Sony/ATV set to separate from licensing firms

The No. 1 music publisher has decided to go it alone in the battle to boost digital royalties paid to songwriters.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing — whose catalog includes Beatles classics along with Taylor Swift’s current chart toppers — plans to dump the industry’s oldest and biggest performance-rights organizations by the end of the year, The Post has learned.

Bypassing BMI and ASCAP, which collect royalties for songwriters when their tunes are played on the radio, streamed online or piped into a store, would allow Sony/ATV to negotiate directly with services such as Pandora, Spotify and YouTube.

Songwriters complain that BMI and ASCAP are bound by outdated government rules that result in paltry royalties from digital outlets. The pain is especially acute as CD sales and digital downloads are in decline, while streaming services are the only area of growth.

In July, Sony/ATV Chief Executive Martin Bandier, in a letter to his songwriters, warned that he might withdraw from ASCAP and BMI so he could better fight for higher streaming royalties.

Sony/ATV already tried a partial pullout from the professional-rights organizations, forcing companies like Pandora to negotiate directly for a license to stream music.

Pandora sued, arguing that music publishers couldn’t make partial withdrawals from BMI and ASCAP, which are bound by decades-old consent decrees with the Department of Justice that determine royalty rates.

The federal courts agreed: Either the publisher’s entire catalog of licensable songs remained with the licensing groups or none did.

Sony/ATV has appealed the courts’ all-or-nothing rule and is imploring the DOJ to review consent decrees it considers antiquated.

As a result of the court rulings, the royalty rate Pandora pays Sony/ATV reverted to the 1.85 percent by decree from the 5 percent that Sony/ATV exacted through direct negotiations.

No. 2 publisher Universal Music Publishing Group is also anxious to enter into direct negotiations over digital rights. But sources close to the company say it’s more willing to wait out both of Sony/ATV’s appeals.

Sony/ATV, however, isn’t nearly as patient.

In his July letter, Bandier cautioned that “because the DOJ and legal process is not fully within our control, we may have no alternative but to take all of our rights out of ASCAP and BMI.”

A withdrawal would saddle Sony/ATV with significant administrative responsibilities historically handled by BMI and ASCAP. It would likely cripple the licensing groups as well.

But a source claims the $230 million BMI and ASCAP kept for themselves last year — after distributing $1.7 billion to songwriters, composers and publishers — suggests plenty of room for cost-cutting.

Sony/ATV could replace them with a much leaner operation, the source said, saving tens of millions a year. And at least half of those savings could also be repatriated to the Sony/ATV songwriters that BMI and ASCAP once served.

While Sony/ATV wouldn’t confirm that it is pulling out of the licensing groups, it acknowledged the option is on the table.

Calling it a done deal “would be very premature,” a Sony/ATV spokesman said.

Man Convicted In Music Row Murder Dies In Prison

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Richard D'Antonio, who was serving a life sentence for a notorious murder on Music Row, died last week in prison. Mr. D'Antonio had been providing evidence and testimony to CASHBOX for the magazines popular Murder On Music Row Series. He indicated to CASHBOX that he had nearly raised the needed funds for an appeal process and that he had passed two lie detector tests.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Correction said D’Antonio died of natural causes on September 10 at Lois DeBerry Special Needs Facility.

D’Antonio was sentenced to life in prison in 2003 after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 23-year-old Kevin Hughes.

D'Antonio was found guilty of shooting  and killing Hughes, a music researcher for Cash Box magazine, outside a recording studio in 1989.

Prosecutors said Hughes was shot and killed because he was trying to clean up a crooked record business.

D'Antonio was also convicted of assault with intent to commit second degree murder for the attempted murder of a second victim, singer Sammy Sadler.

The D'Antonio Letters
sent to CASHBOX from The 
Tennessee Prison Where He 
Was Serving A Life Sentence

Editors Commentary:

During the run of our series Murder On Music Row, we had a conversation with Richard and several letters from Richard which Cashbox printed.  Many people are not convinced that law enforcement in Tennessee ever did enough to find the real culprit.  Richard had passed two polygraph tests that were never considered along with several witnesses who were never questioned. CASHBOX was working to get to the bottom of this very murky case. Mr. D’Antonio may very well have taken the truth to his grave. There is compelling evidence to suggest that several others were involved.

One thing is for sure, an innocent man lost his life. Maybe one day evidence will surface to shed some more light on what really happened.

Bruce Elrod

Hawleys Higher Vision

Visit our
Rockin Robin Today
pages for his insightful and informative articles, videos, trivia and more!
Click here to read past stories.

 Read The
Letters From
Convicted Murderer
 Richard D'Antonio.
Click Here

Full Armor Productions Releases Their Compilation Of Classic Blues And gospel music!
  Containing classic blues gospel songs in their original form as well as new originals, 
Dusty King James", delivered by Full Armor Productions is rich in culture and positivity. 
From Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" to the 
title track, "Dusty King James" features veteran blues artists as well as 
new talent who are able to capture the essential message of the classic 
blues and gospel tracks contained in this compilation.
"Dusty King James" is available at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, and other online 
music outlets.

For more information on the compilation and to hear some of 

the tracks,visit

Christian St. James
is on

Visit his website here
Newberry Opera House

North Platte, Nebraska, humorist James Larson, has written five new songs available at they are:
Doctor Doctor, Hillary's Brain, Rush Limbaugh on the E.I.B., Duck Dynasty, Bigfoot, and a few serious songs Bring our P.O.W.s Home, Heaven Is For Real, Jesus, and A Labor of Love

Greg Finch Ministries

For some great award winning gospel music visit his website!
Just click the picture

Christian Gospel Artist
RC Kouba

Prince Continues to Deliver!
Rock and Roll Turns 80

When Rock and Roll music exploded onto the pop music scene in the mid-1950's, legendary DJ Alan Freed helped usher in the music when he mentioned the term on WJW/Cleveland starting around 1952. 

But remember...Alan Freed POPULARIZED the term. He didn't invent it. Big difference.

The words "Rock And Roll" may go back to the 1920's. For sure, Wikipedia reports that an entertainment columnist named Maury Orodenker began using the term in his writings around 1942.

But here's the REAL this 78 rpm single was released 80 years ago today (October 4, 1934)...

"Rock And Roll" by the Boswell Sisters was from the soundtrack to the movie "Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round" that included Jack Berry in the cast.

So what WAS the first true rock and roll record? My vote goes to this 1947 song...

"Good Rockin' Tonight" was the second Sun Records release by Elvis Presley...and his biggest competitor of the 50's, Pat Boone, actually charted with the song in 1959, reaching #58. Among the others to have recorded "Good Rockin' Tonight" include Paul McCartney, Rick Nelson, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Doors.

Meanwhile, you might remember the song with a new title as a 1984-85 remake by the Honeydrippers...

Paul Revere Dead at 76


CALDWELL, IDAHO -- Paul Revere, the leader of Paul Revere and the Raiders, 
died Saturday(October 4, 2014) at his home. He was 76. The cause of death wasn't known at presstime.

Paul Revere and the Raiders gave us a #1 hit about the plight of the Cherokee Indians and the first major anti-drug hit among their 25 hits from 1961-73. 

Paul Revere and the Raiders had 18 Top 40's and five top 10's. Their biggest and only #1 hit was this song...

"Indian Reservation" became a #1 hit in the summer of 1971 and the record label simply credited the group as "The Raiders." The song was a remake of a modest top 20 hit in 1968 by Don Fardon. When I interviewed Paul in 1987, he told me how he helped the record's cause with a huge motorcycle trip across the country. He would hand-deliver the vinyl 45 record to every radio station he could find. 

Paul Revere and the Raiders also had the first major anti-drug hit with this 1966 song... 

The previous year, 1965, Paul Revere and the Raiders became one of the key groups to perform regularly on the Dick Clark TV show, "Where The Action Is," which pretty much was filmed on Pacific coast beaches. 

According to Wikipedia, Paul Revere and the Raiders had at least 33 different members, including Mark Lindsay, who had eight solo hits like "Arizona" from 1969-71.

Ironically, Paul Revere and the Raiders' first hit in 1961 was an instrumental where many people probably thought it was Jerry Lee Lewis playing a piano...

In the early 60's, Paul Revere and the Raiders also recorded a song that would eventually become one of the greatest party hits ever for the Kingsmen...

For more on Paul Revere and the Raiders...

Never has there been a genre of music that has both exploded and reinvented itself at the same time. To some, this drastic change is seen as a decline of an entire category.  I'm of course talking about Country Music. When I grew up in the 50's and 60's there were four main AM stations consisting of Easy Listening, R&B, Pop and of course Country. I listened to all of them and it was all great music.

Today’s Country Music is so different that many longtime fans have quit listening to it and moved on to Folk or Americana as a substitute.  The Country songwriting of today tends to be more POP based and I suspect that very few of today’s Country songs will achieve the designation of classic 50 years from now.

Cashbox Country Charts as well as Media Base and Billboard are dominated by male vocalists. This week’s Top 50 Country charts only have three female vocalists. The rest are dominated by men who seem to only sing about trucks, booze and loose girlfriends.  I went through some of them for this article and honestly the songwriters would absolutely be at a loss without two words… beer and she.

There are exceptions but for the most part mainstream Country has fallen victim to the song mills that seem to pump out the same old thing day in and day out.  They all sound the same whether male or female.  

For the classic Country sound you have to go back to Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakum and George Straight. As for classic female country you have to go back to Reba McEntire, Lacy J. Dalton and Dolly Parton.

Of course there are others but these stood out to me as holding the modern tradition. 

Many moons ago every Country Artist you heard on radio was recognized after just a few notes. Today it seems like no one really stands out with their own unique sound. For example, in years back you had the soft easy listening country by Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold.  Ray Price changed after 1967 to the harder country by Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. Each had an individual style. Even country novelty was hot with Roger Miller and Little Jimmy Dickens.  Female vocalists such as Connie Smith, Norma Jean, Jean Shepard and Dottie West and others had their style. They were instantly identifiable which brings me to the guts of this commentary.

On September 20th 50 years ago, Skeeter Davis went to the top of the charts with DOO WOP country with “ICan’t Stay Mad at You”. Not only was this song a hit on Country and Pop, but # 1 on Easy Listening and # 5 on the R&B chart. She is credited with being the first great crossover artist.  The music was great on all of her songs. With RCA her biggest hit was “The End of the World” along with other hits like “Gonna Get Along Without You Now”, “What Does it Take (to keep a man like you satisfied)”, “ Fuel To The Flame”  (which was Dolly Parton’s first hit as a songwriter)  and “One Tin Soldier” ( from the Legend of Billy Jack).

Country was great back then. You could have guitars and banjos or a symphony orchestra and it was all good. I am a little partial with Skeeter. She became one of my best friends and I asked her to write me a letter (see below) on the State of Country Music in 1993 for my upcoming book.  She was like a real version of a country Peter Pan.  She never grew up. In the end when she passed on from breast cancer in 2004 she was the eternal teenager, even at 72. A dedicated Christian, this legacy is to you Skeeter. I miss you.

What would be great would be for the new crop of today’s Country artists to go back and listen and pick some of those great long forgotten songs and bring them to this generation. That I would both buy and listen to!


Skeeter Davis

Click Image to Read Her Letters


Ray Sanders was born in Hardin County, Kentucky in a log cabin home that was said to be a bit like the one Abe Lincoln was born in. His education in his younger years took place in schools in Kentucky, but college took him to Texas Western in El Paso, Texas where he got interested in the western way of life. At one time six foot two Ray said he wanted to make a home in the southwest someday.

While he was in El Paso, he said in an article in an old Cowboy Songs magazine that he started working at KHEY which was a 10,000 watt station back then. The station booked him for personal appearances all around the southwest in places such as El Paso, Tucson, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico and more.

He came back to Kentucky and worked with WLEX-TV out of Lexington. Later on, he was singing on the Mutual Radio Network. That got him in touch with many folks in the business and one of them was Hal Smith from Nashville, Tennesse. He got Ray a recording contract with Cullman Records and was booked on tours throughout the country.

When he got to appear on the WSM Grand Ole Opry, it got the attention of Libery Records who signed him to their roster and because of that, he moved to Hollywood to work on his recordings. Of the first six records he did with Liberty, he had seven songs hit the national charts. They reported that one disc jockey poll voted him number six best new singer.

In addition to his music interests, Ray had some business interests as well as being a writer and an electronic technician.

Some of the records that he did that did well for him included, "Dynamite", "Walking Blues" and "This Time". In 1959, he did a tune with the backup of the Jorndanaires - "I Can't Resist You" b/w "I'm So Afraid".

Listen to a great new Hillside Records release from the legendary 
Ray Sanders

Little Heart Of Dixie

Beach Music Charts

USA & Canada Orders

International Orders

We are pleased to bring you our exclusive interviews by long time CASHBOX interviewer 
Bob Sands. Click here.

We conducted an interview  with songwriter Johnny Spears. Johnny is a key figure in a song ownership dispute that has been playing out in a CASHBOX Exposed column. You will be able to hear Mr. Spears speak first hand about his inspiration for the song in question.  Click here for the interview.

Longtime friend of CASHBOX 
Rock legend Tommy James of Tommy James and the Shondells
offers a behind the scenes look at the creative process in the music business, including songwriting, recording and everything involved. Click the picture to visit his page for links to his
 "Inside Tracks" Series.

This is how we looked in the 1950's

US & Canada Orders

Order now to save $10.00 during our pre-publication sale!
Only $69.95 plus S&H (Regular $79.95)

Outside the US & Canada Orders