Music Business 101:
by Christopher Knab
Workshops | Articles | Links | About Chris
The recording industry will throw its biggest party of the year tonight at the Grammy Awards, but don't let the
hoopla fool you. Although all will seem copacetic on the CBS broadcast from Madison Square Garden in New York —
seen locally from 8 to 11:30 p.m. on KIRO-TV, Channel 7 — there will be a big black cloud hanging over the glitzy
proceedings. That's because the music business is in its biggest slump ever, with all five major labels either
hemorrhaging huge amounts of money or barely holding on. More... Added
The Last DJ?: Finding A Voice On Media Ownership
"Musicians face big challenges in this age of new technologies and media consolidation. I know it is tough
to make it as a musician. That is why I plan to keep my day job. I am not sure that I am the first FCC Commissioner
who plays rock n' roll, but I hope I am not the last. Today, I want to encourage other musicians, and every artist,
to make your voices heard to your Government and especially at the FCC. As I will discuss, the FCC is about to
make some major decisions that will affect all of our lives...." More...
Young Band, Derailed Dream
It was a moment few young musicians get to savor. Dry Cell had
a recording contract with Warner Brothers Records, which had spent $325,000, by its account, on the group. The
group's first single, "Body Crumbles," was playing on radio stations across the country, and its debut
album, "Disconnected," was slated to hit stores in August. But within 48 hours, the euphoria disappeared.
Clear Channel's Dominance Has Some in an Uproar
It's a given that popular music is in a rut. Radio listenership,
concert attendance and record sales are all down from boom-year peaks. The teen-pop mania that knocked grunge rock
aside has itself stalled out, with no new phenomenon rising up to replace it and re-energize music fans. Slumps
such as these are nothing new; punk and new wave helped pull the trade out of a creative and commercial trough
in the late 1970s. But there is a noticeable difference between today's malaise and those of decades past, in that
unhappiness with the state of things has a new and very large target: Clear Channel. More...
'Masters' vs. 'Demos'
In the past, I have been honored to judge various songwriting
competitions where writers can enter their material in various categories. Each year I do this task, and in the
back of my mind I am hoping that there is a gem in the collection of submissions that would really be able to bring
some fantastic respect to the entrants for putting together their own productions with a view to marketing the
product either directly to the public, or possibly submitting it to A&R people at record labels. Well outside
of the decision on the winner, there are number of consistent mistakes in there. Its not the point of this article
to single out submissions, so I'm not going to do that. But what I hope would be beneficial for anyone looking
to make a master recording, is to understand the expectations with a view to keeping some points in mind for the
future. More... Added 09/26/2002.
The Internet Debacle - An Alternate View
When I research an article, I normally send 30 or so emails to
friends and acquaintances asking for opinions and anecdotes. I usually receive 10-20 in reply. But not so on this
subject! I sent 36 emails requesting opinions and facts on free music downloading from the Net. I stated that I
planned to adopt the viewpoint of devil's advocate: free Internet downloads are good for the music industry and
its artists. I've received, to date, over 300 replies, every single one from someone legitimately "in the
music business." What's more interesting than the emails are the phone calls. I don't know anyone at NARAS
(home of the Grammy Awards), and I know Hilary Rosen (head of rhe Recording Industry Association of America, or
RIAA) only vaguely. Yet within 24 hours of sending my original email, I'd received two messages from Rosen and
four from NARAS requesting that I call to "discuss the article." Huh. Didn't know I was that widely read.
More... Added 07/05/2002.
Andy Allen: Independent Distribution
Andy Allen, President of Alternative Distribution Alliance, talks
to Musician.com about how ADA chooses label product to distribute. He also compares independent and major distribution,
and discusses how a label gets the best out of their distributor.
Everything Is Business
There's an old saying that goes "If you're going to be in
the music biz, do it for the love of the music, not for the money—because there isn't any". But wait a minute—that
can't be right—the music business is a multibillion dollar industry (it says so in the music magazines so it must
be true). Sure it's true, but for many musicians, substantial profit is out of reach. More...
Music Retailers Express Concern Over Digital Distribution
The record labels blame online song swapping from services like Napster
for taking away valuable customers and coins from their coffers. So they created their own online services — Musicnet
and Pressplay — and made a beeline straight to consumers, bypassing music retailers and distributors who are now
left wondering how they'll benefit. Those same music retailers gathered at the annual convention of the National
Association of Recording Merchandisers on March 11 to share their concerns about digital music distribution and
how they can become more involved in the process. More...
Has Corporate Greed Finally Destroyed the Major Labels?
The record business is taking a beating. And many music fans
are watching with the kind of glee usually reserved for a schoolyard bully's comeuppance. Here are the facts...
Small Record Labels Say Radio Tunes Them Out
It's a safe bet that most radio listeners have never heard of
rock singer Matthew Harrison. The owner of tiny Third Monk Records, which released Harrison's album, says there's
a simple reason: The company can't afford the hidden costs of obtaining radio airplay. More...
Dark Antitrust Winds Blowing Over Music Industry
Ten months ago we wrote about cold antitrust winds on the way for the music industry, as usual, at the worst possible
time. This week’s New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both run substantial articles on a pending investigation
of the Majors’ new online service offerings coming at MusicNet, pressplay, AOL, BMG, and Universal. The issue is
antitrust law, i.e., are their plans and practices going to be collusive in pricing—will they result in exclusion
of small Internet marketers who need catalog from the Majors, and will the public be well-served, or damned by
the skimpy nature and high pricing of the subscription and streaming offerings? More...
Labels, Webcasters Square Off On Royalties
Webcasters on Wednesday accused the major record labels of exaggerating
their financial risks as the two sides battled over the royalty rate for music streamed over the Internet. The
two sides are pleading their cases before a three-member arbitration panel appointed by the U.S. Copyright Office,
which will decide on a rate within a year. More...
Broadcasters Must Pay Webcast Royalties, Judge Rules
Broadcasters must pay royalties to musicians and record labels
when they stream AM and FM radio content over the Internet, a Pennsylvania federal district court judge today ruled.
More... Added 08/13/2001.
In the wild world of urban radio, money buys hits -- and nobody
questions. More... By Eric Boehlert. Added 08/09/2001
How Lessons From Hollywood Will Shape the Music Industry
Surprised by MP3.com and other technologies, the major music
labels are finally unveiling their plans for digital music. More...
Article added 08/03/2001
The Future Just Happened
Daniel Sheldon is a 14-year-old from Oldham who thinks that money
corrupts and that capitalism should be undermined. he wants music, books and intellectual property to be free.
Because he's a computing genius, he is making it happen. Michael Lewis discovers what goes on when a rebel takes
on the system. More... Article added 07/30/2001
Music Data Being Altered, Some Say
That big hit record rocketing up the Billboard magazine music
charts may turn out to be a dud that's getting some behind-the-scenes help. Top record industry officials told
The Times they are aware of instances in which major labels have attempted to manipulate sales figures. More... Article added 07/14/2001
To the Rulers of Music--It’s Time To Come in out of the
by Larry Powers
is addressed to two sets of rulers—the Big Five Majors and the 70 million new customers out there (yes, customers
are rulers too) who used to get their music through Napster. Sensible, incentive-based solutions are at hand. Added
Book Review: 'So, You Think You Want a Record Deal' added 2001-05-21 00:00:00
So You Think You Want A Record Deal
by Chris Standring
I am always pleased when I find another book entering the marketplace
that is concerned with helping musicians learn about the music business. I received word about Chris Standring's
book So You Think You Want a Record Deal when a link to it arrived via an email message last week. You can download
the e-book quite easily, and the chapters are layed out quite clearly.
As for the content....I was disappointed that the book seemed so hooked
on what I call the 'ancient myth' about record labels and getting signed, and how to get a deal. What I did like
about the book is the author's professional take on the process. He does indeed present a very professional approach
for any would-be star to learn a bit about the realities of today's music marketplace, and the process involved
in getting signed.
What bugs me though is WHY, in this day and age, anyone would encourage
an upcoming band or artist to sign a recording contract with a major label. Hello! This is the worst possible time
to have such a lofty goal, mainly because the era of any true Artist Development is over. Gone are the days, unless
you want to count Brittney Spears as an exception, when a label will nurture an act through several releases, until
they have a hit record.
I was hoping to read a book that would be filled with advice along the
lines of specific ideas about putting out your own record on your own label. Don't get me wrong, Chris writes many
tips in this engaging book, but he seems out of date in many of his observations about the biz, and the downloadable
interent era we are living in. He has less than 100 words to say about the internet, for example.
His section on the Music Trades, and how they work is OK. He does mention
R&R, but then when describing the chart names, he gets a bit jumbled in reporting what the 12 current commercial
radio formats are. It would have been quite simple to list the current formats, and describe them is similar ways
that he descibed the formats he does mention. He also states in a sentence on the Trade magazine, Gavin, that they
have a weekly college chart. NO! They abandoned college radio reports 2 years ago!
OK, so that's the bad news, now for the good news. Any wake-up call to
the legion of clueless musicians thinking they want a recording contract in an era when dozens of successful stars
are sueing to get out of their beloved contracts, is a good thing. What I like most about his book is his first
hand experience anecdotes. They make what he has to say viable and an interesting read. Strange as it may seem,
I do recommend this book because he goes a long way, as a musician himself, in describing what he has learned along
the way. Also, Chris has a pleasant, easy to read, writing style that makes this book fun to read.
If you want to check the book out, go to this site http://www.aandronline.com/
and you can check out the offer he has, which also includes a free record label address directory ( don't get me
started on what i think about that!...but it is a large directory of label contact addresses)
Review by Chris Knab 5/21/01
Complaints About MP3.com and Possible Alternatives
Kenny Love turned me on to this important article posted at Musicdish.
Article. Added 2001-05-11
The Truth About Record Labels
This article from the Austin Chronicle will get you to rethink your
desire to 'get signed'. Truth About Record Labels. Added 2001-04-22
About Recording Contracts
This article answers many questions you may have, or SHOULD have
about Record Contracts. Read it! Recording Contract Information Added 2001-04-22
Getting 'Leads" From Your Database
Great article on how to develop an effective database and USE it
to make contacts Leads
article Added 2001-04-22
Major Labels Announce Their Version of Napsters
This summer the major labels will launch their versions of file sharing...where
you will pay for songs you download. Labels Announce Their Version of Napster Added 2001-04-06
How To Promote Your Music Through Napster
THIS IS A MUST READ!!! If you really want some indepth information
on how to use Napster to promote your music, this article is the bible! Promoting Your Music on Napster Added 2001-03-12
Net Music Rocks The System
This article is a must read if you are a musician getting acquainted
with the power of the web to expose your music. Netmusic Rocks The System Added
How To Build A Boy Band
Hey boys and girls...wanna know how the music biz creates a teen
bubble gum sensation. This INSIDE.com article spills the beans. How To Build A Boy Band Added
Music and Money
This classic article by entertainment lawyers Todd and Jeff Brabec
is a must read for anyone interested in a clear explanation of how songs make money for songwriters. Music
and Money Added 2001-01-27
Mastering Your Record Article
This article come to you courtesy of John Vestman's website, and
is a great article on a much neglected issue.... Mastering. What is it? Why is it important? Don't start me talkin'
or I'll tell you everything I know...which is very little about mastering, and the very reason I am sending you
to John' site. What I do know about mastering is this... Don't let just any guy who says he can master your music-master
it...check his reputation out. Does he specialize in mastering the kind of music you make? Mastering Your Record Article Added
Booking Shows Article
Jeri Goldstein is the 'goddess' of booking information. Her guide
to booking your own shows is required reading. This article at www.getsigned.com will give you a taste of her wisdom.
Shows Article Added 2001-01-26