Music Biz 101 & More is the only FREE advice talk show in America broadcast& podcast on college radio that focuses on the business side of the music & entertainment worlds. Hosted by William Paterson University’s Dr. Stephen Marcone & Professor David Philp, the show airs each Wednesday at 8pm on WPSC-FM, Brave New Radio.
Chris Butler of The Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping” – Music Biz 101 & More: The Podcast
In this episode of the Music Biz 101 & More radio show, Chris Butler, songwriter and guitarist from ’80s band The Waitresses (and also Tin Huey and the current Half Cleveland), talks about the origins of “Christmas Wrapping,” where the “Na na na na naaaa” came from in “I Know What Boys Like,” if he can survive on the royalties from a Christmas song, what it was like to be on the campus of Kent State in 1970 when the National Guard shot at students, and much, much more.. A full recap of the show is below. But if you can’t wait, here’s your podcast now:
You have another chance to hit up the podcast, all the way to the bottom of the page, so read our fun recap now!
At 5 minutes in, we introduce your Music Biz 101 & More student co-host, Rebecca Morris, who talks about her internship with a PR agency and the job offer she received. It began with this question: “Rebecca, when are you done?”
We introduce our fantastic and intelligent and incredibly professional unpaid producer, Phillip Gorokhovsky, after the Rebecca Morris debacle. Did you know that Phillip’s dad, Jim Neglia, is the personnel manager for the NJ Symphony Orchestra? Even better, his dad is a Music Biz 101 & More radio show guest as well. Oh, the joy we provide to people like you.
The serious, fabulous interview starts in earnest at the 11-minute mark. Chris talks about the Akron Sound from late-1970s Ohio.
14 minutes in, Chris talks about the influences on the Akron Sound. “We were basically music snobs.”
At 15:30, Marcone asks, “How did The Waitresses form?” Great story. You’ll hear Chris state for a second time “Midwestern work ethic.” He’ll talk about the hours and hours his bands performed onstage (3 one-hour sets per night, meaning 3 hours performing original material each night). He also name drops, because this was the scene, names of people related to Devo, The Pretenders, and even The Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian.” Chris is the Forrest Gump of music.
20 minutes in, we dive into “I Know What Boys Like” and it’s “na-na-na-na-naaa” part of the chorus. Here. Listen & watch below, because we talk about the making of the video as well.
At 22:48, we talk about the costs of this music video above and how artists today have to pay a portion of their music videos. The Waitresses did not have to pay because, at the time, the feeling was “this video thing won’t catch on.” Lucky. Chris also gets into the technique used to create the animation you see.
At 26 minutes, we have a quick break, which doesn’t affect you now because you end up hearing a cool promo for the show you’re listening to. By the way…
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We’re 27 minutes into the interview. Having fun? At this part, we talk about Neil Young’s song “Ohio,” its significance in American history and its significance with Chris Butler and the Kent State shootings from 1970 when National Guard soldiers killed 4 students, including Butler’s friend, Jeff Miller.
How did this affect Chris? He explains how 31 minutes in.
At the 32-minute mark, Chris criticizes Neil Young, who “as far as I know” never gave any funds back to the victims’ families or community.
And then suddenly, we’re talking about Christmas. Why was “Christmas Wrapping” written? Listen starting at 33 minutes. Now, here’s that song.
We talk about a sound effect you hear right about 46 seconds into the song. Is that an airplane? What’s that got to do with the song? Chris explains. Listen, because it is not an airplane. We also talk about the horn arrangement.
At 37 minutes in, Chris talks about the parts of the song you can make money from (publishing, master, PRO), what he can control, and royalty rates in the 39-minute mark. He also talks about Compulsory License and the Spice Girls version of the song. He thinks their version “isn’t particularly good,” but you can decide now.
What’s a negotiation like between a songwriter/publisher and someone who wants to license your song? Listen at 41 minutes in to how Chris negotiated for the Spice Girls cover. He talks about advances and the reason(s) bands/artists want them.
Chris talks about his publishing career, from when he was with Warner Publishing to when he did it by himself to where he is today, with Spirit Music Group.
At 45 minutes in, we talk about the money and the question of the day:
Can someone survive on just the royalties from a Christmas song?
Listen for the answer. He also talks about how the UK brings in more money for him than domestic royalties.
Then we get to tweets. Our first tweet is this:
@MusicBiz101WP Question for Chris Butler: At this point, do you still have to do anything to promote “Christmas Wrapping” song every year?
— Reiko Takahashi (@ReikoJazz26) November 20, 2014
This question leads to discussion of where “Christmas Wrapping” has been licensed for Chris, from Glee to Gilmour Girls. Big thanks to the next tweet, which takes place 49 minutes in:
@MusicBiz101WP my question for Chris is “do you feel like what you earn from the royalties of your music is fair?”
— Alexyandra Cannon (@alyxcannon14) November 19, 2014
Chris gives a very interesting answer, talking about how his income stream is either “morphing or evaporating.”
At the 53-minute mark, Chris talks about the deals cut between “them and us,” him being part of the “us,” and how he now gets paid “nanopennies.” Chris reads directly from his BMI statement and you can hear how flabbergasted he is. Seriously, he was gassed with flabber. Look at the picture. It tells 1,278 words.
Chris talks about revenue from cable.
Marcone talks about how the “labels aren’t stupid.”
Chris tells people to start reading the website The Trichordist. And you should.
Our last tweet of the night comes at 56:39 from @JennisAyQua. Our French listener wants to know if it’s worthwhile to try to write a Christmas song or a non-holiday song, the thought being that a Christmas song can last forever.
57 minutes in, your Professor Philp thanks you, the listeners, and all of the good, kind, wonderful people who tweeted in questions. Then, Philp gently wraps up the show, giving credit to Chris Butler, Rebecca Morris, Phillip Gorokhovsky, and the always fine and wonderful Dr. Esteban Marcone. My, what a wonderful show. Don’t you agree?________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Steve Leeds – Sirius/XM Radio
- Karl Guthrie – Entertainment Attorney Extraordinaire
- Dr. Rob Quicke – Founder of World College Radio Day
- Dr. E. Michael Harrington – Copyright/Intellectual Property Expert
- George Dassinger – PR Guru (that means Expert)
- Aaron Van Duyne – Business Manager for KISS, Dave Matthews Band, and more
- Harvey Leeds – Personal Manager for Southside Johnny
- Tom Hefter – Marketing Specialist at TicketMaster
- Elena Lanza – Independent Dance Radio Consultant
- Dr. Dave Demsey – Coordinator Jazz Studies Program, William Paterson University
- Paul Sinclair – Head of Digital Strategy, Marketing, eCommerce, and Product Development at Atlantic Records
- Jane Stein – Performing Arts Presenter, William Paterson University
- Sean Gilday & Rachel Hill – Agents, Blue Raven Entertainment
- Wayne Chernin – Island & Republic Records
- Steve Corbin – WEA & Lupo Entertainment
- Dave Lory – Jeff Buckley/Courtney Love Manager
- Chris Henderson – Guitarist for 3 Doors Down
- Frank Robbins – Guitar Tech/Hall & Oates and moe.
- Howard Freeman – Executive Producer Quick Chek NJ Festival of Ballooning & Rock, Ribs, & Ridges Festival
Thanks for listening and, as always, Adios!