Monthly Archives: July 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Music Artists Take On the Music Business, Calling for Change…And That May Mean Changes For Me And You

New York Times Music Artists Take On the Business, Calling for Change By BEN SISARIOJULY 31, 2015 10598721_315249341985987_1610696395_n Musicians are known for speaking out on issues like human rights, politics and the environment. They are less known for speaking out about how the music business itself should operate. That may be changing. When Taylor Swift publicly rebuked Apple in June over royalty payments, the company reversed its position and Ms. Swift’s move was celebrated throughout the music world as a victory. But it was only the most prominent example of a growing trend of industry-focused activism undertaken by a range of artists, from big stars who take a principled stand to middle-class musicians who need to worry about paying the bills. “We’re at a turning point,” said the singer David Byrne, formerly of Talking Heads, who has been vocal on the economics behind digital music. “Musicians, their managers and many others are frustrated. The black box of hidden transactions in the music business, while maybe not illegal, is a recipe for chicanery.” The activism has taken different shapes. Jay Z, for example, paid $56 million for the subscription streaming service Tidal, though his efforts to market it as an artist-friendly alternative have been criticized as clumsy. Prince, Neil Young and Ms. Swift have withdrawn their music from some streaming outlets, and various musicians have called for greater transparency in how the music industry operates. Over the last few weeks, dozens of acts, including R.E.M., Common and Chuck D of Public Enemy, took to social media to support a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers. The debate has been enabled by social media and reflects changes in many artists’ attitudes toward the online economy over the last 15 years or so — a period that stretches from the rise of Napster and iTunes to online streaming outlets like YouTube, Pandora and Spotify, and has been accompanied by enormous changes in how money flows through the industry. “The support that we’re seeing, in terms of the range and number of artists, whether it’s from somebody who’s a working-class musician to somebody who’s very successful, it’s unprecedented,” said Ted Kalo, the executive director of MusicFirst, a lobbying coalition that includes record labels and musicians’ groups and that helped organize the social media campaign. The economics behind downloads is relatively simple: Typically about 70 percent of a song’s retail price goes to a record company, which then pays its musicians according to its contracts. But with streaming, the system is complex and often opaque, as became apparent in May, when an outdated licensing contract between Sony and Spotify was leaked online, showing the elaborate formulas used in computing streaming rates. Public relations missteps in the early 2000s kept many musicians from speaking out about economic issues, artists and executives said. Those include the music industry’s lawsuits against thousands of fans for online file-sharing, and the pillorying that the band Metallica received after it sued Napster for copyright infringement. But the shift toward streaming in recent years has prompted many musicians to investigate the changes in the business and comment online. Among them are independents like David Lowery of the band Cracker; Zoë Keating, a cellist who has documented her online royalties; and Blake Morgan, a singer-songwriter who owns a small record company and started an online campaign, #IRespectMusic, to draw attention to the issue. At the same time, musicians and songwriters of all stripes have begun to complain, often bitterly, of low royalty payments from streaming music. Last year, for example, Bette Midler spoke out against Pandora and Spotify, and Aloe Blacc said that he earned just $4,000 in songwriting royalties from 168 million streams on Pandora of Avicii’s hit “Wake Me Up,” which Mr. Blacc helped write. In response, many streaming outlets point out that their actions are a legal and rapidly growing source of income for the industry as sales of CDs and downloads plunge. Pandora says it has paid nearly $1.5 billion in royalties since it started a decade ago, and Spotify, which went online in 2008, says it has paid $3 billion. Yet how much of that money makes its way into musicians’ pockets remains hotly debated. Melvin Gibbs, a jazz bassist in New York who is the president of the Content Creators Coalition, said that declining royalties — he recalled once getting a check for 3 cents — were a factor that led him to study the business models of Internet companies that offer abundant music free or at low subscription prices. “None of these companies that are supposedly in the music business are actually in the music business,” Mr. Gibbs said. “They are in the data-aggregation business. They’re in the ad-selling business. The value of music means nothing to them.” Several years ago Ms. Keating, who controls her own recordings, began posting detailed royalty statements from Spotify, and she has also reported on private negotiations with YouTube in which that company appeared to pressure her into signing a contract for its new music-subscription service. Despite growing complaints from middle-class musicians, it is still the stars who have the most impact. As Apple prepared last month to release its new streaming service, Apple Music, independent labels around the world said that the company’s refusal to pay royalties for trial streams was unfair. But Apple did not budge until Ms. Swift scolded the company in a blog post — whereupon Apple changed course in a matter of hours. Lobbying has become another battleground. In April, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act was introduced to Congress, which would require AM and FM radio stations to pay royalties to performers, in addition to songwriters. The bill has been hailed by musicians and opposed by broadcasters, who have long argued that by playing a song on air they give it valuable promotion. But a side controversy has emerged over the MIC Coalition, a Washington advocacy group that includes Pandora, the National Association of Broadcasters and others that have frequently opposed the music industry over royalty matters. In June, Amazon withdrew its membership, and a senior executive told Billboard magazine that the company’s primary interest in transparency was “getting lost in the wilder noise surrounding rate-setting.” Two weeks ago, National Public Radio also dropped out of the coalition after complaints from the Content Creators Coalition, which accused it of “working in Washington to deny fair pay to the very artists it purports to celebrate on their air.” A spokeswoman for the MIC Coalition — whose name stands for Music, Innovation, Consumers — said that the group had not taken a position on the Fair Play act, though many of its members had as individuals. Michael Riksen, NPR’s vice president for policy and representation, declined to say why the organization left the MIC Coalition. But he said that he “viewed the coalition as a way for the voice and values of public radio and NPR to be part of a broad-based conversation about copyright reform.” “Had it taken a position” on the bill, Mr. Riksen added, “we wouldn’t have joined in the first place.” The political chances are also unclear for the Fair Play bill, whose other provisions include paying royalties to artists for recordings made before 1972, which are not covered by federal copyright. Similar efforts have failed in the past, and the National Association of Broadcasters says that 203 members of the House and 19 senators have signed a nonbinding resolution opposing it. Still, Mr. Byrne and other musicians pushing for the bill say they are undeterred. “This one can be won, then we can move on to the harder ones,” Mr. Byrne said. “Why this time? Can’t point to anything specific. It feels right, and as musicians that’s what often drives us.”
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Now that you’ve reached the age of 34, do you have any ambitions left?

Now that you’ve reached the age of 34, do you have any ambitions left? “To get out of Paris alive… You know, at the end of The Rose when I got nominated for an Academy Award I really thought my life was over. I thought, well, now what am I going to do? But I’ve calmed down a bit. I was pretty depressed by that, by the fact that I lost. I wasn’t real depressed, but I felt… like you’re supposed to feel when you lose.” (Musical Express, 1981) 589249-1024x687
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Who won the Academy Award?

Who won the Academy Award? Who won? Sally Field! And she deserved to win, but after that I thought, Gee, I’ve done it all. What can I do now? I went to a whole bunch of rock’n’roll shows, just for recreation and I thought-I haven’t really done this. I did it in the film but I didn’t do it in real life… (Musical Express, 1981) 10707139_284117301788523_1996445211_n
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Top 20 Global Concert Tours from Pollstar Ending July 31

Pollstar Top 20 Global Concert Tours from Pollstar By The Associated Press Updated 7:08 am, Friday, July 31, 2015 11417342_1679319962296855_2127428200_n The Top 20 Global Concert Tours ranks artists by average box office gross per city and includes the average ticket price for shows worldwide. The list is based on data provided to the trade publication Pollstar by concert promoters and venue managers. 1. The Rolling Stones; $8,066,135; $178.44. 2. U2; $6,030,279; $111.53. 3. Take That; $4,461,359; $108.93. 4. Taylor Swift; $4,396,703; $110.29. 5. Fleetwood Mac; $2,979,569; $122.77. 6. Kenny Chesney ; $2,089,966; $85.60. 7. Shania Twain; $1,677,586; $99.18. 8. Bette Midler; $1,265,913; $127.55. 9. Luke Bryan; $1,247,563; $63.37. 10. Neil Diamond; $1,233,631; $101.21. 11. Maná; $1,187,936; $101.54. 12. Rush; $1,120,184; $85.71. 13. André Rieu; $1,100,450; $79.10. 14. Herbert Grönemeyer; $958,492; $57.49. 15. Dave Matthews Band; $901,060; $59.17. 16. Maroon 5; $783,712; $57.73. 17. Ed Sheeran; $744,638; $59.84. 18. Romeo Santos; $717,996; $87.91. 19. New Kids On The Block; $683,598; $59.65. 20. Barry Manilow; $641,050; $71.78.
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BetteBack September 21, 1990: Bette Midlers Makes Top Ten Female Stars Of The 90’s MovieLine List

New Castle News September 21, 1990 post-37737-1288968426 Julia Roberts’s performance in Pretty Woman” was enough to convince some people she’ll be the biggest actress of the ’90s. She was the top woman pick for stardom in a Movieline magazine survey of college students while Tom Cruise was chosen as the top male star of the decade. ‘‘We were surprised to see that Harrison Ford and Cher didn’t make it in the top 10,” Movieline Editor Edward Marguiles said. ‘‘Cruise was an obvious choice but Roberts seem s to have done well mainly since her hit ‘Pretty Woman’ was released just before we did the poll earlier this summer.” After Ms. Roberts, the survey said the top women stars of the ’90s, in order, will be Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Kirstie Alley, Kim Basinger, Bette Midler, Madonna, Alyssa Milano of “ Who’s the Boss” and Kathleen Turner. Cruise was followed by River Phoenix, Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Fred Savage of “ The Wonder Years,” Keanu eeves, Christian Slater and John Cusack.
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

BetteBack September 21, 1990: A Fan Wants To Know The Basics Of Bette Midler

Kokomo Tribune September 21, 1990
A Star Spangled Night For Rights

A Star Spangled Night For Rights

I am an admirer ofBette Midler and especially loved her role in “Beaches.” When and where was she born? Any other information on her would be appreciated. – E.M. BREWER, ASHEVILLE, N.C. Bette Midler was born Dec. 1, 1945, in Paterson, N.J., and was named after one of her mother’s favorite actresses, Bette Davis. She grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where her father worked as a painter for the U.S. Navy. Both of Midler’s parents are deceased, as is an older sister, Judy (named after Judy Garland). Midler has another older sister, Susan “(named after Susan Hayward), and a younger brother, Daniel, who is slightly retarded. Midler studied drama at the University of Hawaii for a year and made her film debut as a missionary’s wife in the 1965 feature “Hawaii.” She moved to New York City in 1965 and built a reputation as a bawdy cabaret performer. Her first album, “The Divine Miss M” (1972), won her a Grammy as Best New Artist of the Year. Midler’s big film break came in 1979 with the Janis Joplin-inspired role in “The Rose,” which led to an Oscar nomination. She has also appeared in the films “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” (1985), “Ruthless People” (1986), “Outrageous Fortune” (1987) and the recent “Stella.” She married Harry Kipper (real name, Martin von Haselberg) in December 1984, and their daughter, Sophie, was born in 1986.

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‘Sophie Mania’ Returns

The Huffington Post ‘Sophie Mania’ Returns By Katherine Kramer June 30, 2015 20131125_inq_tznsoph25-a I had the rare pleasure of seeing The Outrageous Sophie Tucker, a new documentary feature currently playing in select theaters. It opened the recent 2015 Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, and is a genuine “rags to riches” show business story that will inspire today’s performers and certainly empower women of all ages, shapes and sizes. The film is directed by Academy Award nominated filmmaker William Gazecki, and written and produced by Susan and Lloyd Ecker. “The Last Of The Red-Hot Mamas” Sophie Tucker was known as the “female Al Jolson” and she paved the way for such icons as Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Midler, Cher, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, even Amy Schumer. The Eckers have been working on this in-depth documentary for eight years including immersing themselves in Tucker’s personal scrapbooks, interviewing numerous family, friends and show business personalities. Some of the on-camera interviews include Tony Bennett, Barbara Walters, Bruce Vilanch, Michael Feinstein, Carol Channing, narrated by David Hyde Pierce. Sophie Tucker was a pioneer, a woman ahead of her time as an entertainer, and a leader in Social Media. From 1906 through the beginning of television, her brash, bawdy style prevailed as a “star” attraction. I spoke to the Eckers about their passion for getting Sophie’s story on screen, and they plan both a Broadway musical and feature film about The Outrageous Sophie Tucker. Is Sophie still relevant today? “Sophie represented that strong personable female voice that you see reincarnated today in performers such as Lady Gaga and Amy Schumer,” Lloyd Ecker explained. “Bette Midler started doing Sophie routines in her one-woman-shows which she still performs to this day, and Bette named her daughter Sophie. And Mae West was an early mentee of Mae West. Without Sophie there would not have been Mae West saying “Come up and see me sometime.” She was also a mentor to the young Judy Garland. According to Susan Ecker, “Sophie was the Forrest Gump of the first half of the 1900’s. She was close with U.S. Presidents, King George VI,young Queen Elizabeth, Charlie Chaplin, J.Edgar Hoover, Al Jolson, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and every other notable of her era.” Was she a feminist? “Sophie definitely believed a woman should receive equal pay to a man,” Lloyd Ecker stated. “When the suffragette movement came about, first she was against it, when it was in vogue, she was for it. Sophie Tucker fought for herself, created an environment and image, and rode the trends. But all she ever wanted was equal pay to a man.” She sang “Some of These Days” and “After You’ve Gone” and she interpreted sex and innuendo in a way no woman had before her. Even though she was overweight, she stated boldly, “This is me. I’m comfortable in my own skin.” And if she were alive today, you can bet she’d be the Queen of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vines, Periscope and all forms of social media. The Outrageous Sophie Tucker is an intriguing documentary feature that celebrated an original and lets us in on the creation of a Show Business Pioneer’s life and struggles.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bette Midler – One Night Only – Wind Beneath My Wings – 2014

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BetteBack September 19, 1990: Stars Take Stage For Environment

Winchester Star September 19, 1990 hqdefault “An Evening With . . . Bette Cher, Goldie, Meryl, Olivia, and Robin” says it all. You don’t have to be’ a rocket scientist to figure out the identity of the stars packed into this hour variety special on ABC at 10. The proceeds from the show taped Sept. 13 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, will go to “Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet.” The environmental theme explains ecology-minded Meryl Streep’s involvement. Her contribution to the hour (still being edited at press time) is a reading of “special views about the planet Earth.” Bette Midler and Cher will each sing a medley of popular songs. Midler will present a short comedy routine, as will Robin Williams, though his stand-up will be more frenetic than hers. Goldie Hawn plans to sing the ballad “It’s Not Easy Being Green” and Olivia Newton-John will join several children for rousing renditions of environmentally correct songs. fe3
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Director Kenny Ortega: The Sanderson Sisters ‘Deserve’ A ‘Hocus Pocus’ Sequel

Hollywood Life Director Kenny Ortega: The Sanderson Sisters ‘Deserve’ A ‘Hocus Pocus’ Sequel Tue, July 28, 2015 3:29pm EDT by Emily Longeretta 1660643_479452618862011_762642104_n Can this just please happen already? Well, director Kenny Ortega is definitely willing to put another spell on us, and actually told Boo-ooo-oook surely has a spell in it to reverse the spell that turned Winifred, Sarah and Mary — aka Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Nijimy — into stone! Director Kenny Ortega, who’s currently promoting his new Disney Channel movie, Descendants, stopped by the offices this week, and of course, I asked about Bette’s amazing rendition of “Spell On You” that she performs on stage these days — and what the odds are that a sequel could happen. “I wouldn’t mind doing a sequel,” Kenny told exclusively. “Even if it isn’t me, if someone else’s got to do it, [I want it].” Not to worry guys. I reassured Kenny that it needed to be him directing a sequel, especially with those epic “beloved” characters. Kenny is currently promoting a whole different group of characters in Disney’s Descendants, which premieres on the Disney Channel on July 31 and takes a look at the lives of a new generation of villains — the kids of the classics. You have Dove Cameron playing Mal, the daughter of Maleficent; Cameron Boyce playing Carlos, the son of Cruella; Booboo Stewart playing Jay, the son of Jafar; and Sofia Carson playing Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen. And yes, Kathy is actually the Evil Queen. So, there is a demand for another Hocus Pocus, right? “That’s a movie that we made over 20 years ago, and there’s an enormous fan base. Every October there’s this huge push for the studio to do it again. I have a feeling that maybe someday, someone might revisit it,” Kenny added. “I think it’d be great to revisit it with the same women. The Sanderson Sisters deserve another opportunity to land in the middle of something and do it again. They’re too much fun. Kathy Nijimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler — that’s a winner right there.” Yes yes yes, it is. So let’s do this! Do you want a sequel, HollywoodLifers?

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