Call Me When You're Sober By Evanescence

evanescence-call-me-whenA few years ago Evanescence hit the scene in a pretty big way. They came onto the scene having been licensed into a popular video game. In turn that launched them into the stratosphere as a band. The sound of goth pop metal was born and became hugely popular essentially overnight. Then came the band turmoil, followed by a new release and this particular song. The opening lines grabbed me right from the get go. So cool with the harmonies on the vocal that launches the song. Cool enough in fact that I’ve worked up my own version to do live – not as goth, and sung by a dude.

Call Me When You’re Sober

Don’t cry to me.
If you loved me,
You would be here with me.
You want me,
Come find me.
Make up your mind.

Should I let you fall?
Lose it all?
So maybe you can remember yourself.
Can’t keep believing,
We’re only deceiving ourselves .
And I’m sick of the lie,
And you’re too late.

Don’t cry to me.
If you loved me,
You would be here with me.
You want me,
Come find me.
Make up your mind.

Couldn’t take the blame.
Sick with shame.
Must be exhausting to lose your own game.
Selfishly hated,
No wonder you’re jaded.
You can’t play the victim this time,
And you’re too late.

Don’t cry to me.
If you loved me,
You would be here with me.
You want me,
Come find me.
Make up your mind.

You never call me when you’re sober.
You only want it cause it’s over,
It’s over.

How could I have burned paradise?
How could I – you were never mine.

So don’t cry to me.
If you loved me,
You would be here with me.
Don’t lie to me,
Just get your things.
I’ve made up your mind.

Pandora Sees iTunes Radio As A Threat

Be forewarned that this is a long post about a portion of the music business most fans aren’t aware of…

This morning I woke up and caught a little headline on a site I like to visit. One headline that I wouldn’t normally expect to see on that site is one about music, especially when it says “Pandora sees iTunes as a threat.” [article link]. At first read I chuckled. Mainly because a little over a month ago Pandora was stating that iTunes Radio was not a threat. Oh how a few weeks can change everything. Now that iOS 7 has come out and iTunes Radio has come in, Pandora obviously sees things a little different.

The Pandora Of The PastPandora-Radio-Review

First off, I want to write that I appreciate the original intent of Pandora’s concept. A curated musical discovery system that was utopian when it originated. Artists outside of the Major Label system desperately wanted to get in on the game. It meant new ears and a new world of awesome.

Then came the issue of submitting. An artist would submit music and wait. Pandora didn’t have a real good system for notification to the artist about anything – other than rejection. The rejection notice generally noted that the music fell outside the spectrum of their guidelines. Yet, if an artist wanted to go comparing music on the service they could find other music that was not recorded as well, or that was poorly written, but somehow found it’s way onto Pandora. They’re their gatekeepers, so it’s their rules.

Sometimes music that got rejected, quietly made it onto the service. But an artist wouldn’t know because Pandora doesn’t inform them.

Artists that got on were happy to be on the service and all was good.

The Pandora Of The Now

Somewhere down the line Pandora started changing in terms of it’s business culture. Let’s call it the corporate greed culture.

In the past couple of years the executives at Pandora have been making strange moves to the outside world. Ones that include asking for the very artists they’re supposed to be supporting, to take up to an 85% discount in pay, otherwise known as a pay cut. But wait… let’s back up a bit.

To be fair, when digital streaming services started it was new territory and copyright law hadn’t quite caught up to the rapid change in the music landscape. Especially when plays vs listenership could now be accounted for. This was unprecedented compared to traditional radio. So a proposed royalty rate was enacted by Congress and because it was to be retroactive – they gave digital streaming broadcasters like Pandora a discount so that it wouldn’t cripple their new businesses.

Take a moment to let that last paragraph sink in. Maybe re-read it in order to read the words “gave” & “discount” again. Yes, companies and broadcasters were initially given a discount that is supposed to end and then go up to a set per stream rate – by law.

Pandora’s Royalty Debacle

While other services are quietly seeing how things play out, Pandora is boldly going on the offensive. They’re suing ASCAP – one of the Performing Rights Organizations (PRO for short, of which there are 4 in America). Pandora has also gone to lobby Congress for a reduction on the discounted royalty rate they are already paying. Asking for as much as 85% off the current discount they already enjoy.

Let’s say you go into your job and the boss says: “Hey, I need you to continue doing your job, but now I want you to be happy with me paying you 85% less. Because I can’t afford to pay you as too many people want my service and I don’t want to raise my price.”

How would you react?

If you’re fine with that scenario, then you’re likely to say artists are overreacting.

What a lot of people miss is that to create the music and solidify it into a tangible form costs money. Sometimes, gobs of it. So getting a recoupment of say $0.0017 of a cent as the majority of what you’re paid when someone listens to the song, you can hopefully see that it’s going to take a huge number of listens before you make even $1. As a hint – it will take 589 full listens to make that buck. Take’s a lot more listens just to buy a Starbucks coffee. Oh, but I didn’t tell you this $0.0017 has to get split up. A portion of that goes to the owner of the master recording. A portion of that also goes to the writer or writers, and also to the publisher or publishers. That’s right, even less money makes it to the writer(s) & publisher(s). ** (see below)

Meaning – it takes even more spins to get to that $1 per person(s) involved.

There is another royalty that is roughly about 1/7th of that $0.0017 that goes to the mechanicals. It’s so minute that it isn’t worth talking about. Other than the writer/publisher has to register with yet another agency to collect on those tiny portions and it takes thousands of streams to realize anything there.

I almost forgot, there is another royalty that is fairly new to those of us in the U.S.. A performers royalty that all digital services have to pay and it’s administered by the 4th PRO in America, Sound Exchange. This is a royalty that nearly every other country in the world collects for it’s artists. Up until a few years ago, the U.S. was like 1 out of 7 countries that didn’t collect anything for the performer. As of this post, it’s still only on digital services (streaming radio, Sirius, etc). Traditional broadcasters are still exempt at this time.

Pandora going before Congress for lobbying on a discount kinda woke a few congress peeps up to the fact that there is a disparity between digital and traditional broadcast. Leaving them thinking that traditional broadcasters now need to start paying that performers royalty too. Not exactly the result that Pandora wanted, nor the traditional broadcasters. Though it is something every performer in the world would love to see!

Going Forward

I don’t have a huge vested interest in Pandora. I don’t own their stock. I do have a friend who works for them. Having written that – I don’t appreciate a CEO (now former) who cashes out millions of dollars a month on his stock while inflating the value of his company, concurrently pandering to artists saying they want to pay more, while lobbying congress and suing a PRO to get a reduction – It’s insulting.

When a CFO says: “We’ve put offers on the table where we commit to paying no less than we pay now in absolute dollars, and with increases on an annual basis. That hasn’t gone anywhere because of a lack of trust.”

Well hell Mr. Herring (CFO of Pandora), you’re damn right we artists & PROs don’t trust you. Think about your statement again. You’re not stupid. I’m not stupid. We’re not stupid.

You’re saying you don’t want to pay more in absolute dollars, while at the same time you want to get more people using your service. That equals a business model that says, get more streams, pay less money per stream. You’re still paying out the same absolute dollars but getting more product out to the end user for the same price – at the expense of the persons whose creations you NEED to make your product.

This is why I like companies such as Apple. They don’t complain, make their deals, operate within the law and are willing to pay better than Pandora. [cough, cough]iTunes Radio[cough][cough]. I’ll take a company that isn’t asking for a discount and using all of my product, over a company that is looking to cash out using the shirt-off-my-back any day of the week.

In Conclusion

I’d like to see Pandora succeed. However, I don’t want to see them succeed when it kills my ROI (return on investment) on my own career, or for any musician. It’s not worth it. I’d rather see another company willing to fight and pay artists, writers, and publishers the non-discounted royalty rate by law at a minimum. I also want Pandora to be more transparent, actually that should apply to any digital music business. When Pandora stops attempting to game the system it’ll be a win/win/win situation for consumers, artists, and Pandora. Until then, be aware we artists, publishers, and PROs are watching Pandora like hawk due to the shenanigans they’ve pulled.

Mr. Herring statesIt has created a situation where meaningful conversations for positive outcomes are going to be hard-fought wins. It’s going to take a long time to get there.

Remember, that Trust and outcome you want Mr. Herring is hard to earn, easily taken away, and harder to re-earn. Stop wondering why there is a lack of trust. Your company lost it’s trust with all the antics it’s tried.

 

** As a side note, if there is more than 1 writer, a portion of that royalty gets divided by all the writers. Another portion of that royalty goes to the publisher, if there is more than one, they also split the publisher’s share.

I actually own my own publishing, writing shares and master recordings. I’d like to reference the fact that Pandora has yet to pay me the master recording royalty for any streams. I do get the performers royalty via Sound Exchange. Pandora is also the only streaming service that has not requested a compulsory license to stream the few tunes they do have of mine. To be fair about that, it might have been part of the submission process.

Heavy By Collective Soul

Heavy-Collective-SoulOne of my favorite guitar songs a bunch of years ago happened to be a tune called Heavy. I remember coming back from the record store (yes, I do remember record stores) with the CD of a band called Collective Soul. I’d been a fan. Even got a chance to go backstage and meet them once at a gig in Los Angeles. Nice guys. The moment I put the CD in and heard Heavy, I was like “What the fuck?!?” I really dug the opening guitar riff, it was Heavy and it had a very modern sound. Loved it right from the start. So, here are the lyrics from Heavy in all their glory for this Throwback Thursday.

Heavy

Complicate this world you wrapped for me
I’m acquainted with your suffering

All your weight it falls on me
It brings me down
All your weight it falls on me
It falls on me

Hold me up to those whom you’ve deceived
Promises you break you still believe

All your weight it falls on me
It brings me down
All your wieght it brings me down
It brings me down
All your wieght it falls on me
It brings me down
All your weight it falls on me
It falls on me.

All your wieght it falls on me
It brings me down
All your wieght it falls on me
It falls on me.

Songwriters: MONAHAN, PAT/STAFFORD, JAMES W/COLIN, CHARLIE

Enjoy!

Vanity URLs For Musicians

One of the interesting things about the internet is having to be careful with how you approach your social media from a naming standpoint. As a musician I’m using my name as my brand. Thus when I sign up for a service, I make sure to grab my name. While my name isn’t wholly common, I do want to make sure I’m in control of it. Recently I’ve stepped up my diligence for getting all services on the same page so to speak with the vanity urls.

Vanity URLs On Social Media

Most social media platforms tend to allow for what are known as vanity URLs. That means you can choose the URL on their dot com space that leads back to your little portion of their service. For example on Twitter I have twitter.com/jodywhitesides which makes it easy for people who learn of my music to find me on twitter by using my name. Same goes for other sites as well. Some are kinda backwards, like Tumblr where the vanity URL is actually in front like this: jodywhitesides.tumblr.com.

YouTube Vanity URLYouTube-Icon

Because of a new string of singles I’m going to be recording and shooting videos for, I wanted to ‘fix’ my YouTube vanity URL. Back in the day, for some reason that I no longer recall, I chose jwhitesides. Which made my YouTube URL youtube.com/jwhitesides. Not bad, but certainly doesn’t fall in line with being consistent on the brand. I am a YouTube partner, and I’m working on getting further into the YouTube system. However, the process of grabbing a vanity URL and having YouTube mask it was beyond silly. I went through the necessary steps to get it done, yet somehow it didn’t work. To rectify the situation I started a whole new channel as a new user under YouTube.com/jodywhitesides. My reasoning on it is – with the old channel, which I’ll keep, I’ll do goofy personal things. With the new channel it will be my official music channel with consistent branding. Of course I’m essentially starting from scratch with gaining subscribers, but as the French say “c’est la vie.”

Facebook Vanity URLfacebook

Of course I’m focusing on the biggies, twitter, youtube and Facebook. In the last paragraph I mentioned the YouTube issue. The last bastion to getting all of this consistent was Facebook. When I first got on Facebook, they didn’t have anything but personal profiles. So when they offered vanity URLs, I snagged Facebook.com/jodywhitesides not knowing that in the future of FB they would offer Pages that were more band and career oriented over the personal page. When pages came along, I essentially stuck my head in the sand and kept my personal profile rather than switching the whole thing over to a page and starting a new personal page. Don’t ask me why, again I don’t remember and thinking about it, it probably had more to do with a lack of really using FB.

The big issue with Facebook is that they make nothing clear about how to do certain things on their site. I think they do this on purpose because they make their money on people being stupid and not being in control. It is what it is. I did figure out that you can change your vanity URL on any Facebook address – but only once! My thought process was, hey, I can change my person page to a new vanity URL and that should open up my /jodywhitesides URL so that I can then have the Page for my music grab it and be done with it. No need to ever change again.

So I created a new vanity URL for my private page. Something utterly useless from a social media standpoint and something I did on purpose as I’d rather not be adding people to the private page. Thanks Facebook for announcing that privacy is now no longer possible as of today. The switch in URL on the private page worked and I thought great, now I can go to the Page and make the switch there to – complete my trifecta.

Wrong!

Facebook was telling me that the /jodywhitesides URL was taken! WTF?!? Because if you tried going to Facebook.com/jodywhitesides it led to a URL not valid page. Meaning it was empty. My quest took another step where I attempted to submit the issue to their help center. What a gigantic waste of time that was. Multiple submittals resulted in nada, zip, zero. Could friends come to the rescue? I posted about my dilemma and bingo two friends of mine were friends with people who work at Facebook. Both contacted their respective friends in an attempt to get my issue to the appropriate channel to fix it. Person 1 from FB to step forward provided me with an email address to send my request to.

Off I went explaining the whole issue to this email address and cc’ing the guy on. Waited and unfortunately no response. I messaged him again and he said – I’m guessing they didn’t respond. Nope.

Person two originally came back to my other friend saying – I don’t work there anymore. Then out of the blue two days ago I get a message from my friend who got a message from person two saying. Got it, the issue should be fixed in 3 to 4 working days. I did a little internal victory dance. In less than 3 days, two actually, I got the vanity URL thing fixed with Facebook. Now I’m consistent across the board on all my social media.

Next StepFacebook-Like

My next goal is to get the silly verified thing at Facebook. Not sure how that happens yet, but alas – at least I have two friends that know somebody that could get me the info. Hell I’m verified at Twitter – would seem that alone would be enough for Facebook to say Ok cool you’re already verified on one social service, we should verify you too. I suppose I’ll be writing a post about that when it happens.

I’m happy with the current situation and it makes it hella easier in interviews to say I’m at blah blah service dot com /jodywhitesides. Bingo. Done. Move on.

Little Bird By Annie Lennox

little-bird-annie-lennox

A couple of years ago I was privy to a little trip that involved myself, my mother and my sister. We attempt to make at least one trip a year as a little familial unit. The particular trip I’m thinking of was down highway 12 in the state of Utah. On this particular trip we stayed in a little B&B type place in Boulder Utah, not Boulder Colorado. It’s a very small farming community on the south side of Boulder Mountain. While staying at the B&B I was sitting out in the yard around a fire pit. Up walked a local who sat down with a guitar and started up a conversation. He found out that I’m a musician and asked me to play a couple of songs. We had a little fun talking music. This trip also happened to be the first time that I had heard the song Little Bird by Annie Lennox. I enjoyed it so much that I used it as a soundtrack to a slideshow of pictures I made from the trip. There’s something about her delivery on this song that just smacks me inside and makes me want to hear the song over and over any time I happen to play. That’s dangerous.

Little Bird

I look up to the little bird
That glides across the sky
He sings the clearest melody
It makes me want to cry
It makes me want to sit right down
and cry cry cry
I walk along the city streets
So dark with rage and fear
And I…
I wish that I could be that bird
And fly away from here
I wish I had the wings to fly away from here

But my my I feel so low
My my where do I go ?
My my what do I know ?
My my we reap what we sow
They always said that you knew best
But this little bird’s fallen out of that nest now
I’ve got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I’ve just got to put these wings to test

For I am just a troubled soul
Who’s weighted…
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay this burden down
Give me the strength to lay this burden down down down yeah
Give me the strength to lay it down

But my my I feel so low
My my where do I go ?
My my what do I know ?
My my we reap what we sow
They always said that you knew best
But this little bird’s fallen out of that nest now
I’ve got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I’ve just got to put these wings to test

Enjoy Your Day and have a great trip sometime!

5 Music Apps Cooler Than Kanye West

Lisnr-iPhoneFor most people there are only the biggies in the music app world. That would be apps like Spotify, iTunes Radio, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. I can’t forget the biggest purveyor of music video discovery as a means to find music, YouTube. None of these services suck. None of them are fulfilling a perfect music need either. However, being the forward thinking musician I am, I went hunting for some more music apps that tread paths off the beaten road. All because music junkies need to fuel their appetites. I found 5 music apps cooler than Kanye West. Because according to Kanye, he is the biggest thing in rock. So here we go:

5 Music Apps Cooler Than Kanye West

In no set order, the first app on my list is:

Lisnr

To start with, you can tell they’re taking a cue from Tumblr for their app name. I can roll with that, but I’m not sure dropping letters is the best way to title a service. What do they do?

From the Lisnr website: “Lisnr gives artists a new way to connect with their fans. By installing Lisnr on your mobile device, you’ll unlock exclusive content created by the artists you love, just by listening to your favorite music. Lisnr works at live events too, dynamically responding to your environment, and giving you a secondary experience to share with your friends.

Lisnr only ‘hears’ the ultra-sonic frequencies embedded in Lisnr-enabled tracks. Once this frequency is picked up by your phone’s internal microphone, you’ll receive a push notification if any content has been unlocked.

As I’ve been checking out the app a vast majority of the artists jumping on the service are rap and hip hop types. Though I’ve also come across some singer/songwriter types too.

It’s a very forward thinking concept that requires your phone & the app to unlock content from the app. This app provides a cool way to connect already eager fans to new material using a watermarking technique. Content can range from messages from the artist, show tickets, videos, bonus tracks and more.

Personally I’m not a big fan of watermarking music files. I’m more of the mindset that audio fingerprints of the music itself work much better and don’t alter the content in the slightest. If Lisnr could make their app work with an audio fingerprint then the service becomes a major boon to both the artist and the fan. As it stands – it’s still really cool and the idea is there.

Stereomood

Listening to music based on the mood you’re in. Novel concept right there. How often to people just put the radio or some other streaming service on to be background noise to their life. Well now you can enhance that by picking the music to fit the mood you’re in at any given moment.

Where do they get their music? As per their website “Stereomood’s songs are all aggregated from the best music blogs across the net and filtered by music aficionados, so you never know when you’ll discover something unreleased and unheard!

If you find a track that you really dig on Stereomood they have direct links to iTunes and Amazon. I’m unable to find information about whether or not they pay out streaming royalties. But they do have a way for artists to submit music to the service and a way to serve a take down notice if something has submitted your music without your consent.

I really dig the idea of the way it uses mood to help you find new music. Every song I heard on the service was something I had never heard before. Better yet, it was good music too. That’s a great quality to have.

 MPme

Welcome to another app that runs across multiple devices and platforms all syncable. That’s a great thing for our modern world. Means you don’t have to be locked into a particular thing like iOS (which I’m a fan of). MPme scans your library and then goes out and creates stations based on the music you already dig. If that’s not enough for listening to music, you can also search for artists or songs and it will curate stations based on the search words. Plus it has the social network factor so that you can share music discoveries with your friends.

Another plus is that it has direct purchase links so you can purchase the music you come across that you instantly love. That’s something that should be standard on all music apps.

As I’m sitting here grooving on music from the app, it’s playing tunes that carry on my own musical thing of making my head bob. Something stuff I write does to others. That’s an awesome thing.

8Tracks

The service with the ancient defunct media’s name. 8Track tapes were all the rage a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Well before my time anyway.

What sets this music app apart from many others is that the music is curated by actual humans and not algorithms. Take that big boys like those mentioned at the top of the post.

One of the most beautiful things is that directly on their website they have a full page dedicated to how they pay royalties to SESAC, Sound Exchange, BMI and ASCAP. That’s music to my ears. Transparency in it’s best form.

Most of what I heard on the service was EDM – but it was EDM that I enjoyed. That’s a great thing.

exfm

Another socially oriented music player. It works like this: Create a profile and click on the heart icon when you hear a song you really like. It’s basically that simple. You can also follow other people, tastemakers, etc. They also feature hand curated playlists.

They don’t say how they pay artists anywhere on their website. That’s a little disappointing, but I’m going to assume they’re doing the right thing.

All the songs I heard on the service were by widely known acts that are already popular. Thus I’m going out on a limb and say that it’s not really about music discovery for more obscure music or by those without bigger marketing budgets behind them.

In Closing

There are a ton of new music apps coming out all the time. Taking a look at 5 of them being cooler than the greatest rockstar, a.k.a. Kanye West has been a fun exploration into the forefront of music tech. The one thing I’ve noticed about every one of them is that not one of them has solved the ultimate riddle of being the end all solution for music services. Got a favorite music app, let me know so I can check it out.