I began my extended hiatus from the music industry after exasperation led to resignation that it was too early to lead a path forward against an industry’s myopic pushback to its own inevitable, transitional future. Pre-iPod, a few of us foresaw that tech and digital distribution would change everything. Along with this transition came opportunities to upend the business for corrections to myriad inequities to artists and songwriters that it long held as sacrosanct, and which I long held as reprehensible. Being among the first to recognize the need to relicense the hundreds of recordings used in the “Baywatch” series (that were originally licensed for free television but now needed an unprecedented digital license), my music business colleagues complimented my foresight, negotiation and execution of the next-gen master and publishing sync licenses and, over the years, continually urged my return to the business. “When the industry evolves sufficiently to be receptive to its future, I’ll plan to resume a thought-leadership role,” was invariably my considered reply. But as I quietly continued to listen, study the music and other industries, and talked with my expert contacts, the start of a painstakingly detailed process of designing a proprietary business model for a new type of artist-centric and fan base, egalatarian community of socially conscious ambassadors had begun. After all, I was the co-architect of ATV Music, the publishing company that owns the Lennon-McCartney catalogue of Beatles songs. We innovated many of the practices now intrinsic to publishing and built ATV into the most successful independent music publisher in the world, later famously acquired by Michael Jackson (ATV Sony). I had also run the music divisions of Carolco Pictures (“Rambo,” “Total Recall” and All American Television (which became Fremantle, American Idol, etc). And my colleagues remained confident and encouraging about my having more big ideas for the business of media.
I’ve offered a handful of essays (essentially a treatise) that now comprises a Socially Driven Music (SDM) series on the Medium publishing platform intended to identify the immediate problems to be addressed (market opportunity), the strategies and solutions, the targeted audiences, the value propositions, competitive advantages, and the key financial metrics. (Inquire about our full financial pro forma.) The essays touch upon a plethora of ways to monetize music that far transcend the tired routines of obsolete record labels (the DSP’s, like Spotify and Pandora/Soundcloud, have already rendered most of their function redundant) and deride their penchant for churning and a lemmings mentality rather than a voracious quest for creative development and marketing of new, distinctive, idiosyncratic artists (not all record makers are artists) and catalogue. The essays proceed to dispel the notion that exhaustive touring is the only alternative solution for artists seeking to replace the evaporated revenue of the days before streaming. Nor does the future of the record business rely on the ludicrous rationalization (arguably as the result of churning versus not developing innately truly individual artists), that it should transition to becoming marketers of song “unbundling” and “song stems.” And what about the songwriters, publishers (and producers) who generally don’t profit sufficiently from sampling or live shows? The SDM thinking goes on to consider that the term Music Publishing has long been a misnomer for a vital music contingent that is broadly responsible for not only songwriters’ livelihood, but that these Music Facilitators now incorporate, improve and effectively usurp the valuable functions that were once the domain of the labels.
The SDM mission has been to transcend and visualize a music industry that is a manifestation of big ideas that are more encompassing of a far more extensive “food chain” than ever before envisioned during its often self-serving history. This endeavor creates a template for the future of the music industry finally fully integrated with virtually all aspects of our daily lives in ways that are far more personal and inclusive than passive listening experiences. The concept brings artists and fans into a close working relationship as opposed to one built on distant celebrity adoration. And SDM is not about churning out manufactured music product to sustain a broken music industry model demanding constant volume, but rather is focused on the next generation of consummate song and artist innovators whose potential can begin to surface only through a nurturing growth process. It is built to morph for perpetual improvement, inclusion and growth, and is infused with technology and predictive analytics. And it’s been this constant iteration of what constitutes the most compelling drivers to the core foundation of this concept and company that has protracted its launch. I’ll explain how I came to realize that it’s the users who will ultimately define and prioritize what they care about and envision integrating with music for the most powerful use cases and value propositions.
The recent passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) in Congress, although leaving much to be desired, exemplifies some progress in updating archaic and arcane royalty administration in the U.S. The SDM essay series speaks to the important administrative and creative changes that SDM will help facilitate and which will be revisited and expanded in future posts (including thoughts about next action steps to improve the MMA, and lessons learned about lobbying/rallying local politicians to our causes). Ultimately, my purpose here and now is to begin to illustrate the daily “social impact” reciprocal opportunities to which ubiquitous music can motivate grassroots activism and countless forms of contributions on a hyperlocal basis.
We live in a very different world than that in which many of us grew up. There is much to care and concern ourselves about and yet so much despair and feelings of helplessness that is often misconstrued for complacency.
There are infinite existing groups to join and support: whether you care about any of the health and medical afflictions running the gamut from A to Z; the environment; diverse and systemic discrimination; LGBTQ Rights; marriage equality; terror; “Me Too;” veterans; homelessness; senior care, caregivers support; senior abuse; hunger; food waste; clean water; bullying; animal cruelty; reasonable gun control; sexual lifestyles; voting rights; domestic violence; equal pay; prison reform; immigration; natural disaster assistance; drug abuse; fair elections; sexism; ageism; school safety; suicide prevention; and/or myriad other social issues.
Essentially as an extension of what Bob Geldorf began with LiveAid years ago, SDM is first to recognize that there is incalculable untapped reciprocal marketing and philanthropic potential in the daily connection of any of the many “social good” organizations to a music artist or songwriter and their fans who are passionate about that particular cause.
How often do we feel that a social issue is too overwhelming, too insurmountable to positively change? Together the reach and influence is larger than the sum of its parts. Imagine what can be achieved by animating each cause with poignant music that captures the combined emotional intelligence quotient of all involved and catapults us all to advocacy. What better time to galvanize more socially conscious music creators (e.g., Eminem, Common, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino) for a more consistent return to music’s rich tradition of social statements. The many important, iconic, socially aware songs that randomly come to mind range from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and include Curtis Mayfield/”People Get Ready,” Marvin Gaye/”What’s Going On,” John Lennon/”Imagine,” John & Yoko/“Give Peace a Chance,” Neil Young/”Ohio,” Elton John/”The Bridge” and “Border Song,” Paul Simon/”American Tune,” Bob Dylan/”A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” Woody Guthrie/”Old Man Trump, Public Enemy/“Fight the Power,” Bruce Springsteen/”Death to My Hometown” and Toby Keith/”My List;” among so many others.
SDM’s business model is Hyperlocal, Grassroots and Organic, is not accepting Angel or VC funding...and will be rolled out globally. It’s about parlaying local market centers that are rich with emerging artists and songwriters with a passion for positively impacting lives through compassion and empathy. Read the SDM series on Medium to learn about the structure of our (compensated) music business luminary Mentors and local Musicpreneurs programs for the discovery, development and marketing of local emerging artists and songwriters, and our intended work with established talent (some of whom we’ll proudly reintroduce to new audiences). What further distinguishes SDM is its model that not only diversely monetizes music and a lean chain of music support experts, but concomitantly drives funding to social causes virtually without dilution.
So, we’ll launch in November 2018 with The Socially Driven Music interactive podcast that invites artists, songwriters, fans, philanthropies and causes to come together with stories that empower their fight against the futility of allowing oneself to believe that the obstacles to improving what they care about may be just too daunting. SDM is the catalyst to empower groups of like-minded people to “Stand Up For Something,” as Diane Warren urges in her hit song, as it also embodies the exhortation to “Wake up” that was recently publicly articulated in an interview with artist/songwriter Linda Perry. Care about poaching of Elephants and Rhinos? Scientific warnings about climate change? Politics, influence and accountability at local elections, consequencs of 2020? Unbiased news and facts? Whatever your social cause passion, the music community has an obligation to regularly put forth socially poignant music in addition to its staple of love songs. Do it and SDM will introduce you to its smart geographic-demographic analytics methods to license* and widely expose this music to the precisely appropriate diverse media from movies to TV to original productions, video games, commercials and a multitude of other visual content.*We’re available to also consult other music administrators to obtain sync licensing on songs we deem socially important.
We are using Slack (“a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services”) to reach out and communicate with all the separate, albeit interconnected, SDM interest groups. We invite you to join us and submit your ideas for podcast topics, broadcast locations, local artists/songwriter submissions, Mentor and Musicpreneur consideration, identification of causes, charities, issues, philanthropies, etc. Get your invitation to join any of the Channels/Teams aligned with your SDM interests in addition to the three default Channels in the introduction link: (http://bit.ly/SociallyDrivenMusic-Slack).
The SDM Slack Q&A Channel (#sdm-q-and-a) is also linked to Twitter SociallyDrivenMusic, or you can Tweet directly (or talk with us on Twitter with Dialogue). Using Slack and its AI/Bot functionality to build our online communities also provides us an efficient tool for the natural progression of connecting with and growing each interest group in each locale in a fashion similar to traditional methods employed by grassroots community organizers. Analytics afford us the data to encourage the most likely demographic pairing of artists with fans and social causes across virtually every age group and music genre. As SDM Podcasts expose the stories and relevant music playlists of our guests, we will also explore some of the neuroscience that explains why music is so physiologically and psychologically impactful. We’ll discuss how music is being used as a therapeutic modality for cases ranging from helping stroke patients recover speech to overcoming a host of emotional challenges and more.
Since Socially Driven Music’s first office location is in the Palm Springs, California area (near Coachella Fest), we’re scheduling our maiden podcasts about the most effective Coachella Valley social organizations and best local talent. With an emphasis on telling stories and inviting thought-provoking questions, the SDM podcast episodes will originate from, and feature attractions, residences and top golf country clubs, in “The Valley” as suggested by local expert Realtors (whom SDM can make available for real estate guidance). Our Musicpreneurs can augment the podcasts by also suggesting local artists for live “pop-up” mini-concerts at appropriate locations, extending to the offices of the various causes. Sponsors will soon be very selectively considered. Guests can participate on the podcasts from anywhere. Each podcast will open with a livestream for location context (our You Tube Channel, Facebook Live, Instagram, and/or Twitter/Periscope). Similar to (and in homage to) Anthony Bourdain, we’ll explore the cultural roots (beginning with Native Americans), and mix of influences leading to the variety of current music from this desert area. Borrowing from Mr. Bourdain, we’ll however let music rather than food be our focus as we begin our travels to wherever music takes us.
Again, join us on Slack. You can also email us if you’re interested in our Mentorship program or want to be a podcast guest or suggest one. Want to be considered as a prospective Musicpreneur in your town?… check this out. And don’t forget to tune into our Socially Driven Music podcast on Anchor.fm, and communicate with us all over social media. Other inquiries: Info@sociallydrivenmusic.com .
Stephen C. Love, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, Socially Driven Music, was one of the co-architects of the legendary ATV Music Group (publishers of the Lennon-McCartney catalogue), where he served as Executive Vice President, Worldwide. His career includes EVP Music, Worldwide, at Carolco Pictures, All American Television and Pearson Television (Fremantle). Long considered a big thinker and visionary, he has extensive experience in international music publishing creative, royalties and overall administration, Film and TV supervision, and negotiation of composer, artist and soundtrack agreements for dozens of productions, as well as being adept at negotiation of all synchronization and master use licenses. SDM is a labor of love (pun intended) to transform the music industry for the benefit of music creators, while motivating social impact along the way.
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