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.
Music Business Attorney Ron Bienstock – Music Biz 101 & More: The Podcast
In this episode of the Music Biz 101 & More radio show, Ron Bienstock, New Jersey-based music business attorney, talks about when a music attorney is needed, why a music attorney is better than Uncle Jeb who helped your second cousin Margaret when she bought that health food store back in ’74, why money concerns shouldn’t hold someone back from calling a music attorney in the first place, and much, much more.. A full recap of the show is below. But if you want your podcast now, here ’tis!
If you want to skip right to the podcast, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.
If not, enjoy our happy recap right now.
There is fun banter at the beginning of the show. But, the fun grinds to a sharp halt at 7:41 when we introduce student co-host Sam Lowry, a Music Management student at William Paterson University. Sam talks about his impending graduation, job prospects, and internship opportunities.
10 minutes in, our guest, music attorney Ron Bienstock, explains what it means to become a partner in a law firm and how long it takes to achieve that status.
Ron is an accomplished bass player, he tells us around 11 minutes in, and talks about his start as a musician and how that has helped him attain music instrument manufacturers as his clients.
14 minutes in we find out why Ron was attracted to the law as his profession. Mainly, it was because he was treated poorly as a musician by attorneys in the past. “I had to work within the system to change it.” This leads to a discussion of his days as a studio musician and how that side of da biz has changed over the last two decades.
Ron discusses what he believes are two parts of the industry: 1) The Recording Business, and 2) The Music Business. In the 18-minute mark, Ron begins talking about the impact of technology on the music industry, beginning in 1909 with the Copyright Act and mechanical piano player rolls.
We are rolling now…
Ron talks about the value of artist catalogs to labels and the change in configurations from vinyl to cassette to digital (which was around as early as ’78/’79). Royalty rates for artists changed with the CD, which Ron talks about 22 minutes in. Then he talks about packaging deductions, breakage allowances, and what happened with the ability to download music for free.
25 minutes in: Ron says the death of the industry took place in the 1990s with too-high retail prices and a lack of important artists. He challenges the studio to come up with 5 artists from that decade who made a real impact. Can you name 5? Listen as Ron debunks most of the suggestions.
At 30 minutes in, 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…
Stream Your Music Biz 101 & More Radio Show Live HERE.
Listen To The Podcast 24/7 HERE.
“In my opinion,” Professor Philp says to you, the listener, right now as you read this, “the stuff below is the most important stuff of the whole she-bang.”
Now, at 32 minutes in, Philp sings “Emotional Rescue” by Los Rolling Stones and, well, he shows off his pipes. That segues into how a music business attorney can come to the rescue of artists. Ron talks about organizing the 4 basic income streams in the music industry:
- Sound Recordings/Masters
“Every band is a dysfunctional family,” Bienstock says. And when a band spends 18 hours on a bus, they have time to think things like, “That guy sitting across from me makes more money than me.” Ron helps keep the band structured and organized so they can deal with this.
36 minutes in, Philp asked about band names and ownership. Ron’s answer is fascinating. Listen to it.
This discussion leads back to the rescuing of artists from each other and themselves. Ron creates methodologies so all members of the band can share in the income streams. Maybe not equally, but they all get something.
During the 39-minute mark, Sam reads the first listener tweet.
@MusicBiz101WP Question for Ronald Bienstock: What is the number 1 reason why a musician should have a lawyer?
— Reiko Takahashi (@ReikoJazz26) October 22, 2014
Band contracts come in next. Ron suggests the band & manager not write it together. Get a lawyer. But he also talks about key issues that should be looked into for both parties. He stresses that both sides need to fully understand the contract and not brush it off to “Oh, my attorney put this together.” Be educated about the deal. Ron talks about taxes 42 and a half minutes in. “It’s a business. Treat it like a business.”
@MusicBiz101WP in the music industry today, what is the most preventable way artists are getting screwed?
— Bobby Mahoney (@BobbyMahoney) October 22, 2014
Ron talks about 360 deals in response to Bobby’s tweet. What is a 360 deal? Listen.
Philp asks, at 42 minutes in, how Ron conditions bands to say no to a deal. The answer? Ron asks a band in return: “Who is this for?” He wants to make sure a band says yes to a deal for smart reasons, not to get back at a high school gym teacher who criticized them.
This leads to a question about key lessons to be taught and learned in the industry. Ron suggests practicality is important; there’s not just one thing that’s important, “it’s everything you do.”
Alexa asks next: “Do you advise independent artists to hire entertainment lawyers or only big name acts? What if we can’t afford it what do you suggest?” Listen for the answer. It’s excellent.
In the 48-minute mark, Ron talks about a typical day in the life of a music business attorney.
Should musicians & managers create their own contracts? Philp asks the question 50 minutes in. Ron gets very detailed with an extremely helpful answer. Listen hard to this one because you know you want to save a few bucks and do it yourself.
55 minutes in, your Professor Philp thanks you, the listeners, and Producer Phillip Gorokhovsky and student co-host Sam Lowry and Ron Bienstock, who was an awesome guest. 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
- Chris Butler – Songwriter/Guitarist for The Waitresses & Tin Huey
Thanks for listening and, as always, Adios!