Category Archives: download music

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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 1.30.12 PM

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

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.


Restart a Blog, What?

Okay, I’m still in the process of restarting my blog, but this is silly. Here’s a few links to connect you to the Buzzie that’s out there.

Buzzie on iTunes and Play

CDs and Digital Downloads from CDBaby

Here are all the YouTube videos of Buzzie songs.

The Buzzie Facebook page.

Buzzie on Reverbnation, and LastFM, and Spotify.

A FREE download of Shooting Beer Cans Off the Buddha is available via NoiseTrade