Pacific News

    Making Music Artists More Business Savvy

    Pacific students create online music business dictionary
    Pacific Music Management Students who created Musician's Business Dictionary WebsiteRandall Gee

    Pacific students Jeremy Hixson, Ralph Roberts (standing) and Bryce McLaughlin (right) created a free online dictionary of music business jargon to help aspiring music artists learn the business side of the industry and protect their work. The Musician's Business Dictionary website launched in May 2010 and has attracted visitors from 46 countries.

    By Rhashad PittmanOct 28, 2011
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    Pacific student Bryce McLaughlin can still recall the horror stories he overheard professional musicians share as a young pianist performing in local youth jazz bands in Sacramento. While backstage at music festivals, McLaughlin listened intently as artists who were already struggling to make a decent living discuss how they lost out on royalties and had their work stolen.

    Those stories stayed with McLaughlin as he studied music management at Pacific's Conservatory of Music and inspired him to create what is perhaps the first free online dictionary of music business jargon with the help of Pacific Music Management students Jeremy Hixson and Ralph Roberts. Shannon Moore and Caelan Urquhart contributed to the site as well.

    The Musician's Business Dictionary provides more than 300 definitions of terms used for contracts, royalties, recording sessions and other aspects of the music business industry. McLaughlin said the website provides vital business and legal information to young music artists to help them protect their work - and their wealth.

    "Often times young musicians focus on their music and not so much on the business side," said Pacific Professor Keith Hatschek, who teaches music management and served as McLaughlin's academic advisor. "Something like this can be very, very beneficial."

    Since launching in May 2010, more than 2,700 unique visitors have accessed the online dictionary from 46 countries, including Brazil, Australia, Hungary, New Zealand and Kenya.

    The Wikipedia-style website allows young musicians to add to the definitions as well as contribute new ones. To ensure accuracy, the Pacific students monitor the site constantly and list the sources of each of the definitions.

    The Pacific students wanted to provide a resource that was not only informational, accessible and simple to use, but also interactive. Musicians and other members of the music industry can make valuable contributions to the site, said McLaughlin, who graduated in May 2011 with a bachelor's degree in music management and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. from Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business.

    "Everything musicians need to do in the modern music industry-land gigs, produce albums, promote themselves, uphold a brand-requires not just knowing this information, but a competence in knowing how to use this information," McLaughlin said. "Being a modern musician requires legal prowess that most only attain in high-level college classes-if not in law school."

    The online dictionary stems from a one-day workshop that McLaughlin organized while an undergraduate at Pacific. Held on Pacific's Stockton campus, the Artists' Rights Workshop explored the legal rights of musicians and featured one of the country's leading entertainment lawyers, Michael Aczon.

    As part of the preparation for the workshop, McLaughlin spent numerous hours researching contracts, royalties and copyright law, and talking in depth with Aczon. The information he compiled served as a foundation for the website.

    Pacific senior David Creel has used the Musician's Business Dictionary a few times to double check some terms often used in performance contracts. Creel is manager of the Neo soul band Sugar Water Purple, which is made up of mostly Pacific students. As manager, Creel handles all contracts for the group. Researching music business terms is much easier and faster on the website than flipping through a book, he said.

    "Books definitely have a significant value for in-depth research," Creel said, "but when you want a quick explanation, that's where to go."


    Definitions from Musician's Business Dictionary

    360 Deal - A 360 deal is a type of contract between a band or artist and a record company. In this relatively new style of agreement, the record company earns income from all areas of the band's success including merchandise sales, concert ticket sales, fan clubs, sponsorship money, etc... Previously record companies only earned income from record sales, and often publishing royalties. Since the decline of album sales (with the advent of iTunes and file sharing), record companies needed to find new revenue streams.

    Cross-collateralization - Included in every record deal today, cross-collateralization means that the advances and recoupment from multiple albums are linked together. For example, if an artist's first album does not sell well enough to pay back the advance, the label can use money made by later albums to pay back the advance from the first album.

    Upstreaming - Upstreaming occurs when an independent record company distributes an album first through an independent distributor that is owned by a major record label. Once the album reaches a certain volume of sales, it is then switched to the major distributor (also owned by the major record label). Upstreaming will usually occur when an album has reached a point when only the capabilities of a major record company can increase and sustain sales.

    To view the Musician's Business Dictionary website click here.


    about the author

    Rhashad Pittman   Rhashad Pittman is the media relations coordinator at Pacific.