Federal District Judge Louis L. Stanton, who presides over the BMI Rate Court in New York, has ruled in the performing rights organization's favor regarding the establishment of final fees for the use of the BMI catalogue by Music Choice, a subscription digital audio music service to cable systems and satellite carriers. The fees will increase from 1.75% of gross revenues to 3.75% of gross revenues and is applicable to the period from October 1, 1994 to September 30, 2004.
In making the announcement, BMI President & CEO Frances W. Preston said: "This decision represents a victory for BMI in establishing the legal principle that the retail value of BMI music to the consumers must be the basis for setting license fees."
Judge Stanton had ruled in July 2001 that fees should be set at 1.75% of Music Choice's gross revenue, ignoring the full retail price paid by the consumer for music services. BMI appealed that decision, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with BMI. The appellate court sent the case back to Judge Stanton for further proceedings. The new license fee of 3.75% of Music Choice's gross revenues set by Judge Stanton takes retail value into account.
By Bev Stanton
For my first 10 years of playing music, I was in a succession of bands that went nowhere. Armed with the foolhardy belief that we were destined to succeed just by playing out and releasing product, we played gig after gig to dismal audiences and sent out hundreds of CDs to radio and media, yet received little notice. After years of frustration, I channeled my energies into a solo techno project. I hit pay dirt and was signed to a record company after sending out only 20 cassettes.
The success was short lived because the label went bankrupt. I subsequently dusted myself off and started using the Internet to pursue more strategic, proactive promotional and artistic strategies. Although I have not attained the fame and adulation I fantasized about in my early years, my efforts have yielded more satisfying results. I have managed to gain a small but loyal following, generate a sizable turnout at events, and derive more personal fulfillment through music.
1) Listen To Music From Different Genres And Eras
I have been guilty of writing in bios that my band has "a unique sound." In retrospect, after listening to old CDs and cassettes from several years ago, I have to face the fact that everything is derivative. There is nothing wrong with having influences; it is all a part of how musical movements such as jazz and techno percolate and evolve. We can still be influenced by someone else¹s music, yet craft a distinct approach.
Listen to music from other worlds. Listen to music from the past. Don't just mimic, but absorb other sounds and make them your own. If you only listen to what's in the present, by the time your record is released your audience will have heard it all before. On the other hand, if music from a neglected genre or era resonates with you, explore that niche and create something new that will sound fresh to your listener.
Don't let your personal background hold you back. For example, don't think that if you're white you can't play jazz or that you have to be from Ireland to explore Celtic music. When cultures blend, it can create an exciting synergy, as when Latin music and Jazz intersected in the 1940's, and American R&B begat Garage in the UK.
2) Practice Makes Perfect
I used to consider band practice as instrument practice and not spend enough time alone with my bass. To a certain extent this may have been due to time constraints, but it also may have been to fear of facing my own inadequacies alone. As a result I would be nervous onstage because, although our band was tight, I lacked the instrumental command to handle the unexpected. Sometimes my lack of confidence would manifest itself in overplaying and interfered with laying down an effortless yet effective groove.
The more comfortable you are with your instrument, the more you can demonstrate to people that you belong on stage. If you are nervous, it will make the audience uncomfortable. Act confident and you will BE confident. Don't be self conscious, focus on the music. If the crowd doesn't react the way you want them to, focus on the one person who seems responsive. If you question yourself, others will doubt you too.
3) Learn Theory - Increase Your Vocabulary
Although there are lots of brilliant musicians who don't know theory, in my experience it broadened my palette. I initially bought a theory book so that I could better communicate with musicians at the recording studio where I worked. Ultimately, an understanding of scales, rhythm, and harmony has given me an appreciation for how beautiful math can render a potpourri of moods. It is also more exciting to break rules when you know what the "right" way is.
4) Don't Be Deliberately Trendy
By the time you hear a hot new band, their music has been out at least a year. Then it can take you at least a year to record an album and release it, which places you two years behind the curve. Back in the eighties, I was in several bands that were influenced by the Smiths and The Cure. Many other bands back then were too, and by the time our music reached the ears of record industry reps, they had already heard enough clones.
Paradoxically, you can often reach back into the past to rediscover new sounds. Acid Jazz is an example of making something old new again. If you do like something new, try to pinpoint what makes it great and harness that quality in your own sound.
5) Visit Mecca
I am a firm believer in traveling to musically vibrant and historically significant places for inspiration. My personal Mecca is Britain because, although the fashion gap has closed, they are still two years ahead musically. When a commercial client says they want a futurist piece, they are happy if I give them something similar to what was big in the UK six months ago. If I can't afford the plane fare, I buy a bus ticket to New York and soak up the artistic energy.
6) Be Inspired. Listen To Music. Listen To Silence
My songwriting changed dramatically when I started carrying around a recorder to capture random inspirations. Stay connected and try to view life from other peoples' perspectives. For example, when you watch the news, think about what it must be like to live in Afghanistan getting bombed by the richest country on earth. Or just go with what you know...there's nothing like universal human experience to help you connect with your listener!
7) Let Music Be A Metaphor For How You Live Life
Sometime the issues I have in life are mirrored in how I approach music. For example, I am often afraid to try new things out of fear of making mistakes. In life too, I am afraid to take chances. Once I realized to what degree my musical approach was an extension of my personality, I began using music as an arena to confront my shortcomings. For example, instead of playing the same repetitive bass line on a song, I would throw in a new riff. Once I developed the confidence to branch out artistically and deal with the consequences of possible mistakes, (i.e. just rolling with it when I hit a bad note), I was able to transfer these skills to real life in ways, such as trying new hobbies and changing jobs.
Today was the first full day of the 8th Annual Millennium Music Conference. Did two presentations, one of effective networking strategies for the music industry and another on how musicians/bands can increase earnings though developing a strategy of multiple income streams. Had a nice crowd and, overall, everything was pretty smooth.
Had a great meeting with Stephen Trumbull Music Business Registry. Watch for big things soon.
These guys have just released a directory of engineers and producers, by the way. Worth checking out if you're in need of that kind of thing.
Millennium was one of the few conference I had never been to. So far, so good. Harrisburg is nice and seems to have a great scene for a small market. Don't know how it normally is, but this week is busy.
A few of the bands I checked out today:
By Anne Freeman
If you are a beginning songwriter, there are some things to think about before joining a songwriting organization. But first of all, congratulations for starting your creative journey! Secondly, don't rush! Spend some time exploring your "muse," your inner creative voice. Express yourself any way you want to and don't worry about "doing things right" at this time. Become comfortable with writing songs. You have the rest of your life to learn the Whys and How-tos of writing songs. Fortunately, songwriting is one area of the music business where being young and pretty are not important to your success as a songwriter. Relax and have fun with it.
When you are ready to join a songwriting organization, there are several different kinds to choose from. We'll take a look at them now.
National & International Songwriter Organizations
National or international organizations represent many genres of songwriting. Most are not genre-specific and have members writing all types of music. These are formal organizations that require dues for membership, have elected and/or appointed governing boards, an executive director and an office or offices with full-time staff. They provide a variety of services for their members, which include professional songwriters along with aspiring songwriters. They are headquartered in major music cities and may have satellite offices in each of the major music cities.
The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) is one such organizations. NSAI sponsors local chapters and workshops for its aspiring songwriters who do not live in a major music city. Local NSAI workshops have regular meetings run by volunteer coordinators who are appointed by and trained by NSAI. NSAI workshops offer songwriting lessons using professionally designed songwriting curriculum, peer song critiques, performance events, speakers, and more. You can find the location of local NSAI workshops on NSAI's website at www.nashvillesongwriters.com.
Another large songwriter organization is the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), which you can learn about by visiting their website at www.songwriters.org. The Songwriters Guild has excellent resources regarding the legal aspects of songwriting, such as a model song publishing agreement. Songwriters Guild can offer important services to you as you begin to place your songs with artists.
An example of a genre-specific national organization is the National Academy of Popular Music (NAPM), which is a part of the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. NAPM was created by the Songwriters Hall of Fame specifically to assist its nonprofessional songwriter members to learn the craft and business of songwriting. As its name implies, NAPM focuses on popular music. www.songwritershalloffame.org.
Some large organizations, such as The Recording Academy (The Grammy People), serve members representing many aspects of the music industry, songwriting included. www.grammy.com If there are music-related organizations of any kind in your area, it's worth doing some research to find out if they provide services and activities for songwriters.
Other types of music-related organizations, such as the Acoustic Guitar Guild, www.acousticguitar.com, have local chapters for its members around the country. The chapter events may also include songwriting or music composition as part of their offerings, so they are also worth looking into.
National and international songwriter organizations develop resources and activities with the serious-minded aspiring songwriter in mind. You don't have to be a professional songwriter to join them, but you will find their activities and services are based on the assumption that you want to become a professional songwriter at some point. If financial resources are an issue to you, you may want to wait to join one of these organizations until after you've participated in more local organizations and started to gain some songwriting skills and knowledge of the music business.
If you live outside of the USA, you will find that many countries have national songwriter organizations, as well.
State and Regional Songwriter Organizations
State and regional songwriter organizations that are not affiliated with a national or international group are alive and well and quite possibly meeting in a city near you! State and regional organizations will typically have a governing board, one person who is Œin charge," a newsletter, and will hold regular meetings. They usually charge nominal membership dues to cover the costs of postage and other miscellaneous expenditures such as meeting room rentals. They most likely will not have any paid staff or permanent headquarters.
These organizations will sponsor songwriting workshops, open mics and other activities for aspiring songwriters. Look to them to also organize occasional or annual large events with music industry professionals to run workshops and seminars. Some even sponsor songwriting contests.
State and regional songwriter organizations can be an important stepping-stone in developing your songwriting skills, performance skills and your knowledge the music business. They usually have ties to the national and international organizations, and the music industry in their respective states. Some will have ties to the major music centers. Their membership will include songwriters of various skill levels, so you won't be excluded if you are a beginner.
Local Songwriter Groups
Local songwriter groups or clubs are typically formed by one or two songwriters. They offer their time and effort to help themselves and area songwriters to learn about songwriting and to provide a forum for performing. Organizational governance is casual. Most are free or charge nominal dues for postage and phone calls, or rent for a meeting room. Activities tend to focus on developing performance skills for open mics and peer song critiques to help build your songwriting skills. If they are located near a major music city, they may also offer music industry speakers and events. These are great places to get started, learn the basics of songwriting, find a cowriter, learn to perform, and enjoy meeting and talking to people who love to write songs!
Internet-Based Songwriting Organizations
One positive outgrowth of the Internet has been the formation of Internet-based songwriting organizations, so you needn't worry if you live in the trundra or the Outback! Most of these do not require dues to join. Two of the largest are Just Plain Folks, based in the USA, and The Muses Muse, based in Canada. They provide all kinds of resources and information for aspiring songwriters, including newsletters, chat boards, articles written by music biz pros, book stores, discounts on some services, and more.
Just Plain Folks is forming local chapters to provide aspiring songwriters more organized, local activities. Visit these organizations at www.jpfolks.com and www.musesmuse.com. Another example is SongsAlive!, which is based in Australia, at www.songsalive.org. All of these songwriter organizations accept members from all genres and from all over the world.
From Billboard June 19th, by Wolfgang Spahr
Universal Music Germany has removed copy-protection technology from its national CD releases. The change will not affect any international repertoire the Berlin based affiliate handles.
A Universal representative says the move follows consumer complaints that the anti-copying technology obstructed some discs from functioning on various devices.
"Universal Germany will not be reintroducing copy protection until a reliable technology has been developed," the representative says.
Connect with music like never before behind the wheel of your BMW 3 Series, and X3 and X5 SAV, Z4 Roadster or MINI. With the installation of an integrated adapter developed by Apple and BMW, you can now control your iPod or iPod mini through the existing audio system and multi-function steering wheel. Which means no loss of power. No loss of sound quality. No loss of control.
The BMW iPod adapter can be installed in 2002 or later 3 Series, X3 and X5 SAVs, Z4 Roadsters and MINIs with compatible audio configurations.
See www.apple.com/ipod/bmw/ for more details.
This list is from $30 Music School by Michael Dean. Agree or disagree? Post comments below...
LONDON MAY'S 10-POINT PLAN FOR MUSICAL AND ARTISTIC LONGEVITY
1. Diversify (learn other instruments, recording techniques, basic accounting, etc.)
2. Surround yourself with funny people (NOT necessarily other musicians)
3. Avoid exposure to the music media (MTV, commercial radio, big glossy rock magazines, little grainy local fanzines, and even those pesky message boards don't entertain or educate, they just inspire competitiveness and foster low self-esteem. They cannot measure artistic success.)
4. Keep (or get) a day job (it's easier to keep your musical and personal integrity if you're not desperate to pay the rent through your art.)
5. Take what you do seriously but don't take yourself seriously. (Who care's what you've done if you're boring.)
6. Remember that you are only as good as your last set (so make even your rehearsals rock just as hard as you shows.)
7. Don't be afraid to ask (nicely) for what you are owed. Then don't be afraid to demand (legally) for what you are owed. (It's not punk to get ripped off.)
8. If you are not having fun or making a fortune with you current gig, ask yourself, "What the fuck am I doing" (Move the hell on. There's another, and probably better opportunity waiting out there for you, right now.)
9. Give back what you got. Help out a young group. Let a band crash at your house for a change.
10. Ultimately, be loyal to yourself and not to somebody's band (that is if you want a musical career that lasts longer than the three years an average group stays together.)