The Music Business

The Music Biz

photo: Guillaume Laurent / Flickr

The Music Biz
Scott Aiges


Consider the musicians.

After the crowd goes home, after they pack their gear and instruments, when their van rolls through the night and the smell of smoke still lingers on their clothes, the bottom line remains. The business of music never sleeps.

Artist royalties, mechanical royalties, revenue streams and recording contracts occupy the minds and sleepless nights of managers and artists the country over as they head to their next gig.

You could fill a college course with everything an artist needs to know. Trust us, they have.



Scott Aiges photographed by Robert X Fogarty for the "Love Notes To New Orleans" series.

Scott Aiges photographed by Robert X Fogarty for the “Love Notes To New Orleans” series.

This is the bread-and-butter of Scott Aiges. He’s managed musicians (Astral Project, The Continental Drifters, and Royal Fingerbowl to name just three) and teaches the business of music at Tulane. For awhile he was a music critic at The Times-Picayune and he’s even worked in the halls of power, serving as the director of music business development for the City of New Orleans.

Today, Aiges is the director of Programming, Marketing and Communications for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation.

(The Foundation supports Music Inside Out through a competitive grant.)

And before you say “What’s this got to do with me?” allow us to suggest that there’s plenty for the casual music lover to understand about how the music business works these days. And Scott Aiges is the perfect person to guide us through the spreadsheets and contract language of the biz.






Crazy Cage Match

OK, to begin with: Patsy Cline wins. Even though Willie Nelson wrote the song, everyone — and we mean everyone — associates the song with Patsy Cline. So here we’re really going for the coveted #2 spot in the all-time list of Crazy covers. Who should take home the prize? Let us know who you think really brings the pathos in this beloved tune about feeling bad.
Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes
Julio Iglesias
Julio Iglesias
Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan
Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline



The Macklemore Example
When it comes to paradigm shifts, there’s no better example to consider than Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and their paean to looking fly by working someone else’s grandpa’s look.

“The Heist” was a #1 record from one of the top touring acts in the world, spawning multiple singles that have charted well, including “Thrift Shop,” “Same Love,” and “Can’t Hold Us.”

“The Heist” was an independent record. Macklemore financed it themselves and record labels started showing interest in it once Macklemore started getting hot.

Scott Aiges says the artists were savvy enough to say, “We’ll keep the record and license it to you, you’ll distribute it for us and when it sells, you’ll pay us. And you’re a major record label with a major promotions arm, so we want you to make sure we have a #1 hit on the radio.”

“The record company didn’t have a choice,” Aiges says. “It was either take the deal or watch Macklemore go across the street and sign with the competition.”

And, as if to prove the paradigm shift, the recording industry has nominated Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for a Best New Artist Grammy this year, along with nods for Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance.


Nuts & Bolts: Some Practical Advice

Scott Aiges graciously shares some practical advice for the up-and-coming artist. Gwen asked him what he recommends for the musician at the start of a professional career, or one wanting to re-start a stalled one. Like any good college professor, Aiges suggests some study.

Scott Aiges: Advice



Each week we provide a complete playlist of the music heard on the broadcast. Our hope is that you’ll print it out and take it with you the next time you visit your local record store. Thanks for supporting the musicians and your local music retailer.


Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 9.28.47 AM