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By Jennifer Bendall, Executive Director of musicFIRST

Did you know that every time you hear your favorite artist’s hit songs over the airwaves he or she doesn’t receive a single penny from the radio stations broadcasting the song? Sounds crazy, right? While AM and FM music broadcasters rightly pay the writers of these songs, they refuse to compensate the performing artist as the performer of the song.

In fact, AM and FM music radio stations earn a cool $16 billion a year in advertising revenue without compensating the artists and musicians who bring MusicFirstmusic to life and listeners’ ears to the radio dial.

The fight for a fair performance right on radio has been going on in the U.S. for more than 80 years. Frank Sinatra was a leader in this fight 20 years ago, and his daughter Nancy carries the legacy today. In 2008, Nancy Sinatra testified before a House subcommittee on behalf of the musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition, telling members of Congress about the life of an artist:

Imagine struggling in your job, perhaps for years, to make the best product you can – a product made of your blood, sweat and tears. Now imagine people taking that product to use to build their own hugely successful businesses. Just taking it – no permission, no payment, and no consequence.

A fair performance right is not only beneficial for the musicians and artists behind the music, but also for the U.S. economy. Currently, the U.S. is the only member of the 30-country Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that does not fairly compensate performing artists when their songs are played on the radio. This puts the U.S. in the company of countries such as Iran, China and North Korea who don’t pay royalties to performers for their intellectual property. Plus, since we don’t have a performance right here in the U.S., artists lose out on the royalties collected overseas for the play of American sound recordings.

The musicFIRST Coalition, a group of artists, musicians and music community organizations, supports the creation of a performance right on AM and FM radio. The Coalition formed in June 2007 to ensure that all performers – from aspiring and local artists, to background singers and well-known stars – are fairly compensated when their music is played on the radio. On February 4, 2009, bipartisan legislation – the “Performance Rights Act” – was reintroduced in the House and Senate. MusicFIRST supports this measure and plans to remain at the forefront of the fight for fair pay for airplay.

AM and FM radio remains the lone holdout in providing a fair performance right for artists and musicians. All other music platforms – Internet radio, satellite radio and cable television music channels – pay a fair performance royalty for the use of music. It’s time that radio broadcasters are held to the same standard.

Eighty years is far too long for AM and FM radio stations to refuse to compensate performers for their work. Let this be the year fairness is provided to the talented performers who bring to life the music of our lives.

My special thanks to guest author of today’s article, Jennifer Bendall, and Lindsay Dahl for making this happen.  For more information about musicFIRST and the great work they’re doing, go to www.musicfirstcoalition.org, or click on the picture above.

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Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc. today announced the lineup for this year’s KCRS Live! event during the radio industry event, CRS-40, scheduled for March 4 – 6, 2009 at the Nashville Convention Center.  The ASCAP-sponsored KCRS Live! event will Wednesday, March 4 from 5-6:20 p.m.

The event almost always features some of Nashville’s top songwriting talent.  ASCAP writers and artists scheduled to perform this year include the following:

Jimmy Wayne Jimmy Wayne – Jimmy Wayne’s "Do You Believe Me Now," the title track from his first new album in five years (Do You Believe Me Now), was worth the wait.  The much anticipated release was a Top 5 debut on the Billboard Country Album chart, while the single went all the way to No. 1.  The follow-up single, "I Will," is headed in the same direction.  His first release was a Top 10 success, garnering a string of hits on the Billboard Country chart, including "Stay Gone," "I Love You This Much," "Paper Angels" and "You Are," all co-written by Wayne.  He is scheduled to perform on the "American Saturday Night" tour with Brad Paisley in the summer and fall of this year.

Kelley Lovelace – Franklin, Tennessee resident and graduate of Belmont University, Kelley Lovelace is no stranger to hit songs, havingKelley-Lovelace-(No-Hat) written several that were recorded by artists such as Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Montgomery Gentry, Jason Aldean, Terri Clark, Joe Nichols, Jason Michael Carroll, Kristy Lee Cook, Tracy Byrd and many others.  Fifteen of those songs turned into Top 20 Billboard hits, and 10 of them reached the No. 1 position.  His credits include "Ticks," "He Didn’t Have to Be," "The World," "Online," (Brad Paisley), "The Impossible," (Joe Nichols) and "I Just Wanna Be Mad" and "Girls Lie Too" (Terri Clark).

Ashley Gorley – Danville, Kentucky native and Belmont University  graduate Ashley Gorley scored his first No. 1 with Carrie Underwood’s 2006 hit "Don’t Forget To Remember Me."  In 2008, Carrie brought him his second No. 1 with "All-American Girl."  His third chart-topper came only a few weeks later with Trace Adkins’ No. 1Ashley Gorley smash, "You’re Gonna Miss This." 2009 began with yet another No. 1 hit, the Brad Paisley / Keith Urban duet "Start A Band."  Gorley has already won three ASCAP Awards and been nominated for two Grammys and a CMA Award.  His most recent single is Darius Rucker’s "It Won’t Be Like This For Long."

Jonathan Singleton – Music Row’s "Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year" in 2008, Jonathan Singleton announced his presence in Nashville with the 2007 Gary Allan smash "Watching Airplanes," a song that earned him an ACM nomination for Single of the Year.  The Jackson, Tenn. native is also a performer, recently playing gigs opening for artists like Joe Nichols, Phil Vassar, Jonathon Singleton Carrie Underwood, Jason Michael Carroll, Blake Shelton and Eric Church.  Singleton also wrote the latest Billy Currington single "Don’t," and was featured in a recent "Legends and Lyrics" episode on PBS.

"We look forward to KCRS Live! every year.  It gives ASCAP an opportunity to showcase some of our best songwriter/artists to radio in a more intimate setting," said Connie Bradley, ASCAP Sr. VP.

"For years, KCRS Live! has showcased some of Nashville’s finest songwriters at Country Radio Seminar.  This year looks to be no different, and we are grateful to have ASCAP once again sponsoring this event," added CRB Executive Director Ed Salamon.

More information about the event can be found at www.crb.org.

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The interview that I gave to DigimusicTV.com is becoming viral.  Metacafe has it in three parts:

Barry Shrum Entertainment Attorney Part 1 

Barry Shrum Entertainment Attorney Part 2 

Barry Shrum Entertainment Attorney Part 3 

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Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc.® has announced the CRS-40 “Life Of A Legend” panel will feature an interview session of country music legend Barbara Mandrell by host Kix Brooks.

Barbara Mandrell The “Life Of A Legend” panel, sponsored by ABC Radio Networks, takes place Friday, March 6, 2009 at 4:10 p.m.  This panel is the climax of the seminar, and is always highly regarded as one of the most engaging and memorable events of CRS week.   Brooks (half of superstar country duo Brooks & Dunn and host of American Country Countdown) will interview Mandrell as she reflects on her legendary career in country music. Mandrell earned her first No. 1 single with 1978’s “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” followed by “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right.”  Mandrell went on to score four more No. 1’s: “Years,” “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” “Till You’re Gone” and “One of a Kind Pair of Fools.”  A member of the Grand Ole Opry, Mandrell also starred in her own television series (“Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters”) and won both the CMA “Entertainer of the Year” and “Female Vocalist of the Year” Awards twice. “Barbara and the CRS grew up together, and it is particularly appropriate to feature her this year at CRS on the convention’s 40th Anniversary, the same year that marks her 40th anniversary with Columbia Records,” says CRB Executive Director Ed Salamon. “Barbara Mandrell is a legend in every sense of the word.  She has won countless awards, entertained millions with her television show and influenced so many of today’s artists.” This is the fourth year for the “Life of a Legend” panel.  Previous years’ lineups included: Gerry House interviewing Kenny Rogers (CRS-37), Eddie Stubbs interviewing Ronnie Milsap (CRS-38} and Norro Wilson and Ronnie Gilley interviewing George Jones (CRS-39}. CRS-40 is scheduled for March 4-6, 2009 at the Nashville Convention Center.  Complete information, including registration, may be obtained by contacting CRB, Inc. at 615.327.4487 or by visiting http://www.crb.org.  Technorati Tags: Barbara Mandrell,Country Radio Broadcasters,CRS-40,Nashville,Entertainment

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OUT WITH THE OLD

After over 18 years of service to the organization, Harold Bradley is no longer president of Nashville’s Local 257 chapter of the American Federation of Musicians.  Dave Pomeroy was elected president last week by a vote of 675 to 449.  Out of it’s 2620 members, 1165 votes were cast in this election, which is more than double the number of votes cast in the 2005 election. 

This is most certainly the end of an era for Harold Bradley, for whom Harold I have a great deal of respect and admiration.  He began his long services as president of Local 257 on January 1, 1991 and later became the International Vice President serving the AFM’s International Executive Board, a position he will likely retain until 2010.  He received the AFM’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, the same year he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Bradley was also the first president of the Nashville chapter of NARAS and continues to serve as a member of the Grammy organization’s Board of Governors.

Harold and his brother, Owen, built Nashville’s earliest recording facility, Castle Recording Studio, in the early 40’s. As the architect of the Nashville Sound, Harold was part of Nashville’s original “Nashville Cats,” the A-Team, which included such notables as Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer, Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Buddy Harman and The Jordanaires. 

He is one of the most recorded guitarist in the world, and has been pickin’ on country albums for over 60 years, including work on such classics as Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock, Brenda Lee’s I’m Sorry, Roy Orbison’s Only the Lonely, Patsy Cline’s Crazy, Roger Miller’s King of the Road, Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man, Eddy Arnold’s Make the World Go Away, and Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter, just to name a few.

Harold Bradley will always be considered a formidable force in Nashville’s music industry. 

IN WITH THE NEW

Bradley’s replacement, Dave Pomeroy, is a well known and seasoned musician as well, having played electric and acoustic bass on more than 500 albums during his 34 years in the music industry.  Dave has played with artists including Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Elton John, Peter Frampton and Chet Atkins, including work on 6 Grammy-winning projects.  Dave is also an independent producer and has produced numerous projects which can be found on website.

Pomeroy issued the following statement after winning the election:

"I am humbled to be elected to the office President by the members of Local 257. Thanks to everyone who voted and all those who volunteered to help my campaign.

On behalf of all members past and present, I thank Harold Bradley for his many years of dedication and service to this Local and the AFM. I am honored to be carrying on the historic tradition of leading Local 257 as we move into a rapidly changing future.

We have one of the most dynamic, versatile, and innovative music communities on earth, and I look forward to representing the best interests of all Nashville musicians, both here at home and around the world."

Pomeroy will begin his three-year term effective January 1, 2009.

In the same election, Craig Krampf defeated Billy Linneman for Secretary-Treasurer by a vote of 570 to 539.  Re-elected to the Executive Board were Bruce Bouton, Bobby Ogdin, Andy Reiss, Laura Ross, and Denis Solee, who were joined by new members Duncan Mullins and Jimmy Capps.

THE CONTROVERY

There is much controversy surrounding the election, which is viewed by some as “revolutionary.”  The scuttlebutt is that a riff has been developing since 2001 between the leadership of the AFM’s International Executive Board and AFM members who were also members of the Recording Musicians Association, the local chapter of which Pomeroy is president.   The RMA, a player conference sanctioned by the AFM, is a 1400-member organization of studio musicians with chapters in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville,  It is arguably one of the most active conferences in the AFM.

Bradley and Linneman, for better or worse, threw their support behind resolution put forth by Thomas F. Lee, the IEB President, and passed by the IEB in Las Vegas in June 2008, which threatened to “de-conference” the RMA at its September conference. 

Lee’s opposition to the RMA derived from stemmed from his promotion of a deal which eliminated so-called backend new usage “buyouts” of musical scores used in video games, something which the AFM was reluctant to do in the past.  Read more about his in this Variety article.

The lines of battle were thusly drawn, and the Local 257 uprising has been building ever since, with tempers flaring on both sides of the disagreement.  (A detailed, though somewhat biased, historical trail can found on the “Sounds” blog).  As a result of the June vote, Pomeroy and over 150 other local members of the AFM presented a resolution at the executive board meeting of Local 257 calling on the members to censor Bradley for his support of the anti-RMA resolution, which Bradley described as “ridiculous” and to which he responded:

This resolution, submitted by RMA President David Pomeroy, is intended to influence my vote! I will continue to vote my conscience (based on the facts before me), and I resent this attempt to force me to vote otherwise.

This statement appeared in an open letter to Local 257 in the July-September 2008 edition of the Nashville Musician, the Local’s newsletter.  This exchange ultimately led to the controversial election of last week.

The waves of discontent were also felt in Los Angeles, where RMA member Vince Trombetta was elected as Local 47’s president earlier this month, also in an apparent backlash against Tom Lee’s anti-RMA leanings.

The principals of democracy are certainly at work in the AFM, just as they were in the presidential elections this year!

SUMMARY

I know Dave Pomeroy and I  believe he will be a caring and effective leader for the AFM.  I congratulate him and wish him the best in the new endeavor, knowing full well that he has some difficult struggles ahead in leading the opposition. 

I also know and respect Harold Bradley.  Harold is a Nashville icon who has been an effective leader of Local 257 for almost two decades.  I believe he wanted what he thought was best for the musicians and I know that he always had the musicians’ interests at heart.  I thank him for his service to the industry.

But no one is perfect.  While I do not intend to take either side in this debate, I will note that perhaps it was indeed time for a revolution.  There is no doubt now that new leadership is the order of the day. Nashville’s musicians are the backbone of our industry and they deserve adequate compensation and representation.  The majority of them now feel that Dave will do that and I commend their choice.  While no one really likes it when it comes, change is often a good thing.   I hope that at least in the Local 257, egos can deflate to normal and tempests can subside, and harmony can once again return to the organization that is at the heart of Music City.

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Valory Music Co., the independent label formed last year as a subsidiary to Scott Borchetta and Toby Keith’s Big Machine Records, has added another huge feather to their proverbial cap:  Reba McIntire.  The announcement appears today on Valory Music’s website.

brown05.tif A multimedia entertainer, Reba sold more than 55 million albums, won two Grammy awards and starred in the popular sitcom Reba!  She has for a long time been signed with MCA Nashville, a division of Universal Music Group, where she met Borchetta, who at the time was Senior VP of Promotion.

McEntire and Borchetta worked closely together at MCA Nashville creating a strategy that dominated airplay, sales and touring at a time when few other female artists were doing it.  During their collaboration, Reba and Borchetta had 14 number 1 hits and sold over 22 million records, giving MCA Nashville the title “Label of the Decade” for the 1990’s.

Valory Music was formed last year when Borchetta surprised the music community by announcing a similar high-profile deal with Jewel to produce a country record.  At that time, Borchetta stated that the objective of Valory Music was “to continue the momentum that has been achieved with Big Machine by not only replicating our current culture and our recent successes, but also by taking everything that we’ve learned over the last two years and pouring it into this exciting new venture. We continually re-engineer what we think we know and we feel like we’ve identified an incredible opportunity with the simultaneous availability of some incredible artists and record executives. . . .”

Together, Big Machine and Valory are two of the most successful independent projects in town, selling records for a stable of artists that includes the aforementioned Jewel, Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, and Emerson Drive.

McEntire is expected to release a single with Valory Music next spring, with a complete album coming in the summer of 2009.

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On August 7th, a lawsuit was filed by Kristen Alison Hall, former member of the country band, Sugarland, against the remaining original members of the band, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush.   A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.Sugarland

Essentially, the lawsuit alleges that Nettles and Bush breached a partnership agreement between the three members, breached their fiduciary duty to Hall, and failed to account to her for partnership profits.  Among other facts alleged, Hall claims that she contributed the trademark, “Sugarland” to the partnership.  A search of the trademark database at www.uspto.gov shows that the partnership owns two marks:  a service mark for live performances, Reg. No. 2747326, and a trademark for merchandise, Reg. No. 3250679.  All three original members, Hall, Nettles and Bush, are identified as the registrants on these marks.

More about the lawsuit can be gleened from this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, written by entertainment journalist Shane Harrison, with contributions by Rodney Ho.  Yours truly is cited as a resource in the article.

This lawsuit provides a dramatic visual aid as to why it is so important for musical groups to plan in advance with regard to issues such as who owns the band name in the event of a dispute.  Either a band partnership agreement, or a  properly established limited liability company or corporation, can effectively provide for what happens to the name in the event a member leaves.  One method I commonly use is to establish a limited liability company and assign the trademark and trade name to the company.  Provisions for what happens to a member that leaves the LLC are then incorporated into the Operating Agreement which set forth the procedure for valuing the company’s assets in that instance.  Such a structure could have eliminated the need for a lawsuit such as the one that Hall filed against the other two members of Sugarland.

If your band does not have a written document dealing with this issue, you should consider retaining an entertainment attorney for such purposes, particular if your band is starting to generate significant income.

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