futuremusicpast

[ Tuesday, June 20, 2006 ]

 

He said It, I Did'nt......
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Why Aren't The Weakend Signed?

In my daily troll of the digital rockosphere, I noticed this post at Absolutepunk. A user posed the question "why a band this good doesn't get signed?" This is my attempt to answer.

First, the criteria is different for music listeners and labels. While I've purchased quite a few recordings based on just hearing someone's music, I've personally signed only one band from a demo. The basic difference is this... buying a record costs about ten bucks. Indulging an impulse doesn't really hurt.

Signing bands requires a pretty significant investment. That investment needs to come back so the label can record more records. In the days where "bigness" is king and the chain stores rule the retail roost, getting something heard costs alot more money than it used to.

Here's a short list of criteria I ask myself when it comes to rock bands:

Do they have good music? Yes. It's the first question but not the last. This is often followed by "will enough other people think so too?"

Can they cut it live? Nothing worse than pieces of wood who can't play on the stage.

Is the frontperson charismatic? I'm not talking incredibly handsome or sexy. It's that eye-magnet quality that makes people want to watch.

What's the work ethic? If the band hasn't played any out of state shows before putting out a record, there's a huge signal that they're going to do more of the same. Waiting for a label to come in on their white horse and save the day with tour support before you hit the road is bad news. Get a van. Book and play some shows. It's an investment in making your band and if you can't do it, why should someone else?

Are they in it for the right reasons? Third rate rockstars looking to "make it" before they hit their mid-20's are trouble. Those who don't couple their hunger to play Madison Square Garden with a genuine love for the lifestyle are going to wind up angry and embittered. If you don't find joy in sleeping in shitty kids houses, waking up with another unwashed band member spooning you, living on $5 a day, or driving all night to a gig with 10 attendees, then stay the fuck home and get a job.
Do they have a business infrastructure? Can the band get to shows on time? Many small indies play manager and even booking agent for alot of their bands. In reality, having to do that detracts from the labels core mission of trying to convince Transworld to bring in more records to support a few Warped Tour dates.

Do they make friends easily? Wallflowers don't really cut it. You gotta be in the mix to create relationships with other bands. Many big tours that "break" smaller acts happen becuase of friendships between bands not some back room powerplay.
Anyone have additions to this list?

1 Comments:

Nice. I like #5.. I really dont think that many bands realize that they wont suddenly be filming episodes of cribs, and showing off their sweet tour bus the instant they get a deal. Bands that have already proven that they are good (and even like!) the realities of it will do wonderfully compared to the oth

Jim [11:46 AM]

 

Mo Ostin May Rejoin Warner Bros. Records

Universally respected music executive Mo Ostin may be returning to Warner Brothers Records in a consulting capacity according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ostin whose 30 year career began as an accountant and confident for Frank Sinatra and his Reprise Records imprint went on to head all of Warner Music and later the DreamWorks Record label until it's purchase by Universal in 2004.

It is unclear what role Ostin who is now 79 might play, but he would be re-joining a group of famous executives that still have strong connections with the company including Ahmet Ertegun who serves as founding chairman of Atlantic Records, Seymour Stein who is CEO of Sire Records, and Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman who heads WMG's online label Cordless.

While all of these execs from the company's glory days and particularly Ostin had unquestionably brilliant careers and added much to the industry, speculation is that their presence is primarily ceremonial and serves as effective window dressing for Wall Street investors.
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Don't worry I don't think Mo is gonne be cruisin around to clubs in your neighborhood looking for the next Frank, or Aretha, or signing anybody for that matter!

Jim [11:36 AM]

 

A & R man John Kalodner retires

While at Geffen, Kalodner is credited with reviving Aerosmith. Among the many other acts he worked with are Genesis, Phil Collins, Yes, AC/DC, Santana, Cher, Bon Jovi, XTC, Shawn Colvin, Peter Gabriel, Whitesnake and countless others.

Kalodner told Billboard.biz that he has no immediate future plans. “I didn’t want to announce the formation of a management company or a publishing company, just that I want to retire from the business I loved.” - From CelebrityAccess MediaWire
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you think your music is as good as these artists, or your influenced by them and it would take a guy who thinks they're great and discovered them to "get" your music,those ears are now gone.

Jim [11:13 AM]

[ Monday, June 19, 2006 ]

 

The Digital A&R Man
Posted Jun 19th 2006 11:46AM by Grant Robertson

Can computers play A&R man, deciding what is and isn't a single? We may be closer to a digitally selected future than you thought.

Computer software devised in conjunction with Platinum Blue Music Intelligence claims to do just that. You'll have to find the artist, and then get them to sign a contract that tilts in your favor, but beyond that it's all math.

The program analyzes 30 criteria including melody, beat, tempo, chord progression and cadence, and cross-refers them to a database of three million songs. It spots mathematical similarities even though songs might not sound the same or even be from the same genre. The developers claim the software can identify a potential Top 30 hit within 20 seconds and has an accuracy rate of at least 80 per cent.

The technology has already generated at least one hit single for Sony BMG and been used by a string of other major labels, including EMI, Capitol Records, Universal Music Group and Disney's Hollywood Records.

Is this the music future you wanted? Or is it just a new-fangled device to help decide where to throw the payola money?

[Source: The Sunday Times, London]

Jim [1:04 PM]

 

The labels have settled thier payols lawsuits, paying millions in fines.(Wonder why theyre not making money and why bands are leaving?)


Spitzer's documents portray a culture at EMI in which pay for play included expensive trips and $30 video games. Some employees' attempts to mask alleged wrongdoing were more successful than others, the documents reveal.

"Grand Theft Auto Vice City. Can you hook me up?" read one e-mail from a radio programmer to a Virgin Records promotion executive, referring to a popular video game.

In another instance, an independent promoter discussed with a Virgin executive how best to hide a $400 cash payment that EMI had made to KSRH-FM in Northern California for airplay of songs by the band Gomez.

"What do you need the $400 invoice to say?" the promoter asked in an e-mail. "How 'bout $400 website promotion?" the Virgin executive replied, adding in another e-mail: "I meant as long as they have a website, in case somebody checked."

Other documents make it clear that pay for play did not always come that cheap. One e-mail lists $76,000 spent over 15 weeks with various stations and independent promoters. Another e-mail said that, to promote the song "Never" by Amanda Perez, $220,000 was allocated to the independent promoters that Spitzer alleged fulfilled pay-for-play scams...

Jim [12:37 PM]

[ Sunday, June 11, 2006 ]

 

HOW THE MAJORS CAN SCREW UP MUSIC DOWNLOADS,BUT INDIES CAN MAKE IT WORK...

Three years ago, eMusic was owned by major music player Vivendi Universal. Despitethe
presence of a large corporate parent, the site was in trouble. As Pakman puts it,the
business model was "broken." That's because eMusic was offering unlimited downloads to users
who paid the monthly subscription fee, but each download cost the company 8¢ in mechanical
rights fees.
You can do the math—anyone who downloaded more than 125 tracks was actually
costing the company money.
Plenty of people were downloading more than 125 tracks amonth.
On a fat broadband connection, this was not difficult to do.

(Universal sold the company, since it wasnt profitable!!)

Dimensional Associates bought it.
They rebuilt the entire front and back ends of
the website to make the appearance more professional and to produce an analytics driven
business that could easily figure out what changes resonate with customers and what do not.
They rebuilt the management team to better focus on niche marketing. And—crucially—they
capped subscriptions (currently US$9.99/month for 40 downloads, US$14.99/month for 65
downloads, and US$19.99/month for 90 downloads).
The new site was relaunched in September 2004. In addition to its new look and new pricing
structure, eMusic developed tools to make it simple for users to discover new music. Some
were obvious, like the decision to license metadata from the All Music Guide, or the
incorporation of a browsing engine that lets users easily drill down into increasingly
precise categories.
One surprising move, however, was to hire several distinguished music critics to serve as
"curators" for the site. These included people like Michael Azerrad, a former Rolling Stone editor and authority on indie rock; Justin Davidson, a Pulitzer-prize winning critic; and
Kevin Whitehead, NPR's jazz critic.

it's clear that its subscription model is working. In the 18 months since
the relaunch, the company has clawed its way to the #2 position among digital download
services
(this does not include streaming music). Pakman claims that eMusic has 12 percent
of the market compared to Apple's 61 percent, and that his company has now sold more than 60
million songs.
Since eMusic does not sell individual downloads but only monthly
subscriptions, its members download a lot of music when compared to iTunes, for instance. As
Pakman puts it, "An iTunes customer downloads one song a month, on average; an eMusic
customer downloads 20 songs a month
, on average."
The majors are terrified of piracy and so
insist on strict DRM controls to safeguard their music. The indie labels that eMusic works
with generally don't have that fear. "The indies have always viewed the world differently,"
says Pakman. "You know, the indies struggle for attention, for customers, so the notion of
someone actually digging a track and e-mailing it to 10 of their best friends—doing
self-promotion—that's music to the ears of the indie record labels. Whereas an RIAA member
says, 'We've got to sue that guy.'"

Jim [11:39 AM]

 

RIAA Sues Family Without A Computer

By Newsferatu, Writer
Sunday, April 23, 2006 @ 8:38 PM

No Internet Service, Either

From the Rockmart Journal:

A Rockmart, GA family is being sued for illegal music file sharing, despite the fact that they don’t even own a computer.

A federal lawsuit filed this week in Rome by the Recording Industry Association of America alleges that Carma Walls, of 117 Morgan St., Rockmart, has infringed on copyrights for recorded music by sharing files over the Internet. The lawsuit seeks an injunction and requests unspecified monetary damages.

The lawsuit states, “Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Defendant, without the permission or consent of Plaintiffs, has used, and continues to use, an online media distribution system to download the copyrighted recordings, to distribute the copyrighted recordings to the public, and/or to make the copyrighted recordings available for distribution to others.”

This came as shocking news to the Walls family, who were notified of the lawsuit Friday afternoon by a newspaper reporter. James Walls, speaking on behalf of his wife and family, said they have not been served with legal papers and were unaware of the lawsuit.

After being shown a copy of the court filing, Walls said he found the whole thing bewildering.

“I don’t understand this,” Walls said. “How can they sue us when we don’t even have a computer?”

Walls also noted that his family has only resided at their current address “for less than a year.” He wondered if a prior tenant of the home had Internet access, then moved, leaving his family to be targeted instead.

However, the RIAA’s lawsuit maintains that Carma Walls, through the use of a file-sharing program, has infringed on the copyrights for the following songs: “Who Will Save Your Soul,” Jewel; “Far Behind,” Candlebox; “Still the Same,” Bob Seger; “I Won’t Forget You,” Poison; “Open Arms,” Journey; “Unpretty,” TLC; No Scrubs,” TLC; and “Saving All My Love for You,” Whitney Houston.

Jim [11:38 AM]

[ Saturday, June 10, 2006 ]

 

Nettwerk Mgt's McBride Encouraging His Acts To Go D.I.Y.

Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride has advised his

company’s clients to take note of the indies and the DIY-scene, telling the major stars they

no longer need to sign with a record label.

McBride feels the benefits for today’s artists of keeping control over their musical output

far outweighs those of being signed to a label. “We’re focused on setting up our artists as

their own record label,”
the Vancouver-based McBride told Billboard. “I’m advocating for

artists we manage not to sign- or re-sign-with a label unless it’s a

pressing-and-distribution deal to work back catalog with new projects.”

Nettwerk Management’s 42-act roster includes stars like Avril Lavigne and Dido, who are both

signed to Sony BMG, as well as several lesser-known acts. The company also operates a label,

Nettwerk Productions, and a publishing company.

McBride told the magazine that within three years, “probably 80%” of releases from his

management clients will be through their own labels.

During the past three years, Nettwerk has set up an infrastructure across North America to

support projects of its management clients, including marketing teams spread across offices

in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Nashville, Boston and New York. McBride plans to open a marketing

office in Europe, to work with Nettwerk Management’s London and Hamburg offices.

Billboard’s Larry LeBlanc reports that Nettwerk’s first test of their plan came in 2004 with

the Barenaked Ladies’ release “Barenaked for the Holidays” on their own Desperation Records,

distributed in North America by Warner Music.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold over 350,000 units in North America.

McBride claims the band, formerly a Warner Music act, earned more than $3 million in

royalties from the album, which is more than any of the group’s other releases
, except its

1998 career best seller “Stunt,” on Reprise Records.

“We’re pleased with the money per unit we made, [compared] to being within the traditional

label system,” Barenaked Ladies vocalist Steven Page told the magazine. “It’s like selling a

million records.”



The Internet offers artists access to ancillary revenue, McBride told the magazine, through

selling exclusive downloads and streaming audio and videos. However, he laments that the

music industry is still “locked into a per-unit mentality.”

According to McBride,” We should be locked into a per-dollar mentality – how much income we

can create from downloads, streaming, TV placements, movie placements, selling physical

discs [and] selling the live and acoustic versions

Jim [3:37 PM]

[ Friday, June 09, 2006 ]

 

Billy Bragg Pulls MySpace Content, Cites User Agreement

British musician Billy Bragg has just pulled his music from MySpace, citing problematic

ownership guidelines. While going through the terms and conditions, Bragg discovered that

MySpace owner News Corp. has the right to reuse his compositions without securing special

agreements or making payments. "The real problem is the fact that they can sub-license [the

music] to any company they want and keep the royalties themselves without paying the artist

a penny,” said Bragg.


MySpace responded by admitting that the terms and conditions are confusing, but

denied any intent to encroach on artist rights. The company also said it will revise the

document to remove any ambiguities.


MySpace is one of the premiere web destinations for music discovery, and that has helped

up-and-coming bands build fanbases and garner attention. Still, the Bragg protest could

cause some negative publicity in the very rights-sensitive digital domain. Meanwhile,

the quick response from MySpace to diffuse the situation shows a savvy understanding

of the digital landscape
,

where even the perception of wrongdoing can spark a backlash.

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Ok people, no chicken littles, please!Every 6 months in the music community some legal

wanna-be starts reading paragraphs and getting paranoid about OWNERSHIP of rights.Every

Magazine,website,label,manager,publicist,photographer,etc. has to have the RIGHT to promote

you.Thats what you want them to do.MySpace has broken tons of artists, major label ones,

too.Don't you think if they were going to steal all your stuff, theyd be putting out the

Coldplay album and selling it? THINK ABOUT IT!! Nobody is trying to steal all the music in

the world.First of all Myspace has made Billions selling the site to Fox News Corp without

ever stealing anyones music! They make money from ADVERTISING not stealing your bands

music.Dont forget they are a free medium who exists to promote your music and help you reach

fans at the click of a mouse.Don't be an idiot like this Billy Bragg who obviously needs

cheap publicity for 1 minute, which just like Janet's nipple will not result in him selling

1 more cd.The top 2 money making ventures in music are Myspace which sold ADVERTISING to Fox

News Corp, and American Idol which sells Advertising to FOX TELEVISION.Don't be

confused.Just use the free advertising of your band to the same 50 million market that Fox

paid billions for for free.

Jim [3:02 PM]

 

Billy Bragg Pulls MySpace Content, Cites User Agreement

British musician Billy Bragg has just pulled his music from MySpace, citing problematic

ownership guidelines. While going through the terms and conditions, Bragg discovered that

MySpace owner News Corp. has the right to reuse his compositions without securing special

agreements or making payments. "The real problem is the fact that they can sub-license [the

music] to any company they want and keep the royalties themselves without paying the artist

a penny,” said Bragg.


MySpace responded by admitting that the terms and conditions are confusing, but

denied any intent to encroach on artist rights. The company also said it will revise the

document to remove any ambiguities.


MySpace is one of the premiere web destinations for music discovery, and that has helped

up-and-coming bands build fanbases and garner attention. Still, the Bragg protest could

cause some negative publicity in the very rights-sensitive digital domain. Meanwhile,

the quick response from MySpace to diffuse the situation shows a savvy understanding

of the digital landscape
,

where even the perception of wrongdoing can spark a backlash.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ok people, no chicken littles, please!Every 6 months in the music community some legal

wanna-be starts reading paragraphs and getting paranoid about OWNERSHIP of rights.Every

Magazine,website,label,manager,publicist,photographer,etc. has to have the RIGHT to promote

you.Thats what you want them to do.MySpace has broken tons of artists, major label ones,

too.Don't you think if they were going to steal all your stuff, theyd be putting out the

Coldplay album and selling it? THINK ABOUT IT!! Nobody is trying to steal all the music in

the world.First of all Myspace has made Billions selling the site to Fox News Corp without

ever stealing anyones music! They make money from ADVERTISING not stealing your bands

music.Dont forget they are a free medium who exists to promote your music and help you reach

fans at the click of a mouse.Don't be an idiot like this Billy Bragg who obviously needs

cheap publicity for 1 minute, which just like Janet's nipple will not result in him selling

1 more cd.The top 2 money making ventures in music are Myspace which sold ADVERTISING to Fox

News Corp, and American Idol which sells Advertising to FOX TELEVISION.Don't be

confused.Just use the free advertising of your band to the same 50 million market that Fox

paid billions for for free.

Jim [3:00 PM]

 

Testimony of Todd Rundgren

Hearing on
“Parity, Platforms and Protection: The Future of the Music Industry in
the Digital Radio Revolution”
Before the U.S. Senate

Committee on the Judiciary

April 26, 2006

Chairman Specter, Senator Leahy and members of the Committee:
My name is Todd Rundgren, I am 58, and I am a professional musician. I
have also been employed as a record producer, composer for film and television,
technology spokesman and computer programmer. I am the designer and
developer of PatroNet, an internet-based subscription service that allows
audiences to provide direct underwriting of artists in exchange for insider
information, direct communication, discounted merchandise and first-look
experiences of the artists’ work, all within a community structure.
This is my 40th year as a musician, and 18th year as an independent. I
left Warner Brothers in 1998 with the conviction that the major labels were
unprepared for, and were indeed hostile to the inevitable changes that digital
technology would effect in the way that music would be created, marketed and
experienced.
I wasn't so prescient that I foresaw the rise of the internet, but I
was convinced that I would be hindered in any attempt to use new
developments to alter the ground rules.
2
One of the first cutting edge projects I was involved in concerned digital
rights management, a concept that did not yet exist. I was hired by, ironically
enough, the Warner Full Service Network, an interactive television pilot project
that sought to merge video, computers and high-bandwidth home delivery. The
plan was to create on-demand music services that could be navigated on one's
home TV -- kind of like an iTunes for the early ‘90s.
When it came time to plug the music in, everything I had suspected about
the savvyness of the industry was crystallized. To a label, every one of the
majors refused to consider the possibility of putting music they controlled onto a
server.
Ironically, even the music division of Warner Brothers would not
cooperate, even though this was only a demonstration project.
Ever since then, the behavior of the majors has been that of a mindless
parasite, contributing nothing, yet trying to get it's snout into the bloodstream of
any new development. The knee-jerk justification is “protection of artists”, which
would more accurately be represented as the interests of highly bankable artists
still under contract. For every one of those, there are a hundred with a lifelong
bad taste in their mouths over the way they were treated when sales began to
lag.

I have striven to tie together the “replacement parts” an independent
musician would need to build enough audience for a sustainable living. Amongst
these is, of course, the internet and a raft of contractors who can press and
distribute discs for you and, if you can afford it, take on the promotion and
3
marketing normally provided by a label. The only problem is getting heard.
Terrestrial radio, especially of the syndicated flavor, is not available to most
artists even if they do have a traditional label deal.

I am opposed to any measures that would insinuate the major labels into
an area that they have failed to husband, and to capitalize off of artists they
have abandoned or never had any interest in.

The myth that you could survive
very long on record company advances has long been debunked. Players need to
play to get paid and need audiences to play to. All the majors have ever done is
try to claim the audience as theirs alone
,

and to lower expectations by exposing
them only to the generally substandard product the majors begrudgingly
underwrite.
Worse yet, across the board fee structures like those proposed discourage
the exposure of new talent in deference to audience favorites as broadcasters try
to recover those fees. And worst of all, syndicated radio, the majors partner in
neglect, does not deserve exemption for the abysmal quality of product they
deliver. The fantasy that this type of legislation helps music or musicians should
be summarily exposed for what it is: yet another futile attempt to turn back the
clock to the days when they were the sole gatekeepers to an artist’s future.
Thank you for inviting me here to testify today. I would be pleased to
respond to your questions.

Jim [2:09 PM]

 

COMMENTARY: AN ARTIST'S VIEW: NEW MEDIA IS NOT THE ISSUE

BY TODD RUNDGREN


Recording artist, producer and Web site developer Todd Rundgren recently testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on digital radio and the future of the music industry. Here he reflects on his experience at the hearing.

There are likely a few more credible witnesses the [music] industry could have sent to the table to defend the status quo, but how it came to be the very least credible witness is probably testament to the credibility of their argument.

Edgar Bronfman is a liquor magnate who took a flier on Warner Music when it appeared ready to collapse and startled everyone when he propped up the brand with his own (?) money.

Because he cared about the music. Did anyone fall for this?

I sat at a table with this man as he defended the rights of labels and their associated artists while simultaneously negotiating his reward for killing off another distinct brand and its legacy. Many industry giants would be spinning in their graves if they were not still alive and somehow mute with respect to the unbearable irony.

I spent most of my recorded life on a Warner label or subsidiary, and felt comfortable in the presence of Mo, Michael, Lenny, Ahmet, Jerry, et al. because I believed they approached me with respect. Ed probably has no idea what my contribution to the WB cache, however minute, might ultimately be, because by the time he ever reads this he will probably have unloaded the label.

Though my Senate testimony was sponsored by XM Satellite Radio, I did not and do not speak for them.

The issues that I and my peers will face have more to do with the cynical avarice of the witness for the RIAA than with the "dangers" of the new mediums and technologies they so fear and misunderstand.

And since immigration has moved every other issue to the back burner (placing new law out of reach), the industry resorts with the desperation of a late night cable-addicted invalid to the lawyer glut.

It's a horse race to see who can be the last to get monetary satisfaction. Meanwhile, the star witness for the plaintiff is third for takeoff in a private jet to a ski holiday in Gdansk. With a full iPod.



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Jim [1:54 PM]

[ Tuesday, June 06, 2006 ]

 

COPYRIGHT FEES GOING UP!

While there are certainly places on the net that will gladly copyright your music for $200.00 the actual price charged by the Govt office of Copyright is $35.00 It has been for a long time, but apparently more people are copyrighting songs so the new price effective July 2006 will be $45.00 We have posted many times about scams so we want to make sure you know this is a legitimate increase.Unless Congress votes it down, this is the new price!

Jim [2:54 PM]

[ Saturday, June 03, 2006 ]

 

Here's a little tip for all of you.I received absolutely the best A&R letter in a MySpace message from an artist which made me go check out the website.They were very polite, short, to the point, simply asking me to check out the website.Now, for one thing the website was really good at doing what its supposed to do, make you stay and check out everything!In addition it was kind of a unique format that you don't see everyday.It was short and to the point,but made you check out each thing the artist had done in thier career.(Granted this artist has done a lot) Each page was contained on the main page, and each page showed you music,video,pics and press for almost each year of the artists career.So I not only checked out the site, I felt compelled to write back and comment on how good the site was! Now for one thing this shows you that when your site is NOT good, people will not write back and tell you! The only criticism I had was one simple little thing, but you can all take a clue from it.The new song demos were up, so of course I checked them out.Good songs too!As I'm listening, all of a sudden the song gets to the first chorus, so Im really listening with all ears and its a great Title and hook, and the TRACK FADES OUT!Hmmmmmm.Now I know a lot of you don't want anyone stealing your music.I know.And that's a rant for another day in which I will explain to you that anyone who is capable of hearing your song once and completely reproducing it in a studio is capable of writing their own music and has an ego and would never be caught dead using yours!(There are notable exceptions and we will go through those !) But music people, A & R,Publishers,Producers, managers, etc have a saying about listening
to new songs..."Don't Bore Us, Get To The CHORUS!" If youre going to fade your song out so no one can download it, at least do it after your hopefully wonderful CHORUS has finished playing! If youre going to go to all the trouble to write it, record it, put it on the web, at least let us get "hooked" by it!

Jim [2:24 PM]

[ Friday, June 02, 2006 ]

 

SANDI THOM: The Girl who was signed on the Internet...

"Since Thom's story first appeared in the Sunday Times in March, an army of bloggers have chipped away at press claims that she was a penniless, desperate singer who turned to the internet after her car broke down on the way back from yet another sparsely attended gig.
They pointed to her publishing deal with Windswept Pacific Music (home of Beyonce Knowles), her collaborations with well-known songwriters, her professionally produced website and the track record of her manager Ian Brown in promoting a number of other unlikely success stories. They also reproduced statistics from web tracking services such as Technorati showing there was little interest in her website until the first stories appeared in the London Evening Standard and the Sunday Times."

The Times Online is keeping the Thom story visible as the artist heads for the top of the British charts. It looks like Thom's PR agency is cooking the books:

"The Times has discovered that Thom’s PR agency offered thousands of fans free copies of her album in return for their sending messages encouraging people to listen to the single through the social networking website, MySpace.com, which is owned by News International, parent company of The Times.
Fans admitted buying multiple copies of the single, as iTunes downloads and CDs, all of which counted to the song’s 32,720 chart sales last week."
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If you got signed to a Major label and only sold 32,000 copies they would drop you in a heartbeat.First of all, you should be able to sell 30,000 on your own in order to attract a major label, who should then be able to promote you to the point of selling at least 300,000 otherwise why would you sign? Remember they will own your music.She will get a very small percentage of her 30,000 sales.On her own she would get a much bigger piece of that pie, and you would need a bigger slice, since youre only selling 30,000.

Jim [11:55 AM]

 

Sanctuary dismisses founder
Andy Taylor


Bob Ayling to take over......


In 1998 BA announced the establishment of a low cost carrier, Go Fly. Another key policy of

Ayling's time as CEO was the pursuit of a merger with American Airlines. This was ultimately

unsuccessful due to the conditions placed on the deal by regulatory authorities, the most

painful of which was the sacrificing of landing slots at Heathrow.

In 1999 British Airways reported a 50% slump in profits, its worst since privitisation. In

March 2000 Bob Ayling was removed from his position. British Airways announced Rod Eddington

as his successor in May.

On May 23 2000 Ayling was force to resign from the New Millennium Experience Company, the

company which ran the Millennium Dome. The Millennium Commission demanded the resignation in

return for continued investment, because it was concerned that the existing management had a

poor history of controlling costs.

Jim [11:53 AM]

[ Wednesday, May 03, 2006 ]

 

Would Major Labels get pulled from iTunes?



After months of rhetoric, the majors are now walking away empty-handed from their renegotiations with Apple. A 99-cent, uniform price point will prevail - not just on the iTunes Music Store, but also on other stores like Napster, who take their pricing cues from Apple. So what happened? The result is actually not that surprising, especially considering the power dynamics at hand. Apple held all of the cards in this one, both in terms of the underlying business fundamentals and the pre-game press battle. But now that the negotiation round is over, labels can shift their resources to more lucrative digital growth areas.



Bluffing is one thing, but actual negotiating power is another. And in the end, Apple had the power to resist virtually any demand that the labels were making. Forget about diplomacy, that was never really part of this process. Actually, the opposite of diplomacy – an ego battle – was a stronger component in the negotiation. Blame it on the labels, who started talking tough in the media in a botched attempt to squeeze Jobs. Or blame Steve Jobs himself, who has been non-conciliatory and absolutely uninterested in getting muscled. Either way, the result was a hard-line stance from Apple, and a total flinch by the majors.


Looking through the business lens of Apple, any other result would be foolish. Apple is ultra-protective of its consumer, and that approach has resulted in rich dividends. The major labels, on the other hand, have a highly contentious and acrimonious relationship with many music fans and artists. Sure, generalizations can be dangerous, though the characterizations are not too far off. And why would Apple want to take cues from the labels, who have alienated a large number of buyers while stumbling in the digital transition? Jobs feels strongly that a uniform price point is the path towards customer satisfaction, and nothing is going to disrupt the sacred iPod+iTunes cow. Certainly not the labels, especially following waves of consumer adulation and affirmation for the Apple digital strategy.



In fact, it seems that Jobs would rather remove the entire major label catalog than play ball with a variable pricing plan. Why? From a business perspective, dropping major label content would have little effect on the bottom line, and Jobs would protect his vision of simplicity and elegance. Most fans rip their CDs, or file-share, and few are relying on Apple as their sole source of music content. But beyond that, Jobs easily massaged the press to get an upper hand, deftly using the baggage that already surrounds major labels. If majors pulled their catalog, Jobs could simply blame the “greedy labels” once again, and focus his store on up-and-coming, independent content. Major label artists would probably defect to gain positioning, as they did in Japan, and the well-imaged Apple music revolution would continue.

Jim [12:17 PM]

 

Digital music formats are gaining steam every day, but are artists getting a fair piece of the action? A recent class action lawsuit involving Cheap Trick, The Allman Brothers, and Sony BMG has placed the issue front-and-center, and more executives are now discussing the matter. Grabbing headlines is the all-powerful, 99-cent price point on stores like Apple, but that is less important for artists. "The way the deals are made, so far, the artist is getting about 2.5 cents [on a 99-cent download]," said top manager Bill Leopold, speaking at a Musexpo symposium in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Another executive concurred, pointing to payouts of "less than a nickel".
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Major lables just dont get the digital download revolution.Most new business model Indie Labels (certainly ours, PBJ Records)split the revenue with the artist giving them an equal share in the profits 50-50, rather than 2.5 cents per .99 download.

Jim [12:04 PM]

[ Monday, May 01, 2006 ]

 

Allman Brothers, Cheap Trick v. Sony BMG: More Details

Recent legal actions against Sony BMG by both the Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick have stirred the waters over digital royalties, accounting, and price points. Digging deeper into the class action complaint, filed with the United States District Court in Manhattan on April 27th, some highly questionable accounting practices are alleged. As reported earlier, the defendants claim that sales of 1,000 paid downloads (at a 99-cent price point) yielded merely $45.05 in band revenues using deduction formulas inherited from physical goods. That includes a "net sales deduction" of 15 percent, a "container charge" of 20 percent, an "audiophile deduction" of 50 percent, as well as a royalty rate of 30 percent on the remainder. Wholesale payouts on digital downloads are listed at 70 cents within the action, of which publishers command approximately 6.9 cents.



The issue emanates from the structure of the original contracts for both groups. The Allman Brothers finalized their agreement in 1989, while the Cheap Trick contract was completed in 1976. Both pre-date the advent of digital sales, though the plaintiffs allege that payments should follow a formula based on licensing. After receiving a wholesale payout of 70 cents, and paying publishers, the plaintiffs offer a "correct" calculation of 50 percent of net licensing receipts. Using that formula, the resulting payout on 1,000 downloads is $315.50. Overall, the class action estimates total damages in the range of $25,000,000. Representing the defendants are Labaton Sucharow & Rudoff LLP, and Probstein & Weiner.

Jim [12:34 PM]

[ Friday, April 28, 2006 ]

 

Allman Brothers, Cheap Trick Challenge Sony BMG Accounting

The Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick have recently lodged class-action proceedings against Sony BMG, claiming that their digital royalties are simply too small. The action focuses on exactly how digital downloads are being counted, and both bands are alleging that Sony BMG is using antiquated royalty formulas derived from physical product sales. That includes deductions for product breakage and packaging charges, according to the plaintiffs. The contracts for both groups were finalized prior to the advent of digital formats, and have not been updated. Moving forward, the groups are pushing to have their digital sales categorized as a license, which would increase the royalty percentage substantially.



The problem is a significant one for older artists, many of whom have antiquated contracts. "Sony Music is presently engaged in a widespread attempt to underpay its recording artists," said attorney Brian Caplan said. "With the technological advancements in the music industry, where many people download songs to their iPods and other portable devices, it is essential that artists receive the royalty income to which they are entitled." The filing contends that the group currently earns $45.05 for every 1,000 songs downloaded, or 4.5 percent. The group is pushing to increase that compensation level to $315.50, a seven-fold increase. The lawsuit was announced on Thursday.

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Breakage clauses in old contracts have always been a problem, but with digital downloads, lets face it, theres no beakage!this is one of the things people really dont understand about how a bands contract is so much better in a download oriented label, because it eliminates all the little reasons to withold money.You get a bigger percentage, and theres no witholding.

Jim [1:15 PM]

[ Thursday, April 27, 2006 ]

 

Chatter Bubbles Again on EMI, Warner Music Merger Possibilities

Will EMI and Warner Music ever walk the aisle together? Veteran executives have seen chatter bubble repeatedly on the possibility, while European regulators have presented a roadblock in the past. Sparking the latest round of speculation, a recent report in the London-based Sunday Times pointed to "preliminary talks" that will "resume in earnest within months". Meanwhile, insiders have pointed to some more advanced preparations, and stock market activity could be reflecting the rumor. The merger would reduce the total number of major labels to just three

If the Majors are doing so good, why do they need to merge? There will eventually be only 1 major, and everyone else will be independent and use downloads!

Jim [1:17 PM]

 

April 24, 2006, 5:45 AM ET
U.S. Judge Orders Labels To Reveal Documents


A U.S. federal judge has ordered major record labels to turn over privileged documents after finding they may have used misleading information to convince the government to abandon a major antitrust probe.

The ruling late on Friday (April 21) from U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco came out of a dispute over which documents Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group and EMI Group Plc should be forced to release in a lengthy copyright battle over Bertelsmann's investment in music-swapping service Napster.

Prosecutors in 2001 began investigating whether music labels secretly worked together to use two joint ventures, MusicNet and Pressplay, to discourage digital downloading and protect CD sales by fixing digital music distribution terms.

During the investigation, the joint ventures and their record label parents each submitted a "white paper" to the DOJ summarizing their arguments. They also provided documents that included redacted, or blacked out, sections to remove privileged material.

The U.S. Justice Department abandoned the probe in December 2003, citing no evidence of wrongdoing.

Napster investor Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Bertelsmann's co-defendant in the lawsuit, charged that the arguments offered in the white papers were known to be false or misleading.

In the ruling, Patel said Hummer Winblad provided reasonable cause to believe that information in the white papers was "deliberately misleading."

Patel ordered UMG and EMI to turn over all previously held communications related to the antitrust investigation within 30 days of the order.

The parties could not immediately be reached for contact.

-- Reuters



This is pretty much the first time we have seen any evidence that the majors not only dont get digital downloading, but are actually trying to stop it, and covertly too!!

Jim [11:20 AM]

[ Saturday, April 22, 2006 ]

 

So SONY BMG supposed to have nerged but appaerently the Nashville branches have never played nice yet but now are starting to have to merge...all the Indie labels love being on iTunes since it puts us on equal footing with all the majors, but the majors dont like it and are pressuring Steve Jobs to raise the price of downloads for them!! (Go ahead boys...!)At CTIA the phone is the thing since most people feel it will be the frontier for music distribution... at PBJ we have our podcasts available on mobile phones thru Pod2Mob...of course we all heard about the girl getting signed in england by doing a webcast from her living room, she broadcasted 21 days straight then got signed.Nobody said though that she had been singing, writing, performing, for many years, had built up a fan base, also was a student at Pul McCartneys School for the Performng Arts, so she had paid dues, was hooked up and oh yeah, shes good.Now she started with her own fan base then generated 100,000 people tuning in.Now the music industry these days are all a bunch of bean counters (accountants)and they resond to numbers.This is why you need to be on Soundscan because they count (and publish) numbers.A lot of acts are getting signed these days by being able to demonstrate some type of numbers.this is why MySpace is so important and A & R person can look at your site and see how many people are tuning in.Believe me, if you have the numbers they will find you. So first you have to actually play out and tour to get some real fans, then make sure you are publishing those numbers,Myspace,Soundscan.

Jim [12:29 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 21, 2005 ]

 

MUSIC #1 SEARCH
Yahoo released information today on the top web seraches, and amazingly, as CD sales have fallen this year by 10%, all the top 10 searches on the web are for music!In fact music topped all searches except searches that excluded it completely (like sports)Especially digital downloads,which is bad for the Majors, but great for Indie labels and artists.This shows us that the "Long Tail" concept of internet marketing is working.When you go to Amazon,you see 'people who likes Britney Spears also liked Alanis Morrisette,people aho liked Alanis also liked (fill in more obscure artist)next it gets to your band and then people in other countires, or anywhere in the world might be finding out about your band.Our strength as a an indie label is to have distribution everywhere in the world, so that when these people find out about you on the web, your cd is available wherever they are.This new research by Yahoo proves that this concept is the wave of the future.This has all been a long time coming, but the numbers are starting to bear our predictions out.

Jim [7:53 AM]

[ Wednesday, November 23, 2005 ]

 

Well now we can say our distribution is pretty close to major!We are in the digital downloads and web stores and the databases for these stores and heres the rankings
(remember we spend no money on payola, attorneys, copy-protection lawsuits,mergers,stockholders,offices, jets,limos,or expensive champagnes! Ok, maybe on New Years Eve, but hey!)


ITunes Music Store Cracks Top 10 List Of Leading U.S. Music Retailers In Q3 2005


It was only a matter of time. According to The NPD Group, in the third quarter of 2005, Apple's iTunes Music Store broke into the top 10 list of leading music retailers, based on the equivalent number of units sold.*

In Q3, the top 10 retailers were as follows (note: numbers within parentheses denote retailer unit-sales position in Q3 2004):
1. Wal-Mart (1)
2. Best Buy (2)
3. Target (3)
4. Amazon.com (4)
5. FYE (10)
6. Circuit City (Tied for 5)
7. Apple\iTunes (14)
8. Tower Records (Tied for 7)
9. Sam Goody (Tied for 5)
10. Borders (9)

"The ongoing and growing popularity of Apple's iTunes Music Store now positions the company as a leading music retailer, and continues to legitimize legal digital music retailing," said Russ Crupnick, music and movies industry analyst for The NPD Group. "With the growing interest in digital music, forecasts of more iPod demand this holiday, plus the stocking-stuffer appeal of iTunes gift cards, we can expect Apple to increase its share even more by year's end."

Jim [11:19 AM]

 

Meanwhile back at Sony-BMG....now heres the other side of the story.How much money does Sony-BMG (obviously by the name, 2 former Major Labels unable to stand on thier own.How is that "Major?")spend on attorneys to defend lawsuits form the Texas attorney general?This is just one day in the life of a newly-merged,less employee, less money "major".Whatever it costs (gee, attorneys cant be expensive, right?)its comin out of the overall budget. Hmmmm, less money to promote your band.But you could wake up tommorrow, work on your MySpace site for your band, and reach 14 million people directly, and probably not deal with any lawsuits, attorneys at all!
So we distribute your record and make it available everywhere, you promote it to your fans, you play gigs,we split the profit 50-50, and theres no royalties withheld, no advance to recoup,you own all your masters.

Texas Sues Sony BMG Over Copy-Protected Discs

The messy fallout for Sony BMG continued Monday when Texas attorney general Greg Abbott filed suit against the label. The lawsuit alleges that Sony BMG violated a new Texas law that prohibits the dissemination of spyware (Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act). Meanwhile, Abbott pointed the finger at Sony BMG for creating other serious security breaches on consumer computers, including vulnerabilities related to outside viruses. "Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Abbott said in a statement. "Consumers who purchased a Sony CD thought they were buying music. Instead, they received spyware that can damage a computer, subject it to viruses and expose the consumer to possible identity crime."

Jim [11:02 AM]

 

Ok so in the continuing demise of the major labels,Warner gets caught in payola bribing radio stations to play thier music.First of all,the music must suck!Second, it costs money to pay bribes, so in these days of cost cutting, mergers, downsizing,there isnt really much money left for them to promote your band.You might just do better being on MySpace!This is one of the premises of our label and studio right now, we just distribute the music over all the available digital channels (120 and growing every day!)web stores and list on store ordering databases so fans can go to any store and order your bands cd.

Warner Music Settles Payola Investigation

Warner Music is the latest major label to settle with New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer over payola charges. As part of the settlement, Warner agreed to pay $5 million to various charities, and will cover $50,000 in state legal fees. The label also promised to discontinue its questionable radio promotion practices, many of which had been curtailed following the start of the Spitzer investigation and an earlier settlement involving Sony BMG. Spitzer found the label group — which includes Atlantic, Warner Bros., and Bad Boy — to have systematically delivered under-the-table gifts and cash to top radio programmers and stations. "Warner Music has illegally provided radio stations with financial benefits to obtain airplay and boost the chart position of its songs," the complaint reads.



Spitzer outlined several distinct activities that violated various payola statutes in New York. “Contrary to listener expectations that songs are selected for airplay based on their popularity and merit,” the settlement reads, “Warner Music has obtained airplay for its songs through such deceptive and illegal practices as (a) bribing radio stations employees…to play its songs; (b) providing a stream of financial benefits to radio stations…on the condition that its records receive airplay; (c) using independent promoters as conduits for illegal payments to radio stations to obtain airplay; (d) purchasing spin programs and using syndicated programs to manipulate chart positions of its music, and (e) engaging in fraudulent call-in campaigns to increase airplay of its songs.” The complaint used subpoenaed emails and testimonials from Warner Music employees to back its claims. Meanwhile, Warner Music noted that “various employees pursued some radio promotion practices on behalf of the company that were wrong and improper,” and pointed to reforms already in place.

Jim [10:56 AM]

[ Thursday, November 03, 2005 ]

 

Well here it is! MySpace Records the new record label from MySpace with founder Tom Anderson (you, know, hes everyones freind, you have him as a friend!)picking the bands by using the popularity of thier MySpace activity.The first band is Hollywood Undead, picked by the sheer popularity of thier MySpace activity. These are real people showing real interest in bands so its not like aAmerican BS crap where the contest itself is making so much money and nobody cares what happens to the artists career afterwards, theyre basically selling advertising.It will be interesting to see how the marketing of the artists career goes after being picked, but it should signal to some people that the television shows and contests have a different agenda that is not pure, whereas real people on MySpace are all spending thier own time checking out bands so you know they eally likes the band.All you bands, you need to be sure by now that you are on MySpace and have a good presence there.Still there will only be a few slots for bands to be on the MySpace label, just like any other label, but its a good way to pick bands and more realistic.

Jim [12:25 PM]

[ Sunday, October 30, 2005 ]

 

Well of course you all know that MySpace has been bought by Fox News! So far it hasnt changed anything to the casual viewer.They are thinking about a MySpace Record Label, though!WMG and EMI still rumored to merge.(isnt that the last merger left?)Since WMG issued thier stock and it fell, I don't remember them saying that the reason we should all buy thier stock is that they were going to merge with EMI.I thought they said they were strong and had a plan and were going to launch a digital label and work with iTunes.They have publicly disagreed with Steve Jobs who criticized them for being "greedy" wanting to raise the price of a digital download song on the phone to $2.99 The labels kind of have a little point in that ringtones are 30 second mp3 clips of a song and can be $2.99 and ringtones are a huge expanding profitable market for them right now.So why shoudlnt the full song be more? Well, because we have pretty much established that a song should be .99 The new iTunes Cingular phone lets you put songs in iTunes format on your phone, but you probably paid .99 for them on iTunes.The consumer is not going to pay MORE than 2.99 for a song they can get for .99!Once again the major labels have such a huge overhead from the old days of the business they dont know how to be profitable in the new market.The point of digital distribution is that the label has no overhead.You should be profitable immediately and also split the profit more fairly (50-50) with your artists.

Jim [10:51 AM]

[ Wednesday, September 21, 2005 ]

 

KORN & EMI SIGN NEW DEAL

Ok, well now we have some good artist-label deals starting to come around.. of course its from my favorite artist management group, The Firm! You might have noticed that Kelly Clarkson won a lot of VMA's.We told you here that she was shooting them very fast.(Actually whie on tour!!They are smart and she is a trooper!)You would have thought that Gwen Stefani would have won them with all the money behind her, and some pretty pricey videos, but I think Gwen is all focused on her fashion line right now, and who can blame her? Theres way more money to be made in merch, and her stuff is expensive! Her least expensive shirt is around $75.00 and you can get a CD with a bag she designed for $40.00, so the music is pretty much an ad for the clothing line!Well, The Firm managed to get Kelly a lot of attention at the VMAs.So now they are managing KORN and the new deal with EMI is an artist-share deal where EMI will be involved in everything,Merch,Touring, etc. as a partner with the band.This is one of the first Major Label deals of its kind.Of course PBJ Records pioneered this idea and only does this type of deal exclusively with its artists.We like to be business partners with our artists, that way were all pulling together on the same team (plus we save on lawyer fees!)

Jim [10:16 AM]

[ Friday, August 26, 2005 ]

 

Well so much fun stuff in the record biz these days you cant comment on it all at once!Warners (a never-ending source of amusement!)has decided that they will do some e-commerce.That doesnt mean they actually will, it just means they've now started saying it.DRM issues are everywhere and funny.Theres basically 2 main copy protection schemes, of course Apple & Microsoft.Apple's doesnt play nice with anybody else.Microsoft does with some and not with others.Now we have phones coming into the market and they all want a new DRM sceme, so theres a whole crew of them working on that.The iTunes phone keeps getting announced and rumored, but nothing yet.Of course the FCC not to be outdone by the Attorney General had decided to jump into the payola fray, so theres a new round of fines coming up for that.Lollapalooza folded, but they did a 1-off version in Chicago.(competing the same weekend as the Vans Warped tour!hmm, I'm no booking agent,(well actually I am) but!!)In Korea digital downloads actually surpassed CD sales!

Jim [3:21 PM]

[ Friday, August 12, 2005 ]

 

Well, couldnt resist this.... Matt's band, The Drama, having been flown to NY all last week to showcase for every major label all week, went to LA this week for more.At the showcase, a band was rehearsing next door.ASHLEE SIMPSON!! They crowded around the door, listening.I said, how was she? They go "she couldnt hit a note to save her life"!

Jim [10:22 AM]

[ Wednesday, July 27, 2005 ]

 

Music Pirates Actually Purchase More

According to digital music research company, The Leading Question, "music pirates spend four and half times more on legitimate music downloads than average fans." That's not too hard to believe if you stop and think about it...Despite the RIAA and the IFPI's propaganda and public relations strategy - discovering new music online has long been thought of as being complementary to physical/digital sales and here's some more quantitative proof to prove it...

The BBC also reports that "The research clearly shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers," according to Paul Brindley, director of The Leading Question. "It also points out that they are eager to adopt legitimate music services in the future...There's a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music...In reality, hardcore fans are extremely enthusiastic about paid-for services, as long as they are suitably compelling.
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People who download legal or otherwise are people who are spending more of thier time aquiring music.These are people you want to market to.Obviously Radio with its J-Lo payola is not a place to find good new music.You need to get your music out there no matter what the format so that people can find it, share it, and get the whole "viral marketing" thing happening which builds street cred and is also the most cost-effective.The amazing thing is there has always been people who share thier favorite music with others and used cassette-taping, taping off the radio, etc to do it.For one thing its still not illegal to listen to some music and tell your freinds "Hey that's a great band, I like that". My MP3 player records off the radio, which if it was illegal, they couldnt have made it. I can play all sorts of things for people to listen to and hope that they like it.Google's G-Mail and Yahoo are both 1 gig size now meaning you can send way bigget files.Nobody is writing emails that long (if they are I hope I dont get on that list!)Get your music out there anyway you can so people hear it, share it, buy it, spread it.

Jim [1:01 PM]

 

OK NOW THIS IS FUN!!.....
Here's the actual memos from the labels showing that they pay for crap to be on the air, who, what and how much!

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Please be advised that in this week's Jennifer Lopez Top 40 Spin Increase of 236 we bought 63 spins at a cost of $3,600."

"Please be advised that in this week's Good Charlotte Top 40 Spin Increase of 61 we bought approximately 250 spins at a cost of $17K …"

Ironically, it didn't help, as the memo notes that the company actually lost spins — or plays of the record — even though they laid out money for them.

See above: The internal memos from Sony Music, revealed today in the New York state attorney general's investigation of payola at the company, will be mind blowing to those who are not so jaded to think records are played on the radio because they're good. We've all known for a long time that contemporary pop music stinks. We hear "hits" on the radio and wonder, "How can this be?"

Now we know. And memos from both Sony's Columbia and Epic Records senior vice presidents of promotions circa 2002-2003 — whose names are redacted in the reports but are well known in the industry — spell out who to pay and what to pay them in order to get the company's records on the air.

From Epic, home of J-Lo, a memo from Nov. 12, 2002, a "rate" card that shows radio stations in the Top 23 markets will receive $1000, Markets 23-100 get $800, lower markets $500. "If a record receives less than 75 spins at any given radio station, we will not pay the full rate," the memo to DJs states. "We look forward to breaking many records together in the future."

Take Jennifer Lopez's awful record, "Get Right," with its shrill horn and lifted rap. It's now clear that was a "bought" sensation when it was released last winter. So, too, were her previous "hits" "I'm Glad" and "I'm Real," according to the memos. All were obtained by Sony laying out dough and incentives. It's no surprise. There isn't a person alive who could hum any of those "songs" now. Not even J-Lo herself.

"We ordered a laptop for Donnie Michaels at WFLY in Albany. He has since moved to WHYI in Miami. We need to change the shipping address." One Sony memo from 2002: "Can you work with Donnie to see what kind of digital camera he wants us to order?"

Another, from someone in Sony's Urban Promotion department: "I am trying to buy a walkman for Toya Beasley at WRKS/NY.… Can PRS get it to me tomorrow by 3 p.m. … I really need to get the cd by then or I have to wait a week or two before she does her music again

Feb. 13, 2004: "Gave a jessica trip to wkse to secure Jessica spins and switchfoot." That would be Jessica Simpson, for whom Sony laid on big bucks in the last couple of years to turn her into something she's clearly not: a star

From a Sony internal memo on Sept. 8, 2004: "Two weeks ago it cost us over 4000.00 to get Franz Ferdinand] on WKSE

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Gee, and why is it that Major Labels arent profitable?

Jim [12:36 PM]

 

Heres another one we predicted......
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Sony BMG Music Agrees to $10 Million Payola Settlement

Seattle Times: Yesterday, during a press conference held by New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a string of incriminating e-mails from record-company executives was unveiled as part of an in-depth "pay-for-play" probe of the music industry. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the world's second-biggest record label, admitted that its employees lavished cash, trips and other bribes on radio stations and their employees to get its music on the air. Spitzer said that, 'Sony BMG's efforts to win more airplay took many forms, including outright bribes of electronics to radio stations and paying for contest giveaways for listeners'...Sony BMG responded in a statement that "direct and indirect forms of what has been described generically as 'payola' for spins has continued to be an unfortunately prevalent aspect of radio promotion." It added that "various employees pursued some radio promotion practices on behalf of the company that were wrong and improper." The company apologized for "such conduct."

As a result, Sony BMG agreed to tighten its promotion guidelines and will pay a $10 million fine.

(Oooh, $10 million.Hmm do you think they made more than that on the sales? Gee that oughta stop it! Its one of the few profitable startegies the music business has ever had.And they talk about piracy...)

Spitzer has also asked for documents from the other three major labels: EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group...While Spitzer would not talk specifically about investigations into those companies, he said the payola problem goes "way beyond Sony BMG." Spitzer also called on the Federal Communications Commission to take a "very hard look" at the major radio-station owners and consider stripping the companies of broadcast licenses in cases where they are found to have "violated a public trust."

(Ok now this is actually the funniest sentence in the whole thing. The biggest major-radio station owners would be ....hmmm Oh yeah, CLEAR CHANNEL.So do you think the FCC will strip the companies of thier broadcast license?? Obviously he knows they did it.So 2/3 of all stations in the US are going to go off the air tommorrow for playing J-Lo records?? ("Oh Happy Day"...sorry)I don't think so!

Jim [12:27 PM]

 

Apple iTunes, Microsoft raise Royalty payment rates to indies to same as Major Labels...

According to the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) - which is a new trade group for independent labels - indies currently account for 27.5 percent of music sales in the US, and up to one-third of online listening on Internet radio and other venues...With numbers like that - this growing segment is getting harder and harder to discriminate against in regards to royalty rates for digital downloads...According to A2IM director Don Rose, "Microsoft has also agreed to bring small labels as close to parity with the majors as possible, both for its existing download service and the subscription service it plans to launch later this year." If you look at the confluence of factors in the market, you have the majors retreating and trying to develop a strategy, and you have indies being able to expand in the market."

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Well, of course you heard it here first, but we have been saying these things for a long time.(10-15 years now)Another milestone that puts Indie labels on equal footing with majors, while the majors get sued for illegal radio promotion bribery (again) And continue to put more copy protection on thier cds.

Jim [12:16 PM]

[ Thursday, July 21, 2005 ]

 

Wow so many amazing things going on right now, the big MGM vs Grokster decision comes down from the Supreme Court, and everybody claims it as a victory for thier side,(especially Major Labels) and yet CD sales are down and downloading is WAY up.iTunes has podcasting now, (our podcast is on there!)We have a digital radio Station on Mercora radio now (Mercora.com and search PBJ)it allows listeners to stream, comment, blog, chat, view pics of artists, we get a whole profile on them (we have a lot of listeners in France!)MySpace gets bought out by Fox News, they are going to tie in Real, Rhapsody and Napster (which is great for us since we have distribution with all of those!)Also on the radio station we have a "Buy Track" & "Buy Album" buttons.Some majors are being headed by film and tv execs now trying to run them as video content companies.Thats ok looking ahead at mobile phone video offerings, but i dont think its healthy to have video people running what is supposed to be an audio company. I go on rants frequently about people judging music as a visual medium instead of aural!Judging a band/artist by thier looks,doing all the marketing decisions by visual (pics and video)Certainly you have to have those elements, but you must remember youre trying to get people to but your music to LISTEN to it!!Dont substitute visual for the lack of knowledge
of the music itself!Theres plenty of not-Jessica-Simpson-looking artists who sound amazing and people love to buy thier music and LISTEN to it! (When you think about it, theres probably WAY more not-super-model-attractive musicians!First of all if they were that good looking, they would be models or actors!)
Most of the Majors really dont know what to do right now, so you are going to see more weird behavior from them.Basically CD sales are falling and downloading is skyrocketing.Make sire your music is available for downloading all over the world by people everywhere who are sitting at thier computer terminals more than they are getting dressed up, driving thru traffic,going to a little club with nobody there on a Tue night,paying a cover, not being able to drink,drive home, be out late and get tired, and still not actually purchase your music (I know; you have 100 copies of your cd all pressed up, shrink-wrapped and barcoded with awesome cover art and magazine quality professional photography ready at every gig you do, right! NOT!!)And oh, yeah, you have the Soundscan forms ready all the time to make sure you get credit for all those gig sales, right?
Hey im not saying you shouldnt do gigs, but as a marketing plan it really doesnt hold a candle to making your product available all over the world to but at a persons figertips, where they are, when they are there, ans let them spend their few dollars on you directly, while your at the gig anyway, cause thats what you do.

Jim [10:47 AM]

[ Friday, June 10, 2005 ]

 

Indie Labels Flex Collective Muscle With New Trade Group

In an attempt to counter the market power of the four major music companies, 125 of the largest independent record labels in the United States announced the formation of a new trade group earlier this week. The American Association of Independent Music (or A2IM), which will be based in New York with a lobbying arm in Washington, DC, will work to give indie labels clout commensurate with their collective market share - pegged at 25% by some industry observers. Members of the new group include TVT, Lookout Records, Beggars Group and Tommy Boy Records, among others.





Whatever the impetus, the timing couldn't be better for this move. With the major label system and its products finding a cool reception from a growing number of music fans, and decision makers either unwilling or unable to adapt to fundamental changes in the marketplace, conditions are shifting in the indies' favor. As TVT's chief executive officer, Steve Gottlieb, puts it: "Manufactured pop culture is disintegrating before your eyes as the Net takes hold," and the nimbler, less risk-averse indies are best positioned to take advantage of the digital transformation. While the majors look at P2P file sharing, podcasting and other forms of digital distribution and see thieves, pirates and the willful disregard of copyright, the indies increasingly see a chance to connect directly with their customers - and an opportunity to steal a march on the Big Four. As Gottlieb points out, independent artists now account for 30% of internet radio play, and labels such as Artemis Records (Steve Earle, the Pretenders) have been distributing files over P2P networks for over a year. Add the fact that podcasters, at the wheel of the fastest-growing media phenomenon around, almost universally avoid major label music due to potential licensing infractions and it starts to look like there's a digital train leaving the station - and the majors aren't on it.

Jim [1:30 PM]

[ Monday, June 06, 2005 ]

 

Ok, one of the things that is amazing about all the stuff is that the other day a band I was talking to told me they had a major label showcase set up. I congratulated them and asked them how it happened. They said that the major needed a lot of new bands to replace all the bands it was dropping! I said hmmm I doubt it. Now we read that WMG drops 93 bands! Think about it, they cut 1600 jobs, sell the publishing drop half the bands and theyre more efficient! And for making the company more efficient, the top 4 executives get millions in bonuses in thier pocket from the sale of stock (which dropped opening day on Wall St. from $24.00/share to $16.00!! I bet Martha Stewart didn't get a tip about that one!) Now all of those bands who got dropped probaby paid some lawyers and managers a lot of money to negotiate favorable contracts. Not so favorable when youre dropped! I bet the new contracts are a lot more favorable to artists! Of course I havent seen any new signings to Warner Bros announced lately, hmmmmm?

Jim [10:10 AM]

 

WARNER DROPS 93 ARTISTS

In addition to taking millions in bonuses for the top executives of WMG in thier stock grab by valuing the company so high by cutting 1600 employees (to make it "more efficient"!)a little-known fact has come to light that they have dropped 93 of its 193 artists! (amazing in itself since I dont think all those artists held press confereneces to announce that they were dropped! So how would you know? Oh, yeah you read this blog!)Oh, and that will make them even more efficient! Now if you are artist #100, would you be worried? Considering artist #1 is Linkin Park and they are leaving, how would you feel if you were #'s 99-2?

This just in.....
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Warner Music Group Corp. announced it has completed the sale of Warner Bros. Publications to Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. The sale was announced on December 16, 2004.


Warner Bros. Publications, based in Miami and the U.K., prints and distributes a broad selection of sheet music, books and educational materials, folios, orchestrations and arrangements, and tutorials and methods. In addition, Warner Bros. Publications markets printed versions of Warner/Chappell musical compositions and other popular songs throughout the world.
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So now they have sold thier book and folio publishing company, if you were an artist that was left on the sinking ship, what would you think? BTW, this deal started in Dec 2004 and was just announced as being completed, so that means they were planning on this all along, but didnt tell anyone!

Ok, so all you bands out there that are STILL waiting for the big major label deal........icient!)

Jim [9:52 AM]

[ Tuesday, May 24, 2005 ]

 

Have you heard of Creative Commons? It's time that I make you aware of it.You might see a little Copyright notice -looking thing at the bottom of some websites.Instead of a C in a circle, there are 2 C's in the circle!Heres a little intro article about it.Basically, these guys believe that if you want to let some people use your music in certain ways you should get a license from them and post it so people know they can sample it, edit it, chop it up and use it in thier own song.

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NEW YORK (Billboard) - An innovative approach to sharing and licensing copyrighted material is spreading around the globe, gathering millions of creative works under its umbrella.


The movement, spearheaded by a nonprofit organization called Creative Commons, is little-known in the music industry.

Yet sponsoring groups in 31 countries have adopted the Creative Commons approach. Sponsors in nearly 40 more countries are said to be in the process of launching the project.

For the most part, the various Creative Commons licenses have been applied to academic material and blogs. In many instances, creators permit others to make use of their works without compensation.

As Creative Commons chairman and Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig travels the world encouraging international adoption of Creative Commons, the movement has begun to arouse concern in the music business. Some industry leaders say that the group's approach -- applauded by many -- is in effect a Trojan horse that could erode copyright protection or harm unwitting artists.

Creative Commons dates back to 2001, when a number of figures from the academic world recognized that there was no way for Web users to determine whether works posted on the Internet -- essays, articles, photographs, poetry, music -- could be used freely as public-domain works or in some ways without the copyright owner's permission.

At least one widely circulated CD has been developed using Creative Commons licenses. Wired magazine approached artists to provide music under the Creative Commons licenses for a CD distributed with its November 2004 issue. Sixteen agreed, including David Byrne, Beastie Boys and Chuck D.

"Lessig and his followers advocate a shorter copyright term," says attorney Michael Sukin, a founding member of the International Assn. of Entertainment Lawyers.

Critics of Creative Commons say that offering these licenses to artists without encouraging them to get legal advice or explaining risks is dangerous.

Andy Fraser hates to think what his fate might have been had Creative Commons existed when he was a young artist.

Fraser entered the business in 1968 at age 15, when he became the bass player/co-songwriter for British rock/blues band Free. Two years later, while in the dressing room after a bad gig, he started bopping around telling his bandmates, "It's all right now." After about 10 minutes a song was born, with co-writer/singer Paul Rodgers contributing lyrics.

"All Right Now," released on Free's third album, "Fire and Water," became one of the most-performed songs in performinbg rights organization Broadcast Music Inc.'s repertoire of about 4.5 million works. The song has been played nearly 3 million times -- the equivalent of repeatedly playing it for more than 28 years.

While Fraser has written more than 150 songs, continuing royalties from radio and TV use of two compositions -- "All Right Now" and "Every Kinda People" (first recorded by Robert Palmer) -- generate most of his income. Had he given up his rights to those early hits, he would not have the resources to cover his treatment for AIDS.

Such a decision might have been tragic. Fraser says he has been kept alive by medication, radiation therapy and experimental medical treatments -- largely paid for with his song royalties.

"No one should let artists give up their rights," he says.
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Now every year when I attend South By Southwest, I find these guys at thier booth and I ask them " How would you suggest I explain this idea to the artists on my label?" And without fail, every year, they look at each other and shake thier heads and then say "I don't know". Now I have a Personal Policy about a few things.(I started making my own Personal Policies whenever some store person says to me "well we have a Policy about that." I decided I have some Policies too!Like I don't shop at your store and I tell all my freinds not too!)So one big policy with me is simply this: IF YOU DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW! I'm sure BMI and all the publishers in the world would pretty much say dont mess with this stuff, If you write a song, copyright it, and dont give away the rights. On the other hand if youre a techno-DJ-beat-makin' type, you might be willing to benefit from letting some people mess around with your stuff in hopes that it gets "out there" more. But I think with all the ways to promote music on the Net you probably should just get it recorded, post some samples on a website and let people try it and buy it.Another part of that strategy is like keeping people on your website when they get there. If you have Calendar for your gigs, dont put it on another huge site, (especially not one that contains huge awesome graphic ads for the biggest and well known major label artist that does music in your genre!)Instead get a calendar program that opens up within your site, so fans can check out (and print, email links to freinds,etc.) your gig dates,in a seperate window that closes when theyre done and leaves them back on your site!

Jim [9:19 AM]

[ Wednesday, May 11, 2005 ]

 

Well it continues to be an amazing time in the state of the Music Business right now, but you have been able to read "News Before It Happens" right here for some time. While Warner Brothers tries to go public and raise money from the public to pay off thier staggering debts, Wall Street issued advice to investors that the stock price of $22-24 per share is definitely not worth it, so don't buy it, Warner (WMG) opened today at $17 a share.This may not net them the amount of money they need to pay off debts and make a profit.In addition, adding insult to injury, with top act Linkin Park announcing that they will leave the label,Warner ridiculously invited the band to play at the New York Stock Exchange!! Band members used the occasion to comment that it is this kind of thing that shows how completely out of touch the label is, and that they definitely will not change thier minds and are leaving! If you have a band and were lucky enough to meet Linkin Park and were able to ask thier advice, I'm sure they would say don't get signed to Warner Brothers!
On other news, one of our favorite Podcasts is by Jason Halbert, keyboard player and bandleader for Kelly Clarkson. He and guitarist Al get off the tour bus and do what all of us musician/studio/label types do... go directly to Starbucks!! They do a podcast from each Starbucks where they ask the Barista tough questions and try to stump them, and try to get the Starbuck people to give them stuff! So far they've aquired thier own aprons and a whipped-cream machine to outfit the bus as a rolling Starbuck!Matt went backstage and front row at the concert in Florida, then hung out in the dressing rooms and bus.He said Kelly is the consummate professional, performing flawlessly under every condition (migraines)as well as riding on the band bus with everyone. Apparently she was extremely lucky since the original Idol contracts stipulated that the winner was automatically signed to 19 Productions for recording and management.I had often stated that it would be a bad deal for the winner since they are much more interested in the show revenues (with advertising from big sponsors) than putting out the record and actually managing one persons career.Recently it has been reported in Billboard and elsewhere that 19 was bought out by a billionaire who is buying up entertainment properties.I believe that made Kelly's contract void, and the new owners were probably glad of it, since that is not thier business. The Firm wisely stepped in and now manage her. You can clearly see she has blown up since then, with songs at #1 in Billboard, several singles, videos and a huge tour right now! The tour is adding dates and going to Europe and then back here to bigger venues. (The Firm is also managing Linkin Park.)For you gear freaks, Kelly uses the new Digidesign live console with all the great Pro Tools plug-ins (like we use at our studio)They are one of te first to use it on tour. John Mayer recently took out a Pro Tools rig, but they did'nt actually run the house sound on it. These guys are running it and they love it.The $60,000 price tag beats the heck out of the Midas board they are using for monitor mixing.

Jim [8:50 AM]

[ Tuesday, May 03, 2005 ]

 

Ok, now this is the best one ever! I have been predicting this for so long I can't even remember! Linkin Park is leaving Warner Bros! That's right, that's what I said.Now I have been saying for so long (you can read back in these posts to see when)that a smart manager of a great band that was signed to a major should be saying to them, we signed with you because you had marketing people, people in offices all over the place, and we were a priority at this label, and now that youve merged with another major, we arent the priority, and youve cut the marketing money, and the staff,this isnt the deal we signed, we want out!The Firm is generally considered to be one of the, if not THE smartest, best management companies around. I have quoted thier wisdom often here as they were speaking at music conferences and being asked the tough questions, and they are very forthcoming with thier opinions, and are usually proven right.Well, guess what, they manage Linkin Park.They were quoted as saying that Linkin Park accounts for 10% of Warner's sales and that since the layoffs and budget cuts that they want out of thier deal and that they do not intend to record for Warner and would rely on thier own touring and merchandise sales to sustain them.In addition they are looking for several million payout of moneys owed them. This all comes at a time when Edgar Bronfman and his investment group that bought Warner are looking to raise 800 million in stock.Why? To pay off debt (600 million) Now if they need to raise stock to pay off debt, why would you invest in it? And if your band is signed to them, wouldn't you want out? And more to the point for you, why would you want to be signed by them? If Linkin Park wants out, why would you want in? I know, you still want to get signed by a major label.Well, there should be plenty of room for you soon!The other 200 million they need to raise is for Edgar to get a 200 million one-time cash bonus payment.Yep, thats right, for running the business into the ground.

Jim [11:09 AM]

[ Sunday, April 24, 2005 ]

 

Were at Antone's for an Austin Music Foundation meeting with Pat Green. He's very interesting for the indie artist because he sold 300,000 records without being sign ed to a label! Now when I was at Motown, I had an intern who came back from his vacation in Denver and said he saw a band that sold 300,000 records and were not signed. We tried to get them signed but to no avail. Now you would think that would be a no-brainer! Well recently Pat signed with Universal. So I asked him, what made you sign with a Major? He said he decided to make the trade off (he was making $8.00 per cd, and 1 million per year.No major will ever give you that deal!) for more concert tickets sold, and more merchsndise sold, since the major's promotion would bring him larger audiences.And he was right. He now makes more money.Now for most indie artists, it first of all shows that you can shoot for a high goal of selling your own cds. Believe me, when you are doing that, a Major will find you!Now in the middle of this, in walks Clifford Antone and hes got Jerry Jeff Walker with him. Now Pat has just finished saying that Jerry Jeff and his wife, Susan are the model for what he does and taught him everything about the business. And this is all being shot for television, but Andy Langer, the interviewer says the obvious and they get Jerry Jeff (whos standing in front of us, shaking hands) up to talk.Now Jerry says when he was signed to his first deal, the day he got there the guy who signed him was already gone.So he says I want to see the Vice President. They say weve got 4 of them.So he finds a guy and says whats your plan for these artists youve got 25 of them.The guy says we have no plan, were just gonna put them all out and see what the public buys.So he experienced all of that back in the day.Then they asked him about downloading & piracy and he had a great comment. he said I dont know but the music has to go out. He related a story about messing around with a silly song called "Pissing in the wind" backstage at a gig, and when he got to the next gig everybody already knew the song! So it got me to thinking, people have always recorded stuff and passed it around, its just we have different mediums these days. But his point is that people have to find out about songs and artists somehow and with radio in its current state downloading, sharing and now Podcasts are the way to go to expose the new artists.

Jim [4:25 PM]

 

So Im talking to Matt, and his engineer freind is hanging out with Bruce Swedien at his ranch/studio in Ocala.Apparently Bruce just flies in with has rack, and start tracking stuff on his Pro Tools rig there, among other places.We got into a discussion about it and I'm basically saying, with the closing of Major studios, Hit Factory, etc, everybody has a Pro Tools rig in thier garage.With the Major labels merging and downsizing, they dont have the money to spend anymore on the theory that made Micheal Jackson,Quincy Jones & Bruce Swedien the best in the business.If you read Quincy's autobiograhy, as great as he is, he basically just hired the best songwriters, the best arrangers, the best musicians and the best engineer (Bruce Swedien)Those songs are all still played on radio every day,whereas Michael's later stuff isnt.But that might have been the last time that a label had the money to throw at hiring the best of everything and Quincy, who produced Frank Sintara and came up playing trumpet in the big band days,was allowed to record the old fashioned way, using the best of everything.I personally love the tradition of Bill Putnam (we use his United Audio software LA2A's, 1176 compressor,Pultec,Cambridge,Nigel, etc)I was priveleged to record at Ocean Way Studios and have Allen Smart show me the modifications on the console, basically containing different API and SSL modules on each channel, and that studio was the built by Bill Putnam and Frank Sinatra teamed up with him to form Reprise Records, which is now Warner Brothers, but all that is back in the day and basically nobody does it that way anymore.Bruce Swedien is basically the living link to Bill Putnam
and that is the real tradition that we have been handed down in this day, but its all Pro Tools and Plug-ins now. I think every Producer-Engineer should go study what these guys did to develop these amazing tools that we are still using today, even if it is in software form and not hardware.If you go to Mixonline.com and search Bill Putnam or Bruce Swedien you can find some really good info. I will post some links on future blogs for this.

Jim [3:55 PM]

[ Wednesday, April 20, 2005 ]

 

Keeping up with all the digital music plays and advances and mergers, etc. is tough these days, but we do it.I was talking to someone the other day and i said, "We're in th MP3-making business. It's like were an MP3 factory and we just keep turning them out. It doesnt matter to us whether its going to be on the phone, the net, the iPod,or whatever, they all need mp3s and were just gonna keep turning them out!" From the perspective of a digital record label, that all that really matters to us.I dont care what format they use as long as they all put our mp3s on it!

Check out a new Podcast from Jason Halbert, Kelly Clarkson's band leader. They get off the tour bus and go to Starbucks in different cities!
"One For The Road"
http://www.podcast.net/show/38594

Jim [1:04 PM]

[ Friday, April 01, 2005 ]

 

So Warner Brothers wants people to give them 750 million dollars.Theyre raising money by going public.Now Edgar Bronfman and his group bought the company not that long ago, for less and now they want us to make it profitable for them.(Probably so they can cash out, get thier money back and make a few bucks.)Now the only way the deal will get done is if they agree to merge with EMI.So lets see, niether one of the 2 of the last 4 major labels left standing is making any money (in fact they are losing money)And yet, some artists will sit here and tell me that they are waiting to get signed by the big major label.Hmmm.Now first of all, the majors are broke. They need money. How many bands do you think they are signing? Second, if they did sign you, how much money do you think they would spend on you? (the stockholders come first by the way)And third, even if all that happens, and then they merge,what happens to the person who signed you? And your budget? Mergers are why so many music business people are out of a job (and starting indie labels, because they know it doesnt take that much money to find a band, record them and put it out!)It probably would be good if all the majors just go away.Them we can all just go make the record we want, get paid some royalties right away & enjoy life! Well, stay tuned!

Jim [8:20 AM]