Sunday, January 25, 2015

Music Business/Law Tips - Chart Changes

From 2015 onward, Billboard has changed their tally system as to the types of data that will be included in deciphering what records deserve to be on the Top 200 Album Chart. At least for the last 15 years or so, the Album Chart just included actual sales that could be verified by Sound Scan (i.e., bar code reads). Now, streaming (e.g., Spotify) and other digital metric data will also be included in the calculations. In particular, 1500 song streams will now equate to one album sale, and 10 digital single track tales will now equate to one album sale. It is anticipated that this modern system may skew the Chart toward new and younger acts like Ariana Grande who have a very active online audience. Ben McLane Esq

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Music Business/Law Tips - "Nightclub Performance Royalties"

For years when an artist or DJ performed his/her original songs in a nightclub/bar it was probably never logged as a “play” by the performance rights organizations such as BMI, ASCAP or SESAC (“PRO”), and thus no credit or royalties were earned since there was no accurate tracking system covering that space (like there is for radio and TV). That has now changed. There is a new product called “KUVO” (by Pioneer) that tracks each song played in a club via cloud-based/streaming technology. The data that KUCO collects can then be shared with the respective PRO. Since last year alone it is estimated that over $160 million was lost due to poor tracking methods in clubs, so this new technology is a ray of hope for songwriters to always get paid for their work. Of course, writers have to make their PRO aware of all their songs so that they are in the database to be matched/credited. Ben McLane Esq

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Music Business/Law Tips - "Music Libraries"

Having your songs in a music library can lead to placements in film, TV, advertisement and other media. Music libraries normally contain tons of music, either full songs (vocal and/or instrumental) and shorter “cues”. The library will need the ability to license both the master and the publishing for the titles it works. The library will license a piece of music to a user for a fee (which varies based on the license type). These days library music is organized digitally online by themes/streaming to make it easy for searching by a potential client (e.g., a music supervisor for a TV show or film) that wants to quickly listen to a piece to see if it fits the purpose. Cues are tagged with meta-data to narrow down searches. Common meta-data tags are: mood, sounds like, beats per minute, genre, instrumental, etc. The issues to consider when placing music into a library are: non-exclusive vs. exclusive, term, how many songs, income split, etc.). Ben McLane Esq.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Music Business/Law Tips - "Start Up"

When starting up a new entertainment business (i.e., label, publishing company, management company, band), there are a few basic business matters that should be handled: 1. Form an LLC so there is a separate business shield and tax ID # (to avoid personal liability). 2. Register the business name/brand as a trademark. This protects the business against infringers. 3. Obtain insurance. Both general liability and workers comp policies if you have employees and deal with the public. Of course there are other matters to attend to, but this is a good start to have a professional set-up. Ben McLane Esq

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Music Business/Law Tips - "Bands Invest In Bands"

A business model is emerging whereby a more famous artist becomes a financial stakeholder in a new developing act. Although it is not an original concept per se (as in recent years Lil Wayne took a vested interest in Niki Minaj and ditto Justin Bieber with Carly Rae Jepson, and way back Motown used to always join its acts up on tours, recordings, etc.), the recent pairing of One Direction and their charges the band 5 Seconds of Summer has been quite successful. Essentially how it works is a big name artist like One Direction - in con junction with its management - will find an up and coming artist that would have similar appeal to their fanbase, form a holding company, sign the new artist to them on some level, and farm the act out to a major distributor like Sony, Warners or Universal who will do all the marketing and promotion. One Direction will then take 5 Seconds out on tour as its opening act and use its social media fanbase to help brand the new act. On the back-end, One D and its management share in the net income made by 5 Seconds. 5 Seconds just had a #1 album and big touring and merchandise results, so this has been a win/win for the parties involved. Ben McLane Esq

Monday, November 24, 2014

Music Business/Law Tips - "Logo Is An Artist"

In the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) realm – where DJs prevail - several unlikely stars have arisen in non-traditional ways. A recent example of this is the producer “Zhu” (Steven Zhu). Although Zhu is a DJ performer who can also sing and dance, he has chosen to market himself as an anonymous graphic/cartoon logo – you never see the person. His true indemnity is mysterious (sort of like “Deadmau5” with the mask also in the same musical genre). Zhu’s brand and music has spread like wildfire via dance music blogs and YouTube videos. His image is even starting to show up as graffiti in Europe. Apparently according to management, since Zhu happens to be of Chinese descent, to get around any potential prejudice it was thought it may be best to market him in this fashion. It has worked - as Zhu signed a major label deal with Columbia Records and is on the charts and playing all the big Festivals. Zhu has proven that these days one can break the mold of how to make it in the music business, and is an encouraging example to other artists that may not fit into a cookie cutter image. Of course, the music always has to be commercial. Ben McLane Esq

Friday, November 14, 2014

Music Business/Law Tips - "A Piece Of A Legend"

An interesting new business model has cropped up whereby a famous band will offer investors a chance to invest in the band and own a piece of that band's future earnings. This mostly applies to veteran acts that are not currently on the charts as a way for them to supplement their income in leaner financial times. An example of this is the band Queensryche who recently made a private offering to interested investors who for a minimum investment of $50,000 will receive a percentage of the band's future entertainment income (i.e., merchandise, CDs, etc.). Be on the look-out for more classic acts to offer this option, which is cool for music fanatics with some spending cash who want to really be close to their idols and possibly make a few dollars at the same time. Ben McLane Esq