Friday, April 01, 2005

Burying the lede dept.

McDonald's to pay rappers was a relatively prominent headline earlier this week, and worth a laugh at the whatifs. The details were a bit further down the page:
McDonald's won't say exactly how the program works and what it pays, citing competitive reasons.

But Maven Strategies, the company McDonald's hired to negotiate its hip-hop deals, says the program will be similar to one it ran for Seagram's Gin.

That program saw hip-hop artists paid $1 to $5 (U.S.) every time a branded song was played on any radio station in the United States. The fee depended on how prominently the brand was used in the song. [my emphasis]

Maybe I'm too ignorant about music economics. Doesn't an artist make maybe two bucks when they sell a CD? And now they're going to get paid that much every time any radio station in the USA plays their song? (There's over 11,000 of them).

Again, I have no unique insight into the music business, but let's say there is a small grain of truth to the notion that a professional musician has an "artistic integrity" angel on his right shoulder and a "commercial viability" devil on his left (my understanding is that commercially unsuccessful artists will readily stipulate this). The Ronald's Posse program (and those sure to follow) alters that angel/devil balance in a massive and radical way. Doesn't it? I'll do some math and come back later.

I also followed a Neale link about Catherine Zeta-Jones being pegged to star as Pam Ewing in a major Dallas reset. It also mentioned Brad Pitt as Bobby, and Burt Reynolds as JR. And I'm thinking, "what a bunch of lame, unimaginative casting choices"--until I hit this:
...and Melanie Griffith who might play J.R's drunkard wife Sue Ellen.

You may call it obvious - I'm going with "inspired"! Happy Friday.

UPDATE: OK, maybe the Ronald's Posse thing won't quite turn the economics of popular music upside down. Using this table, my best guess is that there's maybe 2000 radio stations that would play a new popular rap single (say 50 Cent). So to scale up to the order of magnitude of royalties represented by 2 million CDs sold, each station would have to play the song in question about a thousand times.

Although it seems like my local pop station plays the #1 song about that many times in a week, that impression is probably incorrect on closer statistical analysis.

That said, if a big artist can work "McFlurry" ("I eat McDonaldLand cookies, yo!" - OK, that's embarrassing enough to write, let alone record) into the lyrics of a song that catches on in a major way, they would certainly be rewarded with a non-trivial increase in compensation.

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