He Was Just an Old Man who wanted me to be the first female big-league pitcher. I threw that ball until he sighed and said, “I’ll teach you to be a barber.” So, he took me around to all his friends and they proudly let me cut their hair, until I cut too close and one too many times nicked an ear. He was thirteen years old when his father said, “Ain’t got enough for you, your mother, and your sister. So, it’s time to move on, grow a pair, become your own kind of mister.” The boy hit the road and next thing we know he was seventeen. He lied about his age, took the oath, became a Marine. Four years went by, he quietly did his time, each day three hots and cot. But he had more to do, so he moved on, his own man he was yet not. He got a job with Continue reading He Was Just an Old Man
What do car dealership groups and the music business in the South have in common? Know-it-all carpetbaggers, that’s what. There was a time when “Go west, young man” was the call to opportunity and everybody flocked to Cali. These days the call is heard around the world, “Go to Atlanta!” For quite some many years I was embedded with a small but fast-growing regional car dealership group here in Atlanta. As a vendor, I worked closely with the CEO, management teams, and the front-line employees at corporate and the dealerships. (What I’m going to tell you about this group was and is not unique to them so I will not mention their name.) The dealer group’s department managers and employees were a rather stable bunch. I could count on them being there from one visit to the next. Their emails never bounced. They returned calls. They worked together as a Continue reading A Lesson in Southern Business for Know-it-all Carpetbaggers
Standing at the top of the slide on the playground, I was contemplating how I could go down it. Should I sit on a piece of wax paper or will a sheet of foil allow me to go faster on the metal? This slide was very tall and steep, and if you levered your body just right, you could fly off the end of the slide and land in the dirt far away from the end. What if we could boost the output and get further in the dirt? Kids behind me were hollering for me to hurry up. I pulled out the wax paper, sat on it, and proceeded to go. With the heat, the wax melted, the paper stuck, and I had to clean it off. Everybody was soooo mad at me. But, foil was next and it was a smooth and fast ride. Next thing you know, everybody was bringing Continue reading Getting Up the Down Slide
WANTED: Someone who has no clue what our company does, but can figure out problems, is willing to challenge the “we’ve always done it this way” thinking, and is able to more quickly identify and discard what doesn’t work so we can get to what does. If a job application read like that, would you apply? I would, but I bet most would not. Why? Because the clearly defined objectives above wouldn’t come with a handbook of do’s and don’ts. Even though no job exists in a vacuum, job applications treat them as if they do. They are more fond of saying they only want to hire someone with a proven record of doing whatever clearly but narrowly delineated job title it is they are hiring for. Those with the proven record often are viewed as experts able to quickly deploy their skill set with the same previous results; you know, hit Continue reading Old Laurels? Bad Advice?
The nascent days of the Internet were a heady time, full of ambitious types deploying Wild West antics such as claim jumping. Google was one of those claim jumpers. As a content creator (book author), I remember the day I heard Google was scanning entire books to make that content freely available to everyone. After all, knowledge is power, they said, and if we share it then won’t the world just be a better place? Whether they knew it or not, at that time Google was the foremost leader in gutting copyright protections, waging battle after battle to stake their claim to sharing content. They said, “It’s an old book. Why should the author care anyway?” However, they learned fast that what they were doing was wrong because content creators such as myself screamed and hollered about them taking away our ability to make money with our intellectual property. Google found out that the words on a page they Continue reading Dear YouTube, thank you for manning up on behalf of content creators
SESAC, ASCAP, and BMI are not music publishers. Neither are any other performing rights organizations (PROs) anywhere else in the world. Historically, PROs are supposed to collect royalties from broadcasters (TV and radio) who use music to attract watchers and listeners. They collect money from stage plays that use music, along with a few other sub-categories like jingles. They pay these royalties to either the songwriter, the publisher, or to both, but not to the artists because publishers pay the artists. In other words, the PROs are service providers for publishers. Again, let me repeat: PROs ARE NOT PUBLISHERS. I hope you heard that screaming sentence above. Why am I screaming this? Let me tell you. It’s because I’ve had too many artists who are writing and performing their original songs ask me, “I know I have to get my songs registered with a publisher. Should I go with SESAC, ASCAP, or BMI as my publisher?” Continue reading Neither SESAC, ASCAP, or BMI are music publishers
These days labels want from artist(s)/bands the following things. One: Provable fan interaction based on live-show ticket, merch, and CD/Download sales documented through a third-party payment processor and industry reporting source. Two: Songs with a clear license (which means has not been placement with digital aggregators such as CD Baby, TuneCore, etc.) Three: A solid business structure (signed band agreements and more). Four: Consistent marketing. Therefore, these beg the questions — First, why do you need a label if you are already doing it all anyway? In other words, what do they bring to the table other than their hunger for your profits? Second, if your success is getting big and you need an investor (such as a label), when is it best to bring them on? Furthermore, how can they be held accountable for their end of the deal? I wrote this book for indie artists who are searching for Continue reading This begs the questions
With apologies to Kinky Friedman for changing his brilliant lyrics, but hey… Here’s the original song. On YouTube, of course. Here’s my changes to Kinky’s lyrics (imagine these are sung by the major labels): You uppity artists, we don’t understand Why you gotta go and try to act like you am the same as us labels, yer stirring up a stink so, occupy the basement, and don’t try to think. “Git those songs in the pipeline and splits in the shed,” That’s what we to you songwriters said, “Technology and such is a-going to yer head… “Git those songs in the pipeline and splits in the shed.” You got your teams out on the street Passing out flyers to everyone they meet. “Come hear these songs, you know he’s gonna vent!” And now the front of your house is a big old tent. It’s no use ‘cuz every single Continue reading Biscuits in the oven, buns in the bed
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” Mr. Spock, the Sage of the Ages In the first quarter of 2015 when I wrote this White Paper, I wore kid gloves when I introduced the topic of digital aggregators’ role in the music business. I had my reasons at the time for wearing those gloves. The gloves are now off and Angela is bearding the lion. Digital Aggregators have destroyed the very business upon which they depend to make a living. Yes, digital aggregators are the financial terrorists with a narrow agenda (I want! I want! I want!) who from on high take aim at their eager and unsuspecting customers below killing any hope these have of making a living with their music. These financial terrorists then all jump from the roof in an insane suicide pact. Digital aggregators have destroyed the music business by: One: Promising that which Continue reading Mr. Spock’s opinion about digital aggregators
Fiat, not the car: Definition Here Yes, the powers-that-be in the worldwide music business have been ruling like an imperial king on a throne who is confident in his minions’ abilities to protect him against all comers. “Do this!” he bellows his orders. “Don’t do that!” he wags his fingers with his dictums. “Can’t you read the sign?” he screams as he points to his commands hanging on the wall. “Holy Moley and Mother of Satan — ye shall be accursed if ye little peasant servant dare to question, step out of line, or begin to think for yourself,” his high priests intone in unison. And why does such roll down from his throne? Because he is protecting his business. But the peasants are ignoring the king. So the king sends out his agents to fool the masses with this instruction: “Promise them anything, just don’t let them think for themselves!” But Continue reading Music Biz Ruled by Fiat. DIY/Indies Rebelling!
Looks like popular media has finally caught up with what I’ve been knowing and talking about for several years. (Click HERE for the NY Times story about book publishing — ebook and print books.) You’ll see the music business tie-in at the end. Folks, print has never been dead.Yes, I was laughed at and called naive and, in more than one case, “stupid” as well as told “you better get on the bandwagon — or else!” But why the popular notion that print was dead? Simple: Flackery. You see, ebooks had a bunch of companies behind them with big marketing dollars whose sole purpose was to sell physical devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.) as delivery systems. When they saw that sales of ebooks weren’t going anywhere (as in, not double- and triple-digit growth to satisfy stockholders), why they added bells and whistles and began selling reading services that could only Continue reading Books and music: Don’t believe the hype over delivery systems.
“Too many cooks spoil the dish.” Creatives instinctively know the truthfulness of this. Wisely, though lonely, they squirrel themselves away in order to focus on the vision. Sometimes the loneliness can be overwhelming and we cry out, “Where, oh where, is anybody who cares?” Personally? I love working within a team environment. It’s nice to have people with whom to celebrate the successful conclusion to a project. As a DIY/Indie creative, though, I find most of my work begins, continues, and ends alone. For my books and music — sure, of course — editors, musicians, singers, production, and so forth, come into play. But these are usually work for hire whose only interest in the project is to do a thing for this amount of money. In other words, they are not part of the project as a stakeholder. And nothing wrong with that. I do the same thing when I Continue reading Working Alone: A DIY/Indie Creative’s Lot in Life
Followers. Likes. Everybody is chasing them in the assumption that on these sales are based and strong businesses are grown. That is not the case. Gaining followers and racking up likes are simply one method to get eyes on you. To depend on Facebook and Twitter or Instagram or whatever social media platform du jour, is to put your success in the hands of another. Facebook is famous for constantly changing their algorithms that determine who they allow to see your posts and when. They also punish their users by letting their automated application of those algorithms determine real threats. A current case going to that point: I know a 70-year-old woman who posted pictures of her exciting trip. She described each picture in that album as Hell’s Canyon because that’s where she was. Facebook’s response was to shut her down, warning that she was issuing terrorist-type threats. Pictures of trees and rocks surely fit that description, right? Continue reading Chasing Algorithms
Hello. Welcome to the Business of Being a Creative, or BBC for short. Today I will be your tour guide. Essentially, BBC is a canyon. A giant, deep ditch with a raging, muddy river running through it. On one side of the ditch is you, where you stand now. If you will take a look that way — see how helpfully I point? — what you want is on the other side. Now, there are two ways of getting there. Flying is one. See the bird? But you don’t have feathers and the helicopters only look like they are safe, so…flying is out. But, ladies and gentlemen, the BBC isn’t all about the destination, is it? Isn’t the BBC about the journey? See those people riding mules? Mules are slow, but steady. You bones will ache, your muscles will scream. You won’t look glamorous. But taking that mule ride will make your destination all Continue reading Hi, I’ll be your tour guide today.
“Many will roam here and there and knowledge will increase.” At first read, the implication is that many are seeking knowledge and they will find it thus increasing the benefit to humans. This is not so. Just because people roam here and there, and just because there is more knowledge available than ever before, does not in any form or fashion mean the knowledge will be understood, accepted, or more importantly — challenged. Further it does not mean the knowledge that is increasing is accurate. In fact, with the vast amounts of information coming our way every second, who’s got time to challenge and verify? Therefore, what is happening is people simply assume that the person who says they know, knows. And on that premise comes the death of dreams of millions. Sometimes you got to slow down to speed up.
With apologies to the writers of “Sweet Home Alabama”: Edward C. King, Ronnie van Zant, W. Axl Rose, Gary Robert Rossington. (Start humming the ditty, y’all.) In the music biz they love the artist (Whoo-hoo-hoo). Yeah, they used to make a dollar or two. (Doot-doot-dootilee-doo.) But now aggregators bother me. Do their contracts bother you? Tell the truth! Digital distribution aggregators have killed the music business. To see how, read this. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to get back to your roots. See the picture below for a short history of the music business that will explain where it came from, where it went, and where it is going. Get on the train before you miss the bus.
Waiting is tough work. It takes patience. There’s a lot of people who have no problem waiting. I am not one of them. I have always been production minded. You know. Make goals. Set actions. Do stuff. Celebrate progress. Move on. But when you find yourself in the middle of changing an entire industry, and you are ahead of the curve with the solution, you find yourself having to wait even longer than you thought. You find you must teach and convince entire populations of the efficacy of what you’ve got in order to be successful, that is, to make money. Cheerleaders saying your solution is great and actual users are two different things. Cheerleaders are great but only if they can influence others to use it. It is the waiting on the users that is hardest for those rolling out a brand new thing. I don’t do waiting well. Continue reading Waiting is Tough Work
Everybody will tell you that to be successful, you find a need and fill it. So, yeah. I did that. Of all things, in the music business. How I found that need was because it was my own. Pure frustration at the lack of organization or a common basis for documentation and communication within a mature industry was anathema to me. I came up with a simple, technology based method to improve both those and, possibly, save an industry. Big thoughts these were, but I had them nonetheless. What everybody doesn’t tell you is that just because a need is defined and the method to fill it is offered, does not in any way mean others will use it immediately. So, the long view comes into play. The long view takes patience and faith. The long view is not easy. I can think of others with a long view. Churchill Continue reading Talk about a fearsome journey
A young man and woman discuss their expectations about promises made to them. Will our young man see the light? Will our young woman convince him of his worth? Stay tuned for the next exciting installments of “What Is He Drinking?”
What true sacred cows exist in the music business are few and far between, yet there are many who are calling themselves that and fooling a lot of people. One asks about the newest sacred cow on the block — Aggregators. Are they, in point of fact, the new pyramid schemes wherein a vast majority of the power and money flows to the top with some coins trickling down to keep the underlings from screaming too loudly? Are they playing fast and loose with others’ properties, money, careers, and, carried to its logical conclusion, their lives? As with all pyramid schemes, there are levels of earning potential. Those potential levels are held out to newbies as accessible if one does things the approved way. In truth, these levels are not accessible. As the old saying in the music business goes, “It isn’t who Continue reading The New Pyramid Scheme
In writing a book, there comes a time when someone will not like what you’ve done. They will disagree with the message or story. And that’s fine. That means you were clearly communicating. But what if someone says to you the following: “Hmmmm…I have no idea what you are saying, but…?” Even that isn’t bad if you are entertaining while doing it. But one cannot get by with only entertaining. At some point too much guessing tires reader’s soul and mind, and connections are lost. If someone says the storyline is missing huge chunks, is convoluted to the point of making the reader guess your intent, makes the reader work too hard so that it is no longer entertaining but work, or is full of typos, dropped words, or sound-alike words with different meanings, now you’ve got a big problem. What do you do when that happens? Many take offense Continue reading Ego-propping? Lord help a reader.
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a handsome and talented young man had the voice of an angel in pain. All his friends said he was amazing. “You are a star! People should pay you for that.” Rightly so, he believed them. And the young man wrote a song. Plucking his guitar, wailing and warbling, he recorded it in his friend’s basement studio. It was mixed to perfection. In short order, the young man saw his name and song on a famous online store portal. The producer chanted, “I’m gonna be rich. I’m gonna be a star.” But the young and handsome and talented young man missed the absence of “we” and as he and his producer buddy gave each other high-fives and danced a jig around the mixing board. But as in all fairy tales, dark days came Continue reading A Modern Musical Fairy Tale
There’s this guy whose writing I very much enjoy. Naturally, I subscribed to his blog through the RSS feed. But dang it if every single day I wasn’t getting a blog post from him. Truly, I wanted to read him; he is thought-provoking. But as busy as I was, I found myself not reading, so I began to move all his blogs over to a special folder with his name on it and told myself, “Goody, I’ll have them all in one place and can spend an enjoyable hour or two immersing myself.” Day after day his special folder got longer and longer, and one day it was time to read him. Here is what I found. One: I could not stand to read his “important” blog posts in such concentrated a fashion. Two: His posts needed to be read several days apart. Three: I was being driven to distraction as he hounded me Continue reading Why I Don’t Blog Every Day
Having read the previous blog, let’s get into it. Your hanky is handy, right? There are a few select investors and international companies whose money is tied up in selling magic snake oil to content creators. What is that snake oil? Let’s see if we can ascertain that from these sample headlines, shall we? “CDs ARE DEAD! ALBUMS ARE PASSE!” “STREAMING IS GOD! SINGLES ARE KING!” When I read an article with those conclusions, I ask myself if that writer has been hired to enthusiastically encourage those beliefs or if he is a dupe. Moving on. Suffice it to say, I am not the only one calling BS on those headlines. The problem though, is something I run into time after time after time of consultation sessions with artists, DIY/Indies, and singer/songwriters, and when talking with other content creators/owners/marketers in the music business: Content creators and performers sign up and upload everything without reading the contracts. “But, Angela,” they whine, Continue reading Which are you? Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?
Almost four years ago I began researching how to make money in the music business. My friend said, “Oh, it’s easy to make a million in the music business. First, you start with a two million…” Can I get a bada-bing-bada-boom drum roll, please? The problem is: he wasn’t far from wrong. Which of course was a conclusion and methodology I could not accept since I did not have one million, much less two. Anyway, as I was looking at income streams in the music business, everybody — and by everybody I mean everybody — kept telling me that the future was now: Spinning, physical media, and albums are out. Streaming, singles, and downloads are in. There’s one thing about me you should know: I do not make a business decision based upon what everybody says. So I began digging into the music business and asking: Who. What. When. Where. And though listed Continue reading Which is being sold: Songs or Delivery System?
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Whether it is a song, a coffee cup, tire rim, books, or anything else…if that product is entering the retail environment wherein anyone other than the creator or owner will distribute, place, and otherwise track sales or usage of a product, the creator and owner absolutely must understand that retail pipeline and provide the proper documentation to it. Now, here is where it gets interesting. Of all the industries I’ve been involved in (through my manufacturing and retail customers), I have only met one industry that does not absolutely require documentation of proof of ownership throughout the pipeline. That industry is Music. The question is why. Could it be profits are low and so where it is possible not to send royalties and other distribution and sales checks, then checks are not sent because “hey, not our fault we can’t find these people”? Continue reading Paperwork: The New Sexy, Y’all
START: Condo Log. Star Date: 6790-1225 (06:05 Post Meridian Earth-time) Mother ship’s journey through the year has been successful. Though mostly friendlies have been encountered, some protective measures were needed for other interactions with inhabitants met on the journey. The Team met with unexpected delays. This captain for one had her foot broken when a friendly was thrown onto it. A six-inch steel pipe of a high-heel shoe landed square on it and — crack! — broke right there. Other members of the team were attacked in various fashions as well — we lost a few, sad days, and some were injured. We had several others join us on the journey, though, thus necessitating realigning of time allotments. But, as all excellent teams do, they did not quit, they did not cry Uncle. There was no whining. Shoulder to the wheel, and push. Here we are almost 365 days out and infinity has been challenged. Continue reading Condo Log: 6790-1225
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Email Angela here: angeladurden[at]gmail[dot]com Do you need more customers or fans? It’s a sure bet you won’t get any if you sit back and hope they learn about you. Books are products. Music is a product. Coffee cups are products. If a coffee cup manufacturer only had people liking their Facebook page or their posts, but not buying the cups, they would be out of business. On the other hand, just because the coffee cup is for sale does not mean I must buy it. Maybe I have enough coffee cups. Maybe I don’t like the color or shape of that cup. Maybe I only have so much space and hooks for coffee cups and until one breaks I don’t need another. So a consistent outreach must be maintained to all drinkers of coffee cups that these are available for Continue reading Need more customers or fans?
When one writes their memoir, one writes their own personal journey. Through the stories one challenges their personal assumptions, either disproving or verifying the reasons for the path taken by them. My memoir will soon be out, so I’m quite familiar with this process. But when it comes to a business book, especially one in an industry that is undergoing rapid changes and entrenched players are invested in keeping the status quo, a writer cannot rely on anything any one person says. I’m writing such a book now. I’ve started with generally accepted methodologies and reasons for using them and have spent the last two and a half years challenging each and every one of those before anything is written about it in the book. All facts found by or given to me have been treated as opinion and challenged. Which were disproved? Which were verified? Which need updating? Why is this Continue reading Challenge and Disprove or Verify
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Listing your song with your performing rights organization (BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC) or SoundExchange.com, does not mean the copyright has been registered. Performing rights organizations (PRO’s) are not agents for Copyright.gov. But where does a copyright begin? Not at registration, that’s for sure. Instead, copyright begins the moment you put your idea into a tangible form. Registration of your song with both the government and with your PRO should only be done in these instances: When the lyrics are final, register your copyright with the government When the song has been recorded, mastered, and is ready for release, register the master of your recording. But these are only part of what you need to know. You can pay Angela a lot of money for her time and have a phone conversation, or you can get her book for a much lower price and find Continue reading Registering Your Copyright