This is from the NY Times…
The estates of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II have sold the rights to the legendary duo’s songs and musicals — including “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music” and “Oklahoma!” — to Imagem Music Group, an investment arm of a huge Netherlands-based pension fund, the company announced on Tuesday.
This stuff is going on all the time. The reason this shows up in the Times is because it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein and that resonates with most anybody. Truth is, most every writer that’s getting a little mailbox money is getting approached with a buy out.
And, here’s how it works: even though the quote says “a huge Netherlands-based pension fund”, those cats are tied in to a huge multi-media source. Hence, you will soon see Rodgers and Hammerstein songs showing up in ads for stuff that aren’t relevant and action movies. Because, the buyer is going to get their money’s worth while mostly keeping in house.
Now, the writer(s) and or estate is getting a big ass one time check. More dough than they can spend in their lifetime…in theory…but, usually doesn’t go down that way.
The folks that buy the catalog are looking at least 50 years ahead. How much money will this song make over a long period of time? And what they do is work out a mathematical “factor” for each song. The factor is based on the amount of years it will take to recoup the money they put out. If a song has a factor of 11, it means they will get their money back in 11 years. After the 11 years, the rest is gravy.
These cats are interested in songs with factors of 8-13. 22 doesn’t get them exited. See, 22 only leaves them 28 years of gravy on their 50 year plan and, they are primarily interested in 40 years of gravy.
It serves to further the bastardization of the art.
But, it also serves to get the songwriter some dough and live a comfortable life unless they piss it away.
The reason I bring all this up is; I have facilitated these kinds of deals and-it’s part of the real music business. Let me tell you this…it can be a gut wrenching decision.
If you look around at the music news, there’s nada. Yesterday, pundit/wonk types were talking about whether or not Jessica Simpson was being dropped by Sony Nashville. And, the story there is; it no longer works to take a beautiful person who actually can sing in tune, that is already in the pop culture lexicon and plug her in to the machine, put her with with the best writers and production people. You can’t manufacture a career with all those ingredients.
Stuff like that, mile markers to the end of the mainstream are everywhere you look.
But the thing is, the mainstream is already over. And, when the mainstream is gone there’s nothing to react to, nothing to get snarky about, nothing to “rebel” against.
There is no host body, you see?
Now is the time for substance. If you can back your play with substance, there is going to be a place for you. And you know, for years now, I’ve been on the fact that it’s music business first-all other creative content based businesses to follow and that always applies.
The music fan/journalist has a golden opportunity right now. The music fan/journalist is in a position to be the steward of substance. It’s going to take some eggs though because, it’s not as easy as just reacting to the mainstream. You have to seek out substance and put your stamp of approval on it. You have have to be willing to say; “I believe in this” rather than; “This sucks”.
You have to seek substance, take a stand, and back your play with your own substance as a writer. If you can do this music fan/journalist, now is your time; seize the day.
An interesting post over at Hypebot about Jango, a music site that is offering artists a chance to buy airplay…
For $30 for 1,000 plays, indie artists get airplay to fans of etablished artists of their choice. If a band’s fans say they remind them of U2; then that band can now target airplay to U2 fans only. A display ad running alongside encourages listeners to rate the song or become a fan. In addition to targeting by music taste, artists can also target listeners by age, gender and location….
…Internet broadcasts are not regulated by the FCC in the same way as over the air broadcasters; so what Jango is doing is perfectly legal. But is it right? In a fractured and cluttered media landscape should artist’s pay to get played? How will Jango’s audience react to the new music by artists they’ve never heard of.
Any time something like this comes along, people get to throwing the word “Payola” around.
A few thoughts about payola;
Payola enabled a guy like Sam Phillips to break an artist like Johnny Cash. It wasn’t all bad. If you had an act that was outside of what the big labels would be interested in, you could go around to DJs with whiskey and women and give your horse a shot in the race.
After payola was outlawed, there were still a lot of DJs partaking. That didn’t really end until large corporations started buying stations and taking the play list out of the DJ’s hands and homogenizing the formats. But, that didn’t end payola, it still exists. There are a ton of above board and below board methods to get around it. The little guy isn’t able to get in the game, that’s all.
So, addressing the questions posted above about what Jango is doing.
“what Jango is doing is perfectly legal. But is it right?”
I don’t see any harm in it; it’s advertising. Jango runs the risk of throwing a bunch of crap out there and turning off their audience but, that’s another matter. Here’s a question; What would stop a record company from buying a bunch of spots on a major TV network and drilling some new song in to the public psyche by hammering it in to their brains the same way a breakfast cereal company does? The answer is money. People think that the music business is bigger than it is and they always have.
In a fractured and cluttered media landscape should artist’s pay to get played?
Sure, why not, give it a try. But, you have to look at it realistically. 1,000 plays is no big deal. 1,000 plays=1,000 impressions.
For perspective, if you got a song played on a big station in a big market, just one time, that could be a half million impressions. And one spin on a big time radio station isn’t going to feed the bulldog. If you had 30 spins on each of 50 stations in good markets, then you might make a dent.
How will Jango’s audience react to the new music by artists they’ve never heard of?
I suspect that Jango will run in to the same wall that all internet advertising does; you have to get them to click. But with something like this, you need them to click and come back for more. So, it all depends on the crap quotient. If the listener clicks a few times and they get bad songs, poorly recorded and performed, they won’t keep clicking.