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Artists Fed Up With Low Streaming Royalties — Threaten to Sue Labels

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Categories: Digital Distribution, Music Industry, Music Publishing, Record Labels, Royalties

International music artists are fed up with low streaming royalty payments, and fed up with the labels getting a bigger cut of those royalties than the artists receive.  Warner and Universal Music are now facing possible lawsuits from artists unless they agree to increase the artists’ share of those royalties.  While The Guardian cites example figures in British pounds, today’s currency conversion rates show that while the artist could make roughly $800 on 1 million Spotify streams, the label would make over $7,000 for those same streams.  To further complicate things, some artists’ contracts pre-date the online wave and those artists’ royalty shares fall under the old model when online streams were not contemplated.  In addition, music publishers are joining the fight to complain they are not paid as much as labels from the digital streaming services.  (Source:  The Guardian — “Spotify row:  artists threaten to sue labels over music streaming)

Due to the speed of technology, many of the artists’ contracts are outdated in their terms even though the contracts themselves are still governing the relationships between artists and labels.  In this digital age, it is important for artist lawyers to attempt renegotiation of these older agreements to ensure artists are sharing fairly in the income from these new technologies and services.  The problem is that many labels may not be willing to renegotiate royalty terms.   In addition, major label contract terms often lag behind the times even for newly-signed deals, so it is important for the artist representative to stay current on industry trends and know which terms to update in deal negotiations.  Major labels have notoriously been somewhat behind the times in relation to many online and technological developments, and my prediction is that they will not be so willing to renegotiate a large number of contracts.  Sure, they might change terms for some of their most important (i.e. financially successful) artists, but I doubt they would do a long list of renegotiations without an influx of lawsuits — or at least the threat of them.

Technology definitely has a way of keeping the litigators busy…

© 2013 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, please provide a link to www.themusicindustrylawyer.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it.

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Interview with Carl Caprioglio of The Oglio Entertainment Group, Inc.

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Categories: Business, Crowd Funding, Management, Music, Music Industry, Music Industry Interviews, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today’s interview is with Carl Caprioglio of The Oglio Entertainment Group, Inc., a great independent record label that is a lot more than just a record label.

Oglio 20th Anniversary LogoNow in its 20th year, Oglio achieved worldwide recognition as a successful niche marketer of entertainment products. Oglio releases have received acclaim and significant sales success including a Billboard Top 50 hit benefiting the Make A Wish Foundation, and projects with Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), Cyndi Lauper, Robby Krieger (Doors), Ray Manzarek (Doors), Nerf Herder, Parry Gripp, Kool Keith, Ultramagnetic MCs, Rob Schneider, Jackie Martling (Howard Stern Show), Andy Dick, Craig Gass, and George Lopez. Oglio’s growth has been significant enough to earn a position on Inc. Magazine’s 1998 listing of the 500 fastest growing companies in America. In 2013, Oglio extended into the management space with the launch of “Manage It Comedy” – a service designed to help the working comic manage their business. Manage It Comedy helps comedians release their merchandise to market, build a web presence and use social media to market themselves.

1.     Describe a typical day at the office.

One of the great things about being in the entertainment business is that there is not typical day. That said, I do have a bit of a routine that starts with attacking my email in box and checking all the regular social media sites for my artists’ activities. Once I have a handle on the mayhem that has ensued since the last time I checked those places, I write up my daily priorities on one of my office white boards and get to work. My office is in Torrance, a bit of a drive from the media centers of Los Angeles, so I try to set up a lunch meeting or two each week. My workday ends with more email and project development from home after dinner.

2.     What is your favorite part of your job?

To quote the great Hannibal Smith from the A-Team – “I love it when a plan comes together.” Whether it is a record that goes from concept to release or a licensing deal or a new direction for my business, the most satisfying part of my job is that feeling of that success when it comes to fruition. It really isn’t tied to money (although that helps) but it is more about that great rush of satisfaction.

3.     What are some projects that you are currently working on that you can discuss?  

On the record side we have two new releases – one from the metal bash-up band Beatallica that combines the sounds of Metallica and The Beatles and the other from comedian Craig Gass of Howard Stern Show fame. They are wildly different projects but both are personal favorites.

Recently my attention has been moving toward artist management. Over the years a few of the artists on my label have asked me about managing them, but I liked the label side and didn’t pursue it at the time. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the interaction with the artists and bringing that interaction to another level seems like a natural move. I can provide the bigger picture help they need and still handle the label side if needed. It seems like a logical move and I use much of the same skillset that have developed over the last 20 years in business.

4.     What do you think are the most important issues facing labels and artists at this time?

Top of the list has to be the idea that music should be free and that both artists and labels can make up the income by selling t-shirts or touring. As a label owner and a friend to artists, I’ve had many discussions about how “fans” find a justification for stealing music. Despite the perception that labels and artists were caught off guard, we could see this train coming, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do much about it. For me I simply underestimated people’s willingness to steal and the ease of which they justify their actions.

5.     What do you think is the most profitable area of the music industry for independent artists today?

For your typical independent artist, I’m going to go with the new broad definition of “merch.” Merch (short for “merchandise”) now encompasses music, t-shirts, hats, hoodies, iPhone cases, tote bags, jewelry, USB drives and anything else you can put on your merch table or sell on your website. At one time the music part of the merch table was controlled by the labels but now that control is back with the artist in most cases. My favorite merch items are USB drives in fun shapes that artists can load up with not only their music but also videos, art and even a recording of the show from that very night. One of my artists, MC Lars, sells a small metal USB robot loaded with the music, videos and art from his album “This Gigantic Robot Kills” and it is a best seller for him on the road.

6.     What other avenues are still profitable for artists?

I see PledgeMusic and Kickstarter as great avenues for artists with a fan base that can be mobilized. I have seen PledgeMusic and Kickstarter album campaigns that have raised substantially more than the actual recording costs. The extra revenue goes right into the pockets of the artists and the artists then have the ability to sell their music for 100% profit from the release date forward. This is a very powerful tool available to artists that have a following.

7.     What types of deals are mostly being offered now among the independent labels?

In 1999, Oglio started offering “profit split” deals to artists that brought us recordings ready to be released. At the time it was a very unusual proposal but we felt that the partnership feel made for a more positive and collaborative working relationship. We treated our artists like business associates and we set our plans based on our mutual goals. Those deals worked well for both sides and Oglio was able to work with some legendary artists that would not have normally been interested in an independent label. I see those joint venture deals becoming more and more popular as artists have more control and labels look for ways to mitigate the risk involved in recording costs.

8.     What is an independent label looking for when considering signing a new artist?  Is there any criteria an artist needs to have to even be considered for a deal?

At Oglio it starts with the music. We have to feel strongly about the music itself and also its commercial potential. Every artist feels that their music is fantastic but the point where we often disagree is what we can offer as a label and still make a profit on the project. If the artist doesn’t have a fan base, touring history and traction, it just might be too soon for a label to get involved. We often turn down artists with the suggestion to self release and play live shows while they gain the momentum we would need to get involved.

Thanks so much to Carl for some very insightful comments.  To learn more about Oglio, visit www.oglio.com.

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Client News: Adam Small Launches New Venture in Music Consulting, Management, Licensing, and More

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Categories: Clients, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My client Adam Small of My Music Masterclass has now launched Adam Small Music, a company focusing on music career consulting, management, licensing, publishing, and more.

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Adam is a professional touring bassist, has a large career in music licensing, and is also a mastering engineer, studio consultant, video editor, web designer, computer tech, etc.  He is now using his more than twenty years experience in the music industry to help other artists with their careers.

I encourage you to learn more about Adam Small Music at www.adamsmallmusic.com.

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Interview with Steven Corn of BFM Digital

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Categories: Digital Distribution, Music Industry, Music Industry Interviews, Uncategorized, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 To kick off my first in a series of interviews with music industry professionals, I had a chat with Steven Corn of BFM Digital.

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BFM Digital is a digital distribution, marketing, and promotions company for select music, film, and other digital content.  BFM distributes its diverse catalog via all the leading digital and mobile platforms worldwide.

 

1.  Please explain a bit more about your company, BFM Digital.

BFM Digital distinguishes itself through its boutique size, personalized customer service and quality catalog.  Representing only select labels and artists allows us to become a true partner and advocate for our client’s digital goals. We work one-on-one with clients to develop a comprehensive release schedule. Further, we interface with clients about pricing and marketing strategies aiming to increase revenue and maximize exposure of their content.

Conversely, BFM also works closely with the leading digital services to promote our catalog on their storefronts through featured placements and product promotions. The strength of our relationships with them enables us to be aware of various promotional opportunities for which we will submit your titles if they are the right fit.

2.  Describe a typical day at the office for you.

During breakfast, I check on the previous sales for iTunes, Amazon and Youtube and make a note of any interesting trends or unexpected sales.  On the way to work (a 45 min commute), I often will skype from my cell phone to one of our European tech partners or distributed labels.  It’s a great way to kill the commute.  I also create my daily to-do in my head while I commute.  Usually the first thing that I do after arriving is to review the back log of agreements that need my review and attention.  I try to get to at least a couple each day.  Next up would be to meet with our delivery department to see if there are any new issues that have arisen.  I’ll look at financials and cash flow statements along the way.  At some point, I’ll discuss potential marketing submissions to the DSPs with my VP of Marketing.  Mixed into the fray is reviewing potential new content providers, reading up on trending news, and seeing how various biz dev workflows are proceeding.  Generally, there are several fires to put out and that can disrupt any plans that I created along my commute.  If I’m lucky, I get to complete 50% of my daily goals.

3. What is your favorite part of your job?

I love tracking the success of a digital compilation that my A&R team created.  We make inter- and intra-label virtual albums to create new retail sku’s from existing catalog.  It’s such a rewarding feeling to see these start to sale.  Creating a new revenue-earning product from nothing is very satisfying.  A close second is when I see one of our needy, indie artists start to make money from their digital catalog.  Our payments have literally housed some of our more financially challenged artists.  Getting them off the streets into decent housing is one of the greatest motivations for being in business.

4.  What do you think is the most profitable area of the music industry for independent artists today?

If you can get an album or catalog to sell across borders, that can be immensely profitable considering the cost efficiencies.  However,  it seems that on a per-unit basis, ringtones and limited edition vinyls present the best profit margins.  But for many, a good synch placement trumps download sales.  Those are few and far in-between in this competitive market for synch’s.

5. What do you look for when you are signing artists?

First, the music has to be high quality.  It doesn’t matter what the genre is.  I have experts in all genres on my staff who can evaluate submissions.  However, good music, regardless of genre, is usually self-evident.  As important as the music is a good strategy.  We need the artist and label to commit to making their product a success.  This means developing and executing a marketing plan.  This doesn’t have to be anything complex or expensive.  All we are looking for is some form of creative and consistent activity.  Without having the proper ammunition, there is little that we can do to assist an artist or label to achieve the next level of success.

6. What would you say is the single most important thing independent artists can do to help grow their careers?

It’s actually two things.  First, gig and gig.  It is important to develop your local market as fully as possible.  These will be the fans that will spread the word.  Secondly, develop a plan.  With very few exceptions, albums without a release strategy and a well thought out plan, rarely succeed.  Take the time to figure out how you want to build momentum and fans.  It always pays off to do so.

7.   Today, everything is online and there is so much content from an infinite number of sites and platforms.  How can artist or band can make itself stand out when there is so much content from so many artists on every digital retailer/platform?

With up to 30 million tracks on some digital services, it is most definitely a crowded marketplace.  While there is no simple strategy for getting your music discovered more easily on the music stores, there is assuredly a very easy way to make your music harder to find.  That would be to just “set it and forget it” (as the infamous infomercial states).  It is more important than ever to develop an action plan to keep your fans engaged and interested.  This can be anything ranging from  a series of homemade videos, blog entries, to candid behind-the-scenes photos or videos. One email blast or tweet orFacebook post is simply not enough.  An artist needs to have a consistent and continuous stream of interactions with their fans to increase discoverability on these services.

 

Thanks to Steve for sharing his thoughts!  I’ll be sharing more interviews soon.

 

 

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Edgar Allan Poets on Billboard’s Top 10!

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Categories: Clients, Music, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On April 11, 2013, my client Edgar Allan Poets entered Billboard’s Next Big Sound chart at #10.   This chart features “the fastest accelerating artists during the
past week across all major social music sites, statistically predicted to achieve future success, as measured by Next Big Sound.”
Here the link:
http://www.billboard.com/charts/next-big-sound-25

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How to Protect Your Music and Avoid Legal Pitfalls

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Categories: Business, Copyright, Infringement, Law, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Music Publishing, Record Labels, Royalties, Trademark, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed for My Music Masterclass about how musicians can protect their music, avoid some common legal pitfalls, and more.  The video is available for a temporary stream or permanent download HERE.

My Music Masterclass is a fantastic website where users can view exclusive masterclass sessions with the top touring musicians and industry professionals.  (Registration required and there is a small fee for the streams and downloads.)

You can view a preview of the full video below.  This video is packed with a lot of information and I hope it helps artists to further understand and take control of their careers.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me so I can help you to protect your music and grow your career.

Stream or download the full video here!

This preview video is also available on YouTube – please like, comment, and share it!  (Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.)

The information contained in this video and any linked resource is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice by Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. or My Music Masterclass. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This video is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you should not act or rely on any information in this video without seeking the advice of an attorney.   YOUR USE OF THIS INFORMATION IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. YOU ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY AND RISK OF LOSS RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION. ERIN M. JACOBSON, ESQ. AND/OR MY MUSIC MASTERCLASS WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER RELATING TO THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION.

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