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21khz: The Art of Money In Music

English, Music industry, 3 seasons, 23 episodes, 12 hours, 13 minutes
Jeff Price (Founder TuneCore, spinART Records and Audiam) and Ted Gerstein (Former Nightline Producer) explore the behind the scenes mechanisms of the music industry allowing artists, producers, record labels, songwriters and technology innovators to make money off music. Learn why $30 billion dollars is generated off of music and whose pockets it ends up in.
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A Whole Series of Music Events

Judith Finell - Judith Finell, Music Service Season 2/ Episode 8 You probably didn't watch, but on a Saturday night in April of 1983, "The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair," aired on NBC. Trust me on this; it was a classic of 1980s television - paunchy middle-aged heroes, central casting villains, backlot sets, stock footage explosions - The 12-year-old me could not get enough. Our intrepid heroes even cross paths with a fellow spy - a suave Brit, wearing a dashing tux, driving an Aston Martin (complete with the license plate, "JB"). His car featured cool gadgets, he had a starlet on his arm, and there was that memorable James Bond theme. "James Bond!!! They got James Bond - Cool" The 12 year old me was - again - thrilled out of his mind. The thing is, "they" didn't, "get" James Bond. They got an actor (admittedly, the actor happened to be George Lazenby, reprising his role as James Bond, so there wasn't much question), they got an Aston Martin, they even got the James Bond theme (sort of). All the clues were there, I was supposed to think it was James Bond, but they never once uttered the words, "James" or "Bond." The music was the giveaway, it sounded "Bondian," it was almost the famous Monty Norman theme from the 1960s, but it just wasn't. The ersatz, "NBC Saturday Night Movie" music came right up to the edge of being James Bond but was afraid to jump. That's the subject of this podcast. A few weeks back we pushed our podcast with Judith Finell, Judith was the lead musicologist in the "Blurred Lines" case involving Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and the Marvin Gaye State Estate. This episode is part of 2 of that interview. When we finished discussing the subtler points of copyright and plagiarism we ended delving into another area of Judith's expertise. "Sound-Alikes." Frankly, since that Saturday Night in 1983, I've always been fascinated by these, "almost" songs. TV throughout the 1980s and 1990s were full of them. Songs where it was clear the producers wanted a top 10 hit but also apparently didn't want to pay top ten prices. So what does it take to come right up to the edge in music? How can you evoke the James Bond theme, without paying James Bond Prices? We also discuss Stairway to Heaven, the sound the Transporter makes in Star Trek, the Mission Impossible theme, and a little 45 record McDonald's gave away in the 1990s.
1/28/201919 minutes, 54 seconds
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Judith Has Perfect Pitch

Judith Finell, Musicologist, president of Judith Finell Music Services Season 2, Episode 6 Ever started explaining something to a friend, and you can tell, usually, immediately, this person has no idea what you're talking about (you can see it in the eyes). When that happens, I always make up a little story... “It’s like trying to describe the idea of fusion to a clueless platypus.” Or... “It’s like explaining the theory of general relativity to a stupid rabbit.” Or... “It’s like discussing the concepts of thermodynamics with a slow turtle. ” With that in mind, the best way to describe this podcast would be,  "Trying to describe Music Theory to a Dimwitted Penguin." And, in this case, the "Dimwitted Penguin" happens to be me. That's mainly because this episode covers the ideas of plagiarism, music, copyright, and the law. Three things I can't always wrap my brain around. The background for this episode revolves around the "Blurred Lines" court case from a few years back. It started back in 2013 when the Marvin Gaye Estate sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their single, "Blurred Lines".  The Gaye Family claimed that Thick and Williams didn't so much write a song as they just stole the music from Marvin Gay's 1977 song, "Give it up." To me, it seemed like a pretty straightforward case - they did steal it, or they didn't?  But nothing is ever easy. How do you prove, prove to a jury that something is a copy? Two songs may sound the same - but are they the same? How can you prove plagiarism and how can you prove it in a court of law. Can you even copyright a sound? So, in the case of, "Blurred Lines," the Marvin Gaye Estate turned to Judith Finell. Judith is a musicologist, and she happens to understand music, the law, plagiarism and copyright better than anyone... From her website... She has testified in disputes for Michael Jackson, Sony/CBS, Warner-Chappell, the estates of Igor Stravinsky and Bob Marley and before the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington on behalf of the National Music Publishers Assn. in a dispute with the RIAA. Ms. Finell’s firm regularly advises entertainment company clients on licensing and risk avoidance in copyright matters, including HBO, Sony Pictures, Disney, Grey Advertising, Lionsgate, LucasFilms, CBS, and others. It's an insightful conversation. We discuss the definition of, "musicologist," how Judith, "sees" music in her head, How copyright law forced her to play the piano in court, and how she was able to convince a jury that two songs are indeed the same. Plus, Judith tells us what exactly is, "Perfect Pitch."
12/17/201827 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Dead Kennedys: Safe Harbors, Cheap Cotton & when Google bought YouTube

“People need to look at the Internet as a plantation sharecropper system - Yeah, you got your cotton really cheap but is that how you want society to go forward?” Episode 012: East Bay Ray -  Safe Harbors and Cheap Cotton.  From its infancy in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1970s to today, the enduring legacy of the Dead Kennedys, is due in no small part to its founding member, East Bay Ray.  Ray’s Music, The Oakland Tribune cited ray as penning, “some of the most recognizable and memorable guitar riffs to emerge from the initial West Coast punk movement”, and Ray’s drive have kept the band alive and relevant for more than three decades.   So how does a self described, “middle class band”, one who managed to survive, Napster, The PMRC, and the wrath of local sheriffs survive in age of the internet?  It’s not easy.  As someone who considers himself a modern, “Renaissance Man… someone who thinks with both sides of his brain”, Ray is worried about the future of music.  Since Google purchased YouTube, Ray argues, he has seen local artists in the Bay area’s, “income cut by half.”  He’s seen the Dead Kennedy’s music, - music he wrote, owns and preformed - misused and abused on YouTube; ”Our song, ‘holiday in Cambodia,’ there, a video of just our DK logo and our song playing, and it has I think 14 million “views and that's money for Google is not money for dead Kennedy’s.”   As for the future?  He doesn’t see much hope for another band like the Dead Kennedy’s to break through the noise, “There will be music, but it will be blander - because you need an audience 11 times bigger.” And thanks to the fact that some of the internet giants of the world hide behind the nation’s “Safe Harbor” laws, there isn’t much money there for the musicians in any case. “People need to look at the Internet as a plantation sharecropper system - Yeah, you got your cotton really cheap but is that how you want society to go forward?” Its a fascinating look at the past, present and future of Music, through the eyes of one of the music industry giants. 
8/23/201628 minutes, 19 seconds
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Punk Rock - By Way of Capitalism

Shawn Stern didn’t set out to become a Punk Rock Icon.  When he - along with his two brothers - created the (now) seminal band Youth Brigade back in 1980, all they really wanted to do was play music and hang with friends.  Punk Rock, he quickly realized, was the perfect venue for that lifestyle, “We (could) play music, we don’t have to be really good,… and you could talk about the problems - that really still exist - that (pop music) won’t talk about.”  But Punk Rockers need to eat.  So, when the major labels couldn’t care less about distributing BYO’s albums, when club owners didn’t want to book the band, and when promoters wouldn’t return his phone calls - Shawn went DIY.  Again with his brother, “This is a family affair,” Shawn cashed in his Bar Mitzvah Bonds (in the process screwing Bank of America) and started his own label - BYO Records. “It’s not rocket science, We learned early on how businesses work without ever taking a business class, I don't know to me it's just logical.”  Suddenly, Shawn was more than Youth Brigades lead singer, he was an entrepreneur, de-facto CEO, and both President and CFO of his own company. In this episode of 21KHZ, How Shawn Stern managed to run a punk rock label and still keep his soul.
6/27/201626 minutes, 27 seconds
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Hey! Let’s Not Pay the Americans!

“This is a labyrinth of rules…. “ Gino Olivieri, President Premier Muzik. Are American Performers getting the money owed to them?  In many cases – no, and it’s all perfectly legal.  Back on October 26, 1961, representatives from 26 countries signed the, “Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations”.  Among other agreements, the treaty’s signers agreed that Broadcasters must pay performers (think singers and band members) for the use of their music – your song gets played on the radio - You get paid.  Seems simple? Yeah, Right.    The United Kingdom signed the treaty, Ecuador signed the treaty, Congo signed the treaty.  The United States of America, however, did not sign the treaty and never has.  So for the past 55 years, while performers from Moldova, Fiji and Togo (all signatories) have seen money when their music is played on the radio.  For Americans… nothing. This is real money, over the years some billions (yes – “Billions”) of dollars have been left on the table.  That is money going into everyone else’s pockets, everyone except the American performers who are owed that money.  Today we talk with Gino Olivieri, the President of Premier Muzik, a Canadian company who has made it their mission to see that all artists - especially Americans - get all the money, owed to them.    It’s a complicated, fascinating and lucrative listen.   
2/24/201625 minutes, 18 seconds
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So what happens AFTER you disrupt an entire industry?

So what happens AFTER you disrupt an entire industry? When last we saw him, Michael Robertson and managed to uproot the business model of the entire music industry.  Physical media, he realized, didn’t matter.  People weren’t interested in CDs, cassettes or vinyl; they wanted music, and they wanted to it digitally. For Michael Robertson, the man who took a chance and spent $1000 on “Two letters and a number,” the world was never the same.   Suddenly, Wall Street players, who wouldn’t return his calls came knocking.   Soon after that, there were IPOs, and truckloads of money.  Then came the Lawyers, those big labels, the ones who refused to play ball, dragged Michael into Court.  Even the US Government, was breathing down his neck.    
12/21/201523 minutes, 57 seconds
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How, “two letters and a number" disrupted the music industry, had a multi-billion dollar IPO and then got sued

  “So, I told my wife, I bought this new domain and she said, ‘what did you pay?’” I told her, ’a thousand dollars’. She was dumbfounded, ’That’s just two letters and a number!”  So, I said, ‘no no no… trust me… it’s going to be big!’” - Michael Robertson, Founder,    Today’s episode isn’t so much about the music industry as it is about the life of an entrepreneur.   It isn’t so much about being lucky, as it is about making your own luck.   Let's go back to the early days of the internet when even with a, “Blazing fast,” 96k modem, it took more than 45 minutes to download one song - 45 minutes that is, if you could even find any music to download. Fresh out of college, newly minted, “computer consultant”, Michael Robertson was looking for his edge.  As the founder of “” an early software search engine, Michael began noticing odd search trends.  Sure, people were searching for files with the terms, “spreadsheet” or “word processor,” but they were also looking for files with terms like, “sex” or “game”, and they were looking for music, music files with the strange extension - “.MP3”.   After some detective work, and a little research,  Michael took a leap of faith: For the - at that time astronomical - sum of $1,000 he bought - “”. A few years later after being a catalyst for a global music revolution, his company had an IPO putting the value of his company in the billions. Then all the major label sued him and the SEC changed US IPO regulations. Today’s episode is about Michael Robertson, and how, “two letters and a number,” ignited the internet music revolution. 
12/3/201529 minutes, 42 seconds
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Will Musicians Survive in the Age of Free When the "Bottle" is worth more than the wine:

Episode: 007 Will Musicians Survive in the Age of Free When the "Bottle" is worth more than the wine? Interview Subject: Count "I think we can all agree, if somebody has millions of streams and they are popular enough to be a household name they should be able to pay their rent…" - Count (Producer: Radiohead, Rolling Stones, New Order, Frank Sinatra, Blackalicious) They say we are living the, "Golden Age" of media: endless streams of music, more television then hours in the day, enough books to read in twenty lifetimes. The buzzword for this amazing content, - "free." For the consumer, it's a golden age. But music producer and filmaker Mikael "Count" Eldridge sees a dark side for, the artists, creators and writers that might bring the entire golden age to an end. For the past twenty years, Count has been working, "on the other side of the glass " as as an A-list music producer working with some of the top artists in the world, from Radiohead to Frank Sinatra to DJ Shadow to the Rolling Stones and more, Count knows that great music comes from a collaborative effort between the artist and the producer.   But, in an unexpected twist as music creation and consumption has exploded, Count, other music producers and now artists can no longer count on their profession to pay them enough to live.   The business models which powered the industry for 50 years have been uprooted and tossed aside.  The economics which allowed emerging artists a chance to claw their way into the middle class, and middle level bands to reach for the gold ring, all but dried up.  Count saw his own job, and an entire class of music producers, mixers and engineers, become, first a costly necessarily, then a extravagant luxury, and today, he admits, his job of music producer is nothing more than a, "glorified hobby." He isn't alone.  An entire generation of creatives: writers, editors, musicians, artists, just about anyone looking to make a living in the creative fields has been affected.  The middle and upper class of artists is vanishing.   You can no longer equate being a popular artist with making money from your music. So Count, pivoted.  He turned from a music producer, to a movie director, and for the past five years has has been documenting the plight of, "middle class" artists for an upcoming documentary.  In, "UnSound: How Musicians and Creators Survive in the Age of Free," he argues,  there are still fortunes being made in music, but it's no longer the creators, rather the distributors: the Pandora's and Spotify's of the world who are seeing the benefit at the expense of the artists and creators. In the end he laments, "the bottle is worth more then the wine." There's a lot more at,
10/1/201531 minutes, 1 second
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Intent, Licenses and “Sweat of the Brow”

“Musicians say they want to be in the business of music and yet they don’t understand the very basic concepts - it’s very strange to me.”   Everyone wants to be a musician but according to George Howard nobody understands the business.  George Howard, understands the music business.  He’s worked with big stars (Carly Simon), he’s been a label executive (President of Rykodisk), he’s an MBA, h’s a Lawyer - he’s literally written the book on how make money in the music industry, “An Insider's Guide to the Record Industry and Music Publishing 101.”  George knows what he’s talking about.     So what’s an artist to do? Not as much as you think.  
8/18/201524 minutes, 45 seconds
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so... Why does Liza Minnelli get paid when the Sex Pistols Stream?

Why are artists so angry about their royalties from streaming music services like Spotify? Is there really no money or is there money but a crazy math formula that calculates who gets what is, well, just wrong.   Could the problem really be a bad math equation?   Meet Sharky Laguana.  Front man and founder of the band Creeper Lagoon and founder of a band van rental service Bandago.   Now construct a venn diagram of the music industry and rental services, Sharky sits right in the sweet spot.      As the founder and lead singer of the seminal 1990s alternative rock band, “Creeper Lagoon” Sharky knows the music industry.  As the founder and CEO of the van rental company Bandago, Sharky understands the economics of rentals.    With the launch of Apple Music and Spotify, the emerging trend of renting music, as opposed to buying or downloading a track, is hitting the mainstream.  So when Sharky sat down, took a look at how the current music services - Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Apple Music… etc, calculated how artists are paid, he quickly realized the numbers just don’t add up.   None of it made sense.     Where does your monthly fee go?  Who gets the most?  Who gets the least? Why were bands like the Rolling Stone, and other monsters of rock still raking in millions, while new artists are left with pennies?  Is the system even rigged?    And why the heck does Liza Minnelli get paid when someone listens to a Sex Pistols song?    What’s an artist to do?     Sharky is a passionate voice for new and emerging artist, and with just one small change to the current system, he argues, everyone can be paid fairly.     Heads up, lots of swears in this episode....
8/6/201523 minutes, 49 seconds
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Don't Even Try To Get Signed

“Our function is to create new acts.  Our function is to make famous.  That is what we do, that is our unique skill set. We take artists, we develop them, we promote them, we make them the biggest most popular artists in the world.” - Avery Lipman, President, Republic Records   The age of the sunglass wearing, leisure suit clad, cigar chomping, deal making music mogul may have gone the way of the dinosaur.  But Avery Lipman still walks the earth, still makes million dollar deals, doesn’t smoke and is a much snappier dresser.     In the era of youtube, iTunes, and Spotify, Avery has found the secret sauce to staying relevant, finding the right acts at the right time, and still making a profit.  Since 1995, as the co-founder and President of Republic Records he (along with his brother Monte) figured out the magic formula to breaking some of the biggest names in the music industry.     Republic Records is today home to (among others), Colbie Caillat, Amy Winehouse, Akon, Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nelly, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Lorde, Drake, Nickelback, Lil Wayne, Weezer, Austin Mahone, Enrique Iglesias and others…   Hoping to join the Republic Catalog?      Avery has just one piece of advice, “Don’t try to get signed.”         21Khz: The Art Of Money In Music  Jeff Price (Founder TuneCore, spinART Records and Audiam) and Ted Gerstein (Journalist, Former Producer ABC News Nightline, author Bomb Squad) explore the behind the scenes mechanisms of the music industry allowing artists, producers, record labels, songwriters and technology innovators to make money off music.
7/9/201521 minutes, 56 seconds
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Can you Sell Something that Doesn't Exist?

“There is a wonderful moment in Spinal Tap where the manager says to the artist, ‘look, it doesn’t matter how much we talk about it, there is no way to promote something that doesn't exist’.  And what occurred to me back in 2006, when I was living on an air mattress in my mom’s spare room, was that the internet has shattered that paradigm, you can sell something that doesn’t exist.”    Benji Rogers has monetized enthusiasm.  As CEO of Benji built an entire business around connecting, artists and their most adoring fans.  Want to hear demos and unreleased tracks?  Want to see the creative process? How about a vial of blood? fans have had access to all of this and more.  By offering, these so-called, “superfans,” an inside look at how the musical sausage is made, has opened an entirely new revenue stream for artists.    21Khz: The Art Of Money In Music  Jeff Price (Founder TuneCore, spinART Records and Audiam) and Ted Gerstein (Journalist, Former Producer ABC News Nightline, author Bomb Squad) explore the behind the scenes mechanisms of the music industry allowing artists, producers, record labels, songwriters and technology innovators to make money off music.
6/9/201522 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Weighting Formula and a Giant Tivo

“The ones that are in control are very happy with the system.  They are making a disproportionate amount of the collection and the distribution - wrongfully in my opinion, unethically and immorally…..We’re out there everyday standing at the mountaintop saying - Guys! There is another way to do this where Everybody wins!” - Scott Schreer In Part two of his interview, Scott takes a critical look at the music publishing system in the United States. Why are some songs more valuable than others?  What exactly is the mysterious, “weighting formula”? What - if anything - can be done to fix this century old publishing system?   And finally, what Scott is doing today to ensure that artists get paid for the music they publish.    21Khz: The Art Of Money In Music  Jeff Price (Founder TuneCore, spinART Records and Audiam) and Ted Gerstein (Journalist, Former Producer ABC News Nightline) explore the behind the scenes mechanisms of the music industry allowing artists, producers, record labels, songwriters and technology innovators to make money off music.
5/12/201518 minutes, 10 seconds
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What the heck is public performance and why does it generate $6 billion dollars

In this Episode, meet Scott Schreer. Scott wrote the music for "Have A Coke and A Smile", the NFL theme Song for Fox along with a myriad of jingles and scores for Snickers, Volkswagen, The Cosby Show and many many others. So how does Scott, and the rest of the world's songwriters and composers, make money from the use of their music?  Scott takes us behind the scenes of a rubber band and glue bizzare and unbelievable system that tracks what the world listens to then collects and pays out over $6 billion dollars annually for the right of Public Performance.  It might just be the most valuable music copyright you never heard of.... 21Khz: The Art Of Money In Music  Jeff Price (Founder TuneCore, spinART Records and Audiam) and Ted Gerstein (Former Nightline Producer) explore the behind the scenes mechanisms of the music industry allowing artists, producers, record labels, songwriters and technology innovators to make money off music. Learn why $30 billion dollars is generated off of music and whose pockets it ends up in.
4/16/201533 minutes, 22 seconds