12 episodes

The music business is in serious trouble. Or is it?

There are endless opinions on the subject. Some people think the music business is done, that Elvis has left the building permanently, pushed out a 10th floor window by the internet. Others believe that technology has brought about a state of democracy that has levelled the playing field.

So who's right? That depends on your perspective.

On "How To Fix The Music Business", people from all sides of the music industry share their perspectives about the past, present and future of business. They shar their stories and opinions about what is broken and how to fix it - or how to kill it - without filters and without BS. Everyone appearing on the show has put in their 10,000 hours - so the opinions shared are qualified opinions.

"How To Fix The Music Business" is hosted by music industry veteran Jim McDermott, who has over 30 years experience in artist development and new technology at major labels, and with independent and major label artists.

How To Fix The Music Business Jim McDermott

    • Music
    • 5.0, 13 Ratings

The music business is in serious trouble. Or is it?

There are endless opinions on the subject. Some people think the music business is done, that Elvis has left the building permanently, pushed out a 10th floor window by the internet. Others believe that technology has brought about a state of democracy that has levelled the playing field.

So who's right? That depends on your perspective.

On "How To Fix The Music Business", people from all sides of the music industry share their perspectives about the past, present and future of business. They shar their stories and opinions about what is broken and how to fix it - or how to kill it - without filters and without BS. Everyone appearing on the show has put in their 10,000 hours - so the opinions shared are qualified opinions.

"How To Fix The Music Business" is hosted by music industry veteran Jim McDermott, who has over 30 years experience in artist development and new technology at major labels, and with independent and major label artists.

    Benji Rogers Blockchain Without BS

    Benji Rogers Blockchain Without BS

    My guest today is Benji Rogers, the Founder of Pledgemusic and Co-Founder of the Dot Blockchain Music Project.
    Digital music is a mutation. Like a virus, it adapts, looking for new ways to be consumed, defying efforts to be fixed in some predictable context. Zeros and ones phantasmagorically appear and recede across networks, bought, sold, streamed and shared. Artists have little control over where their creations travel, how they’re used, how they are mutated by others. Rights, ownership information, sales data and payment are managed by multiple entities in the music business who often have competing agendas. Releasing music into the digital world can be a bit like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into a vast, wild sea.
    So how can this all be made more transparent? How can permanance and mutability co-exist?
    Enter the Blockchain. The .BC Music Project is the first attempt to use Blockchain technology to create a global, decentralized database of music rights wherein a song cannot be separated from its usage rights and still be played. There’s the transparency and permanence.
    If you haven’t heard of Blockchain, it is basically a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records called blocks. So you write a song, and create a block with data about the authors, who played on it, who the publisher and record company is. Once data is entered, it cannot be altered retroactively - BUT as rights or usage rules evolve over time, the information can appended, and there’s a record of who changed it, and a validation process to make sure the changes are true. So along with permanence and truth, you get mutability.
    There is huge enthusiasm around .BC Music, and the project recently announced partnerships with its first industry partners: Canadian Music Rights organization SOCAN, CD Baby, MediaNet, Songtrust, and FUGA. But Benji and his partners at the Dot BC Music project are not the first people to try to fix the morass of problems in digital music. There have been many other industry initiatives going back nearly 20 years that have tried and failed to solve these issues - so in our chat, I pressed Rogers to outline exactly why Blockchain technology and his initiative are different and why they might finally be the beginning of a very bright future indeed for the music business.
    Benji and I sat down at Ludlow House on the Lower East Side for this chat. So pull up a chair with us and listen!
    Dot Blockchain Music: http://dotblockchainmusic.com
    PledgeMusic: http://www.pledgemusic.com
    Open Music Initiative: http://open-music.org
    Imogen Heap Mycelia: http://myceliaformusic.org
    The Failure Of The GRD (Global Rights DataBase): http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2015/08/the-failure-of-the-global-repertoire-database-effort-draft.html
    The Secure Digital Music Initiative: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital_Music_Initiative
    Benji Rogers on Twitter: @BenjiKRogers
     

    • 1 hr 25 min
    Peak Vinyl or Peak Stupid With Billy Fields of WEA

    Peak Vinyl or Peak Stupid With Billy Fields of WEA

    Vinyl junkies - I’m one of them. Possessing an opiate-like addiction for our preferred musical format, we tolerate, no we embrace it's inherent limitations and inconveniences. Pulling a treasure from our Ikea Expedit shelves (actually Kallax is the new thing), we cross apartment room floors that sag from the weight of our collections to put a record on the turntable. But first comes the romance of arcane cleaning and calibration rituals, the Holy Trinity of tracking weight, azimuth, and overhang, and then the battle with the Four Horsemen of the vinyl apocalypse: surface noise, orange peel, non-fill, and off center pressings. After 20, 22 minutes maximum of blissful immersion, the stylus bumps against the end groove, vup, vup, vup, and its time to get out of the chair, somnambulant, and flip over the record.
    Straight people observe this behavior and say, “umm, wouldn’t it be easier to just listen to this stuff for free on your phone?”
    So what does an archaic physical format and the weirdos who are obsessed with it have to do with fixing the music business?
    We’ve been told again and again that music has little or no value as a product, that access to it is easy and free, that the days of record stores and physical collections are a quaint notion of the past. And yet, at the most unlikely of times for a rebirth, these old things, these pieces of art, have stirred passion and a connectivity to music and the artists across age brackets. Why? Is it a hipster trend? Foolish nostalgia? Or does listening to vinyl awaken a musical mindfulness that downloads and streaming don’t deliver?
    My guest on the show today is Billy Fields of WEA Distribution - that’s Warner, Electra Atlantic in case you didn’t know. Billy is the “vinyl guy” at WEA and certainly qualifies as a record junkie. When I walked into his office at 50th and Broadway in NYC, he was spinning a Siouxsie & The Banshees record, and it was loud. And when his boss came in for a minute to chat, he didn’t turn it down, not even a little.
    Billy shares his thoughts on the business realities of vinyl, how labels choose what to release, the challenges facing record stores, and the tangible passions that music on wax inspires. So, welcome Billy Fields!
    Links for this episode:
    Billy Fields on Twitter: http://twitter.com/billysezvinyl
    Darkside Records: http://www.darksiderecordsandgallery.com/
    Fantastic Negrito: http://www.fantasticnegrito.com/heritage/
    The Revenge Of Analog: https://www.amazon.com/Revenge-Analog-Real-Things-Matter/dp/1610395719
    Benjamin Clementine: http://benjaminclementine.com/
    Jim Campilongo: http://jimcampilongo.com/
    Ellen's Stardust Diner: http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com/
     
     

    • 50 min
    Spotify Playlist Secrets with Justin Barker of Slice Music

    Spotify Playlist Secrets with Justin Barker of Slice Music

    My guest on the show this episode is Justin Barker, Founder/Director of Slice Music, a UK based streaming and content consultancy. He is also the Director of Streaming Strategy, Global Artist & Label Services for PIAS, and previously held curational and operation digital roles at Universal Music Group dating back to 2006. Justin has been riding the edge of the streaming music wave for a decade, and has a unique perspective on the history and evolution of the streaming music space.
    After more than 15 years of destruction and decline in the music business, there is a glimmer of hope again. Even as physical product and digital download sales continue to whither, the explosive popularity of streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music have brought growth back to an industry that’s been shrinking for so long, it almost forgot the meaning of the word.
    On-demand Subscription streaming music services have been around for a long time. Rhapsody launched way back in 2002, and the current King of the Mountain, Spotify, launched in 2008. It’s really hard to survive as a standalone music service, and many players have either shut down or been acquired and absorbed into other entities. Spotify has over 40 million paying subscribers, but lost 200 million dollars on revenues of 2 billion in 2015. Despite the challenges, new services are being introduced by Amazon and iHeartRadio, and Pandora is offering an expanded pay service. Each of these services must find a way to differentiate themselves from the other players in the space; to win the favor of potential subscribers.
    But they’re not just competing with each other, they’re competing with YouTube, which is arguably the world’s biggest streaming music service - and YouTube is free.
    How content is promoted and consumed on Spotify is evolving at a lightning pace. Adapting to these ongoing changes has proven challenging for many labels and artists. Justin’s here to kick around some history with us and shine a light into the playlist mists.
    Slice on Twitter: https://twitter.com/slice_musicuk
    PIAS: http://www.pias.com
    Nicolas Jaar: http://nicolasjaar.net
    Jim's Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/trickness/playlist/18NgBUrRgZnEAPBk8zsu4J
     

    • 57 min
    More Coffee Please With NYU's Larry Miller, Director of the NYU Steinhardt Music Business Program

    More Coffee Please With NYU's Larry Miller, Director of the NYU Steinhardt Music Business Program

    My guest on the show today is one of the original gangstas of the digital music business: Larry Miller. Half a decade before Apple launched iTunes, Larry was carving a path. In 1998, he co-founded a2b music, one of the first digital music distribution companies. He went on to become President of Reciprocal Music, another groundbreaking digitial distribution & technology company, and later co-founded the Or Music label, which won a Grammy with their artist Los Lonely Boys. These days, Larry is the Director of the NYU Steinhardt Music Business Program, where he’s shaping the intellect of young people who will write the next chapter in the history of the music business.
    There’s a very wise saying: History is written by the victors.
    Here’s the accepted history of the digital music business: The major labels were clueless about the internet and were doing nothing until Napster appeared and killed the music business. Luckily, Steve Jobs and Apple saved the day by inventing digital downloads and selling them in iTunes.
    True veterans of the early digital music business know that things were a bit more complex than that. It was an exciting time and things evolved very quickly, too fast to keep up with. The truth is that starting in the mid-90’s, many technology pioneers were working closely with the major labels to shape the digital future of the music business. It was an incredible time of experimentation and learning. Of course the ideas weren’t all viable, so the labels cautiously dabbled, thinking they’d control the timetable of how these new technologies would roll out. After all, that’s how it always worked whenever a new format came along.
    Of course this time they were wrong. Napster came along and burned all the cautious optimism to the ground. Steve Jobs had great timing, arriving when the majors were fatigued from fighting and desperate for an easy fix to complex problems. So a new history was written, and the story of what came before was brushed away like ashes.
    We did this podcast over an early breakfast at the Mansion Diner at 86th & York Avenue, hitting record and chatting amongst the sounds of New Yorkers waking up to a gorgeous Fall morning.
    Larry Miller on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_S._Miller
    NYU Steinhardt: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/business
    Musonomics Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/musonomics/id985799104?mt=2
    The Mansion Restaurant: http://www.mansionrestaurantnewyork.com
    Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle: http://www.rollingstone.com/country/features/steve-earle-and-shawn-colvin-talk-new-album-rehab-and-trump-w431117
     

    • 45 min
    Sheryl Crow Guitarist Peter Stroud Goes Platinum

    Sheryl Crow Guitarist Peter Stroud Goes Platinum

    My guest on the show today is Sheryl Crow's Music Director & guitarist Peter Stroud.
    Peter Stroud gets around. It’s funny how often I am flipping around the channels late at night and see Peter on stage somewhere. He’s played with Pete Droge, Sarah McLachlan and Don Henley, recorded on albums with Stevie Nicks, The Dixie Chicks, Shawn Mullins and Michelle Malone. As a guitarist and Musical Director of Sheryl Crow’s band, Peter has been a recurring player in her creative legacy going all the way back to her smash album The Globe Sessions. Alongside Sheryl, he has shared the stage with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Prince, Chrissie Hynde and countless other musical legends.
    That’s a full plate by anyone’s measure, but like I said, Peter gets around. He co-founded a hugely successful guitar amplifier company, 65 Amps, and is a partner in the recently launched the Emerging Artist Network, a company that connects developing artists with brand patronage.
    Peter also is part of a band called Big Hat with guitarist Audley Freed and a band of killer musicians. In 2012, Big Hat self released their debut EP, with no record company involvement, so all the promotion and marketing was up to the band. The track “Feather In The Breeze” was added by fans to a couple of popular playlists on Spotify and over time, got over a MILLION plays. Because there was no record company involved, the money went straight to the band. There’s a lot of debate and mystery about where the money goes in streaming, so when I invited Peter on the show, I asked him if he could share the real numbers of what the band got paid...he gracefully agreed. I think you’ll all find this very interesting, I know I did - its not often that artists share this kind of information.
    Of course we riff about a ton of other stuff too - this is a good one!
    Stuff we talk about on this podcast:
    Peter Stroud on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loudstroud
    Peter Stroud on Twittter: https://twitter.com/PeterStroud
    Big Hat: http://www.bighatband.com/about-us
    Sheryl Crow: http://www.sherylcrow.com/
    65 Amps: http://www.65amps.com/
    Emerging Artist Network: https://emergingartistnetwork.com/
    Chris Shiflett's Walking The Floor Podcast: http://walkingthefloor.com/
    Jason Isbell: http://www.jasonisbell.com/
    Pete Droge: http://www.puzzletreemusic.com/
    Yacht Rock Review: http://www.pleaserock.com/tributes/yacht-rock-revue
    Peter's Music Recommendations:
    Sturgill Simpson: http://www.sturgillsimpson.com/
    The Shelters: http://www.thesheltersmusic.com/
     
     
     
     
     
     

    • 57 min
    Streaming For Beggars With Simon Wheeler Of Beggars Group

    Streaming For Beggars With Simon Wheeler Of Beggars Group

    These days, success in the music business is about survival.

    Major labels can lose millions and still stand because they’re owned by giant corporations. A couple of consecutive bad years for a major and there’s usually a purge, new management brought in, the roster overhauled, maybe they’re merged with another label. And a dreadful side effect of risk aversity that follows these changes is that the music that gets signed and released becomes progressively “safer”.
    It’s different for independent labels. Successful independents constantly reinvent themselves, and rarely play it safe with the artists they sign and music they release. The best indies are on point, way out in front of the majors, showing us where music is going. It’s inherently risky, especially when you’re paying the bills yourself.
    Which is why the accomplishents of Beggars Group are all the more stunning. Founded by Martin Mills as the Beggars Banquet label in 1977 during the height of punk rock, Beggars Group has deftly navigated 40 years of changes in musical tastes and technology. They haven’t just survived, they’ve thrived. Evolving into a label owner and distributor, Beggars Group handles Matador Records, XL Recordings, Rough Trade Records, Young Turks and 4AD. A cursory glance at the roster of acts they distribute is staggering. Jack White. Alabama Shakes. FKA Twigs. Radiohead. Warpaint. Grimes. The National. Adele. And over the past 40 years, they’ve been instrumental in bringing some of the most important alternative music ever created into the world by artists like Gary Numan, The Pixies, The Prodigy, Dead Can Dance, and Cocteau Twins.
    At the helm of Beggar’s digital business is our guest on the show for this episode, Simon Wheeler. As the largest independent music group of labels in Europe, Beggars Group can change the landscape of digital music with their strategic decisions; and Simon has helped crafted and execute these strategies at Beggars since 1997. He’s been inside the guts of every significant digital music opportunity the industry has faced since the beginning. And in this episode, we get deep inside the streaming music landscape, what it means for independent labels, and where Simon feels we’re heading after 20 years in digital music.
    Beggars Group: http://www.beggars.com/
    Simon Wheeler on Twitter: https://twitter.com/afc99
    Music we talk about in this episode:
    The Lemon Twigs: https://www.facebook.com/TheLemonTwigs/
    The National: http://americanmary.com/
    Jim's A2iM Keynote Address: http://www.trickness.com/blog/the-digital-music-business-and-the-rashomon-effect
     
     
     
     
     
     

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
13 Ratings

13 Ratings

Billy J Fields ,

A Smart Look at a dynamic Industry

Great guests discussing their expertise, present company excepted. Consistent quality of discussion and Jim doesn't shy away from the tough topics. Very much appreciated. Keep it up.

Leoburger ,

Vinyl Rules!

This is such an awesome podcast. I liked the episode with Tim Bierman from Pear Jam Ten Club. Jim is so funny. Keep up the good work!

Louderthangod ,

Love it.

As a musician that writes, records and releases his own music we're all just trying to figure out how we all fit in and where we're going to get a few ears and even fewer dollars. This podcast has given me a lot of good ideas and I look forward to each new episode.

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