Just A Little Bit

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, and one of the greatest singers of our time.
1942 - 2018


The spate of recent music / tech IPOs (Spotify, Sonos), has the investor community increasingly interested in the music biz. A notoriously murky and complex music industry, that is. Hoping to shed light on the subject for investors and outsiders, Citigroup compiled an 88-page report. Using math and assumptions, the analysis concludes that artists only receive 12% of the industry revenue and record labels are useless companies ripe for disruption. Cue the controversy. There are, however, are a few basic truths here: artists should get more of the pie, and the industry is witnessing rapid change.


As a democracy, America does not have a monarch. That doesn't mean we don't have royalty. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was the queen of America's soul. Her music, her voice, yes. But ascension to American royalty only occurs when companies use you to sell their consumer products on TV. As in everything else, Ms. Franklin's advertising career was unparalleled. She worked with almost every classic American brand, and she invented the entire concept of branded content with Coke in the 1960s! Her fee, we can assume, was paid up front, and in cash.


If playlists are the new radio, playlist pitching is the new payola . This is where artists pay "publicists" to send their content to "curators." Similar to how a publicist would send music to media outlets for coverage, except that it's a simple cash transaction. To be clear, this takes place outside of the playlists Spotify's editorial team manages (think, RapCaviar), but is problematic nonetheless. And now, a few enterprising digital companies are engaging in straight up fraud, selling bot generated streams for cash. Spotify, to its credit, has thankfully been quite vigilant on this. It's going to take a constant, dedicated effort to weed out this type of fraudulent activity.



Aretha Franklin
Dr. Feelgood
Fresh Air
Remembering Aretha Franklin


Aretha Franklin
Win Wallace



Marketing Factory’s CEO and founder Rob Tonkin with his fiancée Kylah and this year’s Honda Civic Tour artist Charlie Puth backstage at the Greek. 


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This WeekMatt Pennington