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Thread started 03/16/12 7:44pm

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Whitney Houston will not be a huge gold mine because of her debts to Sony Music Entertainment

"I owe you how much?"

There have been numerous media reports since her untimely death thatWhitney Houston passed away “dead” broke. In January a Whitney insider toldRadar Online “Whitney’s fortune is gone. Music industry heavy hitters aresupporting her and her label is fronting her cash against her next album, butno one knows when that will be released. She might be homeless if not forpeople saving her…She is broke as a joke. She called someone to ask for $100.It is so sad. She should have Mariah Carey money, and she’s flat broke.”Stories in the mainstream media claiming she died nearbankruptcy continued to appear in spite of reports that insisted Whitneyhad made $36 million from her last tour a couple of years ago and, of course,her huge new $100 million dollar record deal with Sony Music in 2002.

How in God’s name could she, or anyone, have blown through that muchdough?

The answer is simple, according to one source who was close to Whitney. “Ittakes a lot of money to maintain that lifestyle”.

Then again, Sony never wrote out a check for $100 million either.

According to a very highly placed industry source who is very familiar withthe Whitney situation, the deal most likely looks like every major superstarrecording contract like these days. The deal would look something like this: 4studio albums and 2 compilation album (Greatest Hits, Number One’s, something like that) with a $25 million advance for the first album (JustWhitney) and a $10 million advance for the second album (I Look ToYou). Tacked on to that advance would be the costs of the music videos atapproximately $500,000 each (there was a total of 6 music videos produced under the new deal which would total approximately $3 million in costs). That would bring the total amount of money that Whitney Houston would owe Sony to approximately $38 million. Maybe more. Her royalty rate was most likely $4 per album, and the new deal would have reset all future royalty payments on past catalog. Any deficits in her royalty account up to that point were more thanlikely wiped out, according to the source, basically giving Houston a fresh start. This means that Whitney would have to sell at least 9.5 millionalbums to repay her advances and start to get royalty checks.

Now we have to look at what she has sold. The first album under the newdeal, 2002′s Just Whitney, has sold 763,188 in theUS. The second album, I Look To You from 2009, sold 992,904.That’s a total of 1,756, 092. Let’s round it off at 1.76 million.Now let’s double it to account for foreign sales. That brings the total toapproximately 3.51 million. Now let’s add in her Christmas album from 2003,One Wish: The Holiday Album, which sold 490,00 units. That bringshere total sales to around 4 million units under her last deal.

Now, according to Billboard Magazine, ”The late Whitney Houston hastwo of the three biggest jumps on the Billboard 200 this week. Her “ThePreacher’s Wife” soundtrack runs 183-90 (up 93 slots) and “I Look To You”flies 118-65 (up 53 positions). “The Preacher’s Wife” sold 7,000 (up 46%),while “I Look To You” did 9,000 (up 81%). Houston, who died on Feb. 11,sold a collected 247,000 albums last week (ending Feb. 19) — the first fullsales week after her death. Her biggest seller was “Whitney: the GreatestHits,” with 175,000 (up 174%). Overall, Houston’s albums earned a 144%sales increase in the week ending Feb. 19, compared to the 101,000 sold in theweek ending Feb. 12.” Clearly that sales pace will slow considerably. But let’s add the sales of the last 2 weeks, even though the Soundscan figuresquoted above for Just Whitney and I look To You have already been factored in. That would come to 348,000. That brings her total album sales under the 2001 $100 million deal to approximately 4.35 million units.

Let’s now subtract the 4.35 million albums she’s sold since 2001 from the 9.5 million albums she would have to sell for Sony to recoup its investment,and that leaves us with over 5 million. Let’s assume that going forward Whitney: the Greatest Hits will be the biggest seller as it has been since her death. It sold 175,000 units at the peak of the Whitney buying surge. If that could continue, which it certainly won’t, Whitney would most likely occupy the Number One position on the Billboard album charts every week for the next six months! As one label executive familiar with Sony’s accounting said, “That ain’t going to happen. The reality is that her estate probably won’t see a royalty check from Sony in our lifetime…at least”.

On top of the millions of advances, one of my insiders says that throughouther career Whitney consistently took out loans from the label with Clive Davis’ assistance. The last big loan was reportedly from Clive for $1.2million, though everyone knows it came from Sony and not from Clive. “No way Clive would ever reach into his own pocket for anyone’” said one former label employee.

Let’s not forget that Whitney didn’t write any of her own songs nor produceher own records, thus excluding many millions more in royalties. Also shedidn’t have a lot of endorsements or ongoing revenue streams like a Beats byDr. Dre.

One Whitney insider said that there’s yet a bigger problem. Evidently theWhitney estate doesn’t have the brain trust that Michael Jackson’s has. “Theyjust don’t have a smart guy like John Branca who would have marched into Sonythe day after Whitney died and renegotiated the deal,” he said. “You can betthat the estate doesn’t even have coupling rights, and thats something a guylike Branca would have gotten right away.” Another Whitney loyalist said thatsince she broke with her manager/father John Houston, there has been no otherindustry professional looking after het career–no one on a day-in-day-outbasis to exploit any revenue opportunities or even coordinate with agents, thelabel, marketing departments, etc. ”Do you have any idea how much she could have gotten for her sync rights? Nobody ever even thought about it”,he said.

If Whitney did die broke, as so many reports claim, many people assumed that her heirs would be well off from her record royalties alone. That’s just not the case. Not for a while, at least. She’ll be in hock to Sony for quite along time. It’s almost like instead of a “death tax” Whitney will be paying a“Sony tax”.

[Edited 3/16/12 19:45pm]

Music Royalty in Motion
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Reply #1 posted 03/16/12 8:06pm

lazycrockett

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Time for Bobbi to get a real job.

The Most Important Thing In Life Is Sincerity....Once You Can Fake That, You Can Fake Anything.
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Reply #2 posted 03/16/12 8:48pm

Unholyalliance

That's so fucked up. This is why it's so important, as an artist and, especially as a female, to get your finances in order. Also, even though everyone frowns at singers who just show up and get a songwriting credit, they will be getting her royalties at the end fo the day.

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Reply #3 posted 03/16/12 11:06pm

Timmy84

You know what's odd? Whitney's contract was with Arista and Arista only. Then after Arista got sold off to Sony Music and was exchanged as part of Sony Music so that made Whitney's music part of the catalog. Just putting that out there.

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Reply #4 posted 03/16/12 11:14pm

Timmy84

But yeah, I often wonder how much money did Whitney earn in movie residuals and residuals for productions. But I wonder if the money she had earned would've alleviate any cash flow debt she might've had.

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Reply #5 posted 03/16/12 11:22pm

lazycrockett

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It really doesn't matter what she made or had coming in, she was taking out loans from her label to live the lifestyle. Im laughing that this is actually being called an "estate" Whitney was in debt up to her neck and everything will go to the label that supported her for the last decade.

This is the life she lived. No reason for tears and such.

The Most Important Thing In Life Is Sincerity....Once You Can Fake That, You Can Fake Anything.
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Reply #6 posted 03/16/12 11:23pm

lazycrockett

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Timmy84 said:

But yeah, I often wonder how much money did Whitney earn in movie residuals and residuals for productions. But I wonder if the money she had earned would've alleviate any cash flow debt she might've had.

Its kinda obvious that Whit wasn't too bright.

The Most Important Thing In Life Is Sincerity....Once You Can Fake That, You Can Fake Anything.
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Reply #7 posted 03/16/12 11:29pm

Timmy84

It seems like Whitney fell into the same type of trap that child prodigies fell into once they're thrust into the spotlight at such a young age. Whitney was managed by her father and he, Cissy and Clive Davis all signed a deal (Whitney when she signed with Arista in 1983 was only 19 when she signed with the label that year) and cultivated her image. Whitney was just told to be put out onstage and charm the masses. When her debut album sold over the millions of copies it sold, Whitney should've been looking at her finances but it sound like she, like many others, put her trust into the people who was managing her and overseeing her career. It makes me wonder if Whitney was really in control of anything? It did seem like she was in some sort of control with her humanitarian activities and even her company, Nippy Inc., but it also sound like she was using the money to pay her employers (like Robyn Crawford for example).

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Reply #8 posted 03/17/12 3:00am

Doalwa

Honestly, this is a surprise to anybody?

As sad as it is, but most of those artists are exploited by their record companys, and most artists are bad business people...okay, doing heavy drugs and living in unhealthy relationships probably doesn't help either...

I mean, Sony raised the price of her Greatest Hits compilation on iTunes just minutes after her death was made public...fuck those bastards, it's a sad world we're living in...

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Reply #9 posted 03/17/12 3:45am

flintz

And yet you see an entirely new crop of artists selling themselves to the same system that is crushing their idols (or has crushed them). The same system that is doing all it can to silence free speech on the internet and censoring independent art.

The dirty RIAA/MPAA members, pitiful royalties, iTunes pitiful deals, etc.

Will things forever be this way?

What does it take for change to occur?

Being an independent artist.

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Reply #10 posted 03/17/12 4:10am

RnBAmbassador

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Her will is equally as bad in the way it was structured and the 2004 addendum that named Marion Patricia Houston (Pat) as the executor. See below:

http://www.forbes.com/sit...m-perfect/

Last week, Whitney Houston’s will was revealed, after it was filed with the probate court to open her estate, in Atlanta, Georgia. As expected, it named Bobbi Kristina as Whitney’s sole beneficiary. Beyond that, it was surprising for several reasons.

First, the fact that Whitney relied on a will — signed back in 1993 no less — instead of a living trust is troubling. We’re talking about the woman who signed the largest recording contract in history! If anyone should have thorough estate planning, including a living trust, it was Whitney.

Why? Wills have to pass through probate court to be effective, which makes them public record. That’s why information about the contents of her will are all over the internet. Inside Edition, for example, posted a copy of the will, here. In addition to be public, probate can be expensive, time-consuming, and a breeding ground for family fights.

Living trusts, on the other hand, when properly-used, keep matters private and outside of probate court. Most people with even modest estates are better served using living trusts, instead of a will. It’s frankly rather shocking that Whitney only had a will.

After signing her will in 1993, Whitney made one change, at least. She signed at least one codicil (an amendment to the will), dated April 14, 2000. There have been reports of a second codicil in 2004, but that has not been made public. The Order from probate court which admitted the will only refers to a single codicil, not two codicils, which would normally be the case if there were in fact multiple codicils.

When Whitney signed the codicil, she named her mother, Cissy Houston as the executor, replacing the person named in her original will, the attorney who prepared that will. When the attorney who created a will also is named as an executor, that sometimes raises red flags. Whitney obviously had second thoughts about who she wanted in control of her estate, and that’s not a bad thing. Interestingly, Cissy Houston did not end up serving as executor, however. Instead, Whitney’s sister-in-law, Pat Houston, was appointed by the probate court.

So what else is surprising about the will? It did create a trust, but not a living trust as most people would do. Rather, the will calls for Whitney’s assets to be held in trust for her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, but Whitney did not create an actual trust while she was alive. This is called a testamentary trust, because it is created by the will, not during life. A testamentary trust can still function like a living trust, but it doesn’t have the advantages of avoiding probate court and privacy, which a living trust would have.

But, you certainly have to give Whitney credit for thinking that aspect of her estate plan through. As we wrote previously, without employing a trust, Whitney’s daughter would stand to inherit all of the money immediately, because she is 18 — legally, an adult. By using a trust — even a testamentary trust — Whitney was able to space out the distributions. So Bobbi Kristina will inherit 10% at age 21, another one-sixth at age 25, and the rest at age 30. There are provisions to allow for the money to be spent by independent trustees (Whitney’s brother and sister-in-law) for Bobbi Kristina’s benefit, for things like education, buying a home, starting a business, having a child, and more.

Music Royalty in Motion
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Reply #11 posted 03/17/12 6:12am

rialb

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Eh, I don't have the slightest bit of sympathy for her or her heirs. Sure, there is some excuse for her if she signed a crappy deal when she was nineteen but how old was she is 2001? Late thirties? It's easy to have sympathy for a teenager but a (nearly) middle aged woman ought to have a bit more sense.

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Reply #12 posted 03/17/12 6:30am

cbarnes3121

whitney career and judgment was blindsided by her drug use she could of been one of the wealthiest females in music history yet we cant rewrite history and whitney is gone now we can just sleave emaples 4 generations 2 come 2 learn and grown from our lives.

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Reply #13 posted 03/17/12 7:18am

UnderMySun

This is why it's so important, as an artist and, especially as a female, to get your finances in order. Also, even though everyone frowns at singers who just show up and get a songwriting credit, they will be getting her royalties at the end fo the day.

So Blue Ivy and any future siblings she may have should be rolling in dough big time whenever you-know-who finally kicks the bucket.

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Reply #14 posted 03/17/12 10:07am

MickyDolenz

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flintz said:

Being an independent artist.

Unless you're talking about selling a record yourself, there really isn't a such thing as an indie act. Many of the so-called indie labels are under a major, distributed by a major, or they give out contracts that are no better than the major. The Original 7ven's album is on Saguaro, which is under Time/Life aka Warner Brothers.

It's called show business for a reason. It’s 90% business and 10% show. If you don’t know your business…you’re in trouble! ~ Johnnie Taylor / Basically, music is nothing but prostitution anyway and managers are the pimps ~ Millie Jackson
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Reply #15 posted 03/17/12 11:05am

SoulAlive

Like I said before,it's a shame that Whitney didn't write or co-write songs.Songwriting royalties can be really lucrative.Some of the songs that others wrote for her ("Exhale (Shoop Shoop),for example") aren't all that deep anyway.Surely Whitney could have written something like that.

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Reply #16 posted 03/17/12 11:17am

Timmy84

rialb said:

Eh, I don't have the slightest bit of sympathy for her or her heirs. Sure, there is some excuse for her if she signed a crappy deal when she was nineteen but how old was she is 2001? Late thirties? It's easy to have sympathy for a teenager but a (nearly) middle aged woman ought to have a bit more sense.

Yeah she was 37 (I believe, not sure) when she signed that $100 million deal. I think like many artists, they saw $100 million and lost their trace of thought because they all thought "how much can I spend on $100 million?" not realizing they won't get the money upfront.

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Reply #17 posted 03/17/12 11:21am

MickyDolenz

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SoulAlive said:

Like I said before,it's a shame that Whitney didn't write or co-write songs.Songwriting royalties can be really lucrative.Some of the songs that others wrote for her ("Exhale (Shoop Shoop),for example") aren't all that deep anyway.Surely Whitney could have written something like that.

Some people aren't writers, just like some songwriters don't sing. It was The Beatles (and maybe Bob Dylan) that really popularized self writing. Before them it wasn't that common to write your own songs, and throughout the whole history of the record business, a small percentage of acts wrote their own songs. Songwriting royalties are only lucrative if the song is popular. That's why some songwriters were willing to make deals with Colonel Parker to sign their publishing over to Elvis Presley. Elvis was a guaranteed seller. Some weren't. Dolly Parton refused Colonel Parker, and so Elvis couldn't record the songs he wanted that she wrote.

It's called show business for a reason. It’s 90% business and 10% show. If you don’t know your business…you’re in trouble! ~ Johnnie Taylor / Basically, music is nothing but prostitution anyway and managers are the pimps ~ Millie Jackson
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Reply #18 posted 03/17/12 11:42am

rialb

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MickyDolenz said:

SoulAlive said:

Like I said before,it's a shame that Whitney didn't write or co-write songs.Songwriting royalties can be really lucrative.Some of the songs that others wrote for her ("Exhale (Shoop Shoop),for example") aren't all that deep anyway.Surely Whitney could have written something like that.

Some people aren't writers, just like some songwriters don't sing. It was The Beatles (and maybe Bob Dylan) that really popularized self writing. Before them it wasn't that common to write your own songs, and throughout the whole history of the record business, a small percentage of acts wrote their own songs. Songwriting royalties are only lucrative if the song is popular. That's why some songwriters were willing to make deals with Colonel Parker to sign their publishing over to Elvis Presley. Elvis was a guaranteed seller. Some weren't. Dolly Parton refused Colonel Parker, and so Elvis couldn't record the songs he wanted that she wrote.

Eh, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly were doing it before them.

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Reply #19 posted 03/17/12 11:58am

MickyDolenz

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rialb said:

MickyDolenz said:

Some people aren't writers, just like some songwriters don't sing. It was The Beatles (and maybe Bob Dylan) that really popularized self writing. Before them it wasn't that common to write your own songs, and throughout the whole history of the record business, a small percentage of acts wrote their own songs. Songwriting royalties are only lucrative if the song is popular. That's why some songwriters were willing to make deals with Colonel Parker to sign their publishing over to Elvis Presley. Elvis was a guaranteed seller. Some weren't. Dolly Parton refused Colonel Parker, and so Elvis couldn't record the songs he wanted that she wrote.

Eh, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly were doing it before them.

So did Sam Cooke, B.B. King, Little Richard, and others like jazz musicians. I said they popularized it, not that they were the first. The Beatles had a larger audience than Hank Williams.

It's called show business for a reason. It’s 90% business and 10% show. If you don’t know your business…you’re in trouble! ~ Johnnie Taylor / Basically, music is nothing but prostitution anyway and managers are the pimps ~ Millie Jackson
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Reply #20 posted 03/17/12 12:05pm

Timmy84

rialb said:

MickyDolenz said:

Some people aren't writers, just like some songwriters don't sing. It was The Beatles (and maybe Bob Dylan) that really popularized self writing. Before them it wasn't that common to write your own songs, and throughout the whole history of the record business, a small percentage of acts wrote their own songs. Songwriting royalties are only lucrative if the song is popular. That's why some songwriters were willing to make deals with Colonel Parker to sign their publishing over to Elvis Presley. Elvis was a guaranteed seller. Some weren't. Dolly Parton refused Colonel Parker, and so Elvis couldn't record the songs he wanted that she wrote.

Eh, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly were doing it before them.

nod Add Little Richard and Smokey Robinson/The Miracles to the mix as well.

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Reply #21 posted 03/17/12 1:22pm

Terrib3Towel

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Isn't this the same story from a few weeks ago?

Imma need some concrete proof. I'm tired of all these "insiders."
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Reply #22 posted 03/17/12 5:24pm

flintz

MickyDolenz said:

flintz said:

Being an independent artist.

Unless you're talking about selling a record yourself, there really isn't a such thing as an indie act.

I'm talking about having absolutely no ties with any of the majors, nor their silly 'indie' labels. Today's artists are far better off: they have the internet to distribute their work, yet for some reason people want to work with that ball and chain, where you make far more for your masters than you'll ever see.

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Reply #23 posted 03/17/12 5:54pm

nursev

All really very sad.

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Reply #24 posted 03/17/12 6:20pm

MickyDolenz

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flintz said:

MickyDolenz said:

Unless you're talking about selling a record yourself, there really isn't a such thing as an indie act.

I'm talking about having absolutely no ties with any of the majors, nor their silly 'indie' labels. Today's artists are far better off: they have the internet to distribute their work, yet for some reason people want to work with that ball and chain, where you make far more for your masters than you'll ever see.

But a major has way more connections and money than an unknown act will ever hope to have. They don't have the payola to get on the radio and TV either. Also, not everyone buys music off the internet or even has a computer. They still buy albums at a store. Many people also download for free. This will hurt a true indie act who has to pay for their studio time, pressing up albums, etc. themselves than it will hurt a big company. A major has the means to make an act and/or their songs famous, resulting in covers, sampling, use of your song in movies, TV shows, commercials, greeting cards, video games, and so on. That's where a lot of money comes in. Look at Prince. People still buy Purple Rain, but who buys any of his post Warners self released albums, most of which are out of print, and weren't really well known in the first place. If Prince was depending on songwriting profits from them, he wouldn't have money to sue people. razz

It's called show business for a reason. It’s 90% business and 10% show. If you don’t know your business…you’re in trouble! ~ Johnnie Taylor / Basically, music is nothing but prostitution anyway and managers are the pimps ~ Millie Jackson
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Reply #25 posted 03/17/12 7:21pm

HuMpThAnG

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Timmy84 said:

rialb said:

Eh, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly were doing it before them.

nod Add Little Richard and Smokey Robinson/The Miracles to the mix as well.

And Curtis nod

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Reply #26 posted 03/17/12 10:36pm

Chancellor

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Whenever an article says "Mr or Mrs. X says so and so" I don't hold too much stock in it...We need names not hear-say...The first article in this thread was reported before she died and Wendy Williams did her "bit" on TV saying how "sources" sadi Whitney asked a friend for $100...

Does that mean she's broke if she asked someone for cash?

Toni Braxton CLAIMS she broke but she still living a Mega-life-style..Her sisters even put her on blast on TV...She got her millions in the bank but her Lawyers advised of her of the best way to protect everything...

Whitney did not die BROKE....

[Edited 3/17/12 22:38pm]

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Reply #27 posted 03/17/12 10:37pm

Chancellor

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Whitney's music will also continue to sell so Sony will make Millions off of her....A year from now if her world-wide-sells only bring in $100-Million or less for SONY they will be happy....

[Edited 3/17/12 22:41pm]

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Reply #28 posted 03/18/12 6:52am

flintz

MickyDolenz said:

flintz said:

I'm talking about having absolutely no ties with any of the majors, nor their silly 'indie' labels. Today's artists are far better off: they have the internet to distribute their work, yet for some reason people want to work with that ball and chain, where you make far more for your masters than you'll ever see.

But a major has way more connections and money than an unknown act will ever hope to have. They don't have the payola to get on the radio and TV either. Also, not everyone buys music off the internet or even has a computer. They still buy albums at a store. Many people also download for free. This will hurt a true indie act who has to pay for their studio time, pressing up albums, etc. themselves than it will hurt a big company. A major has the means to make an act and/or their songs famous, resulting in covers, sampling, use of your song in movies, TV shows, commercials, greeting cards, video games, and so on. That's where a lot of money comes in. Look at Prince. People still buy Purple Rain, but who buys any of his post Warners self released albums, most of which are out of print, and weren't really well known in the first place. If Prince was depending on songwriting profits from them, he wouldn't have money to sue people. razz

The majors are becoming minors. That's all you have to know about today's industry; it's being decimated by the minors, bit by bit.

For every person making money on a major label there are 100 that are better off doing it themselves, and without the debt burden killing their creativity.

Labels give you advances and may do some marketing, depending on who believes in you and how much, but you still have to pay them back. There is no free lunch.

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Reply #29 posted 03/18/12 1:22pm

Terrib3Towel

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Chancellor said:

Whenever an article says "Mr or Mrs. X says so and so" I don't hold too much stock in it...We need names not hear-say...The first article in this thread was reported before she died and Wendy Williams did her "bit" on TV saying how "sources" sadi Whitney asked a friend for $100...

Does that mean she's broke if she asked someone for cash?

Toni Braxton CLAIMS she broke but she still living a Mega-life-style..Her sisters even put her on blast on TV...She got her millions in the bank but her Lawyers advised of her of the best way to protect everything...

Whitney did not die BROKE....

[Edited 3/17/12 22:38pm]

This. Whitney wrote out a personal check for 2 million so Sparkle could be completed. But the media doesn't report stories like that. I would LOVE to be "Whitney Houston broke."

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