Why new Temptations play is NOT a ‘jukebox musical’

“People always say I make musicals for people who hate musicals and there is some truth to that.” – Des McAnuff

True indeed!

I never liked musicals. I think way too many of them are corny. I once saw a musical where a singer was at a train station , waiting on her train to come or something. Then all of a sudden, as soon as she drops her suitcase on the floor, she belts out a tune. I busted out laughing! I looked around and realized I was the only one in the theater laughing. Ooops!

I won’t reveal what name of the show but it won a TONY Award for best musical years ago. Ugh.

To just drop a suitcase in a train station and everyone suddenly starts dancing and singing is silly to me. Yes, I know the best musicals know how to weave the song into the dialogue and move the story forward. I think I finally understand it after 17 years in this business. But man, some producers make musicals that are kinda wack…and run for decades.

Jersey Boys? Now THAT was a musical for someone like me. There was an article in the LA Times about how more men went to see that show than many others on Broadway at the time. I feel it is one of the reasons why it became so successful. To get straight men to cough up money and be the person begging their wife or girlfriend to see a broadway musical is quite a challenge.

Producers have attributed the show’s financial longevity to repeat customers and its appeal to men, which is a rarity on Broadway.

“Men tell other men they have to see the play. When does a guy call another guy about a Broadway show?” asked Joseph Grano, a lead producer of the musical and the founder and chief executive of Centurion Holdings, a New York business consulting firm.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-ca-jersey-boys-musical-20140622-story.html

I liked several other musicals. Hamilton I thought was brilliant. I liked The Lion King, Avenue Q, Memphis, Lady Day, Little Shop, Evita (because I subbed on it a lot I guess), The Color Purple, Altar Boyz, Waitress….but there is something about this new show, Ain’t Too Proud, that speaks to me.

I’ve been in and subbed for a few bad shows over the years. I’ve seen others that make me leave scratching my head as to what people see in it. Again, I am not a musical kind of guy, but love to see well made shows. Hopefully you all will see this one. I’d actually pay money to see it if I weren’t in it.

Why new Temptations play is NOT a ‘jukebox musical’

Ain’t too proud to beg? If you just can’t get enough of the legacy of the Temptations, from their velvety smooth sound to their razor-sharp dance moves, better motor on over to Berkeley Rep for the new Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations.”

Steeped in the memories of Otis Williams, the sole surviving band member, this musical spins around a finger-snapping greatest hits catalog that spans generations, from the slick doo-wop harmony of “My Girl” to the pain and rage of “Ball of Confusion” and “Runaway Child, Running Wild.” Coming on the heels of Broadway-bound musicals such as “Roman Holiday,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “Amelie,” the highly-anticipated “Temptations” tuner, which is getting its world premiere through Oct. 8 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, definitely has aspirations to a Broadway run. The musical charts the rise of the iconic Motown group amid the turbulence and chaos of the Civil Rights era.

“For me the Temptations are more than just a band, they are an American institution,” says director Des McAnuff, famed for helming “Jersey Boys” and “Tommy.” “They were at the vanguard, not just musically but also culturally and politically.”

Read more here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/12/why-new-temptations-play-is-not-a-jukebox-musical/

Open the Music Industry’s Black Box

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By DAVID BYRNE – JULY 31, 2015

An excerpt from HERE: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/opinion/sunday/open-the-music-industrys-black-box.html?smid=fb-share

 

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

Prince begins removing his music from streaming services

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Prince can do whatever he wants.

The problem is:

1) No one is trying to buy his “albums” anymore
2) There are very few places to get actual CDs or LPs
3) He is living and partying as if it is 1999.
The game has changed.

He doesn’t have to put his music anywhere online if that makes him feel more in control somehow. The days of selling millions of albums has long been over for him, but fans like me will pay $150 every 5 years or so to see him live, or hopefully catch him in a small club by accident.

I think many of us longtime fans are cool with whatever decision he makes, but there is absolutely nothing that will stop the labels from continuing down the streaming path. We aren’t going back to the CD. It’s just not going to happen.

He might want to stop fighting the inevitable and be the creative genius he is and find another way of making money off of this.

How about stream stuff from his own website?
Oh wait, what is his website address again?

 
Oh Prince…

From HERE: http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/2/8882527/prince-streaming-music-spotify-tidal

Prince giveth, and Prince taketh away. On the same day that the Purple Rain writer shared a new track, HARDROCKLOVER, on his Soundcloud page, he also began removing his back catalog from music streaming services. The Purple One’s music is no longer accessible on Spotify, and a note on his artist page reads: “Prince’s publisher has asked all streaming services to remove his catalog. We have cooperated with the request, and hope to bring his music back as soon as possible.” Billboard reports that his music was also removed from Rdio.

However, at the time of writing, Prince’s music is still accessible on Google Play, Tidal, and Deezer. Whether or not these streaming services are exceptions to Prince’s ire or just slow to respond to his publisher’s request is not clear. (Additionally, his music has never been available on Apple Music.) This behavior is far from unusual though, with Prince playing similar vanishing tricks on social media and YouTube last year. In the meantime, fans will have to be content with his new single, although according to a report from Pitchfork, even this was briefly removed from the internet before being restored the same day.

With Downloads In Decline, Can iTunes Adapt?

Anyone who witnessed the transition from the older version of iTunes to the post-Steve Jobs version knows ITunes sucks. It is confusing, cumbersome and frustrating. I think I have purchased about 8 songs from iTunes in my life so my opionion is quite biased.

I have way too much music on vinyl, CD and MP3s imported from those CDS that I really don’t need another song in my collection. Plus, there is youtube and…hmmmm…I’ll whisper it (Spotify).

It’s inevitable folks, streaming is here and not going anywhere. Submit…repent and deal with the reality of life in the new Millenium.

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Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs stands in front of a projection of iTunes at a presentation in 2004.
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Apple’s innovative iTunes music service is still the market leader in music downloads, but after more than a decade of growth, sales of music tracks on iTunes have been declining. Last year saw the largest drop in sales — 14 percent. The drop is attributed to the increasing popularity of streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. These services give fans access to millions of tracks from any Internet-connected device for a monthly fee or in return for listening to commercials.

But many people say they are leaving iTunes simply because it just isn’t that easy to use. When the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs introduced iTunes almost exactly 14 years ago, on January 9, 2001, he made fun of the other software-based music players like Real Jukebox and Windows Media Player. “They are too complex,” Jobs declared. “They’re really difficult to learn and use.” Jobs unveiled the first version of iTunes software from a stage in San Francisco, boasting that it was “Really clean. Really simple” and “far more powerful.”

It charmed a generation of music fans like Alex Newsom, who gets nostalgic talking about the first iTunes purchase she made when she was only 13 years old. “I downloaded this song by Liz Phair where it’s like ‘Why Can’t I Breath Without You'” Newsom says. “I thought I was super cool because it was my first kind of grown-up-sounding song that I’d gone after myself.”

Newsom, who lives outside Seattle, is now 21 and increasingly frustrated with iTunes. For example, a recent update moved the playlist feature around. “You can still kind of go do things the old way but you have to go out of your way to do it,” she says. “And it’s clearly not the way that they expect you to do it.”

Newsom is not alone in her frustration. Jason Mosley, a web designer who specializes in user experiences, says the last version of iTunes he used — 11 — made him work harder to do what he wanted. For example, instead of being able to create a stream of songs based on a single song he likes with one click, he now has to hover over the song and bring up a temporary menu and then select from different options.

Mosley says he was “shocked to see that they had this all nested within another link.” The web designer says, “As a rule of thumb for user experience you want less clicks to get to an action.”

Mosley says part of Apple’s problem is that the basic design is old. “It was built for older things,” he says. “I think it’s just kind of been added onto since then, and that’s just going to make it heavy and slow. Spotify, these new applications, they have the advantage. They are starting fresh.”

Read the rest HERE: http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2015/01/06/375173595/with-downloads-in-decline-can-itunes-adapt

How Will the Wolf Survive: Can Musicians Make a Living in the Streaming Era?

An excerpt from an article written by Daivd Byrne:

In this view the people who complain about the impact of technology and the giant corporations who control it are like those who complained about the printing press, the mechanical loom and videotapes, and by complaining about the long term impact of online music streaming, I am revealing myself as an old fart who can’t or won’t adapt.

However, I’m not sure those complaints about printed books and VHS tapes were always coming from the artists and creators who felt they weren’t being adequately compensated. I think the complaints might have come from the church and the governments who saw the dissemination of information and media as a dangerous and threatening thing. We musicians love having our work disseminated. And wasn’t it the movie studios who worried about the impact of VHS tapes and VCRs? Not the filmmakers. I don’t remember too many musicians getting behind the “home taping is killing music” initiative that the record companies tried to establish with regard to cassette tapes. That was an industry thing. We musicians aren’t responsible for the insane copyright extensions in the last 50 or so years, either. Now, significantly, the industry is in actual partnership with the streaming services, so we don’t hear them complaining at all.

 

From Digital Music News:

The Swedish Musicians’ Union are bringing a lawsuit against the record labels there, alleging that the labels are not only screwing artists, but extending digital streaming rights that they don’t have.

Spotify asserts that they can’t be screwing artists because they ‘pay the labels’. Which is why labels are the target. Musician Billy Bragg points to possible legal action against Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, both majors that have received massive advances and equity shares from Spotify while passing little on to artists. It’s estimated that artists capture between 6 to 10 percent of revenues received from companies like Spotify. You can’t live on that.

This is a pretty big issue—are the labels who are in league with Spotify and the like keeping way too much of the payments for themselves?

 

Money will only flow to artists in the agreed-upon percentages if there is transparency. If the accounting remains hidden, secret, obscure—as it is now—then so does the money. We have tried for about two years now to obtain some figures that would give a clear picture of what a medium-level artist might reasonably expect to make in these various scenarios. Granted there are lots and lots of factors to figure in, and any figures would be ballpark estimates, but even that seems to be impossible to obtain. I would LOVE to be proved wrong here, and shown how this can work and how musicians can make a living—but that hasn’t happened yet.

I suspect labels won’t automatically agree to transparency. I already have to audit Warner every time I want to know my sales, downloads and streaming metrics. Spotify, for example, is currently only required to account back to labels not artists (not surprisingly, and maybe reasonably, as the labels control the copyrights on the recordings—the artists traditionally don’t). Streaming services hold valuable data on fan and consumer behavior that would be beneficial to labels and artists in order to market recordings, sell concert tickets and identify where they are strong. (Spotify has made some signs that they might address this transparency issue a little bit and I am communicating with folks at Beats to determine how their accounting might work—it’s encouraging that the lines of communication are still open—but still no easy formula or estimates in sight.)

Read more HERE: http://davidbyrne.com/how-will-the-wolf-survive-can-musicians-make-a-living-in-the-streaming-era

YouTube Music Key Is Introduced as New Rival in Streaming

Credit Liz Grauman/The New York Times
Credit Liz Grauman/The New York Times

For nearly a decade, YouTube has offered a smorgasbord of free music, making just about every song imaginable — from Top 40 to ukulele covers — available at a click. But soon the site, whose more than one billion monthly visitors make it the world’s most popular music platform, will start charging for additional perks.

On Wednesday, YouTube unveiled YouTube Music Key, a long-awaited upgrade of its music offerings that will include higher-quality audio for most songs and give users the option of paying $8 a month for extra features, chief among them removing YouTube’s ubiquitous ads.

With its new service, YouTube hopes to reform its reputation in the music industry as a phenomenal free site to promote songs, but one that pays a pittance in royalties. “We want to give fans more ways to enjoy music on YouTube, but also give artists more opportunities to connect with fans and earn more revenues,” said Christophe Muller, its music partnerships director.

As YouTube pushes into paid content, other online music outlets — under considerable pressure from the recording industry — are being forced to defend or change their business models to better compensate artists.

Taylor Swift drew wide support among fellow musicians — and a rebuke from Spotify’s chief executive — after she removed her entire catalog from the streaming service, apparently because Spotify refused a request to keep her music only on its paid level. And SoundCloud, which has never paid royalties, signed its first deal with a major record company, the Warner Music Group, last week, and will begin to pay artists for the first time.

With the music industry suffering a steep decline in sales, it is ever more dependent on payouts from streaming outlets like Spotify, Pandora and Apple’s Beats Music. For a while, free music has been crucial to the marketing of these services, but now music executives and analysts increasingly say that their growing popularity is a deterrent to getting customers to pay.

“As recently as five years ago, free was entirely about piracy; now free is widespread and completely within the legitimate sphere,” Mark Mulligan, an analyst, said. “But we still have the exact same challenge we had in the golden age of piracy, which is, how do you compete with free?”

Online subscription services like Spotify have grown quickly, with 28 million subscribers around the world last year, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. In some countries, like Sweden, a majority of sales revenue now comes from streaming music.

But so far this growth has not been fast enough to make up for a rapid decline in sales of CDs and downloads. In the first half of 2014, for example, album sales were down 13 percent compared with the same period the year before, and digital track downloads were down 10.6 percent, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

YouTube Music Key will be available to users in the United States, Britain and a handful of other European countries. Following Google’s preferred pattern of introducing new products through “beta” testing, it will first be available by invitation only, and is expected to be offered to all users by next year.

For those invitees, it will be free for six months and then cost $8 a month; the cost to the public starting next year will be $10, the same as Spotify and other services. Subscribers will also get Google Play Music, the on-demand audio service that has been Google’s main competitor to Spotify.

Read the rest HERE

Who’s to blame here?

Here is the problem with most of the arguments against Spotify; we don’t know the terms of the deals bands have signed with their labels or publishers. What kind of an advance do artists get for publishing/record deal? What are the exact terms? Without any of this information, we can’t tell exactly what is happening to the money after Spotify writes the check. All we know is – the owner of the publishing on a song or band member should be seeing what they signed up for in their contract. It isn’t Spotify’s fault that the money isn’t making it’s way to artists.

Why is Spotify in the crosshairs because publishers and labels don’t pay the artists/writers? Did writers march on Best Buy or Target headquarters when they felt they weren’t getting a big enough piece of CD sales? What about the payouts from YouTube?

How much of the $11.99 a fan spent on a CD in the 90’s actually went to the group TLC? Weren’t they broke even after selling millions of CDS?

Streaming is here to stay, no matter what the 1 percenters like Taylor Swift do with their millions and private owned jets. I could have sworn musicians weren’t supposed to like millionaire musicians?

I’m Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. And These Are the Facts…

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Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it. So all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time.

Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work.

Read what he said HERE: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2014/11/11/im-spotify-ceo-daniel-ek-facts