21khz: The Art of Money In Music

Jeff Price (Founder TuneCore, spinART Records and Audiam) and journalist Ted Gerstein (Author: Bomb Squad, Former Producer ABC News Nightline) explore the behind the scenes mechanisms of the music industry allowing artists, producers, record labels, songwriters and technology innovators to make money off music. Learn why $30 billion dollars is generated off of music and whose pockets it ends up in.
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21khz: The Art of Money In Music






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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 17, 2018

Judith Finell, Musicologist, president of Judith Finell Music Services
Season 2, Episode 6

Ever started explaining something to a friend, and you can tell, usually, immediately, this person has no idea what you're talking about (you can see it in the eyes).

When that happens, I always make up a little story...

“It’s like trying to describe the idea of fusion to a clueless platypus.” Or...
“It’s like explaining the theory of general relativity to a stupid rabbit.” Or...
“It’s like discussing the concepts of thermodynamics with a slow turtle. ”

With that in mind, the best way to describe this podcast would be,  "Trying to describe Music Theory to a Dimwitted Penguin." And, in this case, the "Dimwitted Penguin" happens to be me.

That's mainly because this episode covers the ideas of plagiarism, music, copyright, and the law. Three things I can't always wrap my brain around.

The background for this episode revolves around the "Blurred Lines" court case from a few years back. It started back in 2013 when the Marvin Gaye Estate sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their single, "Blurred Lines".  The Gaye Family claimed that Thick and Williams didn't so much write a song as they just stole the music from Marvin Gay's 1977 song, "Give it up."

To me, it seemed like a pretty straightforward case - they did steal it, or they didn't?  But nothing is ever easy. How do you prove, prove to a jury that something is a copy? Two songs may sound the same - but are they the same? How can you prove plagiarism and how can you prove it in a court of law. Can you even copyright a sound?

So, in the case of, "Blurred Lines," the Marvin Gaye Estate turned to Judith Finell.

Judith is a musicologist, and she happens to understand music, the law, plagiarism and copyright better than anyone...

From her website...
She has testified in disputes for Michael Jackson, Sony/CBS, Warner-Chappell, the estates of Igor Stravinsky and Bob Marley and before the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington on behalf of the National Music Publishers Assn. in a dispute with the RIAA.

Ms. Finell’s firm regularly advises entertainment company clients on licensing and risk avoidance in copyright matters, including HBO, Sony Pictures, Disney, Grey Advertising, Lionsgate, LucasFilms, CBS, and others.

It's an insightful conversation.

We discuss the definition of, "musicologist," how Judith, "sees" music in her head, How copyright law forced her to play the piano in court, and how she was able to convince a jury that two songs are indeed the same.

Plus, Judith tells us what exactly is, "Perfect Pitch."

Nov 26, 2018

Paul Resnikoff - Founder, Digital Music News
Season 2/ Episode 5

The second season finale of the original Star Trek back in 1969 was an odd episode. You will see where I am going with this in a moment.....

Yes, Kirk and Spock are in the top of the show, Kirk and Spock are at the close of the show, but the meat of the show, the entire episode, is taken up with the story of some guy named - "Gary Seven." Gary Seven is a human who, as it turns out, was kidnapped by aliens and sent back to earth to protect us from... whatever, that's not the point...

The point is (and was), Gene Roddenberry was using one show - Star Trek, to promote another show, in this case, a show about some guy named - Gary Seven. (In the end the show, something of a Doctor Who Ripoff, never got picked up and the whole affair is now nothing more than a fantastic bit of a Star Trek Trivia... but, again, that's not the point.)

So with all that in mind you will notice that Jeff and I are in the top of today's show, we are in the close of the close of today's show, but the meat of the episode, most of this show is taken up by a guy named Paul Resnikoff.

Paul Resnikoff is no Gary Seven.  Paul created and runs - Digital Music News (, the most comprehensive and up to date site on the current state of Digital Music.

"Digital Music News is the information authority for music industry and technology executives."

We’re a highly influential source of news and industry analysis for millions of readers worldwide. Our audience is comprised of highly-targeted decision-makers from every segment of the business, including recordings, publishing, streaming, live concerts, talent development, venture capital, and broader tech.

Digital Music News 

Gary Seven
Paul also happens to run a podcast of the same name, and if you like 21Khz, you'll love the Digital Music News podcast.

This particular episode we're sharing focuses on the lawsuit surrounding,  "Blurred Lines."  That was the 2013 Robin Thicke/ Pharrell Williams song that, because of accusations of copyright infringement by the Marvin Gaye Estate, ended up in some five years of litigation. The central issue in that case, Who wrote the song? Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams or Marvin Gaye?

It's one of those stories that hits the sweet spot for music, and business and copyright.


Come back in a few weeks; we'll have our take on the "Blurred Lines" case, we'll have an interview with Judith Finell. Judith was the world-renowned musicologist with the unenviable assignment of having to convince a jury that, the music they were hearing, didn't just sound like something Marvin Gaye might have written. It was a piece of music indeed written by Marvin Gaye.

Nov 7, 2018

What a piece of the Merrie Melodies? How about Bette Midler? Etta James? Santana?

Well, they have all been for sale.

One of the goals of this podcast has been to figure out all the ways music can generate money. We know about album sales, we've talked endlessly about streaming rights, we've discussed those "big fat juicy contracts" (that don't exist anymore).

But what about music futures? Ever wanted to be modern versions of Randolph and Mortimer Duke? (Go ahead look it up, I'll wait). What if you could buy the rights to a piece of music that already exists, and is already generating an income? Well, Royalty Exchange, a company based out of Denver, Colorado allows you to do just that.

But buying a song is different than buying Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice futures.

Music brings along its own set of regulations and mechanisms for reporting and tracking sales and distribution. The ASCAP's and BMI's of the world see to it that music is monitored and reported with the idea of eventually paying the owner any particular piece of music. So in the case of a song, past performance may be a predictor of future earnings (with, of course, all the usual caveats).

It's a conversation that fascinated me from the beginning.

Aug 27, 2018

Danny Turner - Monetizing Moods.
Global Senior Vice President for Creative Programming at Mood Media
Season 2/ Episode 3

I've never been able to get the final scene from the "Blues Brothers," out of my head. Jake and Elwood spend the entirety of the (in my opinion fantastic) movie racing to the Cook County Assessors office, desperate to pay the back taxes on the orphanage. The final few moments of their quest (chased by thousands of members of Illinois law Enforcement) spent waiting in the elevator, staring at the blank walls, while the dulcet tones of "The Girl from Ipanema,"plays over the loudspeakers.

The scene doesn't need words, and we've all been there. Staring at elevator walls, avoiding any eye contact, canned elevator Muzak playing over the elevator speakers to fill the silence. Just say the word, "Muzak," and "The Girl From Ipanema" jumps immediately to mind.

But here's the thing, Muzak, as we thought we knew it, no longer exists. Muzak hasn't been a company since 2011 when it was acquired, for $345 million by a company called, Mood Media*.

Why would anyone pay $345 million for the company behind, "The Girl from Ipanema"?  Well - according to Danny Turner, Global Senior Vice President for Creative Programming at Mood Media - it was money well spent.

Mood Media is an Austin, Texas-based company, which will create the perfect mood for their clients.

From their website...

Mood Media is the world’s leading in-store media solutions company dedicated to elevating the Customer Experience. We create greater emotional connections between brands and consumers through the right combination of sight, sound, scent, social mobile, and systems solutions.

 Music, sight, sounds, smells. Everything you would need to create the perfect mood for your shopping mall, high-end hotel or corporate lobby. Mood Media yanked the "The Girl from Ipanema," kicking and screaming away from the relaxing beaches of Rio de Janeiro and dropped her right into the middle of the edgy world of modern consumer culture.

It's a great interview, Danny explains a little about the history behind Muzak, about the power of music to create a mood, what is the difference between a playlist and true curation, and how artists can make a living off composing music for Mood Media.

* OK, sorry, we messed up a bit. A few times (actually, like 8) in the interview we mistakenly called the company, "Mood Music"... it's called Mood Media, and we were wrong (very wrong.)

Jul 20, 2018
"Wait … You were in a Christian Rock Band?  And you had to talk with Mr. Potty mouth - Me?"
"It's OK Jeff, I've been in the music business a long time"

Season 2/ Episode 2 - John Barker, and Everything you ever wanted to know about licensing - but (of course) were afraid to ask.

I like to quote Donald Rumsfeld (Sorry, but I do) ...

      "There are things that we know we DON'T know, and there are things we didn't even know we needed to know."      

This is one of the episodes where we ask the questions you didn't know needed to be asked.  We talk with John about music publishing, administration, songwriters, copyrights,  licensing, collection, why it's crucial to do so, and what happens if you don't.  John Barker knows these things, for nearly 20 years John has run his company, Clearbox Global out of Nashville to help songwriters and music publishers deal with exactly these kinds of questions.

Plus, he regales us with stories of Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou Harris.

Jun 29, 2018

Season 2/ Episode 1: Carin Gilfry – “Carin – Like Car in the Garage”

Three things you need to know about today’s podcast…

First, “yes” we have been away for a little while. Life, work, family – all the things that get in the way of a successful podcast, managed to get in the way of our successful podcast. But we’re back, and we have close to a dozen podcasts lined up and ready to go.

Second, Carin pronounces her name, “car-in” as in, “the car is in the garage.”

Third, you might have already heard of Carin because she’s kind of famous for being locked in a closet and you can listen to that part of her interview down below.

So why Carin? I like deep dives into particular professions because they invariably have great stories. So I figured, “Let’s talk to someone who does voice-overs,” see what we can find.

Starting her career as an opera singer (I liked to picture her belting out an aria wearing Viking horns while grasping a spear), Carin didn’t disappoint. Despite singing at some of the world’s most famous venues, a love of Opera wasn’t paying her bills. So Carin did what many successful artists do, leveraged her strengths, her fantastic voice, and pivoted. She tried her hand at voice-over work and quickly realized in today’s fractured media landscape, dulcet tones could pay the bills. Corporate videos, audiobooks, PA systems, even answering machines, everyone is looking for the perfect voice.

And now it’s more than just voice-overs, Carin now produces children shows, writes music, she’ll even write the theme music for your audiobook.

And it all started with opera.

Looking for more on Carin…

AND… she was nice enough to record us a new open.