reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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poof. [flawed wednesday]

BMI music moves our world

“music moves our world.”  bmi’s tagline: “we celebrate your talent.  we value your music.  we champion your rights.”

i don’t blame bmi.  as an royalty organization, it is trying to keep up with an industry imploding on itself.  the very same opportunity to ‘get music out there’ using online platforms is what is destroying opportunity to make a living ‘getting music out there.’

as you might guess, i just received a bmi royalty statement.  the check, which will come later in the mail and stamped with a 55 cent first class stamp, will cost them more per penny paid for the stamp than i will receive per performance play of my music.

because i am a specific-detail kind of person, here are the details of that:  if you take my check of $71.57 and divide it by the (just shy of 100,000) performance plays this particular quarter, it amounts to an average of .00074 of a cent per performance play (you read that 7/ten-thousandths of a cent).  it you take a 55 cent stamp and divide it by the check, it is .00768 of a cent per penny of the cost of the stamp (you read that 7/thousandths).  that’s 10 times as much as i receive per play.

to cite some examples:  there were 7530 youtube views of my piece ‘last i saw you’.  the royalties i earned for that are 66 cents.  CENTS.  the piece ‘i didn’t know’ yielded 49,085 plays counted on a few digital music services, which averaged $.00025 of a cent.  that is 2/10-thousandths of a cent.  way to make a living.

i’m not really sure anymore why i’m telling you this, except for the big word “awareness”.  i think most people are not aware of the explosively-good-explosively-bad impact that all these music services have had on independent musicians.  headlining musicians and independent musicians – a schism of differences.  yet, i’m not a person with one or two albums, new to the industry, eager to do anything to ‘spread the word’.  i am an artist with fifteen albums, multiple singles, in the industry for decades and who did all the eager-stuff for many, many, many years.  and like you, i want to believe that all the time and energy and writing and practicing and recording and sacrifice and thought and perseverance and education and experience and drive and hard work i put in might yield something in return now – dividends – kind of like how a retirement works.

in these times of chaos – a pandemic, an uprising of protests striving for equity in race, in gender identification, in sexual orientation, in all manners of humanity – it seems that one of the most unifying calls is that of music.  music does move our world.

why, then, is this so inequitable for us?  because i don’t know about you, but there isn’t one bill in my bill folder that totals $71.57 over the course of a quarter.  dog food alone costs $73.16 for a quarter.  there isn’t a bill that is merely for $71.57 for a month.  not the phone bill, not the mortgage, not home insurance, not health insurance (don’tgetmestarted!), not the gas/electric bill, not student loans (again, don’tgetmestarted!), not car insurance, not groceries, not wifi-cable.  too much information, i suppose.

with thousands of cds in boxes in storage in the cds-have-gone-poof world, i wonder, as i have written and you have read before, where to go from here.  most professional careers keep building, arcing in some positive direction.  i try to remind myself that this music is played hundreds of thousands of times, millions of times a year.  i try to remind myself of all the times i have heard that some piece, some song, some album, some concert, some performance has resonated with someone, that it has given them a moment of reflection, of peace, that it has buoyed them.  i try not to be jaded by people who burn copies of cds for their friends or who change their email every three months to access apple music streaming for free.

but as i write checks or click ‘pay’ online for the accountant, the doctor, the mortgage, the water, the gas and electric, the health insurance, the phone bill, the wifi and cable, the car and home insurances, the student loans, the groceries, i wonder what would happen if somehow each of those things went poof and there were free ways to access all of them.

and yet, it’s true.  music moves our world.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

? website box

 

 

 


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i didn’t know. [k.s. friday]

i didn't know song box

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yesterday, the senate passed the Music Modernization Act, a complex bill that is supposed to help songwriters in these days of streaming.  as quoted in one article questioning the feasibility of pushing through this bill as is:  “…niche labels and independent musicians face either a zero, or statistically insignificant, chance of a return on their investment through streaming. many report barely paying for a sandwich with their royalties.” (maria schneider, musicanswers.org) yes. creatives are still facing a grotesque misalignment of power and income despite an effort to supposedly be “helped”.

i didn’t know, back when i released my first album, that there would be another…and another…and another…

i didn’t know how vulnerable i would feel each time i released a collection of my soul, turned into tracks of music.

i didn’t know how grateful i would feel each time i stood on stage and spoke to an audience that was there to hear this music – my music.

i didn’t know how many stores, in the early days, would carry these cds (and cassette tapes, way back when), how many times i would be live on QVC-TV, how many radio interviews i would be relishing.

i didn’t know how humbling it would feel that many people would respond to something in my music, something would resonate with them, something would be healing or heartening or touch them.

i didn’t know, through the years, how many thousands of cds would sell, how many boxes i would carry, how many wholesale shows or retail shows i would be present at or how many phone calls i (or wonderful people who worked with me) would make or receive, taking and shipping orders.

i didn’t know that the BMI royalty statements i was getting earlier would soon decline as our world and the internet changed them drastically.  the one i got two days ago for a period of the year included 59,000 performance counts and a $47.47 check.  streaming has made it unnecessary to purchase a physical cd or even pay for and download an artist’s music and so i agree with the writer who said: “streaming revenue for most independent musicians doesn’t even amount to pocket lint.” (m.schneider)

i didn’t know that the yearning inside me to compose and record more music to be released on cds would be stymied by the cost vs earnings debacle that has been created by an industry that doesn’t lift up the independent, while the behemoths remain behemoth.

i didn’t know how sad it would make me.  i didn’t know how it would change me.  i didn’t know i would keep wondering ‘what next?’  i didn’t know i would be seeking answers to where i stand as a composer.  i didn’t know my piano would call from my studio and i would ignore it, feeling betrayed by a profession that should pay my bills like any other.

i just didn’t know.

purchase the physical cd THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY or purchase a download of I DIDN’T KNOW (track 4) on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

I DIDN’T KNOW from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998, 2000 kerri sherwood


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319,954. first quarter 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.12.43 PMbmi, one of the major music royalty companies, sent me a statement and a check which i opened today. happy to be a bmi artist, i was grateful to receive the check; i read it first, a natural human reaction. then i pulled up the statement.

my original music had 319,954 plays in the first quarter of 2015. that is: between radio, tv, internet, music program companies, my music has been spun over 319,000 times. in one quarter of a year. now…that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it. one of my big questions these days about my music is – is it relevant? well, apparently, it must be. and so this is reassuring.

now, you would think that would equate to a decent royalty check, the ability for an independent artist to make a living. this is what i made per spin (an average…i am a bit of a math geek)….are you ready? i made a whopping $00.00079 per play. that isn’t even NEAR a PENNY. so let’s see. that means that the total of 319,954 plays has NOT netted me enough to:

1. buy a decent basket of groceries
2. even pay half of my private health insurance premium
3. pay for my dog to have 3 months of heartworm preventative medication and flea and tick preventative medication
4. pay my one-month cell phone bill
5. contribute to half of the mortgage payment
6. pay the minimum payment on my master card bill
7. pay the amount of my monthly parent plus loans for my son’s college fees
8. pay an hour of an entertainment attorney’s time
etc etc etc

it would just cover the electric/gas bill.
it would pay for life insurance.
it would cover a month of car insurance.
it would cover the cat food.
it would cover the water bill.

but. it will not cover any combination of these bills. and, as i pointed out above, there are many it won’t cover at all.

and that brings me to value.

what is the value of music? and, if it is relevant, why is so little value placed on it? how many places have you been, events have you attended (weddings, funerals, dance parties…what would those be without music?), commercials you watched on tv, movies that inspired you, moved you, disturbed you – how would those be without a soundtrack? how many moments have you cherished that would have changed dramatically withOUT the music in that space of time? what does it do to your heart? and how can we place so little value on that?

there were a reported (mind you, this is what is reported, not what is the real total) 19,974 plays on the internet of my original music. this netted me (wait for it) a grand total of $3.61. yes, you read that right. $3.61. i could not even treat you and me to a starbucks for that. i couldn’t even get a happy meal for that. and yet, 19,974 people/entities listened to the music i conceived, wrote, recorded, paid for a recording engineer, mastering engineer, piano technician, miscellaneous equipment, yamaha had a piano delivered to the studio, purchased upc codes and copyrights, had a graphic designer design a cd format, ordered and paid for replicated cds and print art (jackets, tray cards), paid ups to ship boxes upon boxes to the office, paid for marketing materials, paid employees to market and distribute, drove thousands of miles and carried hundreds of pounds of boxes of cds to play concerts, perform at wholesale, retail shows and stores and do radio and tv interviews, uploaded over 200 tracks from 15 albums to itunes, and see that pieces have found their way onto the internet in ways i can’t put my finger on…..i needn’t go on….i’m sure you get the point…. in the days of physical cds and brick and mortar buildings, and even in the days of just itunes downloads that paid artists, there was a chance at treating you to BOTH a happy meal AND a starbucks. but now…..

and so. the music. it’s relevant. and it has value. but who is missing out in this equation??

a few weekends ago i performed for an important event. as with all work, it took preparation and commitment, practice and heart to make sure that my performance supported the event. after it was over, many people commented on how touched they were by this music. one gentleman asked me, “when you aren’t playing music, what do you really do?” really???

i am 56. there is a lot of music left in me to write, record, perform. how do i justify continuing to make this music when each piece that reaches the ears of another living soul pays me less than a penny? do i hope for sheer luck? for an overnight itunes download sensation? or a youtube that goes viral, heaping advertisers at my doorstep?

these are potent questions. what are the answers?

how can i (afford to) live and keep making music? how can i (afford to) live and not keep making music?raw-1

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood