Berkeley Rep’s world premiere musical, which opened Thursday, Sept. 14, under the direction of Des McAnuff, makes songs resounding clarion calls from their opening beats — the teasing jazz piano riff of “I Can’t Get Next To You,” the ache-filled strings soaring over gentle guitar thrums in “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).” Richly textured, perfectly blended harmonies back lead vocals that somehow combine swaggering showmanship, meticulously honed technique and emotion of almost unbearable intensity. Channeling Eddie Kendricks, actor Jeremy Pope has an otherwordly, buttery falsetto that warbles among notes as if they were playthings. When David Ruffin (Ephraim Sykes) takes the lead on the show’s title track, abasing himself before his love for an imagined woman, he howls as if to implore the grim reaper for a few minutes more to live.
In 1994 I had the opportunity to work with Chuck Berry. I was young and barely knew what I was doing but it was a great learning experience.
I had been playing with a pianist named Daryl Davis while I was in Washington D.C. and trying to move to New York City to be a full time professional musician. I did several blues gigs with Daryl and after a while he asked me to perform with Chuck who he had known for many years. I said, “Hell yeah!”
Why wouldn’t I?
Well, my first gig was at a place called Tramps in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. I’ll never forget it because it was my first big gig in the city. A few people who I just met came to see me there and I thought I had officially “made it.” A pretty big venue with an international living legend! I was really excited.
Well, the feeling was short lived. During the second song, Chuck turned around and gave me one of the nastiest looks. I was playing in one tempo and Mr. Berry was in another. His look was like he was saying, “Look motherf*cker, play MY Goddamn tempo! Do you know who I AM?!?”
Well, I carefully adjusted what I was doing and played with him. I guess I was a bit too excited.
We got through the gig and I had a blast.
I played with him again at an outdoor show and I did a week with him in Atlantic City. All of the gigs were fun. It is an honor to have worked with him.
One thing learned from him is how the music business can operate. I didn’t expect much and I was kinda just happy to play with him. But, he got paid $35,000 in cash and I got $90. Yup.
He deserves every penny he can get, but I know that I certainly wouldn’t do that at this point in my career. No sir! Get a young kid to do that or pay me a whole lot more for my time.
There is money to be made in the music biz. You have to find the people with the money and have them funnel those funds into your accounts.
I’m glad I had this experience. It’s fun to look back at these photos to remember a certain time in my life that I’ll never forget.
By DAVID BYRNE – JULY 31, 2015
Putting together a picture of where listeners’ money goes when we pay for a streaming service subscription is notoriously complicated. Here is some of what we do know: About 70 percent of the money a listener pays to Spotify (which, to its credit, has tried to illuminate the opaque payment system) goes to the rights holders, usually the labels, which play the largest role in determining how much artists are paid. (A recently leaked 2011 contract between Sony and Spotify showed that the service had agreed to pay the label more than $40 million in advances over three years. But it doesn’t say what Sony was to do with the money.)
The labels then pay artists a percentage (often 15 percent or so) of their share. This might make sense if streaming music included manufacturing, breakage and other physical costs for the label to recoup, but it does not. When compared with vinyl and CD production, streaming gives the labels incredibly high margins, but the labels act as though nothing has changed.
Consider the unanswered questions in the Swift-Apple dispute. Why didn’t the major labels take issue with Apple’s trial period? Is it because they were offered a better deal than the smaller, independent labels? Is it because they own the rights to a vast music library with no production or distribution costs, without which no streaming service could operate?
The answer, it seems, is mainly the latter — the major labels have their hefty catalogs and they can ride out the three-month dry spell. (The major labels are focused on the long game: some 40 percent to 60 percent of “freemium” customers join the pay version after a trial period.)
I asked Apple Music to explain the calculation of royalties for the trial period. They said they disclosed that only to copyright owners (that is, the labels). I have my own label and own the copyright on some of my albums, but when I turned to my distributor, the response was, “You can’t see the deal, but you could have your lawyer call our lawyer and we might answer some questions.”
It gets worse. One industry source told me that the major labels assigned the income they got from streaming services on a seemingly arbitrary basis to the artists in their catalog. Here’s a hypothetical example: Let’s say in January Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” accounted for 5 percent of the total revenue that Spotify paid to Universal Music for its catalog. Universal is not obligated to take the gross revenue it received and assign that same 5 percent to Sam Smith’s account. They might give him 3 percent — or 10 percent. What’s to stop them?
The labels also get money from three other sources, all of which are hidden from artists: They get advances from the streaming services, catalog service payments for old songs and equity in the streaming services themselves.
Read there entire piece HERE