January 2018


YESTERDAY - 35 years ago


“Africa by TOTO is so popular on the web it’s practically a meme. It’s internet catnip, all 4 minutes and 55 glorious seconds of it, and the first clue as to why is right in the song itself. “Africa is less a piece of music and more of a feeling. It starts off gently, it takes a moment before you realized what was playing.“I hear the drums echoing tonight,” David Paich croons over the keyboard, perking the ears to the earnestness of his voice filling your head, and in that moment, possibly the whole world. "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you!" Soon you give up all pretense of having a conversation, and by the time the soaring chorus kicks in you’ll singing: “It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you!”

“Africa” turned 35 last year (album released in November 1982, the single reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart on February 1983), and somehow, this emotional oddball inspires almost undivided adoration across the web. There’s an “Africa” bot tweeting the song’s lyrics. There’s www.ilbess.therains.downin.africa, where the official “Africa” music video infinitely loops. (To date, the video has over 250 million views on YouTube alone.) 

The song has been used in numerous ads and TV series, recently in the sci-fi nostalgia show  “Stranger Things”, “South Park”, “Community” (featuring Betty White”, and the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” (featuring Justin Timberlake) have all parodied the song..


Spotify sued for $1.6 Billion Over Alleged Copyright Infringement


Spotify has been hit with a copyright lawsuit seeking $1.6 billion in damages by a publishing company which administers song compositions by Tom PettyDan AuerbachRivers CuomoStevie NicksNeil Young, and others. Wixen Music Publishing filed the lawsuit in California federal court on December 29, alleging the streaming giant is using Petty’s “Free Fallin'” and tens of thousands of other songs without license or compensation.

Back in September, Wixen objected to a $43 million settlement Spotify had arranged over another class action lawsuit brought by David Lowery (of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven) and Melissa Ferrick, stating it was “procedurally and substantively unfair to Settlement Class Members because it prevents meaningful participation by rights holders and offers them an unfair dollar amount in light of Spotify’s ongoing, willful copyright infringement of their works.” A judge has yet to rule on that settlement, and in the meantime, Wixen has moved to file its own lawsuit, which purports “as much as 21 percent of the 30 million songs on Spotify are unlicensed,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.



Universal Music Group Signs "Unprecedented" Global Licensing Deal with Facebook, Instagram, Oculus


Universal Music Group has signed a global licensing deal that will allow users of  Facebook, Instagram and Oculus to use UMG music in uploaded videos and other user generated content. UMG becomes the first major music group to sign a deal with the social networking giant.

According to the press release: ‘The partnership will facilitate deeper engagement between artists and fans, empowering users to express themselves through music, share the songs they love and build communities around music-fueled culture. Enabling a variety of features across Facebook’s platforms, the agreement is intended to serve as a foundation for a strategic partnership roadmap that will deliver new music-based experiences online.’



YouTube To Launch A New Spotify Rival, Codenamed 'ReMix'


2018 is going to start with a bang: YouTube looks set to launch a new music streaming service in March next year.  The platform, codenamed ‘Remix’, will reportedly bring together an on-demand Spotify-like paid audio service with video clips.

According to Bloomberg, Warner Music Group has already inked a licensing deal for the platform. Universal, Sony and independent rights group Merlin are believed to be in discussions with YouTube but are yet to sign an agreement.

The Google/Alphabet company is keen to launch ‘Remix’ in March, but is reliant on getting these licensing deals over the line.

Making things a little spicier is the fact that music channel Vevo’s contract with YouTube reportedly requires re-negotiation early next year. Vevo is majority owned by Universal and Sony.



Video of the Week


Artist Quote


“I think John would have liked Free As A Bird. In fact, I hope somebody does this to all my crap demos when I’m dead, making them into hit songs.”  
- George Harrison


RAYKO, creator and lead singer of the band Lolita Dark, with roots in S. California and in Japan.
Rayko was a guest speaker at my last 2017 class at Musicians Institute. A total DIY artist!

December 2017

55% of 2018 Grammy Nominations Went to Indie Artists


indie & proud.png

The 2018 Grammy nominations have again recognized the importance of independent music.

The independent music label sector accounts for about 37% of U.S. recorded music sales market, based on copyright ownership; but independent artists made up 55% of all 2018 Grammy nominations in the non-producer and non-spoken word categories.

In the Jazz,  92% of the artists nominated were on independent labels. In the American Roots and Composing/Arranging categories, 80% were indie.

"Independent music is doing better than ever with a record global market share of 37.32% according to Billboard. Last year more than two-thirds of Grammy nominations were independent releases. Independent music’s authenticity, vitality, and genre diversity ensure its keystone role in the recording industry and American culture. A2IM thanks the Recording Academy and its members for its inclusiveness.” says A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess.



Diddy, Beyonce, & Drake Top Forbes' Highest-Paid Musicians of 2017 List


That Diddy reign just won't let up. Forbes released its annual Highest-Paid Musicians of 2017 list, and Diddy has once again been crowned the highest-paid artist of the year, with Beyoncé, Drake, The Weeknd and Coldplay trailing behind. 

Four black artists lead the pack on this year's list compared to last year's roundup, where Taylor Swift ($170 million) took the top spot as One Direction ($110 million), Adele ($88 million), Madonna ($76.5 million) and Rihanna ($75 million) followed suit. 



IFPI Global Music Report 2017

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The global recorded music market grew by 5.9% in 2016, the highest rate since IFPI began tracking the market in 1997, according to the IFPI Global Music Report 2017, released today. Total revenues for 2016 were US$15.7 billion.

At the end of 2016 there were 112 million users of paid music streaming subscriptions driving year-on-year streaming revenue growth of 60.4%. Digital income last year accounted for half the global recorded music industry’s annual revenue for the first time. Growth in streaming more than offset a 20.5% decline in downloads and a 7.6% decline in physical revenue. Streaming is helping drive growth in developing music markets, with China (+20.3%), India (+26.2%) and Mexico (+23.6%) seeing strong revenue growth.


The Most Streamed Artists On Spotify Might Surprise You


Spotify just released its list of most streamed artists for 2017, and while many are household words, the extent of their popularity might surprise you. For instance, Ed Sheeran was the platform’s top streaming artist with over 6.3 billion streams this year, dethroning Drake who was number one in 2015 and 2016. Rihanna was the top streaming female artist for the third year in a row, while Ed Sheeran was the top streaming male artist.

Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ surpassed Drake’s ‘One Dance’ to become the most popular song ever on Spotify with over 1.4 billion streams. His album ÷ (Divide) racked up over 3.1 billion streams on the service, making it the top streaming album of the year.

If you were in a big band and decided to go solo, it was a good year, with Camila Cabello, Harry Styles and Liam Payne all having big releases and loads of streams, which landed them on the Breakout Artist list.





I don't know what's more embarrassing, these musicians and actors talking about politics in interviews or the media actually giving them credibility about it. It's absurd that a celebrity could speak out on the economy or politics with no more justification than a hit album or a movie. 




"We first met CHEAP TRICK in 1974. They’re still rockin’! Here’s lead guitarist Rick Nielsen with the platinum album “Lap of Luxury” featuring their Billboard top 100 #1 single “The Flame” in June 1988. An amazing band, great guys: Rick, Robin, Tom and Bunny." - Don


December 2017

"Someone has to listen and help make a final decision if an artist, a song or a recording is “right” to move forward with and be released. I’ve been very fortunate in that I have spent many years in that type decision making process. It’s a serious responsibility and not to be taken lightly. This is not  something you can go to college to learn. One has to have “ears”, instincts, a gut feeling, and today,  know that varying “data” is a critical piece of the puzzle. I do believe though that eventually “it all  begins with the music”.

The World's Highest-Paid Women In Music 2017


Shortly after Adele took home the Grammy award for Album of the Year in February, she broke it in half--with the intention of physically sharing it with Beyoncé, the internet concluded—in recognition of the latter's Lemonade. But Queen Bey won an even more valuable distinction outright: she's this year's highest-paid woman in music, pulling in a whopping $105 million pretax.

Lemonade was a hit with both critics and fans, giving Beyoncé her sixth solo No. 1. The ensuing Formation World Tour, much of it falling into our list's scoring period, grossed a quarter of a billion dollars. Then she took time off as she and husband Jay-Z welcomed twins Rumi and Sir this summer. Adele finished second, earning $69 million, boosted by seven-figure nightly grosses on her first proper tour since 2011.

"Adele’s music appeals to listeners of all ages all over the world with her undeniably powerful, emotional vocal interpretations paired with timeless songwriting and production," says multiplatinum singer-songwriter Skylar Grey. "No matter what genre someone generally subscribes to, it’s hard to find a music lover who doesn’t appreciate what she does."


Report: Hip-Hop/R&B Is The Dominant Genre In The U.S. For The First Time



While it is no longer surprising to state that streaming, in general, is altering the music business, certain kinds of music now have power like never before because of this new model. 

Nielsen Music recently released its annual mid-year report, which takes a look at how the music industry is doing halfway through the year and lists which songs and albums are performing the best. This time around, the report revealed some fairly unsurprising stats, including the fact that streaming is still exploding,  Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” is the most popular track and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the album that the American public simply can’t get enough of.  All of those could have been predicted, but there is one standout piece of information embedded in the document that is somewhat shocking.


Nielsen 360 Study Finds Consumers Love Streaming Music, But Radio Still Strong


Consumers are flocking to music, with streaming becoming the preferred channel of choice. The latest study from Nielsen Music shows 90 percent of the population listens to music and that, on average, they do so 32.1 hours a week. That's up from 86 percent in the prior annual study, when listening time averaged 26.6 hours a week.

The study, Nielsen Music 360 2017 U.S. Report, also finds that people on average spend $156 annually on music, with live performances snaring the greatest percentage of that. In the prior year, consumers spent on average $153.

Of that, live performances accounted for 54 percent; buying CDs, LPs, downloads and music gift cards totaled 29 percent; streaming 9 percent and satellite radio 8 percent.



Video of the Week


Artist Quote


“Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” 
― Bob Dylan




With Dan Kimpel, my co-writer of our book “It All Begins With The Music”. From the photo session for the book cover.


November 2017

"Trends are always there potentially to affect the thinking, but the true responsibility as a music industry A&R person  is to seek talent, yes, but also to help create and deliver music that sells.  He/she needs to be a leader in creative thinking, not to follow the sheep. One does have to comprehend the sphere of the market, but never live by it.  Sure, we do understand the need by some to create music to fit the slot for what is selling today, but these things  change - often very quickly. Unique talent and great songs will straddle time."

- Don

The Beatles Make £67,000-A-Day From a Company That Shut 50 Years Ago



The Beatles still rake in £67,000 a day from a company they formed before they split, nearly 50 years ago.

Apple Corps, set up in 1968 to manage their affairs, declared a turnover of £24.4 million for the year ending January 31.

It is owned by surviving Beatles Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as George Harrison and John Lennon’s widows Olivia and Yoko Ono. Accounts show each was paid £2.97 million in “aggregate fees for promotional services, name and likeness”.


READ MORE: Mirror.co.uk

Spotify On Course To Hit 500M Users And A $100BN Valuation



According to a new paper from investment bank GP Bullhound, Spotify could be valued at $20bn by the time it goes public later this year or early in 2018. What’s more, say the firm’s analysts, Spotify’s subscriber base is set to grow from the 60m announced in July to 100m by summer next year.

From there, says GP Bullhound, the streaming platform’s user base could hit half a billion (500m) people by 2020 – with 200m of them paying subscribers. And here’s music to Daniel Ek’s ears: Bullhound says Spotify now has a “long-term potential of being valued at $100bn”. Yes, $100bn. Just think. That’s only a seventh of what GOOGLE is worth…

READ MORE: Music Business WorldWide

Pandora Is Worth Less Than Ever



When Pandora Media launched on the NYSE in June 2011, it started trading at $16 a share – with a $2.6bn valuation.

Optimism was rife for music’s big digital play on the stock market. The expectation was that the firm’s valuation, and global presence, would soar. Today, over six years on, Pandora is worth less than a third of what it was that day, at under $5 per share.

And, according to Music Business Worldwide’s calculations, there’s even sorrier news for the firm’s new regime to contemplate: Pandora has now lost over a billion dollars in less than four years.

READ MORE:  Music Business Worldwide


Video of the Week:


 Bebe Rexha - "Meant to Be (Feat. Florida Georgia Line)
Click Here to View

Quotes of the Week:

“I’ve been imitated so well I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.” — Jimi Hendrix
“There’s nothing like the eureka moment of knocking off a song that didn’t exist before – I won’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.” — Paul McCartney