Thursday, October 28, 2010

What is the NAB doing?


Allen L. Johnston – The Music Specialist

On October 25, 2010 the NAB announced that its Radio Board is backing a "limited" performance fee that would range between 0.25% and 1% of a station's net revenue, depending on a provision related to the rollout of radio-activated mobile devices. Under the terms approved by the Board, the Copyright Royalty Board will no longer set rates for broadcast or Internet radio, MusicFIRST must acknowledge and recognize "the unparalleled promotional value" of radio, and an AFTRA issue that would allow streaming of commercials must be resolved.

Upon first reading about the proposed terms I immediately thought that NAB was trying to work against the musicians and artists that comprise MusicFIRST.

Their first requirement of disbanding the Copyright Board's ability to set rates is completely not in the interest of MusicFIRST. This idea is presented for terrestrial radio broadcast AND Internet streaming. I believe that the entire industry is headed towards reception of Internet streamed material direct to consumer. Of course the NAB wants to set their own rates and when they can’t agree with the artists they want a special "legislatively mandated rate court." to handle the situation. Without a governing body that regulates, sets rates and procedures the NAB would have no one to control them and their money would keep litigation going on for years.

The second issue of wanting the US government to make FM chips in cellphones mandatory has nothing to do with the rights of MusicFIRST or artists as a hold. Once you read the terminology you then understand that this will include ALL radio active mobile devices, which mean computers, cell phones, and anything new that may come around. My question is WHY? FM technology is OLD antiquated technology that will be totally phased out within a few years. What is the real reasoning behind the NAB wanting to impose their will upon the entire music industry? It must have something to do with the idea of Internet streaming and their ability to control the airwaves, (read MONEY).

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents the mobile phone makers has said “If NAB keeps pushing this agenda, CEA will "continue to point out the following":
"Radio is a legacy horse and buggy industry trying to put limits on innovative new industries to preserve its former monopoly. The industry's refusal to innovate to the benefit of consumers raises questions about the ongoing wisdom of broadcaster use of publicly owned spectrum that could better be used for broadband services that serve the public interest."
"Many local radio stations are unmanned, particularly at nights and on weekends, rendering the alleged emergency alert benefit of FM tuners in mobile phones unreliable and raising questions about the wisdom of permitting such unattended operation."
"At a time when popular new digital media platforms like satellite radio and online music services are required to pay performance royalties to copyright owners, it is unclear that the royalty exemption for broadcast radio stations can be justified. Indeed, fairness requires that the royalty rate paid by broadcasters should be the same as that assessed to online music streaming services and other new technologies."
The payment rate quoted for musical artists of between .25 percent and 1 percent of net stations revenues is entirely too small for the amount of music played that creates revenue within the stations. The NAB broadcasters unilaterally cut their digital royalty rates and lowered their terrestrial royalty payment from the agreed upon amounts in July. The latest version of the Performance Rights Act recommends a performance royalty schedule in which commercial radio stations making $500,000 to $1,249,999 would pay an annual fee of $5,000; stations making $100,000 to $499,999 would fork over $2,500; and those making less than $100,000 would shell out $500.
Those broadcast licensees making $1.25 million or more would pay a rate to be negotiated between radio stations, copyright holders, and the Copyright Royalty Board. In trying to assess the financial impact the PRA would have on those stations, the Government Accountability Office recently suggested a hypothetical rate of 2.35 percent.
The NAB has balls if nothing else, for they have declared that the entire system currently in place must change solely for their own benefit. The government must stop doing its job on setting rules and rates, AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) must change its rules on separate payment to talent on streaming commercials, and artists should acknowledge the “promotional value” of radio. What about the money?
With new technology changing the communications field on almost a daily basis, the idea that one trade industry group can bully the music industry is ludicrous. Congress writes the laws, not trade associations like the NAB and Radio is the only platform in the United States that doesn’t pay performers.

Wherever the music is played the artist should be paid.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Do you want to be Famous by Association or IT'S A SHAME?


Allen L. Johnston – The Music Specialist

I have been receiving a video link in my Facebook News feed for the past week. I finally looked at it this morning.


The video headline reads “Snoop Dogg Co-Sign The Unsign Artist Step-Ezz” (that’s just how they wrote it).

The video starts off behind a West Palm Beach outdoor venue, with Snoop taking the stage and starting his show. This hand held video pans the audience, then abruptly turns to the side of the stage and focuses briefly on a person that is sub-titled MS ELEGANT, then quickly pans to a wholly under lit, STEP-EZZ (you can’t see his face). After 20 seconds more of the backs of Snoop Dogg’s live show the video scene changes and the speaker said “We are in Snoop Dogg’s tour bus”

This is the funniest and saddest thing I have seen in months. For the next 4 minutes these clowns first want to prove to everyone that they are really on Snoop Dogg’s tour bus. They show some schedule on a wall, boast about being on the bus and then give the driver a free show. That’s right they brought there music and performed on the bus.

They show a 35 second scene (that you can’t hear) of STEP-EZZ standing next to a seated Snoop in some hotel room party. Then back to the bus with some security guy, nowhere do you see or hear Snoop talking about this artist.

OK, on the first watching I laughed, then felt so ashamed of the artist who wants to be Famous by Association to a Tour Bus. And this becomes the heart of this article, false dreams and low expectations of new artist within the entertainment industry.


Once you listen to the song, which is a chant over basic Miami Bass beats, you understand that it is not exceptionally good. It wouldn’t be so bad but the music has been done over and over for the past 20 years. This artist may have talent but it sure wasn’t in this music. Devastator, Clay D, Luke have all set the bench mark for this style of music. There is absolutely nothing new here.


When you take the money you have made, buy fake designer clothes, flashy jewelry and friends who support your music as long as you are paying their way into clubs, buying “bottles” and plenty of weed. This really shows how afraid of failure the artist has become and the dependency of being validated if only by liars. It also shows the weakness of the cooperative spirit that supports these actions.


The artist has no drive to learn how to write lyrics, how to use the lyrical content they currently understand to make a statement or even how to speak correct English. There is no ambition to attend school or increase educational opportunities, let alone finish post secondary schooling. One of the biggest deceits ever perpetrated on the music community is the concept that being educated has no place within the “REAL COMMUNITY”.


When you fool yourself into believing that a hand held video of a song, that has no radio play, no Internet fan base, no local or regional fan base would be of significant interest to anyone but yourself. Unfortunately this type of thinking completely ignores sales of any product, be it audio, video or merchandising. Major labels, distributors, managers, venue operators and music publications ALL use sales as the primary criteria for doing business.

The biggest shame comes from knowing that this artist will not read this, and understand that there is another way.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Allen L. Johnston – The Music Specialist

In 2007 a new era of partnership began in South Africa. The Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA), a union of musicians, actors, poets, technicians, writers, composers, performers, independent producers, television presenters, radio disc jockeys, general disc jockeys, arts administrators, artist directors, photographers, arts educators, choreographers, dancers, designers and other sector practitioners, came together to lobby government on the many problems facing its’ constituency.

Even though riddled with internal problems this union has been able to develop a Performance Rights package (Needle Time), a social security plan for the creative arts sector, an anti piracy campaign and an educational campaign for the arts.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is a state owned corporation of 18 radio (AM/FM) stations and 3 television stations. This corporation’s programming has been criticized ever since it’s inception in 1936 by the South African Parliament. The SABC played only South African and African music on 15 of its radio stations from May 2010 and during the soccer world cup because it wanted to "further promote our home-grown music and music from our African counterparts". Now that the World Cup is over the corporation has said that it will discontinue this type of programming.

"CWUSA is shaken by the announcement from [SABC] radio to discontinue with its 100% South African music play that has been enjoyed by the public," said CWUSA general secretary Oupa Lebogo. "The move simply says playing our content on radio will forever be a favor and it is unacceptable." CWUSA demanded that the broadcaster re-think its decision to stop playing only African music because "it is quite clear that there are more benefits for artists as long as our music is played on our radios”

On the surface this looks like a reasonable request, however there are a few problems that have not surfaced in the press. Most programming decisions are based on financial foundations and a look at the revenue received via advertising avenues during the period when 100% African music was played is needed. An additional look at the revenue created for the creative artists during this same period is needed to determine if radio airplay has really impacted the creative community.

Americans have yet to understand the strength in placing ALL of the creative art movements together for a common good. In our country the arts are segmented along creative, financial, political and racial lines. Certain organizations don’t recognize other organizations or unions doing the exact same business even when their memberships have some of the same people within them. What’s even crazier is the “better than” concept. One organization feels that they are “better than” other groups or elitists and start setting rules and regulations for the validity of art, be it physical, audio or digital.

Being in the entertainment industry I have seen many different versions of the “better than” concept. Radio programmers determine that they know “better than” the artist or record label that has delivered a song to them. It doesn’t matter that the song is a potential hit or that the company creating the song has placed blood, sweat, tears and money behind it, arrogance and a profound sense of elitism by the programmer kills the songs advance. I have never known a human being that could determine a hit song; if such a person is alive the major labels would have hired them years ago. The only way to determine a good song is to let the populace decide if they like it.

And this is the meat of this article, does the South African populace like the ALL African music programming that they have had since May? Where are the facts? Where is the undeniable evidence that there has been an increase in popularity, an increase in national pride and an increase in revenue? Where is the evidence that the South African populace wants a DIFFERENT type of programming? What is really going on?

Telling a man he is wrong and you are right based on belief alone is ludicrous and self serving.

America does not have the luxury of a government controlled broadcast system geared directly to the public. America does not have cooperation within the arts on a massive level solely for the betterment of the creative artist. What we do have is a corporate run media monopoly geared to playing the same 30 pieces of music across our country on their radio stations. America has a corporate controlled media system that has created formatted stations and self censorship regulations solely for its’ own financial benefit and not for the public at large. The true American musical art forms, Americana, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, and Soul can not be heard over the airwaves on any regular basis in America.

A change in radio programming worldwide is coming.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Miami Music Festival Launches Nov 11-14

2010 MIAMI MUSIC FESTIVAL LAUNCHES! November 11-14: List of venues and performance schedule now live on

Thank you for partnering with us for the second annual Miami Music Festival. We have just announced our schedule of 400+ performances (see press announcement below) - please help us spread the word!

The Miami Music Festival and Conference (MMF), Miami’s second annual emerging musical artist showcase, and the centerpiece event of this November’s new “Live Music Month in Miami,” has now released details on about its 400+ Latin, Hip-Hop, R&B, Rock, Jazz, Caribbean, and Inspirational musical performances to take place on 45 stages throughout the city. This marks a dramatic expansion of the event, which debuted in 2009. Venues include multiple stages in Bayfront Park and nightclubs and restaurants in Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Wynwood, The Design District and Little Haiti.

An array of showcases will be presented by ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Gibson, D’Addario and ReverbNation, the Delanuca Music Group, Soul of, Atlantic Records, Warner Bros. Records, Forward Records, Magic Leap Records, Poe Boy Records, Mizay Entertainment,, Sideshow Entertainment,,, Best Buy and "A Night At The Flick" presented by The Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music program at The Frost School of Music-University of Miami.  A half dozen other sponsored showcases and special “events within the event” will be announced shortly.  Conference keynoters and festival headliners will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

In addition to The Miami New Times and Urban Network, newly announced sponsors include Pollo Tropical, OnStar, American Spirit, PopChips and Vitamin Water. M.A.E was also announced as the MMF’s official gear provider.

“Local music fans, visitors, members of the press or music executives who go to to see and hear the artists coming from South Florida, around the state, country and world, and plan their MMF weekend accordingly, will be greatly rewarded,” said Kevin Thornburg, publisher of The Miami New Times.  Urban Network Vice President Arthur Mitchell said, “We’re bringing everyone to Miami! From our writers and editors to industry leaders to the hottest talent in the business today including comedian MC’s Joe Torry and Sinbad, we’ll all be at The Miami Music Festival this November.”

In addition to the Miami-Dade County Office of Cultural Affairs, The City of Miami Office of Cultural Affairs, The Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment, The Miami Downtown Development Authority, The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, and FilMiami, the MMF announced new partnerships with The Kiwanis of Little Havana Arts & Music Foundation, Amigos for Kids, NBC Miami and WPBT.

MMF’s music industry conference at The Hyatt Regency Miami on Friday, November 12th and Saturday, November 13th has also recently added sessions and speakers rounding out an already robust schedule of panels, master classes, demonstrations and live interviews, which also can be found on the MMF website.

Three-day festival wristbands are now available for advance purchase on for only $25, a 50% savings.  Single day tickets will also be available at each event with ticket pricing as follows:

•       Multi-venue evening wristband (21+) is $15, and single venue entry is $10.
•       Bayfront Park daytime festival admission for adults is $12 and $6 for children under 42”.

Badges for the MMF Music Conference are priced at $99, with significant discounts for artists performing at the festival.

“There’s no question that the MMF will help artists, support Miami’s arts community and delight music fans,” said MMF CEO Irwin Kornfeld. “Our advisory board of local musicians, sound engineers, artist and club managers, sponsors, partners and staff have done an incredible job planning this year’s event.  We’ve kept admission pricing extremely low and really put together a wonderful weekend.”

“Miami is re-discovering its live music heritage, and people are now going out to more live shows here. We’re seeing more stages being built, and more artists coming to Miami to perform,” said MMF president Will Edwards. “The Miami Music Festival was created to help artists take advantage of changes in the music industry, but its also contributing to a change in Miami’s music scene…and that change is about the re-emergence of live music.”


Media Contacts:
Dina Allende - (305)205-1058 /
Yvette Batalla - (305) 335-0569 /
Laurie Jakobsen - (917)697-2274 /

Sponsorships: Arthur Mitchell
Urban Network Corporate Office - San Diego
Ph. 619-401-4014

Allen Johnston
The Music Specialist
P.O.Box 310540
Atlanta, Georgia 31131
305 829 9010 - office
404 939 4180 - cell/voicemail

Posted via email from Music Specialist Speaks

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where are the positive role models within the entertainment community:

Today's Generation

Growing older has given me the erudition of being a part of Black Radio and Records History. I have been privileged to have learned from some of the original 13 Black DJ’s within the United States, original Black radio programmers and Black record executives. Normally I speak from a position of respect, comprehension and wisdom, but today I am angry and very disillusioned.

How can we continue to move in a positive direction when there are fewer and fewer examples of positive role models within the entertainment community?

At the infamous Jack The Rapper Family Affair conventions an intricate part of the learning process was sitting in the lobby with the executives and learning from their conversations and meetings. These were man & women with a code of moral decency that set the standard for the industry. There were many wild stories about how they made, promoted and sold music, and contained in every story was a business insight. There has always been a greedy, unethical person in the industry; everyone knew who they were and how to treat them.

Today the subterfuge is phenomenal and the ability to unmask unscrupulous individuals has become clouded. The proliferation of businesses that prey on the unsuspecting artist, executive or entrepreneur continues to grow unimpeded.

What I now understand is that the artist, executive or entrepreneur is the main reason for the unscrupulous behavior of the businesses that they approach. We now have a mindset that success can come instantaneously and without talent or effort. The NOW generation wants everything immediately and very few are putting in the work effort, education and moral fiber needed to become a continued success. When you approach a company with the thought that they are going to listen to your music, FLIP and give you a bunch of money up front, market, promote, publicize and sell your song while ALL the time making sure that you are getting paid, you are wishing for disaster.

The morning drive radio team has the fortunate advantage to be the most listened to program on most Black and Urban based radio stations in this country. Millions of people of color depend upon this team to keep them aware of national and local events, news and music while being entertaining. As a teenager the morning drive DJ was looked up to within the community and could make a personal appearance become a traffic stopping occurrence. With this in mind you may understand why I am so concerned about the morning show teams I have heard that seem to have taken it upon themselves to destroy the Urban community.

Comedy is cool, it allows you to discharge pent up emotions, relax and forget about the trials and tribulations that you go thru everyday. What it doesn’t do is teach positive behavior to a listenership that needs it badly. When you are young and impressionable hearing your favorite morning drive host / hostess talk about having more BLING, SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS, BETTER CLOTHES, BIGGER CARS, PARTYING AND SPENDING MONEY only makes you want to be exactly like them. Where is the balance that allows listeners to know about spending limits, credit worthiness, moral decency and more?

Again I ask where are the role models that use to be so prevalent in the entertainment community. The ones chosen today are being indicted on drug charges, gun charges, petty theft and immoral behavior. Who wants their child to emulate a thug, dope dealer, harlot or money hungry con man? Where are the positive examples of wealthy doctors, lawyers, technology workers, nurses, builders, media owners, educators, store owners, bankers and more? There are many positive morally right people inside of the Urban community, the problem is that they have been covered up and looked over by the multitude of media outlets available to the public.

Media exposure is not dictated by the community at large, but by the owners of the media. Once these owners have determined what is making them the most money, they normally stick by that vision. Unfortunately the community at large is suffering from the vision that they have been exposed to for so long. Today even news has become entertainment designed to sell more advertising for the news channel owners.

Even though I write from an American perspective, this devious monetary scheme is being perpetrated in every major country on the planet. Radio & TV stations sell advertising and have no higher priority than to make money for there owners. Cell phone carriers sell hardware and carrier time and need you to use them more and more. Internet sites are loaded with advertising on so many levels that it is becoming mind blowing. ALL of these outlets are endorsing the negative behavior that makes the populace become true consumers and weaker morally.

There is profit in destroying the positive role model and creating a new vision of a role model.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010