Tiffany Ballard: Let’s say an artist blows
up and has a song on the radio or a song that goes viral or whatever. One of the good things is being able to say,
“Okay, I’m going to go to this label. I’m going to see what they have to say. I’m going to go to this label. I may try to do something with this company,
Apple Music, directly, however it goes.” But it’s good that you have those options,
you know what I mean? If these people start getting together and
making these major corporations, it’s kind of like, would I really benefit the artist
or would I harm the artist because now they can’t use their leverage to actually play
these labels against each other or whatever the situation may be, you know? Rob Markman: Sounds messy. Rob Markman: What’s up, Geniuses? Welcome back to For the Record. I’m your host, Rob Markman. Now today’s show is a very important one. As much as we talk about the creation of music,
to artists about how music is made, and how it gets delivered to us, the music business
is really just as important. Rob Markman: Now last week, I was pretty shocked,
man. I read a Business Insider article which revealed
that musicians only get 12 percent of the 43 billion dollars the music generated in
2017. I reacted crazy. I saw a lot of artists react crazy, a lot
of industry people react crazy. And so I decided to bring a panel here to
discuss this, alright? Rob Markman: First up, we have John Lynch. He actually wrote the article for Business
Insider, which is based on the Citigroup. He’s the entertainment editor over at Business
Insider. John, welcome to For the Record. John Lynch: Welcome. Thanks for having me. Rob Markman: Now next up we have an entertainment
attorney. She is one of the stars of the We TV show
‘Money, Power, Respect’ Actually, the only reason that I watch ‘Money, Power, Respect’
is to see Tiffany Ballard. Tiffany Ballard: Thanks for having me. Rob Markman: Thank you. And one of my favorite MCs from Brooklyn. Maybe I’m a little biased, but he just released
his new album called ‘Crown Fried.’ Sitting right next to me is my man Dyme-A-Duzin. Dyme, welcome to the Genius for the Record. Dyme-A-Duzin: Thank you for having me. Rob Markman: Thank you for coming. I wanted to get because everybody has different
expertise. John, you know, you work at Business Insider. You really kind of synthesized the Citigroup
report that blew this up and made it go viral. Tiffany, you represent so many artists, producers,
and songwriters that work with big artists, like Beyonce and Drake and Kendrick Lamar. So you’re in here crafting these deals and
fighting for your artists to get their fair share. And Dyme, you’re just out here on your independent
grind and hustle. You’re actually a musician. You live, you don’t have a 9-to-5, this is
not a side hustle for you. Music is what you do. So I wanted to get all these three perspectives. Rob Markman: John, I wanted to start with
you. The article that you wrote for Business Insider. Can you give us a summary of what it was about? John Lynch: Yeah, so I wrote the Citigroup
report that you’re talking about, and I was taken aback to see 12 percent was what artists
were making of this 43 billion that the music industry was generating in total. Basically that 12 percent is up from past
years, but it’s mostly due to touring. So artists are nowadays mostly making their
money off of touring as opposed to purchased music, which is down quite a bit, and streaming. Rob Markman: Right. What we’re being told every time you look
around, that Drake is breaking streaming records. Bruno, Taylor Swift, is like keeping her thing
off streaming, really selling real well and then going back to streaming. But we keep getting these stories that in
the streaming era it’s really a good time, they brought the money back to music. John Lynch: Right. Rob Markman: And, which is cool, but it’s
like, Tiffany, where does the money go? Tiffany Ballard: Well, I wonder, too. No, I’m kidding. A part of it, I would say, there are multiple
people and entities that have their hands in the pie. You have to pay a personal manager, business
managers, you have labels. You have publishers. You have accountants, you have attorneys,
so I would need to know the exact methodology behind, I don’t know enough of what went into- Tiffany Ballard: Even when I think about artists,
I think from what I read in the article they’re talking about performing artists, but all
performing artists don’t write their music, so sometimes some of that income may go to
songwriters. They may go to producers. I’m not really sure exactly what all went
into the article and the data they used, but there are a lot of hands in the pie before
the artists get paid. Makeup artists, barbers. There’s a lot. Drivers. Rob Markman: And operating costs. The labels have operating costs. The streaming services, the retailers, the
DSPs all have operating costs that have to get recouped before any creatives get to see
a dime. John, just going back to you, was it clear
in that Citigroup report, it said musicians received 12 percent of 43 billion. Was that all musicians, or was this just recording
artists, like your Beyonce’s, your Bruno mars, and not necessarily the songwriters,
producers, and session musicians who played on the album? John Lynch: It seemed to me like it was all-encompassing. I think producers were included in it, too. One of the things the Citigroup report got
criticized for overgeneralizing a bit, so I’d be interested to hear what that 12 percent
was a part of, who is getting that money, necessarily? Rob Markman: And we’re going to get into that,
too, because Billboard just recently published an article as a rebuttal to the Citigroup
report and the headlines that are out there. I know the RIAA is asking people to look at
it differently, but Dyme, man, I want to get to you. One thing, Business Insider, you guys use is
the image of Kanye West as the thumbnail image, as the lead image for this. And with all due respect, Kanye’s going to
be fine. Financially, Kanye, your Beyonces of the world,
your Bruno Mars, your Jay-Z’s, these artists aren’t starving at all. Dyme, I want to talk to you because you’re
an indie artist from Brooklyn. You just released your album, ‘Crown Fried.’ Dyme-A-Duzin: ‘Crown Fried.’ Now serving. Rob Markman: There you go. I just wanted to know, first of all, for me
for example, I work here at Genius, and I released an album. Tiffany helped me construct the contracts
for and get my legal thing. Music is my side thing. I still gotta maintain a 9-to-5. Music is all you do. Music is the only way that you work, the only
way that you eat, the only way that you get fed, correct? Dyme-A-Duzin: Yeah. I’m an artist first. Artist, MC. That’s my passion. But at the same time, like you said, living
the life. You gotta live. But that kind of forced me, not forced me. I enjoy doing jingles. I did something for Domino’s, like jingles
and other songwriting opportunities and things like that, so when I first saw the article,
I thought 12 percent. Damn. What would Kool Herc, these guys from back
in the day think about this? And then knowing the fact that it’s all because
the bulk of the artists, what they’re generalizing that 12 percent to be, artists, producers,
the fact that it’s touring shows that this is a change in time. The digital age is more about the connection
to the artist and the fans besides this big, everybody hands in the pot type. Dyme-A-Duzin: We need teams, but at the same
time I feel like the consumption is different nowadays. We’re directly connected to the people that
want to hear us. Tiffany Ballard: Can I? Rob Markman: Yeah, yeah. Tiffany Ballard: A couple of points. I know in the article it mentioned, though,
which I thought was interesting, was that the 12 percent was actually an increase and
back in 2000 it was actually seven percent. Rob Markman: Seven percent. Tiffany Ballard: And I know they did say it
was from touring but mostly from touring because now they tour, but I didn’t understand it
fully only because now there’s also 360 deals which didn’t exist back in the day, so now
they’re actually participating in touring income, where they would not have in the past,
they being labels. So I’m a little bit confused as to why. Because artists have always toured. We go back to, I don’t say back to Mariah
because she’s still relevant, but Whitney, so many people. Michael Jackson. When didn’t they tour? So I don’t know why they would say that now
it’s increased because of tours especially when now labels eat off of tour income, too,
whereas they didn’t in the past. It was mostly sales. John Lynch: They were saying that artists
were touring more, too, to get more revenue. Just the growth of tours has skyrocketed. I was looking at this graph, and it was like
the past five years or so it was a lot of money. Rob Markman: It goes back to this thing. There’s these general reports, I hate these
articles. Millennials kill Applebee’s. But one of the things that’s important to
this generation that is seen through reports is experiences, right? This generation would much rather pay for
experiences, so while we technically aren’t paying for music, if you’re streaming, you’re
paying for the access to listen to music, but you’re not paying to own music, that it
seems that fans are willing to go out more and pay a little more for a concert ticket. Rob Markman: Drake and the Migos will be coming
to New York in a couple of weeks, and I think they got about six or seven dates, like four
dates in MSG alone. Those will run into Billy Joel numbers and
things that we used to see from these touring giants. Rob Markman: Tiffany, I want to go back to
you because a lot of the clients that you represent are songwriters and producers. Tiffany Ballard: Yes. Rob Markman: Musicians who can’t tour, who
aren’t able to make any of this touring revenue, this touring boom that we so hear about. How do you navigate that with your clients,
how do you make sure that they get their fair share? Tiffany Ballard: That’s a good question. One thing I will say is the name of the game
of course is leverage. One thing I try to do is, how do I go without
being so technical? In terms of producers, let’s say, all right? You have these things that are called producer
decks, where you sign. You say, “Okay, you can use my song. I’ll get half now and the other half of the
advance later. We’ll work out the technicalities later.” One thing I try to do is say, “Okay, let’s
not do a deck. Let’s go straight to the long-form agreement. That way, you have leverage because once you
sign this deck, we can argue back and forth about points all day long. About what the splits are going to be, who
is going to actually, how the sample is gonna be allocated, whether or not the artist is
actually, whatever it is.” Tiffany Ballard: One of the things I try to
do is to go past the producer deck aspect and go straight to a long-form that we can
agree to negotiate the actual points. But a lot of it is leverage. What’s your last hot track? Who have you worked with? This client is not going to take, he’s not
willing to take this percentage because x, y, z. He got this percentage on a different deal
with an artist who’s must bigger than the artist that you’re talking about right now,
so why would he be willing to take just 10 percent from you when he got 50 percent from
a Grammy-winning artist, you know what I mean? Tiffany Ballard: So really it’s looking at
the facts, looking at the leverage and actually being willing to forgo the producer deck,
which gives you more leverage and to just stick it through. Rob Markman: Negotiate the front is what you’re
saying? Sign it out up front. Tiffany Ballard: I’m saying don’t do the deck. Don’t do the upfront because some people need
that first half of the advance. Forgo that first half of the advance and get
the entire advance once the long form is done because then you still have the leverage. They can’t put that song on that album until
you finish that long form, whereas if you sign that producer deck, they can use that
song on the album, and you guys can fight for the next year about the second half of
your advance and what the terms are going to be of the competition. Why do that? John Lynch: Sounds messy. Tiffany Ballard: (laughs) Rob Markman: John, I want to get with you
because the Citigroup report has, and we mentioned it a little bit, faced criticism. I know Billboard wrote a couple of articles,
the RIAA. People are questioning how did they get to
this accounting, how did you get to this number, and that they may not be looking at things
the right way because essentially they’re an investment firm and may not have the expertise
or the ins and outs of the music industry. What’s your take on all that? John Lynch: Yeah. They had a couple bullet points of things
that they took issue with it it. One thing was the Citigroup report was saying
a lot of consolidation in the industry could help young artists, up-and-coming artists,
and they took issue with that, saying that Sirius XM, for example, they’ve got crazy
profits, but it’s not necessarily going down to the artists. So consolidating of, if Spotify, as the Citigroup
was saying, if Spotify started to act as a music label for emerging artists, it might
not necessarily be good for those artists because who’s to say that the profits will
go on to the musicians. John Lynch: There were a couple of other things. They took issue with just numbers, overgeneralizing,
too. Yeah. Rob Markman: It’s interesting because, Tiffany,
maybe you can speak to this, the consolidations of streaming services, partnering with Live
Nation and kind of, then you get to this point of almost a 360 situation where it’s like
every aspect of where artists eat forms under one umbrella. Can artists truly benefit from that? Some may say that the leverage of this consolidation
will allow more money to come in from the marketplace because you have a more powerful
entity negotiating on your behalf, but in reality is this really a good thing for artists? Tiffany Ballard: It’s kind of hard to say
because theoretically, if you’re cutting out the middle man. Well, the label isn’t necessarily the middle
man, but if you’re cutting the label out, then theoretically you would think there is
more of the pie to split between the Spotifys, and the Live Nations, and the artists. Tiffany Ballard: Theoretically. But we know that doesn’t necessarily happen. That’s if you are an employee of a company
and the company merges with another conglomerate, to form a conglomerate, does that mean your
paycheck is going to change? Not necessarily. They may keep whatever is shared, they were
keeping, and just split it amongst the partners. So it’s just, it could go either way. Theoretically, you know I could see someone
arguing that cutting a label out would increase the pie for the artists below, but in reality
I’m just not sure how that would work. Tiffany Ballard: And I think even having these
conglomerates and these mergers I don’t think is necessarily a good thing because part of
an artist, let’s say an artist blows up and has a song on the radio or a song that goes
viral or whatever. One of the good things is being able to say,
“Okay, I’m going to go to this label. I’m going to see what they have to say. I’m going to go to this label. I may try to do something with this company,
Apple Music, directly, however it goes.” But it’s good that you have those options,
you know what I mean? If these people start getting together and
making these major corporations, it’s kind of like, would I really benefit the artist
or would I harm the artist because now they can’t use their leverage to actually play
these labels against each other or whatever the situation may be, you know? Rob Markman: Key word again coming up, leverage. Dyme, I want to speak to you. I want to get more insight. If you can paint a picture of what you have
to plan for financially. How do you handle your business? You just put out this album, and there’s costs
to create the album before you put it out. You have to plan to recoup and then pay yourself
and somehow profit so you can maintain a living and a lifestyle. Rob Markman: Outside of the work that goes
in the studio, how hands-on are you with the business and balancing your own books and
making sure that you get to eat and keep the lights on at the end of the day? Dyme-A-Duzin: As much as this is an ever changing
game, the game plan and the strategies also adjust within that. Like I said earlier, it’s a changing game. It’s a digital age. A lot of effort goes into my merch, putting
out merch and with that assisting with the music, I get a lot of people who take the
‘Ghetto Olympics,’ the ‘Crown Fried,’ so I put out projects with that attached to it, and
that really helps me navigate. Rob Markman: So it’s telling the story, not
just through the music but through the merch that you put out. Again, with the experiences that you’re able
to create. We can’t touch the album if you’re streaming
it, but merch you can touch, you can touch it, you can feel it, you can, it’s ranked
within real life. Dyme-A-Duzin: I’ve yet to tour as a solo artist
myself. I was in a band a few years ago, and through
that I learned a lot just touring with them and seeing how you can keep it going with
getting on the road. That’s why I can understand why touring is
so important and why it’s the bulk. But I look at that, too, like, damn, 360 and
the tour is, too. So shit, that’s the most we’re getting, and
they’ve got their hands in there, too? It’s like, sheesh! Rob Markman: Let me ask you a question just
for the fans listening. Usually we have artists up here talking about
their music and it’s the fandom around the artist. And we know you have very passionate fans,
but to the people out there, and anybody can jump in for the fans, watching the fans here,
for them, they’re like, “Man, I just want to listen to the artist that I love.” Dyme-A-Duzin: Even looking at that article,
that quote. Damn, I was disappointed as a fan. Rob Markman: Right. Dyme-A-Duzin: People go and they say, “Hey,
I’m supporting my favorite artists when I’m streaming, so I’m buying this.” At the end of the day, is it going to them? Like you said earlier, who is it going to? Tiffany Ballard: That’s a good point. If I was looking at it purely from a fan standpoint,
and I thought I was supporting one of my favorite artist growing up. Let’s say it was Lil’ Kim or something like
that. I was too young to be bumping hardcore. (laughs) I was definitely bumping hardcore. Dyme-A-Duzin: There you go. Tiffany Ballard: Thank you! So let’s say that I was younger, I’m bumping
Lil’ Kim, and I bought hardcore, but let’s say an article came out that said Lil’ Kim
was getting 12 percent or whatever. I’m like, “Well, I’m just going to illegally
download it. I’m not going to, no.” I’m going to be upset, you know what I mean? Tiffany Ballard: But on the flip side, the
incentive. It could also give more incentive to fans
to go purchase tickets for tours and to purchase merchandise. So I guess that’s the flip side because I
would probably say I might download the music illegally, but I’m going to go to her concert,
and I’m going to buy whatever merchandise she puts out because I know she’s making more
on that side. So now I want to make sure Lil’ Kim is eating
off of what it is that I’m buying. You know what I mean? Rob Markman: But you do find that these fan
armies are really invested in the artist. First of all, you can’t tell Lil’ Kim fans
nothing. (laughs) I like this new [inaudible 00:20:02],
y’all, I’m gonna have a couple of Lil’ Kim fans in my mentions. You say you like Kim, you got the Nicky fans. You can’t tell these fan armies nothing. They will go to hell and back for their favorite
artists and to support their favorite artists. Rob Markman: John, I wanted to pick your brain
on the music monetization act and what you knew about that because that’s a bill that’s
in front of Congress which they’re promising will ensure that the digital music services
or the streamers will pay fair royalties to the right holders and also give the streaming
companies certain leverage and legal wiggle room to protect their business so their not
losing out. How can this potentially help the music industry? John Lynch: It’s supposed to streamline the
whole process. The music industry is working at still the
old-school model when we’re selling physical copies and stuff like. So it’s like, hopefully updating that to boost
royalties and, yeah. I know it’s like, supposedly passed the House,
but Congress is a mess, so who knows? Trump’s gotta sign it, too, which I’m kind
of dismayed about, right? (laughs) Who knows? It could help people out, though. Tiffany Ballard: They’re gonna have to put
it in Russian if they want him to sign it. I’m kidding. (laughs) Rob Markman: Put it in Russian if they want
him to sign it. I like that. (laughs) Just closing remarks. Look, the truth is we wanted to do this episode
to educate the fans. I know a lot of fans were upset when they
saw this. A lot of artists was upset, the artist community. We wanted to have the discussion. We don’t necessarily have all the answers,
but it’s really interesting. Rob Markman: We consume more music than ever. If you’re on YouTube, chances are you’re listening
to music. If you have Spotify or Apple or Tidal, damn
near every song created is at your fingertips, as people, as fans are consuming more music
than ever. And it’s important to understand the business
and where is it going. Just closing remarks, things that you think
is important, especially for the people to know. Rob Markman: Dyme, man, let’s start with you. Dyme-A-Duzin: I was just thinking about the
MMA. It’s about to be passed, I mean, hopefully. I’ve been looking into it, and it was like,
oh, dude, what was the question. I had a question in there, but I wanted to
keep the conversation going, so should I just close it? Rob Markman: Keep going! If you’ve got the answer to the question,
yeah, yeah, yeah. Dyme-A-Duzin: Okay, so the MMA passes. So that allows us to receive more from streaming
through all the companies, Spotifys. Rob Markman: In theory, yeah. There’s a lot of paperwork that goes on with
who gets the royalties, and it just really, like John was saying, streamlines the whole
process and frees up a lot more money or a portion of more money. I don’t exactly know how much but musicians
of all kinds, artists, recording artists, producers, songwriters, get a bigger split
of the pie is what the promise of this bill, what this act is. Tiffany Ballard: I think this will move some
of the bureaucracy. People have catalogs, they don’t want to license
stuff or whatever the situation may be, and I believe it’s like a panel that oversees
it, that are like publishers and actual music people, you know? So they supposedly have more, you know, insight. Actually, songwriters, artists, songwriters
are like, “Yes, let’s do it.” And a lot of publishers are like, “Yes, let’s
do it.” Which is actually rare because usually their
interests are opposed, they have opposing interests, but if you can get publishers and
songwriters on the same page, it seems like it should be something that they should at
least attempt. Dyme-A-Duzin: The creatives, the creatives
that y’all hate, man. Creatives, we’re here, it’s a new town, man. (laughs) Rob Markman: John, what should we look out
for just going forward in the future as this bill is about to get passed and a lot of information
is coming. I think a lot of sides, like Citigroup is
one side, and they’ve got their own interests. The RIAA has their own interests, and you’re
seeing a lot of back and forth. What’s the most important things that we should
be looking out for, you think? John Lynch: I think some of the alternative
stuff, I was talking to Lupe Fiasco earlier this year, and he was really excited about
blockchain technology. Through raising money through Blockchain it
goes right to you, it’s direct, and that’s something that seems super-exciting as an
up-and-coming technology and stuff. And I saw Grammatik, this DJ from Slovenia,
he raised 2.48 million dollars for his music off of that. Some of that intrigues me, but artists aren’t
making enough off of streaming. There’s got to be alternate revenues and avenues
to find that. Dyme-A-Duzin: Write jingles for Domino’s man. It’s a good hustle! Rob Markman: I’d like to thank all of my guests,
John, man. Tiffany, thank you. Dyme-A-Duzin, man, ‘Crown Fried’ is in stores
now. Thank you for being a guest today, thank you
for the information, thank you for sharing. Tiffany Ballard: Let me add one thing. You didn’t ask about my closing remarks. Rob Markman: Go ahead. Did I ask you about them? I’m sorry. Tiffany Ballard: I butted in. I butted in and gave my two cents. What I do want to say is something that is
important, no matter what, is for artists. Whether the day, if the aspiration, because
all artists don’t want to go major. If an artist knows that at some point they
want to get in bed with a major, I think to do as much groundwork and as much hustle as
much possible because, like you mentioned, the word leverage, word of the day, leverage. No matter what, even though it’s not gonna
be fair, it’s just a system, it’s set up how it is, you know, an artist is not going to
ever get 100% of their income generated, not even 50% but at least if there’s a certain
amount of leverage going in because you have a song that’s [inaudible 00:26:01] or you
have fans that are committed to you, you can demonstrate, look, I have people who are checking
for me. At least you can get the best terms possible
for you, as opposed to going through just with a catalog of music that no one’s ever
heard. Tiffany Ballard: And maybe go to the A&R guy
that’s gonna sign you, but that A&R guy is not going to be able to get the book opened
up or get certain things for you, make a deal situated a certain way if you can’t demonstrate
that you’re a good, you know, that you’re worth the investment. You know what I mean? So I think it is important for people to put
in the ground work. If they need a 9-to-5, they gotta work at
McDonald’s in order to pay for studio time, to pay for some decent quality mixing and
masters, whatever it is. I think it is important for people to invest
in their product before they even try to make that step and go to pursue a major record
deal. Rob Markman: And that’s a good word. Thank you. I know we’ve got a lot of fans that watch
this show that are actually musicians or aspiring musicians, and they’re commenting all the
time, so hopefully you guys got a jewel out of this for real. But again, I’d like to thank everybody for
joining us. This was a very different episode of For the
Record, but an important one, so I hope you guys learned something.