Licensing music for my new song–should I do it?

Microphone / Licensing TracksA couple of young performers I know—a singer and and a rapper—recently exposed me to the concept of licensing music tracks from a producer. I’m not talking about royalty-free music or beats, for which you pay a flat fee. No, these fully-realized tracks are governed by narrow limitations where the producer has complete control and the artist almost none. I want to talk about how these are usually a terrible idea for recording artists. Continue reading →

Susan Rogers talks about Prince and music

Susan Rogers at Loop 2017Susan Rogers is a remarkable person. After a successful career as a music engineer and producer, she retired from the industry, using royalties from producing the Barenaked Ladies to become a scientist. She earned a doctorate in psychology from McGill University, studying music cognition and psychoacoustics, and currently teaches at Berklee College of Music. Prince fans know her through her work during the period that produced a series of amazing, famous albums. The opportunity came about by chance when Prince hired her as his audio technician during the making of Purple Rain. She rapidly transitioned to become his engineer, effectively taking part in the creation of music by one of the most significant musicians in our lifetime. In an engaging interview at Loop 2017, she addresses wide-ranging topics about music. Continue reading →

What happened to our music habits?

Music habits by revenueIf you’re interested in what’s happened to our music habits over the past four to five decades, look at this graph from the the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It tells an interesting and sobering story about how technology has changed our habits. The graph represents music revenues in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1973 and 2018. This is the income that songwriters and recording artists receive from sales of their music. Record labels take the biggest chunk of this income, of course, but you can see how overall revenue has dwindled after its peak at the millennium. Continue reading →

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 →