Explaining music royalties and other confusing revenues

Music dollar and royaltiesBefore the digital age, music presented an already complicated business for artists to understand. But the fragmentation created by the Internet has created a baffling array of rights, royalties, and revenue streams, along with innumerable organizations authorized to collect these revenues. I’ve been in the music business for a couple of decades now, releasing albums. I’m still surprised to learn things I didn’t know. This post attempts to break down the various royalties and rights, and how they are collected. If you don’t already know this—or if you think you know it (like I did) but can’t explain it in detail to someone else—you’re probably losing out on revenue. Continue reading →

Horror and the supernatural in the music of Tori Amos

Tori Amos and the supernaturalIn her music, Tori Amos often uses images that evoke horror or the supernatural. Demons, witches, magic, legends, ghosts… But trying to discern the precise meaning of these lyrics poses a problem. The lyrics paint moods and images, unconcerned by their obscurity and resistance to threads of logic. I would even say she takes a magical approach to writing words, more interested in what they conjure than in being direct or realistic. Still, one seeks to understand what the songs mean. I’ve chosen five songs to explore how Tori uses the supernatural. Continue reading →

What if your house was a musical instrument?

The Symphony HouseAn unusual house overlooks Lake Michigan. Known as the Symphony House, it not only emphasizes natural sounds but can be played like an instrument. Architect David Hanawalt and sound artist Bill Close designed the 6,200 square-foot home for Steelcase heir Jonathan Wege and his wife. At a cost of $2.4 million, the concrete-and-wood structure blends Japanese and Scandinavian architectural design. (I’ve included a video that provides a tour of the house’s unique musical properties.) Continue reading →

Funk queen Betty Davis reveals little in documentary

Betty Davis documentaryFilmmaker Phil Cox has produced a wonderful documentary exploring the life of funk singer Betty Davis. A model and uninhibited performer—famously described by Miles Davis as being even too wild for him to handle—Davis oozed unbridled sexuality. As the documentary Betty Davis: They Say I’m Different makes clear, she was Prince before Prince and Madonna before Madonna. The challenge for Cox? Davis turned her back on music and society during the 80s, becoming a recluse who refused to come out from the shadows. The documentary is stunning visually. With performance clips, album covers, photo shoots, and music tracks, we easily understand her appeal. Continue reading →