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Symphonic Hip Hop Launches With First Show Featuring Common

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rfocus.org

Symphonic Hip Hop began with a bang as the platform launched via concert "A Night Of Symphonic Hip Hop", featuring GRAMMY® Award-winning rapper, producer, and actor Common, as well as the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on the Bicentennial Stage-Columbus of Commons Park in Columbus, OH July 15. Performing tracks from his latest album, "Black America Again", Common led the evening in a performance that the Columbus Dispatch called "creative", "eloquent", and "passionate". This innovative and genre-melding live paradigm will continue to expand into a full-scale North American tour next year-an industry first, presenting a Live Nation Urban (LNU) and TCG Entertainment produced concert series entitled "A Night Of Symphonic Hip Hop."

With 'A Night Of Symphonic Hip Hop,' TCG and LNU set out to offer a diverse experience for consumers and artists while redefining the paradigm and perception of what a live hip hop music show must be. The goal is to build out the platform as a viable touring model for artists, multiple shows across multiple markets. "Let's write the new story together", Common concluded in his set. Catch "A Night Of Symphonic Hip Hop" again with Common and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall July 20 in Pittsburgh, PA.

The NMPA Fighting Streaming Companies over Royalties

The NMPA Fighting Streaming Companies over Royalties

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rfocus.orgThis week, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has begun a proceeding before the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) that will determine the mechanical royalty rates paid by digital streaming services for the next five years. They are encouraging songwriters to sign their petition in an effort to get Google, Amazon, Pandora, Apple, and Spotify to pay higher streaming royalties.  On the other hand, the streaming companies will be fighting to reduce the rates they have to pay publishers and songwriters.  This is a music war for the ages that goes virtually unnoticed.  The NMPA is trying to draw so serious attention to this with a powerful letter and pitch to songwriters. With support from ASCAP, BMI, and other organizations, the  NMPA is making a strong case.  Read their full letter below. 

Dear Songwriter, 

This week the most important trial most people have never heard of will begin in Washington, D.C.  This little-known and rarely reported on proceeding will determine the royalty rates that digital streaming services must pay to play your songs for the next five years.

As a creator whose songs fuel the entire music industry, you need to know about this critical fight that will determine how your work is valued. Because in a world where on-demand streaming is how we listen to music, the royalty rates decided at this trial will define the future success for you and your fellow songwriters.

On Wednesday, March 8th, two sides will appear before a panel of three judges known as the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). On one side, giant technology companies Google, Apple, Amazon, Spotify and Pandora will argue to reduce the already low mechanical royalty rates they pay to play your songs.  On the other side will be your music publisher, through the National Music Publishers’ Association, fighting alongside the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) for a much needed increase in the royalties you are paid.

The last ten years have seen incredible and innovative advancements in how your songs are delivered to music fans. Technology companies are a critical part of this new digital story. But, while these multi-billion-dollar tech companies are creating new ways to distribute music, they are also fighting in this trial to pay as little as possible to songwriters for the songs that drive their businesses.

How can they do this?  Unlike other creators—such as recording artists, painters, sculptors, authors, actors, photographers, video game programmers—who are able to negotiate freely their own rates, songwriters and music publishers are forced to fight for royalty rates through a long, extremely expensive CRB trial against giant digital companies with substantially more money and power.

In fact, the government has been setting your mechanical royalty rates for over 100 years—beginning in 1909—when Congress determined that these rights would be subject to a compulsory license.  This means that anyone can record a songwriter’s work for a fixed rate without permission or approval. Congress used to set this rate, but has since delegated the task to the CRB judges.

Today these three judges determine what songwriters are paid for what has become the music industry’s most significant growth sector: interactive streaming.

As any songwriter looking at his or her royalty statement knows, current interactive streaming rates—set over ten years ago when digital streaming was just beginning—pay very little to song creators. These low royalty rates have immensely benefited large digital companies who have built thriving music services used to deliver your songs and to draw consumers into their larger “ecosystems.” While royalties paid to songwriters have remained small, giant tech companies have used your songs to sell not just music subscriptions, but also other products and services such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, iPhones, Beats headphones and Amazon Prime subscriptions. 

More problematic, the current mechanical royalty rates have allowed Spotify to continue to offer a full access music service that is free to consumers. This means Spotify can make all of your songs available while charging consumers nothing and paying you (almost) nothing.

Even former Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews agrees this is unacceptable. He recently wrote, “Free-to-the-listener on-demand services are driving down music’s intrinsic value by creating a ‘gray-market’… An ever-growing number of listeners are happily lingering in music’s gray market, enjoying full access to all music without paying for the privilege and with little incentive or intention to convert to a full-paying subscription.”

A rate structure that allows global tech companies to build their empires on the backs of songwriters, without providing those songwriters with fair compensation, is unsustainable. And as interactive streaming continues to grow, and other sources of mechanical revenue—like physical products and digital downloads—continue to shrink, ensuring songwriters are fairly compensated has become critical. 

And so the question becomes, “what is fair?”  True fairness is a songwriter being paid each time his or her song is played or each time a user purchases a subscription. We have the technology to do this—and anything less degrades the value of what you have created. A fair rate must also take into account the benefits songwriters have provided—through the music they create—to the growth of a tech company’s larger business.  If Amazon is using your music to sell Echos or Amazon Prime subscriptions, it should be required to share with you the benefits received.

NMPA is working on your behalf to achieve better, fairer royalty rates for all songwriters and music publishers.  Our proposal asks the CRB to adopt a structure that recognizes the inherent value of a song, the value of a subscriber’s payment to access those songs, and all of the revenue that digital services generate from offering your music.

We believe that your songs are worth more, and beginning Wednesday, March 8, we will be making that argument before the CRB. This is our only chance for the next five years to bring the royalty rates you are paid in line with the value your songs bring to interactive streaming services.

Your music publisher and NMPA have your back. But we need your help and your voice to stand up to the giant digital companies who don’t.

Please click on the link below and sign the letter encouraging Google, Apple, Amazon, Spotify and Pandora to do the right thing. Stop litigating against songwriters and pay them a fair rate for their songs. It’s not too late to do what’s right for songwriters.  Make your voice heard.

Landmark EBONY and JET Publications Sold to Investment Company 1

Landmark EBONY and JET Publications Sold to Investment Company

ebonyI can only say I completely understand what EBONY and JET had to do. Running a company like that year after year with declining profits and a lack of interest in the brand from consumers is a herculean task. Consumers have drastically changed over the decades, in the last one especially relying on digital delivery of news and information. While many people are disappointed in the sale without question they only know 1/100th of it. It's also hard to believe that those photo archives are still up for sale after all this time, would that be the case if TIME put their archives up for sale? If EBONY and JET were so important to us, why weren't we supporting it more? African American's Get More information Online Johnson Publishing has sold Ebony and the now digital-only Jet magazine to Clear View Group, an Austin, Texas-based private equity firm, The amount of the sale is undisclosed. Both magazines derive from a family owned business throughout some of the most turbulent and memorable times in African American history since 1945. Both magazines have been magnanimous leaders in informing and shaping the culture of the black community over the decades... but times have changed. The company has seen a steady decline in revenue for print publications over the years. Chairman of Johnson Publishing and daughter of the late founder John Johnson, Linda Johnson Rice, will continue with the company serving as chairman emeritus on the board . She stated: "This is the next chapter in retaining the legacy that my father, John H. Johnson, built to ensure the celebration of African-Americans." Clear View Group plans to continue the print edition of Ebony and they plan to keep most of the current team. "We made this purchase because this is an iconic brand — it's the most-recognized brand in the African-American community," said Gibson, 59. "We just think this is a great opportunity for us." The new company also plans to expand the brand with more event based ventures. The archive for both publications went up for sale almost two years ago and is still up for sale for 40 million. Johnson Publishing will maintain the cosmetics end of the brand.  
Mar Brown new SVP Urban Radio at Atlantic

Mar Brown new SVP Urban Radio at Atlantic

mar-brown Congrats to Mar Brown on his new appointment as SVP Atlantic Records. Brown states… "In my position, you have to be able to connect the dots. Even though radio is still the #1 driver of music for consumers, these kids today want to see the artist’s photos, their associations, what they’re doing behind the scenes etc. It’s important to stay ahead of the social media curve and know what’s going on on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook."
NEILSEN: More than 90% of African Americans Listen to Radio Each Week...

NEILSEN: More than 90% of African Americans Listen to Radio Each Week…

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Car_dashboard_with_MEX-BT2500_head_unit_and_BCT-15_radio_scanner_installed_and_illuminated Radio is a constant in our daily lives and the average American radio listener tunes in to radio over two hours per day. Interestingly, audio reaches a plateau in the morning hours, peaking around noon and then staying fairly constant through the day before tapering off as people start their evening. In addition we know that people who listen to a lot of radio also spend time with online radio, most prevalently the millennials. Morning commutes, listening “on the go” during the day as well as the much-anticipated evening commute, create the daily view of time spent one might expect. In fact we see that between the morning hours and early evening hours, roughly two-thirds of audio listening comes from out-of-home tuning. The hyper local nature of audio offers advertisers community-level engagement between content and in-store activity - radio catches you right before you shop and make purchase decisions. As we continue to take a close look at the similarities and differences between radio listeners, digital consumers and television viewers we keep building to that total view of daily media consumption. Is the composition of the audio audience more like the online and mobile audience or more like the traditional television viewer? For years, we’ve shared insights into the expanding pie of media consumption. Radio listeners prove that there are always more ways to reach and inform motivated customers and more than one way to slice that data... see the entire report here> The-Cross-Platform-Report-A-Look-Across-Media-3Q2013 <

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