Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Blogs and Updated Wendy Day sites...YAY!

I've just set up two new blogs through my websites. They are a blog where I'm posting ALL of my articles (in one place so there aren't 5 article archive sites with articles, just 1....and that blog is:

And then I've set up a personal blog where I talk about life and music industry stuff (everything BUT articles I've written)...and that blog is:

Also, my new eBook dropped today and you can get it here:

Friday, January 21, 2011

360 Deals ARE Today's "Record Deals"

By, Wendy Day from Rap Coalition (

I gotta state right upfront that I am biased against 360 Deals. I understand WHY they exist, I just find them unfairly oppressive in the label’s favor in an industry with a draconic history of jerking artists out of money. I stopped negotiating deals for artists in 2005 because I refuse to do a 360 Deal for any artist! How strongly do you have to hate something to stop your own income over it?

In the early 2000s, the music industry went through a severe change. Music sales plummeted, the importance of the internet reigned supreme, and there was an influx of artists into the industry causing an over saturation never seen before. It’s gotten worse, not better, for the major record labels.

Once used to a healthy profit margin that afforded grand lifestyles for those at the top of the food chain, the major labels became disgruntled as sales dropped while they missed the boat on less profitable digital sales. Taking on the role of dinosaurs fighting for survival, they tried everything from stopping the new digital revolution, to fighting it, to suing it, to band wagon jumping too late. Nothing worked for them. And they still haven’t learned from their mistakes—they still continue to fight the ways the consumers want to receive their music.

So to justify their continuing existence, they decided to take an even larger share of the pie from the ONLY aspect of the equation that they controlled—the artist (or the “content” provided for digital download). Back in the day, labels took roughly 87% of the pie while giving the artists 12% of the money AFTER the artist paid back everything spent on them from that 12% share. This means that if the artist sold $500,000 worth of CDs, and it cost $50,000 to market and promote that CD (a very low example), the artist share of $60,000 (12% of $500k) would be divided between paying the label back that $50,000 and a check for the remaining $10,000. The label would receive $490,000 for its investment and belief in that artist while the artist made $10,000. In exchange for giving up the lion’s share of the sales, the labels always told the artists that they’d make 100% of the touring. Any show money, was the artist’s to keep!

When the shit hit the fan financially for the labels, they decided to tap into the show money, and all other streams of income for the artists, as well. After all, if your profit margin is made smaller, you need to eat more of everyone’s income to keep the fat cats at the top, and the stock holders, happy. Most 360 Deals share in endorsement income (15% to 30% depending on the artist), performance income (10% to 30% depending on the artist), merchandising income (20% to 50%) and Film/TV money (15% to 40%). Before I go any further, I have to thank the good folks at Warner Bros Records for leaking me a major label contract for an artist’s 360 Deal. This enabled me to write about REAL contracts instead of just what I’d heard from lawyers, artists, and label folks.

How do labels justify taking an even BIGGER share of the pie from artists? They complain that they are doing all of the developing, investing, marketing, and promoting. Their argument is that they believe in the artist when the artist has nothing, and they feel that assuming the lion’s share of the risk should result in sharing in a lion’s share of the profit. If the label is developing and building the artist to a level of super stardom, they feel they have the right to share in a percentage of everything that super stardom affords the artist. So if they drive the artist platinum, they feel they should get a piece of the tour that came from the fame the label helped the artist build, and a piece of the endorsement deal or film income that came from the fame that the label helped build. I guess I could see this argument better, if I actually agreed that the labels did their jobs well of building artists.

I have a different vantage point of record labels. I see major labels based in tall glass buildings in NY and L.A. that have little interaction with the streets, fans, or the artists. I see them sign artists that have already started to build a buzz or sell music themselves, and then I see them sit back and let the artists’ teams continue to do much of the work themselves. I don’t see major labels taking much risk with their artists, but do continue to put them through a system that is almost an outdated cookie cutter version of how to sell CDs. The labels rarely interact with the fans and are quite out of touch about what the fans want or are willing to buy. They seem to create this assembly line of artists who all sound similar and fit a certain format at radio. They seem to throw a lot of music into the marketplace and work whatever catches on quickly and easily. Most labels do what’s best and easiest for the label, not what’s in the best interest of the artist. Now, in a way, it’s very unfair of me to make this sweeping generalization, because there are some amazing people who work inside of major labels and really go all out for the artists. But I find these people to be the exception, not the norm, and I also find them to be frustrated most of the time because they constantly have to fight with their bosses and the status quo to succeed on a project.

I also find that competitor labels usually hire the best people away from the labels who are experiencing some success, thereby breaking up the synergy within a team once they all learn to work well together. This is why a label like Def Jam or Universal could be so strong in the late 90s and yet be struggling to succeed today. I find that artists rarely look at the teams working at labels and just fiend for a record deal no matter the success of the label or who’s at the label (staff or other artists).

So labels got further away from the fans, the staffs got lazier or more frustrated (perhaps more work for less pay?), the artists took less risk because there were more of them and they were just happy to have a record deal, and the fans started expecting music for free because they could just download it if they didn’t feel like paying for it. Major labels continued reducing spending, slashing budgets, cutting pay, and signing “sure things” (whatever that means). And to justify the spending they were still doing, they decided to offer deals that cut into more of the artists’ income. The argument was that out of 50 artists signed to their label, only one was successful and funding the 49 losses. No other business on earth has such a backwards business model. Imagine if Ford built cars and accepted the fact that every model but the Taurus was meant to be a loss leader, and that the Taurus sales had to make up the loss of every other brand under their umbrella. Huh?

Or imagine if banks lent money for mortgages expecting 99% of the mortgages to default, and 1% of the mortgages were expected to make up the bank’s profits that year. Further imagine if each homeowner paying back their mortgage didn’t actually get to keep ownership of the house after their mortgage was paid back! The bank’s argument would be that they took all the risk on the house, so they should get to retain ownership. The people that lived in the house would still have to pay for all the repairs and upkeep, but the bank would own the house. That’s how the music industry is built. And the folks at the top with the most to lose are the ones fighting to keep this backwards system alive.

People ask me all the time what I think is wrong with the music business. I would like to blame our troubles on the greed of major labels, the proliferation of bad music that the fans don’t seem to want, or the free downloading of (stolen) music. But the truth is that if the artists didn’t agree to these incredibly bad deals, there would not be incredibly bad deals. If a bank existed that kept ownership of your house after you paid back your mortgage, you would never do business with that bank. Yet all day, every day, there is a long line of artists willing to sign their lives away to record labels because they don’t understand, or possibly don’t know about, the consequences. Or maybe they just don’t care. Maybe the need for fame overpowers the need for money…until they realize they aren’t making money but someone else is. I find that it takes artists 3 to 5 years to realize they are getting jerked. In that time, a lot of money is lost and one or two things happens: either the artist is replaced with a new artist willing to make less money, or the artist has enough value to renegotiate their deal and share a larger piece of the pie. Sometimes, they even start their own labels and repeat this onerous process with their own new, unknowing artist! They got jerked, so they turn around and jerk someone else.

But back to 360 Deals. This new model will exist until artists are willing to say “no!” and I don’t see any signs of that happening. What I do see happening are artists becoming more entrepreneurial, and instead of signing to major labels, I see them finding their own investors and building their own teams who can help them succeed. There are enough laid off employees of record labels who’ve experienced some success out here to hire to run and work at indie labels. There’s a huge void in the marketplace to deliver the kinds of music fans want…and that’s not just one kind of music.

What I learned from both the buzzes of Drake (lyrical mainstream artist who’ll succeed at radio) and Gucci Mane (not-so-lyrical street artist with gutter stories and experiences to share) is that fans still want music. Major labels are still slow to respond to the needs of the streets and the internet is only speeding up and splintering demand further. There’s still a market for good music that the fans want. Our job is to give it to them. And if we do so with a fair and equitable split of the profits, the artists can build lifetime careers and we can all make money!

I hear the artists who sign 360 Deals say that they feel they have to sign these deals because the label won’t work their projects if they don’t give up a bigger split. I hear the artists say they want the labels to help them land endorsement deals, major tours, and TV Shows and film roles—but I’ve yet to see a major label do this. Let’s be realistic, these major opportunities go to the biggest stars and the ones who apply themselves directly in those alternate areas. If you hire a film agent, and take acting lessons, you may get increased roles in film and TV. If you increase your fame through music sales, your endorsement opportunities increase. Beyonce landed a Revlon contract because she was a star, Revlon did not make her a star. How many new artists are the major labels building to be stars? In 2009, it was Taylor Swift and Susan Boyle out of all of the releases that came and went. And neither of them were developed by the major label system—one was a product of an indie label and the other a product of a TV show. The majors had access because they did deals with middlemen and then applied their systems behind those movements that were already happening. Maybe that really is the job of a major label in today’s environment.

In my opinion, a 360 Deal is an excuse for a major label to take a bigger piece of the pie without doing any additional work. It’s insurance on their part. If the artist does blow up by chance, it gives them more opportunity to make a bigger cut. And that’s just smart business. I guess if they called it what it really is, I’d be less annoyed by it: the price of doing business with a major label. If they played a bigger role in building overall success, I’d be happy to see them share in a bigger piece of the pie at the end of the day.

Example of a “360 Deal” Artist (this is not an actual artist example):

Male rapper based in Atlanta with a strong following. He has his own team of inexperienced friends and family around him and a very strong street following. The DJs, fans, other artists and industry are supporting him and propelling him forward. With no real single or CD in the marketplace, demand is high—he’s getting $30,000 a show and performing three or four times a week for the past few months. This will last about 6 months, approximately. He’s put out a series of mixed CDs, for free, over the past year. The label signed him a year ago to a 360 Deal but hadn’t begun to promote him yet because their roster was full. The artist got tired of waiting and began putting out a new mixed CD every month to build his buzz.

Advance: $75,000
Album Budget once popularity increased: $350,000
Recoupable Marketing and Promotions: $750,000
Monthly Show Income: $420,000
Endorsement Deal: $50,000

Album comes out and sells a total of 350,000 copies (it was a very commercial album but the artist had been very street, almost gutter, up to the point of his album release so fans didn’t really embrace the album as expected).

Album income for label: $3.5 million
Artists’ Share after Recouping: negative balance of $405,000
$750,000 + $75,000 = $825,000
12% of $3.5 mill = $420,000
$825,000 - $420,000 = $405,000
Artist’s endorsement Deal Share: $37,500
75% of $50,000
Artists Share of Touring Income: $1,764,000
70% of $420,000 x 6 months
Artists Share of Publishing Income (50%): $100,000 (estimate of mechanicals and ASCAP/BMI royalties)

Income for Label: $4,773,500 gross income on an investment of $825,000
$3,500,000 sales
$405,000 recoupment
$12,500 endorsement income
$756,000 tour/show income
+ $100,000 publishing income
$4,773,500 gross income
Less Staff costs
Less Day to Day operating expenses
Less Taxes

Income For Artist: $1,122,375 income
$37,500 endorsement income
$1,764,000 tour income
+$100,000 publishing income
$1,901,500 sub total
-$405,000 recoupment
$1,496,500 gross income
Less 20% management fee
Less 5% Business Manager fee (Accountant)
Less Tour costs/legal costs/tour manager/DJ/Operating expenses/taxes

Let’s compare gross incomes…
Artist made 1.5 million while label made 4.7 million
Artist share: 24%
Label share: 76%

Let’s compare Net incomes before taxes…
Artist made approximately $1 million while the label made approximately $4.5 million
Artist share: 18%
Label share: 82%

If the label is taking all of the risk (they are not), putting up all of the money in all of the right places (they are not), devoting all of their attention to this one artist (they are not), and doing most of the work (they are not), then this business model makes sense for everyone involved. But if the artist is doing the bulk of the work, risking their career in the hands of the label, and coming out of their own pocket for many expenses, then this business model is hugely skewed in favor of the major label.

Perception Is Reality

By, Wendy Day (

One of the most difficult parts of being in this industry, is accepting that perception is reality. What people THINK is true, IS true to them. Let me explain. If you think an artist is wack, he is wack. Even if 2 million screaming fans buy his music, you still think he’s wack. It would be difficult for anyone to convince you otherwise.

To millions of Americans, Michael Jackson was a pedophile, OJ Simpson was guilty and his all-star legal team beat the system, Obama is a Muslim socialist born in a foreign land (that’s just too funny), and Tupac is still alive. Proof or no proof, the belief is there. Their perception is their reality.

This mindset travels into business as well. If a record label thinks an artist is a good risk, has a strong buzz, and is talented, they will sign that act. But if the label thinks otherwise, that artist doesn’t have a chance in hell of getting a deal unless he or she does something to change the perception. So whether an artist has real talent or not, has never been of much relevance in the music industry—it’s the perception of talent that matters. Labels chase perceptions, because that is what’s accurate and real to them. If Waka Flocka is the hottest rapper on the streets of the south right now, then labels will scramble to sign him, work with him, and look for other artists like him. Perception is reality.

Once you understand this simple concept, it makes it far easier for you to move forward in the music industry.

If you are looking to get a good record deal, one that could actually lead to some longevity and success in the music industry, you will need to change (or control) the perception that labels (or those with money) have about you. If the perception is that you are a star, then you are a star. If the perception is that you are surrounded by a team that doesn’t understand the music business, then you don’t understand the music business.

When I have shopped deals in the past for artists, I always focused on changing the perception to be what we needed it to be to get the deal done. And for the most part, I did so with artists who were talented and could back up their 15 minutes of fame with some real artistic value. I learned this lesson very early in my career when I was shopping Eminem.

In 1996, I went to speak on a panel at an event in Detroit at the Athenium Hotel (I think it was called Music Mecca). I had driven there from Chicago with a rapper called Rhymefest, and there was a whiteboy rapping outside in a cipher that ‘Fest immediately recognized as hugely talented. Eminem was one of the best lyricists I had ever heard, but he was white and I knew the stigma of white rappers. Back then, the industry was just recovering from Vanilla Ice, a pop sensation that had a lot of money and promotion sunk into him, but he was later found out to be “pre-fabricated” (therefore not real), accounting for a huge loss to the label and industry as his career plummeted into obscurity.

So my perception of Eminem was that he was an incredible talent, but it would be hard to get a label to sign him. Enjoying a good challenge and being a little crazy, I offered to shop him a deal. For nine months, I took his package around to the labels trying to get anyone to see the value in his lyrics and ignore his skin color. Slowly some progress was made, and The Source Magazine covered him in the Unsigned Hype column (the holy grail for any unsigned rapper at the time, yet a small percentage of rappers covered in that column actually went on to have successful rap careers so the perception at the labels didn’t change much) and the Lyricist Lounge monthly showcase in NY embraced him. At that time in the industry, labels were less excited about an artist’s lyrical prowess, and more excited about the hype and buzz surrounding them. I knew that if we were going to get Em a deal, we’d have to change the perception of white rappers and change the perception of lyricists in the industry. I also knew we’d have to get some CDs out on the streets to try and build/expand the buzz.

I wasn’t alone in recognizing Em’s talent. He had Paul Rosenberg (he was a brand new lawyer at the time trying to be a brand new manager) shopping him a deal, a production company I never met or spoke with called the Bass Brothers, and a guy who owned a magazine named Mark who is outspokenly bitter about being cut out of the equation early on by Paul, Em’s manager. I have no idea whether he was or wasn’t, as he was gone by the time I started shopping Em’s deal. Truth is, I dealt as little as possible with Em’s team, just reporting back to Em or Paul regarding my progress, or lack thereof.

To shift perception, I put together an event called RapOlympics. My plan was to showcase lyricists in a competitive atmosphere and get M-TV and BET to cover it. If it became a hugely talked about event, it would showcase lyrics in a positive light while bringing attention to the best of the best—the winners. With RapSheet Magazine, a handful of volunteers, and the best lyricists in the country, I pulled it off in Los Angeles in 1997. I took a wicked financial loss (sadly, not my biggest one--Twista was the biggest financial loss I ever had in this industry), but my plan worked. Lyricists were brought into the spotlight (it wouldn’t last, unfortunately), Dr Dre signed Eminem to what I thought was an above average deal for a new artist, and fans of lyricists were encouraged that talent mattered once again.

I recall this story for you only because a few days ago, the manager of an unsigned group with a strong buzz called me to ask for advice getting his group signed. They had offers on the table, but the offers were low and were 360 Deal offers. He felt they weren’t in line with what the buzz and hype of the group warranted. He was 100% correct. As I called around to label presidents on another project, I struck up conversations about this hot group to see what the perception was, and every label had similar comments. The perception was that the team behind the group made bad business decisions, and once signed, the label feared this team would negatively impact their ability to make money. Their distaste ran so deep that most referred to the lawyer and manager by name, something labels rarely do. So the offers were low enough to counter this risk. It’s very hard to reposition disbelief in a team. It was especially frustrating to hear because I found their manager sharp and intelligent—the opposite of what the labels’ perception was.

Although I never voiced my opinion, I felt the only real way to counter this perception was to change the team (or the illusion of who the team was with a new manager and a new lawyer that the labels would respect, while keeping the old team involved behind the scenes). Or, create a new outside offer from an investor that would be higher than all of the low offers from the major labels. This would either drive the price up at the Majors, or give the group a deal within the price range they felt was worthy of their situation with an investor. I see many deals lost or lowballed because the labels don’t respect the manager, the lawyer, or the negotiator. In 2005, I did a deal at Motown for an artist whose lawyer received an offer for $350,000 and 15 points in August. It was the only label interested in the artist, so raising the stakes would be nearly impossible. The artist found out the lawyer wasn’t well respected at that label, fired him, and hired me. Within 30 days, the artist was signing a deal for a $650,000 advance with a 50/50 split on the backend—a far better deal. Perception is reality, so make certain it’s always to your advantage.

Behind The Scenes

By, Wendy Day

To those outside of the music industry, the business of music appears easy and available to all. It’s not. Part of what has led to this mistaken impression, is the amount of idiots that work in the music business (or pretend to work in the industry but really just keep busy all day accomplishing nothing real or of value). As people outside of the industry watch the spate of reality shows based around the music industry, or meet these idiots who appear to be employed (but are working for free or slave wages), the mindset becomes “hey, if he can do this, then so can I.”

People enter this industry each year by the thousands thinking they understand it and have access, but they really don’t. To me, it’s not damaging until folks try to enter with funding, because more often than not, they end up wasting it, trusting the wrong folks, and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of a few short months. Very few of you actually read articles like this or meet people with legitimate strong track records of success, in order to build a successful career.

Fortunately, all of the excess bodies come and go very quickly. Very few people have the dedication to take the beating of the music industry (financially, emotionally, and mentally), nor do they have the staying power to work for the few pennies tossed to them by those in power. The reality of the music business, is that those at the top make millions and those at the bottom work for free (and rarely, if ever, make it to the top) and every one in between is scratching, clawing and stepping on each other to become the ones at the top. Most never do. [If you are a history buff, see “share cropping” for a historical reference you can apply to the music business psychology.]

For every one person that succeeds, hundreds fail.

The major labels depend upon artists and their teams not knowing or understanding how the music industry works. They encourage ignorance so they can take advantage financially, after all, if an artist has a knowledgeable team, the label makes a smaller share of the pie. I’ve even seen members of the artists’ own teams keep the artists ignorant and away from legitimate established people just so they can protect what they see as their cut. Just this week, I watched an Atlanta lawyer who is not well-respected tell a group he represents not to hire an outside person to shop or negotiate their deal, when he had tried and failed twice himself. The major labels have no respect for the group because their team appears stupid. He seemingly was protecting his own fee over doing what was best for his group that could potentially be superstars if they had better advisors. Someone will sign them for cheap and squeeze out the manager and lawyer within a few months, and steer their own choices in place. For the record, no label should ever have input as to an artist’s manager or lawyer, as those positions are naturally adversarial to the label. In a perfect world, you want someone the label respects, but isn’t employed by the label or too close to the label.

I’ve put together a list of some of the things you can do, and avoid, to properly prepare for your foray into the music business, or to strengthen what you’ve already built during your stint in this snake-filled industry.

1. DO THE RESEARCH – Watching BET every day (or American Idol) does not qualify you to work in this industry. Read all the books, and study the websites and blogs every day to learn who’s who and what’s going on behind the scenes in the music industry. Follow the behind the scenes folks on Twitter, not just the famous artists. See who they talk with frequently, what they say to each other, and what issues are important to them. Ask questions (specific ones like “how do 360 Deals adversely and positively affect artists in today’s economy?,” not general or selfish ones like “how do I get started in the music business?”, or “how come you never return my calls?” or my personal least favorite one: “Follow me back!”).
2. DO VOLUNTEER OR INTERN – Very few people enter the music industry without doing some free labor of some sort, unless they start their own businesses. Working under a legitimate, well connected person in this industry can be more valuable than any money you could have ever been paid. Even if you decide to start your own management company, record label, or be a publicist, it’s important to gain some knowledge, connections, and experience in this business prior to going out on your own. Hey, P Diddy started as an intern.
3. DO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS – This is a “who you know” business. You need to build real and lasting relationships with people. The bulk of paid work and opportunities that you get will be referred by someone else. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of paying jobs I’ve helped people get in this industry—not because they asked me to do so, but because someone mentioned they needed a road manager, or marketing person, or good publicist, or radio promoter, and I’ve plugged in folks I know and respect. I don’t hook up friends, I hook up people who are right for the job. They tend to go further in positions and make me look good for recommending them.
4. DO NOT BURN BRIDGES – I have burnt a lot of bridges in this industry, but they have all been well thought out, planned, and as a last resort. This is an ego driven business and there’s nothing worse than insulting someone and then finding yourself in a meeting with that person years later needing something from them.
5. DO NOT ASSUME – There’s so much that goes on in this industry behind the scenes that you can’t possibly assume you know what’s going on. When you are at the Barbershop talking about why an artist got shelved or signed, you look stupid for speculating. If you’re at a party talking about the latest rapper getting arrested based on what you read on the internet, you’re an idiot.
6. DO NOT ALWAYS BE “ALL ABOUT THE MONEY” – being fiscally smart is a good thing. Always attaching a price to everything you do will get you left behind. Even the top folks at the most successful companies have their pro-bono and spec projects that they work on strictly for the love. If you are seen as being all about the money, you will gain a reputation of being a “culture vulture,” and those who are willing to pitch in and work free on special projects or special events will surpass you in their careers.
7. DO SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LEGITIMATE PEOPLE – This industry is really just a minute big. We all know who the fuck boys (and fuck girls) are. If you are so desperate to get into this business by working for or coming up under a scumbag (artist or company), expect to always be seen as a scumbag. And if you end up working for a snake because you didn’t know any better, too bad! See #1 above.
8. DO BE LOYAL, BUT NOT LOYAL TO A FAULT -- Loyalty is one of the most important traits in this industry (or in life). Misplaced loyalty is not. You can do the right thing, but if you do the right thing in loyalty but for the wrong person, you can really get burned. I’ve seen people take bullets and razor cuts for their team, but then watched the team not make a call, pay a hospital bill, pay for funerals, fund the bid, or even visit the family. Be loyal to those who will be loyal to you in return.
9. DO NOT BE BLINDED BY FAME – Fame is attractive and intoxicating. Do not trade your money or dignity for fame. It is fleeting, short lived, and those who have it will try to fight to keep it (but never succeed)—even at your expense. Just being “down” with an artist doesn’t make you famous or rich. It makes you just another groupie. And when you leave that camp, even though you’ve moved on, the stigma of you selling out to be a groupie stays forever. See any famous sidekick for proof of this fact.
These are just a few thoughts to help you move forward in your career in the music business, behind the scenes. Truth is, maybe ten people reading this out of all of the tens of thousands will still be in this industry next year, and maybe one or two will really succeed.

Changing Times

By Wendy Day

OK, so writing this article is the first productive thing I’ve done since I got my iPad. It’s crack to me. I’m so addicted to my iPad apps. I can’t get any work done. And I’m gonna have to take out a loan to pay for all of these expensive ass apps I am downloading onto my toy! The apps on my iPhone were 99 cents to $3.99. The iPad? The business apps are $9.99 and up. Games and books and shit? $4.99 and up… crazy. But I’m officially addicted. I have to pay to play.

Which brings me to the internet and technology... The playing field has been leveled. The price of recording equipment came down so anyone could record songs at home without having to spend a lot of money to record in a 64-track studio. Then, with the social networking sites, artists could go direct to fans and promote. With companies like, artists can upload from home, and digitally distribute their music while collecting the bulk of the income from the sales. Could it get any better than this?

But here’s the downside: the internet with its relatively free access has led artists to believe that this is all they need. And that message was welcome news to most ears because—well, let’s face it, artists are almost always broke. So when led to believe that all they need is to upload their shit to the web and promote for free from home, they ate that up!! And still do. Unfortunately, it has made any internet millionaire artists in the music industry.

This thinking of “oh, that’s easy, I can do that,” spawned an entire new generation of people who jumped head first into the industry. This not only included artists and producers, but anyone who was able to invent a job within the music industry and look important. People able to copy news and information from the major hip hop web sites became bloggers and started blabbing their personal opinions and called themselves “sources.” Anyone able to collect email addresses and press send on a mass email became email blasters (for a fee). People with the ability to email bloggers and websites started calling themselves publicists and charging for it even though they lacked the relationships, skills, and experience to get successful placements for their clients. The more enterprising scammers toured the country doing seminars and showcases for a fee, as if they were the New Music Seminar meets American Idol. Except they taught next to nothing useful in the real world, and gave artists little more than experience performing in front of other artists, for a fee.

On the social networking sites, like Twitter, people with no experience and no access gained instant access to the inner circle of the music industry. You can “friend” or “follow” Julia Beverly, Puffy, Steve Rifkind, and every star and convince yourself you have a relationship with them. You can retweet what they say, or repeat it in an e-blast and lead others to think you have access and inner knowledge (reminder: you don’t).

Industrious folks quickly learned they could sit at home and surf the web in between computer games and would call it “grinding.” They could print up business cards and charge other unknowing folks who jumped into the industry to publicize them, promote their music, buy beats or hooks, subscribe to their eblasts, and pay good money for a variety of useless and ineffective services. Up sprang a cottage industry of conference calls, record pools, DJ coalitions, award shows, and seminars.

So an industry already rife with bullshitters and scam artists went into hyperspeed. Intent on making money off of artists’ dreams, these less than experienced “fuck boys” (including women) started promoting themselves and their services as if that’s what it took to succeed in this business. Only, they were wrong.

Even Souljah Boy, who is credited with being the first rap artist to use the internet effectively to promote, didn’t build his career solely by promoting on the internet. He got out on the streets and promoted to actual living people, as well as utilizing the internet to its fullest extent.

The internet has almost single handedly wiped out the need for retail stores and CDs. So what all of this created was an industry that was over crowded, inexperienced, and full of shit. It made it next to impossible for anyone to make a living doing music. It became overcrowded and saturated. The ancillary services were reduced to a few very talented people and a sea of bungling idiots. Many, many people lost large sums of money banking on the wrong people to help them.

But the Internet and technology aren’t the only things that negatively impacted the music industry. In the mid-2000s, the labels caught on to 360 Deals, and instituted them like they were fresh air. Not only wasn’t anyone getting a deal or being promoted at the label level unless they agreed to and signed a 360 Deal, but they became the new industry standard.

360 Deals impacted the industry quickly and heavily. Because the labels were now partners in every revenue stream possible for artists, the focus switched from building a career to making the artist a pop icon as quickly as possible. For example, where it took TI four albums to go from street rapper to pop radio superstar, and Young Jeezy three albums, Gucci Mane tried to do it in his first major label release. Labels became keen to drive their artists to urban radio and into the domain of pop radio so they could quickly impact tours and endorsement money. A rapper with a hit pop record could transcend into film, tv, endorsement, bigger touring opportunities, etc. It became about the financial split instead of about building a sound career with a foundation. Artists have become disposable. When the fans grow tired of Eminem (or he ages out of the target demographic), there’s Fergie and Black Eyed Peas to pick up the dollars. If and when Black Eyed Peas sales start to lag, the label can impact with Lady Gaga. It’s a constant cycle of filling the label’s coiffures. VERY smart business. Very damaging to the art form of music.

And since I’ve mentioned touring, let’s talk about how that has changed for the worse. When new artists were coming up (like Yo Gotti, Plies, Jeezy, Lil Wayne, etc) there was a market for artists to make $5,000 to $10,000 a show. Up and coming artists who had developed a street buzz could make a living doing shows. When I first met Yo Gotti, he was doing very well for himself performing for $3,000 to $5,000 a show, three or four nights a week. He could eat, his manager and his team could eat, and it helped to build his reputation and buzz with fans and with the industry. He built a solid foundation.

In today’s economy, artists seem to raise their prices quickly, so they become more expensive than they can attract fans. Here’s what I mean: Nicky Minaj had a wonderful buzz. Before she had a single or an album to promote, the word was she was charging $16,000 a show. That is a wonderful thing, but here is the reality of that. In a smaller market, which is what makes up the bulk of America, to make a profit on a $16,000 show, the promoter has to have a venue that holds at least 3000 people willing to spend $15 or $20 a ticket. In a smaller market, there are very few clubs that hold 3,000 people and very few people who can afford a $20 ticket a couple of times a week. So newer artists go from being a regular feature in a small town to a once in a while event.

There was a point this past Spring where the show prices of artists either fell into the $1,000 to $5,000 range (Travis Porter, Roscoe Dash, etc) or the $15,000 to $25,000 range (Yo Gotti, Waka Flocks, etc). While I absolutely LOVE seeing artists get money, I can’t help but wonder what the promoters did who needed shows in the $5,000 to $12,500 range. Sadly, I know the answer--they stopped doing rap shows. They couldn’t make money. The artists who commanded the higher price point ended up doing spot dates in bigger markets, and couldn’t tour properly because the economics didn’t make sense. I worried about Gotti and Waka when their planned tour ended after just a handful of dates. Touring not only brings in income for the artists (and now the labels) but it also promotes the artist amongst the fans all over the US. Not being able to perform in Albany, GA or Columbia, SC, or Nashville, TN hurts the artists, the fans, and the industry as a whole.

So when I pulled up SoundScan last week, I noticed that very few rappers have gone Gold. The artists who’ve sold the most are the mainstream pop acts, the artists like Black Eyed Peas, Lil Wayne, Kanye, Rick Ross—the ones who’ve already built their careers on a solid foundation. The ones who no longer need the smaller markets or the smaller clubs to make a living.

Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel: bullshit comes to light very quickly and the folks that will remain after all of the dust settles, are the ones who were passionate enough to ride out the turbulence and stick it out. The artists savvy enough to think longterm and who realize that it’s better to work for 7 nights at $2,000 a night, instead of once a week for $10,000, are the ones who will have the staying power and the solid careers. The rest will fizzle out and go by the wayside. Natural selection at its best!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mistakes Artists Make

Mistakes Artists Make
By, Wendy Day from Rap Coalition (

I’ve learned so much from mistakes—both my own and others’. Mistakes are NOT necessarily a bad thing (provided you can fix the situation when things go wrong), if one learns from them. The cool thing about mistakes is that it means that you are trying new things and taking action (assuming you aren’t making the same mistake over and over)! Here are some mistakes I have learned from and that I’ve seen others’ learn from—some are small errors in judgment and others are million dollar career killing mistakes. If this prevents one person from making one fatal mistake, it was worth the time it took to research and write it. Thank you to everyone who shared their painful stories to help others avoid the same pitfalls (I’ve protected your identity, as promised). These are in no particular order of importance…

Surrounding Yourself With The Wrong Team: If the best player in the NBA stepped out on the court alone, against the worst team in the NBA, the worst team would win. Why? Because they are a team working against one player. There’s a powerful force that occurs when multiple people come together with one goal in mind—especially if each person plays their role and stays in their lane. And teamwork is especially powerful if you have key players who are the best at what they do, all coming together to move forward towards one goal.

New artists don’t often choose the best teams. They often surround themselves with their friends and family who know very little about the music industry or how the business works. Whether due to trust issues or laziness in finding the right people, I’ve seen more careers end because an artist has trusted their careers to the wrong people.

There are people in the music business who are good at what they do, and even more who are not. Unfortunately, because it’s a “who you know” business, one’s popularity in the music business is not conditional upon being good at what one does. If an artist doesn’t do thorough research on a person to find out if their skill level is sub-par, they could very easily have a team member who sucks at what they do. For example, having managed a major recording artist is NOT a sign of aptitude, it’s a sign of access. Managing multiple recording artists successfully IS a sign of strong management skill.

A team consists of a manager, an entertainment lawyer, an accountant, a booking agent, and a publicist (I am the only person I know who includes a publicist as a mandatory part of the team, but if there’s no one broadcasting the artists’ moves and triumphs, no one will know). Since this is a “who you know” business, relationships, connections, experience, and aptitude are all important.

On the flip side, often artists choose the wrong people to surround themselves with and are outcast by the industry. This fact may be hidden temporarily while the artist is experiencing a little success or popularity, but it really shows itself down the road when there are no endorsements, limited media coverage, reduced shows (burn a promoter one time and your show money is affected all over), etc. Everyone will put up with a bullshit team while the artist is riding a hot record. But where it matters is on the upside or downside of that hit record, and this is where a strong team comes into play. This is the main reason why urban artists have such a short shelf life….they often have shitty representatives and terrible teams.

A contract can protect your rights, but it can also hurt you. It’s important to have a well-connected, experienced entertainment attorney look over everything before you sign it. It’s often what’s missing from a contract that can hurt you more than what’s in there. You need professionals on your side to advise you.

Indecision -Or- Jumping From Plan To Plan: Quite a few artists go from person to person in the industry seeking a quick and lucrative way into the industry. When one plan doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, or even before giving it a solid chance, they meet someone else that they think can advance them forward and they jump from person to person, plan to plan, or crew to crew. Aside from being exceedingly disloyal, it doesn’t make good business sense to do this. The best way to find a direction and plan for yourself that will work, is to learn as much as possible about the music business, devise a plan that’s best for your situation, and then move forward to enact the plan with the proper team. If you’ve given one plan a solid try and enough time to work, and it doesn’t, then it makes sense to rethink your plan and try another angle. But to jump from industry person to industry person alienates the folks who really can help you, and makes you appear desperate for success, thereby attracting to you all of the bottom feeders who may want to take advantage of your desperation. There are numerous paths to success in this business. Find one that works for you, make a decision, and stick with it long enough to see if it is the right path for you.

Waiting Too Long To Realize Something Is Wrong: As I am writing this article, I got a call from a major platinum producer who informed me that he was never paid his royalties on a number of #1 hits he had with a record label. I remember these hit records because they are classic records today, but they were in the early 1990s, which was almost ten years ago. My first question to the producer was: why did you wait so long to try and collect your money? “We were family,” he said, and “I was hoping I’d get more work from that label.” I won’t mention that the label eventually hired in-house producers and this guy hasn’t made a record for that label in at least 5 to 7 years. How long did he hang onto hope of more work?!

In law, there is a statute of limitations on everything including collecting back royalties, and except for a case of fraud (which is difficult to prove) an artist has a limited time to file a claim against their royalties due. That time can be anywhere from 2 to 4 years, and is stipulated in whatever agreement was signed at the time. Additionally, most artists and producers have limited financial resources for legal fees and filing lawsuits against labels that are international conglomerates with very deep pockets and lawyers on staff. It’s important to chase your money immediately—twice a year, every year. Royalties are paid in March and September of each year and part of your team’s job is to chase money due, audit regularly, and keep track of what’s owed and outstanding.

Do not let a label or powerful artist bully you. By speaking up for what’s due you, you are NOT hurting your career, not stopping more work coming your way, or creating tension. By not being paid properly, they are fucking you out of what’s rightfully yours. If the money isn’t coming to you, it’s going to somebody—you earned it, so collect it in a timely fashion.

Self-Destructing and Making Bad Decisions: This mistake is the most popular one I see artists, producers, and DJs make in our industry. I don’t have a solution for this one beyond getting your shit together as an artist and getting some professional help if you continually do dumb shit and can’t stop yourself. I most often see this occur surrounded by drugs and alcohol. The music industry is naturally a “party” industry and has a fun vibe. Most artists spend their time in clubs when they aren’t recording, so the influence is constant. But many artists take partying to the extreme-- to the point where they miss important events in their schedules, get arrested, exercise bad judgment, or do inferior work. I’m not saying not to have fun, or party. I’m saying that if you have to take drugs or have “chemical cocktails” on a regular basis, you are a junky (the industry seems to have a fascination with syrup, ecstasy, Viagra, pills, cocaine, and weed—and often mix them, hence the term “chemical cocktails”).

But self-destruction doesn’t just come in the guise of excessive partying. I’ve seen rappers have babies like they are accessories, spend more money than they make, fight to prove their “realness,” beef with people who ether them, make music that is outside of their lane, date the wrong women, do prison bids mid-career, die, not pay people properly, say or do dumb stuff publicly, etc. Self-destructive behavior comes in many forms. In my opinion, the goal in life is to be the best human being you possibly can be, and if you are a miserable scumbag that can’t even stand to be around yourself, it’s time to change some things about yourself. No time like the present!!

I have also seen artists make horrendous decisions about their careers—like a street rapper choosing to let his label bully him into making super commercial pop music. Or an artist has a very public negative event happen (a sex tape leaks, domestic violence, a drug overdose, and public fight or shooting, an arrest, etc) and doesn’t handle the situation immediately with qualified publicity firms that specialize in damage control. Exxon has a major tanker accident with the Valdez, killing the eco system and wildlife for generations and for hundreds of miles and recovers, yet you punch someone in the face or have a sex tape release and your career never recovers…. Mel Gibson gets arrested and spews anti-Semitic remarks in a drunken stupor in an industry where his livelihood depends mostly on Jewish executives and it doesn’t even dent his career, but you get into a verbal battle with another rapper and it ends your credibility and career? C’mon son… learn from others who’ve survived worse.

Not Understanding How The Industry Works: Back in the 80s and early 90s, I understood how artists got jerked. It was difficult to learn how the label system worked and hard to do any research on the aspects of the industry that effect artists. But in the mid-90s all of that changed with the internet. Today, anyone can research and find out anything they need to know about anyone or anything. Not understanding how this industry works is unacceptable for anyone considering a career in the music industry. So if you come into this industry just thinking you can rap, sing, make beats, or DJ and that’s all you need to know, you are an idiot.

You don’t get “put on” in this industry without getting pimped—so building your own buzz and leverage so you put yourself on is a good career move. A great connection doesn’t lead to a great career, but it does lead to making someone else a ton of money at your own expense. Sending out demos to record labels won’t get you “discovered,” but it will allow an idea, a beat, or a whole song to be stolen from you (even if you copyright your songs, so you have enough money to sue and enough proof that they took your song?). Promoting yourself at industry convention after industry convention doesn’t build your buzz with fans and people who buy records (the ones that REALLY get labels’ attention), it just makes people like me hug you a lot. Getting signed to a record deal isn’t a guarantee that your career will take off you will be successful. More people sign to labels each year than records come out by that label. Just because you have the funding to start your own label doesn’t mean you have the talent or know-how to do so. I’ve seen some mediocre artists spend millions of dollars to fail.

Take the time to study the industry, learn who the players are, and find out who’s on the teams behind each successful artist (this shouldn’t be difficult to do since so few artists are successful today). Attend industry events and actually network with industry people and attend the panel discussions instead of macking hoes or looking for your next boytoy. Read as much as you can about the music industry. Some great books are Confessions Of A Record Producer (Moses Avalon), Everything You Need To Know About The Music Industry (Donald Passman), Dancing With The Devil (Mark Curry), Hit Men (Fredric Dannen—this is a history book more than a how-to book), etc. Meet with as many successful people who are doing what you want to do, as will meet with you. Many won’t take the time for you, but many will. Build relationships with those who will.

A solid understanding of how publishing works, performance rights societies (ASCAP and BMI), and how to get a record deal, will prevent you from getting jerked out of money by others. A little bit of education goes a long way in this business. We can’t stop the huge amount of fuck boys in this industry who will try to steal your dreams from you to make a quick buck, but you can educate yourself so their pitch doesn’t make good business sense to you. You can keep yourself from being a victim.

Focus On The Talent, Not The Money: In the mid-90s, the music industry shifted from being about talent to being about money. It seemed to become the new dope game. Folks were trying to get into this industry to hit a quick lick, not because they wanted to impact music or propel the artform of Hip Hop forward. International corporations got involved, either as record labels or through endorsement opportunities with international superstar artists hawking their products.

Rather than choosing the best music or writers for songs, companies and even artists themselves began choosing people that were signed to them or their own companies to create for them. Rather than choosing the best producer to compliment a rapper, labels began choosing in-house producers to make the beats because the label would retain an additional 50% of the ownership, or get a kickback from the producer or writer of the song.

Some employees at companies quickly tired of seeing the money wasted by their employers and figured out enterprising ways to get a bigger share of the pie—they started secret production companies with the artists they signed, took big kickbacks from artists in exchange for record deals, signed artists and then cut out the teams and producers who got them where they were, chose producers based on kickbacks or co-ownership of the music, chose song writers based on kickbacks or co-ownership of the songs, etc. Even the artists started their own companies so they could eat off of the artists coming up under them—there’s a lot of money in being a middleman, especially if others are doing all of the work.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Measuring Success

By, Wendy Day from Rap Coalition (

One of the many changing things in the urban music business is how we measure the success of an artist. Measuring Rap, R&B, Reggae, and even Dance music sales has always been challenging, and even though companies like the Neilsen-owned SoundScan claim to have been 100% effective, they were not.

SoundScan is a company that began measuring music sales in the early 90s by supplying willing music retailers with special scanners and software that counted and tallied up bar code (UPC) scans at the point of purchase (cash registers). Every Sunday night that tally would be automatically downloaded to SoundScan headquarters in White Plains, NY for publication the following Wednesday to subscribers with very deep pockets (the subscriptions are costly), meaning major record labels.

One of the problems with SoundScan is that it has never been able to measure EVERY sales outlet. Many of the independent retailers around the country, where the bulk of rap sales were happening in the 90s, were reluctant to have any counting system overseeing their business. Whether it was for tax reasons (did not want the IRS to know how much music they were really selling) or for business reasons (fear that a chain store would get their retail sales information and open a store directly across the street with lower prices thereby putting them out of business—which ironically happened anyway), many didn’t want to report their sales to anyone. It also didn’t count venue sales until somewhat recently—and they are self-reported, which means it depends upon the honesty of the person reporting.

To make up for this lack of accurate data, SoundScan weighted certain of the willing-to-report stores more heavily than others. This meant that when an independent store, in say St Louis, scanned one sales copy of a CD, it could count as four sold copies to make up for the area’s lack of actual SoundScan reporters. Additionally, many of the SoundScan stores realized early on that there was a business to be made of selling SoundScan scans to labels. Aside from being treated better by the labels because they were a SoundScan reporter (meaning promo dollars spent in their stores for key pricing and positioning campaigns), an economy of “seeding” sprung up around the country which caused labels to send extra boxes of CDs to retailers for additional scans for a price. Some would scan the chosen CD at the register daily no matter what other title was sold, while others would receive boxes of free product to scan throughout the week. Smart labels controlled the scans and made it appear as natural as possible, sometimes to have a big first week (hitting #1 on the Billboard chart was a sure way to garner extra press and attention which led to additional sales) and sometimes indie labels used this method to land a bigger deal with a major label.

Buying SoundScan in urban music (at least in the areas in which I travelled) became such a popular practice that when I was shopping deals at the major labels from 1995 to 2005, I used to separate out the SoundScan sales from the independent retailers, and if it was more than 15% of overall sales by the artist, I knew (and the major labels knew) they were buying SoundScan. I would pass on shopping those deals because I knew the Major labels would see the fraud and I didn’t want that fake shit to sully my otherwise stellar reputation for doing deals (I’m proud to say that I’ve done some of the best deals in urban music from 1995 to 2005 when there were good deals to be had). I was proud that my deals led to superstar sales levels (except two) and fake scans weren’t the way to achieve superstar status (at least not as an indie).

In the early years of the 21st century, however, I watched urban sales switch from a full length CD marketplace to a downloaded singles market. I also watched Best Buy and WalMart—the biggest music retailers become replaced by iTunes in importance and overall sales volume. I also noticed that the core rap fans were not really the active downloaders, the mainstream and pop fans were. So while 50 Cent and Kanye West were fighting illegal downloads, artists like Young Jeezy, Boosie and Webbie were still able to sell large amounts of CDs, especially in the South. I watched an increase of bootlegged CDs pop up at carwashes and swap meets throughout the ‘hoods in the South though, as CDs sold 3 for $10 in most cases, and as the RIAA resorted to suing college kids for illegal downloading instead of shutting down the shops with multiple burners to bootleg CDs. Music became “free” (or close to free) among an entire new generation of fans.

In a way, this shift benefits the indie artists who are out here selling their own CDs. Enterprising bootleggers don’t mass produce music until there is a mass market of sales, and the fans still seem to admire and support the grind of artists who sell their CDs hand to hand, or who travel from town to town promoting their music regionally. While artists and major labels all around me were complaining of bootlegging and lost revenue, I watched the TMI Boyz sell hundreds of thousands of CDs while on the road for almost 18 months straight. Very little of it was measurable by SoundScan.

But even with the inaccuracies in the SoundScan system, the urban music industry used to be able to measure the sales, the response to promotional and marketing efforts, and measure the buzz or hype an artist had. We could see it in the attendance at shows, merchandise sold, and CDs sold. More importantly, we could measure it by area. When I was managing David Banner and Twista, this was important because I knew what areas to target with shows based on sales data, radio spins, and buzz factor. And consequently, knew what areas to target to increase our sales, make sure product was heavy in stores in certain areas, and could target our campaign effectively around those key target areas (Banner was heavy in MS, Washington DC, IL, TN, AL, and GA; while Twista’s main fanbase was IL, TX, LA, MS, IN, OH, and MO).

When I met the guys from Trill Entertainment in 2004, we saw Lil Boosie’s and Webbie’s largest fan base was northern FL, AL, GA, MS, LA, and TN. It was easy to measure and track. The buzz was easy to measure as well, based on their show bookings every weekend and the sales of the indie CDs in the marketplace mostly in those key markets. When radio adds for Webbie entered the equation, it was a no brainer as to where we should go. We didn’t have to wonder where anonymous downloads were occurring, they weren’t.

Today that measurement process is more challenging. I noticed it when Gucci Mane got out of prison in March of 2009. He had a good buzz on the streets from dropping back to back mixed CDs and from OJ Tha Juiceman keeping Gucci’s name alive while he was locked down. But I don’t think anyone could have predicted the $30,000 to $50,000 per show booking price that he’d command almost instantly, with no album in the marketplace and no hot single at radio (this was months before “Wasted” hit radio). There was no way to measure his buzz prior to that. He was kept busy doing shows but still managed to record mixed CDs and keep music in the marketplace. Most of it was downloaded for free (by his choice) from websites and blogs that had become the way to receive new music. Fans at his shows could sing along, word for word. They didn’t need radio singles.

While his MySpace hits increased and his popularity on Twitter was apparent, there was no legitimate measuring system in place to gauge his media mentions, count the downloads (too many sites had music posted), track the shows and price increases, or measure the increase in success he was experiencing. His increased popularity also led to an increase in popularity of the artists surrounding him: Nicky Minaj, OJ Tha Juiceman, and Wacka Flocka Flame.

In today’s music business economy we have no real accurate (or even semi-accurate) way of measuring success for artists. With SoundScan tracking mainstream sales, only the mainstream artists seem to be faring well (Lil Wayne, Kanye, Taylor Swift, Susan Boyle, etc). Meanwhile, I haven’t heard a decrease of music coming from or playing in the ‘hoods of America. Even without SoundScan sales, kids are singing along to every Gucci Mane and Yo Gotti song during their shows (music is from their mixed CDs). They are listening to a larger number of unknown, independent, and unsigned artists than ever, and they aren’t getting the music just from the internet.

As this change is occurring, I’m watching folks who thrive on research and numbers scramble to count MySpace hits, Twitter and Facebook friends, downloads from myriads of websites and Blog sites (too many different ones to count), World Star and VladTV views, etc. Yet none of it is accurate. Software programs can boost numbers on the web as easily as SoundScan swipes could be duplicated at indie retailers in the 90s. Music magazines are becoming obsolete, so purchases of issues based on our favorite artists on the covers are becoming a thing of the past. I guess we’re going to have to let the fans tell us. And this means we need an even closer one-on-one relationship with the fans, the streets, and the internet. What was as easy as picking up SoundScan reports on Wednesday mornings is no more. Oh how I long for those days….

I guess the key, at least for indie labels, is to keep your eye on the sales and the relationships you are building with fans. Last week, Tom Silverman who built the Tommy Boy Records empire in the 80s and 90s (Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, Queen Lafifah, Naughty By Nature, Information Society, Coolio, House of Pain, Everlast, etc) and who owns the New Music Seminar, published a study at . He pointed out that in 2009, there were 1,500 independent releases in all genres. Of those 1500, only 13 releases sold over 10,000 units (that’s only $70,000 to $100,000 in wholesale sales). The #2 release was the label I consulted, TMI Boyz. They were the ONLY rap act on that short list of 13. And that list was based on the (inaccurate) SoundScan sales we tabulated at 30,000 CDs sold. While on the road for a year and a half, they sold 2 mixed CDs and a full length CD. Tom’s research was based solely on the CDs that were sold at FYE stores in the South. Since we weren’t focused on SoundScan, just on making money, we weren’t trying to have each sale counted. The bulk of sales were at shows, Mall parking lots, state fairs, flea markets, street corners, gas stations, car washes, high schools, clubs--anyplace where a mass of people were gathered so TMI Boyz could jump out of the wrapped van to make a sale. You may have never heard of them, but they made $1.6 million in sales in 2009. Isn’t that the best measurement of all? Besides, being #2 is good, too.