The ceremony for the 60th Grammy Awards is still two weeks away, but already music’s biggest TV night has made history.

The ceremony for the 60th Grammy Awards is still two weeks away, but already music’s biggest TV night has made history.


For the first time, hip-hop artists dominate the majority of nominees chosen in the academy’s top categories, including record, album and song of the year.

But that sound you’re hearing isn’t champagne corks popping in celebration. It’s exasperated sighs that the Recording Academy only just discovered what the rest of the entertainment industry noticed back in the flip-phone era: Hip-hop, once an outlier, is now the status quo.

From Broadway’s “Hamilton” to Hollywood’s “Straight Outta Compton” to television’s “Atlanta,” hip-hop’s broad influence on American pop culture has defied countless predictions that a nervous white mainstream would never fully embrace a trend born out of the urban, black experience.

Consider hip-hop’s television takeover. Today, rappers are not only backing films about the black experience, but also are creating, producing and starring in top-rated cable and network series and breaking out of music categories at film and television award shows.

“Atlanta” creator and star Donald Glover — who under his stage name, Childish Gambino, is up for five Grammys — made history when he won a directing Emmy in September for his breakthrough FX comedy, a cable ratings success, about the everyday trials and tribulations of an aspiring hip-hop entrepreneur. No other black director had ever won an Emmy in the comedy category, and Glover was the first director since Alan Alda in 1977 to win for a comedy in which he also starred.

“I wanted to show white people you don’t know everything about black culture,” he told the awards ceremony audience, some of whom had already watched him win two top Golden Globes for the show earlier in 2017.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who shattered records and expectations when his hip-hop musical “Hamilton” swept the 2016 Tonys, is now executive producing a forthcoming Showtime series, “The Kingkiller Chronicle,” based on characters from the fantasy books by Patrick Rothfuss.

And hitting Showtime this month was the already critically acclaimed “The Chi” from “Master of None’s” Lena Waithe, the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, and hip-hop star Common, the first rapper to win an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe. (Before Oprah and Meryl Streep, he gave what had been the Golden Globes’ most inspirational speech — “I am” — delivered with the poetic rhythm of a lyrical rhyme when he and John Legend accepted the 2015 original song award for “Glory” in Ava DuVernay’s civil rights drama “Selma.”)

"The Chi"
The cast of Showtime’s “The Chi,” which premiered this month and has already garnered critical acclaim. Mathieu Young / Showtime

“I was surprised by it all,” Common said about the accolades.

It was one of many in a string of “crossover surprises”: Fox’s hip-hop-themed drama “Empire” became a surprise success with white audiences; soccer moms across America were surprised they couldn’t stop humming Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in favor of something — anything — else; and a biopic about once-feared gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A, “Straight Outta Compton,” became a surprise hit at the box office.

The surprise, however, is that anyone was surprised.

The Age of Hip-Hop

The 2018 Grammy nominations are overdue acknowledgment that hip-hop has shaped music and culture worldwide for decades. In this ongoing series, we track its rise and future.

“Hip-hop is the soundtrack of at least one, probably two generations now,” says Common (aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.), who is an executive producer on the Waithe-run series about everyday life on the South Side of Chicago. “People used to be afraid of it or consider it the music of gangsters or thugs, or whatever. But now, it’s part of everything … and everyone under the age of 40.”


From the jaunty 1980s McDonald’s jingles that still haunt Gen Xers today to raunchy rapper Method Man’s current role as a congenial TV game show host for the millennial-skewing “Drop the Mic,” hip-hop is now part of our cultural DNA. Tupac Shakur, Lauryn Hill and Eminem are to a generation what the Beatles and Stones were to boomers — the artists of their youth. And in some cases, the actors of today were the rappers of their parents’ generation.


Ice-T, the once-controversial “Cop Killer” rapper whose breakthrough film role was in 1991’s “New Jack City,” has played a sex crimes detective on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” since 2000. “If you’re 17 now, that means I started when you were 2,” he said in the past. “So you don’t have a reference point for me as a rapper. Your mother does, your father does….”

Ice–T as Odafin “Fin” Tutuola in the long-running NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Paul Drinkwater / NBC

Rap, after all, was the genre that gave us TV and film personalities like Queen Latifah, Will Smith, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Redman, Method Man and Tupac — and we’re not even into the 2000s yet. Their popularity would eventually give rise to more and more shows about or starring hip-hop figures. When ABC recently canceled “The Mayor,” about an aspiring rapper who becomes mayor of his hometown, there were no outcries over the dearth of black leads on TV — people were too busy looking forward to “The Chi” and the upcoming March premiere of “Atlanta’s” second season.


“When I used to get my Entertainment Weekly and I’d look at the fall TV previews,” said Method Man (aka Clifford Smith), “there was so many years when there weren’t any black shows premiered. I remember one year, there was only like one new fall show premiering that featured people of color: ‘The Cleveland Show’ — and that was animated, and the lead voice was done by a white guy!”


Lee Daniels’ “Empire” was the clearest example of hip-hop as a crossover bridge to break color barriers when it premiered on Fox in 2015 and obliterated conventional wisdom that a “black” drama was for black audiences. After all, why would an entire generation raised on Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” consider a show about a hip-hop family dynasty as anything but meant for them?

Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop mogul, in Fox’s “Empire.” Chuck Hodes / Fox

Instead of waiting for Hollywood and television studios to let them in, many hip-hop artists formed their own multimedia production companies or began crowdsourcing funds to create their own content.


Ice Cube (aka O’Shea Jackson) alone launched an entire genre of black comedies for the post-Run DMC generation in his “Friday” and “Barbershop” film series. The stone-cold gangsta who had referred to himself as the “[N-word] you love to hate” reinvented himself as everyone’s dad in the “Are We There Yet?” films.


Taking cues from pioneers like Ice Cube, Pharrell co-executive produced a love letter to 1990s hip-hop, the coming-of-age film “Dope.” Beyond his work with Common, crooner John Legend — who came up in the hip-hop world — co-produced a WGN America series about slavery, “Underground.” Rapper 50 Cent was behind the Starz series “Power.”

Ice Cube and Dr. Dre avoided the curse of the corny rap biopic (e.g., “Notorious”) by co-producing their own story in “Straight Outta Compton.” “NCIS: Los Angeles” star and five-time Grammy host LL Cool J now co-produces his own game show, “Lip Sync Battle.” Clearly his 1990s self was on to something when he rapped about “Rockin’ [his] peers.”

Queen Latifah (aka Dana Owens) and Will Smith also created their own production companies after experiencing success on their respective hit series, “Living Single” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Netflix recently teamed up with Smith for its biggest gamble to date, “Bright,” a streaming version of a Hollywood blockbuster. Though critically panned, the production was streamed an astonishing 11 million times over three days when it was released last month and has been greenlit for a sequel.


Demand is high for the cachet, the perspective and, of course, the money that a rap celebrity and elder statesman like Jay-Z brings to a production. “Selma” and “Wrinkle in Time” director Ava DuVernay recently worked with Mr. Bey for his “Family Feud” music video, a short released on his streaming service, Tidal.


It’s not just recognizable star power from the music world that’s drawing viewers toward shows and films that take their cues from the rap world. HBO’s “Insecure” and the CW’s “Black Lightning” are heavily steeped in rap references — such cultural shorthand would have been unthinkable 15 years ago beyond BET or MTV.

Reality TV on those Viacom-owned networks has served as a major stepping stone for hip-hop stars transitioning from music to TV — and beyond.

Let’s face it, when “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” is renewed for a second season (which kicked off last year), a barrier has not only been broken, it’s been entirely erased. “I don’t know who’s going to be more fried by the end of this show,” joked the perfect hostess with the “Gin and Juice” rapper in the first season.


VH1’s reality show “Love & Hip-Hop” gave us Cardi B. “The Surreal Life” and “Strange Love” made Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav a household name 20 years after he was last a household name. “Run’s House” and, yes, even “The Vanilla Ice Project,” a home improvement show, were canaries in a coal mine for the acceptance of the brash likes of Nicki Minaj on Middle America’s go-to show, “American Idol.”


Rappers who are used to saying it all — unedited, with abandon and on the fly — make for the best and most unpredictable reality stars. As for scripted television and film, the tradition of storytelling at the base of rap as far back as Kurtis Blow and the Sugarhill Gang is what makes hip-hop so attractive to narrative-hungry mediums.

Says Common, “rappers are storytellers, and that is a timeless tradition no matter who is watching or listening.” And clearly, this year, the Grammys finally are.


Kevin Gates Officially Released from Prison Today


Kevin Gates walked out of prison Wednesday morning, as scheduled, and no surprise warrants this time around … TMZ has learned.

Gates served 9 months of a 30-month sentence, and was released from an Illinois state prison on parole. As we first reported, he’ll be on mandatory supervision and can’t possess any firearms.

The rapper was also released from custody last year in Florida — after doing time for kicking a woman at one of his concerts — but was immediately re-arrested for an outstanding warrant in Illinois for a weapons charge.




A Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) is the most simple kind of business entity. Your label may want to consider registering as a formal business entity (or “incorporating”) in the state where you live to use certain tax advantages and to avoid personal liabilities, should your label ever be sued.


1) Protection

One of the primary benefits of forming an LLC is that label owners’ personal assets (home, car, etc.) would not be placed at risk in the event that your label or member of label  finds itself in some kind of legal trouble. In most cases, if an LLC gets sued and loses, the financial responsibility does not lie on your life outside of the label. Having corporate protection prevents you having having to take individual responsibility—which could potentially affect other people in your life who are not your label mates.


2) Structure

Most states consider a group of people who get together for a shared business purpose a “partnership.” As a partnership, the group can be held individually or collectively responsible for any legal liabilities incurred by the partnership as a whole. If your group is not incorporated, the default rule in most states is that a group of people that gets together for a common business purpose is a partnership. Also, most states have sections of their state legal codes that automatically apply to partners in a partnership. Relying on these default rules can be dangerous and may have unanticipated consequences. Establishing an LLC allows the group to customize their rights and responsibilities as the LLC would have an “Operating Agreement” that can differ from the state law default rules that would otherwise apply to the label as an unincorporated partnership.

Most labels do not consider the value of having a band agreement, covering all artists’ activities and members, present and future. For many groups, this is not a problem until a label member leaves the label, or if the label starts generating significant amounts of money and conflicts arise due to misunderstandings or unclear label policies. Many problems can be avoided by drafting an agreement, or, as described below, creating an Label Operating Agreement that covers all label members’ rights, responsibilities and expectations. LLCs have members; there can also be “managing members” who run the LLC business, or the LLC can be member-managed, with all members can be actively involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the LLC.


3) Convenience

Another good reason to establish an LLC is that groups can run all of their music business revenue through the LLC, taking relevant deductions of expenses and, in certain circumstances, availing themselves of tax benefits, such as limiting or avoiding self-employment taxes on income. One LLC can be a publishing company or record company, and can process revenue from all sources including music publishing, sales of sound recordings, public performance revenue from SoundExchange, public performance revenue via ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, merchandise sales, touring and live performance income, endorsement payments, asset licensing income, etc. Consolidating all of these income streams and carefully tracking group income and expenses can help avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. At the end of the LLC’s tax year, each member is furnished with an IRS Form K-1, detailing the overall income or loss that each individual group member would declare on their personal tax filings.

4) Tax assistance

LLC’s, as with all formal business entities, will have what is called an Employer Identification Number (“EIN”) which functions like a social security number for the LLC. Instead of, say, live performance checks payable to one label member, the check would be payable to the label LLC and the LLC’s EIN would be used on W-9 Forms for income reporting to the label LLC. This way labels can avoid the problem of payments being made to one person, whom, in the eyes of the IRS, would be on the hook for reporting all of that income and personally paying any taxes due on that amount.

Before becoming an LLC, you should discuss your intentions with a tax-preparer, accountant and/or qualified attorney to see if an LLC is right for you, and see if there are some tax considerations that would inform your decision-making about setting up an LLC and/or electing a special tax status for the LLC, such as seeking to have your LLC taxed like an IRS Subchapter S Corporation.


LLCs are registered through the Corporation Division in every state. This process can usually be done online and will involve a filing fee. Filing fees, tax laws and other restrictions may apply, so do obtain all necessary information about this process from an authority in whatever state in which you wish to file. Generally, your group must have a physical mailing address in that state: PO Boxes may not be sufficient for this purposes.

The LLC must also designate a “registered agent” for the purpose of receiving notices from the state and/or formal legal notices from third parties. Note: even if your group is registered in your home state, if you perform services or sell products in other states, notably, California, you may be required to register as a “foreign LLC,” and pay taxes, in their states.


An LLC Operating Agreement is essentially a formal, written “partnership” agreement between all LLC members. The Operating Agreement will list of all LLC Members and their LLC ownership interests and will cover all of the life events in the life of an LLC: The initial organization of the entity; the names and addresses of all members and the ownership shares and responsibilities of each Member; rules for voting on major issues, such as when a new member joins, or a member leaves; and rules regarding the dissolution or wrapping-up of the LLC and its business operations. Other issues and questions to consider include the following:

● What will each label member’s share of the LLC ownership be? One or more label member may have larger shares of ownership than others. This may be reflected in both the ownership voting rights and in the distribution of net income.

● What is the group’s songwriting policy as far as who will own musical composition copyright and publishing rights to songs that the artist writes, records and performs?

● Who will own and control band intellectual property assets, including copyrights (sound recordings, musical compositions, album and merchandise artwork, etc.), trademarks, service marks, logos, etc.? There should be attached to the Operating Agreement a list of all artist’ sound recordings and song compositions: Who owns them, and in what percentages?

● How will LLC assets be distributed if the LLC is dissolved?

● What are the ownership and voting rights? How and when will LLC member meetings occur and how will decisions get made, in terms of label member voting rights? Will the majority rule or must some, or all, decisions be unanimous?

● What if the label buys a van or other gear? Who will effectively “own” equipment purchases?

● Will there be mandatory contributions to a common label fund for future touring or recording expenses?

● Who will be Managing Members, if applicable. Who will be signers on the LLC Bank account?

● What are the expectations and rules, if any, as to label member conduct, professionalism, etc.

● What rights will departing or replacement label members have? Will they have any ownership or control over collective LLC band assets such as sound recordings (and related income), musical compositions (and related income), merchandise, label intellectual property assets such as copyrights, trademarks, artwork, logos and the like?

In sum, LLCs provide many benefits to labels seeking to avoid personal liability, organize their finances, and operate in a more professional manner. A well-crafted LLC Operating Agreement can act as a partnership agreement, clearly outlining each label member’s rights and responsibilities.


@DonChiefEGB Breaks Down A Barrier By Re-Inventing How Music Is Sold

Don Chief Poster 3 jpeg copy copy

Signing their monumental merger deal in September 2017 with several business vendors and suppliers and forming Don Chief Inc. These guys are posed to set the music world on fire by introducing a new wave for labels and musicians to sell their music.

Don Chief Press Release

By combing their music along with smoking accessories products such as tobacco wraps, rolling papers, and pre-rolled cones, they have now changed the way physical units will be counted. The key is that the music is actually delivered through the packaging which is actually considered the CD’s physical packaging, therefore technically according to the barcode they have now sold the consumer an album. Imagine every time someone buys rolling papers is now buying an album. This is exactly what this merge has now formed by Dallas area iconic rapper Don Chief, and entrepreneur Ryan Brown.

Don Chief and Ryan

Now that all the investors, suppliers, and vendors are on board with their newly formed company, they stand to become the next Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre of the music industry!


Don Chief Poster 3 jpeg

How artist’ gain real traction online

Five years ago having your music posted on the right blogs and aggregators meant the difference between labels calling you or you calling the labels. During that time labels still wielded significant power, streaming was a distant concept, and Facebook allowed you to reach all of your fans without paying a small ransom. That’s all changed.

facebookMy experience as a publisher afforded me the opportunity to observe artists like T-Wayne, Chedda da Connect, TK N Cash, TK Kravitz, and Lil Yachty leverage the blogosphere to create fan bases out of thin air. I had a front row seat to their failures and successes. In fact, buzz generated from the blogosphere led many of the aforementioned artists to sign (rightly or wrongly – I’ll let you decide) with some of the biggest labels, management teams, and publishing companies in the world.

Presently, the blogosphere is on life support. Monthly page views are down across the board, notable blogs have closed up shop, and programmatic advertising revenue (which is how blogs monetize their content) is in steady decline. Managers of unknown artists masquerade as “contributors” at popular music blogs to ensure coverage, game algorithms, and achieve access. As a result, blogs no longer deliver the impact they once had for an artist. Significant headwinds exist, and they’ll only continue to get worse. How then does an artist gain real traction online? It starts with dropping quality content on a consistent basis. People’s attention spans rival that of a goldfish, and even releases by the biggest artists have an average shelf life of only a few weeks. There’s simply too much shareable content online to compete with. That’s why it’s imperative you stay in front of tastemakers, fans, and labels with quality content every two to three weeks. Not only will this approach allow you to build momentum, it will also allow you to build relationships, which are key.


So you’re dropping content online on a consistent basis. Now what? You’ll want to focus on sending your releases to Soundcloud and Youtube curators. Soundcloud and Youtube curators are the new blogs. These curators can re-post or upload your latest release to their thousands (and sometimes millions) of subscribers and followers if they like your track. A great example of a Youtube curator is Blake Coppelson at Proximity, who’s one of the most notable distributors of dance music on the web. While competition to be covered by a curator is incredibly high (Proximity receives over 1,000 e-mails a day) one upload or re-post can mean the difference between success and failure for an artist. Curators are that important, and their role in breaking records online will only continue to increase.

Now that you’re targeting curators, it’s time to talk about converting those listeners to followers and fans. and are two technologies that allow you to incentivize listeners to follow, re-post, and share your latest releases in exchange for a free mp3. Like-gates are no-brainers for an artists, as they allow you to build a following across your social platforms quickly and efficiently. I’ve used like-gates for countless labels and artists we represent, and they work. and both offer free trials, and a range of innovative tools, insights, and features.

The above options are great, but being playlisted on a streaming service is perhaps the most important (and most difficult) piece of puzzle for an artist looking to make an impact online. We now live in playlist culture, where consumers of music only want the hits in an easily digestible format. No one listens to albums anymore. The album is dead. Consumers of music don’t have the time or attention span. That’s why playlists on Spotify-like “Rap Caviar” and “electroNOW” dominate the culture and move the needle.

How hard is it to be playlisted? It’s no walk in the park. Not only are you competing with major labels (who are also fighting to be playlisted) but there are only a few key individuals at both Apple and Spotify that make the decisions on what gets playlisted and what doesn’t.


Furthermore Spotify has an incredible amount of data it has amassed. Thanks to their data scientists, Spotify now knows when a song is going to be a hit before the artist, label, and management does. A prime example of this is Lady Gaga’s latest “Joanne” album. Spotify knew the album was an instant flop given the rate that users were skipping songs on the album. Spotify will continue to make data-driven decisions, which is sobering for those looking to be playlisted.

It’s harder than it’s ever been to cut through the noise online. Being able to self-release music has been a double-edged sword for the artist. However, with the strategies outlined above, you’ll be head and shoulders above your competitors, well on your way to gaining real traction online.

ASCAP and YouTube Reach Multi-Year Agreement for US Performance Rights

New York, NY, June 13, 2017 – ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and YouTube have signed a multi-year agreement, effective immediately, for US public performance rights and data collaboration. The mutual goal of this agreement is to work together to ensure that ASCAP members get paid more fairly and accurately for the use of their music on YouTube.



This multi-year agreement achieves two important ASCAP goals:

  • The deal substantially increases the overall compensation for our members from YouTube.
  • The deal continues to propel ASCAP’s ongoing transformation strategy to lead the industry to more accurate and reliable data. This ensures that more money goes to you – our members – the women and men whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.

The evolution of the agreement between the two entities leverages YouTube’s data exchange and ASCAP’s vast database of musical works to address the industry challenge of identifying songwriter, composer and publisher works on YouTube, and demonstrates ASCAP’s commitment to building industry-leading data capabilities. This innovative collaboration will enable new levels of monetization and transparency for ASCAP and its members.

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews commented: “This agreement achieves two important ASCAP goals – it will yield substantially higher overall compensation for our members from YouTube and will continue to propel ASCAP’s ongoing transformation strategy to lead the industry toward more accurate and reliable data. The ultimate goal is to ensure that more money goes to the songwriters, composers and publishers whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.”

“YouTube is dedicated to ensuring artists, publishers and songwriters are fairly compensated,” said Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube. “As YouTube delivers more revenue to the music industry through a combination of subscription and advertising revenue, it’s great to see ASCAP take a progressive approach towards the long term financial success of its members.”


Music Distribution Defined

Distribution is the way that recorded music gets in the hands of consumers. Traditionally, distribution companies sign deals with record labels which give them the right to sell that label’s products. The distributor takes a cut of income from each unit sold and then pays the label the remaining balance. Most distributors expect record labels to provide them with finished, ready-to-market, products, but sometimes distributors offer “M&D” deals.
M&D stands for manufacturing and distribution. With this set up, the distributor pays the manufacturing costs of an album up front and keeps all the income from album sales until that initial investment is paid off.


Music Distribution Basics
In the 20th century, distribution companies were the links between record labels and retail outlets, which included music-only stores, big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and bookstores. It is helpful to think of music distributors as wholesalers to better understand their role in the music industry.

Record labels signed — and still sign — contracts with music artists. They oversaw music recording, marketing and promotion. Consumers bought their favorite music on vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs and, in most cases, it was the record labels that paid to have these products manufactured. To get album copies in the hands of fans, record labels signed deals with distribution companies that in turn signed deals with retail stores to sell the albums.

Some distributors bought albums from record labels outright, while others distributed albums on consignment. Retailers did the same thing — some bought albums outright and others agreed to put the products on their shelves on consignment.

Radical Industry Changes
Downloading brought radical changes to the music industry at the turn of 21st century.
Before crackdowns, fans downloaded millions of tracks from a wide range of artists at no charge through companies such as Napster. Although consumers now pay to download music legally from outlets such as iTunes and Amazon, sales of vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs have plummeted, and the music industry has lost billions of dollars. Subscription services such as Pandora and Spotify have further decreased music industry revenue. With hundreds of music distributor businesses folding, only a few affiliated with the largest record labels remained. Sony, Capitol, Universal Music Group and Warner own the largest music distribution companies.

The Future of Music Distribution
There is still a role for music distributors in the digital age, even in the face of radical industry changes. After all, not every record label and musician wants to take on the task of distributing their work. For this reason, the music distributors that remain still work closely with record labels to bring music to fans; some retail stores continue to sell physical album copies.

They also distribute music to digital download outlets, even though such businesses also offer distribution deals directly to artists.

Opportunities for growth remain for music distributors that specialize in certain types of music such as classical, Latin and jazz. Some distributors have found success by focusing on certain regions and distributing music locally.

GRAMMY Nominations To Be Announced Tomorrow!

Nominations To Kick Off With The Revealing Of General Field Nominees On “CBS This Morning” At 8:30 A.M. ET December 6th; Official Nominations List To Be Available Only At

The Recording Academy and Meghan Trainor, Best New Artist GRAMMY winner for 2015, will kick off the announcement of 59th GRAMMY Awards nominations by revealing nominees in the four General Field categories (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist) live on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 8:30 a.m. ET. Immediately following, at 8:45 a.m. ET, The Recording Academy will announce nominations across all 84 categories via

Follow Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and use #GRAMMYs to join the nominations conversation as it unfolds Dec. 6.

The 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards will air live on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

                                 THE BIGGEST HITS FROM MUSIC’S BIGGEST NIGHT!


                                                            PRE-ORDER NOW

A Portion Of The Proceeds From The 2017 GRAMMY Nominees Album Benefit The MusiCares Foundation® And The GRAMMY Museum FoundationTM – Two Charitable Organizations Established By The Recording Academy®.

Why The Rebirth Of Liner Notes Matters For Music

In the old days, consumers of music were able to flip through liner notes of an album in order to ascertain precisely who was behind their favorite tracks. Now, after a digital hiatus, new technology could once again make this information, plus more, easily accessible once again.

Until about fifteen years ago, it was fairly easy to tell who had produced, recorded, and mastered an album — just flip through the gatefold or booklet and you’d be able to find all the information you needed. Granted, not all that many fans took this step, but plenty of artists found the producer who changed their careers or the recording engineer who defined their sound through this old-school method. Since the rise of digital distribution, this information has been harder to come by — and while in some cases it can be found on artist websites or Wikipedia pages, it’s often nearly impossible to track down.

That’s a shame, because making that information readily available to the public is vitally important for the creatives who shape albums behind the scenes. Sure, those producers and engineers, as well as the studio musicians, are still getting paid for their time, but they’re missing out on the recognition they deserve. Not only that, the lack of a public record makes it harder for them to build careers and connect with other artists – some recording engineers have made the jump to LinkedIn to share the projects they’ve worked on, but it’s by no means standard practice.


“Much of the music data currently available is incomplete or incorrect”

New technology that allows users to see all this information has the power to change this. Not only can it make this data more widely available to fans and other artists, but it can also help keep track of items that the old liner notes of yore could only imagine. For instance, there are programs that allow data about recording and production to be entered and uploaded to a database directly from the studio, potentially averting conflicts over royalty splits and disagreements over who exactly did that behind the console.

Cleaner production data will also help those producers and studio musicians get paid on time, no small matter in an era when studios are closing their doors and musicians are having a hard time making ends meet. While so much of the music data currently available is incomplete or incorrect, better information about everyone who was involved with a piece of music means that they can all share in the spoils of success, and no one is left out due to a missing piece of data.


Creating A System That Works

The first part of making all this happen is creating a system that works for everyone and ensures a clean flow of information into the database. Once something is in place that can be widely used, then it’s up to the artists and producers to make sure everything is entered correctly so the right people can be credited. It’s not a foolproof system and never can be — there will always be disagreements over creative vision or hazy late nights that lead to data never making it into the system. But as long as there is something good in place that has buy-in from everyone, from engineers to artists to labels to streaming services, that’s a great start. Future generations might never know how much fun it was to flip through a booklet and decode liner notes, but they’ll at least have complete access to the information about the people who made the music happen.

BMI Announces $1.060 Billion in Revenue, the Highest in Company’s History

BMI today announced the highest revenues in its 76-year history, achieving $1.060 billion for its fiscal year ended June 30. The Company also distributed and administered a record-breaking $931 million to its songwriters, composers and publishers, a 6% increase over last year. These results represent the most public performance revenue and royalty distributions by any music rights organization in the world.

BMI operates on a non-profit-making basis and returns approximately 88% of all revenue to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents.

“We are beyond pleased with this milestone,” said Mike O’Neill, President and CEO, BMI. “The ability to provide our songwriters, composers and publishers with our largest royalty distributions to date proves that the current marketplace is working efficiently, a fact the DOJ has undermined with its recent interpretation of our consent decree. We’re eager to build on this success and continue to ensure that all of our music creators are fairly paid for their work and that licensees maintain full access to BMI’s repertoire of nearly 12 million songs. As of now, the DOJ’s interpretation will disrupt these efforts, stifle creative freedom for songwriters, limit choices for music users and bog down the marketplace. We are determined not to let that happen.”

BMI’s total domestic revenue performance of $784 million was bolstered by record-breaking results in its digital and general licensing categories. Digital revenue, which exceeded $100 million for the first time last year, hit a new high of $152 million, up 50%. Numerous new agreements were signed throughout the year, notably a multi-year license with Pandora, as well as deals with Spotify, Apple Music, Microsoft, Sony’s PlayStation Video and Slacker, among others.

General Licensing, which includes fees from businesses like restaurants, bars, hotels and fitness facilities, along with other income, hit a new milestone of $140 million. The category added 15,000 new businesses to the hundreds of thousands already in BMI’s diverse portfolio.

Revenue from all media licensing, including radio, television and cable and satellite entertainment, grew to $492 million, with cable and satellite entertainment accounting for the largest portion of BMI’s domestic revenue for the third consecutive year. International revenues came in at a strong $276 million, despite significant economic challenges overseas resulting in lower foreign exchange rates. While down 5% year to year in U.S. dollars, BMI’s international revenues would have exceeded last year’s performance by $14 million had it not been for the strengthening dollar.

BMI processed more than one trillion audio performances this year, over 950 billion of which were digital, a 45% increase from last year.

Prince Found DEAD in his Home Studio

The singer, full name “Prince Rogers Nelson” had a medical emergency on April 15th that forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois. The hospital released him an hour later. He appeared at a concert the next day to assure his fans he was okay. He told the fans he was battling the flu. At the show, Prince prophetically told the crowd, “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.”


The Carver County Sheriff Office states they are now investigating the circumstances of Prince’s death. At this time, there are no signs of foul play.

42116-sub-prince-instagram-6Prior to his most recent appearance however, Prince had cancelled two shows due to health concerns. Prince became an international superstar in 1982 after his breakthrough album “1999.”

He went on to churn out a ton of hits — and racking up 7 Grammys in the process. He also performed at the Super Bowl in 2007 … in one of the greatest live performances of all time.  He also sold more than 100 million records during his career … and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for Purple Rain in 1985.

Prince was married two times — the first time to his backup dancer Mayte Garcia. They split in 2000. He then married Manuela Testolini … but they split in 2006.  He was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and performed a legendary version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to close the ceremony.


HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 6: Singer Prince (R) and his wife Manuela Testolini backstage at the 35th Annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Universal Amphitheatre, March 6, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Prince;Manuela Testolini


Prince and his Ex-wife Mayte Garcia

Prince Returned to his former label Warner Bros Music after an 18 year battle over money he was owed from past projects including Purple Rain.

Prince has returned to Warner Bros. Records after 18 years with a deal that will see him regain ownership of his catalog. His classic Warner albums like “Dirty Mind,” “Controversy” and “1999” will continue to be licensed through Warner Bros as part of a new global agreement.

As part of the deal, Prince’s classic “Purple Rain” album will be re-released in a remastered deluxe version in time for the 30th anniversary of the album and movie. Other planned re-issue projects will follow and Prince will issue a new album too, although it is unclear if that title is a part of the deal.

“A brand-new studio album is on the way and both Warner Bros Records and Eye (sic) are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful working relationship,” Prince said in a statement

This legendary artist/singer will be greatly missed.


BMI to Honor Taylor Swift With First-Ever Taylor Swift Award at 64th Annual BMI Pop Awards


BMI will present Taylor Swift with an award bearing her name in recognition of her incomparable creative and artistic talent and influence on music lovers throughout the world. The first-ever Taylor Swift Award will be given at the 64th annual BMI Pop Awards on Tuesday, May 10, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. The event will be hosted by BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI Vice President of Writer/Publisher Relations Barbara Cane.

This is only the second time in BMI’s 76-year history that the company has presented an award in someone’s name. The first was to Michael Jackson in 1990.

“Taylor Swift has transformed pop culture through her songs, artistry and indomitable spirit,” said Cane. “She has had a profound impact, not only musically, but also through her personal conviction and commitment to create a standard that values and respects music for everyone. We felt it appropriate to award Taylor with an honor that is as unique and special as she is.”

In addition, BMI will honor songwriting visionaries Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil with the BMI Icon Award for their indelible contributions to the craft of songwriting. As one of the world’s most esteemed and celebrated songwriting teams, Mann and Weil’s iconic partnership has spanned decades with nearly every genre of popular music included in their massively successful repertoire. Their music has transcended time, leaving a lasting impression on fans around the world and influencing aspiring songwriters to follow in their footsteps.

O’Neill added, “This evening is a true celebration of music and a tribute to the artistry of songwriting that spans generations as defined by three of the most prolific and influential music creators in the industry: Taylor Swift, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.”

The private event will also recognize the songwriters and publishers of the past year’s most-performed pop songs in the United States from BMI’s repertoire of more than 10.5 million musical works. The BMI Pop Song, Songwriter, and Publisher of the Year will be named during the ceremony.

Taylor Swift is a ten-time GRAMMY winner and the youngest recipient in history to receive the music industry’s highest honor, the GRAMMY Award for Album of the Year, and the only female to win it twice. The first artist since the Beatles (and the only female artist in history) to log six or more weeks at No. 1 with three consecutive studio albums and the only artist in history to have an album hit the one million first-week sales figure three times: 2010’s Speak Now, 2012’s RED and 2014’s 1989. She’s been named Billboard Magazine’s Woman of the Year (the only artist to receive this nod twice, and their youngest-ever honoree), and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She is the recipient of 37 BMI Awards, including the prestigious President’s Award in 2009, Songwriter of the Year in 2014 and multiple Song of the Year honors for both Pop and Country.

It would be impossible to imagine the last four decades of pop music without the melodies of Barry Mann and the lyrics of Cynthia Weil. Together, this husband and wife team have written songs like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (with Phil Spector), “On Broadway” (with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller), “Walking In the Rain,” “Kicks,” “Soul and Inspiration,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Here You Come Again,” “Never Gonna Let You Go,” “Just Once,” the GRAMMY-nominated “Don’t Know Much” (with Tom Snow), and the double GRAMMY-winning “Somewhere Out There,” to name just a few. Together they have amassed an incredible 112 pop, country and R&B awards from BMI and have been the recipients of the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Songwriters, The Clooney Foundation’s Award for Legendary Song Composition and the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Where’s The Money? YouTube Revenues Explained 1This article clears a little of the fog surrounding how revenue from YouTube uploads is determined, as well as how the video sharing site’s content management system functions and whether or not, as a content creator, monetization is the best choice for you.

I had the good fortune to participate in a SXSW panel about the mechanics of YouTube revenues. If I say so myself, it was a wonderful panel with some deep expertise (“Stop Complaining and Start Monetizing“). There was a real interest in the audience about the mechanics of the rights involved and the revenues paid.

If you have that same interest and you weren’t able to go to SXSW, here’s a basic chart of revenue splits that may help you:


Source: Billboard


YTP, YTPC= “YouTube Partner“, “YouTube Partner Channel”
SR= Sound Recording
WW= “Wild West” meaning no particular rule.

Notice that the basic categories are song, sound recording and video which track the main three copyright categories of musical work, sound recording and audiovisual work.

The percentages refer to shares of “Net Ad Revenue” often defined as:

“Net Ad Revenues” means all gross revenues recognized by YouTube attributable to any sponsorship of or advertising displayed on, incorporated in, streamed from and/or otherwise presented in or in conjunction with any User Video displayed on a Covered Service including, without limitation, banner advertisements, synchronized banner advertisements, co-ads, in-stream advertising, pre-roll advertising, post-roll advertising, video player branding, and companion ads, less ten percent (10%) of such gross revenues for operating costs, including bandwidth and third-party (affiliated or unaffiliated) advertising fees. Net Ad Revenues excludes any e-commerce referral fees received by YouTube from “buy buttons” or “buy links” on the Covered Services that facilitate recorded music “upsells” when a Publisher separately receives payment from a third party in connection with such an upsell (e.g., royalties for a CD or sheet music sale); provided, however, for the avoidance of doubt, that such exclusion does not extend to (a) advertising of the type described in the first sentence of this Section for recorded music products, the revenues from which shall be included in Net Ad Revenues; and (b) all other types of e-commerce referral fees and revenues, which shall be included in Net Ad Revenues.

One key component of your YouTube earnings is the “CPM” paid by advertisers to Google. Even if you have the right to audit YouTube (which few do), it is highly unlikely that you will ever be able to determine what the CPM is that Google uses to pay you on YouTube. Multichannel networks (“MCNs”) like Machinima have reportedly tied creators to CPMs that were well below market, particularly considering that the highest CPMs on YouTube are often associated with exactly the kind of talent most frequently signed to an MCN.

“Official” or “Premium” Videos


When a label uploads an “official” music video on YouTube or Vevo, the video has higher production values than UGC and is usually supported by a sustained marketing effort outside of YouTube that drives traffic to the site. If the premium video appears on Vevo, then 100% of the royalty is paid to the label, which in turn has licenses from the publishers for the song. If the video is on YouTube proper, then the label’s share is reduced by the publisher royalty, often around 15% of net ad revenue.

Claiming and YouTube’s Content Management System (“CMS”)

Because of a combination of YouTube’s monopoly position in the market, Google’s controversial reliance on the notice and takedown provisions of the Copyright Act and its sheer litigation muscle, YouTube will let anyone upload anything also known as “user generated content” or “UGC”. If you have access to YouTube’s “Content Management System” or “CMS” you have the chance to block UGC through YouTube’s “Content ID” fingerprinting tool.

Compared to the massive volume of videos uploaded to YouTube, a very, very small percentage of copyright owners have direct access to Content ID. According to YouTube:

YouTube only grants Content ID to copyright owners who meet specific criteria. To be approved, they must own exclusive rights to a substantial body of original material that is frequently uploaded by the YouTube user community.

Participating in Content ID allows you to help YouTube create a vast and valuable library of reference versions of your works. (YouTube does not compensate you for participating in Content ID.) Rightsholders usually participate in Content ID for two reasons which are not mutually exclusive: Blocking or “monetizing”. Monetizing means that you give YouTube permission to sell advertising against your works. Naturally, YouTube hopes you will choose to monetize because over 90% of Google’s revenue comes from selling advertising online.

YouTube creates a reference version of your work in the form of a “fingerprint” (a psychoacoustic technique that has long been in use by the U.S. Navy among others to distinguish sound patterns–see Jonesy in The Hunt for Red October). A fingerprint is a mathematical rendering of the waveform of an audio file that essentially reduces a sound recording to a kind of hash that makes comparing fingerprints quicker and more accurate.

YouTube maps the reference fingerprint to other identifiers such as the International Standard Recording Code for sound recordings, song title, artist name and copyright owners for all of the above including song splits in many cases. When a work is in the Content ID system, YouTube will compare an uploaded video to the Content ID database reference fingerprint and most of the time will follow the rules established by the copyright owner to block or monetize (often called “match policies“). If the match is done before the UGC video is uploaded, then it won’t go live, and if the match is done after it is live, then the users will see one of YouTube’s controversial messages saying the file is blocked due to a claim by copyright owner X.

What this boils down to is that if you don’t have a label or publisher, you will need to go to a claiming service like Adshare, The Collective or Onramp in order to get access to CMS and Content ID in order to monetize your works outside of a YouTube Partner Channel (which is done through an Adsense account associated with your YouTube Partner account). If you have a label, publisher or claiming service, then all of these entities should have access to CMS and Content ID and will be able to claim your songs, sound recordings or videos and monetize them if you wish.

Deciding if Monetization is Right For You

If you’re familiar with term recording artist agreements or publishing agreements (or what is normally called a “record deal” or “publishing deal”), you’ll probably remember negotiating “marketing restrictions” involving the use of your recording or song in advertising. Those clauses usually restrict the use of your works in political ads, certain kinds of products (firearms, tobacco for example), or more artist-specific restrictions. There are also restrictions on the kinds of movies or television programs (even videogames) in which your works can be used.

If you allow your work to be used in UGC and you elect to monetize, you can just forget all that on YouTube. “UGC” includes just about anything you can imagine short of explicit pornography, but would include, for example, sex tourist home movies, jihadi recruiting videos (although “songs” are unlikely to appear there), hate speech and the like. All of those are on YouTube and frequently are not behind any kind of age restriction wall.

The ads that get served as preroll for these videos are themselves often unsavory. For example, Google serves ads for “dating” sites that are in categories frequently identified as thinly disguised human trafficking operations. There are ways to block these particular uses if you have access to CMS but due to YouTube’s “catch me if you can” business practices, you may have to spend the time to track down each use which otherwise can stay on YouTube for months or years.

Winning the Lottery

We often hear about “YouTube stars” with elite channels (1 million plus subscribers) who are very well compensated. The source of this high level of compensation is rarely limited to advertising revenue. Most of the time, their ad revenue is salted with a high number of payments for what are essentially sponsorships, endorsements or product placements, often called “brand integrations“.

In the music and movie businesses, the term “star” is usually reserved for a relatively small group of performers who have demonstrated ability over time to reach a large audience, often a global audience. YouTube “stars” may have large YouTube communities and may be able to introduce products to fans on YouTube, but whether that will hold up on YouTube over time or translate to other platforms remains to be seen in most cases.

It is also important to realize that advertising is a highly regulated business, particularly when it comes to false or deceptive advertising that is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. Machinima has just entered a 20 year consent decree with the FTC to settle claims that it misled consumers by passing off paid endorsers as independent reviewers. Given that Machinima and other MCNs are supposed to protect their talent from such missteps suggests that YouTube stars may well have more to watch out for on YouTube than do recording artists or songwriters on record labels or music publishers.

Online Advertising in Decline

1Whether it is ubiquitous ad blocking software, “do not track” settings on browsers, or distrust of advertisers, online advertising is in decline. Like a ship that is sinking very slowly, it is sometimes difficult to tell if you’re really lower in the water, or if that was just a wave. And remember, over 90% of Google’s revenues come from online advertising, moonshots notwithstanding.


If the online advertising ship really does sink, all the driverless cars, military robots and Google Glass will not save Google or YouTube. That’s something to keep in mind when you agree to participate in the YouTube monetization game.

The ABC’s of How Google’s YouTube Grabs the Value of Music And Extorts the People Who Create It



About $21,329,000,000 in revenue during Q4 and 558,000,000 copyright takedown requests in 2015. Those enormous numbers are Google’s record profit and record disregard for creators’ rights.

In February, Alphabet — Google’s newly formed shell company — reported that it earned $21.33 billion in revenue during the final quarter of 2015, making it the most valuable company in the world. Advertising accounted for virtually all of this revenue haul, up 17% over last year’s results.

Its free YouTube video streaming service, with more than one billion users, is the most popular platform for music consumption in the world.[ii] Though Google does not disclose sales numbers for YouTube specifically, it ascribes its substantial growth in part to advertising dollars on YouTube:

“Our very strong revenue growth in Q4 reflects the vibrancy of our business, driven by mobile search as well as YouTube and programmatic advertising, all areas in which we’ve been investing for many years.”

The New York Times estimates the service makes between $4 and $8 billion annually.[iv] And this cash cow is powered largely by music. The top 10 most watched videos on YouTube are all music related.

Yet even as Google/Alphabet continues to build its empire on a foundation of music, it pays the musicians and record companies whose music undergirds its massive success and growth next to nothing. According to RIAA numbers just released this week, YouTube, in combination with other on-demand ad-supported services like Vevo and Spotify’s free platform, only contributed 5.5% of all music revenues in 2015.

As one music industry source recently said: “YouTube boasting about its payments to the music industry is like Bernie Madoff boasting about paying dividends to his investors.”

So how does that work? Basically, Google has figured out how to rip off artists through legal loopholes that were established for the company nearly twenty years ago, when it was only a fledgling search engine provider. First, it uses its massive size and control of the “indispensable” YouTube gateway to force music creators into accepting the lowest, below-market royalty rates in the business. Second, its search engines often prioritize unlicensed copies of songs, for which the creators of those original songs receive nothing. Meanwhile, Google receives massive amount of cash from the advertisers who feature their ads on top of said pirated results.

What’s that you say? “There ought to be a law to prevent all of this.” Well, there is — but Google and its lawyers have figured out how to exploit the outdated and obsolete “Digital Millennium Copyright Act” that was intended to stop abuse of creative works.

The DMCA dates back to the year of Google’s founding, when the Internet was a very different place. Uploading an unlicensed copy of a song took a long while, and downloading a song took minutes. The Internet moved at the speed of CompuServe and dial-up AOL. Also, there were limited places where unlicensed content could even go (remember GeoCities?), and few of those sites were accessible to non-expert users.
It was thought at the time that musicians and copyright owners could survey the limited landscape of the infant World Wide Web and identify each unlicensed copy of a song. Musicians and copyright owners could then send a notice to the website-hosting company, identifying the unlicensed work and asking the company to take it down. Provided that the company was not actively involved in the unlicensed activity and promptly took down the unlicensed copy, the company would be held legally harmless.

Key to this legal regime was that Internet Service Providers were considered “passive,” internet-hosting companies, and not profiteering, ad-dollars guzzling mega-corporations.

Today, Google is far from “passive” in the massive enterprise of illegally pirated music: YouTube clearly distributes and capitalizes from others’ creative work. The company makes bank off the advertising it actively targets at specific users and layers atop illegal copies of music. Yet it still claims the “hear no evil, see no evil” amnesty of the DMCA, which Congress intended only for “passive” intermediaries.

Thanks to Google hiding behind its legal exemption, the “fire” of pirated music online has only continued to rage. The old, faulty DMCA model — in which creators were responsible for surveying the entire Internet and finding illegal copies of their works –- has completely, but not surprisingly, broken down. Creators now send, at extraordinary expense, more than 65 million notices of infringement to Google a month, and a record 558 million notices in 2015 alone. It’s an unconscionable “Value Grab.” Google turns a blind eye to piracy and reaps the rewards from ads surrounding unlicensed content. Meanwhile, it extracts below market value for the music it is willing to license. The crumbs creators receive from these shoddy licensing deals must then be spent on monitoring the web and sending millions of futile “takedown notices” for websites that pop back up in a manner of seconds even when they get shut down.

This “Value Grab” can only be fixed with meaningful legal reform. Laws from the age of “Ask Jeeves” must be updated for the Google/YouTube goliath…