The Business Side of Music

The Business Side of Music is an interview show designed to help independent artists and songwriters better understand and navigate the music industry. 25-year industry veteran, Bob Bender talks to successful guests from every corner of the industry about their careers to discover the things they did right as well as the lessons they learned from any mistakes they made.


Elton John reportedly took home $100M in 2015.

By Geof Luck

Having heard him concert, I can personally attest to Elton John’s quality as a musician and performer. Yet there are few musicians of any kind, even really good ones, who take home the kind of bacon he does. So what is it about Sir Elton that helps him pull in significantly more money in one year than the vast majority of musicians could ever hope to see in their lifetime?

Music As We Know It

The recording and playback of music is an incredibly recent development in terms of human evolution. Rich archeological evidence indicates that language, and by association music, may have been as much as two million years in the making. But that doesn’t mean we’ve been crocodile rocking to omnipresent music all that time.

In fact, throughout the vast majority of those two million years, one factor remained constant — until just 200 years ago, music was both created and performed by people, in the presence of other people. No recording. No playback. Some music was written down in various forms of notation for later performance — the earliest known examples are inscribed on clay tablets dating from about 2000 BCE — but only for live performance by people.

In other words, to hear a given performer, one had to be in close proximity to them. If they were giving a concert, one actually had to be there to hear them play. Indeed, concerts were the only way of hearing an artist perform. No radio. No CDs. No streaming.

The Industrial Revolution

The early 19th century was a turning point in that it marked the appearance of technology that could play music automatically. Music boxes, for instance, appeared around the turn of the century, followed a couple of decades later by barrel organs.

The industrial revolution ushered in the steam-powered fairground organ in the second half of the century, and the last three decades of the 19th century witnessed the introduction of sound recording and playback and associated technologies such as the microphone, telephone (which included the first loudspeaker), and, around the turn of the twentieth century, the pianola, or player piano.

Thus, during this relatively brief period, music transitioned from a purely live phenomenon to something that could be captured and replayed at will. This brought the everyday experience of music considerably closer to the way you and I conceptualise it today. Now, of course, music is an omnipresent, digital, downloadable and streamable media. What’s more, in large part due to many of the developments above, live music has become a separate industry.


In addition to our relatively newfound ability to record and play music back, the number of ways in which music is used has exploded, prompting the emergence of a whole host of additional music-related industries. Music is not just created, performed, and listened to anymore, but, since it can now be recorded, it can now also be associated — synchronised — with other media.

From TV to movies to computer games and surely soon VR, music forms an increasingly significant part of the experience. In particular, movie soundtracks have evolved from an organist playing live in the theatre to epic compositions that can be enjoyed in isolation from the moving image.


And recording and playback also means that music forms an increasingly pivotal role in a range of commercial endeavours. From corporate branding to marketing and advertising, the use of music to create the right image or to motivate consumers and clients to align themselves with a particular product or brand is becoming ever more deeply entrenched.

And there’s big money to be made by the big players. $50M for Beyoncé from Pepsi, and $20M for Jay Z’s Roc Nation courtesy of Samsung to promote their Galaxy range of phones. And then there’s the reported $100M in marketing for U2 from Apple for the opportunity to give their Songs of Innocence album away for free to all iPhone users.

None of this could have happened without technological advances in recording, playback and distribution of music.

Simply put, technological developments have dramatically changed the way we engage with — and use — music. Digital, and in particular streaming technologies now render tens of millions of tracks instantly accessible, and the potential for us to control our sonic environment is greater than ever before.

So what does all this have to do with the eye-watering size of Sir Elton’s annual paycheque?

Survival Of The Fittest

The ability to record music and play it back at will has greatly increased the likelihood of the absolute fittest surviving, and those of only slightly lower quality falling by the wayside. Music, like many other sectors of the entertainment industry, has become what economist Sherwin Rosen terms a “superstar economy”.

The difference in quality doesn’t even have to be real. Perceived differences in quality, and thus value, can also lift an individual from among a sea of other similarly-talented individuals to superstar status. After all, why spend the time, effort and money going to hear a merely ‘very good’ artist perform if you can sit at home and listen to Elton John all day long?

And it’s this winner-takes-all dynamic that is largely responsible for the fact that, even in the ‘new’ live industry, the top 1% of artists make more than five times as much from concerts than the bottom 95% combined.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking these superstars and the status they achieve through a combination of talent, market forces, and a dash of good fortune.

It’s just that there are plenty of other aspiring performers out there who, simply by the nature of the beast, will never achieve the level of success enjoyed by one Reginald Kenneth Dwight.

You can read more about the science behind the world’s greatest performers and their songs in The Experience Factor.

From Adele to Zeppelin, The Experience Factor explains the science behind the success of 100 of the world's most successful songs.

See the world and be a professional musician

Proship entertainers make top dollar. Our clients hire us to find the best performers there are, so they expect to pay more. When our clients competitively compensate the entertainers, we get higher quality people willing to take the gigs, and in the end, we deliver better entertainment. It’s a win-win-win scenario. Room, board and transportation are usually provided by your employer, so you can save most of what you make.

There are countless opportunities for skilled musicians to work all over the globe! Whether you work solo or as a group, whether you are a sight-reading musician for the pit orchestra, a member of a contemporary band for a dance club, a string ensemble for a lobby, a solo instrumentalist for the main stage, the hotel, resort, casino and cruise ship industries are interested in your talents.


We began sourcing musicians for the cruise ship industry in 1987. Since then we have booked over 20,000 contracts for entertainers all around the world. Cruise lines, hotels, casinos and other entertainment venues seek us out because they know that our connections and ability to match opportunities with performers are second to none.


You’ve worked hard to learn and develop your skills as a performer. With Proship you have an entire staff of experienced performers who want to help you make the most of your talent.  We appreciate your abilities and ambitions, and are dedicated to finding you an opportunity to earn good money performing in world-class international venues.

Bluesax: “Autumn Leaves”. Jazz Experience Improvisation

The Open National Youth Orchestra, the world’s first disabled-led National youth orchestra

The National Open Youth Orchestra, the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra, will launch in Sept 2018. If you are interested in receiving more information please click here.

For more information about our award-winning pilot, the South West Open Youth Orchestra, please go to: or watch the short film below…

Watch Roger Waters Perform Plush, Orchestral ‘Deja Vu’ on ‘Colbert’

Pink Floyd co-founder will release new solo album ‘Is This the Life We Really Want?’ in June


Roger Waters played “Deja Vu,” from his upcoming ‘Is This the Life We Really Want?’ album, with help from a string section on ‘Colbert.’

The Pink Floyd co-founder took the stage with support from a large string section, which brought drama to the track. Waters began singing over a placid strum, but by the end of the first verse, violins and cellos piled into the arrangement. The strings buttressed Waters’ vocals, adding gravity to the low end and tension during the second verse.

Waters sang casually, but his observations were cutting. “If I had been God, I would’ve rearranged the veins in the face to make them more resistant to alcohol and less prone to aging,” he sang. Later, he moved into politics: “The bankers get fat, the buffalos gone/ The mountaintop’s flat, the trout in the streams are all hermaphrodite/ You lean to the left, but you vote to the right.”

In an interview with Rolling Stone in February, Waters said that politics play an important role in Is This the Life We Really Want? “I like to think that people would still like to live in a world where the bees might survive, where we might address the problems of climate change, [and] where we might understand that if we empathize with others, it makes us feel happier,” he said.

Waters embarks on a North American tour in support of his new LP in May.

Why Children In Cuba Get The Best Musical Education In The World

All the studies suggest that music education for kids — which includes learning at least one instrument — has dozens of benefits. Neuroscientists say it improves linguistic function, math abilities, listening and communication skills, and other brain development niceties. These kids are also better behaved and are less likely to skip school. At least until they discover punk rock.

Cuban Music

Flickr / Dogpong

Most students in the U.S. don’t spend a lot of time in the practice room. In fact, American schools require no more than 45 minutes of music education a week, and most of that is just fumbling with plastic recorders. If you look 90 miles south, you’ll find a country that treats their music department the way Texas treats youth football. Yes, Cuba lacks an open Internet, free press, economic prosperity, freedom to travel, and has suffered under 60 years of despotism, but when it comes to music education, they kind of crush it.

Cuban kids get a whopping 8 hours of free music education a week. That’s 3,600 hours over 12 years. (Malcolm Gladwell would be impressed.) Cubans also spend 10 percent of their taxes on education, while America spends 4. You might say that’s comparing apples to Communist oranges, but it’s hard to argue arts enrichment for children is a waste of taxpayer money. In America, parents who want their kids to get this kind of music education have to search for local magnet schools that focus on it or pay for lessons on their own. That can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 a year — or 1 ticket to Hamilton.

The Cuban music curriculum is centered around group lessons, but one-on-one instruction is regular and required. History, theory, and televised lessons are also part of the plan. And, if they’re a virtuoso pupil, students get to go to a specialized free music academy. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, the Cuban system offers students potential employment in a difficult job market, the chance to visit other countries without defecting — and a least a little bit of fun.

There’s one more side benefit to music; it brings people together. Black Cubans and women, 2 groups of people who experience the same kind of prejudice and inequality as they do in the U.S., have found pride and acceptance within the system. These state-educated musicians have also become some of Cuba’s most effective ambassadors to their northern neighbors. That’s why they’re not called the Buena Vista Antisocial Club.

This isn’t to suggest you’re about to move to Havana for the schools. All it says is that Cuba has taken advantage of one of its few natural resources — a strong and unique musical culture — and turned it into a powerful educational, social, and even diplomatic engine. Apparently, band practice is a better extracurricular than model UN.

Glastonbury 2017

Foo Fighters
Ed Sheeran
The xx
The National
Biffy Clyro
Katy Perry
Barry Gibb
Royal Blood
Major Lazer
Boy Better Know
Run the Jewels
Laura Marling
Kris Kristofferson
The Jacksons
Emeli Sandé
First Aid Kit
Aanderson .Paak and the Free Nationals
Toots and the Maytals
Father John Misty
The Flaming Lips
Dizzee Rascal
Annie Mac
Sleaford Mods
Kate Tempest
The Can Project
The Avalanches
Clean Bandit
George Ezra
Glass Animals
The Courteeners
DJ Shadow
London Grammar
Songhoy Blues
Little Dragon
Kaiser Chiefs
Wild Beasts
Angel Olsen
The Lemon Twigs
Rag’n’Bone Man
Craig David
Circa Waves
Future Islands
Ani DiFranco
Nadia Rose
British Sea Power
Mark Lanegan
The Moonlandingz
Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes
The Cinematic Orchestra
Tove Lo
Sasha and John Digweed
Joe Goddard
Boys Noize
Kurupt FM
Declan McKenna
Loyle Carner
Lisa Hannigan
Martha Wainwright
All We Are
Girl Ray
Julia Jacklin

Stephen Kovacevich will be performing Bach’s Partita No.4 in D Major.

An exciting evening of music, song, and art, in the beautiful and ancient church of St Mary the Virgin in Ladywell, Lewisham.

The legendary American classical pianist and conductor Stephen Kovacevich will be performing Bach’s Partita No.4 in D Major.

Also performing will be a flute quartet supported by local musicians and singers performing a variety of pieces.

In addition there will be a short talk by Susan Jones from the Courtauld Institute of Art on the fascinating 1432 painting by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, the Ghent Altarpiece. It was recently described as ‘arguably the most glorious extant work from the late Middle Ages’.

Half of all proceeds from the concert will go to the charity St.Mungo’s, who are working to end homelessness and rebuild lives. They provide a bed and support to more than 2,600 people a night who are homeless or at risk.

For a suggested donation of £10 you can sponsor your very own key on the piano that Stephen Kovacevich will be playing at the concert! For this you can have your name mentioned in the concert programme, and as the piano hire cost is £880 and there are 88 keys to sponsor we will have paid for the piano.

The rest of the concert proceeds will go toward the Lewisham Park (Crescent) Residents’ Association, who work to improve the park for the local community, planting trees and providing new benches and rubbish bins. The Association chose to support St.Mungo’s because as homelessness in Lewisham, and indeed London, becomes increasingly evident, numbers of people have been rough-sleeping in the park, even in the cold of the winter months.

Stephen Kovacevich is known as one of the most prominent interpreters among living pianists and his recordings, including Bach, Beethoven and Bartók, have astonished even the most demanding of critics. He has directed the London Mozart Players, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and his chamber music partners have included Jacqueline du Pre, Martha Argerich, Steven Isserlis, Nigel Kennedy, Lyn Harrell, Sarah Chang, Gautier and Renaud Capucon, and Emmanuel Pahud.

J.S. Bach composed six keyboard Partitas, or suites of dances, that have become a landmark of the pianist’s repertory, even though the music was probably originally conceived for the harpsichord.

The Fourth Partita, in D major, is arguably the most cohesive in the collection, and it demonstrates Bach’s unfailing imagination and skill, with its’ rich variety of styles and moods, from the pensive to the virtuosic.

Tonight’s Partita was composed between 1726–1729 and is the fourth suite in his Clavier-Ubung (Keyboard Practice). It consists of seven movements in D major.

  1. Ouverture (The beginning is in two time, and then moves into three)
  2. Allemande
  3. Courante
  4. Aria
  5. Sarabande
  6. Menuet
  7. Gigue

In keeping with a nineteenth-century naming tradition that labelled Bach’s first set of Suites English and the second French,the Partitas are sometimes referred to as the German Suites. This title, however, is a publishing convenience; there is nothing particularly German about the Partitas. In comparison with the two earlier sets of suites, the Partitas are by far the most free-ranging in terms of structure. Unlike the English Suites, for example, wherein each opens with a strict prelude, the Partitas feature a number of different opening styles including an ornamental Overture and a Toccata.

More info and tickets


Multi-talented producer Elderbrook, real name Alexander Kotz, has announced the release of his latest single ‘Difficult To Love’, marking this the second release of the year. Produced by prolific house DJ and producer Ben Pearce, ‘Difficult To Love’ is driven by a bass-heavy beat underpinning a grooving melody.

Continuing with his strong trajectory, ‘Difficult To Love’ follows on from the release of ‘First Time’, with huge remixes from the likes of Riva Starr, and his much-hyped sold-out headline show at XOYO, London. Garnering support from BBC Radio 1 DJs and credible tastemakers, Elderbrook is further cementing his status as an artist to watch.

Elderbrook first stormed onto the scene in 2015 with the release of his debut EP Simmer Down on the acclaimed Black Butter Records and his debut single ‘Could’ amassed over 4.5 million plays on Spotify alone, which you can also listen to here;

A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Elderbrook has gone on to collaborate with the likes of AndHim and received remixes from Eats Everything and George Kwali.

We had a chat with him about his latest release ‘Difficult to Love’ and his forthcoming plans following his breakout success.

“At The Very Beginning, I Was Definitely Shocked. I Was Just A University Student With About 154 Followers On Soundcloud, Occasionally Putting Up Songs. The Music I Was Putting Out At The Time Wouldn’t Get More Than 1,000 Plays So To See “Rewinding” Get Over 200,000 In A Couple Of Weeks Was An Incredible Feeling! It Really Made Me Appreciate The Power Of Social Media. I Then Started Working With Black Butter, And The First EP Was Released Soon After That. The Reaction Was Great, And It’s Allowed Me To Carry On Creating Music Which Is A Dream.”

The interest and collaborations with prolific DJ’s and producers have undoubtedly helped advance his career. I’d be really interested to know who else there is that Elderbrook has on his wish list to collaborate with.

“I’ve Been So Lucky With My Collaborative Work And Have Enjoyed Expanding My Musical Horizons In Doing So. Andhim Was The First; Their Version Of How Many Times Was Great For Me And Definitely Opened The Door To The World Of Electronic Music. I Also Really Love The Eats Everything And Riva Starr Remixes Of My Songs. It’s Always Amazing To Hear The Different Interpretations Of My Work. I Can Get So Used To The Sound Of The Final Original Mix, So A New Take Is Often Really Refreshing.”

Elderbrook seems open to collaborating with anyone and is keen to see the new avenues that will bring.

“To Be Honest, I’m Quite Happy Working With Anyone. Different Musicians Will Each Have Something New That I Can Learn From And Incorporate Into My Work.”

With the new single just being released, is 2017 going to be the year we finally see a debut album?

“There Is A New Collection Of Music That I’m Releasing Towards The End Of The Year. I’ve Spent Such A Long Time On It, And I’m So Excited To Share It With You Guys!”

Keep up with Elderbrook across social media here;
Elderbrook Soundcloud
Elderbrook Facebook