Tag Archives: Spotify

Why Great Song Writing Matters

Concert Review Dave Mason and Leon Russell
OK OK How can a guy who love’s new music as much as I do go down a classic rock road like this?
If you know my tastes in music you would understand. I love great songwriters—whose music stands up across the spectrum of time.
Last night Mary and I drove down ~75 miles to Tarrytown Music Hall and saw this two aging giants.
The big surprise was the incredible rock guitar brinksmanship displayed by Dave Mason. Did you know that he was 19 when he co-founded Traffic? He wrote “Dear Mr Fantasy”—at 19! AT 19!!!
The show started with “Only You Know and I Know” and I turned to Mary and with a heavy sigh said—oh boy–sounds like a mediocre bar band—-they should not play that song even though it’s a great song–there was little passion–almost like–can we get this out of the way? and then BOOM—-he launched into several songs where his incredible electric guitar playing was in a word–amazeballs (thanks for that Joseph Weinstein)….from “Feelin Alright” to “All Along the Watchtower (memo–he played 12 string on Electric Ladyland with Jimi Hendrix) he absolutely blew us away.
In full transparency, i came to the gig with a old chip on my shoulder. When I was a young concert promoter @ U Penn I booked Dave into an on campus museum hall that had never been used for a concert—sold it out in advance (800 seats) and on the day of the show he cancelled for no apparent reason….You know i was a kid pouring my heart into it and man I was really f’n pissed.
Dave, its cool dude….and then
Leon came strutting on the stage. The dude has looked old–premature grey I think— every since I first saw him at the “Concert For Bangladesh” @ Madison Square Garden live. I was in HS and working that summer at my grandparents Shoul…The Manhattan Beach Jewish Center in their day camp and living with them and candidly—-some of the happiest days of my life. So they announced this gig on WNEW-FM and I turned to my grandmother (Selma Press) and she said let’s get in the car and drive to “Ticketron” in Brooklyn. What looked like thousands—to me maybe tens of thousands of kids were lined up already. She patiently told me to get in line while she would wait in the car. I got the last two tickets to the historic show as the guy behind me wailed when told right after me “sorry he got the last tickets for the show”
I asked a girl to the gig. (here comes a very not PC thingy but so very true)—she was older than me by maybe two years and worked at the camp and had a beautiful face imho and an amazing RACK. At 15 I could not think about much else all summer—I was mesmerized by her and so when I got these tickets—- which were the hottest thing that summer in NYC— I mustered up the courage to ask her to the show and blow me down—- she said YES!…..but she had zero interest in me—a geeky young teenager with all the geekiness imaginable—but did it matter to me—NO! I was taking a hot girl to the most important show in the world (hint—a Beatle was fronting it and if you think they still rock culture today—back in the day it was bigger than Trump! (did I just say that;)
Anyway, in many ways it was the most important live gig of my life because: well for a start–Bob Dylan came out of hiding after his accident and played—with George Harrison and Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton and Klauss Voorman….and who knew about Leon Russell? Until he launched into the now infamous medley including “Jumpin Jack Flash” and sang on his version of Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness”….I feel in love that night—- not with the girl—but with the magic of live music and truth—I pivoted into a live concert promoter soon after (for another post)..and did I say that this was the world’s first BIG Cause event—-that made a real impression on me too–the power of music to shine a light on people in harms way—a BIG DEAL for me
So last night Mary and I—real fans of a master songwriter— “Stranger in a Strange World” “Song for You” Mad Dogs and Englishmen” (he was the Mad Dog)….and what we witnessed was a really feeble man who still could bang on those ivories…but whose voice and presence was a fraction of its former self.
So he turned to the audience many times and before songs told the stories you hung on to every word. About Dylan and Joe Cocker and George Harrison and all Mary and I could do was wish we were not seeing a last gig…..of a man whose live stage presence was omnipotent back in the day—-.
Why do all these legends keep playing—mostly its not for the money if they kept their publishing…
Musicians can play forever if they’ve their chops—you see it in jazz all the time–but rockers who sing too—memo— that’s why Robert Plant refuses to collect a few hundred million and parade himself out to sing songs he wrote when his vocal chords had no limits—as they do now and have had for decades.
So if you are “out there” my friends and get a chance to see “Traffic Jam” Dave Mason’s current tour—do not miss it.
As for Leon—blessed to be in his presence last night and that first night when he changed my world—for–eva eva eva eva
Oh and I thought to share what songs are enrapturing me today
Have a listen and lmk what you think…
Happy Saturday

The Day Jimi Hendrix Claimed ‘All Along the Watchtower’
Jimi Hendrix recorded a definitive cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ on January 21, 1968.

The Rights To Music Rights

“Today….music can sell just about anything except itself!.” Even Religion?

A good friend of mine, Dave Kaplan, who manages Brian Setzer and has a very cool indie label named Surfdog out of San Diego (yes they are real surfdogs) lamented that to me the other day. Think about it; just about every single consumer product you can think of has been defined or redefined with cool music, as MEGA helped establish with the original launch of the Cadillac Escalade driven by Led Zeppelin’s “Rock n Roll”. As I talk to artists about their careers, senior label and publishing executives and how they are faring in this transitional era where culturally and behaviorally, we are moving from ownership of music to permanent rental via streaming; the incomes of many artists, especially legacy artists is way down.

However here is a real world example of how music discovery is leading to fan status and more income for artists. Recently on one of my Spotify playlists, a new song, “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me” appeared; its by an artist named Blake Mills. Never heard of him but hey it’s Spotify; it does not cost more to check out any song so I fired it up and WOW…the song mesmerized me: incredibly well written, a haunting guitar sound (I call him the Count Basie of folk/blues) and in that moment I decided hell yea, let me see if this guy is a one hit wonder or has he depth? So, one click more and I had his latest album (such an antiquated format) streaming and like WOW…..Blake can really write and sing and that guitar sound of his is truly magical!. I had to see him live. So I did a quick google search a few days later and wound up at City Winery in NYC and delighted in an amazing gig. And yes, I bought the tickets.

Back to music selling everything but itself and people thinking that just because they can grab a song nearly free, they can use it to sell something else, for free? Not so fast. At MEGA, we receive dozens of calls from folks who really have no understanding that for each and every song there are two copyrights: sync (publishing) and a master. Both must be legitimately licensed if you want to promote a product including your faith or not-for-profit organization.

Join a streaming service; Beats or Spotify or whatever you’d like. Discover thousands of new songs that can motivate and inspire you to help commercialize or publicise a political campaign or a new road bike or a new social network. But do not mistake the fact that the song is owned and controlled by many people. It did not fall out of the sky even though it seems that way with digital music. Dream on but have the good sense to use music legally; even if it can’t sell itself well these days (and that will change as streaming goes mainstream)….have respect for the artists and people who help your ideas come to life. It’s good karma.


How Much Do Music Rights Cost

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 5.05.33 PM (Graphic by Leah Garaas/MPR.) 


Do you want to get music rights for your corporate video, TV commercial, Pandora or Spotify radio ad, or perhaps its music for a Reality TV series or new show?

So many people ask us: how much does it cost to purchase music rights?

That is like asking how much a home or car costs. Meaning, it depends. There are mansions like Led Zeppelin , Pharrell, Kanye and then there are new,  up and coming artists, too numerous to mention, that are producing fantastic songs telling very compelling stories. There are “hits” and there are underground “cool” songs from emerging artists or undiscovered artists and of course, many times, more than one version of a particular song exists.

Lets assume you know exactly what song or songs you require. In this post, I’ll break down the major cost drivers for getting music rights and hopefully this will inform you; knowledge sharing and make you and your organizations; advertising agencies, brands, marketing exec’s, non-profit business managers, tv producers, entrepreneurial start-ups, everyone; smarter as to how to think about your needs and how they impact the cost of getting music rights.

The final costs for music rights are determined by a number of important factors. Here is a good sequence of questions to answer.

1. What is the territory your product or service is sold in? That might be a state, region of a country, entire country, continents; for example: Europe, North America, Asia etc or, yes, the entire world. Territory matters and its good to only ask for what you need.

2. The use cases for the music. Is it for your website? a corporate video, in a game, mobile (is it a ringtone?) a commercial for your brand or service that will run on TV and or online, or in the opening sequence of your reality TV show? Think carefully and think hard. Ask for what you need, but for certain, do not ask for “rights” or use cases you think are marginal. The use cases: television, online, at conventions and meetings (which are referred to as “industrial rights”), theatrical, in social media eg; posts on your FB page or Twitter, internet radio like Pandora or Spotify….these are all “use cases” and boiling them down to what you need and matching those use cases to your financial resources, is essential.

3. What’s the amount of time you will be needing to use the music? Assuming you are not creating an original track, which you can do, again assuming you want a song that’s been recorded, how long do you need it for your campaign or embedded entertainment use? It does not matter how long, or how much actual time (the amount of seconds) of the song you actually use. Funny, but think about it. Great songs can convey an emotional feeling in a matter of a few seconds. So rights holders do not price according to the amount of time from the song you select for most licenses. But they do price music rights, in part, according to how long you’ll use the song. Incrementally, its standard to think about the term as: 3 months, 6 months, a year or longer (yes for use cases like TV and or Film you can buy a perpetual license) but for most advertising or promotional campaigns: the time you’ll need the song matters for cost.  You are, in effect, renting the song for your needs. In most cases, I prefer to think about the minimum time you’ll need vs the maximum. It’ll lower your costs. You can always build options that allow you to expand the term, if everything is working great.

4. In most instances, you will need two licenses; a master recording license and a publishing license. If you are unfamiliar with theses terms and most people are, don’t worry! We’ve outlined their meanings in this post on our blog titled: “How To Buy Music Rights”  http://megalv.com/2014/05/05/how-to-buy-music-rights

5. Once you have all the data organized in steps 1-4 above you’ll need to contact the “owners” of the music, the master owner (the label usually that owns the studio recording) and the publishers (those representing the writers) and propose terms for your licenses.

The two words you should never, ever, use are “how much?”. The last bit of advice is: set a budget, be disciplined. And don’t lock yourself to only one song; there are over 20 million songs out there and with discipline; you’ll get the music you need at a cost that is responsible for your business objectives.

Hopefully this gives you a roadmap to think about how much it costs to get music rights. At MEGA, www.megalv.com, you can see examples of how it all comes together, with big songs and small songs, different use cases and length of uses. This is a field where expertise matters. But we love to knowledge share, so if you’ve a question, reach out and contact us via our website. We’ll be very happy to walk you through the landscape. It is a maze for most folks, and having a trusted guide does help:)

Graphic from http://minnesota.publicradio.org

The Dawn of Digital Aura’s

The Beatles, Indianapolis, IN © CURT GUNTHER, 1964
The Beatles, Indianapolis, IN

Ever look at your screen when you are using Pandora, Spotify, or not look at the screen when using the incredible service @ www.soundcloud.com or the lately, un-amazing itunes? Why would you? Its pathetic.

The visual content is boring because its repeated over and over and over again. Of limited range and never curated directly by the artists, it’s usually a static mix of album covers, a narrow band of promotional pictures or legacy bios all served up to us over and over and over again. Until our eyes are numb….tune out and so everyone is kinda like; why look? there’s nothing to see.

The dirty little secret is its a mess and this whole music digital meta data business is ripe for disruption. The images we see on digital streaming services have been aggregated by some of the companies above who literally scrape it off promotional websites of labels or social media sites with zero intent to make it compelling or interesting or cool. They are doing the least possible, paying nothing to the artists or photographers. They are making a fortune, think millions of dollars licensing the meta data they aggregate to music streaming services we all use every day who otherwise would have no practical ability to put any images together for millions of artists.

The result is SUPER BORING….visually

Well now,  consider the notion of artists having an opportunity to curate their own digital aura’s; the composite visual images and stories that make up their “aura” on the www. Think it could get really compelling? I do.

Close your eyes and stoke your brain to recall the photographs of your favorite artists: jazz, classical, rock, pop, hip hop that span their careers taken by gifted pro’s like the ones in residence here at the legendary gallery The Morrison Hotel https://www.morrisonhotelgallery.com/new.aspx or from fans on social media  in whose hands there are now hundreds of millions of powerful cam’s embeeded in smart phones. Tweets and Facebook posts during gigs. Some are really fantastic.

Now imagine that some very clever bloke, serial entrepreneur and music fanatic friend of mine has decided to change the way artist’s digital aura’s are curated and served up to us….to make the experience of marrying dynamic images and music s digital devices, streaming media, simply… magical.

“Open Aura” is going to launch in the next few weeks. I’m beaming with excitement to be helping the founder as an advisor and stoked to see what the f’k happens.

Stay tuned for more updates on Kevin Arnold’s next big idea and hopefully if he and his great team get it right we can wake up our eyes to be in sync with our ears as the digital revolution enters another next bend in this amazing journey for us all.

The Future of Music 2013

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So, I think we should exit 2013 with some optimism.

Who’s got the time?
Youth. And plenty of it. Like always, like when we were young, remember?
Youth’s got the time and they fall into a couple of distinguishable camps.
First there’s the Popsters. They are the biggest group.  They are gliding through their lives, interested in sports, money, fashion, boys, girls, coding, hiking, biking, and they love about 10-20 “hits” they can hum and sing the chorus, each year. Gimme a GaGa, throw in a Mars, maybe one Macklemore, a Lordes…you know the drift. Beyond that, they don’t really give a shit about the artists, or their rants or anything else beyond ~ten to twenty songs a year. And I may be overestimating.
Second there’s the Musesters. Oh, they LOVE music and musicians and listen to everything from every era, mostly on Spotify (more about that later) and my gosh, they are true FANS. They listen HOURS a day to music, on their phones, streaming, on their laptops, streaming, streaming streaming and could not imagine living without music. They cook to music, make love to to music, walk to classes to music, train in gyms to music and on and on and on. They care about the experience, the sound, the lyrical meaning of the songs and oh yea, just ASK them, they’ll rate and debate you on the fine points of hundreds of artists big and small, established and niche; music helps define who they are like you and me and many of the people who read your stuff.
And then my friend theres the Whocaresters. The third group of up and coming Youth. They really don’t care about music. Oh they may catch on to a few songs a year that kinda like is akin to commercial fishing where you know, the net just grabs anything in its wake; people, dogs, politico’s etc. Can you watch PSY Gangnam Style again (uh…..nope)
Sure. This is a brief note about the NEXT generation. Not us, or people in their 30’s. Those folks are a whole different kettle of fish. I’m talking about the FUTURE. YOUTH
There’s big money from the Popsters. There’s careers engaging the Musesters. And good luck beyond that.
Spotify will rule the Musesters. I mean, holy shit. For $10 a month you can own (yeah I know I said own) over ten million songs, whole albums and listen to them on demand in any order you want wherever you want on any device you want. FOR LESS MONEY THAN A F’N PIZZA a month. Tell me owning music is different than I can listen to whatever I want whenever I want, locally stored if there’s no online connection. Thats ownership man; ownership as its defined to YOUTH in 2013.
Wow, I wish I had all that as a kid growing up. I mean I had to CHOOSE what to buy or trade with friends because, shit man, music was expensive. Now, I can have it ALL for ten bucks a month with no commercials….free if I put up with the crap that is called commercials these days on streaming services but the Musesters; they’ll pay $10 a month for the sheer bliss of listening and dreaming to the MAGIC of what they love in music without the commercials . Musesters may sustain many more careers. And I’m talking about a global group of YOUTH.
Most people won’t care. The album as an art form is practically dead. So its back to the fifties with an explosion of consumer technology now. Smartphones, Beats (and lots of other GREAT headphones) bluetooth everything, synch devices, etc. etc.
So, WRITE GREAT SONGS, learn to PERFORM THEM LIVE like AMAZING (Kanye may define that more than anyone today). And welcome to the new world order. Steaming, playing live, selling merch; its all gonna be just fine. The glass is more than half full. Onward to 2014!


Celebrating Led Zeppelin on Spotify

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] If you are still buying tracks from iTunes you must be over 40. Its no wonder that as my college age son said with glee in his eye, “Dad, I have 20 million songs with no commercials for ten dollars a month! On my phone, on my computer, anywhere.” Well, I’m not sure if 20 million is the right number on Spotify but you get the point. Buying music is a dying behavior when you can instantly, on demand, listen to almost any track in the world with lovely services like Spotify. And now, what great news, that one of my favorite artists of all time and for whom my company, MEGA, had the enormous good fortune to license their only song to a brand, Cadillac, in 2002; now has announced a deal with Spotify to stream all their music.

Congratulations Image

to the Band, to Spotify and its time (again) to “celebrate” this iconic artist’s music.