Two Members Abruptly Depart the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC)

Earlier this week, the recently-named Mechanical Licensing Collective  — just to get off the ground.

That included a $37.25 million tranche of cash before the MLC’s opening day.  Another $29 million was requested for the first year of operations, leading to a hefty $66.25 million startup ask.

We’d report on the second year (2022) funding request, though the figure was blacked out of the Collective’s official submissions document to the U.S. Copyright Office.  Other details, including salaries for a sizable staff in well-appointed offices, were also blacked out.

Now, it appears that two separate MLC board members are jumping ship.  The details are just emerging and remain unconfirmed, though it appears that two members — one representing indie songwriters and the other on the publishing side — are out of the organization.

We’ve contacted David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), for clarification on the departures.  The NMPA’s EVP & General Counsel Danielle Aguirre has also been contacted, as well as the MLC’s newly-appointed PR company, Jaybird Communications.

According to one source, the departures aren’t related to the recent budgeting proposal or any internal disagreement.

In one case, a conflict of interest has arisen, while another is reportedly recusing his/her position because of a serious health issue.  We’ll hopefully have more clarification before the weekend on the exact reasons, as well as the identities of the departing board members.

Meanwhile, some less-than-savory details are also surfacing on back-channel discussions involving major streaming providers like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

The mega-streamers will be paying the bill for the MLC’s creation and operation, which helps to explain the lofty $66.25 million demand. According to one insider, the Mechanical Licensing Collective and its major publishing backers aren’t expected to receive that figure, but are starting at $66.25 million as a negotiating tactic.

Separately, executives at streaming platforms are grumbling that major publishers are requesting that matched mechanical payments to songwriters and publishers be temporarily frozen while the MLC gets formed. That means that songwriters and publishers making claims on past mechanical licenses could face extreme delays so that payments can be routed through the MLC at a future point.

Back to the departures… it’s unclear who gets to determine the board member replacements.  It’s highly likely that Israelite will attempt to slot the replacements, though much will depend on what the Music Modernization Act (MMA) stipulates.

More as this develops.

Music Industry In-Fighting Prevented Any Action Against California's AB5

California’s AB5 was without any exemptions or concessions for the music industry.  So what happened?

California’s AB5 is designed to curtail contractor abuse by tech giants like Uber, Lyft, and GrubHub.  But the law generated disastrous implications for a number of other industries reliant upon temporary contractors.

Talk to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), American Association of Independent Musicians (A2IM), and the Music Artists Coalition (MAC), and California’s AB5 has the power to destroy the state’s music industry. Richard Burgess, president of A2IM, told DMN that the bill would single-handedly“gut the music industry” by making it impossible to hire the ad-hoc teams required to produce music and collaborate creatively.

Yet despite aggressive protests and consultations with California lawmakers, the bill was recently signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom without any music industry exemptions — without even a mention of the industry at all. Meanwhile, a raft of other industries and professionals, including lawyers, fisherman, plumbers, barbers, tutors, and even newspapers won special exemptions and considerations from lawmakers.

So what happened?

According to California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the lead sponsor of AB5, the music industry simply couldn’t craft a workable set of compromises.  Instead, they chose to fight the legislation entirely.  “We were hopeful they would reach an agreement, but once language was drafted to chart a path forward… the recording industry preferred no legislation at all,” Gonzalez said.

But that wasn’t quite what happened, at least according to the MAC’s Jordan Bromley, the RIAA’s Mitch Glazer, and A2IM’s Burgess.  In an email this morning, the trio explained that despite their best efforts, they became locked in a battle with the American Federation of Musicians, or AFM, which had a decidedly different take on AB5.

Instead of seeing a ‘gutted industry,’ AFM welcomed AB5 as a healthy change for abused musicians.  Accordingly, they fought efforts to amend AB5 or block its passage.

“The music industry coalition did not oppose the legislation,” a joint statement from the RIAA, A2IM, and MAC began.  “In fact, we submitted two ‘support if amended’ letters to the legislature.”

Interesting that the RIAA, A2IM, and MAC refer to themselves as the ‘industry coalition’ — does that mean the AFM isn’t part of the music industry?  That’s certainly debatable, though perhaps it simply illustrates the fractiousness and division ahead of the AB5 vote.

Either way, the RIAA’s “coalition” was apparently locked in a bitter battle with the AFM’s “coalition”.

“Nor did we refuse to compromise,” the RIAA/A2IM/MAC statement continued.  “We offered several times to sit down with AFM to work out a solution that would allow independent musicians, artists, producers, engineers and others to continue to collaborate. Unfortunately, AFM refused to speak or meet and delivered language that would still make individual artists and indie labels employers of every contributor to every project in which they engage, and that put current collective bargaining agreements at risk.”

As for the AFM, they’ve yet to respond to us.  But maybe their job is done here.

“Uber and Lyft are upset that the legislation has not exempted them from the court ruling,” AFM expressed on their site.  “But side musicians have always been properly classified as employees, even though they are sometimes misclassified. Unlike Uber drivers, nothing for us has been changed by AB5.”

The Week’s Top U.S. Festivals & Tours, Presented by SeatGeek

The most popular concert tickets, tour stops, and artists around the country, based on SeatGeek data through Wednesday, September 18th.

Welcome to our weekly report on the world of live music, based on exclusive data from SeatGeek, a ticketing platform that enables fans to buy and sell tickets for sports, concert, and theater events. Read on for insights into the most popular artists and festivals from the prior and upcoming weeks.

Most Popular Artists and Festivals 1. Post Malone (Rank last week: 1)

The excitement has only just begun for Post Malone and his devotees, as the musician’s “Runaway Tour” has just kicked off its lengthy trek across North America. Look out for Post when he performs in Sacramento and St. Paul later this week.

2. Jonas Brothers (Rank last week: 2)

The Jonas Brothers have been on such fire since they returned to the biz with the “Happiness Begins” tour and album, we almost forgot what it was like when they were broken up. Fans living in Chicago can catch the brotherhood live when they perform at the United Center this weekend.

3. Elton John (Rank last week: 4)

Not only did Elton John just kick off another leg of North American performances  for his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, but he also just announced seven NYC-area gigs slated for 2020.

4. Chris Brown (Rank last week: 5)

With just one month left on the Chris Brown “IndieGOAT tour,” fans are clambering to see the singer (and insanely talented dancer) live. He’s joined by Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign, Joyner Lucas and Yella Breezy as they take the stage in Boston, Hartford and DC this weekend.

5. Lizzo (Rank last week: 7)

Things are just heating up for Lizzo on her “Cuz I Love You Too tour,” with shows stretching from now through November (including a large European stint). This weekend the breakthrough singer will perform two concerts at the historic Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

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SeatGeek “Rising” Artists and Festivals

Past Week, Based on the Percent Increase in SeatGeek Web Traffic

1. Ski Mask the Slump God: 1126%

Up-and-coming Florida rapper, Ski Mask the Slump God, has just announced dates behind the “Stokely Tour.” Catch him on live this fall alongside Pouya, Pop Smoke, DJ Scheme and Danny Towers.

2. K-Love Christmas Tour: 2454%

Last week the lineup and concert schedule for the 8th annual K-Love Christmas tour was revealed. Catch Grammy nominee Matthew West along with Matt Maher, plus pop worship group I Am They, as they perform across the Southern United States.

3. KABOO Del Mar: 319%

This San Diego-based fest just wrapped up its fifth and final year at the Del Mar Race Track. But have no fear–its 2020 edition will be hosted at Petco Park, going under the new moniker of KABOO San Diego. 

4. Lauren Daigle: 278%

Christian singer Lauren Daigle is headlining her first-ever arena tour. Though the world tour kicks off with shows in Australia and New Zealand, fans can catch her in most major US cities starting in February and running all the way to mid-July.

5. Garth Brooks: 258%

After ticket demand caused Ticketmaster’s website to shut down last week, Garth Brooks’ upcoming show at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN has added additional seating. Now that those tickets are sold out, well, we don’t know what to tell you.

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Most Popular Upcoming Tour Stops and Festivals

Upcoming Week, Based on SeatGeek Ticket Sales

It’s an exciting weekend of live music. Lana Del Rey begins her “Norman F–king Rockwell tour” on September 21 at the Jones Beach Theater, while just a few towns over Romeo Santos will take the stage at MetLife Stadium. Florida Georgia Line continue their “Can’t Say I Ain’t Country tour” in San Bernadino, CA, and the Jonas Brothers (who, at this point in their tour, may be wondering why they came out of retirement) will play in Chicago and Kansas City over the next three days.

 

 

 

Amazon Music Officially Launches In Brazil

Amazon Music has officially launched in Brazil after Spotify used it as a test market for its ‘Lite’ app.

The Amazon Music app is available on a 90-day free trial in the country. That rivals Spotify’s three-month free trial for new subscribers. The service will cost about BRL $16.90 a month, or $4.14/month USD.

The launch in Brazil also includes top Brazilian artists, including Pabllo Vittar. Now Brazilians have access to more than 50 million songs and locally curated playlists. The move follows Amazon Prime launching in Brazil last Tuesday. Prime users get access to more than two million songs at no additional cost in their Prime membership.

Amazon Music listeners can now choose from a diverse array of locally curated playlists and stations covering popular genres specific to the region, from Sertanejo and Samba, to Pagode, Forró, Axé and more, as well as new music from international artists rising on the global charts.

Novidades is an playlist that is updated weekly. It features a lively mix of new releases from Brazilian and international artists. Elza Soares, Thiaguinho, Léo Santana and many more feature on this playlist.

Also included are the Mais TocadasExplosão Funk and Balada Sertaneja playlists to celebrate Brazilian funk and Sertanejo music. Hits from MC Rita, MC Kevin O Chris, and Gusttavo Lima are included. Bandeira Indie is a playlist curated around Brazil’s indie music scene. It features music from Agnes Nunes e Xamã, O Terno, Karina Buhr and Luedji Luna.

Amazon Music subscribers in Brazil can also see a mix of mood-based playlists. These include Despertador which features uplifting tracks to help you get your day started. Desacelerando features chill songs for unwinding at the end of a long day.

is available in the app or offline playback for subscribers. It is available on iOS, Android, Mac, PC, and the Fire TV Stick. The family plan is also coming to Brazil with up to six members on the same plan for BRL $25.90/month or around $6/month USD.

Jamie Foxx Recalls Jokingly Trying To Convince Idris Elba To Reject "Django" Role

Quentin Tarantino’s award-winning films have been lauded for decades, and while his work is shrouded in criticism, the actors who have worked with him have sung Tarantino’s praises. In 2012, Jamie Foxx gave an Oscar-worthy performance in Django Unchained, and although it’s difficult to imagine another actor portraying the title character, there were many others up for the role.

Will Smith, Chris Tucker, Michael K. Williams, Tyrese Gibson, Terrence Howard, and Idris Elba were all considered to portray Django. During a conversation with Cameron Bailey and his Just Mercy co-star Michael B. Jordan at the Toronto International Film Festival, Foxx admitted that he desperately wanted the part in Tarantino’s film.

One day, Foxx and Elba casually ran into each other and Elba asked his famous friend about Tarantino and what he thought about the Django part. Foxx said he tried convincing Elba that his good looks would get in the way. “Your beautiful black ass riding up on a horse, there’s going to be some problems for everyone,” Foxx joked. However, Tarantino would admit in an interview that ultimately he didn’t want to go with a British actor because it was a southern, American story. Will Smith also shared with The Hollywood Reporter that he decided not to pursue the role  Django because he wanted the storyline to romance-focused. Chris Tucker, though? Can you see it?

Atlas Music Publishing Announces Joint Venture With Quincy Jones

Atlas Music Publishing has announced a joint venture deal with legendary producer, musician, and songwriter, Quincy Jones.

CEO Richard Stumpf founded Atlas in 2013. The company is home to songs by artists including Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Drake, John Legend and more. The publishing company also administers the catalog of Van Halen after Eddie and Alex Van Halen signed a worldwide deal in 2015.

Atlas was acquired by Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings earlier this year. Richard Stumpf says his history with Quincy dates back to the mid-2000s.

The deal is A&R-related, with Jones offering a pipeline for talent.  “We’re looking to Quincy and his team to identify writers and bring them into the Atlas fold,” Stumpf explained.  “Our relationship with Scooter offers even further opportunities – setting up writing sessions and collaborations with some of pop music’s top artists.”

“Quincy is such a magnet for pure talent at all levels, we thought this arrangement represented a great opportunity to marry all our assets together.”

Quincy Jones offered a pretty interesting take on the importance of songwriting. “A great song can make the worst singer in the world a star, but the three greatest singers in the world can’t save a bad song!” Jones relayed.  “We’re looking forward to creating a publishing community filled with only the best of the best songs and human beings.”

Scooter Braun made headlines over the summer when Ithaca Holdings . With that purchase came the rights to Taylor Swift’s first six albums, and a hornet’s nest of controversy.  Swift called the situation her ‘worst-case scenario’ and committed herself to  — just to spite Braun and BMLG’s previous owner, Scott Borchetta.  Braun on the release of her Lover album.

Atlas Music Publishing recently received the Association of Independent Music Publishers New York’s 2019 Indie Award.

PledgeMusic Almost Killed Artist Crowdfunding — Bandzoogle Has a Plan to Save It

It was a disaster that almost killed artist crowdfunding entirely.

As PledgeMusic with potentially millions in fan contributions, the concept of an artist crowdfunding platform rightfully came under scrutiny by musicians.  But how was it possible for PledgeMusic to steal so much money in the first place — and get away with it?

According to Bandzoogle, the answer is pretty simple — and fixable.  Bandzoogle, which has been offering a broad range of tools for artists for two decades, simply doesn’t touch the money.  “This is not an escrow arrangement,” Dave Cool, who heads artist relations at Bandzoogle, flatly told Digital Music News.

Far from it: Bandzoogle doesn’t even take commissions. Instead, they charge a modest monthly fee for platform tools that include artist page hosting, direct-to-fan artist subscriptions, SEO optimization, download sales and delivery, analytics on fans, ticket sales, and even Soundscan reporting.

It’s a model that’s been quietly achieving serious traction with artists, and a low-key industry success story. According to Bandzoogle’s CEO, Stacey Bedford, the company has been helping artists to earn tens of millions of dollars directly from their fans through a range of tools. She’s not sure of the total amount, but the company started tracking its artist revenues in 2011, and the ticker is about to cross $37 million — with no commission cut.  

Not too shabby, especially for the artists using this platform. We recently joined forces to hopefully expand the success further, and shine the light on Bandzoogle’s relatively recent forays into artist crowdfunding. In the process, we’ve been introduced to a company that lives and dies for indie artists and is essentially the opposite of PledgeMusic.

“We’re not motivated by dollar signs, we’re motivated by doing something useful with our time,” Bedford told us.

Sadly, PledgeMusic was more of a scam than an escrow arrangement, with funds held but never distributed.

After successfully paying artists for years, the platform hoodwinked artists like Filter, L7, and Queensrÿche by using pledged funds to pay for company overhead, salaries, or worse. Sadly, Filter was forced to cancel a 20th-anniversary album, and Queensryche lost $70,000 in pledges. L7 has threatened litigation to recover their funds after accusing the company of running a scam. 

But that was only part of the story, according to Dave. Beyond the bigger names, other indies were often forced to pay for projects on their own while PledgeMusic froze contributions. Those artists got far less attention but had a more difficult recovery challenge. “The money they lost had a huge impact on them,” Cool said. “They had to pay out of pocket.”

We talked to one of those artists, who miraculously recovered from a disastrous PledgeMusic campaign.

 Moksha Sommer of HuDost told Digital Music News that her PledgeMusic campaign went beyond the initial goal —though they only managed to get a modest percentage of the pledged funds after some ‘serious pestering’ and persistence.  

“What they gave was 50% of the goal, but not 50% of what came in because we had surpassed the goal,” Sommer told us.  “And it didn’t include shipping and handling fees or anything like that, so the amount they owe us is quite a bit greater than what they gave us.”

Canadian singer-songwriter Dayna Manning faced a similar dilemma.  After signs of trouble surfaced in 2017, she told us that she was ‘really persistent’ with ‘multiple emails’ to repeatedly insist on receiving payment.  Then, Manning’s assigned campaign manager at PledgeMusic jumped ship: “She removed herself from something she didn’t want to be a part of.”

Ultimately, Manning recovered 50% of her initial campaign goal, though, like Sommer, she also surpassed her PledgeMusic goal.

Sadly, this was Manning’s first foray into crowdfunding — she had previously been wary of the idea.

Now, she was at risk of being unable to finish her release, while potentially losing a Canadian government grant that was based on the completion of the project. Both funding sources could be easily wiped out. “I spent the entire weekend paralyzed, I just don’t take risks like that,” Manning told us.

Amazingly, both artists landed on their feet, thanks to seriously devoted fanbases.  Sommer told us that her fans started contacting her directly, offering to re-send their pledges directly.  Ultimately HuDost finished the project despite the limited payout, and completed a fairly ambitious release.  The album even charted on Billboard’s Folk Americana charts, ironically based on the initial PledgeMusic orders.

Manning recovered the money in eight hours on Kickstarter.  “I was completely honest and people felt for me,” Manning told us.  “I have really dedicated fans, I’m really, really lucky.”

Those nightmares had happy endings — though they were likely the exceptions. Still, both artists are still committed to crowdfunding, with Bandzoogle emerging as a more trustworthy partner.

Incidentally, HuDost and Dayna Manning are all tapping into Bandzoogle’s crowdfunding platform, with Dave Cool personally consulting both artists.

Sommer also said she’d had positive experiences at Indiegogo, but shifted to Bandzoogle for future campaigns.  “They’re the only ones truly empowering indie artists,” Sommer told us. “They don’t take anything from your campaign, and it goes immediately to you.”

Dayna Manning echoed the sentiment, while also pointing to the commission-free structure.  She uses the platform to power her website, which offers her entire catalog for streaming. Even better, Manning urged Bandzoogle to move into other offerings, including a dedicated streaming app.  She wants to construct her own streaming platform for her fans — bypassing behemoths like Spotify.

Moksha Sommer loved the idea.  “If there was a way for us to directly receive royalties from streaming, that would be incredible,” Sommer told us.

Sounds like an interesting idea — though launching a Spotify app for a single artist seems complex. But Bandzoogle had also been hearing this suggestion from other artists, so they constructed a subscription-based solution in response.

Accordingly, any Bandzoogle artist can easily build a subscription wall around any content and integrate the payment platform within their sites.

The result is an exciting financial possibility for artists, with the potential to generate recurring, sustainable monthly income. In a nutshell, Bandzoogle simply layers subscription-based areas onto an existing site, with the look-and-feel consistent throughout. Then, the artist can decide what goes behind the subscription paywall, including pre-release music, special outtakes, remixes, videos, and live-streams.

One of the earliest takers of Bandzoogle’s subscription feature is Jont, whose ‘Gentle Warrior’ community exists across different access tiers.  The exact mix of content depends on the subscription level, with Jont positioning access options for $5, $15, or $50 (Canadian) a month. Entry-level subscribers get access to lots of songs and videos, while ‘Gentle Warrior III’ subscribers enjoy ‘red carpet’ treatment.  The bag of goodies includes unreleased songs, long-form videos, and concert recordings.

Jont pointed to the subscription platform as a way for fans.  It’s a way “to show appreciation for my music in a tangible way that will help me focus on my music full-time,” he said.

Bandzoogle’s subscription platform resembles Patreon in some ways, but without the commissions.  The money just goes directly to the artist. But most importantly, it’s a way to directly connect with fans, many of whom are dying to directly support their favorite artists.

Warner Records Inks a Label-Focused Partnership With Masked Gorilla

Roger Gengo, who runs the hip-hop site Masked Gorilla, has started a new record label called Masked Records in partnership with Warner Records.

The new label has already signed its first major music artist: up-and-coming rapper 2KBABY, whose “Old Streets” has garnered more than 2.5 million streams on Spotify since it was released back in June.

Gengo started Masked Gorilla 10 years ago when he was only 17. The website is known for supporting underground music artists in the early stages of their careers. Mac Miller’s first video interview appeared on the site, which also produced interviews of many who would become stars, such as Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, and Childish Gambino.

Aaron Bay-Schuck, co-chairman and CEO of Warner Records, ushered in the partnership with Gengo. He praised Gengo’s entrepreneurial skills, calling his success “nothing short of amazing.”

“What he’s done as a young entrepreneur over the past decade has been nothing short of amazing – literally redefining the hip-hop landscape, time and time again identifying groundbreaking artists while they were still way under the radar,” Bay-Schuck stated.  “And that’s what real A&R is all about – great ears, impeccable taste, and the discovery and nurturing of original talent.”

Instead of an A&R-focused indie label, Masked Gorilla largely focused on covering emerging artists.

In its 10-year history, the Masked Gorilla site has published in excess of 20,000 articles.  They have also launched a podcast as well as a concert series called ‘Unmasked’ that began in 2014.

The concerts originally were staged in warehouses throughout Los Angeles before moving on to some of the biggest venues in the city.  Artists that have appeared in their sold-out shows have included Tyler, the Creator, Playboi Carti, Denzel Curry, $uicideboy$, and Lil Peep, among others.

Gengo says that Masked Records will allow him to help emerging artists in a brand new way. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Week’s Top U.S. Festivals & Tours, Presented by SeatGeek

The most popular concert tickets, tour stops, and artists around the country, based on SeatGeek data through Wednesday, September 11th.

Welcome to our weekly report on the world of live music, based on exclusive data from SeatGeek, a ticketing platform that enables fans to buy and sell tickets for sports, concert, and theater events. Read on for insights into the most popular artists and festivals from the prior and upcoming weeks.

Most Popular Artists and Festivals

1. Post Malone (Rank last week: 2)

Not only did he just drop a new album, announce the lineup info for this year’s Posty Fest (which includes Meek Mill, Pharrell Williams and Rae Sremmurd), but Post Malone is also set to kick off his “Runaway Tour” any day now. Actually, to be precise, he’ll hit the road on September 14 when he performs at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA.

2. Jonas Brothers (Rank last week: 1)

Turns out once “Happiness Begins” it doesn’t seem to stop–at least if you’re a Jonas Brother. The trio are still riding high as they continue along on their tour, where they’re performing some of their first new material since 2013.

3. Tool (Rank last week: 16)

Tool recently dethroned Taylor Swift from her No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart, so it only makes sense that they’d rise through the ranks on this list. With such positive reception around Fear Inoculum (their first release in over a decade), their upcoming arena tour will likely be one of the hottest tickets of the fall.

4. Elton John (Rank last week: 5)

Elton John embarked on the final leg of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” last week, which included a two-night run in Las Vegas. Catch him this weekend at the Chase Center in San Francisco for another two-night performance.

5. Chris Brown (Rank last week: 4)

Chris Brown’s “IndieGOAT Tour” is in the middle of a major East Coast run, with shows scheduled in Jersey and Brooklyn this weekend, plus Philly and Boston next week. He’ll be joined by Ty Dolla $ign and Tory Lanez for all upcoming performances.

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SeatGeek “Rising” Artists and Festivals

Past Week, Based on the Percent Increase in SeatGeek Web Traffic

1. Bob Seger 1,426%

The final leg of Bob Seger’s “Roll Me Away Tour” has just begun, with a show at the Fargodome in Fargo, ND on the docket for this weekend. Don’t wait too long to make your concert plans–he’s only touring through November 1 (unless he adds more dates which, let’s be honest, he probably will).

2. Melanie Martinez 589%

After a three-year hiatus since her last album, Melanie Martinez released her new album, K-12, along with a 90-minute corresponding film. Hopefully that’s enough fresh material to hold fans over until her “K-12 Tour” kicks off next month.

3. Donny & Marie: 395%

Iconic brother-sister duo Donny & Marie have recently announced that their long-standing Vegas show will come to a close at the end of 2019. Though fans might not be able to catch them live for much longer, they can watch Marie as a new full-time host on The Talk. Meanwhile, Donny will be releasing his 62nd studio album later this year.

4. Tool: 374%

In just about a month Tool will set sail on the “Fear Inoculum Tour,” a 26-date trek that has them on the road from mid-October until just before Thanksgiving. The tour kicks off with a performance at Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, followed by a headlining gig at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

5. Duran Duran: 300%

Live in the Lake Tahoe area and looking for some Friday night plans? You’ll have the rare chance to catch Duran Duran live when they perform at the Outdoor Arena at Harveys on September 13. They’ll also headline Sunday night at San Diego’s Kaboo Del Mar festival.

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Most Popular Upcoming Tour Stops and Festivals

Upcoming Week, Based on SeatGeek Ticket Sales

Two of the music world’s most iconic pianists — Billy Joel and Elton John — are holding down the top two spots on our list of most popular upcoming concerts. New York native Billy will play at Boston’s Fenway Park on Saturday (don’t tell the Yankee fans), just one day after The Who is scheduled to perform there. On the other side of the country, Elton John will gear up for a two-night run at the Chase Center in San Francisco starting on Friday, September 13th.

Tyler, the Creator’s “Igor Tour” stops in New York City on Thursday for a massive Madison Square Garden gig as part of his East Coast leg. The Jonas Brothers, Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett also appear on this list, with each artist surpassing the halfway point of their respective tours. An upcoming pair of John Mayer shows are also garnering some attention, with performances at The Forum in Inglewood coming up this weekend.

 

 

Deezer Introduces a New Payment System to Better Reward Artists

Deezer launched a new website today touting the benefits of a ‘User-Centric Payment’ system.

The music streaming service is hoping to get rights holders on board to create a new payment structure for artists.  The user-centric payment system will start as a pilot in France early next year.  If that pilot program goes well, the UCPS will roll out to the rest of the world.

Deezer currently handles royalty payouts by paying artists a percentage based on the listens they get. Under the newly proposed system, subscription fees will stop being pooled. Individual subscriptions will only go to the artists you listen to.

In the current accounting and payout system — which is also employed by Spotify and others — an artist receiving 100,000 plays from a fan wouldn’t realize the economic benefit from those direct plays.  Instead, that money would be pooled across millions of artists and their plays, then parsed out based on overall, aggregated spins on the platform.  In the end, DJ Khaled and Ed Sheeran would end up hogging a bigger piece of the action, even from a non-fan.

It’s a bit confusing, so Deezer laid out a graph that helps explain things better. The short answer here is that UCPS addresses issues in which small-time creators are paid much less than mega-stars like Drake.

Deezer says it already has the technology to put the new payment system in place. Now the company just has to get the Big Three major labels on board.  Already, over 40 other labels have agreed to the new payment structure.

Deezer believes the new system could help indie artists earn up to 30% more.

Top streaming artists may see an impact on their bottom line, but says the decrease will be 10% less. One of the major benefits of UCPS is eliminating streaming fraud from bots, which can impact pooled royalty payments.

The #MakeStreamingFair social media campaign is hoping to bring attention to the new payment method. Deezer says UCPS would help fix chart distortion from younger listeners. The 18-25 market generates 19% of subscribers, but only around 24% total royalties.

The general idea is to get artists paid for the listeners they do have, instead of counting on tiny percentages of a much larger pool.  How successful Deezer will be without remains to be seen.

Watch Apple’s Special Event Including iPhone 11 Unveil

In a quickly evolving era technology, it’s hard to keep up with all the latest innovations but Apple’s managed to keep everybody focused on what they have up their sleeves. Today, they’re hosting the Apple Special Event at Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, CA where they’ll be unveiling brand new products including the next generation iPhones. The rumors surrounding the iPhone 11 have been running rampant in recent times. They’ll unveil the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the iPhone 11 that are set to replace the XS, XS Max, and XR models that were released last year.

In addition to the iPhone, they have other types updates with their devices on the way. They’ll be unveiling brand new details surrounding Apple Arcade, a new gaming subscription, as well as Apple TV+, a brand new streaming service that’s aiming to compete with the other major streaming companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Apple TV+ seems to be making a concerted effort to challenge its competitors witha lower price point $4.99 a month. It’s set to launch in 100 countries and will have shows ready for streaming on November 9th, 2019.

Apple Arcade will also be launching Apple Arcade for the same price, although it’ll be available on September 19th and will include a wide range games from classic titles to new, indie releases.  

Sony/ATV Signs King Princess In Worldwide Publishing Deal

Sony/ATV Music Publishing has signed 20-year-old King Princess to a worldwide publishing deal.

The deal spans the full catalog of the indie singer, songwriter, and producer. Born Mikaela Straus, the singer made her debut in February 2018 with “1950.” The song was a tribute to Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt.

King Princess’ debut album ⁠— Cheap Queen ⁠— will be out on October 25th from Zelig/Columbia Records. The album features contributions from Father John Misty, The Dap-Kings, and Tobias Jesso Jr. King Princess will perform at the Austin City Limits Festival on October 4th before the start of her North American tour.

King Princess’ managers Andrew DiDio and Adam Herzog seemed quite pleased with the Sony/ATV tie-up.

“Sony/ATV have proven beyond any doubt their understanding of this artist as well as their own appreciation of our dedication to developing all dimensions of King Princess’ career. We look very forward to what the future holds with her and the Sony/ATV family worldwide.”

King Princess released the singles ‘Cheap Queen,’ ‘Prophet,’ and ‘Ain’t Together’ this year. You can have a listen to ‘Cheap Queen’ below.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing also recently acquired the rights to represent . That catalog includes Weiland’s time as frontman of the grunge band, Stone Temple Pilots.

Beyond that, the music giant also inked a new deal to represent of hits earlier this year. That agreement spans Parton’s entire career and included many of her most well-known songs.

Sony/ATV’s makes it the largest music publisher in the world.  Practically overnight, the acquisition nearly doubled the publisher’s catalog from 2.2 million to 4.2 million songs.  With more publishing deals lined up, you can bet that number will grow exponentially over the next few years.  The company needs it, as fell flat as revenue dropped 9% last year.

Patreon Is Thinking About Giving Its Artists Loans and Health Care

Patreon is looking into a new range of services for its crowdfunding creators.

CEO Jack Conte confirmed the news at a tech panel coordinated by Variety in Los Angeles. He says Patreon is considering new ways to provide capital funding and other financial services to artists.  Other services on the table include health care and HR support.

Conte says no one is building platforms for creators right now — instead, most platforms are either exploit artists or only marginally compensate them.  But Conte also noted that platforms expressly built for creators aren’t focused on creators.  Instead, they’re focused on bringing in .

He spoke about how hard it is to get a loan as a creative, drawing from his own experience as an indie musician. Conte founded the indie band Pomplamoose with his wife, Nataly Dawn. Lenders want to see traditional pay stubs, which most artists lack. That quickly ends the possibility of a deal.

Conte says he sent his iTunes sales reports to the bank to verify his info.  But few banks or lenders understand music royalties.

Patreon will distribute over $500 million in funding to creators in 2019. Patreon earnings compared to ad-supported earnings can be 50 to 100 times higher in some situations, according to the platform.

“Artists should be compensated fairly for their work. It’s a much better economic system to fund people who are making the internet lively and interesting.”

Other panel participants include Baratunde Thurston, who helped launch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central. He discussed why he launched a Patreon page for his creations earlier this year. Thurston says Patreon allows him to have a more consistent relationship with his community while reaping the benefits of direct contributions.

Patreon certainly isn’t a home run, and there are certainly starving artists on this platform. But at least it’s a chance to improve on comically low royalty payments offered by platforms like Spotify and YouTube.

Rhapsody Agrees to Release $10 Million In Unpaid Royalties — Here's How to Get Paid

Rhapsody International has agreed to pay $10 million over unpaid streaming royalties to artists.

The preliminary settlement follows years of litigation spearheaded by artist-activist David Lowery.  The litigation, first initiated in March of 2016, alleged that Rhapsody International and its wholly-owned Napster systematically failed to pay mechanical licenses for streaming plays.

Lowery, along with David Faragher, Greg Lisher, and Victor Krummenacher, had asked the court to certify the lawsuit as a class action, while also demanding injunctive and declaratory relief.  Earlier this year, a and a full-blown trial averted, though it’s taken nearly a year to finalize the details.

Rhapsody itself has denied any wrongdoing, but will pay the money anyway.  “Rhapsody denies the allegations and does not admit liability in agreeing to the Settlement,” the settlement states.

According to Michelman & Robinson, LLP, who litigated the case on behalf of Lowery, a $10 million settlement has been reached.  “The case, which alleged that Rhapsody unlawfully reproduced and distributed certain copyrighted compositions its streaming music service, has preliminarily settled, which means that interested indie musicians may be entitled to compensation,” the firm emailed Digital Music News.

Here’s how to check if you’re owed money, and how to submit a claim.

If you are the writer or co-writer of any song played on Rhapsody between March 7th, 2013 and March 21st, 2019, you may be eligible to receive up to $35 for each song.

A claim form must be filled out at www.rhapsodynoiclassaction.com.  Once the form is filled out, click ‘Submit Form’ and wait for a reply and further instructions.

The deadline to file a claim is December 31st, 2019.

A Claims Administrator can be reached at (833) 253-8061 with questions.

Michelman & Robinson says the process is “relatively hassle-free,” though you don’t have to agree to the class settlement.  Alternatively, any rights owner or songwriter has the option to sue Rhapsody directly, though submitting a claim also prevents you from filing any litigation against Rhapsody.

Also worth noting: inaction, or not filing any claim, also prevents you from further litigation unless you specifically opt-out or protest the class action.  Doing nothing is not a winning idea.

Incidentally, Lowery was also instrumental in numerous other lawsuits against other streaming giants, including Spotify. Ultimately, Spotify agreed to settle its case involving indie songwriters and publishers for $43 million, though the amount was quickly criticized as insultingly low.

 

RIAA, A2IM, Music Artists' Coalition Oppose California's AB5 Legislation

A new law in California called AB5 could destroy the independent music industry in the state, according to an urgent open letter published today.

The open letter was jointly penned by the RIAA, A2IM and the Music Artists’ Coalition.

AB5, which is set to go into effect on September 13th, was enacted to help protect workers in the new gig economy by making it harder for companies in California to classify those who work for them as contractors instead of employees.  But music industry opponents insist that if legislators do not provide an exception for artists and smaller musical productions, it will simply force music artists to leave the state.

“Think of a 14-year-old kid in her bedroom making music with friends,” the letter offers as an example.  “Is she capable of becoming an employer and providing punch cards, time sheets, guaranteed meal breaks, health care, retirement benefits, minimum wage, overtime pay calculation, mandatory tax withholdings? Imagine N.W.A, when they were making independent records in Compton, faced with the expense and administrative tasks of becoming employers.”

The focus of AB5 is specifically on Uber and Lyft — but the impact on other industries may be getting ignored.

Those who work for the ride-sharing companies often accept low wages without benefits, as they are considered independent contractors.  The problem for independent music artists is that they must contract a wide range of services in order produce a record and/or music videos.  This extensive list of contracted collaborators can include:

  • Music Producers
  • Engineers
  • Musicians
  • Publicists
  • Managers
  • Music Video Producers
  • Dancers
  • Background Vocalists

Under AB5, all these people would become employees of the artist, which would be an untenable situation for many if not most independent music artists.

The writers of the letter — which include RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier, A2IM President and CEO Richard James Burgess and Music Artists’ Coalition Co-President Susan Genco — want an exception created for their industry. Their organizations, which represent a very wide range of artists, have all agreed to the wording of the exemption, and they are asking people in the state to contact their legislators and demand action.

If the exemption doesn’t happen, the organizations expect that the independent music industry in California will largely move to places such as New York and Nashville.  “Get ready, Nashville and New York — it looks like you’re about to have your own recorded music boom,” the letter warns.

Here’s the full letter.

California has always been a haven for artists and has inspired songs that are heard around the world. But a recent change in a law, about to get the stamp of approval by the California Legislature, will unintentionally drive independent artists out of the state. While changes in technology have made it possible for artists to remain independent and create music on their own terms, this law will force them to make that music outside of California.

AB5 is being proposed largely in response to the “ride-sharing” companies like Uber and Lyft. The bill is intended to make it more difficult for so-called “gig economy” companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. We understand, appreciate and support the legislators wanting to protect hundreds of thousands of people in our state who are working without benefits, while the corporations involved reap the profits of their labor.

Unfortunately, the law is so broad it will have outsized consequences for independent musicians: treating them like Uber and Lyft’s executives rather than their drivers. The proposed bill states that any person who provides services that relate to the usual course of the “hiring entity’s” business is an employee of that entity. This makes sense for large corporations; it does not make sense for the independent artist who is trying to make music.

Artists work with many people to help them realize their vision: producers, engineers, musicians, publicists, managers, music video creators, dancers, background vocalists, etc. Under this new law, an artist in California could become the employer of all of these people.

Think of a 14-year-old kid in her bedroom making music with friends: Is she capable of becoming an employer and providing punch cards, time sheets, guaranteed meal breaks, health care, retirement benefits, minimum wage, overtime pay calculation, mandatory tax withholdings? Imagine N.W.A, when they were making independent records in Compton, faced with the expense and administrative tasks of becoming employers.

In 2019, the opportunities to make music independently are endless, and this law threatens to quash that innovation for:

The young girl in her basement recording on Garageband who invites a friend over to play bass. She is an employer.

The rapper who hires a mixer to punch up the levels on the production. He is an employer.

The producers in a garage who hire musicians to play on a track. They are an employer.

The songwriters who ask people to play on a demo so they can pitch it to an artist to cut: employers.

People who organize “song camps” where songwriters come together and write songs: employers

This is not an issue of big versus small; this is small struggling to become big. There are tens of thousands of kids with dreams in California — dreams to become a recording artist, a singer, a producer, a rapper, a small label executive, a major label executive. The unintended consequence of this law is that they will have to move out of California to pursue this dream.

Get ready, Nashville and New York — it looks like you’re about to have your own recorded-music boom …

… Unless there is something we can do about it. AB5 allows industry exemptions. We all agreed on an exemption — and when was the last time recording artists, indie and major labels agreed on something? We have a good deal of union support, but not all of them.

If you care about allowing independent artists, songwriters, and labels to remain in California, we need your help. Call your local state legislature, your union, the AFM. Tell them how important it is to you that we keep the music in California. Ask them to support an exemption to AB5 for independent recording in California.

But hurry: The bill becomes law on September 13.

California has always protected independence for artists. Don’t let AB5 pass without an exemption for independent artists and force independent music-making out of California.

Thank you,

Mitch Glazier for the Recording Industry Association of America, Dr. Richard James Burgess for the American Association of Independent Music and Jordan Bromley and Susan Genco for the Music Artists Coalition.