Sunday, July 27, 2014

Top 10 Dead Earning Musicians

Kurt Cobain image
The legacy of many star musicians still continues to bring in the cash as seen by this top 10 dead earning musicians list, according to

Once again, Michael Jackson tops the list, although one has to wonder how much money actually made it to his heirs since his earnings are still being used to pay off the massive debts he piled up during his lifetime.

Kurt Cobain's estate earned a surprising $50 million last year, while Elvis, John Lennon and Bob Marley continue to earn well and round out the top 5. Here's the top 10.

1. Michael Jackson - 160 million last year
2. Kurt Cobain - $50 million
3. Elvis - $42 million
4. John Lennon - $24 million
5. Bob Marley - $18 million
6. George Harrison - $7 million
7. Johnny Cash - $6 million
8. Richard Rodgers - $6 million
9. Ray Charles - $6 million
10. Jenni Rivera - $6 million

The above earnings show why it's so important to protect your legacy. It's a way to keep your family living well long after you're gone.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Major Labels Buying Into Soundcloud Sets It Up For Acquisition

Twitter - Soundcloud deal image
There are multiple well-founded rumors abounding that the three major record labels will soon purchase anywhere from 9 to 14 percent of the Soundcloud streaming music service. On the surface this might seem like a natural progression for both Soundcloud and the labels (who have done this sort of thing before), but there’s more here than meets the eye.

First of all, it’s nothing new for the major labels to invest in a distribution network that they have at their mercy. The majors received a piece of Spotify in the deal that allowed it to open shop in the US, and there are reports that they’re currently pushing for its sale at a price as high as $10 billion (good luck getting that price). Then you have the case of Universal Music, which had a 14 percent stake in Beats Music that resulted in a cool $400 million or so payout when it was acquired by Apple

These kinds of investments are potentially more profitable than the labels core business, at least in the short term. Streaming services need licenses from the labels to operate; the labels oblige in exchange for some cash and a piece of the action, then cash out when the service is sold to a bigger fish down the line. The best part (at least for the labels) is that most of that money heads to the label’s bottom line. The artists who’s music makes this opportunity possible in the first place do see some reward, but it’s pennies on the dollar compared to what their labels pocket.

So here we have Soundcloud, which has gone from a place where indie musicians can store their song mixes for easy fan playback, to a much larger entity currently filled with cover songs and copyrighted loops and samples. The problem is that the company has no license agreements with the majors in place for this content, and have drawn their wrath as a result. Read more on Forbes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Playing Vinyl With Your Smartphone - The Office Turntable

This is one of the best promo ideas ever. German dance label Kontor sent out 900 mailings that contained a vinyl record in a cover that folds out to become a 2D record player.

There's a QR code to download an app onto your smartphone, which you then launch and line up on the "turntable." The app then shows a virtual tone arm that allows you to play the record.

Kontor found that 71% opened and used the mailing, which was about 64% higher response than usual. The project won the Gold Lion Award at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. Check it out.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Facebook Drives More Traffic Than Twitter

Using Facebook for promotion may not always be the bonanza that everyone thinks, as outlined by my recent post, but it certainly is better at driving traffic than Twitter. According to a chart prepared by Statista around data collected from Shareaholic, Facebook is actually 23.4% better at driving traffic than Twitter.

The fact is that Twitter has actually lost influence in the last year while Facebook has spiked. This was no small sampling as well, as the data was collected from more than 200,000 websites with more than 250 million unique visitors.

In order for Facebook to work for promotion, you have to make sure that you include links to where your viewers can get more information. If there's a failing in Facebook posting, that's it. You can't drive traffic unless there's someplace to drive them to!

You can discover more tips on both Facebook and Twitter promotion, as well as other social platforms, in my book Social Media Promotion for Musicians. Follow to link to read some excerpts and receive a free chapter.

Infographic: Facebook Drives 20x As Much Traffic As Twitter Does | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista


Monday, July 21, 2014

Yahoo Now Broadcasts Live Concerts Every Night

Dave Mathews Band on Yahoo Screen
Yahoo keeps on trying to reinvent itself, and its latest venture into the unknown involves broadcasting a concert to a computer or mobile device near you. The service kicked off its "365 days of concerts" last week with a show by the Dave Mathews Band streaming live from Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL.

The concert-per-night idea is an effort to establish Yahoo Screen, it's competitor to YouTube. The concerts will be broadcast via it's LiveNation channel, with major stars like KISS, Justin Timberlake, and Usher upcoming, but less popular acts like Chevelle, 311, and Jurassic 5 more the norm.

While this sounds like a great idea and one that both fans and artists have been forever clamoring for, live concerts do present some challenges. First of all, it's difficult to adequately capture the vibe of concert on a small screen (especially on a mobile device). Then it's difficult to get people to watch for an entire concert, especially in these days of persistent multi-tasking.

Another factor is the timing of the concerts, which are broadcast live. A concert beginning at 8PM Eastern is right in the rush hour for the West Coast, which limits the audience. On the other hand, an 8PM West Coast start might be too late for all the Easterners to watch in its entirety.

A potential problem is the fact that the viewer can't scrub the concert timeline, so you're not able to go back to something that you might have missed earlier. Plus, the constant camera cutting can be annoying. It might be better if there was only a static shot.

Of course, live concerts is how radio first started, and concerts have been part of Public Television and HBO from the beginning. We're in a new world here, so it can only improve over time as the concept gains acceptance.

To me, the killer app will be when you're given multiple camera feeds that you can switch yourself. That way you'll have the most pleasing picture at your fingertips. I personally can't wait for the day when there is no more audience shots.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shakira Passes 100 Million Facebook Likes

When it comes to Twitter and Facebook, music celebrities rule. There's been a running battle between Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Rihanna in the last couple of years as to who was the most popular, but it looks like Shakira has bested them all, at least on Facebook.

Last week it was announced that Shakira broke the 100 million Like barrier, making her the undeniable queen of Facebook. This represents 8% of the Facebook universe of 1.28 active world-wide users.

It appears that her sudden jump in popularity came as a result of her appearance at last month's World Cup. It was only 5 years ago that the singer sported only 318,000 Likes, but now she has the first celebrity Facebook page ever to break the 9 figure barrier.

While people in the States think that the social world revolves around them, the social media metrics company Socialbakers estimates that only 11% of Shakira's followers come from the US, as compared to 17% for Rihanna and 25% for Eminem.

It's already been estimated that somewhere between 5 and 15% of those Likes are fakes or spam, as high-traffic celebrity sites are prime territory for spammers and scammers to do their work. That said, that's still an enormous number of endorsements for anything and anybody, and shows the power of social media when the situation is right.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"We Don't Need More Copyright" Says Tom Bell

One of the things that the vast majority of songwriters are looking for is more copyright protection, or at the very least, a revision of what's already on the books. Chapman University law professor Tom Bell has quite a different viewpoint in that he believes that dialing back copyright law will actually spur greater creativity.

Bell has a new book out called Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law and the Common Good, and in it he states that the existing copyright law contradicts our constitutional right of free expression. His solution is to use common law instead, which means that we'd use the established laws that cover ordinary property that already exist and work well in courts instead. That would encourage artists to create works that are considered a legal gray area now, like mashups, tributes and parodies.

Have a listen to what he has to say, as he makes a very persuasive argument.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

10 Audio Metadata Editors

Audio metadata editor image
The other day I wrote a post on why creating the proper metadata for a song or album is so important. A number of readers wrote in asking for suggestions for some metadata editors, since many DAWs don't provide extensive access to many of the metatags that are needed. Here's a list of 10.

iTunes - There's a nice metadata editor right within the app.

Metadatics - This is Mac only and costs $9, but it also covers a wide range of file formats.

Tag - A fairly simple Mac only metadata editor that's free.

Tuneup - This is a Windows and Mac editor that has both a free and premium version.

ID3 Editor - A simple Mac editor that provides most of the metatag needed. Free.

Musictag Editor for Mac - free to try up to 10 times, then $5.99.

Musicbrains Picard - This is a pretty geeky editor that cross platform, but it's very extensive if you get down inside it. And it's free.

UDTE-ID3 - Another PC only editor that supports a wide range of file formats.

MediaMonkey - An iOS tag editor that supports multiple file formats.

WaveAgent - A very cool Wave file editor for both PC and Mac.

If none of these 10 seems to fit your needs, there are plenty of other audio metadata editors available. Just do a Google search and find the one that suits you best.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Reality Of DIY Sales

Labels at Work Report image
The RIAA just released its Labels At Work: The Music Business In The Digital Age report that has some interesting stats that indirectly point a spotlight on DIY sales. Of course, this is from an industry trade group composed of the 3 major labels, so it's going to be slanted, so take this for what it's worth. That said, the stats are telling nonetheless.

First of all, the report states that the major labels spend 16% of their revenue on A&R, which in turn means they call themselves the "Venture Capitalists of Music." I'm not crazy about the term and what it implies, but when it comes to finding new music, it's certainly true in that it's their major investment.

Other interesting stats:
  • 80% of albums released sell less than 100 copies.
  • 94% of albums released sell less than 1,000 copies.
  • Only 0.5% sold more than 10,000 (which is now considered a hit in some circles).
  • Most record companies recovered their investments on only 1 out of every 5 or 6 new albums.
The reality is that most musicians are pretty good at making music, and terrible at marketing it. Remember that we're in the music "business" and you can't have one without the other.

If you're interested in learning what it takes to sell you music and get ahead in the music industry, consider enrolling in my Music Prosperity Breakthrough coaching course. It's a small investment for what you could receive in return.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Basic Metadata Every Song Should Have

Metadata image
We're increasingly living in a world built around metadata, which is the descriptive information about the primary data like a song file. Metadata is often overlooked by songwriters, artists and bands because it takes time and some additional research that many just don't want to put it. Meta data is becoming more and more important though, as we move into the age of streaming music.

Why is it important? The metadata of a song contains all the info about who should get paid, including songwriters, publishing company, record label, and performing rights organization. That alone should be enough reason to fill in the blanks. But another big reason is that because song placement on film and television is so important to an artist's income these days, metadata has become vital to the very people who decide what makes the cut - music supervisors.

In order to cover all your metadata needs, here's what to include with every song, especially if you're trying for a sync placement:

1. Name of artist
2. Name of songwriter
3. Song title
5. Album title
6. Label
7. Publisher
8. Year the song was released
9. The track number of the song on the album
10. The musical genre that the song falls into
11. Producer
12. Contact (either yours or management)
13. Performing rights organization you're affiliated with (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC)
14. Mood of the song
15. BPM of the song

It seems like a lot of info, but if you want a placement, it's all vital in rising above the competition.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sony Threatens To Pull Out Of ASCAP And BMI

Sony/ATV Music Publishing logo image
In what may be a glance at the music publishing world to come, Sony/ATV Music Publishing has threatened to end its relationship with music licensing agencies ASCAP and BMI if the changes it wants aren't implemented. And it looks like Universal Music Publishing could be lining up to do the same thing.

The issue primarily stems from the payments received from streaming royalties, which most publishers think is too little, especially when compared to downloads. Then there's the fact that the performing rights organizations (PROs) have always been nebulous how their payouts are determined. Writers and publishers alike have been frustrated for years over the disparity between royalties payments between ASCAP and BMI on the same song, where one will be higher than the other on one statement, than switch on the next.

Given the fact that we live in an age where song use tracking and royalty accounting is so much easier than in the past, it would seem that the PROs usefulness might now be diminished. Where for most of the 20th Century they were a total necessity for the publishing business, today that's becoming less true, since every play can be digitally tracked.

Sony/ATV has a catalog of over 2 million songs, including huge earners from The Beatles, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. Pulling out of ASCAP and BMI would be a significant blow to those organizations, and probably just the beginning of the snowball rolling downhill. It wouldn't be long before the other large music publishers followed suit.

It's probably inevitable that this will happen eventually. What's for sure is that we're about to witness both big changes in the industry and some history in the making right before our eyes.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Music Vault Releases 13,000 Concert Videos On YouTube

Music Vault image
Many artists and companies are reluctant to release their video products on YouTube, thinking that they won't make enough money to make it worthwhile. That can't be said for Music Vault though, as the company has just released 13,000 videos of concert footage feature some of the biggest names in concert history.

The company has spent the last two years prepping the files from some classic shows and venues, which include Bill Graham Presents, The King Biscuit Flower Hour, Woodstock and Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, as well as indie websites like Daytrotter and Paste Magazine. Included are 2,000 hours of some of the music greats, including Bob Dylan, The Who, James Brown, The Allman Brothers (including the legendary Live At The Fillmore East) and Bruce Springsteen, but also includes contemporary artists like St. Vincent and Fleet Foxes.

Music Vault, owned and managed by Wolfgang's Vault, has also created several playlists that include "Best of the Vault," "Face Melting Solos," and "Legends of the Fillmore East." There's also a number of channels dedicated to artists like The Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Santana, Jazz and Blues.

Music Vault is a great example of how a music company can incorporate a YouTube multi-channel network into their business plan. It's definitely worth checking out, but I warn you, get ready to go down a rabbit hole for at least a couple of hours. It's very addicting.


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