Power Reading for Busy Music Professionals

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MUSIC BIZ INSIGHT is published for musicians, songwriters, managers, label reps, booking agents, entertainment attorneys, studio owners, music publishers, and all others involved in the music business. Its purpose is to help boost your business, find new markets, make the right connections, develop professionally, work smarter and improve your bottom line.

"As a general rule, the most successful people in life are those who have the best information." Benjamin Disraeli

Published bi-monthly by Peter Spellman, Director MUSIC BUSINESS SOLUTIONS: Turning Music Business Data into Useful Knowledge. Career and Business-building books, articles, consulting and more.

P.O. Box 230266, Astor Station, Boston, MA 02123-0266, USA Phone: 978-887-8041 Email:


© 1997 - 2003, Peter Spellman, Music Business Solutions


Entertainment Industry News

(EDITOR"S NOTE: The following may well prove to be one of the most significant and far-reaching events of the year as far as the traditional recording industry is concerned).

The Artist To Sell Album Through Web Site, 800 Number

Call him what you want, but The Artist (aka Prince, TAFKAP) knows how to market himself for the future. The usually publicity-shy musician/producer announced at a NYC press conference yesterday that he plans to sell his albums -- especially the upcoming Crystal Ball -- through his web site, as well as through an 800 number.

While not counting out a distribution deal with another label, The Artist plans to continue marketing his music through his NPG Records, and has been working with several computer companies about putting his music directly into his fans' hands. The Artist was quoted as saying, "If a major comes to the table with the spirit worthy of doing business, we will produce through them." The Artist also recently announced that Paisley Park Enterprises would be giving away copies of his all-acoustic album, The Truth, to fans willing to provide information for the NPG Records database.

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In the last issue we tackled some tips for screening entertainment attorneys. In this isue we'll look at some guidelines for selecting the appropriate music publisher.

  • Some Important Background on the Music Publishing Business--

    Without songs the music industry would collapse. The entire industry revolves around the song and songwriters are the keystones of the industry. Just as booking agents find live performance opportunities for musicians, music publishers are the "agents and managers" for songs. Their primary job is finding outlets for the songs in their "catalog".

    Anyone who records or publicly performs a song must do two things: obtain a license from the music publisher who owns the copyright, and pay for using the song. Thus, publishers (and their writer/partners) earn royalties and fees every time:

    • songs are played on radio or television;
    • records, tapes, videocassettes, and sheet music are purchased;
    • music is used in movies or TV commercials;
    • marching bands perform at football games;
    • music is piped over shopping mall speaker-systems;
    • coins are dropped into juke boxes;
    • bands play in local nightclubs;
    • rock stars perform in concert;
    • lyrics are printed in magazines;

      etc., etc., etc...

    Until the 1960s the work of music publishers involved signing songwriters and then placing their songs with singers who would use them for commercial recordings or public performances. The publisher would then receive an income from sales of the recordings (mechanical royalties) and sheet music (print royalties), and revenue from performances of the song on radio, tv, and film (performance roylaties and synchronization income).

    The emergence of rock music changed the relationship of publishers to popular music production. In the Tin Pan Alley tradition there was a clear-cut distinction between writers and publishers on one side, and performers and record companies on the other. The success of such artists as The Beatles and Bob Dylan and the emergence of the rock aesthetic which placed great emphasis on individual expression resulted in performers increasingly writing their own songs.

    It had been standard practice for songwriters to enter into agreement with "publishing houses" based on a 50/50 split. However, as more and more performers began writing and recording their own material the publishers were able to "publish" a song without having to place it with a singer or invest much energy in getting it commercially recorded and performed. Music publishers reached a point where they could derive a substantial income from publishing pre-recorded material and had to do very little work, merely administering music through agencies collecting copyright revenue (like BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, and The Harry Fox Agency).

    As artists and their managers realized that publishers were doing less for their money, they either began forming their own publishing companies and thus retained the rights to the material and the bulk of income or artists began demanding that publishers reduce their cut. It became common practice for acts, particularly if they were in a strong bargaining position with recordings releasesd and being purchased, to request publishing agreements split 75/25 or even 85/15 in the artist's favor.

    Modern technology is having a huge impact on the ways in which music publishers do their business, enlarging potential sources of income and making the industry much more complex. Virtually all the technological innovations affecting the entertainment industries in recent years, including cable and satellite television, videocassettes, CDs and other digital formats have resulted in the expansion of the music publishing business through new outlets and greater useage of music.

    Though finding a publisher who believes in your material can be difficult, it could be your most important music industry contact.


  • Why You May Want to Sign With an Established Publisher:

    (a) Some publishers will try to nurture and develop your writing talent;

    (b) Publishers might introduce you to other writers (i.e., encourage and facilitate collaborations);

    (c) Publishers may offer assistance in securing a recording contract for you - the "backdoor" approach;

    (d) Publishers may encourage the exploitation of your songs via sheet music, performance rights, synchronization rights, mechanical income, etc.

    (e) Publishers collect your earnings and royalties and assist in the negotiation of fees for licensing rights in the songs.

    (f) Publishers often have loads of contacts at labels, management companies, etc. built up over many years.

Here are some music biz insights into the current state of music publishing and how you can make your way towards a satisfying artist/ publisher relationship.


1. The Team Approach: One of the most attractive prospects from a publisher's perspective is a ready-made team made up of a songwriter/performer and a producer. The old days of nurturing new songwriters are long gone and a nonrecording songwriter/artist may find a lot of closed doors. "Development deals" that could financially sustain a new writer are few and far between. Publishers today are hedging their bets by going only with proven writers and artists who already have finished masters of recorded material.

2. Check the Publisher's Contacts. The value of a music publisher lies almost exclusively in the quantity and quality of the publisher's contacts. Since songs are used in just about every area of life on earth, a publisher's contacts can extend well beyond the recording industry to include television, film, multimedia, communications, education, health, government and numerous other businesses not typically associated with songs. A publisher looks for music needs within these various areas and then "pitches" the appropriate songs in their catalog to them.

3. Check the Publisher's Reputation. If you want to check out a specific publisher, you can call one of the national songwriter organizations. If the publisher is in L.A. check with the National Academy of Songwriters in Hollywood (800/826-7287). For Nashville-based publishers call the Nashville Songwriters Association (615/256-3354). In New York try the Songwriters Guild of America (212/686-6820). You can also call BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC in those cities. There may be someone in those organizations who can give you feedback about individual publishers or companies. Perhaps some of the best feedback will come from songwriters who are affiliated with the prospective publisher. Ask for some writer references and give them a call.

4. Resources. The best source for music publishers with currently charting material is the monthly publication, "New On the Charts" (70 Laurel Place, New Rochelle, NY 10801; 914/632-3349). NOC not only gives you the publishers with charting tunes in Pop, Urban and Country, but it also provides full contact info, listings of new publishing deals, manager, label and producer contact info, and the confidential "Publisher's Newsletter" listing requested material from labels, managers, producers and artists. NOC is pricey ($225/yr.) but worth it if you're a writer in those styles.

Two other general resources for publisher contact info are the annual "Songwriter's Market" (Writer's Digest Books) and"The National Directory of Record Labels and Music Publishers" (Rising Star Music Publishers). Both directories give you which style(s) of music publishers deal with, and SM adds additional helpful info from each publisher regarding their recent signings, some of the songs in their catalogs, and tips for how best submit music to them.

For a good general book on how music publishing really works, get a hold of "Music Publishing: The Real Road to Music Business Riches", 2nd ed. by Tim Whitsett (Mix Bookshelf, 800/235-9604). Awesome!

In the next issue of MUSIC BIZ INSIGHT we'll explore the pros and cons of establishing your own publishing company.

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Genre Spotlight: NEW AGE Music

Genre Spotlight covers "niche" music styles that are either ignored by or don't always receive the marketing push they deserve from the larger record companies.



As a fairly pliant style category, "New Age" has come to describe a vast array of sub-genres. Stephen Hill's short essay, "New Age Music Made Simple" is still the best thing around for providing context and scope on the New Age music style. The following comments by composer Judy Worth will also illuminate:

"I don't see a special philosophy attached to new age music. Only a sonic mirror to human emotions ..." I've always believed that music - no matter what genre it falls into is in it's simplest form, audible emotion.

As far as it having something to do with the New Age Movement... While there are some artists who are open about living by the philosophies presented by that movement, the vast majority of the artists whose music gets lumped into this genre positively can't stand that association. There is a certain stigma that goes along with being labeled as a New Age artist and it's a stigma that many artists have had to fight. I am a composer and if my music were in a store, it would be in the New Age bins. No doubt.

At one point, I had a confrontation with my ex-mother-in-law. She went to buy me a couple of the CDs I had asked for Christmas one year and then came back and told me she would not buy them simply based on the fact that they were in the New Age bin. I was stunned! I finally turned her thinking around when I reminded her of the comments she had made on the beauty of some of the music she had heard in my house. I then reminded her that I too am a strong Christian and I asked her what she would do if my music ever landed in the New Age bin. Would that suddenly make me a believer in New Age philosophies? No.

The association of New Age MUSIC to New Age Spirituality has caused problems for those companies marketing this music. The problems arise from people like my ex-mother-in-law. Additional problems arise from the number of people who believe that New Age music is really just another form of elevator music. I've managed to educate a few people who believed this but there are SO MANY who believe this! Lately the preferred term for this type of music has become Contemporary Instrumental which is just as broad of a description but it doesn't carry that unwanted stigma along with it. I would like to see that change take place on the record bin labels but who knows when or if that will happen."

Posted by: Judy Worth (

Visit Judy's, The Marked Worth of Music site.



At one time or another, New Age music has been associatied with or called Electronic, Ambient, Space, Contemporary Instrumental, Trance, Neo-classical, Muzak , Chant, and World.



Perhaps the most comprehensive one-stop for new age music marketing intelligence is "New Editions International Ltd.", P.O. Box 2578, Sedona, AZ 86339, USA; Phone: (520) 282-9574; Fax: (520) 282-9730; Email:

New Editions International, Ltd. is a publisher, and national/international marketing specialist serving Metaphysical/New Age and Holistic markets: book, audio and video publishers, artists, independents and organizations with services and products."

They publish a 472 page business and trade directory called "New Marketing Opportunities" ($89.95 + $5.00 s/h) that contains among other things retailers, publications, reviewers, and radio syndicates for the New Age market. Besides other focused publications, their sevices cover a range of customized mailing lists and labels, cooperative mailings, consulting, practical marketing packages, and international representation. Their website describes in detail what the Directory contains but doesn't provide the listings themselves.

Another important New Age music resource is "New Age Retailer", 1300 N. State St., #105, Bellingham, WA 98225-4730; Phone: (360) 676-0789; Fax: (360) 676-0932; on the Web:; Email:

This 7-times a year publication targets owners and operators of New Age and other metaphysical-related retail establishments. Provides info on new products, marketing techniques and lists distributors.


  • TOP INDEPENDENT NEW AGE LABELS (based on Billboard charts)
    • NARADA (unofficial web site) 4650 N. Port Washington Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53212-1059; (414) 961-8350.
    • HIGHER OCTAVE , 23715 W. Malibu Rd., #358, Malibu, CA 90265; (310) 589-1515.
    • MIRAMAR , 200 2nd ave. W., Seattle, WA 98119; (206) 284-4700.
    • PRIVATE MUSIC , 9014 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90069; (310) 859-9200.
    • WINDHAM HILL , 75 Willow Rd., Menlo park, CA 94025-3656; (415) 329-0647.


  • Only New Age Music - Run by New Age music consultant Suzanne Doucet, the site contains Online Music-stores, Music-Sites, Record Labels, Artists, Radio Distributors and more. A good jump-site.
  • New Age Voice - New Age Voice magazine is the complete source for radio airplay and retail sales for the New Age music Industry. Nice people too.
  • Music for a New Age - Another jump site that collects links to sites on the Net that embrace music for a New Age; labels, artists and other miscellanea.
  • New Age Mall - NewAgeMall is a fairly comprehensive information, business and trade center for Holistic, Metaphysics and New Age activities and commerce in North America. Seemed to have a lot of dead links, however, when I visited.
  • New Age Music Humor: The Secret Formula for Composing New Age Music (never forget to laugh at yourself!).


Next issue's Genre Spotlight: Experimental Music

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Did you know that MUSIC BUSINESS SOLUTIONS offers one-on-one consulting to help you plan your next release, scope out new markets and develop promotions that get noticed? Rates are reasonable. Call (617) 639-1971 or email to boost YOUR next project!

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BIZ BITZ (quick business insights)

American Business Information has placed "List Wizard" on its LookupUSA Web site. Internet users can now access information about the 10 million U.S. businesses in the company's database. Users can build sales leads and mailing lists, conduct Yellow Page searches, retrieve business profiles and credit reports, and perform market research. Custom lists can be built by selecting business categories, geographic regions, or company sizes.



How would you like to be able to sit down with a seasoned business professional, get experienced feedback on your business plan, bounce some of your own ideas off her, and NOT receive a bill for her services?

Sound too good to be true? Well, listen up.

The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is the volunteer arm of the Small Business Administration. While it is considered a governmental agency now, it was started by a group of retired business people who felt that they owed some service to the small business community. They operated as an informal group on the East Coast until 1975 when SCORE was incorporated into a nonprofit association of volunteers sponsored by the SBA.

SCORE is still a volunteer group of nearly 13,000 retired business persons organized into nearly 400 chapters throughout the U.S. and it's territories. The chapters are supplied operating supplies and the members are reimbursed for SCORE-related travel. There are no charges for the counseling service provided to the clients.

The function of the counselor is to help clients start up a new business and to advise small business persons who are facing problems in keeping their businesses profitable. The counselors represent nearly every business that can be imagined and most have from 30 to 40 years of experience on their records.

While the best counseling is done with the client and counselor face-to-face in a chapter office, SCORE is at present building a capability to do some counseling online by using the SBA Online Internet home page connection. At present there are about 127 SCORE members online using nearly all of the major networks feeding into Internet. The National SCORE Office (NSO) in Washington, D.C. maintains this listing and serves as the administrative hub for the organization.

SCORE offices are listed under U.S. Government sections of local telephone books. I'm sure you'll agree that this is the best return on your taxes you'll ever get!

Check out the new SCORE website



An ongoing challenge for all small businesses is getting noticed. Most companies have a marketing mix that includes a little advertising, some direct-mailings and, perhaps, a flegling web site. No matter what marketing techniques you use, the number one concern for the small business is getting the biggest promotional bang for the buck that is possible. One little known technique you may want to consider adding to your own marketing mix is an electronic newswire service.

What are electronic newswires?

A large portion of all editorial coverage comes not from local reporters at a given publication or station, but from outside sources such as wire services, syndicates, chains and networks. Large newspaper groups often have their own wire services. Central news bureaus and papers within groups routinely swap stories. Numerous media services serve hundreds of independent papers. In a parallel manner, radio and television stations are often owned by a single corporate entity and yet they too can plug into a variety of networks, syndications and services.

One of the best ways to currently tap into these huge news networks are electronic newswires.

In addition to mail or hand delivery, several services will now take news releases and other documents and send them electronically to media offices where connections are located. You just email or send your news release to the network and within munutes it's off to editors and critics across the country who have specifically asked for this electronic circuit to be installed in their office.

Electronic services are attractive because they eliminate paper, postage, envelopes, labels and mail delays. In a matter of minutes your fresh, time-sensitive, hot-off-the-wire materials can be in newsrooms around the country.

Newswires are electronically connected to newspapers, news bureaus, magazines, local TV and radio stations, network newsrooms and business publications. In addition, some services also provide "topical" or "targeted" newswires, such as ones specifically for Entertainment. Information may also be sent nationwide or to particular regions and areas.

Firms offering targeted electronic services include:

Business Wire, "Entertainment Wire" (1185 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10036; 800/221-2462), and

PR Newswire, "EntertaiNet" (150 E. 58th Street, New York, NY 10155; 800/832-5522).

Call for their media kits.

NOTE: Typical cost for distribution of a 400 word press release nationwide is about $400 and about half that for a regional distribution

Other Cool Online Publicity Resources :

Internet Publicity Resources-- Focused on online publicity. Focused on the broader publicity picture.

The Care and Feeding of the Press-- An extremely useful article on how pr people should deal with writers, editors and publications they are seeking coverage from. Focused on high-tech pr but applicable to all. By Esther Schindler.

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)))Illuminating Trivia(((

Did you know?.....

More songs were bought and sold between 1986 and 1996 than in all of the previous years of the business combined?

Source: IFPI (International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Producers)

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Reads & Resources...

Teaming Up: The Small Business Guide to Collaborating with Others to Boost Your Earnings and Expand Your Horizons by Paul & Sarah Edwards (1997, Tarcher/Putnam, $13.95 pb).

Well, they've done it again. Small business gurus Paul & Sarah Edwards offer their latest as a handbook for creating mutually profitable alliances for your business. In clear and effective language they guide the entrepreneur through the whole process of deciding whether or not to team up, scoping out possible collaborators, the varieties of teaming up (from networking to joint ventures), the psychological challenges of collaborating, how to avoid legal pitfalls, and how to deal with "business breakups". Illustrated throughout with real-world alliances and quick-read charts, this book will help you become more collaborative and, in the end, enrich your bottom line.


Careers in Multimedia by Vivid Studios (ZD Press, 1996, $24.95).

Get a handle on the multimedia biz with this comprehensive guide to the world of interactive media development. Drawing from disciplines such as film, design, software, music, law, writing, theater, and more, multimedia productivity requires a unique cooperative effort. Interactive media pioneer Vivid Studios shares its years of experience to show you how you can bring your individual talents to a successful multimedia development team. Job roles/titles, qualifications, employment issues, contract negotiations, the forms and functions of interactive projects are all covered in six easy-to-follow chapters. The book is capped by an impressive resource list that will help you find job info and get the most out of organizations, schools, books, magazines, and online research areas.


If you're interested in music career-building handbooks, check out these three from Music Business Solutions:


All of these books are based on our popular seminars by the same names and all are packed with hard-to-find info to help you grow your music business and career. If you like what you see in MUSIC BIZ INSIGHT, you'll love what's in these books.

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That's all for now folks. MBI #8 will appear in early October.

SUBSCRIBING TO MUSIC BIZ INSIGHT: The email version of MUSIC BIZ INSIGHT appears two weeks before the hypertext version. To subscribe just send email with the message in the body, "subscribe" to

It's not an autoresponder so feel free to include any other comments, ideas, suggestions, etc. you may have.

Have a great Fall! It's time to flourish!

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About the Publisher

PETER SPELLMAN is Director of MUSIC BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, a business and marketing consultancy to the music industry, and Director of Career Development at Berklee College of Music, Boston. He is the author of several books for music entrepreneurs and teaches music industry courses at Northeastern University (Boston) and the University of Massachusetts (Lowell).

A musician since he was ten, Peter continues to spin riddims in the improvisational collective, Friend Planet and sing Cat Stevens' songs to his kids every night before bed.


Quote of the Month--

"I never lost a game. I just ran out of time." -- Bobby Layne, former pro-football player, Detroit Lions


© 1997 - 2003, Peter Spellman, Music Business Solutions


P.O. Box 230266, Boston MA 02123-0266


Rise up!

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