accelerate the shift in feelings, if it’s creating cultural buzz then affinity and image measures can move in months or quarters.

If the original insight that connects the brand with the consumer is unique, favorable and strong and that insight is driving your communications then fast improvements in brand strength can be expected. A brand strength monitor with sensitive brand image descriptors is the best way to track a brands positioning efforts over time.

via Branding Strategy Insider


What SONG Earned the Most Royalties 1st Quarter 2014?


Yep! That’s right….

The song that earned the most royalties in the quarter was Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J).” Billboard estimates the song produced $883,000 from U.S. Radio performance and mechanical royalties. Ryan Tedder was the top writer for the second quarter in a row.  Billboard estimates that his credits for five songs — “Counting Stars,” by his band OneRepublic, Ellie Goulding’s “Burn”, Demi Lovato’s “Neon Lights, Maroon 5’s “Love Somebody”, and the Fray’s “Love Don’t Die” — generated $881,000 revenue in mechanical royalties from U.S. album sales and track downloads, and performance royalties from U.S. radio airplay in the first quarter. Billboard estimates he earned $582,000 that in the previous quarter from the three Top 100 radio songs he had a hand in writing.

Want to know what company ranked #1 for 2014 1st Quarter Royalties?

Sure you do…. Click Here

FYI all of you Music Artists….the money is in writing/publishing! So get to the business….

iStandard Producers’ Beast of the Beats VII Ends in NYC [Recap]

iStandard Producers’ Beast of the Beats VII Weekend Was a Super Success!

Here’s What You Missed…


And Guess Who Was THE Featured Guest….


But For Those Of You Who Couldn’t Make It……


Congratulations to the 2013 Winner Rhythm Section Ent.

Make Sure to Visit Them – http://www.rhythmsectionent.com 

The Road to the 2014 Beast of the Beats Kicks Off in Boston on 11.12.13 


Technology: I Love You……I Hate You!

Our obsession with technology is increasingly becoming our frustration.


As we continue to immerse ourselves in technology and live ever more “on the grid,” we are simultaneously digging in our heels, nostalgic for days when our lives were more anonymous and less immediate. We are growing into our tech-connected selves, but we are also fraught with confusion about what lies ahead.

Heading into 2014, the evolution of our tortured love/hate relationship with technology is going to define and direct what we want and how we think.

Ann Mack, the director of trend spotting at New York City advertising agency JWT, has broken down our future trajectory into a list of 10 directions that we human beings are being moved — in some cases propelled, in others dragged — in 2014 and beyond.


1. Immersive experiences. We expect more of our entertainment. It has to touch all of our senses.

Example: Wireless audio system maker Sonos has set up installations in NYC and Los Angeles where color washes, lighting and animation coordinate with the music playing out of speakers.


2. Talk with pictures. We live in an increasingly visual world. With a personal camera, video camera and computer in our hands all day long every day, we Instagram our breakfast, Vine our walk to work, Tweet pictures of our friends at dinner and post pictures on Facebook of our living room redecoration.

Example: Online dating site Tinder gets 350 million swipes each day. There are no long-winded, oversharing profiles to fill out or read; users judge exclusively on photos.


3. Faster, faster, faster. We are in the midst of what Mack has called “the age of impatience.” Customers expect more, faster and more conveniently than ever before. And, we are growing increasingly impulsive.

Example: EBay Now will deliver anything you want from a local merchant in roughly an hour for $5.


4. Mobile technology as a ticket to opportunity. Having a phone now means that you are connected. Increasingly, mobile technology — even the simple SMS text message — is being leveraged to bring access to health care, education, and finance to people in developing nations.

Example: A partnership between Vodafone and Turkey’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture allows farmers to receive updates on the weather, government regulations and the market price of goods.


5. Computers reading our minds. Emotion-recognition software and brain-computer interfacing means the technology around you is able to register your mood. (So while you make be faking a smile, your smartphone might know better.)

Example: Food and beverage company Nestle tracked students brainwaves in a “brain booth” while they were eating a Kit Kat bar and then with that data, created an illustration, unique to each person.


6. You really can’t hide, ever. If you have a mobile device with you, then companies and governments can probably find you. And most people are pretty creeped out by this. (But not creeped out enough to put down their smartphones, of course.)

Example: Tesco gas stations in the U.K. have monitors that analyze the gender and age of the people standing in front of them and show ads based on the results. The monitoring system also knows how long a consumer has looked at a particular ad.


7. We kind of all hate the technology we worship. In an effort convince ourselves that we have not literally crawled inside our own computers and that we do really still maintain interpersonal relationships with things other than our smartphones, there is an increasing preference for things that are human and “off the grid.”

Example: Musicians such as She & Him, Jack White, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Prince have asked their audiences to keep their smartphones tucked away during concerts so they aren’t looking out onto a sea of iPhone screens.


8. No tradition is too sacred to be smushed up and remastered. Long-standing rituals are going in the blender and coming out the other side with new, redefined social norms.

Example: We are spending less time bent over prayer books in pews, but in the U.S. and U.K., secular “godless congregations” are seeking to bring people together for many of the community benefits and ritualistic gatherings associated with Sunday churchgoing.


9. Perfection is overdone. As technology makes our daily lives more precise, curated and busy, we lust for the imperfect, the slightly off-kilter, the quirky, the human essence in experiences and objects.

Example: An Austrian grocery store chain called Billa launched a line of slightly imperfect fruits and vegetables that it called “Wunderlinge.” The word itself is a combination of the word for “anomaly” and the word for “miracle.”


10. We all just want to be zen. As we get busier and busier and busier, and our smartphones — and therefore our connectivity to the world — follows us from the office to the car to the train to the home and back again, we all are looking for how to stay calm. Living in the moment isn’t just for the yoga studio anymore.

Example: Virgin Atlantic had meditation gurus develop videos to stream on its flights teaching consumers how to sleep and stay calm when they are bored.


Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230202#ixzz2mx35c1wX

***For Immediate Release***


(Atlanta GA – August 20, 2013) In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the families of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin will unite to present a monumental event entitled “Ambassadors of Peace: Civil Rights, Human Wrongs and the Charge for Youth Leadership” featuring a special screening of The Untold Story of Emmett Till (revised to include footage of the tragedy of Trayvon Martin) and a solution-powered panel with special guests and moderated by MSNBC’s Toure.

This event will take place at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church (1500 Ninth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001) on Friday, August 23, 2013 at 5:00pm EST.

Special guests and panelists include, Simeon Wright (Eyewitness/Cousin of Emmett Till), Sybrina/Jahvaris Fulton and Tracy Martin (Family of Trayvon Martin), Kevin Powell (BK Nation), Rev. Al Sharpton (National Action Network), Victoria Pannell (Emmett Till Youth Ambassador of Peace), and Filmmaker/Investigation Discovery Network’s Keith Beauchamp.

“The Till family is uniting with the Martin family to illustrate unity of our voices on issues that affect our youth. The March on Washington also has a significant meaning to our family as it marks the 58th Anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder”, says Airickca Gordon-Taylor.

Panelists will discuss the many comparisons of the Till/Martin cases and the impact on the quality of life for young people; reversal of existing laws and need for establishment of new laws which support and protect civil and human rights; and other issues sparking youth interest and mobility.

The evening will close with a charge to young people to become Ambassadors of Peace with a common goal of promoting a harmonious environment through peer mediation, leadership and reconciliation to overcome and prevent the perpetuation of violence.

Also, on this commemorative occasion, the Martin family will recognize the mobilization and peaceful efforts of young people around the country.

This is a free event, however, pre-registration is requested and appreciated. To register click HERE or call 585.687.8455.

For more information on the Mamie Till Mobley Foundation – http://www.mamietillmobleyfoundation.org

For more information on the Trayvon Martin Foundation – http://www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org

For media access, please contact Kimberly Wilson at wishcreativemedia@gmail.com or 404.484.5538. Image

Happy Birthday Emmett Till!

Today is my birthday…and I am lucky to share this occasion with Civil Rights Icon – Emmett Till.


I have been blessed to work on behalf of the Mamie Till Mobley Foundation this year and ask that you all keep the importance of Emmett’s story alive….

via @thegrio

Emmett Till would have been 72 years old today

Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:57 Share

Today marks what would have been the 72nd birthday of Emmett Till, the African-American boy whose tragic death became a landmark moment in the history of racial tensions in America.

Till’s murder in 1965 was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement and his story received considerable national attention for decades to come.

Till, who was born on July 25, 1941, was 14-years-old when he was lynched in Mississippi after allegedly flirting with a white woman. He had traveled from his hometown of Chicago to visit his relatives in the South when two white men arrived at his family’s home and dragged him out at gunpoint.

His death was the result of numerous violent acts that followed. He was beaten, shot and an eye, an ear and most of his teeth were gouged out before his body was thrown into the Tallahatchie River, weighed down by a 70-pound cotton gin.

Hundreds attended the open casket funeral, which was a decision made by Till’s mother who hoped to bring more attention to her son’s death by displaying his mutilated body and the brutal crimes committed against him.

Two of Till’s abductors, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were tried in court and were ultimately acquitted of kidnapping and murder – although they later admitted to the crimes in a magazine interview.

Witness to Till crime recently passes away

One of the witnesses to the kidnapping was Willie Louis, a black man who heard Till’s screams from inside a Mississippi barn. Louis passed away on July 18th and hisdeath was announced on Wednesday.

For years, Louis told no one of his encounter with Till – it was not until 2004 that he revealed during a 60 Minutes interview that he “heard his screaming and beating.”

Louis did not testify in the trial for fear of his safety and shortly after Bryant and Milam’s acquittal, he was smuggled out of Mississippi and went to Chicago. Upon moving, he was placed under police protection and changed his last name. He was formerly known as Willie Reed.

Till’s murder was, and still is, a key event in black history that reflected the violence crimes perpetrated against blacks during the mid-20th century.

Now, more than 50 years later, many see similarities between Till’s story and the case of Trayvon Martin – another teen who was shot and killed by a non-black man, George Zimmeran.

After a weeks-long trial, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the death of the 17-year-old Martin, which inspired a series of nationwide protests.

Emmett Till vs. Trayvon Martin

Both cases are a clear reflection of the race relations in America and a defining moment for their time. While the details of Till’s and Martin’s case remain unsettling to some, it has undoubtedly weighed the heaviest on the hearts of their parents.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton – Martin’s parents – were present every day of the Zimmerman trial and have expressed their frustration and disappointment in the aftermath of the verdict.

Now, they remain as the central figures in a case that has become a rallying cry for activists across the nation.

As for Till’s mother, Mamie Till, her struggles in moving past her son’s death ended once she passed away in 2003 from heart failure. However, during her lifetime she made great effort to bring national awareness to the racial prejudice that resulted in her son’s death.

She once said, “People really didn’t know that things this horrible could take place. And the fact that it happened to a child, that makes all the difference in the world.”

Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works