All posts by jmacofearth

Write a Song With Buzzie

buzzie-writewmeI don’t have any expectations that this experiment with get a huge response. BUT… If you don’t put these things out to the universe, you never know. Here goes:

I wrote a song progression yesterday. I’d like you to help me finish it. I have no expectations about what you send me, lyrics, recordings, your own videos. Whatever you have in mind, let’s collaborate. If we do end up joining forces on a song you will get songwriting credits and (heh heh) royalties when the track goes viral on Apple Music.

Let’s do this.

Feel free to send me your content here john.mcelhenney at gmail dot com, or post things in the comments here.


@jmacofearth on Twitter

RADIOHEAD: Royalties and Digital Distribution Rights

Well, my inclusion on the Radiohead tribute record in Germany (Retransmissions) appears to have caused a slight problem.


Turns out my German release is administered by a German rights management organization in Germany called Kontor New Media Music. Now this is not my first rodeo at having one of my own tracks be disputed by an online rights management company. Often these claims are bogus and the scam artists are just trying to attach their advertising to other’s videos.

Okay, that’s interesting. Kontor is claiming management rights of my track via the Retransmissions track. Well then, let’s get an accounting of the sales of that CD from them. As the disc came out in 2012 I’m sure some royalties have been collected. And I have a 5-year contract to share in the proceeds of the sales. I have contacted Kontor directly to release my YouTube video and provide me with a full accounting of royalties collected on that CD as well as my track.

I also contacted the record label, ESC Germany, to see if they had any accounting of sales to date. See, after the CD was released, with 25 tracks, iTunes showed my track and one other as selling 10 – to – 1 over the other tracks. So, Kontor and ESC, where’s my money? And have you paid Mrs Radiohead for their publishing as well.

Let’s see where this rabbit hole leads.

Listen Louder,

John McElhnney – Buzzie – doing Last Flowers (the disputed video)

The Trouble with Music Sales

I’m a music pirate. There I’ve said it. I’ve downloaded mp3 files for years. I’m slowing down, I’m paying for 90% of my music today. And ANY music I love, I buy. Immediately. But… There’s a problem with the music business, and it’s not me. It’s streaming.

One of my friends, also a musician, asked me the other day, “Why would I ever buy an album again?” He was waxing poetic on Spotify. YUK.

So here’s the problem. The digital distribution process for streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and others, allows them to pay only a fraction of a penny per stream. Sure, they have started a PR campaign to let you see how much they are actually paying overall, but here’s the rub with that. 99.5% of all those royalty payments are going to The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, et al, major players with huge catalogs and huge legal teams to protect their client’s income streams.

Yes, Spotify would’ve made Taylor Swift whole if she’d allowed them to stream her new disc, but she knows better. They are killing the financial opportunities for all but the biggest bands. The idea of the democratization of the music business, with the collapse of BIG MUSIC was to allow the indies to sell direct to their fans. Well, that’s not quite how it’s turned out.

Two big points about my participation in this process.

1. I’ve never intended to make a living playing music. I have a career, a house and two kids, and a life style that does not involve extended time in mini-vans and crappy hotel rooms.

2. I have only marginally successful tracks on iTunes and other online outlets. Yes, you can still by my physical CDs from CDBaby, but that market has all but gone away.

Still, I should be able to build on my catalog, my small but growing fan base, and continue to grow my income stream from my music. IF, AND ONLY IF, I disallow Spotify and Pandora from streaming my tracks. Here’s a recent accounting page from my digital distribution dashboard on CDBaby.

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See all those $0.00 sales? Here’s how one of the stream sales looks in the details.

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Let’s see, that’s 0.0005 per stream. 100 streams and I’ll make a nickel. Um, that’s not going to pay for guitar picks.

I’m sure the Rolling Stones are making fine dough off streaming with Jumpin Jack Flash, Sympathy for the Devil, and the rest of their hits. But new indie bands are NOT making jack shit.

Okay, I hear you, that’s fine, you say, the money has always been in the touring. Even when majors broke new acts, the bands almost never saw any money from the record sales, they made money on-Tour. The record labels supported the tour and the artist would WORK their asses off, and make a descent living. This is major label artists.

This is also why musicians like Prince took a hiatus and became “the artist formerly known as…” because he was tired of giving all of the cash to his label. And that’s why bands you knew and loved often go away. They must give up their band name and start again, or be forced to buy back their catalog from the labels.

So, if Apple Music is about to revolutionize the streaming music business, let’s hope they get the royalty portion of the equation right. They’ve got a killer instal base of paying customers with the iTunes store. And the word is Apple Music is going to kill iTunes Radio.

Let’s see your hand, APPLE. The indie artists of the world as well as the future are waiting for you to lead.


  • Apple Music: US$9.99/month or US$14.99/month (Family plan for six devices)
  • Spotify: £10/month (£30 for five people)
  • Google Play Music: £10/month
  • Tidal: £10 for 320kbps, £20 for 1411kbps
  • Pandora One: $4.99 per month

John McElhenney / aka Buzzie

Reference: Apple Music – Can They Get Streaming Music Royalties Right? –

Cooling My Jets – New Buzzie Album


*cover image by laura ruggeri

Yep, today is my birthday. (Me and Jimi, god bless him.) And to celebrate I’m releasing a new cd of acoustic songs. Some of these have been realized in full-band glory with Buzzie, some are demos waiting for the next “band” to come along. (I think the band thing is starting to happen again, and I’m thrilled about that.) So without further ado, I’ll give you the newest Buzzie album: Cooling My Jets You can listen to the songs on the page.

click to listen now

Here’s a bit of the story behind the songs.

Just Another Day
If you’ve been around artists, you’ve probably experienced moodiness. This song was written to my then-wife, about persevering the down days with me. We could make it through anything, as long as we remembered it was “just another day,” nothing special, nothing to worry about.

The Hurt You Keep
As you walk away from any relationship where you have spent a lot of time and energy you want to say something, you want to forgive and release yourself and the other person.

The counterpoint to Disappear. Just happy to be in love, in bed, and with my wife and newborn son.

I Wanna Know You
I seem to write this sentiment a lot these days. I want to find the next lover. I’m looking. I’m singing. And I’m okay alone, but I’d prefer not to be.

You’ve Got That Way
Ah those relationships that are painful from the start. I am lucky to have gotten out of this one with a song.

The saddest song I’ve ever written. During a low point in my life, I couldn’t see the point in getting up every day to slog away at the work of keeping it together. The victory in the song is that the singer has survived the darkness and can now look back and sing about it. Still hurts to hear this one.

The Same Thing
I do have some patterns in my relationships. I often look for a woman to console me at hard times. And when things go off the rails, that’s when I really long for someone. I am learning that I need to heal myself this time, before she shows up. Let us meet on even ground, no rescue needed.

I Was Wrong
I wrote this one on the top the Orchid Suites Hotel in Los Angeles. I was there with my band Blue Cartoon. I was inspired and lonely at the same time. I was missing my first wife even as things were falling apart between us.

We Are One
On the birth of my first child I was moved as if by god… I’m very spiritual, but I’m poly-religious, or semi-religious. This song is about seeing divinity in my child and his mother.

Be well and rock harder.

John McElhenney

Getting Ready for a BUZZIE ReBoot!

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Dec. 5th will mark the debut of the newest version of Buzzie. Come see us at Austin’s historic SCOOT INN. We’ll be there with a whole bunch of popsters and rockers for The International Pop Overthrow Austin Edition.

Buzzie plays at 9pm on Friday Dec. 5th with the following lineup.

John McElhenney – guitars and vocals
John Viehweg – guitars and vocals
Chris Vreeland – bass
Jay Hendrix – drums
Stacie Livesay – background vocals

If you want a rough preview of two songs, here’s a littlebox recording of our rehearsal yesterday.

Work In Progress – John Veihweg’s Blog (Songs included: Little World of Love and The Same Thing.)

And come see some amazing music at the Scoot Inn from Dec. 4 – Dec. 6.

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Support local music when you can, and when you can’t… hey what’s wrong with you?


JMac (aka Mr. Buzzie)

Razor – Foo Fighters cover

I’m part of this wacky group of musician on Facebook. And they do a cover challenge every week. This past week the category was one word song titles beginning with the letter “r.” It was easy for me to find this one.

And having watched all of the Sonic Highways broadcast on HBO, I’m feeling pretty close to Mr. Grohl. So I was motivated to finish the track. Here’s my quickie cover of Razor.

Be Rockin!


i need a good day : lyrics : the mind reels

I need a good day
This is going to be a good day
This is going to be a very good day
It’s gotta be

Waking up from the feelings of the aftermath
Hold me down while the room goes spinning round
I’m still hoping for an altered path
When I could see that you were not around


Jumping up, make my way onto the underground
Fifteen stops till my day begins again
Sitting, staring into the passing cars
I could feel that you were not around

Call you up it’s a day just like the day before
Hear your ghost in the voice that’s telling me
Leave your name and I hope you have a better day
I don’t believe that you are not around.

Buzzie Tracks “All I Need” the 2nd Radiohead Cover

Track one has been done for years, so now I’m getting ready to do the next 5 Radiohead songs for my tribute record On the Radio. Here’s All I Need, in it’s second draft, pre-mastering. There are a few more tweaks to go, but you’ll get the idea.


  • John McElhenney – vocals
  • Ron Flynt – piano and acoustic guitar
  • Masumi Jones – drums

Get some more Buzzie from the PLAY and iTUNES stores.

Keep the faith.

Buzzie will be playing The International Pop Overthrow as it returns to Austin, Texas on Friday, Dec. 5th. We’d love to see you there.

You can hear the first Radiohead cover, Last Flowers using the player below.


only me, only you: lyrics: blue cartoon

i could tell by your smile – you don’t see the way that i do
all this time, in your arms – you’ve been poking me, like voodoo

i can’t tell if it’s only me or only you

we got close long ago – after you stepped up to meet me
i was fine, before you came – now i need someone to keep me

if it’s you – then i have tried
if it’s me – then i can’t see it
it was you – who paralyzed
if it’s me – i can’t explain it
i can’t tell if it’s only you or only me

then something cooled, when we got close – like a freeze frame in a movie
you pulled away like sliding glass – closed your eyes, but didn’t tell me

if it’s you – then i have tried
if it’s me – i can’t explain it


if it’s you – then i have tried
if it’s me – then i can’t see it
it was you – who paralyzed
if it’s me – i can’t explain it

can’t explain

recorded with Blue Cartoon