MusicFest was a sold-out success.
It is a humbling experience to serve on the CMA Board and see firsthand the care and detail necesary to produce an event of this magnitude. Sarah Trahern and her talented staff are nothing less than miracle workers. And Nashville also owes special thanks to the many artists who shared their time and music thereby making it possible for the CMA to continue donating millions of dollars to city schools and investing in our children’s music education.
While mingling amongst the steamy MusicFest stages, I bumped into Warner Chappell’s Ben Vaughn, who always has an insightful comment or question. “How long have you been doing the Country Songwriter Chart?” he asked this time. “And what have you learned from watching it?”
I replied, “Over the two years or so we’ve been compiling the chart the songwriter middle class has become an endangered species. And to remain in the ever-shrinking elite group demands a writer deliver quality and quantity (Q2).” Vaughn nodded.
And yet there are always exceptions.
For example, the incredible Lori McKenna broke all the rules with her just-ended, five-week run at No. 1. What did she do differently? Well, she wrote “Humble And Kind” for Tim McGraw all by herself and the song went No. 1.
Songwriter Chart watchers likely know that each song’s weekly point total gets divided equally among its co-writers. So with “Humble…” Ms McKenna—as the only writer—really scored.
Solo writes are a great strategy for Songwriter Chart domination—and publishers no doubt long for those good ole days when royalties were divided amongst fewer parties—but today solo writes are as rare as finding a block of Music Row real estate with no construction.
This week’s new No. 1 writer—Shane McAnally—proves the norm, edging out McKenna by less than two points and using the Q2 strategy (quality and quantity). McAnally graces the chart top with co-writes on seven titles by artists as varied as Jerrod Niemann, Brandy Clark, Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley. Other Top Ten staples this week include Ashley Gorley (No. 3), Luke Laird (No. 4), Craig Wiseman (No. 7) and Ross Copperman (No. 8).
Caution: Sinkhole Ahead
But—switching the subject—even Q2 strategy won’t save copyright owners from the impending economic sinkhole opening up as the industry transitions to streaming from physical sales, downloads and terrestrial radio.
Many ask, “Why can’t Spotify or Pandora just pay us more?” Think about it. They are already paying over 70% of gross revenues, and losing their shirts. Spotify just had to raise a billion dollars to stay in the game. Payment rates are important long term, but right now they are merely a distraction.
The question to ask is, “Will these companies ever be able to attract enough paid subscribers to generate a pool of income large enough to sustain the creative community?” Or do we need to find another way?
Student discounts, family plans and increased streaming competition continue to erode ‘revenue per subscriber’ and therefore raise the number of subscribers necessary to make the current system economically viable.
Everyone realizes that streaming is the next big thing, but what many don’t grasp is that IP owners may need a new business model to successfully adapt to this new distribution platform. A model that respects digital technology and can fairly compensate rights holders.
I’ll be talking about this problem (and offering a Digital Solution) at the upcoming AIMP luncheon on Tuesday, June 21. It’s going to be an interactive session and your input is critical. Songwriters, producers or publishers that haven’t already RSVP’d, email Trina to reserve your place. NAinfo@aimp.org