Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bands: Sign up now for the CMJ 2014 Music Marathon in NYC

 
 
Ever wanted to rock the Big Apple? Here's your chance!
The CMJ Music Marathon is one of the biggest festivals in NYC, and has helped launch the careers of artists like Arcade Fire, MGMT, Icona Pop, Feist and Goyte, to name a few. Since 2005 CMJ has booked over 4,500 artists through Sonicbids, and your band could be next!
Billboard has teamed up with Sonicbids to get your band an exclusive discount for this opportunity. You can apply to CMJ for just $25!
And if you are new to Sonicbids, you will also score a free one-month Sonicbids membership.
To apply:
  1. Head to the CMJ application page and read the details of what performing at CMJ can do for you.
  2. Click "Apply" and fill out the application. (If you're not already a member, you'll be asked to create your free Sonicbids profile.)
  3. On the application payment page, enter the promo code: 2014CMJBB20 to redeem your discount!
The deadline to apply to CMJ is July 8th, so you'll need to hurry. See you in New York!
Apply to CMJ

New Book by Praise Philly 103.9 FM Host "Brother Marcus" Provides Real Life Spiritual Inspiration



Marcus "Brother Marcus" Smith
can be heard on 103.9 FM Praise Philly
Elements of Inspiration Can Be Found Everyday

Elements of Inspiration is a 30-day devotional that is designed to help readers understand their life's potential. In the book, Brother Marcus shares from his own personal life, experiences about many of the things that he has learned in life that have helped him grow and develop as a person. Many of these devotions are practical life lessons that can be applied to anyone regardless of faith, gender, or nationality. Other lessons are more God-centered that show how a person can achieve through faith in Christ.

               TO BE RELEASED: JULY 25th, 2014 
 
 
 
About "Brother Marcus"

Marcus Cleavon Smith holds a degree in Business Management from Berkeley College in New York City and a Theological Diploma from Urban Academy. He serves as an ordained minister at Cathedral of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in New Jersey. He received a commendation from Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia for his inspirational influence over the city. He's currently a radio personality for 103.9 Praise Philly in Philadelphia Pennsylvania where his inspirational message is broadcast throughout the tri-state area. Brother Marcus is also an entertainment news correspondent and TV host for Comcast 28 in Wilmington Delaware.

About GGIS:

GGIS Publishing is a faith-based publishing company that exists to assist non-profits, ministries, and independent authors in creating rich, relevant, and redemptive literature. Learn more about us at GGISPublishing.org

For more information on “Elements of Inspiration” or to schedule an interview with Marcus Smith, please email:
staff@ggispublishing.org. To order copies of the book including information on bulk discounts, call 215-486-3412.

 


 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Repost: Disgust, In Digest:The Top Five Reasons Indies Are Mad at YouTube




By Ed Christman, New York
Billboard Bulletin

Last week, Billboard obtained a typical contract being offered by YouTube to its indie label partners for its new subscription service. Here's a breakdown of the five things that’s really upsetting your favorite indie label.



1. YouTube is offering lower rates

Though most indies told us it’s not just about the money, the fact is the YouTube contract offers a lower rate of payment, of 65.5% of the service’s revenue — 55% to labels and 10% to publishers and performance rights organizations. Those company payment percentages are lower than the combined 70% in revenue (approximately) that on-demand services like Spotify or Rdio pay.

2. The YouTube contract’s "negative most-favored-nation" clause

Several indies Billboard spoke with are furious at a “negative most-favored-nation" clause, which favors the majors. Meaning: If any major label or publisher agrees to rates that are lower than the indies' rates set forth in the YouTube contract, then Google will have the right to reduce the indie labels' analogous rate accordingly.

3. YouTube wants to stay uncommitted to making payments – a better deal than what Spotify and others have

By moving to compete against services like Spotify and Rdio, indie labels argue that YouTube needs to bring the ad-supported component of its service to parity with the payments from the ad-supported services of its competitors. Currently, in its ad-supported component, YouTube only pays on those music videos that have advertising connected to it. But YouTube's competitors have to pay labels for every single play on their services. A YouTube source claims that if every video had ads against it, it would drive away users and reduce plays.

4. YouTube doesn’t have enough skin in the game

Related to No. 3, indie labels are worried YouTube has no stake in growing the premium subscription business, because they do not provide indie labels with a minimum-guarantee payment, such as a minimum per-stream rate for plays. They’re also mad that the majors wanted to ensure that YouTube had skin in the game and received some type of minimum guarantee requirement, according to major label sources. Indies, of course, did not.

5. YouTube’s subscription service will not grow the business – and may even cannibalize it Indie labels worry a YouTube subscription service will not grow the overall pie, but rather cannibalize users from other services, or even its own ad-supported service. And, since it is paying a lower rate of 65.5% in the premium service (compared to 70%), it could actually reduce the overall pie.

BILLBOARD BULLETIN
6/23/14





























Saturday, June 21, 2014

REPOST: Inside YouTube's Controversial Contract with Indies




By Ed Christman, New York
For BillBoardbiz. 6/20/2014



 
Billboard has obtained a typical contract being offered by YouTube to its indie label partners for its new subscription service. The devil is in the numbers, but also in the overall strategy.

Even though YouTube is said to be offering lower rates than those paid by services like Spotify and Rdio for its new subscription service, that isn't even the part of its licensing contract drawing the most anger from independent labels.

According to early versions of the YouTube licensing contracts for indie labels and indie publishers, copies of which were obtained by Billboard, YouTube will pay either a percentage of revenue or a minimum per subscriber to its service, whichever is greater.

The YouTube contract says its premium service rate for audio-only music adds up to payments of 65.5% of the service’s revenue — 55% to labels and 10% to publishers and performance rights organizations. For music videos the rate breaks down to 55% of revenue, with 45% going to labels and 10% to publishers.

As for the minimum subscriber rate, YouTube is providing an alternative revenue bucket of $5.50 per subscriber per month to labels and 50 cents to 80 cents per subscriber per month, depending on the music product, to music publishers.

Although the contract that Billboard has obtained appears to be an early version, indie label and publishing sources confirm that the rates are still the same.

Those company payment percentages are lower than the combined 70% in revenue (approximately) that the interactive, premium component of services like Spotify or Rdio pay to labels and publisher rights owners, according to label and digital service sources.

But, it turns out, indies’ unhappiness with YouTube has more to do with contract terms other than the rates they would be paying.

The main beef with YouTube is the company's take-it-or-leave-it approach, which they say includes an onerous and negative most-favored-nation clause. If any major label or major music publisher agrees to any rates for the YouTube service that are lower than the rates setforth in the YouTube contract, Google will have the right to reduce the indie labels' analogous rate accordingly. 

Indie executives are furious about this clause because they say that the majors can likely negotiate a three-prong payment scheme that will either include a non-recoupable advance, or a per-stream minimum rate that will negate the percentage rate from kicking in. And since indies don't have the ability to negotiate a third prong to the YouTube payment scheme, they are the ones who would get stuck with a reduced payment, not the major labels.

But some kind of most-favored-nation clause is a standard term across all other music services, a Google source says. This clause is to ensure that all labels -- majors and indies alike – would get the same deal for future partners integrating with the service. To claim that the impact of this clause disproportionately affects indies would be inaccurate, they claim.

So, if YouTube was to launch a promotion for the service or bundle the service with another player -- for instance a mobile carrier which had different terms with labels – then the bundle would offer the same rates to all labels -- the lower rate, not the higher one.

But one service provider points out that Google is acting similar to how iTunes and Amazon operate. "When iTunes introduced its matching-cloud service, the labels were not given any choices. They were told 'this is the service, you will be in it and here is what we will pay,'" that executive recalls. "There wasn't any outcry from indies then. Google sees itself on the same level as iTunes and acts accordingly."

The other major issue that indies have with YouTube's premium service centers on the ad supported service. By moving to compete against services like Spotify and Rdio, indie labels argue that YouTube needs to bring the ad-supported component of its service to parity with payments for all music streamed in the ad-supported services of its competitors.

Currently, in its ad-supported component, YouTube only pays on those music videos that have advertising connected to it. If a song or music video has all the rights owners assigned to it, but there isn't enough advertising inventory to put an ad against a play(whether an ad buy against a host of videos has been exhausted or that particular crop had none bought against it), then that play is not monetized. But YouTube's competitors have a formula to pay labels for every single play in their services.

In the ad-supported version, "they are saying they may monetize our music, but there is no guarantee that they will," says one executive in the indie label camp. "We know that in the other interactive services every piece of our content will be monetized. But YouTube is moving the goalposts on us, and may only monetize 90% of our content. If you already have lower rates and then [they] may not monetize all our content, that further reduces the revenue bucket."

However, a YouTube source says that if every video had ads against it, it would drive away users and reduce plays. By mixing up videos with commercials and ones without them, YouTube is trying to keep its user base high and drive up overall advertising revenue. "In the long run, this will bring more revenue and be a good experience for everyone involved, the artist, [rights owners], viewer and the advertiser," that source says. "Now that we are addingthe premium component, we have also improved payment terms from what they were initially for some of the music categories in the ad-supported component."

Still, indie labels are worried that the other subscription services will complain about all the free plays on YouTube's service, and will go on to make similar demands. Moreover, indie labels say that they are bothered that YouTube has no stake in growing the premium business, because they do not provide indie labels with a minimum-guarantee requirement, such as a minimum per-stream rate for plays.

The majors wanted to insure that YouTube had skin in the game, so they pushed for and got some type of minimum-guarantee requirement, according to major label sources.

Although the indies may not like that they didn't get the third revenue bucket, it sounds like YouTube does in fact have skin in the game due to those agreements with the majors, which could prove costly if it doesn't aggressively promote its premium service.

Finally, indie labels worry that the YouTube subscription service will not grow the overall pie, but rather cannibalize users from other services -- or even its own ad-supported service. And, since it is paying that lower rate of 65.5% in the premium service, it could actually reduce the overall pie.

Smokey Robinson Points to U.S. Constitution in Fight With Ex-Wife Over Song Rights



By Eriq Gardner
for Billboardbiz
6/20/2014
The singer-songwriter argues that a federal copyright law preempts Claudette Robinson's claim of being entitled to a share of his big hits.

When U.S. lawmakers long ago decided to give authors the opportunity to terminate copyright grants to publishers, could they ever have imagined the novel dispute that is now playing out between legendary R&B singer Smokey Robinson and his ex-wife Claudette?

 As previously covered, the famous singer/songwriter behind such hits as "My Girl" and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" sued his former spouse in California federal court, seeking declaratory relief that once he terminated rights to songs, he wouldn't have to share the reclaimed rights with her. The defendant then filed counterclaims, pointing to a 1989 stipulated judgment made three years after their divorce that she says entitles to her to 50 percent of his compositions

At the heart of the dispute lies the intersection between federal copyright law and state family law, and for that reason in a motion to dismiss filed earlier this month, Smokey Robinson's lawyer said the counterclaims must fail.

"Federal law provides that Plaintiff – alone – recaptures all rights in the copyright notwithstanding any agreements to the contrary," states Smokey Robinson's motion. "On the other hand, Defendant asserts that under California community property and contract law, she is entitled to an undivided one-half interest in any recaptured copyrights Plaintiff may acquire in the future even though the marriage between Plaintiff and Defendant ended nearly 30 years ago."

Thus, in the songwriter's eyes, if there's an "irreconcilable conflict," then "federal law preempts state law" under the supremacy clause of the U.S. constitution.

Since the founding of the nation, there's always been a bit of tension between what the federal government is doing and the laws set up by the states, and except for an attempted divorce by southern states in the 1860s, everyone in the U.S. has managed to stay in a relationship together.

In answering the motion to dismiss on Thursday, Claudette Robinson's attorney says this time is no different, that her claims do no harm to legally recognized federal interests and present no preemption issues. Her legal papers place emphasis on the economic benefits of copyright, saying those are governed by state law. According to her answer, she's not attempting to interfere with his rights under the Copyright Act.

"Specifically, Ms. Robinson does not challenge Mr. Robinson’s exclusive right to decide whether to terminate prior grants," states the opposition. "Nor does she seek to interfere with whether, or under what terms, Mr. Robinson enters into new grants for (or sells) the Community Musical Compositions, now that they have been exposed to the market and can fetch the fair value Congress legislatively made available to him. Mr. Robinson must simply


BILLBOARD BULLETIN- 6/20/14

Repost: Russell Simmons Shooting TV Pilot, Producing Rap Opera & Spending Millions on Movies



By Douglas Century
for Billboardbiz

Russell Simmons is climbing off the yoga mat.


The hip-hop impresario-turned-lifestyle guru, author of the New York Times best-seller Success Through Stillness, moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles early in 2014. Now, he is launching a flurry of new entertainment projects -- and has begun blasting the way Hollywood works.


Simmons, 56, has already shot a number of TV pilots under the first-look deal he has with HBO, he says in a phone interview from his new home in the Hollywood Hills. The most high-profile project he has in development: "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen's first foray into TV drama, about a young African-American man's journey into high society in New York. Simmons says that his "true passion project" is a rap opera called "Cain and Abel," written by Omar Epps and former Onyx rapper Sticky Fingaz. Simmons also has plans to bring hip-hop to Broadway, working with his business partner Jake Stein. "What 'Rock of Ages' did with rock, we're planning on doing with hip-hop," says Stein,  President of Def Pictures. The goal: a musical that tours the country, premiering at various "iconic hip-hop venues" in major U.S. cities. Stein imagines the musical following the path of Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell tour of 1986.


Simmons wants to give hip-hop artists a higher profile. But his goal is grander than that. He's focused on "reintegrating" the entertainment business, which in his view has drifted back into a segregated state. And Hollywood is a prime offender. He believes black and white actors share top billing in hit movies far less often than they once did - think Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs., say, or Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. "Right now if you see a poster for a black movie, it looks like a Hallmark card strictly for black people," says Simmons with a wry laugh. "If you're white, you just will not go in a theater and see About Last Night."


And the co-founder of Def Jam Records says he's just the man to fix the problem. "I'm the 'Walk This Way' guy, I'm the Beastie Boys guy, I'm the Def Comedy Jam guy -- I put black comedians in your face on HBO, at the time a lily-white channel," says Simmons. "I'm doing my own projects, making my own films, shooting my own pilots, with my own money," adds Simmons. "I want to make movies that can star guys like a Channing Tatum alongside Rick Ross......It's time to reintegrate the movie business. And my new mantra is, 'Hollywood can kiss my ass.'"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review: The Stellar Trilogy Book 2: Awake, Envy McKee



By M. Quintero Moore

Author, Envy McKee
The Queen of Soul-Fi
If you are a fan/follower of Envy McKee’s ineluctable classic The Stellar Trilogy, you can finally relax. Book 2-Awake, is now available for your literary consumption and critique. However, be forewarned. The second installment proves to be a much faster and more intense ride. There will be an occasional “OMG” and a few “WTFs” along the way, as you experience McKee’s wonderfully warped sense of “surreality” (yes, I made that word up).

In Book 1-Among Us, Kai discovered she was a fundamental part of an elaborate recognizance mission to retrieve her father and return him to his people. She managed to succeed to a point. She did meet her father. In addition, with the aid of The Heaven’s warriors, she helped to save Earth, and  liberated the souls trapped in Firewah. In the process, she fell in love with an Elder, and conceived a son–the one designed “to replace the light they lost”. Then, in true “McKeenian” style, the reader is for a lack of better terminology…mind-fucked. None of what Kai experienced actually happened. It was all a dream from which she abruptly awakens.

In Awake, seven years have passed, and this once resilient, self-assured, and slightly audacious young woman, is now on the edge of insanity. What she thought she knew is even less than what she knew before.

In this segment, Kai meets the biological family she never knew existed, and travels to the land of her “true” people to Meet the Moon, to claim her birthright, which Mckee says "is a vital step toward completing her real mission".


Conversely, she has two obstacles on this particular journey...a villainous Umpshai monk and a ne'er-do-well band of apocryphal beings called The Dozen of Derg. The Derg returns to complete their own mission of destroying the Earth’s inhabitants. Kai must learn the ways of The Stai to acquire a series of Talents she needs to complete her objective. Only then, can she and her family return to Earth, balance the Entwine and save the planet from The Derg. It is now we see the emergence of a new kind of superhero. Her name is Kai of TuStai.

The Stellar Trilogy is an odd bird, purposely designed that way; because it sets the tone for this neo-genre McKee calls “Soul-fi”. There is one prerequisite. You should be a tad “eccentric” or at least extremely open-minded to appreciate all McKee has done with this multifarious plot.


Technically, McKee's skills are impeccable in terms of continuity and character development. Considering again, the intricacies involved in creating such a potential masterpiece, it is because of the continuity, one cannot help but speculate if Kai is McKee’s alter ego….or vice versa. Only Envy McKee (or Kai) knows for sure.

Might I suggest a carafe of Chardonnay or a bottle of Brandy to accompany you on this journey?







M. Quintero-Moore is BACKLINE MAGAZINE 's editor and music/book reviewer who lives in Philadelphia, PA.