SXSW 2014

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals offered the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, and also numerous senior level networking opportunities SXSW was complete.   

MIDEM 2014

This year 20214, Midem was smaller in size, smaller in attendance but much more intense with business deals. The smaller floor size made it much easier to find company booths, easier to find executives and much easier to have private meetings.
The announcements at Midem were ground breaking to say the least:
Will.I.Am in his opening day speech, delivered via Skype said: “The state of the music industry is delusional… our music is seen more than it is heard… They’re showing you music rather than you’re hearing music… I try my hardest not to dwell on how delusional and dysfunctional and splintered the industry is. I surround myself with mega super geeks, so we can make and market hardware and things like that. Maybe I’m chasing something I would probably never catch, but I’ve been here before when I was in the ghetto chasing the dream of starting a band.”
“I really encourage every single person in the music industry to try and compete not with other record companies, but compete with Samsung, compete against LG, compete against the big ones! Why is Sony competing against Universal? As a matter of fact, HOW DID SONY LOSE? THEY HAD THE CAMERA, THEY HAD THE RECORD COMPANY… How did you lose to Apple?!”
Will cited Dr Dre and Beats as inspiration that the music industry can go into the hardware game and compete. “Boom. How do you like that shit?!”

In the panel debate on whether streaming music can be a sustainable platform for artists things got hot. After a year of criticism of services like Spotify from musicians including Thom Yorke and David Byrne streaming was directly accessed.
Radiohead’s manager, Brian Message, spoke more positively about the impact streaming had on the last album from another of his clients, Nick Cave. “We put streaming right at the forefront of everything he did, right the way from developing Spotify apps through we then used lyric cards and all that kind of stuff, in order to drive an awareness campaign without him having to do too much promotion. And that worked very well for us,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deezer’s CEO Axel Dauchez talked about the way the industry can’t just make music available to stream – it has to think hard about how people will discover new music through these services, in order to convince artists that it can pay off for them.
“If the platform is just a jukebox, people will only listen to the tracks they already know. If we do that, no money will finance the creation of new music,” said Dauchez. “We have a common responsibility to generate discovery: to force people to try new artists, new songs… Investing in new artists is not a marketing tool: it’s an industry need… if 70% of the streams are done in the back catalogue, there will be no new creation.
In a session on new frontiers for music videos, The Collective Music Group’s Jordan Berliant noted that in 2014: “What has changed is the video isn’t a promotional thing: the video IS the thing… It’s not something to promote something else.”
Berliant said that labels criticizing YouTube for not making them enough money were missing the point: they perhaps haven’t mastered what fellow panelist Brandon Martinez described as the “12-month content cycle” of a successful channel. ““It’s not a place to make money right now, but it’s not primarily because of YouTube or Google in my mind, it’s because the people representing the content primarily don’t understand the marketplace,” said Berliant
Lyor Cohen Unveils 300,a New 'Content Company' with Atlantic Deal, Google Backing and Ex-Warner Brass which has just signed an interesting deal with Twitter’s music division.
“We’re going to create A&R tools to find artists early, and help develop them,” he said. “I’m really happy to be working with them. Certainly the modern A&R business, we all are looking for talent in various places, and certainly Twitter is a terrific place to look at talent, just like YouTube. If you want to get signed, I think you have to engage with Twitter, and of course YouTube. And we’ll be looking and trying to develop tools that the rest of the music community can utilize. That’s super-exciting for us.”
Cohen also threw his weight behind streaming music as the future for the industry. “I think this is an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs to be independent, especially in the music business. I see macro-business models that are not on some chalkboard, but actually reality. I certainly believe in streaming as being the future of very healthy business, and so the tide would rise.” 
“In the modern A&R business we are all looking for talent in various places, and certainly Twitter is a terrific place to look at talent,” Cohen said. “If you want to get signed, you have to engage with Twitter, and of course YouTube, and we’ll be looking to try and develop tools that the rest of the music community can utilize.”
“The mission statement is to create a lasting reputation for high quality and artist development,” Cohen told the audience.
I see 300 as a massive effort to organize and utilize independent new music, energy, creativity and acts for the financial gain of an already “FAT” executive cadre.  Developing a system that will find the “crème” of the Indies, nurture them and gain financially off their concepts has been the way of the major label since majors were created.  THIS IS JUST THE FIRST PHASE OF A NEW USERY SYSTEM.

The greatest NEW service and system made available at this Midem hands down was MUSIC KICKUP
Music Kickup is a 100% free digital music distribution service to major digital music stores, coupled with their new services Career Path and Music Kickup Foundation.  This company has the potential to become a music internet behemoth.  Their concept is simple enough, Digital distribution with ALL of the major digital storefronts (iTunes, Amazon, EMusic, etc...) for FREE
“Our disruptive technology enables 100% free and super fast distribution. This combined with Career Path creates great platform for artists to develop.” Antti Silventoinen, CEO Music Kickup
Every artist and musician wants a 100% free digital music distribution service to major digital music stores, but the Career Path service is truly what makes the difference.  Career Path is a groundbreaking artist development toolset and service that pushes the artist forward task by task. Building on Music Kickup world leading analytics and their partner network, they build human curated artist pathways for regions, artist development and genres. The qualified and quantified data makes sure that the artist will always be presented with the right next steps and opportunities. Career Path will be online March 4th 2014.  This allows for the ability to have a virtual consultant online who will give the artist specific tasks to accomplish day by day allowing them to market, promote and sell their music.   Additional marketing partners include manufacturing, marketing, promotion, design and video all ready to assist the artist in having a winning Career Path.
“The combination of career development tied to actionable distribution solutions based on analytics and data is a smart marketplace solution.  I'll be watching closely what this company can do for artists of all sizes around the world.” Jay Frank, Owner & CEO of DigSin and Author of the bestseller Futurehit.DNA Also expanding Career Path is Music Kickup partners, such as 3plet, Radar Music Videos, Band App and MusicXray. Career Path gives them unique a unique platform and access to artists, who through Career Path can be reached at the right time.
Adam Perry, CEO of BandApp and drummer of Bloodhound Gang comments: "We are super excited about the BandApp partnership with Music KickUp. The platform allows artists to really manage their careers like never before online and BandApp will play a big part in that. Providing both artists and fans with powerful, free tools is what we are all about, and so are Music Kickup. We are delighted to be onboard a cant wait to see the results!”
“Since we started Music Kickup in 2011, we’ve been working with thousands of artists to produce the most complete service for artists to build their careers and sell their music”, Perttu Sutinen, COO of Music Kickup explains. ”After two years of development, we’ve finally nailed it!”


                                     "I AIN'T STUDDIN YOU"
                                              BOBBY RUSH


Speed Networking Plus Invades the Americana Music Association Conference & Festival 2013
Nashville, TN September 18, 2013– Atlanta based “The Music Specialist”, Allen Johnston, presented three (3) diverse sessions at the Americana Music Association Festival & Awards 2013.   Selected by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville, all of his written & visual session materials were certified by the American Bar Association Forum on Entertainment and Sports Industries and presented at the Nashville Entertainment Law Symposium. 
Copies of these materials can be found on the American Bar Association website at

Wednesday September 18th
Song To The Bank

Totally updated for 2013, each and every indie musician, publisher or serious fan will gain inside knowledge on what makes the music industry tick; especially how it's changed and what to expect in light of the digital landscape. In addition to straight business talk, we'll add some career coaching/marketing speak to our discussion. Covered topics will include: information for touring artist, singer songwriter, self-publishers and those interested in International business deals, How to establish, maintain and promote a viable International music business.  What should I be doing to promote myself; what options are available to me - the artist
B2B Speed Networking
Speed Networking is one-on-one face time with film/TV music decision makers and influencers.  Our panelists will meet a participant for a three-minute period before the attendee is asked to move on to the next panelist

Thursday September 19th                                                                                        Synch Licensing
The biggest money generating sector of the publishing business Synchronization licensing is probably the most misunderstood.  Let our experts tell you what is, how to license your songs and how to collect.
Allen Johnston consults new and existing entertainment businesses, increasing their revenue streams while making them technically astute. With over four decades of progressive experience in all aspects of music product development, licensing, sales, promotion and distribution for national and international markets, he has worked with labels including Ariola, Arista, Capital, EMI America, Fantasy, Island, K-Tel, Mercury, Sony, Stax and Warner Bros. Records. As Industry Consultant, he provides business operations back office services for many music industry clients. Independent labels and publishers rely upon his expertise in the areas of publishing administration, licensing, royalty recovery, business affairs, label operation, business administration and the digital marketplace. 


Conceived and dedicated to the advance of entertainment industry education and independent business building, Music Specialist Speaks uses multimedia, internet capabilities and live sessions to impart knowledge, education and business building connections.  The newsletter division now reaches 19 countries with an overall readership of 1.2 million plus.

 The ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries is delighted to bring the Americana Music Association and The Arts & Business Council into this successful partnership, offering new sophisticated content from some of the leading entertainment law practitioners across the country.