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The Digital Music News Podcast
124 minutes | Sep 18, 2020
You Will Make More Money as a Musician — If You Listen to This Podcast
Emily White is one of the foremost experts in the music industry and an authority on how musicians can maximize the earnings from their music. She's worked at the largest companies in the business, managed top indie artists, and teaches music business ins-and-outs at New York University. She's also the author of the book, How to Build a Sustainable Music Career and Collect All Revenue Streams.
83 minutes | Jul 18, 2020
Meet Lady A, the Black Singer Whose Name Got Taken by Lady Antebellum
When it comes to trainwrecks, this one takes the cake. Just a few weeks ago, the ultra-successful country-pop trio Lady Antebellum decided to change their name, citing newfound sensitivity towards racist overtones. But Lady Antebellum's new name, Lady A, was already taken by Seattle-based black blues singer Anita White, who's been using the moniker since the late 1980s. At first, Lady A met with the newly-named Lady A and things seemed to be ironed out. “Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had," Lady Antebellum shared. "We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come.” Sounds great, but White says that was far from the reality of the 'negotiations'.
49 minutes | Feb 25, 2020
Meet the Guys Taking Vinyl Mastering Out of the Stone Age
Despite a vinyl record comeback that started nearly 15 years ago, the companies manufacturing vinyl are still scrambling to get back on the field. Old, laborious processes are being revived, but many of the format's experts are no longer around. And younger mastering engineers have little idea how to master content for vinyl records. But what if mastering engineers could master for vinyl, without actually having to constantly test their tweaks on vinyl platters? That's a solution being introduced by Perfect Groove, a company we interviewed recently at NAMM.
82 minutes | Feb 7, 2020
Spotify Probably Owes You More Money — Here's How to Get It
Jeff Price is one of the music industry's foremost experts on music copyright and artist royalties. He's also a huge critic of Spotify and the recently-passed Music Modernization Act (MMA). One reason is that there's actually another streaming royalty that is owed to most artists and songwriters... they just don't know about it. He blames that fact on corrupt legislators and music companies. So how do you find out about this missing royalty, and more importantly, get paid on it?
127 minutes | Jan 16, 2020
Meet the Artist Who Is Literally Saving His Fans' Lives
Lucidious is an independent rapper with more than 100 million Spotify streams and a steady income. He's also helping his fans deal with serious issues of depression and suicide. Part of Lucidious' success comes from the deep connection he's developed with his fans. His verses are emotionally raw, stripped of any pretense, and totally heartrending, with personal struggles a pervasive topic throughout. This isn't typical rap bravado, and his fanbase has responded accordingly. They also reach out to him for help, recognizing a kindred soul. Sometimes, that somebody is on the brink of suicide.
61 minutes | Jan 2, 2020
How to Game the Billboard Charts (And Why You Shouldn't)
What does it really take to get to the top of the Billboard charts? The answer, according to Reggie Gooden, a partner at 818 Talent, depends on when you're asking. Gooden, named a top business manager for artists and entertainment talent by the Hollywood Reporter, told us that the rules for ranking on the Billboard 200 had already changed since we arranged this podcast interview a few weeks ago. “The thing that musicians and people in the music business have to contend with, is that the goal posts are constantly moving," Gooden said. "You have all these numbers and rules that are stipulating exactly what is and isn't an album… and then all of a sudden it all changes." And with every rule change, there's a brand-new opportunity to exploit a loophole. Gooden took us down the dark-and-dirty rabbit hole of Billboard gaming, into a world of 'stream farms,' crafty product tie-ins, 'playola,' and other nefarious weapons to land a number one. No, these are not wholesome 'tips and tricks,' but at least you'll know what you're up against (or, maybe you're ready to cross over into the dark side). At one point, Gooden flat-out called the Billboard charts 'rigged'. It's almost as if a touchdown counted for 6 points, then 9 points, then 4 points, all in the same season. "Things are getting out of hand," Gooden lamented. Sadly, too much chart manipulation could be bad for your health and fanbase — especially if it comes at the expense of your music. And Gooden said it's the wrong path for most artists. "Things are getting out of control," Gooden aptly observed. "We just have to have incentives for everyone to play fair". Wishful thinking?
62 minutes | Dec 12, 2019
How to Protect Yourself From the Copyright Trolls
James Sammataro is one of the top music industry attorneys. And like many music biz barristers, he's witnessing an alarming swell in copyright infringement lawsuits -- some of which are pretty questionable. But even if a claim is flimsy, that doesn't mean an ill-educated jury won't award a multi-million dollar award to the litigating troll. Just ask Katy Perry or Pharrell. "Certainly, we're in the age of copyright trolling," Sammataro flatly said. So what's the solution? In this edition of the Digital Music News Podcast, we set out to create a survival list for protecting yourself against an oncoming wave of copyright trolls. Because unfortunately, if you score a smash hit, you may also attract some serious litigation. There's even an old saying in the music industry: 'where there's a hit, there's a writ.' But that doesn't mean you can't be prepared for a possible attack. "Part of the problem is that you don't have the lawyer sitting in the studio," Sammataro said. But what if your lawyer was sitting next to you in the studio?
62 minutes | Nov 25, 2019
Stop Chasing Playlists and Start Building a Music Career
Lucidious was a talented musician with a growing fanbase and a well-paying day job. But he also couldn't get onto a Spotify playlist to save his life. Now, he's making $250,000 a year with a rabid and growing fanbase. And he's still not getting any Spotify playlist love. So how is that even possible? Ari Herstand, author of How to Make It In the New Music Business, explained that getting included on massive playlists can actually be damaging to an artist's long-term career. He's seen it firsthand - and in this podcast, he breaks down why. Strangely, getting shut out of Spotify playlists actually forced Lucidious to earn fans in a more meaningful way. "While everyone was going towards playlists, and he went the other way," Ari explained. "And, he ignored playlists because playlists ignored him. So instead of beating down the door of every playlist editor and begging to get included on a playlist like every other person in the music industry was doing — and is still doing — he asked himself, ‘what is my ultimate goal here? — my ultimate goal is not to get on playlists. My ultimate goal is to get fans, and to make money from my music.'"
82 minutes | Nov 20, 2019
The Pretty Things - The Most Important Band You Don't Know
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Phil May from the band, The Pretty Things. One of the most influential people in rock history, and you’ve probably never heard of him. Phil May founded The Pretty Things with Dick Taylor in 1963. He founded the group with Dick Taylor who had previously been in Little Boy Blue And The Blue Boys with Mick Jagger. That group would eventually become The Rolling Stones and the group that Taylor and May started, The Pretty Things. The Pretty Things were born in an era in which rock music was still something risqué. This would pose a problem for the band as they became the first British band to get busted for drug possession. In an era in which parents were already weary about letting their kids listen to The Beatles, The Pretty Things were something parents definitely didn’t want their kids to listen to. The band would undergo numerous changes throughout their history. They had 33 members over the years and the band went through numerous artistic changes as rock music evolved between 1963 and 2019. They evolved from rhythm-and-blues to psychedelic to a more traditional ‘classic rock’. Interestingly, the band was banned from New Zealand for their corrupting influence on youths, according to May. Their first foray into psychedelic was with the world's first rock opera, S. F. Sorrow. An album that clearly influenced The Who's Pete Townsend, although he will refute that, there is a clear influence if you listen to both albums. I often remark on their influence as even superstars such as David Bowie was a huge Pretty Things fan, covering two of their songs on his album Pin Ups. When you look at The Pretty Things' catalog of work, you may start to wonder why you haven’t heard of them — especially if you're savvy in classic rock. There are a few reasons why, and we delve into those in this podcast, but it boils down to the industry focusing on commerce over innovation. This is a natural byproduct of business as it intersects with art. The band wanted to try new things, make great music, and not be confined to making albums that sounded like their previous releases. This presented a problem for labels, who were focused intently on their ROI. The band remained strong and continued to release albums, even despite this. The band did recently put on a farewell show, The Final Bow, with special guests like David Gilmour and Van Morrison. You can purchase the vinyl and DVD combo from Burning Shed. Check out the podcast to learn more about the band and one of rock-and-roll’s most interesting stories!
28 minutes | Oct 30, 2019
The Music Nerds Behind the World's Largest Guitar Effects Pedalboard
This week, we talk to the world's foremost experts in guitar effects pedals. After spending decades in music production, live tech, and pedal development, these four guys decided to help break the world's record for the largest guitar effects pedalboard ever created. Some may ask, why? These guys asked why not? In coordination with Sweetwater Sound, the record-setting team included Josh Scott (JHS Pedals), Robert Keeley (Keeley Electronics), Brian Wampler (Wampler Pedals), and Ryan Dyck (Temple Audio), with guitar player and YouTube celeb Rob Scallon spearheading the effort alongside Sweetwater. On July 9th, at Sweetwater's Clyde Theatre in Fort Wayne, Indiana strung together 319 pedals on 34 dedicated pedalboards, featuring 34 different pedal manufacturers. What could possibly go wrong!?
27 minutes | Sep 22, 2019
DMN's Interview with New Internet Sensation, 'Dad'
In this episode of the Digital Music News podcast, we stray outside the usual music industry discussions to interview fast-rising YouTube sensation, Dad. Enjoy!
39 minutes | Aug 26, 2019
Are Hit Songs Under Attack? The Disturbing Trend In Copyright Trolling
Ed McPherson is one of biggest attorneys in the music industry. And he's getting worried about a spate of recent copyright infringement decisions with highly-controversial outcomes. The latest of those decisions belongs to Flame, a relatively-unknown Christian rapper who scored a $2.78 million infringement award after suing Katy Perry, producer Dr. Luke, Capitol Records and others involved in the 2015 hit, "Dark Horse". McPherson doesn't agree with the decision — to put it mildly — and deeply questioned whether the U.S. court system is producing reasonable outcomes. I asked McPherson if the industry is in trouble. Here's what he said.
22 minutes | May 14, 2019
Interview With a Legend: Todd Rundgren
Noah Itman spends some time chatting with Todd Rundgren, one of the most influential figures in music. They discuss Todd's massive career, his involvement in music tech, high-level synchronization and his numerous projects throughout the past 53 years.
63 minutes | Apr 17, 2019
Meet the Single Mom Cellist Who Makes a Living Off of Her Music
Zöe Keating lost her husband and business partner in 2015, leaving the cellist extraordinaire a single mother. But what happened next was astonishing: Keating soldiered on, determined to continue her unlikely success as a touring and recording avant-garde classical cellist. But it was her fans that made it impossible for her to leave. Keating die-hards started donating heavily to their favorite artist, and cheering her on at packed shows. But aside from her music and self-sustaining career, Keating is also an activist on Capitol Hill. Currently, she's stumping for the American Mechanical Licensing Collective (AMLC), a group that's taking on potentially serious conflicts of interest among major publishers like Sony/ATV and Universal Music Publishing Group. (Also, Keating is asking anyone who's listening to vote on the upcoming MLC selection process with the U.S. Copyright Office. The link to comment is here: http://bit.ly/2ZjYCMH. Comment now, as the submissions process ends on April 22nd!)
29 minutes | Apr 8, 2019
The Science Behind Bone-Conduction Off-Ear Headphones
Headphones are dangerous, simply because they block out everything else. Yet everyday, millions of people drive, bike, scooter, and operate machinery with headphones blaring. But what if you could hear what's going on and still listen to the audio? Bethesda, MD-based David Nghiem is one person trying to solve this riddle. Nghiem noticed that municipalities have been banning headphones while driving or biking, for obvious reasons. So Nghiem's company, Conduit, is focused on developing bone-conduction, 'off-ear' headphone technology. If you haven't tried bone-conduction, a little warning: it's a weird feeling. The sound is actually transmitted to your brain even though the headphones aren't covering your ear canal. In fact, you're canals are free to hear other things, as long as you don't crank up the volume too high. But wait: how the f^%* does this all work?
66 minutes | Apr 1, 2019
Netflix and Spotify: Are They Really In the Same Boat?
Peter Csathy is the author of Fearless Media, which is 300+ pages about everything that happened in the media world - in just the last year. That's right: the media space is moving so fast, somebody can write an entire book about it, with nearly every page dedicated to a new company, investor, multi-billion dollar merger, or emerging sector. One of those spaces is music, specifically streaming music, which had a watershed year in 2018. Of course, one of the 'big kahunas' in music is Spotify, a company that is often compared to Netflix in the video world. But how apt are those comparisons? Csathy says there are definite parallels: both are independent of mega-corporate owners, both are spending billions to stay ahead, and both are the target of the entire competitive class. Will both survive? Unfortunately, that's a question both companies are struggling with. But music is so unique, maybe the differences outweigh the similarities. But that was just one part of this insane discussion about the media world, which is moving faster than anyone can keep track of. Well, Csathy is one guy who tried.
52 minutes | Mar 8, 2019
Now That the MMA Has Passed, Who's Gonna Run the Damn Thing?
In October of 2018, the music industry passed a momentous bill: the Music Modernization Act, or MMA. The sweeping law opened a brand-new process for streaming giants like Spotify to pay songwriters, and ordered the creation of a dedicated organization to track, collect, and pay those royalties to publishers and songwriters. Just one question: who's gonna run this new organization? Now, there are two groups vying to fulfill the obligations of the MMA-mandated Mechanical Licensing Collective, or MLC. In this edition of the Digital Music News Podcast, we talk to a board member for one of those contenders, the American Mechanical Licensing Collective, or AMLC. But why is the AMLC getting pressured to drop out? We get into some of the thorny politics and heated arguments that are already characterizing the post-MMA building phase.
58 minutes | Feb 7, 2019
Fraud In the Music Industry: How Big of a Problem Is This?
Guenter Loibl and Nermina Mumic are trying to figure out a way to detect fraud and irregularities in royalty accounting statements. I asked Guenter: how big of a problem is this iceberg? It's a lot bigger than we all think, he told me. Here's a discussion on what these guys have found, and how they're parsing though the data for errors using the latest data analytics methodologies.
42 minutes | Jan 20, 2019
Who's Afraid of Music Startups? Investors, That's Who.
Invest in the right music startup, and you're a billionaire. Make the wrong bet, and you're out of $5 million (or in court for five years). But that's true for any investment risk involving new ideas and sectors. So why are investors still gun-shy around music startups and concepts? I assembled three experts in Hamburg, Germany to help me answer this very topic. One recently sold his music distribution to Sony Music and is currently the president of a soccer club in Hamburg. Another is actively investing across numerous creative areas in Europe. And another is actively coaching and advising firms and startups in the space. I asked them to be blunt with me. And I found some serious concerns surrounding investment dollars and music startups. Thierry Boujard of MusicDeals told me he likes quick exits. Claudia Schwarz, VP of MusicTech Germany laughed a bit at that one, calling a quick exit in music 'a conundrum'. Oke Goettlich, who started FineTunes and sold it to The Orchard (owned by Sony Music), had a very slow exit (and bootstrapped the whole way). And off we went...
68 minutes | Dec 4, 2018
One of These Companies Will Change Live Concerts Forever
And if it's not one of these three startups, it will likely be one of their competitors. In this episode, we dive deeply into the future of live music with three entrepreneurs attacking decentralized music gigs (SofaConcerts), live performance content recognization (Flits Music), and music concert VR (Noys VR). All three have won startup awards and capital in Hamburg, Germany, where we conducted this roundtable. This is an interview about what's wrong with live, and what these companies are doing about it.
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