Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Henry Stone Black Music Innovator


Henry Stone was born and raised on Jackson Avenue in the New York City borough of the Bronx on June 3, 1921. His family stayed in the Bronx until their move to Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Henry remained in Manhattan till the age of eight before going away to an orphanage in Pleasantville, New York after his father passed away. He remained at the orphanage until the age of fourteen. It was 1943 when Stone joined the U. S. Army. He was stationed at Camp Kilmore in New Brunswick, New Jersey for three years. He played in the first racially integrated Army Band and recalls, "I spent a lot of time with Black musicians and that’s where I got a lot of my Blues background." After being discharged in 1947, he moved to Los Angeles, working on sales and promotion for Jewel Records and then Modern Records, and traveling around the country.

Ray Charles came to Miami n 1951 and I ran across him and he told me he needed to do a gig… I invited him to my recording studio and we cut four sides." The 78-RPM recording of St. Pete Florida Blues ended up selling fairly well in the South and is considered highly collectible today.

During the 1950s Henry kept busy by building his distribution company and recording local artists. He says, "I always liked to make records (produce and record them). That was my hobby. I did a lot of Blues stuff with Earl Hooker, John Lee Hooker, The Charms’ "Hearts of Stone", which became an R&B chart #1 hit in 1954. He was also instrumental in signing James Brown to King, and in recording Brown’s first hit “Please, Please, Please”

In 1955, he established his own independent publishing companies and several record labels, including Chart and Dade, mainly recording local blues artists. In 1960, Stone cut "(Do The) Mashed Potatoes" by "Nat Kendrick and the Swans" – actually James Brown's backing band - for the Dade label. He also set up Tone Distribution (originally Tru-Tone), which became one of the world’s most successful record distribution companies. He would distribute records for Atlantic Records, Motown Records, Stax Records and many more independent labels right up through the 1960s and 1970s.

Henry’s success included Betty Wright whose "Clean Up Woman" was a major hit in 1971 on his Alston label. He also set up the Glades label, recording the million selling hit "Why Can’t We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas. In 1972, Stone formed TK Records (named after studio owner Terry Kane), based in Hialeah Florida

Stone’s companies produced numerous other hits during the 1970s, including Beginning of the End’s "Funky Nassau" (on Alston), Latimore’s "Let's Straighten It Out" (on Glades), Anita Ward’s "Ring My Bell" (on Juana), Little Beaver’s "Party Down" and Gwen McCrae’s "Rockin’ Chair" (both on Cat), and Peter Brown’s "Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me" (on Drive). Two of Stone’s warehouse employees, Harry Wayne “KC” Casey and Rick Finch, began collaborating on writing and performing songs, with Stone allowing them to experiment in the recording studio after hours. As KC and the Sunshine Band, they released a string of hits such as "Get Down Tonight", "That's The Way I Like It" and "Shake Your Booty", all on Stone's TK label. The band had five number one pop singles, and platinum albums, winning five Grammys in 1976. At the same time, Casey and Finch wrote and produced the number one "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae, and his follow-ups.
By the late 1970s, the TK Records and its sister labels became pre-eminent in the dance and pop music scene, but suffered badly from the anti-disco movement which followed. TK Records ceased operating by 1981, and Stone went into partnership with Morris Levy of Roulette Records to form the Sunnyview label, issuing records by funk and rap artists such as Newcleus. Stone later became involved with Hot Productions in the reissue of dance classics on CD. Today, he continues reissuing R&B and dance tracks on his own label, The Legendary Henry Stone Presents...

Stone established many different labels on the basis, he said, that it was easier to get records played if the radio stations did not realize they came from the same source.

Here’s a brief list of record labels that Henry Stone had an interest in:
Alston (in partnership with Steve Alaimo)
Blue Candle
Deep City
Deluxe (in partnership with King Records)
Hot Productions
Kayvette (partnership with Brad Shapiro)
Reid’s World
Silver Blue
Sunnyview (in partnership with Morris Levy)
Sunshine Sound Disco (label meant to spotlight KC & Finch productions)
T. K. Records / T. K. Productions

Monday, October 29, 2007

Music Conferences Should Be Banned

Allen Johnston - The Music Specialist

This year I have seen advertising for over 30 music conferences just within the Southeastern United States. What could possibly be the reason to have so many conferences about the same issue? Is there such a dire cadre of uneducated artists, producers, label owners and wannabes that these conferences are really needed? What are these conferences setup to do? The reasoning is ultimately extremely easy to understand. ALL of these conferences have played to a basic instinct within the populace.


Every one of these conferences has had showcases of one type or another that was a hidden reason to pay additional monies to the conference owner. What has been accomplished? The majority of the conferences were attended by independent record labels that never understood the rational around selling music versus performing for free. These labels will take their budget, (whatever it is) and squander it upon creating cd’s, postcards, flyers, hiring promotion people or the occasional video. Their ultimate goal is to have a major label “discover” them, pay them, sign, promote, market and sell their music all the while creating more and more opportunities for them to become famous. NOT ONCE has this happened! The performers are performing in front of their peers and not anyone that has an interest in signing them.

What happened to educating the people? Why are their so many people rushing to give away their money just for a few moments upon a stage?

What has been created has been the growth of a new business model. This model is one where a few entertainment industry people are getting wealthy from the mass of uneducated artists who have a burning desire to be a STAR. Unfortunately none of the artists, labels or producers knows anything about the music industry.

What I am finding more and more of is the young entrepreneur who really only desires the fame and popularity associated with the entertainment industry and not the basic business acumen needed to initiate and maintain a viable entertainment business. “BALLIN” has become a game of one up man ship to see who has the brightest “iced out jewelry”, biggest most expensive cars and the latest fashions. Who can market themselves into a major deal yet not have any professional team available to maintain a deal.

Tools needed to become a winning label.

The creation of a written document outlining the agreement among partners should be one of the first things you do. Next the organization of your office environment where all mailings, billings, invoices and correspondence can be collected, sorted, acted upon and filed. A central phone number and a computer based office system should be formed. How will you keep in contact with the many different individuals and companies you & your crew will come in contact with?

Incorporation of the business will give you the tools needed to create a corporate bank account, savings certificates and a corporate credit card. Additionally it will also give you the basis for paying your taxes and the ability to keep open and honest legal documents.

The entertainment industry is based on communication so a strong ever-increasing database of radio, retail, publicity and industry executives should be started.

You won’t be getting this information at any music conference that you attend locally, because it is better to keep you ignorant and coming back then to assist your knowledge and have you become a potential conference owner yourself.

As for you conference owners and promoters your days are limited. People deserve and want more than a chance to perform in front of other “poor and unsigned” companies. To stay in the conference business you will have to change your conference structure.

A few ideas for the next REAL music conference.

Publish a list of the conference attendees and give it to every person that attended your event. This will increase networking and give your attendees something that they will hold on to for at least a year.

Make sure that you have “hand outs” for each panel, seminar, lecture, etc. Thus giving your attendees information that they can study and learn from at their own pace.

Have every one of your panelists write a paper or case study of something they did concerning the title of their panel. For example if the panel is about independent distribution, then the case study should be about a label that acquired independent distribution and how they fared.

Stop having panels and start having working workshops that teach skills.

5. Qualify your panelists and know that they have done something positive within the industry BEFORE you ask them to be involved with your conference. There are WAY TOO MANY frauds speaking on panels today.

Recently I spoke at a conference and during a private networking session I was asked how to just “jump over” all that old fashioned business and go directly to having a major record deal. My response was that it would be really easy to do if you have met someone in the position of power at the major labels that wanted to immediately sign you and spend their money on making your career. The only issue I can see would be in how you will keep a deal of this magnitude without knowledgeable individuals around you that know the business, have connections and will work on your behalf to ensure your continued success and well being.

In other words where is your trusted team?

Why continue to go to conferences that only waste your time? Why not develop the business structure you will need now, acquire your trusted team, develop your database of industry connections and prepare yourself for success.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

Pay back has finally arrived and the system created by the major record labels for music sales is feeling the FULL BLUNT.

In a capsulated version, RADIOHEADS gambit of offering its new release online --and letting the consumer decide on price has turned out to be a genius marketing move.

TELEGRAPH UK reports that hits to RADIOHEAD's website increased 11-fold after the announcement. Although the band refuses to provide concrete numbers on how many fans have pre-ordered their seventh album, "In Rainbows," but figures from Net monitoring agency HitWise show the move pushed the site up from #43 to #1 for music websites in the UK. A band spokesman did confide that consumers so far are spurning the opportunity to download the album for as little as 45 pence ($1US Dollar) in favor of paying full pop for the £40 ($82 US Dollars) box set, which includes vinyl records, CD and artwork
Now that the public has spoken about the music that they desire, the band has direct access to the fans that love their music and they are making more money per disc than they have ever made in RADIOHEADS career. This new concept is ultimately where the Internet will take every type of recorded entertainment. Direct to the consumer. Major labels are not extremely happy about the idea that you can have a massive hit record and not have to use their retail / radio system to get it heard and sold.

The benefits of direct access to the consumer are so great that other acts are now looking at how they can utilize this system. Since Rock & Roll makes up the largest portion of Internet music sales, this is normally what we hear about Internet sales, but the originator of this direct to consumer system has to be PRINCE.

After leaving his “slave” contract PRINCE started selling his music independently through Al Bell (remember The Most Beautiful Girl In The World), but from then on he sold music exclusively online. In his latest move PRINCE gave away 2.8 million copies of his album to newspaper readers in the UK. Prince's free CD was noteworthy not only in that it marked the first time a music icon of his stature gave away a new album of original music, but also because it demonstrates the degree to which album sales no longer matter as much to artists. After all, tours are where most acts make most of their money, and the fact that the music sales have been in a tailspin for the better part of this decade is not news to anyone at this point.

There are a number of factors behind the sales slide, but one important factor is that the album is no longer the primary means for an artist or group to get their music into the hands of the public. Most bands have pages on MySpace where would-be fans can sample their wares. Others, like the Barenaked Ladies, Tilt, and Keane have released albums on USB flash drives.

Now comes word that NINE INCH NAILS mastermind TRENT REZNOR is cutting ties with his label, UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, according to CNS. Previously, REZNOR urged fans to download his new CD illegally, after finding out how much the label was charging AUSTRALIAN and NEW ZEALAND fans for his record.REZNOR's statement on the band's website stated, "It gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate. Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008. Exciting times, indeed."

Just because you release your music online does not mean that you are going to have phenomenal sales. There are a few things ALL of these artists have in common that create multiple revenue streams.

The first thing is that they have already enjoyed Gold and Platinum sales on past major label product.

Each and every one of them has cemented a loyal audience and maintains communication with that audience on a regular basis via the Internet

Touring is a major portion of their success while having multiple merchandising articles available for sale before, during and after the tour.

Look for many “superstar” status artists not resigning with major labels in the near future, especially when they can have the type of success that RADIOHEADS & PRINCE have shown.

Last but not least, if the major labels have less superstar product to generate revenue, they'll undoubtedly have less money and time to break new talent. This will make it near impossible for new artists to acquire that major label deal without having shown labels a solid fan base that is constantly growing, massive amounts of Internet play and retailers that want the product!

The new record industry is here NOW and this is just another one of the many BIRTHING PAINS.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Birthing Pains

Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

I was told at a recent music conference by an executive from an independent distributor that he wishes the Internet would be destroyed because it hurts record sales so bad.

I have in recent times heard from a major market radio consultant that the Internet was responsible for the demise in listener ship at radio formats around the United States and it should be banned.

To both of these statements I say “It’s about time”, the one sided business practices and limited opportunities within the radio / record / store system should have ceased years ago.

Michael Harrison, publisher of the talk-radio magazine Talkers, told a group at the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show that competing technologies -- like Internet, Wi-Fi, podcasts and cell phones -- would all but fill the niche they now occupy.
"These are dark times for terrestrial radio," Harrison said. "And most people in terrestrial radio are in denial of it."

The old record industry depended on radio airplay to sell records for record retailers, then they added MTV / BET to their record selling mix. This vicious cycle has finally started to erode, technology has made it easier for more creators of music and multi-media projects, and with this proliferation of new material came new avenues to listen and expose these creations. The new record industry has been birthed and the initial growing pains are now presenting themselves. Change can be embraced, fought or ignored, change can not be stopped, and today’s technology has brought many new revenue generating ideas to our industry.

To exist in a profit making position Radio will need to focus on its local sponsors and core community. Music will probably be the first thing that will leave the format as more and more stations will turn to talk and information radio. Genre specific radio has risen significantly already with the proliferation of Hispanic, sports, talk, Asian, Haitian; and other formats. It is not too difficult to envision that this type of audience targeted radio will become mainstream soon. Music is now available on a multitude of levels as proven by the data being collected today on Arbitrons PPM, and consumers are turning away from radio to hear this music by using many different devices.

Independent record retailers are fast becoming a thing of the past. These retailers have had to change their buying patterns and start carrying clothing, multi media accessories, and adult novelties based on their specific customer genre just to stay in business.

An example of positive genre specific business practices is the new deal announced between MUSICNET, the music unit of MEDIANET DIGITAL and LA CURACAO, a leading Hispanic mega retailer in the U.S. creating the first ever full-featured Hispanic focused digital music service.

MUSICNET with LA CURACAO partnering have created PASITO TUNES a Hispanic based fully customized digital music subscription service and download store, along with the ability to access users’ music collections both on PCs and portable devices. Users will have access to a bi-lingual online music destination with catalog from Latino music genres including Salsa, Meringue, Cumbia, Tex-Mex, Reggaeton, Bachata, Rancheras, Baladas, Spanish pop music and more.

CD, vinyl, and the almost extinct cassette sales are plummeting at a faster and faster rate every year. Digital sales ARE increasing however they are not nearly as bountiful as yesterday’s cd and vinyl sales once were. Record labels are now turning to different sources for their revenue.

The music business is no longer about promoting records, but it has changed into a licensing business.

UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP is trying to create a comprehensive subscription plan, called TOTALMUSIC, which would require buy-in from ISPs and mobile access providers. This is an interesting idea if the consumer doesn’t have to foot the bill; however we already know that the ISP will automatically increase monthly access charges in exchange for a subscription-based music plan.

The NATIONAL MUSIC PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION has stepped up their efforts to shut down popular websites that publish lyrics to songs without their permission -- and are demanding that GOOGLE and YAHOO! remove all references to them in search results, reports THE NEW YORK POST.

The move against lyric sites comes because the publishing business is in the midst of rolling out OFFICIAL online-lyric offerings through such places as YAHOO! MUSIC and REAL NETWORKS' RHAPSODY, via deals with lyric aggregators GRACENOTE and LYRICFIND.

Since 2003, IODA has been at the forefront of digital independent music distribution marketing and technology. Now IODA is in the digital video distribution business, with content from a broad range of top-tier indie film production companies along with IODA's labels' catalog of music videos. Distribution outlets include movie download sites NetFlix and EZTakes, mobile outlets Groovemobile, Hudson, Jamba/Jamster, Mobile Streams, Rogers Canada and Musiwave, and music video purveyors Real Rhapsody, Muzu and Veoh.

WARNER MUSIC GROUP and CHRIS LIGHTY, Founder/CEO of VIOLATOR MANAGEMENT, have formed a joint venture to be known as BRAND ASSET GROUP. The group is designed to increase revenue by more aggressively managing artist brands from all genres and capitalize on the value of those brands through corporate sponsorships, strategic and integrated marketing campaigns and comprehensive brand extensions.

I will say it again. The music business is no longer about promoting records, but it has changed into a licensing business.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hip-Hop Awards Shows

Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

On the eve of the Hip-Hop Awards show I have to ask the question WHY?

Why are there award shows for artists that condone violence, derogatory lyrics and a complete disdain for authority?

Who really wins?

What do they win?

What is there to gain?

The presenting award show company acquires EXPOSURE so that the ratings for their show increase. They then can attract more advertisers and make a hell of a lot more money than the artists that received the award. The company also acquires sponsors for the show who use their sponsorship as advertising for their products or services, again making way more money than the Hip-Hop artist.

The Hip-Hop artist gains EXPOSURE so that everyone can see that they are a worthy Hip-Hop artist and the viewing public should become one of their loyal fans. Sales are not increased because you have won an award, your fan base is not increased not even your personal knowledge is increased.

Who acquires the most?

Award shows in the Hip-Hop music business always seem to have similarities.

Major artists are placed up front so that television cameras can constantly check to see their expressions when OTHER people win the awards.

Hard rappers always Thank God yet don’t have the strength to clean up their images or lyrics.

Iced out, grilled out, huge chains, new clothes, new hair arrangements galore yet not one dime to make a REAL change within their cd / ticket / clothes buying public’s community. A few artists have foundations that throw a yearly party so the press can see how much they are helping the community or they’ve given a few thousand dollars to a very few students educational fund. Here’s an idea, why not take the cost of ALL the jewelry you wear to the awards show and invest it into the education of children within your OWN community.

Cleavage will abound on the audience shots.

There’s going to be drama in the show and around the city where the show is being held. This morning I read that during the opening awards party someone got shot and a famous rapper is being accused. This type of behavior is indicative of any artist who really believes their “Hype”, and needs to show how truly “BAD” they are. Once again this is not selling records and most people are not so lucky that they can walk away from a gunshot wound, or an attempted murder charge.

There will be untold numbers of parties all using the name of the awards show in their advertising. Of course there will be Official parties and Unofficial parties advertised plus the underground private parties that this generation is now so proud of. Combined this only increases the chance of some drama hitting the media and blaming the drama on the awards show.

Pick your city Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, makes NO difference the similarities are there and the major players are the same.

I already know that some of you reading this article will feel that I’m “hating” on the award shows. My answer is to show me that I’m wrong, in other words WHERE’S THE BEEF?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Country's First Black Star

A Black Star In Early Country Music
Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

The Grand Ole Opry's First Star was none other than the legendary "Harmonica Wizard," DeFord Bailey-- an African American born and raised 40 miles east of Nashville.

Born in 1899 in rural Smith County, Tn., DeFord Bailey was the grandson of a freed slave who had fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. After his mother died when he was only a year old, his father's sister Barbara Lou and her husband effectively became his foster parents, caring for him throughout the rest of his childhood. Bailey learned the traditional tunes of what he would later call "Black Hillbilly Music" from his grandfather, aunt and other family members. He learned to play the harmonica while still a baby, and it remained his favorite instrument, but he was a multi-talented musician, able to play banjo, guitar, mandolin and even a bit of violin.

In 1925 WSM Radio Nashville began the Saturday Night Show of Authentic Folk and Country Music that would become the Barn Dance. The harmonica master joined the Opry when it was still known as the WSM Barn Dance. It was renamed the Grand Ole Opry by popular Radio Announcer George D. Hay in 1927. Bailey carried the shows during the early years, offering a balance to other performers such as Uncle Dave Macon and the McGee Brothers. He had the soul of a Jazz Artist; often improvising on the spot-- each performance was different and equally special. After a typically great performance of his classic train song, "The Pan American Blues," Hay mouthed the phrase that would become music history. "For the past hour we have been listening to music largely from Grand Opera, but from now on we will present The Grand Ole Opry." The legendary Grand Ole Opry and DeFord Bailey, its first star, were born.

DeFord Bailey’s popularity led the enthusiastic Hay to choose him as one of the Opry acts to be recorded by Columbia Records during a session in Atlanta, early in 1927. Bad business practices made DeFord Bailey cancel his deal and sign with Vocalion. Vocalion, Brunswick's sister label, created a series. These series sessions would yield eight songs, including "Pan American Blues," the only recordings by a black performer among the series.
A year later, George D. Hay set up the first recording session to ever take place in Nashville, luring the Victor label to town to record his Opry Performers. DeFord. Bailey took part in this historic session, cutting eight new songs in four-and-a-half hours. Three of these cuts would later be released by Victor-- the last, "John Henry" in 1932. Reissues of the material were released as late as 1936.
Even though there is evidence that the labels made a lot of money, Bailey saw little remuneration from these recordings, and never really tried to record again after 1928.

DeFord Bailey toured constantly during the 1930’s with several bands, playing tent shows, county fairs and theaters across the country, always returning to the Opry Stage for Saturday Night's Performance. In 1938 he agreed to help publicize Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys by touring with them over the next couple of years, directly lending a hand to Acuff's future stardom.

May of 1941, his sixteenth year with the Grand Ole Opry, DeFord Bailey the Grand Ole Opry's First Star was fired in a mystery often covered up or neglected by Country Music Historians. In his account of the Opry popular Radio Announcer George D. Hay wrote” "Like some members of his race, DeFord was lazy. He knew about a dozen numbers, which he put on the air and recorded for a major company, but he refused to learn any more."
"It's a terrible thing for the company to say terrible things like that about me," Bailey said in an interview. "I can read between the lines. They saw the day coming when they'd have to pay me right, and they used the excuse about me playing the same old tunes. I told them years, I got tired of blowing that same thing, but I had to go along with them, you know. They held me down-- I wasn't free."
Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen declared December 14, DeFord Bailey Day, to honor the birthday of this musical legend, but at the Opry, he has been deleted from history.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Allen Johnston / The Music Specialist

Look out Independent entertainment companies, there is a new twist coming that will ultimately wreck havoc upon your business. Organizations are popping up that are speaking for ALL independent companies and the African-American based labels don’t even know that they exist. Here are a few of the many organizations that are starting to direct the course of independent business worldwide.

The world’s first global rights-licensing agency for the independent sector was launched at Midem 2007 and the implications for USA independent record labels are far reaching.

What is happening is that one agency MERLIN has established itself to negotiate and license indie releases worldwide. The reasoning is that the independent record labels represent 30% of the music market and 80% of its product; this is larger than ANY major record label. .

Based in London and the Netherlands, MERLIN will operate as a stand-alone non-profit company, owned by its members. It is the sister organization of the World Independent Network and has been incubated by WIN as its first major global project.

Announced one year ago at Midem 2006 and operational for six (6) months the global organization representing the independent music sector is making its presence felt.

Alison Wenham, chairman of AIM in the UK and vice president of IMPALA, was elected the first ever president of governing body WIN at a meeting attended by over 20 independent trade associations representing thousands of independent music companies from A2IM (USA) UK (AIM), Australia (AIR), Brazil (ABMI), France (UPFI), Germany (VUT), Spain (UFI), FONO (Norway), SOM (Sweden) ADISQ (Quebec), IMNZ (New Zealand), PIL (Israel) Pronofon (Mexico) AIRCO (South Africa), to New Zealand (IMNZ), Canada (CIRPA).


IMPALA was established in April 2000 at the initiative of prominent independent labels and national trade associations. It is an international non profit-making trade association with a scientific and artistic purpose.
Independent record and music publishing labels come together to identify, discuss and liaise on issues of common interest. Impala has 3500 members including top independents and national trade associations
Impala’s aims are to:
represent indigenous European independent music companies and promote their competitiveness in the interests of cultural diversity
ensure better market access for independents

enforce antitrust rules to stimulate competition and consumer's choice, combating industry concentration

fight discrimination against small companies by large ones, from inside and outside the music industry

negotiate collective pan-European deals for members

tailor specific financial support mechanisms to the independent music industry

adopt at international trade level of measures that contribute to upholding cultural diversity

promote strong but fair copyright protection to fight against unauthorized and illegitimate use of artist’s works

promote the vital role of music and micro, small and medium sized enterprises in driving Europe's knowledge and innovation economies

function as a network for members and national associations to co-operate

seek positive discrimination for members

The Association of Independent Music is a non-profit-making trade organization for independent record companies and distributors in the UK. Our job is to help our individual members' businesses, and to support the needs of the independent sector.

We do this through:
Legal and Business Affairs guidance
Work Experience Scheme
Commercial Negotiation
Lobbying and Bargaining
Opening Access to International Markets

Figuring that they stand a better chance at being heard if they are united, 125 American indie labels have united and formed an organization called the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM).

A2IM will urge government and business to support fair trade practices, including equal access to the media and the marketplace, on par with the largest companies in the industry. In addition, A2IM will act as the leading edge for the exploration of new and innovative forms of music exposure and distribution.

They're hoping to help give indie businesses the power their collective market share deserves as the music business is transformed by digital technologies, much like their European counterparts in the Association of Independent Music.

As you can see, this is the time for Indies to stake their claim to the new realities of the marketplace and hopefully they will. Blatant to this whole configuration of organizations is the fact that less than 1% are people of color. Not one of the successful African-American labels has been to the conference table with any of these organizations. WHY??????

Monday, September 10, 2007

Record Deals Can Be Detrimental To Your Health

Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

This past year I have had the privilege to speak at several different conferences, seminars and open mic sessions to fledgling and professional producers, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs. What I’ve found in approximately 90% of these people is their desire to obtain a major record deal and not become a business owner. I find this desire to be entirely counter productive, selfish and lazy; a major record deal is completely the wrong way to run your career.

Let me give you a few reasons why a major label deal is inappropriate.


Yes you can receive an advance against sales for your project. Based on what you do to get this project started, your advance could be as high as $450,000.00. But when do you receive any more money? You immediately start out in a position of OWEING the record label; they now own ALL of the rights to your music, your image, your web presence and you can not even make additional deals (licensing) on your music without the labels authorization. You are now tied into a deal for at least 3 years and the label makes ALL of the choices for you.

New label contracts now include ALL of your ancillary revenue sources. Endorsement deals, publishing income, web based income, merchandizing and even a portion of your touring monies.


Music is like bread, it is best when it is delivered directly from the oven hot, flakey and smelling sweet. Your music is now under the rule of the label so they determine which song to release as a single, when the album will be released, when & if you will have a video and who you should talk with for publicity. Please remember that the major labels DO NOT UNDERSTAND how to work a record in the streets, how to obtain and maintain the freshness of a new “hit” or even how to work your fan base. If they did they wouldn’t need to get music from unknown independents, they’d make their own.

The bottom line for labels is cash and now that ALL labels are run by accountants, lawyers or corporate executives there only concern is for the immediate future of the label. They have no concern for the artist and little or no understanding of the music.

Within the past year the music industry has amassed hundreds of job firings, downsizings and miss management issues. These changes within the workplace are to make the balance sheets look better, to stanch losses, and hopefully report profits. It has got nothing to do with whether these people were NEEDED, whether they had jobs essential to the company, what their track record was in assisting the growth of the artist or even how many records they sold, just what their salaries and benefits were. No longer are record people working records, we now have the dubious new program called OUTSOURCING. What I’ve found out about outsourcing is that it opens up new companies for the children and relatives of the major label executives, friends, family and business associates. In other words it is just another reason to extract more money from the artist under the heading of RECOUPMENT. So as an artist you can no longer go to the company and speak with someone concerning your project, but you can sit in a room and listen to a conference call about your project. Remember that outsourced companies have MANY clients so why should you become a priority? By the time you release a second album some if not most of these outsourced companies will not even be in business. So you have to find NEW people to work on your project.


Major labels became major by creating a distribution system that started with independent store owners and moved to chain accounts. Now there is a glut of product at the physical stores, fewer consumers are buying the lack luster hits and digital distribution is allowing artists to reach the consumer direct.

U.S. album sales dropped to 588.2 million in 2006—a 5% decrease from the 619 million copies scanned in 2005, and the first time since 1993 that the figure has slipped below the 600 million mark. In 2000, R&B moved nearly 200 million copies, accounting for 25.4% of sales, while the rap subgenre—which is included in the R&B total—itself scanned 107 million units, or 13.6% of album sales.Since then, album sales have declined 25%, but R&B is down 41.4% to 117 million units and rap is down 44.4%, with scans of 59.5 million units last year. To put it another way, R&B now accounts for nearly 20% of U.S. album sales, while rap now stands at 10% of album sales.

It is now easier and much more profitable to release your music online where you can receive ALL of the money


Why go into debt with the labels for a big budget video when the airtime available on television is drying up? Programming at the major video outlets is turning to reality TV and now is reflecting a difference audience structure. You can enjoy more views and create a larger fan base by making an inexpensive video and placing it on My Space & You Tube thereby going directly to the consumer. You just need a digital camera and Final Cut Pro, maybe even iMovie.

KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has recently made a new commercial using footage from MySpace & You Tube. This has effectively saved them millions of dollars. No Ad Agency to pay, no actors, no unions only free footage from the consumers that enjoy there product. If they can understand the significance of it I know you can.


Just a few years ago having a record in power rotation at radio would mean hundreds of thousands of sales. Now a top 10 rotated record brings in 5 to 20 thousand units a week this is a long way from the multi platinum selling days of yester year.

The new avenues for music are Internet radio, mobile cell phone streaming and the ability to license your music.
If all you care about is money, sign with a major label. If you want all your money up front, instantly owe a corporation, and no longer own your creation, sign with a major. If you want to whore yourself out, do whatever it takes to sell your unimaginative, non creative, un original music, then sign with the major label. I hope you achieve your goal and get instantly rich, because after the car, the jewelry, the parties remember “you owe your soul to the company man”.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Black Music History - America

Allen L. Johnston
The Music Specialist

Has it ever occurred to you to teach a youngster WHY they make music?

It is historically known that we as a people have used music as a tool for various reasons. Upon our forced migration to this country the 2 main sources of communication among our people were removed, our tribal language and the DRUM. Our combined creativeness coupled with the need to subversively communicate among one another started the musical work song tradition. Songs that were sung to the swing of the hoe, pick or axe and helped set a pace for combined work efforts, but also allowed subversive communication between families, and plantations.

Between 1660 – 1860 one of the greatest influences upon Black music was the religion that the slave masters forced on our ancestors. As slaves our ancestors were not able to meet in any groups outside of the workforce unless it was church. The first series of hymns that slaves were legally able to sing were songs created by Dr Issac Watts of England. The poetry of Dr. Watts took the religious world of dissent by storm. It gave an utterance, till then unheard in England, to the spiritual emotions, in their contemplation of God's glory in nature and his revelation in Christ, and made hymn-singing a fervid devotional force, something that fit right in with our people. With the onset of Dr Watts hymns came the camp meetings where our music developed tambourines, banjoes and the occasional drum. From these poor beginnings came the Spirituals, music that was made to describe the feelings of a group of individuals. This music also morphed into a version of music that describes a large portion of our culture the foundation of the Blues.

After slavery two main influences helped shape the global convergence of American Black music. The first was the opening of Fisk University and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. These singers were the first internationally acclaimed group of African-American musicians who attained first recognition, then fame, and along the way, financed their school. The talented vocal artists introduced "slave songs" to the world and, in many opinions, preserved this music from extinction. The second was the creation of blues by post-slavery Blacks in Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, everywhere, which led to the first written blues, "The Memphis Blues," published in 1912, and great blues singers like MA RAINEY and BESSIE SMITH. February 14, 1920. MAMIE SMITH recorded the first major "race record," "That Thing Called Love" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find," for Okeh Records. BESSIE SMITH and other artists sold a phenomenal number of records and ensured the survival of Columbia and other recording companies.

Gospel and Blues developed along very similar lines and in fact several major contributors to Black music were known to play both styles. One of the most prolific writers and performers was Thomas Dorsey. Reverend Dorsey as he was known in his later years was a composer and pianist for Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, plus he wrote some of the most performed Gospel songs in history.

In the late 1890’s a new sound was created by Blacks in Louisiana, Texas, Missouri and other places, followed by creative syntheses by great individual performers like BUDDY BOLDEN, JELLY ROLL MORTON, LOUIS ARMSTRONG and others. This was the collective creation of Jazz music. On November 11, 1925, Louis Armstrong recorded the first of the Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings that defined the rhythmic and improvisational foundation of jazz. Once again music had been created that attempted to describe the emotional and spirit filled anxiety of our race.
The first all Black owned record company based in Harlem and founded in May of 1921 Black Swan Records was created by Harry Pace. Fletcher Henderson was the recording manager and played piano accompaniment, while William Grant Still was arranger and later musical director. Artists on this label included • C. Carroll Clark, baritone, made the label's first record. • Four Harmony Kings, vocal quartet • Henry Creamer and J. Turner Layton, vaudeville duo • Katie Crippen, vaudeville singer • Kemper Harreld, violinist • Revella Hughes, soprano • Alberta Hunter, blues singer • Trixie Smith, blues singer, was second only to Ethel Waters in Black Swan sales. • Florence Cole Talbert soprano • Ethel Waters, blues and pop song singer. She had the label's first commercially successful records, and remained their best seller.

This company produced several firsts that can be seen manifested today.
1. Publishing house that became a record label2. Created multiple genres of music, classical, instrumental, gospel and blues3. "Mamie Jones" was actually a pseudonym on Black Swan for singer Aileen Stanley, perhaps the only Caucasian artist to record for the label (she was "passing for colored" on these records).4. The company declared bankruptcy in December 1923. As a result, in March 1924 Paramount Records bought the Black Swan label.
White owned record companies began to recognize the demand for black artists to the point that major companies began publishing music by these performers. In addition, the Chicago Defender credited Mr. Pace with bringing major companies to begin targeting the black audience and advertising in black newspapers. Paramount discontinued the Black Swan label a short time later, but kept the artists recording under their label.

Several other advents helped Black music‘s popularity, on May 23, 1921. Shuffle Along, the first of a series of popular musicals featuring Black talent, opened at the 63rd Street Musical Hall in New York and Blacks began to invent Broadway or, at a minimum, Broadway musical culture. Two years later, on October 29, 1923, Runnin' Wild opened at Colonial Theatre on Broadway, introducing America's first dance hit, the Charleston, to the world. In 1925. PAUL ROBESON made his debut as a bass-baritone in the Greenwich Village Theatre singing the first concert consisting solely of Negro spirituals. On December 4, 1927. DUKE ELLINGTON opened at the Cotton Club, Harlem's Jim Crow musical magnet, marking the formal beginning of the Swing Age and the Age of the Big Bands of COUNT BASIE, ERKSKINE HAWKINS, JIMMY LUNCEFORD and, later, BILLY ECKSTINE. Ellington, who was arguably America's greatest composer, extended the harmonic and structural dimensions of jazz, which has been called America's classical music.
The 1930’s gave rise to an entire new era of Black Music. New Black urban migrants from the south to the north redefined church music, giving it a rhythm and passion that THOMAS DORSEY, the "Father of Gospel Music," put down on paper and SALLIE MARTIN and, later, MAHALIA JACKSON sang. In addition to inventing a name for the new sacred music of black Americans, organizing its first chorus, its first annual convention, and founding its first publishing house, Dorsey is credited with establishing the tradition of the gospel music concert.

In the 1940’s Jazz took another divergence when CHARLIE PARKER and DIZZY GILLESPIE brought their musical groups to New York's 52nd Street, inaugurating the Be-Bop age and changing the structure and harmonic foundations of modern jazz. Still Black music in all of its forms attempted to describe the feelings and spirituality of not only its creators but of its listeners as well.

The 1950’s saw an explosion of Black music, RICHARD (LITTLE RICHARD) PENNIMAN recorded "Tutti Frutti," and CHUCK BERRY recorded "Maybelline," followed by other recordings by Black artists (BIG MAYBELLE, WILSON PICKETT and others) who influenced the Beatles and Elvis Presley and played major roles in the development of rock `n' roll. SAM COOKE, a well-known gospel singer, crossed over into what some then called "rhythm and blues," recording "You Send Me," which marked the beginning of soul music. MILES DAVIS recorded “Kind of Blue”, "a milestone in jazz history," which changed the directions of modern American music. Motown Records was founded by BERRY GORDY JR., who gave the world the JACKSON 5, the SUPREMES, STEVIE WONDER and MARVIN GAYE, and who helped change the understanding, marketing and promotion of American music.

And the biggest phenomenon of the 1950’s was FREEDOM MUSIC based on the whoops, hollers and affirmations of the Black Spiritual-gospel-blues-jazz tradition, annealed and transformed African-Americans and their allies in the UNCOUNTABLE mass meetings, marches, vigils and protests of the Freedom Movement, which was the biggest U.S. social movement of the 20th century and which influenced singers in Soweto, Eastern Europe and Tiananmen Square. Major Black singers sang in the chorus or the choir of the Movement, notably MAHALIA JACKSON ("I Been 'Buked and I Been Scorned"), HARRY BELAFONTE ("Matilda"), Aretha Franklin ("R-E-S-P-E-C-T"), SAMMY DAVIS JR. ("Mr. Bojangles"), JAMES BROWN ("I'm Black and I'm Proud"), CURTIS MAYFIELD ("Keep on Pushin'"), SAM COOKE ("A Change Is Gonna Come"), NINA SIMONE ("What are we going to do now, now that the King of Love is Dead?"), BERNICE REAGAN ("Before I'd be a slave, I'd be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free").

Music created for a purpose that touched the spirit and spoke about the injustices of the world.

The 1960’s brought us ERNEST (CHUBBY CHECKER) EVANS recording "The Twist," setting off the biggest dance craze since the Charleston craze of the 1920s. The craze changed the patterns of American dance and changed, perhaps forever, the dominant patterns of men and women dancing together. Plus a new gospel music with a more worldly sound and a catchy, pop-flavored beat flowed out of urban Black churches and was given form and passion by JAMES CLEVELAND and SHIRLEY CAESAR, leading to ANDRAE CROUCH and the EDWIN HAWKINS SINGERS and contemporaries like KIRK FRANKLIN, the many WINANS and a new growth industry, White gospel singers.

The 1970’s brought us synthesizers and over-dubbing and detailed preparation of albums all epitomized by STEVIE WONDER. The end of the 70’s introduced THE SUGAR HILL GANG who produced the first rap hit, "Rapper's Delight," introducing the world of rap and hip-hop with implications that are still reverberating in the music world.

In 1984 MICHAEL JACKSON'S Thriller video premiered on TV, and revolutionized the making and marketing of pop music, leading to MTV and the new pop technology. The 90’s popular crossover success of singers like WHITNEY HOUSTON and JANET JACKSON started new merchandising, marketing trends and led to numerous White imitators like Britney Spears.
Success stories abound but the biggest change in Black music has come about in the 2000’s. Hip Hop originated as an expression of individuality, a description of anger and distrust against the unjust governmental systems we now live under. Just as Slave work songs, Gospel, Blues, Jazz, Be Bop and the majority of our cultural music had done. Now this new music is made only to make certain individuals wealthy and unfortunately the wealthy are not the artists making the music. This new breed of music is designed to make both Black & White consumers / listeners controllable and ignorant. It is now promoting unbridled loveless sex, drug usage, murder and mayhem.

Isn’t it time to let your child know WHY they make music?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007



Contact: Renee Harris
Sound Impact PR
375 Wesley Chapel Road
Suite 3-1368
Decatur, GA 30034

Banned NFL Cornerback of the Tennessee Titans, Adam “Pacman” Jones makes it rain on the mic while he tackles the music industry to launch his new Record Label, “National Street League Records”.

(Atlanta, GA –August 13th, 2007) -- From the NFL football field, to the affiliation with TNA Wrestling Entertainment, Pacman Jones announces his next step as he moves into a new area full of hip-hop lyrics, beats and production to release his untapped musical talents. In spite of the distractions Pacman Jones makes his path to become a recording artist and CEO of National Street League Records. The first rap duo release will consist of producer Spoaty and Mr. Pacman Jones himself together known as the “Posterboyz.”

In an interview today the question was asked what is next on your agenda as a team player and Pacman replied,” The music business. I am also an entrepreneur; it takes a team player to make plays happen so I am bonding with my staff and recording artist to make this company a success. I went within myself to find a place to release my talents while I filter through my career from all of the things that have taken place around me. I find tranquility in writing lyrics, establishing my company and preparing for my promo tour in mid September. Looking from the outside in, I have been the example for many to see the poster child if you will; and from that sentiment the “Posterboyz” group name was born.”

The promo tour will stop in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama to host community events and forums at various high schools and universities.” The first single is scheduled to hit the streets August 27th titled “Let it Shine” the song relates to glimmering stones, big money and flashy cars. The “Posterboyz” debut album is scheduled to release in 2008. To back up the “Posterboyz” the National Street League Records family roster will also include an R&B act to bring melodic tunes to N.S.L fans.

With his thirst for the success in the music business he is pacing his camp to move into the spotlight with hits and billboards. Mr. MVP on the music charts, will that be his new AKA during the upcoming off-season? As the saying go’s, “Don’t touch that dial.” CEO Packman Jones and National Street League Records coming to a city near you.

Media Contact: For photos and interview request contact Renee Harris 678-789-1217

Do's & Don'ts of Payola


Do listen to the music BEFORE you ask for the money. Know what you’re working with.

Don’t set a price for a project that will make your station sound bad.

Do setup a third party between you and the money giver. Someone you trust should be able to get a share of the profits for taking care of YOUR business. (INDEPENDENT PROMOTION PEOPLE DON’T COUNT)

Don’t receive a package directly from a company or individual, this can get you fired.

Do speak with the record label on occasion.

Don’t speak about anything concerning PAY FOR PLAY or accepting gifts. Normal conversations should be about the project’s ability to draw listeners or local sales.

Do be cordial and professional in your dealings, do what you say and say what you have done.

Don’t diss a company you have received favors from, some people will crack your skull to the white meat, others will tell the FCC.

Do understand that PAY FOR PLAY is illegal and always verbally refer to the quarterly statements you have signed denying your receiving money or gifts.

Don’t ever try to talk about PAYOLA with more than one person in the room. When there are 3 people or more one is always a witness.

Do let people know that you never will or ever have received money or gifts for airplay.

Don’t tell them that I told you so.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

Here’s something to think about….Cell phones will replace portable radio, television, personal data assistants, credit cards, cash, Ipods, global positioning systems and the pocket pc.

If you think that this is a futuristic view, let’s look at what’s happening today.

Some of the companies and technology NOW available on cell phones are:

P2P applications such as chat/ communities, picture/greetings, music sharing, and IM have become increasingly popular in the US. Executives from AOL, Facebook, iLoop Mobile, NeuStar, T-Mobile USA and Upoc Networks are designing new applications.

Mobile Television distributing video content via the mobile channel along with movie trailers is popular. CBS Digital Media, Fox Interactive Media, MediaFLO, MobiTV, MTV and NBC Universal.

Mobile Music Labels and artists are gaining mainstream exposure through the mobile channel and leveraging new revenues streams for existing and tailor-made content. Ericsson, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Mobile and Warner Music are a few leaders in this technology.

Mobile Games single played games and multiplayer games over the 3G network. Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Nokia, QUALCOMM, Fox Mobile Entertainment, Motricity, Nellymoser, Novarra, Qpass and Walt Disney Internet Group all have new gaming designs available.

Already well established in Asia and parts of Europe, mobile commerce is only now beginning to make its way to the U.S. Early efforts of using SMS messages to send and receive money have not gained support from consumers or U.S. carriers. Now all you have to do is simply enter your Mobile phone number and a passcode to complete a transaction. And these Mobile transactions cost retailers a fraction of the fees they currently pay to other financial vendors. Your cellphone now can become a MOBILE WALLET.

Clear Channel Radio has launched a national roll-out of mobile radio programming. The initiative kicks off with WHTZ-FM New York (Z100) streaming live radio and new features directly to cell phones across the country serviced by Cingular Wireless. Subscribers of Z100 Mobile, the premiere service of Clear Channel Radio's mobile offering, can interact directly from their phones to listen to streamed and on-demand content including pod casts of celebrity interviews and popular segments. They can also find the title and artist of the last 10 songs played on-air, make a song request directly to Z100 and receive a text message alert 15 minutes before their song is played, get free station wallpapers for their phone, rate listener-submitted photos and obtain real-time reports on local traffic. The content of Clear Channel Radio's mobile program to be offered on the 100 additional stations over the next year will be similar to the features described above for the premiere service, Z100 Mobile.

Amp’d Mobile offers include full-motion video of news, sports, concerts and other live events, as well as movie and television clips and music videos. Added to the mix are high-speed music downloads, 3-D games, video blogs, a dating service, text messaging and an assortment of ring tones and wallpaper. Also, Amp’d Mobile phones can connect to a unique in-car audio experience, as well as allow download of music and video from the Amp’d Live service to plasma screens throughout the vehicle. Your phone becomes a multimedia automobile delivery system.
Major record labels such as Warner Music & Sony BMG are steadily embracing mobile technology, moving beyond ring tones and music downloads. Both labels have developed their own mobile game publishing division rather than licensing the rights to existing game developers. Music video download, which has already taken Ipod by storm, will now be directed to the consumer’s cellphone. Things are becoming so serious that a new company Royalty Producer ‘06 has created the first royalty software for download sales. With royalty producer, your data comes to life. You set up this software with just three simple steps and your professionally designed royalty statements are just one click away.

Do you still think that cell phones are only for talking? Well today is the day you should change your mind.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

There’s a new disease going around the music business that is affecting ALL genres of music. Symptoms include:

1. Blurred Vision – the inability to see things as they really are. Normally present whenever there are contracts to sign, information to be analyzed or agreements to be read.

2. Redundant Speech Patterns – that seem to include “You Know What I Mean?”, “Ya Heard Me”, or “You Feel Me” used in every sentence and in place of coherent sentences.

3. Slow Movement – resulting in the inability to make appointments on time, shows on time, and flights on time or anything that will enhance one’s business dealings.

4. Impairment of Faculties – normally called being “high”, blasted, in the groove, shit faced, tight or inappropriately called “getting right”. This symptom has lead to massive degradation of finances, dependency on drugs and a heighten degree of Blurred Vision, Redundant Speech Patterns and Slow Movement.

5. Keeping It Real – the culmination of ALL of the symptoms and the final excuse used instead of treatment. Also known as being stupid, uneducated, lazy and criminally minded.

6. Diva-ism - seems to be the end result of the disease where the artist becomes BETTER than everyone around them, their audience and ultimately their entire business career.

New artists have not paid any dues nor do they have enough knowledge of the industry to start making demands of their companies. How many times have I seen good artists literally kill their future by insisting on some trivial immediate benefit? There is no way someone can take your idea and make a fortune off of it without YOU first messing the project up.

We have all heard of the Crab In A Barrel mentality, but fail to recognize the concept of Keeping Your Fist Tight while asking for a handout. Most new artist feel that they should not give anything to get something. This is ultimately a bad idea.

Today’s popular singers are also affected with a new symptom that is creating a very poor situation for them and their music. They can’t sing! What makes certain new artists think that they can sing and have never learned anything about music? I’m tired of hearing singers that only use 4 notes in their entire song. Making runs all over the scale yet never being quite exactly in key, and always without any feeling or emotion.

Recently I heard a song about a woman losing the man that she loved, and it sounded like the singer was smiling while she sang. There is a lack of emotion and believability in today’s music that is running rampant. The culprit is not only the singer but also the producer and entertainment company that releases the song. The desire to create a “bubblegum song” version that fits radio and makes money has led to the current condition of the industry. Qualities, musicianship, following the laws of music are no longer taken into account when making contemporary songs.

And this brings us to the ultimate travesty, Producer driven artists. The lack of musicianship, music theory training and historical musical knowledge has now fashioned a slew of very talented REMIXERS OF SAMPLES. Individuals and teams that have no original creative thought, but can hear someone else’s music, steal it and say that they have shaped a new song. These new producers are then finding artists that have no musical comprehension and placing them on their remixes, all the while saying that they are unsullied and innovative.

A few readers of this article will say that I am out of touch with reality, old fashioned or even hating on them. I say learn your craft and stop finding excuses.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Losing Battle

The entertainment industry is fighting a battle that it can’t win. Holding on to the concept that business will be conducted as usual is no longer a positive perception. Today’s retailers, radio executives and record companies must now morph into something new, exciting, and technologically astute to maintain profitability. Some recent developments seem to verify the veracity of my statements. South Florida has the largest amount of pirate radio stations in the nation. A lot of reasons have been given for this phenomenon from the typical “No one is playing what the public wants to really hear”, to “How can we have a prosperous local music scene when there is NO LOCAL music on the airways” and even “The mix of different cultures here means that we need a different mix of music on the air” Well this conglomerate of new & exciting stations has now come to a halt. “The FLORIDA STATE SENATE passed a bill THURSDAY (April 22, 2004) to make operating a pirate radio station or interfering with radio transmissions a third-degree felony.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. ALEX VILLALOBOS (R-MIAMI), passed the SENATE 30-8, with a companion bill ready for a house vote. FLORIDA is a particularly popular area for pirate stations, especially in the MIAMI-FORT LAUDERDALE, WEST PALM BEACH, FORT MYERS-NAPLES, and ORLANDO areas.” Reported by All Access.com This bill will allow authorities to not only confiscate equipment but also arrest the users of this broadcasting equipment all without an arrest warrant. Broadcasters in South Florida are now looking for an alternative and one is on the way.

On demand Wireless Internet Access for mobile devices. Internet Radio and Internet TV usage has grown significantly and is now being compared to the rise of FM radio in the '70s. A study from Arbitron/Edison Media shows that, as of January 2004, the estimated number of Americans using Internet Radio and Internet TV per month has reached 51 million. That's an increase of 10 to 21 percent in four years...

We're less than a year away from Internet Radio and Internet TV invading the final fortress for AM, FM and satellite radio: the car. That's when KVH Industries based in Middletown, R.I., plans to release a product that will allow Internet Radio and Internet TV broadcasts in cars. Your choice: a 100-channel subscription satellite radio or more than 10,000 worldwide radio streams and hundreds of video streams The monthly Internet Radio audience represents approximately 38 million, with a weekly audience of nearly 19 million. That's eight times greater than XM and Sirius satellite radio subscribers combined... This should completely change the way radio is programmed and heard. Households trading in dial-up for high-speed broadband have grown from 6.2 million in 2000 to a projected 30.5 million by 2005. Translation: A year from now broadband will have surpassed dial-up for Internet access The day most record retail stores have dreaded is upon us.

Nielsen Soundscan figures now report the number of legal US music downloads on a regular basis. For the last 6 months of 2003 over 19.2 million downloads were reported. This phenomenon shows that Internet downloads have outsold the single format by over 3 to 1 during the same period. During the same period in Europe half a million customers purchased legal downloads from more than 30 official websites with a repertoire of over 300,000 songs. The international music trade association IFPI has published its first comprehensive study on the development of legal digital music services. Based on studies from IFPI, RIAA, Sound Scan, and NARM digital downloads are fast approaching the most sought after way to purchase music on the planet. Every major label and distribution company is developing a music & movie download scheme for themselves. It is not a coincidence that the RIAA has placed two Washington insiders as there chief executives.

Mitch Bainwol Chairman and CEO the Recording Industry Association of America, highly respected by both sides of the political aisle, most recently led The Bainwol Group, a lobbying firm in Washington. The Washington Post recently called Bainwol a "Top D.C. Lobbyist and Man in Demand." Several years in a row, Capitol Hill's Roll Call newspaper hailed Bainwol as one of the 50 most influential "politicos" in Washington. Cary Sherman is the president of the Recording Industry Association of America. He coordinates the industry's legal, policy and business objectives and his responsibilities include technology, licensing, enforcement, and government affairs issues, among others. He also serves as the General Counsel of the organization. National Journal has described Mr. Sherman as an "intellectual property guru" and "one of the top copyright attorneys in the country."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How To Get Paid In The Music Business 3

Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

In my final installment of HOW TO GET PAID IN THE RECORD BUSINESS I want to look at some non traditional means of revenue directly related to the Recording industry.

I have been and continue to be a strong proponent of International music sales and touring. I personally feel that this is a massive underused revenue stream, and having been involved in the MIDEM conference for the past 16 years I have first hand knowledge of the International marketplace. One of the prime sellers within this International community is performance DVD and Video.


Almost all of you reading this article are familiar with the touring act, that artist or group that has acquired a decent stage show and is on the look out for more dates. These are the prime candidates for DVD / Video creation. Start digitally taping your performances and reviewing these tapes. If you can afford to have a 2 or 3 camera shoot at a few of your gigs you will find that you now have some pretty spectacular footage. This footage can be edited into a long form music video (5 – 10 minutes) or into a full performance show (60 – 90 minutes). Now you have a product to start selling to the masses.

Utilizing the Internet you can place a small clip (2 – 3 minutes) of your show online and use this as a teaser ad to have individuals purchase your full length product. You can use SONICBIDS.COM to place not only your mp3 files, but your music video into a format that you can send to potential booking agents, venues, distributors, publishers and potential buyers.

You can also place your music video on VIDEO.GOOGLE.COM with direct links to your website and have potential customers buy directly from you. At this writing VIDEO.GOOGLE is a new free service looking for DVD / Video material to place upon the Internet.

This DVD / Video project that you have created is also a perfect item to start selling within your show merchandise everywhere you perform. Of course if your show is WACK than your DVD / Video will be WACK and it won’t matter anyway if you sell it or not, but for those interested in creating long lasting fans and continuous buying fans a DVD / Video project is the way to go.


Every artist I’ve ever met has a burning desire to be selected to endorse a clothing line, automobile line or some product that gets a lot of television exposure. Endorsement deals on a National or International level are not easy to come by unless you have a major hit record speeding up the charts and a good amount of print and television coverage accompanying your record sales. The reasoning is basic; the major corporations only want celebrities that can influence the public to buy their products.

There are a few “up and coming” new artists that have received endorsement deals, but these deals were all based on the size of the publicity budget that the record label had committed to the artist prior to an endorsement deal signing.

You, as an independent artist can also find endorsement deals, but not necessarily on a National basis. Try working with people and businesses within your own demographic, for example if you are a traveling Blues artist you may want to have a few suits created for you by a tailor in your town and in turn you will place the clothing company or tailors name on your print publicity, plus make sure their information is given out at everyone of your shows.

When shooting your album cover or creating your stage show try contacting a few companies in your home town for some “free” goods. I have personally gotten clothing, cosmetics, musical instruments, travel services and a VAN just by asking and making sure that I executed my part of the deal. Most people feel that Hip Hop artists are getting ALL of the endorsement deals, but Jazz artists, Blues artists, Spoken Word artists, R&B artists and even Gospel artists are being well represented within the endorsement community.

If you ask you will be surprised what people will give to entertainers just so they can become a part of your “magic”.

This is not a true revenue stream for the artist, but with the amount of money you can save you free up your on hand cash for other ventures. Remember that this is the Music BUSINESS and BUSINESS controls the Music Industry.

Monday, July 9, 2007

How To Get Paid In The Music Business 2


Today the buzz word in music is publishing, everyone knows that you need to keep your own publishing, but few understand the different ways you can get paid from music you create. There are three (3) basic ways to obtain money from your songs and several variations of each one of these ways.

1. Mechanical Rights – Everytime your song is manufactured for sale you, as the writer, should receive money. This includes the recording and reproduction of CDs, ringtones, and Internet downloads. You must contact the Harry Fox Agency to receive this income.

The Harry Fox Agency, Inc 711 Third Ave New York, NY 10017 (212) 370-5330
2. Performance Royalties – RADIO The catch phrase here is “IF IT IS PLAYED YOU GET PAID” Normally you are paid for radio performances that last 90 seconds or more and the performance is the sole sound being heard. Radio performances are paid on 4 different types of stations
COMMERCIAL RADIO - .12 cents per play
CLASSICAL RADIO - .32 cents per play
COLLEGE RADIO - .06 cents per play
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO - based on total number of songs played
Have you ever wondered why record companies spend tons of money for radio BDS “spins”? The answer is very simple, after your song has been performed 95,000 times on radio it then qualifies for the HIT SONG BONUS or an increase in the amount of money you can receive. Songs that have been performed 2.5 million times and receive at least 15,000 BDS recorded performances per quarter (3 months) are considered STANDARDS and are eligible to receive an additional bonus.

There are additional bonus rates paid for radio performances that are featured as Radio Theme songs.

3. Synchronization Rights and Royalties - A synchronization license is needed for a song to be reproduced onto a television program, film, video, commercial, radio, or even an 800 number phone message. It is called this because you are "synchronizing" the composition, as it is performed on the audio recording, to a film, TV commercial, or spoken voice-over. The synchronization royalty is paid to songwriters and publishers for use of a song used as background music for a movie, TV show, or commercial.

TELEVISION – A song you wrote played on US Television can be a significant money maker, especially if it is played more than 45 seconds and is one of these.
VISUAL VOCAL – the vocalist is on camera doing your song

VISUAL INSTRUMENTALIST – the instrumentalist is on camera

BACKGROUND VOCAL – when the song can be heard even if there is dialogue going on simultaneously.

BACKGROUND PERFORMANCE – When your music is used to set the mood and is not featured.

THEME PERFORMANCE – Your song is the theme song for the show

LOGO PERFORMANCE – Your music is played whenever the company logo is shown





PRIMETIME(6:00 PM-10:59 PM)
LATENIGHT(11:00 PM-1:59 AM)
OVERNIGHT(2:00 AM-5:59 AM)

Fox, UPN, WB and other local stations have a different fee schedule based on local airplay.

Local Television Rates
DAYPART A(4:00 PM-12:59 AM)

PBS Television and CABLE networks all work on a varying fee scale based on local market airplay.

Pay-Per-View Services - based on the local airplay.

Internet Music and Mobile Entertainment – The Internet is expanding at a rate that is almost incalculable and keeping abreast of the many avenues where your music could be is almost impossible. Now the US Government has created a office to assist in the collection of Internet & Mobile Entertainment Royalties.

SoundExchangeAttn: Membership Department
1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 330Washington, DC 20036 202.828.0120

SoundExchange handles the following:
collects performance royalties from the statutory licensees;
collects and processes all data associated with the performance of the sound recordings;
allocates royalties for the performance of the sound recording based on all of the data collected and processed;
makes distribution of the featured artist's share directly to the artist;
makes distribution of the SRCO's share directly to the copyright owner;
makes distribution of the nonfeatured artist's share to AFTRA and AFM's Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund; and
provides detailed reports summarizing the titles, featured artists and royalty amounts for each of the sound recordings performed by the statutory licensees.

Commercial Music Services – These are digital/cable music suppliers and background music suppliers (Muzak, PlayNetwork, IBN) where your musical works are used by these services.

Next up will be a few more ways you can get PAID IN THE RECORD BUSINESS.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

How To Get PAid In The Music Business 1

Let’s talk about the most important factor within the music business MONEY.

There are several ways to make a decent living within this industry and I want to bring you up to speed with only a few.


The majority of my readers figure that if you sell millions of records you will become extremely wealthy. Well if you don’t OWN the company that manufactures, markets, sells and collects monies from records you will only receive a small portion or percentage of the sales. Major label recording artists normally make between 10% and 18% of the retail sale price on every CD of theirs that is sold. From this percentage any recoupments most be deducted. So if you sell $1,000,000 worth of product your share is $100,000. From your share has to be deducted that $50,000 advance you took, the $60,000 paid to the promotion company to promote your CD, the $65,000 spent on your 30 city promotional tour, the $30,000 owed your producer, the $10,000 owed to your manager plus packaging deductions, attorney’s fees and anything else the label has “slipped” into your contract.

REALITY ONE – From the first Million dollars made you owe $115,000 after your $100,000 has been recouped.

Doesn’t seem like a very profitable business at this point does it? Especially when you take into consideration that most new artist like to buy the accoutrements having a HIT record requires. Things like jewelry, clothes, cars and occasionally houses. Yesterday I was on a video shoot for a new artist and his management team “borrowed” $500,000 worth of Cartier jewelry. I remarked that the ice and gold on his body could probably buy 40 acres and a tractor with enough money left over to build a $300,000 house. It’s REAL EASY to be a broke new artist in the record industry.

But let’s discuss a few ways to make money.


This is the quickest way to put cash into your account when your record is HOT and when it is not. Developing a strong stage show and keeping your act small and tight, not only will allow you to tour continuously but also allow you the freedom to build your fan base, promote your product and sell MERCHANDISE. Developing a strong fan base will keep you touring even after your video has been dropped, your single is not getting airplay and your record label has moved on to the next hottest act.

REALITY TWO – A small team will always make more money than the act that has an entourage. Besides the act on stage one road manager is sufficient to not only handle the financial particulars, act’s itinerary and sound requirements, but to also sell the acts merchandise.


Here is where a little investment can go a long way. There are several different types of goods that always sell at large and small venues alike. Color photos autographed by the act are the leading sellers. If you can have someone available to take photos on the spot with your fans you will make a lasting impression and more money. T-shirts are good however unless you have a unique logo or T-shirt design you may windup giving your shirts away to record store sales people. When working large venues almost anything that glows in the dark and makes noise will sell. Whistles, blowers, horns, clappers, etc just keep it inexpensive and cute.

REALITY THREE – There will be times when your merchandise sales will be larger than your show payment. Be prepared to budget your money wisely.

On the next writing I will talk about:


Publishing Revenues

Video / DVD sales