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 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