Social media guru Rachel Masters’ reflections on MIDEM 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2010 by stacyepps

Rachel_MastersIn this guest post, Red Magnet Media’s Rachel Masters shares what she learned at MIDEM in her role as a MidemNet expert. Rachel has helped artists such as 50 Cent and Linkin Park launch and grow their social networks and social media strategy. You can follow her on Twitter for more insights on social media for artists.

Now that we have had time to unpack, enter new contact information into our PDAs and follow up on key business conversations, the MIDEM team invited me to reflect upon on what I learned at MIDEM 2010.

I had the opportunity to be a speaker/expert at the MidemNet Academy and MIDEM Managers’ Forum and I did one-on-one consulting at MIDEM+. Although my role was to share information, I also learned a lot from everyone I spoke with, and some major insights emerged.

Let’s face it, we’re not in the music industry to get rich quick. Those of us who are still lucky enough to work in the music business are doing it because we love music and want to help artists create and connect with their fans.

We have entered a new phase of cooperation in the music business.  Our industry is in the midst of massive transition – sales of records, tickets, and merchandise have fallen drastically. Guess what? NOBODY HAS CRACKED THE CODE AND NOBODY KNOWS ALL OF THE ANSWERS. This is why major music industry gathering events such as MIDEM are still relevant. It allows a social media geek like myself to meet a music publisher from Dorchester, a jazz musician and record label owner from Washington DCand a design student from Montreal. We can compare notes on what is working and what isn’t.

One manager I met with told me he’s collecting not only the email addresses of every fan but also their home addresses, because nobody receives snail mail from their favorite bands anymore. That’s a great way to differentiate your band and make an impression. Inspiration can come from so many places. You have to be open and willing to share both your wins and your mistakes: so much can be learned from someone else’s perspective and experience.

I also realized there is a massive need for digital media education. Us digital media geeks are not doing a very good job at making it easy for artists and executives to learn about technology. I had never spoken at MIDEM before, yet all of my talks were packed. I realized that there is a major thirst for information around digital media and talking about it once a year is not enough. Technology companies like Twitter and Facebook should have dedicated resource areas for musicians that demystify how to easily use their services in order to connect with fans and build audiences.

If you want to educate yourself and keep up with what is happening in digital media, there are a handful of essential, must-read blogs. Use these resources to your advantage:

1.     Hypebot – Covers music, technology and the new music business. Publishes a super helpful “New Music Industry Week In Review” column (editor Bruce Houghton is a regular MIDEM(Net) Blog contributor).

2.     Digital Music News Daily – Provides fresh news on the digital music scene, and is a great source for digital media events

3.     Mashable – Offers social media news and tips. This is an amazingly rich resource.

4.     TechCrunch – Profiles and reviews new Internet products and companies.

5.    Scott Perry’s New Music TipSheet – Read this blog, written by a music executive who understands the transition we are all going through, every Monday morning to get motivated.

6.    Ariel Publicity’s Blog – Educates musicians and music entrepreneurs about how to use social media in order to expand your business and audience.

All of these blogs offer email newsletters. Sign up so you can read the latest on your mobile device.

From watching Amanda Palmer playing Radiohead’s “Creep” on a ukulele to learning about new companies like Hello Music!, my time at MIDEM this year was amazing. Thank you to everyone I met, for listening and for sharing. Please don’t stop just because MIDEM is over. Drop me a line and we’ll keep the conversation going. I look forward to hearing from you!

from: http://midemnetblog.typepad.com/midemnet_blog/2010/02/guest-post-social-media-guru-rachel-masters-reflections-on-midem-2010.html

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A Musician’s Guide to Taxes

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2010 by stacyepps

It’s tax season and we can appreciate as much help as we can get…

Provided from CD Baby Podcast:

“It’s tax time! Before you run away screaming, we’ve provided this resource to help guide you through process of properly reporting your music income to the IRS. Allen Jones, from Portland Community College, stops by to break it down and aide us musicians in what is usually an ominous task. YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE: This information is provided only as a guide to point you in the right direction. Each individual has a unique tax situation, so it’s important that you seek the advice of a licensed tax preparer. In others words, don’t blame us if you get audited! Now stop procrastinating, and go do your taxes!

The form Allen has in hand for the discussion is the 1040 form. Download a copy here.”

#047: Allen Jones – A Musician’s Guide to Taxes

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Music Business Royalties in the Digital Age by Don Passman

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2010 by stacyepps
Posted by Don Passman
Monday, 23 November 2009
A graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard Law School, Passman is listed in The Best Lawyers of America. He is the author of the nonfiction bestseller All You Need to Know Aboutthe Music Business , which has sold more than 150,000 hardcover copies in print. Passman has lectured extensively on the subject of the music industry, including teaching a course at the University of Southern California Law School’s Advanced Professional Program, and lecturing for the UCLA Entertainment Law Symposium, Harvard Law School, the American Bar Association, the Practicing Law Institute, the USC Entertainment Law Institute, and the Los Angeles Copyright Society.

Question:

Assuming an independent musician has no record label, is the sole songwriter and owns their copyright and has digital distribution for a flat annual fee – How would they earn royalties from the sources below? Who collects and pays the royalties for each?

– Non interactive radio (Pandora)

Answer: There’s some question whether Pandora is “interactive” but for now, a court has held it is not. Assuming that’s correct, there is a compulsory license under the copyright law for the masters, and the monies are collected by a nonprofit company called Soundexchange.

ASCAPBMI (performing rights societies) collect for the songwriting.

The artist (who is also the record company and publisher in this example) affiliates with each of these companies for payment.

– Streaming services (Spotify)

Answer: Interactive streaming requires a license for the master from the company; there is no compulsory license, so they can charge whatever they can get. There are “aggregators” (like Tunecore and Orchard) who put together small companies and re-license the digital rights to masters. That would make sense for an owner/user like this example, because it’s hard to get streaming services to make one-off deals.

Songwriting is collected by ASCAP / BMI.

–  Digital downloads (iTunes)

Answer: Master rights are also licensed directly, or through aggregators, as above.

Publishing rights are done directly, or through Harry Fox.

– Subscription download service (eMusic)

Answer: I assume you mean a streaming subscription with a number of downloads included? If so, they need all the licenses above.

– Video streaming (YouTube)

Answer: The record company makes a deal with the site. Songwriting isn’t totally settled. Mostly, the record company gets paid by the site directly, then pays the songwriter / publisher.

from:  http://www.knowthemusicbiz.com/index.php/BIZ-BLOG/BIZ-BLOG/Music-Business-Royalties-in-the-Digital-Age-by-Don-Passman.html

Matrix Lawsuit Misinformation

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2010 by stacyepps

So I have just heard from another source that the previous article was untrue, that Sophia Stewart had in fact not won the lawsuit. These websites claim that Sophia’s suit was dismissed via summary judgment.

Pursuant to the following articles:

http://www.newyorkparalegalblog.com/2008/09/sophia-stewart-filed-150-million-dollar.html

http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/matrix.asp

Apparently there is a lot of misinformation about this case and more thorough research should be done.

Here is a link to her blog

http://wwwthedivineoraclesophia.blogspot.com/2009/07/sophia-stewart-objection-and-response.html

and website

http://www.matrixthirdeye.tv/

Author wins The Matrix Copyright Infringement Case

Posted in Copyright on February 14, 2010 by stacyepps

This little known story has met a just conclusion, as Sophia Stewart, African American author of The Matrix will finally receive her just due from the copyright infringement of her original work!!!

A six-year dispute has ended involving Sophia Stewart, the Wachowski Brothers, Joel Silver and Warner Brothers. Stewart’s allegations, involving copyright infringement and racketeering, were received and acknowledged by the Central District of California, Judge Margaret Morrow presiding.

Stewart, a New Yorker who has resided in Salt Lake City for the past five years, will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels. She will soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood , as the gross receipts of both films and their sequels total over 2.5 billion dollars.

Stewart filed her case in 1999, after viewing the Matrix, which she felt had been based on her manuscript, ‘The Third Eye,’ copyrighted in 1981. In the mid-eighties Stewart had submitted her manuscript to an ad placed by the Wachowski Brothers, requesting new sci-fi works..

According to court documentation, an FBI investigation discovered that more than thirty minutes had been edited from the original film, in an attempt to avoid penalties for copyright infringement. The investigation also stated that ‘credible witnesses employed at Warner Brothers came forward, claiming that the executives and lawyers had full knowledge that the work in question did not belong to the Wachowski Brothers.’ These witnesses claimed to have seen Stewart’s original work and that it had been ‘often used during preparation of the motion pictures.’  The defendants tried, on several occasions, to have Stewart’s case dismissed, without success.

Stewart has confronted skepticism on all sides, much of which comes from Matrix fans, who are strangely loyal to the Wachowski Brothers.  One on-line forum, entitled Matrix Explained has an entire section devoted to Stewart. Some who have researched her history and writings are open to her story.

Others are suspicious and mocking. ‘It doesn’t bother me,’ said Stewart in a phone interview last week, ‘I always knew what was true.’

Some fans, are unaware of the case or they question its legitimacy, due to the fact that it has received little to no media coverage. Though the case was not made public until October of 2003, Stewart has her own explanation, as quoted at aghettotymz.com:

‘The reason you have not seen any of this in the media is because Warner Brothers parent company is AOL-Time Warner…. this GIANT owns 95 percent of the media… let me give you a clue as to what they own in the media business… New York Times papers/magazines, LA Times papers/magazines, People Magazine, CNN news, Extra, Celebrity Justice, Entertainment Tonight, HBO, New Line Cinema, DreamWorks, Newsweek, Village Roadshow and many, many more! They are not going to report on themselves. They have been suppressing my case for years.’

Fans who have taken Stewart’s allegations seriously, have found eerie mythological parallels, which seem significant in a case that revolves around the highly metaphorical and symbolic Matrix series. Sophia, the Greek goddess of wisdom has been referenced many times in speculation about Stewart. In one book about the Goddess Sophia, it reads, ‘The black goddess is the mistress of web creation spun in her divine matrix.’

Although there have been outside implications as to racial injustice (Stewart is African American), she does not feel that this is the case. ‘This is all about the Benjamins,’ said Stewart. ‘It’s not about money with me. It’s about justice.’

Stewart’s future plans involve a record label, entitled Popsilk Records, and a motion picture production company, All Eyez On Me, in reference to God.  ‘I wrote The Third Eye to wake people up, to remind them why God put them here. There’s more to life than money,’ said Stewart. ‘My whole to the world is about God and good and about choice, about spirituality over ‘technocracy’.’

If Stewart represents spirituality, then she truly has prevailed over the ‘technocracy’ represented in both the Terminator and the Matrix, and now, ironically, by their supposed creators.

Stewart is currently having discussions with CBS about a possible exclusive story and has several media engagements in the near future to nationally publicize her victory. June 13th 2004. Sophia Stewart’s press release read: ‘The Matrix & Terminator movie franchises have made world history and have ultimately changed the way people view movies and how Hollywood does business, yet the real truth about the creator and creation of these films continue to elude the masses because the hidden secret of the matter is that these films were created and written by a Black woman…a Black woman named Sophia Stewart. But Hollywood does not want you to know this fact simply because it would change history. Also it would encourage our Black children to realize a dream and that is…nothing is impossible for them to achieve!’

Independent Artists Need Legal Assistance Too!

Posted in Legal on February 12, 2010 by stacyepps

Jacks and Jills of all Trades

This topic is very important to me especially being an independent artist myself. Often I have found that many independent artists undervalue the necessity of having their business and legal issues in order. I understand, especially in my own experience, how much of the art and business that we handle on our own. We are responsible for so many of the aspects of creation, marketing, promotion, distribution among living our own lives, that getting contracts done or incorporating our companies may be the last thing on our minds. However, these items are very important to the building and maintenance of our careers.

For example, incorporating your business is an integral step in limiting your personal liability if someone files a lawsuit against you. This way your personal assets cannot be attached to the lawsuit. In addition, certain qualified business expenses that you are incurring in the creation of your art can be written off on your business’s taxes.

Resources are Available

Another concern is access to resources and the ability to afford legal assistance as an independent artist. However, there are attorneys such as myself that are willing to work with talented artists at affordable prices. Even further there are various organizations including the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (http://www.vlany.org/) existing in many major cities that will provide legal assistance to artists at little or no cost.

I also just recently found a cool website called Know the music biz (knowthemusicbiz.com) that contains many informative articles and forums in reference to the music industry.

Act Sooner to Save from Headaches Later

It is important to be proactive and handle certain business and legal items in advance, it will save you so much in the long run. I can tell you from my experience of neglecting certain matters that took so much time after the fact to fix. However, had I just taken the time to handle the issue in the beginning things would have been much smoother.

An example of this is waiting on filing your trademark. I have personally seen an artist that had been using his name for years, and finally decided to register the trademark. Unfortunately,his registration was denied because someone else had registered it just one month prior. Even further, the prior registrant had only been using the name for less than a year.  There are ways, albeit costly, to challenge this, but in the end it truly is a race to the trademark office to register your marks. Whoever gets their registration in first will most likely win.

Another quick example are songwriter split sheets. Whenever you collaborate with an artist or producer have a split sheet with you, so that the parties can agree to the percentages of ownership for the song and sign it right then and there. This saves you significant headaches letter in trying to determine who owns what.

Be Careful to Ensure you Have Competent Assistance

I have heard many stories of people who will just pull a contract off of the internet and use that for their deals. But it is important to ensure that this contract is an adequate legal document that truly protects your rights. There are a lot of half-rate contracts online so if you can, please have an attorney review it or draft you an agreement.

Any Questions Reach Out

I know this is very quick and brief overview, but I really wanted to express the importance of handling business from the start. If we want to create long-lasting and lucrative careers in the entertainment industry, it must be treated as a business as well. If you have any questions feel free to hit me up at theartoflaw.info@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

Some Colorful Pieces! by MWM (Matt W. Moore)

Posted in Art on February 12, 2010 by stacyepps

Here are some colorful pieces by the artist Matt W. Moore. I love color!