Carrying the Torch for Rock

Kane Vegas Weekly art. Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.24.40 PM

If you weren’t paying attention, you would just assume that Kane Churko is a rock producer who only understands one genre of music: Rock.

But that is not the case.

Churko comes from a very pop music direction, growing up with his dad, producer Kevin Churko, and being in pop bands, such as Mr. Kane and Modern Science.

In a feature by the Las Vegas Weekly, Churko talks about riding the wave of rock, but really being a pop guy.

Cadium Music Signs Drowning Pool

Drowning Pool Band Shot
Cadium Music Publishing has signed Drowning Pool. The deal is for North America and will include the band’s new album, Hellelujah. The album, their sixth, released February 5 on eOne Music.

Drowning Pool is currently on a U.S. tour, including a stop in Austin, Texas for SXSW, March 17.

The Texas four-piece includes lead singer, Jasen Moreno. Moreno has been the band’s frontman since 2012. Drowning Pool’s original singer, Dave Williams, died in 2002. Original band members are guitarist C.J. Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton and Mike Luce on drums.

Currently, the first single off of Hellelujah, “By the Blood,” is charting on the Active Rock radio charts. After Drowning Pool conclude their U.S. tour, they are looking to perform overseas. Tour dates will be announced once confirmed.

Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch Have Stranglehold on Rock Radio

FFDP w: Goggles

The two songs at the top of at least two rock charts have become very familiar over the last month or so, as Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch (pictured above) command those positions. One of the things in common with both songs? Both songs co-written and produced by Kevin Churko. “The Light” spent five weeks at the number one spot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart, only to give way in the last reporting week to Five Finger Death Punch’s “Wash It All Away,” which spent the same amount of time at number two. In the most recent chart that came out today, “Wash It All Away” is number one and “The Light” slides back to number two. Depending on whom you follow, as of this writing, FMQB’s Active Rock chart still shows “The Light” at the number one spot and “Wash” at number two.

Whichever way you go, Kevin Churko is the co-writer of both songs. Churko’s name, of course, is not new to the list of songwriters whose songs have graced the rock radio charts. The list actually runs very long (Ozzy Osbourne, In This Moment, Slash, Papa Roach, Hellyeah, and more). In fact, aside from FFDP and Disturbed, another Churko co-write, In This Moment’s “Big Bad Wolf” is bubbling under the top 25. (Kevin’s son, Kane, co-wrote produced “Falling Apart” with Papa Roach, which is currently making it’s way up the charts.)

How long will Kevin Churko co-writes sit at the top of the rock radio heap? We can only wait for next week’s report card.

Cadium Ends 2015 with Top Two Spots at Rock Radio

2015 was a notable year for Cadium Music Publishing.  

The publisher had four songs at rock radio reach the number one spot.  They were: "Wrong Side of Heaven" (Five Finger Death Punch), "Face Everything and Rise" (Papa Roach) and two number ones by Disturbed, "The Vengeful One" and "The Light," from their album Immortalized. "The Light" is currently number one; FFDP's "Wash It All Away" is currently number two.  "Heaven" carried FFDP's 2013 release, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Volume. 1 on the retail charts throughout most of 2015.

Speaking of "Wrong Side," the album reached the Gold milestone this year (500,000 sold).  All of FFDP's albums through "Wrong Side" have sold over 500,000 copies in the U.S. and the last three were co-written and produced by Kevin Churko.  Kane Churko co-wrote on "Wrong Side," as well.

As for Kane, it was definitely a breakout year with the success of Papa Roach's album, F.E.A.R.  Aside from the aforementioned number one, Churko had co-writes with New Years Day, Gus G. and most likely credits on the upcoming Gemini Syndrome album (Century Media), which he produced.

Cadium signings this year included former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Jake E. Lee, "The Fighter" (In This Moment) co-writers, Nikka Bling and Michael Spadoni, and Chester Rushing.  "The Fighter" is arguably the best song on ITM's latest album, Black Widow.  Chester Rushing, released his debut album, Halfway Across The Stars on the Texas label, Invent, and according to label sources, will get a bigger push in the coming year.  Rushing, who is also gaining traction as an actor, appeared in the WEtv series, South of Hell, and will have a role in the upcoming Netflix series, Stranger Than with Winona Ryder, NCIS: New Orleans and Cold Moon with Christopher Lloyd.

Kevin Churko had another fine year, co-writing and producing Disturbed's latest, Immortalized, which entered the Billboard album charts at number one.  Churko is Cadium's first writer with a number one album.  Churko also co-wrote and produced part of the Papa Roach album, as well as co-writing and producing Five Finger Finger Death Punch's latest, Got Your Six.

Why is The New York Times Touting the “Rewards in Streaming”?

NYT Logo

I find it interesting that The New York Times chose to write about one of the very rare instances of an independent songwriter making five digits off of streaming.  

Singer/songwriter, Perrin Lamb, who is the focus of the Times article, says that he earned $40,000 from the streaming of one of his songs, from the streaming site, Spotify.  

The fact that Mr. Perrin earned some money from his art is a good thing and may he continue doing it.  What I find problematic is that the Times framed the article in such a way that it gives the impression that songwriters really can earn a significant amount of money from streaming, and Spotify (and possibly other streaming sites) can help make it happen.

The article goes on to say that one of Mr. Perrin's songs was played TEN MILLION TIMES in order to earn that $40,000.  What the Times doesn't say is that in order for Mr. Perrin to have earned that 40K, he was paid approximately four tenths of a penny for each play.  

You might think, well, $40,000 for something that came out of your head, that's pretty good!  If you look at the figure, $40,000 can be interpreted as a new car or a year of tuition at a top private university, but the real issue is how much Mr. Perrin was paid per play and how much he could have been paid if the per-play rate was fair.

Let's take a look at what the rate would be if ten million people purchased Mr. Perrin's song.  While the purchase of a song is quite different from the streaming a song, the statutory (stat) rate in the United States is .091 cents and if Mr. Perrin wrote the entire song, that is what the song for him as a songwriter for each purchase.  Multiply the stat rate per purchase and Mr. Perrin's income for his song would amount to $910,000 – that's a heck of a lot of new cars, but we're not talking about sales, we're talking about consumers hitting the free button as much as they want.  The devil is the percentage between a "free" play and a purchase.  The percentage of the free play comes to a little over four percent of a purchase.  Shouldn't the percentage be higher?  How about eight percent, especially when songwriters do not participate in ad revenue?

Another item I found conspicuous was that there was only one solitary negative quote and it comes from Mike Doughty, the former singer of the group Soul Coughing.  Doughty calls the payment, "absolutely tragic."  And he's right, especially if you account for the following:

1) The amount of time, effort and expense Mr. Perrin put into the creation of the song (writing, recording, mixing and maybe mastering).
2) The song's amount of plays was bolstered by a fortunate incident: Spotify's algorithm recommended that the song be highlighted by adding it to a list for its listeners to check out.  The recommendation put the song on the front burner for a period of time, which lead to an onslaught of plays.  Fact: Rarely do songs get plucked out of the thousands of songs submitted to streaming services and then listed as a recommended choice, and then go on to get played ten million times.  Had Mr. Perrin's song not been noticed by a robot, the chances are fairly slim the plays would have reached its current total.
3) The song did not earn $40,000 in a few months, by the way; the song was uploaded to Spotify in 2011 and the article does not mention when the earnings of the song hit 40K.  My gut tells me it took years, otherwise, The Times would have mentioned it.

Then, of course, there's the discussion about the revenue Spotify brings in from subscriptions and the aforementioned advertisements, but we won't get into that. 

With all that said, I have buried the lead.  What came to mind as I read the article was: why this story and why now?  Did the Times just decide this was a nice piece for its readers or is this part of a scheme by Spotify's PR department to push its rarely unheard of success stories onto the press at a time when the streaming giant has been struggling to maintain an upstanding image?  I wonder, but I'll probably never find out.

For those who are reading this and/or the NYT piece, if your first impression is that streaming companies are fair to songwriters, think again – or at least perish the thought – because songwriters are getting the raw end of this deal.

As for Mr. Perrin and his forty thousand bucks, I say good for him.  I just wish his success story were the norm, not the exception.