Pop star Taylor Swift’s recent blowup over the sale of the label her first albums belong to made national headlines. Swift held nothing back in complaining about the label sale although she’s now worth hundreds of millions of dollars partly because of that label. Swift targeted Scooter Braun, the man at the helm of the purchase of her label, for allegedly bullying her, among other reasons. Rising country star Scooter Brown had no idea what would come at him as a result of mistaken identity.
Be forewarned. The chart is definitely addicting. BMI, along with other industry partners, has published a new graph and data indicating musicians in the US have a big money pie to target. It doesn’t matter if you’re a known brand or an up and comer. The market share for the industry is huge, and the state I live in has enough revenue churning to fire up the ambitions of any songwriter, performer, or other industry professional. Start with the overall US market–$143 billion in annual value and 2 million jobs.
Sammy Sadler’s story, one he is recounting firsthand in a new book, is one of those cautionary tales about life in the corporate music fast lane. Sadler, a breakout country artist in the late 1980s, had every reason to expect success in his industry. His voice commanded a wide range and his voice had something lacking in so many–character and uniqueness. He had the looks, and his songs were charting nicely. Then came the night when he and his friend Kevin Hughes were leaving Sadler’s record label offices. A gunman emerged from the shadows, killing Hughes and seriously wounding Sadler.
I wrote about the dustup over the song “Old Town Road” as debate about the song’s “country-worthiness” took place on social media. I remain perplexed about why country music gatekeepers would deem the song not country when it is, in fact, as country as anything I hear on radio stations or anything I see on the TV channel that airs country videos. In fact, Lil Nas X the rapper has produced a song that’s more country than most of what I hear these days.
Because of technology, we live in an age where, if you’re an artist, you can’t just be talented or hard-working. You also have to know how to work the system. A rapper from Atlanta, 20 year old Lil Nas X, did all of the above, and now he’s the topic of many a conversation in the music industry. How did a rapper get a song to the top of country Billboard before it was removed from country? Was this racist?
Go to a workshop on making money with your music, and you will hear how valuable streaming is. Spotify is supposed to be one of the magic roads indie artists should take. For consumers willing to pay for music, Spotify is a deal. For artists hoping to gain exposure via Spotify, the service can be a frustration. In an interview with Spotify founder Daniel Ek, Stephen J. Dubner (Freakonomics podcast) makes some interesting points. For starters, how much money can a professional musician expect to make in a year?
The US Library of Congress selects 25 sound titles each year for special preservation because of their importance to our culture and history. Among the diverse titles selected in 2019 are works by artists like Cindy Lauper, Jay-Z, and Richie Valens. What prompted me to write about this, however, was the induction of Lefty Frizzell, one of the greatest influencers on country music in my lifetime. If you’ve ever heard “Long Black Veil” covered, you can thank Frizzell.
CD Baby is getting a new mom and dad. Downtown Music Holdings is acquiring the group that owns the 21 year old music publisher and online seller. How will this affect indie artists who rely on CD Baby for distribution?
Surfer the Bar in Jacksonville Beach (FL) isn’t the first bar to allegedly run afoul of music licensing regulations. ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers] is suing the bar on behalf of a number of groups for copyright infringement. Does this matter, in the scheme of things, for a bar that stands on hallowed ground in these parts—the former location of Freebird? Surfer the Bar isn’t the only venue to deal with copyright infringement issues.
It’s happened to me and I’d bet it’s happened to you. You’re listening to the radio or to your favorite stream service and a top charted song plays. You may think this top song isn’t all that great, and it’s by an up and comer. You ask yourself how that song even got released much less moved quickly to the top of the charts. As with so much else in life, it starts with dreams. Then come schemes and streams. Is it acceptable? Should this be disclosed?