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Analysis

The Live Music Industry may be on hold until Fall 2021

Bioethicist Zeke Emanuel told the NY Times it is not plausible to resume live events before Fall 2021.

MBN Staff

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3 min read

Story Highlights

  • Bioethicist Zeke Emanuel told the NY Times it is not plausible to resume live events before Fall 2021.
  • Live Nation CEO, Michael Rapino, has forfeited his 2020 salary – as the company continues to deal with COVID-19.

In what was set to be a record-breaking year for live music revenue, Music Biz Nation previously reported that the COVID-19 pandemic could cost the live industry $9billion in 2019. This was based on recent findings by trade publication Pollstar, who said the figure was a ‘worst case scenario’ estimation – which was that live events will not resume for the remainder of 2020. However, according to Medical Expert and Bioethicist Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Emanuel, it is not ‘plausible’ to assume large gatherings of any kind should take place anytime sooner than the latter of 2021.

In an interview with the NY Times, Emanuel was asked about how a workplace can do social distancing safely once steps are taken to ‘restart the economy’.

In response, Zeke – chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy – said that it is possible in environments where six-foot distancing can reasonably be enforced – i.e. some offices.

Speaking on large gatherings, however, Emanuel said: “when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest“.

Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest

Zeke Emanuel (Oncologist and Bioethicist)

If this indeed holds true, it raises major concerns for the longterm economic health of the live music industry – and the hundreds of thousands of workers employed by it. This includes onstage talent (vocalists, dancers, instrumentalists), engineers (audio and visual), production crew, venue staff and security, bus drivers, and more.

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We have reported on a number of funds that have opened up to support some of these workers financially whilst they face the fallout of a loss of income. Amongst these is Live Nation – who committed $10million to live industry workers – and opened up a merchandise store to help fans support these individuals.

However, as some of the companies opening funds are beginning to take precautions to protect their own economic future, it is unlikely many of these efforts will be able to sustain affected staff for another 17 months (fall 2021) – if this ends up being the resume period.

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Live Nation’s CEO, Michael Rapino, has voluntarily forfeited his $3million base salary for the remainder of the year. Additionally, senior executives across the company will receive reduced salaries of up to 50%.

The company said in a statement: “Given the uncertainty associated with the duration of current conditions globally, the company has launched a number of initiatives to reduce fixed costs and conserve cash“.

Michael Rapino himself, shared: “With this additional liquidity, the flexibility in our debt covenants, and cost-cutting efforts, we believe that Live Nation has the financial strength to weather this difficult time. We will be ready to ramp back up quickly and once again connect audiences to artists at the concerts they are looking forward to“.

There is no telling just how great of an impact a potential resume date of Fall 2021 could be to the live industry. It is not, however, hard to understand how or why Zeke Emanuel may deem this a necessary move – as just one fan being infected in a crowd of 10,000 could invoke another pandemic.

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Analysis

Twinkie Clark’s publishing catalog worth millions, says Attorney

Twinkie’s songwriter journey was recently depicted in Lifetime TV Biopic ‘The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel’.

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The Clark Sisters at the 19th Annual BET Super Bowl Gospel Celebration
7 min read

Story Highlights

  • The Clark Sisters’ story was recently depicted in a Lifetime movie biopic.
  • Attorney James L. Walker, Jr. recaptured Twinkie Clark’s publishing rights after she sold her catalog for a car.

Gospel Music Legends The Clark Sisters have recently seen a huge resurgence in interest and popularity. On April 11, the faith-based music icons saw their story told in more detail than it has ever been – as their first biopic ‘The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel’ aired on Lifetime TV. Produced by Dr. Holly Carter (alongside Grammy Award Winning Artists Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah) – the initial broadcast captured an audience of a 2.7 million, and closed out with 11 million total (after repeat airs and DVR ratings came in).

The movie told the lives of sisters Denise, Jacky, Elbernita (otherwise known as Twinkie), Dorinda and Karen – their rise to fame, and everything in between. One of the highlights, from a music business perspective, was the sale of Twinkie’s publishing catalog.

It is unknown exactly how accurate the Lifetime movie depiction was, as a number of scenes have been disputed by Larry Clark (son of Denise) and Twinkie’s former husband Johnny Terrrell. However, with the Clarks themselves being listed as Producers – and Executive Producer Dr. Holly Carter already having a working relationship with the family – one can assume most of the events were not too far from the truth.

'The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel' Cast - From Left to Right: Aunjanue Ellis (Dr. Mattie Moss Clark), Kierra Sheard (Karen Clark Sheard), Angela Birchett (Jacky Cullum Chisholm), Raven Goodwin (Denise Clark Bradford), Christina Bell (Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark-Terrell), Shelea Frazier (Dorinda Clark Cole)

During their earlier days, Twinkie was the sole songwriter for The Clark Sisters – penning several hit songs for the group. The biggest of these was ‘You Brought The Sunshine’ – from the 1981 album of the same name. The single became a crossover hit, landing a Top 20 Spot on Billboard’s R&B Charts and a Top 30 spot on its Dance Club Songs listing.

It has been claimed that the single and album achieved a Gold certification – for sales in the excess of 500,000. Music Biz Nation was unable to verify either claim using the RIAA database – which lists U.S. gold and platinum certifications awarded as far back as 1958. We did, however, reach out to RIAA for comment, but had not heard back at the time of writing. At present, we can verify that the single had sold at least 200,000 within the two years following its release, according to a 1985 article in Billboard Magazine.

At some point during this era, according to the movie – Twinkie sold her publishing catalog to Michigan-based Bridgeport Music (which was given a fictitious name in the film) in exchange for a Lincoln Continental. Of course, the car selected for the scene may have not been the exact same as what was exchanged in the actual deal. However, if we are to assume it was of similar luxury status – that particular vehicle retailed for around $24,000 in 1979 – close to the time when Twinkie made the deal. In today’s money, that would be equal to $85,000.

The interesting part is, according to a calculated estimation by Music Biz Nation, the success of “You Brought The Sunshine” possibly made Twinkie’s catalog worth at least $400,000 to $450,000 from that release alone – more than 5x what it was sold for. It was later worth ‘millions’.

...artists and songwriters have lost millions of dollars by giving up their publishing

James L. Walker, Jr., Esq.

Music Biz Nation spoke with James L. Walker, Esq. –  the Atlanta-based Entertainment Attorney who worked with Twinkie to recapture her rights five years ago. Walker was not working Twinkie when she initially sold her catalog, but did say that “generally speaking artists and songwriters have lost millions of dollars by giving up their publishing“.

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When discussing the amount of publishing money made from record sales, Walker shared that “one song on a gold album is worth about $50,000“. Meaning, if it is true that the 8-song ‘You Brought The Sunshine’ album did achieve Gold status, Twinkie’s catalog on that release would have been worth $400,000 from record sales alone. This does not include additional income generated from the success of the lead single.

We also discussed the impact of the radio success and other types of revenue. Walker stated that “a hit song is worth well over a millions dollars, if it’s promoted right“. MBN asked if he would place “You Brought The Sunshine” (single) in that category – to which Walker confidently responded “oh, yes“.

'You Brought The Sunshine', The Clark Sisters

Later in the conversation, Walker was asked how he was able to get Twinkie’s rights back. He shared: “There’s what we call ‘the copyright act’, and with the copyright act the writer is allowed to reclaim their rights in the 35th year of the assignment“.

The world of publishing in gospel music slightly differs to that in the mainstream. Being a niche genre, gospel generally does not generate nearly as much as pop or hip hop music in revenue. To give context, it often takes less than 5,000 equivalent albums sales to land a #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums Chart. Grammy-nominated Artist Travis Greene topped the list last November, shifting just 3,000 units.

Though sales may not be where the money is at for the faith-based genre, Walker stated that ‘sampling’ is another income stream for many of its artists. Referring to Gospel Acts, he said: “Their music is used – people sample it. Jay Z sampled Twinkie’s song“.

Because Twinkie now owns her rights, she was able to claim 50% of publishing revenue when Jay-Z sampled her composition on his 2017 single release ‘Family Feud’. This 50% meant Twinkie owns a bigger share and made more publishing money from the record than lead artist Jay Z himself (and co-writer Beyonce, combined).

Twinkie Clark, the only BMI-registered composer on the song, owns 50% of "Family Feud" publishing share.

Outside of this example, Gospel Music has had a solid history of being sampled by mainstream artists. In the past year alone, Mary Mary’s most popular hit “Shackles” (a UK Top 10 and US Top 40) was sampled by BRIT Award Winning Rapper Stormzy on his UK #1 album “Heavy Is The Head”, and most recently by Lecrae and YK Osiris. Kirk Franklin was also sampled on Daniel Caeser’s ‘Freudian’ album.

Twinkie Clark now owning the rights to her work with The Clark Sisters means she will also receive revenue from her songs being used the Lifetime Biopic. The day following the premiere, the sisters received the largest amount of daily YouTube views since at least 2018.

The Clark Sisters, DEMAND - YouTube
The Clark Sisters received over 150,000 YouTube views on April 11, 2020. MBN research via Demand

There was also a huge spike in google searches for tickets to see them live, according to Music Industry Platform ‘DEMAND’.

The Clark Sisters, DEMAND - Google
Google searches related to live shows and tickets for The Clark Sisters reached its peak on April 12, 2020. MBN Research via Demand.

The Clark Sisters’ latest release ‘The Return’ was released on March 13, 2020.

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Analysis

A.R.M.S. has delivered $1.6m in unpaid royalties to artists since 2018

ARMS (Artist Royalty and Music Services) was launched in 2016 by producer David Salas.

MBN Staff

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Young Buck (of G-Unit), A.R.M.S. client
3 min read

Story Highlights

  • A.R.M.S. was launched in 2016 by producer David Salas.
  • The company has collected unclaimed royalties for The Chi-Lites, Young Buck (G-Unit), Fobia, Tierra, and Bobby Day.

Family-owned royalty collection agency ARMS (Artist Royalty and Music Services) announced today that they have successfully delivered $1.6million in unpaid royalties to artists and rights holders over the last two years. Founded by longtime music producer David Salas, the company’s unique model is one that favors the client. As opposed to paying any fees upfront, ARMS takes a backend commission on any royalties collected on behalf of rights holders.

According to the company’s website, David Salas (and wife Daphee) started ARMS to track down his father’s lost royalty payments. David is the son of Rudy Salas, former member of latin soul group El Chicano and co-founder of latin R&B group Tierra (along with his brother Steve).

Unaware to many, streamlining royalty payments – from processing to payouts – is not always as straightforward as what might assume it ‘should’ be. In many cases, artists never receive the royalties they are due – often referred to as ‘Black Box Royalties’. This occurs when a performer, writer, label or publisher cannot be properly traced – leaving their royalties unallocated.

It may be hard to understand how this can even happen in today’s world – but it does. One of the most common and substantial ways is with streaming services. Platforms like Spotify pay an upfront licensing fee to labels for the use of their catalogs for a limited period.

Spotify

If, however, the label’s catalog earns less in royalties on the platform than what was paid to them upfront before the contract ends, the ‘loose change’ ends up being unallocated.

Additionally, you still find cases where artists have not registered with the necessary collection societies, internationally – or the metadata on file is incorrect. In this case, the society does not know who to pay so the funds are held until they are sought out. This is where ARMS comes in.

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The company was launched in 2016, and has worked to collect royalties for The Chi-Lites, Young Buck (G-Unit), Fobia, Tierra, Bobby Day (“Rockin Robin”) and more.

ICYMI:

Most artists and even actors or voice over artists are not aware that they can receive royalties from their actual performance, like the hook, as a feature, as a band member etc”, said Salas.

Most artists and even actors or voice over artists are not aware that they can receive royalties from their actual performance

David Salas (CEO, Artist Royalty and Music Services)

Most royalties traditionally had gone to songwriters, publishers or the label but international streaming royalties are different and we help make sense of it all.”

To ensure artists are not shortchanged by their services, ARMS does not process any royalties they collect on behalf of performers or rights holders. Instead, the company has the collection society make the cheques payable to the client – who then pays ARMS a pre-agreed commission.

To that end, Salas added: “Being a musician myself, I know it’s hard to trust people in the music business, so I built this company with the premise that transparency would be absolute and our role would be hands-on. We are a small company with big ambitions.“

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