Cover image of 21khz: The Art of Money In Music

21khz: The Art of Money In Music

Jeff Price (Founder TuneCore, spinART Records and Audiam) and journalist Ted Gerstein (Author: Bomb Squad, 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.Learn why $30 billion dollars is generated off of music and whose pockets it ends up in.

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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. 


24 Feb 2016

Rank #1

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So ... What is Music Publishing Administration?

"Wait … You were in a Christian Rock Band?  And you had to talk with Mr. Potty mouth - Me?" "It's OK Jeff, I've been in the music business a long time" Season 2/ Episode 2 - John Barker, and Everything you ever wanted to know about licensing - but (of course) were afraid to ask. I like to quote Donald Rumsfeld (Sorry, but I do) ... "There are things that we know we DON'T know, and there are things we didn't even know we needed to know." This is one of the episodes where we ask the questions you didn't know needed to be asked.  We talk with John about music publishing, administration, songwriters, copyrights,  licensing, collection, why it's crucial to do so, and what happens if you don't.  John Barker knows these things, for nearly 20 years John has run his company, Clearbox Global out of Nashville to help songwriters and music publishers deal with exactly these kinds of questions. Plus, he regales us with stories of Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou Harris.


20 Jul 2018

Rank #2

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Monetizing a mood

Danny Turner - Monetizing Moods. Global Senior Vice President for Creative Programming at Mood Media Season 2/ Episode 3 I've never been able to get the final scene from the "Blues Brothers," out of my head. Jake and Elwood spend the entirety of the (in my opinion fantastic) movie racing to the Cook County Assessors office, desperate to pay the back taxes on the orphanage. The final few moments of their quest (chased by thousands of members of Illinois law Enforcement) spent waiting in the elevator, staring at the blank walls, while the dulcet tones of "The Girl from Ipanema,"plays over the loudspeakers. The scene doesn't need words, and we've all been there. Staring at elevator walls, avoiding any eye contact, canned elevator Muzak playing over the elevator speakers to fill the silence. Just say the word, "Muzak," and "The Girl From Ipanema" jumps immediately to mind. But here's the thing, Muzak, as we thought we knew it, no longer exists. Muzak hasn't been a company since 2011 when it was acquired, for $345 million by a company called, Mood Media*. Why would anyone pay $345 million for the company behind, "The Girl from Ipanema"?  Well - according to Danny Turner, Global Senior Vice President for Creative Programming at Mood Media - it was money well spent. Mood Media is an Austin, Texas-based company, which will create the perfect mood for their clients. From their website... Mood Media is the world’s leading in-store media solutions company dedicated to elevating the Customer Experience. We create greater emotional connections between brands and consumers through the right combination of sight, sound, scent, social mobile, and systems solutions.  Music, sight, sounds, smells. Everything you would need to create the perfect mood for your shopping mall, high-end hotel or corporate lobby. Mood Media yanked the "The Girl from Ipanema," kicking and screaming away from the relaxing beaches of Rio de Janeiro and dropped her right into the middle of the edgy world of modern consumer culture. It's a great interview, Danny explains a little about the history behind Muzak, about the power of music to create a mood, what is the difference between a playlist and true curation, and how artists can make a living off composing music for Mood Media. * OK, sorry, we messed up a bit. A few times (actually, like 8) in the interview we mistakenly called the company, "Mood Music"... it's called Mood Media, and we were wrong (very wrong.)


27 Aug 2018

Rank #3

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"It's Carin - Like Car in the Garage"

Season 2/ Episode 1: Carin Gilfry – “Carin – Like Car in the Garage” Three things you need to know about today’s podcast… First, “yes” we have been away for a little while. Life, work, family – all the things that get in the way of a successful podcast, managed to get in the way of our successful podcast. But we’re back, and we have close to a dozen podcasts lined up and ready to go. Second, Carin pronounces her name, “car-in” as in, “the car is in the garage.” Third, you might have already heard of Carin because she’s kind of famous for being locked in a closet and you can listen to that part of her interview down below. So why Carin? I like deep dives into particular professions because they invariably have great stories. So I figured, “Let’s talk to someone who does voice-overs,” see what we can find. Starting her career as an opera singer (I liked to picture her belting out an aria wearing Viking horns while grasping a spear), Carin didn’t disappoint. Despite singing at some of the world’s most famous venues, a love of Opera wasn’t paying her bills. So Carin did what many successful artists do, leveraged her strengths, her fantastic voice, and pivoted. She tried her hand at voice-over work and quickly realized in today’s fractured media landscape, dulcet tones could pay the bills. Corporate videos, audiobooks, PA systems, even answering machines, everyone is looking for the perfect voice. And now it’s more than just voice-overs, Carin now produces children shows, writes music, she’ll even write the theme music for your audiobook. And it all started with opera. Looking for more on Carin… https://www.caringilfry.com AND… she was nice enough to record us a new open.


29 Jun 2018

Rank #4

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Really Cool Uncorrelated assets

What a piece of the Merrie Melodies? How about Bette Midler? Etta James? Santana? Well, they have all been for sale. One of the goals of this podcast has been to figure out all the ways music can generate money. We know about album sales, we've talked endlessly about streaming rights, we've discussed those "big fat juicy contracts" (that don't exist anymore). But what about music futures? Ever wanted to be modern versions of Randolph and Mortimer Duke? (Go ahead look it up, I'll wait). What if you could buy the rights to a piece of music that already exists, and is already generating an income? Well, Royalty Exchange, a company based out of Denver, Colorado allows you to do just that. But buying a song is different than buying Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice futures. Music brings along its own set of regulations and mechanisms for reporting and tracking sales and distribution. The ASCAP's and BMI's of the world see to it that music is monitored and reported with the idea of eventually paying the owner any particular piece of music. So in the case of a song, past performance may be a predictor of future earnings (with, of course, all the usual caveats). It's a conversation that fascinated me from the beginning.


7 Nov 2018

Rank #5

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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.


27 Jun 2016

Rank #6

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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. 


23 Aug 2016

Rank #7

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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 MP3.com 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.  


21 Dec 2015

Rank #8

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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, mp3.com 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 “FILEZ.com” 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 - “mp3.com”. 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. 


3 Dec 2015

Rank #9

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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, unsoundthemovie.com...


1 Oct 2015

Rank #10