Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Remembering Jerry Garcia’s Musical Impact | Music Think Tank

Guest post by Elyadeen Anbar. This article with full links originally appeared Soundfly’s Flypaper

Jerry Garcia was the lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead, a rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco that forever changed how music is written, performed, distributed, and engaged with on a global scale. The Grateful Dead performed their last show on July 9, 1995, and Garcia was found passed away on August 9, 1995. He had just turned 53 years young.

Garcia lived a life dedicated to music, and has inspired my own life to be as musically-centric as possible. While many considered him the leader and spokesman of the Grateful Dead, he resented such responsibility and insisted that the group operated without leadership.

Garcia was also part of many different musical projects throughout his career, including his own band The Jerry Garcia Band, as well as various bluegrass and folk ensembles. Garcia contributed the pedal steel guitar solo to Crosby Stills Nash and Young’s “Teach Your Children,” and worked with other Bay Area rock bands such as New Riders of the Purple Sage and Jefferson Airplane. The Dead would often perform in collaboration with other musicians, wherever they were in the world, such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Hamza El Din, Ornette Coleman, Etta James, and Branford Marsalis, just to name a few.

People tend to pigeonhole the Dead as being one single thing, whatever that is for people who haven’t opted to give them very much ear-time, but they played the blues, straight rock, folk and bluegrass, jazz, and spent time exploring experimental approaches to sound-making and studio recording, and part of what made their live shows so incredibly unique given what else was happening in the ’70s and ’80s, was this sense of unpredictability and exploration.

Garcia and the Grateful Dead performing a free concert in the Haight, March 1968.

The story of the Grateful Dead is dense, rambling, and nearly unbelievable — and luckily, there’s no shortage of literature out there on that subject if you want to explore. The band was at the center of the 1960s counterculture movement, and was born out of the ashes of the Beat generation, spearheaded by Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac. They were responsible for changing the way concert-goers experience live sound, as their Wall of Sound was the first ever PA system was designed to project clear, non-distorted sound across a great distance. (Imagine if the Beatles had one!)

The Dead also revolutionized concert promotion by allowing their fans to tape their shows and distribute them amongst each other freely, without worrying about obtaining rights or permission. This has since led to hundreds of “bootleg” live concerts being mixed, mastered and released commercially, further cementing the band’s influence on millions of listeners.

Garcia was a wonderful intellectual, and always had profound and interesting things to say. He struggled with his vices for most of his life, and ultimately passed away due to a number of long-standing health issues. While nothing would satisfy me like a detailed retelling of the history of the his life and the Grateful Dead, I’d rather focus on Jerry Garcia the guitarist, and highlight a few musical moments of his that changed my life personally. So let’s check out some music!

“Death Don’t Have No Mercy” from Live/Dead (1969)


Live/Dead was the band’s first live concert recording, and it also happened to be the first album ever recorded to 16-track tape. This recording features passionate performance from Garcia and the rest of the band, an incredible demonstration of their early blues-band model as it was filtered and experimented with through their acid test years. The album itself is notable for bringing the energy and abandon of their live shows directly to people’s homes, as they had struggled to find artistic fulfillment in the studio up until that point.

“Box of Rain” from American Beauty (1970)


It never ceases to amaze me that the band you heard in the previous recording put out this record just a year later. The Dead explicitly decided to work hard to put out an album of American music that they could be proud of, one that focused on songs instead of wild exploration. American Beauty and it’s companion record, Workingman’s Dead, were both released in 1970, the result of a wonderfully prolific writing period, out of which came songs that were staples in their live shows for the next 25 years. Choosing between all of the songs to represent this album was a challenge, but I settled on “Box of Rain” for it’s sublime chord progression, haunting guitar solo, and lyrical imagery. This lead vocals were sung by the band’s bassist Phil Lesh. Other standout tracks include “Candyman,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Ripple,” “Brokedown Palace,” and the band’s hit single, “Truckin’,” but the entire album is a masterpiece and a necessary companion for your next road trip for sure!

“He’s Gone” and “Morning Dew” from Europe ’72 (1972)



Speaking of road trips, the album Europe ’72 features material that blends the band’s experimental, psychedelic comfort zone mixed with their newer, roots music influence. “He’s Gone” and “Morning Dew” were both released for the first time on this album — these live versions are considered definitive among die-hard Dead fans, although with the prevalence of live concert recordings, Dead fans have a wealth of material to sort through for argument’s sake. “Morning Dew” emerges after over 7 minutes of free jazz weirdness, and is a Dead favorite. The story of this recording is also told in the 2017 documentary Long Strange Trip, but you’ll have to see it to find out!

“Crazy Fingers” from One From the Vault (1975, officially released 1991)


This concert was widely circulated as a bootleg among Dead fans until it was officially released as One From the Vault in 1991. In fact, it was the bands first ever official release of a full, unedited concert recording. The Dead had taken a brief pause and come back with a few new albums worth of material. This concert showcases music from their 1975 album Blues for Allah, which saw them writing in a more jazz-fusion color palette and writing complex, through-composed bridges. “Crazy Fingers” has always been a favorite of mine, and I love the way this one segues into a drum jam, and eventually into ‘The Other One” (always keep listening!).

“Terrapin Station Medley” from Terrapin Station (1977)


In 1977, the Dead had signed with Clive Davis’ new company Arista, and he insisted on pairing them with an outside producer, Keith Olsen. While the band was not particularly satisfied with the glossy production, I’ve always loved this version of the title track — a multi-part jazz-rock odyssey, complete with lavish horn and string arrangements, crisp and dry ’70s drum tracks, and some gorgeous lead guitar harmonies courtesy of Garcia. If you’re looking for a live version, check out any concert release from the band’s Spring 1977 tour, fans tend to consider this their “tightest” period, and the performances from this time reflect this.

“Althea” from Go To Nassau (1980)


“Althea” first appeared on the Dead’s 1980 studio album Go To Heaven, and I reserve a special place in my heart for this particular performance of the song. In fact, the whole concert was released in 2002 and spent most of my senior year of high school in the CD player of my car. Not much more to say about it, the ’80s would prove to be the Dead’s most commercially successful decade, so enjoy this nice slice of prime Deadery.

“I Shall Be Released” from Garcia Plays Dylan (1987, released in 2005)


Garcia also had a prolific solo career, and a band of his own that would tour with relative frequency. To say the guy never took a day off from music is an understatement. Garcia also loved singing the music of Bob Dylan, one of his great influences. This version of “I Shall Be Released” is from a compilation called Garcia Plays Dylan, and features a variety of performances by Garcia, some with the Dead, but mostly featuring his solo band. This 1987 performance features his JGB collaborator Melvin Seals on organ.

Garcia once said of the Grateful Dead, “we’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.” Well, I like licorice, too, and I love the Dead. The more I learn about the band, the more I develop a deeper appreciation for their willingness to take risks, have fun and also get serious about creating music that would last forever, in addition to improvisations that are over the minute they happen. I also love how witty and hilariously out of touch they were in interviews. Check out this gem from Late Night with David Letterman in 1982.

This is just the tip of the Grateful Dead iceberg, of course! For those curious to learn more, Amir Bar Lev’s documentary Long Strange Trip was released last year on Amazon Prime, and the book Dark Star: An Oral History of Jerry Garcia are both fantastic resources, as are YouTube, Spotify, and the incredible, somewhat insane, wealth of freely lstenable fan recordings on

Happy trails, friends!

Don’t forget to sign up for our exciting new email magazine, Soundfly Weekly, and learn a new musical skill every single Tuesday in your inbox!

Elyadeen Anbar is a guitarist, writer and educator residing in Los Angeles, CA. He has had the pleasure of contributing music and production to some of his favorite artists, and graced stages the world over. His work can be found at, and


Top Ten Metal Records For People Who Don't Think They Like Metal | Music Think Tank

Heavy metal is a rich genre, but to the casual listener, it often just sounds like a bunch of noise. The blistering riffs, machine-gun drums, and screaming vocals can send many people running as far away as they can. And for a long while, that included me.

But, through a fortuitous string of events, I discovered that I love metal, with all of its raw power and crushing beauty.

But there are many metal records that offer all of the same heaviness with a healthy dose of conventional beauty. If you’ve been curious about metal, here are ten albums that offer all the power of heavy metal without all the chaos.

10. Palms – Palms

Swirling with synthesizer ambiance and glistening guitars, “metal” might not be the first word you grab to describe this. But, it doesn’t really fit anywhere else.

Palms is a supergroup featuring members of ISIS (the metal band, not the terrorist group) and the singer of Deftones. Through their respective histories, both ISIS and Deftones dabbled with shoegaze, dream pop, and post rock. Palms finds them fully indulging these urges, mingling gentle waves of atmosphere with plenty of distorted walls of noise and Chino’s mercurial voice.

9. Lantlôs – Melting Sun

melting sun.jpg

The German black-metal outfit Lantlôs (literally “homelandless”) made two celebrated albums that mixed the churning guitars and screeching vocals of black metal with ambient soundscapes.

For their third album, they cut out the screams altogether and went in a more melodic direction.

The instruments create lush soundscapes that still manage to be heavy, despite the lack of chugging guitars and double-pedaled kick drums.

8. Sannhet – Revisionist


For many music fans, the harsh screams of metal music are a huge barrier keeping them from enjoying the music.

Sannhet avoids this by skipping vocals altogether.

Revisionist doesn’t shy away from blast beats or punishing riffs, but it subtracts the vocals and adds a healthy dose of reverb to the guitar. The result is a look into an alternate universe where Explosions in the Sky listened to nothing but black metal.

7. ISIS – Panopticon


I mentioned ISIS earlier, so it’s only obvious that they get featured.

ISIS are often lifted up as the godfathers of post-metal, and that reputation is well deserved. ISIS are the undisputed masters of glacially paced, heavy music. There are a few screams on this disc, but they are far and few between (don’t let the first thirty seconds fool you).

Most of the record is instrumental, playing a calculated game of tension and release as the songs regularly stretch toward ten minutes. A few of the tracks are even in a major key!

6. Baroness – Purple


The rest of the records on this list so far are generally pretty chilled out, plodding menacingly more than exploding.

Not so with Purple.. This record is pure adrenaline shot right into your brainstem. This is a fist-pumping, headbanging barn burner.

But, it’s also incredibly melodic. Despite its high-octane riffs and gritty (not screamed) vocals, there’s a sensibility here that harkens back to epic arena-rock legends like Journey or Queen. Twin guitar harmonies and singalong-worthy choruses are par for the course. Perfect pump-up jams.

5. Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction

sorrow and extinction.jpg

If you can get down with old-school heavy metal acts like Black SabbathDio, or Rainbow, Pallbear might be right up your alley.

This Little Rock-based doom metal quartet takes the same tropes of 70s heavy metal and plays them slow and low. Guitars are huge, drums are punishing, and the tempos plod along like Hannibal’s elephants crossing the Alps. Lead singer Brett Campbell somehow manages to sing every single linelike it’s the climax of the album.

This record is as ominous and epic as metal gets.

4. Jesu – Conqueror


Jesu is the solo project of Justin Broadrick, one half of the industrial duo Godflesh. Jesu quiets things down significantly.

At its core, Conqueror is a singer-songwriter album. It’s almost a bedroom-folk record a la Elliot Smith or Bon Iver. Except Broadrick fills out the space with huge guitars, ethereal synths, and pounding drums.

3. Russian Circles – Empros


If instrumental post-rock is more your speed, Russian Circles are one of the best groups out there.

Empros traffics between punishing riffs and quiet melodic moments. While they borrow a few pages from Mogwai’s climax-chaser playbook, they inject it with a metal heaviness to create a sound all their own. Prepare for huge walls of noise, extended drone sections, and an album closer that sounds closer to Neutral Milk Hotel than Neurosis.

2. Alcest – Voyages de L’Âme

les voyages de l'ame

The French metal duo Alcest is commonly credited with inventing the genre “blackgaze,” which blends the textures of black metal with the thick reverbs and relaxed tempos of shoegaze.

Les Voyages De L’Âme (French for “Voyages of the Soul”) occasionally utilizes the blast beats, tremolo guitar, and screamed vocals of traditional black metal, but it tempers it with melodic composition and emotional songwriting. There’s also a healthy dose of post rock elements, if that’s your bag.

1. Deafheaven – Sunbather


There aren’t a ton of black metal crossover hits. But Sunbather somehow managed to land on the Billboard 200, as well as appearing on several year-end lists from Pitchfork, NPR, Metacritic, and more.

This is the most unabashedly metal record on the list, but I put it in the top spot for good reason. True, vocalist George Clarke never breaks from his indecipherable black metal shrieks, and there plenty of shredded guitars and blast beats to keep purists happy.

But, across the ten-minute runtimes, there’s enough dynamic shifts, cinematic climaxes, and clean guitar sections to get the purists really, really mad (seriously: black metal fans hate this record).

On a personal note, though, this is the first metal record that made me want to describe anything with screamed vocals “beautiful.” And, it was my gateway to metal, opening the door to a whole sonic world I didn’t know existed. It’s a true masterpiece, transcending scene and genre.

Nat FitzGerald is an independent musician, music enthusiast from South Bend, IN. He plays in like four bands, hosts house shows in his living room, and runs A Year of Vinyl, a music review blog. 


Certain Songs #1293: Neil Young – “Hitchhiker” | Medialoper

Album: Le Noise
Year: 2010

Recorded at Le Noise, Silver Lake on March 29, 2010

After Prairie Wind, each of the new studio albums that Neil Young released for the balance of the 2000s had an interesting backstory, as well a few good songs, maybe even great ones.

In 2006, Living With War tried literally to raise rabble with pointed songs about Gulf War II like the title track and “Shock and Awe,” as well as the controversy-generating “Let’s Impeach The President,” (for lying, which seems both quaint and totally apropos today), though the best one was “The Restless Consumer,” a catchy commentary on late capitalism which was nevertheless too strident by half.

When I was a hitchhiker on the road
I had to count on you
But you needed me to ease the load
And for conversation too
Or did you just pass on through?

In 2007, Neil released Chrome Dreams II, a sequel to the 1977s unreleased Chrome Dreams, and which also featured the epic lost Bluenotes track, “Ordinary People,” which was just too fucking long to fit anywhere on This Note’s For You in 1988, though if you picked the other five best songs from that session and put them on side one while putting “Ordinary People” as all of side two, it would had really been something.

You didn’t see me in Toronto
When I first tried out some hash
Smoked through a pen and I’ll do it again
But I didn’t have the cash
I didn’t have the cash

And finally, 2009’s Fork in the Road was pretty much an entire album about how fun it was to build and drive your very own electric car, and like the previous two, had some pretty good rock songs, but lacked the spark of his best rock records with Crazy Horse, which we will put a pin in for now. I’m glad to own all of these albums, but none of the songs on any of them are quite the Certain Songs level.

Then I tried amphetamines
And my head was in a glass
Taped underneath the speedometer wires
Of my ’48 Buick’s dash.
But I knew that wouldn’t last

This was also around the time Neil fully allowed his past to compete with his present, as nearly every year saw a new archival live album, and 2009 finally saw the release of the long-awaited Archives, which still somehow only made it to 1972, four years before Neil would first record the harrowing “Hitchhiker” as part of a single all-night session where he also debuted heavy hitters like “Powderfinger,” “Pocahontas” and “Campaigner.”

Then came California
Where I first saw open water
In the land of opportunity
I knew I was getting hotter
I knew I was getting hotter

And while this session had no doubt been bootlegged, I’d hadn’t yet heard the original version of “Hitchhiker” when Neil re-recorded it in 2010 as part of his experimental solo album, Le Noise.

But the neon lights
And the endless nights
Fame took me by surprise
The doctor gave me valium
But I still couldn’t close my eyes
I still couldn’t close my eyes

Hooking up with ace producer Daniel Lanois — whose name provided the pun of the album’s title — who had of course provided mega atmospherics for artists like U2, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan, Neil wanted to record an album featuring just his vocals and guitar. His electric guitar. You know, like early Billy Bragg, but with way more production weirdness.

Then came paranoia
And it ran away with me
I would not sign my autograph
Or appear on TV
Or see or be seen

After five straight relatively predictable albums — none of the songs on anything from Greendale through Fork in the Road would have been sonically out of place on his earlier albums — Neil was ready to experiment. And so Le Noise kicked off of the most recent phase in his career, where he would balance weird experimental records like A Letter Home, Storytone, Peace Trail, even Earth with more traditional Neil Young albums such as Psychedelic Pill, The Monsanto Years and The Visitor.

Living in the country
Looked good to me
Smoking grass while the summer past
In the real organic sea
Where everything was green

“Hitchhiker” is so harrowing and autobiographical, it’s really not surprising that Neil didn’t release, or even re-record the the original acoustic version for for 30 years, as he lists a panoply of drugs he tried in his early 20s, juxtaposing those experiences with some of the more key moments of his life.

Then we had a kid and we split apart
I was living on the road
A little cocaine went a long, long way
To ease that different load
But my head did explode
My head did explode

With Neils voice echoing all around itself in multiple infinite loops — random words repeating for seconds at time — while his guitar crunches and crackles, “Hitchhiker” forces you to pay focus on the words, not because they’re buried, but rather because there is much else going on all around it, you might not even pay attention to the story.

I thought I was an Aztec
Or a runner in Peru
I would build such beautiful buildings
To house the chosen few
Like an Inca from Peru

This last verse was now Neil ended the song in 1977: his head exploded, lost in the fantasy of being an Aztec or an Inca, the fuel for more than one song he wrote in the next decade, and in fact, he stole the that last verse for the yacht rocky “Like An Inca,” the final song on the last album on which he experimented this hard, Trans. That said, “Like An Inca” didn’t have even an iota of darkness Neil puts into “Hitchhiker,” especially in the first of the two new verses he added in 2010.

How many years are come and gone
Like friends and enemies
I tried to leave my past behind
But it’s catching up with me

That said, he ends the song with a glimmer of hope and humanity, all of hard drug use safely in the past, the turmoil that fueled the original song channeled into his guitar and vocals, but gone from his actual life.

I don’t know how I’m standing here
Living in the light
Thankful for my children
And my faithful wife

In any event, I think that “Hitchhiker” is a major song, as important as any of his classic 1970s songs, but relatively unknown based on when and how it finally came out.

“Hitchhiker” official video

“Hitchhiker” original recording, 1977

The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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Pandora Plus subscriptions now given away with T-Mobile tariffs in the US | Music Business Worldwide

T-Mobile customers in the States are getting a pair of music-related perks.

The first is of particular interest for those keeping a close eye on the ‘streaming wars’: T-Mobile customers will be able to access a year-long free subscription to Pandora Plus.

Plus is Pandora’s mid-price streaming option, usually costing $4.99 a month, offering limited interactivity compared to its full Apple Music rival, Pandora Premium.

Plus offers customers unlimited skips, replays, personalized stations, offline listening and no ads.

Assuming that Pandora has struck a subsidized bundle deal with T-Mobile, the announcement could be big financial news for the streaming company: according to recent estimates, T-Mobile counted 75.6m customers in the US in the first quarter of 2018.

That number is very close to Pandora’s own US reach: its Q2 results showed that the US-only service counted 71.4m active listeners in June, inclusive of approximately 6m paying subscribers.

According to new unverified stats from eMarketer, Pandora is currently ahead of Spotify’s user base in the US, which is predicted to close 2018 (across ‘free’ and Premium) at 584m (see inset).

“We are committed to creating exciting new opportunities for more people to find, share, and listen to the music they love,” said Pandora CEO Roger Lynch. “Through this exclusive offer, we will give T-Mobile’s massive customer-base access to one of our most in-demand offerings – Pandora Plus.

“This is just the first step in a larger strategic partnership between T-Mobile and Pandora. Expect to hear more.”

T-Mobile customers will be sent a code to unlock their free Pandora Plus subscription in the T-Mobile Tuesdays app for iOS and Android on August 28.

T-Mobile’s new music deals don’t end there.

The company has also inked an agreement with Live Nation which will give its customers ‘rock star status at Live Nation amphitheater and arena concerts’, including access to last-minute reserve seats in sold-out sections and discounted tickets.

“Our customers get treated like rock stars with Team of Experts, and we believe they ought to be treated like that everywhere they go,” said Mike Sievert, President and COO at T-Mobile.

“Music connects us, so we’re connecting our rock star customers with exclusive magenta extras at Live Nation events and with Pandora. Now, when they turn on their tunes or head to a show, they’ll get an elevated experience, just for being with T-Mobile. We’re always looking to thank our customers in bigger, bolder ways…this latest move is no exception – and we won’t stop!”

“T-Mobile and Live Nation are creating new ways for our fans to enjoy live concerts with exclusive access and perks only this partnership could make possible,” said Russell Wallach, Global President Media & Sponsorship, Live Nation. “As fans experience this new level of access, word will quickly spread, because the power of live music is contagious and can’t be matched.”

The latest Un-carrier gives T-Mobile customers the ability to get last-minute reserved tickets to sold out sections and get into great shows at a great price. Just identify yourself as a T-Mobile customer, and you’ll unlock:

Starting August 21, discounted tickets will be made available in the T-Mobile Tuesdays app for Live Nation concerts including Charlie Puth, Counting Crows, Dierks Bentley, Wiz Khalifa and Rae Sremmurd, Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker, Niall Horan and hundreds more.Music Business Worldwide


New Music Newsletter | Liisten by Tyler Hayes

The genesis of Liisten was music discovery and it’s returning in the form of a newsletter.

 Sign up to receive weekly emails featuring new artists and album releases


In addition to just new music, the Liisten newsletter will feature artist interviews, playlists, and other music related items.

 The goal is to put out two issues each week.

  • A shorter one early Friday morning, highlighting the best new music released each week.

  • And the main issue on Monday, featuring undiscovered artists, interviews, playlists, and other features.

For now, all issues will be free. Try it out and see what you think. In the future there will be a paid level for $5/month or $50/year. The Friday issue will remain free, while the lengthier Monday issue will go to paid subscribers only.


BMG signs Richard Ashcroft for new solo album, out in October | Music Business Worldwide

Richard Ashcroft will release his next solo album through BMG.

Ashcroft is an iconic figure in British music, both across his work as frontman of (The) Verve and as a solo artist.

Natural Rebel will be released on October 19 on Ashcroft’s own label, RPA, via BMG.

BMG says that pre-orders of the album, which launched today (August 15) through Ashcroft’s own website – tied to a ticket pre-sale opportunity for live shows – have already exceeded the lifetime D2C sales of his last LP.

Ashcroft’s previous solo album, These People, reached No.3 on the UK’s Official Albums Chart in 2016 and was released via Cooking Vinyl.

Richard Ashcroft said: “For me this is my strongest set of songs to date. All my favourite sounds distilled into something that will hopefully give my fans lasting pleasure. It is for them. Music is power.”

Alistair Norbury, President Repertoire & Marketing at BMG UK said: “Richard Ashcroft is the archetype of the kind of iconic artist BMG likes to work with. Natural Rebel marks a new peak in Richard’s solo work and it is incredible to see how fans are already responding – the pre-orders this morning have been extraordinary.”

“Natural Rebel marks a new peak in Richard’s solo work and it is incredible to see how fans are already responding – the pre-orders this morning have been extraordinary.”

Alistair Norbury, BMG

Other Ashcroft solo records include Alone With Everybody (which reached No.1 in the UK in 2000), Human Conditions (#3, 2002), Keys to the World (#2,2006) and These People (#3, 2016).

Featuring ten new songs, all of which were written by Ashcroft, Natural Rebel was produced by the singer-songwriter alongside Jon Kelly (Paul McCartney, Kate Bush) and Emre Ramazanoglu (Bobby Gillespie, Jarvis Cocker).

Ashcroft is set to play as special guest to Liam Gallagher at Lancashire County Cricket Club this coming Saturday, August 18, as well as the Hampshire leg of Carfest in benefit of BBC Children in Need on August 25.

To support the release of the new album, he will play a series of intimate shows at Glasgow Barrowlands (Oct 26), Middlesborough Town Hall (Oct 28), Nottingham Rock City (Oct 29), Manchester Albert Hall (Oct 31) and London Kentish Town Forum (Nov 2).

[Picture credit: Robin Pope]Music Business Worldwide


CD Baby now publishes over a million songs – and says it’s ‘helping solve the industry’s publishing problem one songwriter at a time’ | Music Business Worldwide

The music industry has gotten used to describing CD Baby as a “distributor” over the past 20 years, but the Oregon-headquartered business has grown far beyond this core service – as a new milestone handsomely proves.

Five years ago, CD Baby partnered with indie tech platform Songtrust to launch a publishing administration service for its clients, which has since expanded into the UK and beyond.

And today (August 15), CD Baby has confirmed to MBW that it now administers over a million songs, for 160,000 songwriters in over 50 countries.

To put the size of this mass of songs into context, it’s nearly half the size of Sony’s entire global music publishing catalog (excluding EMI) – which amounted to 2.3m compositions at the end of June, according to corporate filings.

Publishing now forms a core tenet of CD Baby’s offering, alongside royalty collection, distribution and other services.

As such, the firm says it has direct affiliations with more than 30 Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) worldwide. Of the million-plus compositions in its database, CD Baby administers 100% of the publishing for over 750,000 songs.

Across all rights, CD Baby has paid out $55 million to artists year-to-date, and around $100 million in the past 12 months.

The firm estimates that its artist catalog makes up an estimated 35% of songs available on Spotify – and it reckons it’s delivering almost 50% of new content now being delivered to streaming services (which, as we’ve previously reported, adds up to approximately 20,000 tracks a day).

The firm employs 135 people worldwide, who work across three languages.

Below, CD Baby’s Head of Creator Services, Jon Bahr (pictured inset) discusses the company’s growth in the publishing admin world – and that headline-grabbing million song milestone.

It’s true – the tides of the music business have risen in the past few years as streaming has gained a massive foothold with no signs of letting up.

Alongside the rise has been a string of lawsuits, metadata/registration problems, unknown compositions, suppressed content, failed legislation (and current legislation that hopefully may soon pass), missing songwriters, royalty delays and royalties incorrectly paid out. In nearly every situation, the issue surrounds the underlying composition – the song, which was crafted by a songwriter.

We are thrilled to announce that CD Baby Publishing Administration is solving those problems globally for over one million songs and 160,000 songwriters in over 50 countries with direct affiliations at more than 30 Performing Rights Organizations worldwide.

This groundbreaking milestone – with over 750,000 songs where we administer 100% of the publishing shares – is truly helping solve the industry’s publishing problem one songwriter at a time.

Our global Publishing Administration service is getting these songwriters their rightfully owed money globally and emptying the often discussed many “black boxes” at collection societies.

At its core, CD Baby’s role is to help music creators both get their music into the world and make sure they collect upon every revenue stream for that music. We give artists and songwriters full choice to layer different services under creator-friendly terms, as opposed to overreaching rights grabs.

“This groundbreaking milestone – with over 750,000 songs where we administer 100% of the publishing shares – is truly helping solve the industry’s publishing problem one songwriter at a time.”

With 9 million recordings distributed (one million new tracks in 2017 alone!), four million songs with YouTube & Facebook monetization, three million songs under non-exclusive Sync Licensing, one million songs under Publishing Administration, 25,000 new Publishing songs registered a month, and 4,000 new songwriters a month collecting all their Publishing owed, CD Baby is getting money flowing to music creators.

At CD Baby, we educate that “No Song Should Go Unpublished.” A songwriter is inherently their own publisher, but knowing what to do usually ended with joining a performing rights organization like ASCAP or BMI in the US or SOCAN in Canada and hopefully knowing to collect as a both a writer and a publisher.

In my thirteen year tenure at ASCAP, I met countless songwriters who said ASCAP was their publisher (which is incorrect). Not managing your publishing shouldn’t mean the writer doesn’t get the money owed, but it does within the international framework of how songwriting royalties flow..

In the US, for certain interactive services like Amazon Music Unlimited and Pandora Premium the album or single won’t go live – though completely delivered by a distributor – without a Publisher registration/license of their works via Music Reports Inc. (MRI). We, as well as our artists and songwriters, certainly want their music to be available to as many listeners as they can unimpeded by their lack of publishing understanding.

“We give artists and songwriters full choice to layer different services under creator-friendly terms, as opposed to overreaching rights grabs.”

Most unpublished songwriters aren’t aware of all of the royalty streams going uncollected. Though royalties should flow better if the Music Modernization Act becomes law, songwriters will still need to proactively get their mechanical royalties in the US or work with a partner/publisher that will. If not, their royalties will be given away after three years.. Writers still wouldn’t collect their mechanicals for streams of their music in the rest of the world.

Each songwriter that chooses to use our Publishing Administration when distributing their music with CD Baby gets more money for each stream or download and solves countless global data problems. In a streaming era, where mechanicals account for roughly half the publishing royalties owed, songwriters have royalties sprinkled in every country in the world where someone pressed play and they don’t realize it.

In a real world example, a CD Baby published writer collected over $25,000 in just one country from a foreign online gaming platform that one wouldn’t think pays out directly.

The CD Baby songwriter community is truly global with 45% international releases. Our administration partnership with the great folks at Songtrust / Downtown Music Publishing allows us to collect at the source for our songwriters via their direct global affiliations with over 30 PROs covering in over 75 countries and territories where we have clients. In just 5 years in operation, we already have well over 50,000 songwriters administered at both ASCAP and BMI.

We make it easy to get full global songwriter royalty collection with a simple 1-year term followed by a quarterly renewal and a fair 15% administration fee. In the US and Canada, a writer can even join a PRO as a songwriter without leaving our website. We are trying and succeeding at getting music creators their royalties, making it easy in the process.

What’s our next act? There are some rights left in this neighborhood of music…Music Business Worldwide