It Was The Best Of Times
July 1, 2011
"The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it."-- Thomas Monson
I received over a hundred e-mails from readers last week in response to my "Remembering The Big Man" commentary.
It was great to hear from so many people who reflected not only on Clarence's passing, but how the MUSIC he made with Bruce Springsteen affected so many of us in a different time for the radio and record businesses. (See the link to Springsteen's eulogy for Clarence below)
Many readers ask me frequently about the relationship between the record companies and radio today compared to what it was like in our "glory days." I tell them I simply don't know what it's like today other than what those who are on the frontlines and doing promotion tell me when they write. It's not the same as it once was, and I thought it time to reprint an article I wrote in the newsletter back in March of 2007.
It was truly the best of times for radio and records and everyone who worked on either side back then knows just how fortunate we were to been there.
For those of you who were not as fortunate, I hope this article might shed some light upon a magical time in the music business. I didn't know when I wrote this four years ago just how true the predictions I wrote about in the closing paragraph would be.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE RECORD (From DISC&DAT, March 2007)
"Yeah, you do have a hit record. One-hit wonders. It's a very common tale." -- Tom Hanks, as Playtone Records Executive Mr. White, in 'That Thing You Do'
While watching "That Thing You Do" (and if you haven't seen it, it's a wonderful little film about a rock'n'roll band making it very briefly in the '60s). I found myself captivated by Tom Hank's record promo-exec character, Mr. White.
Hanks plays the role well, and he has so many great one-liners during the course of the film, you have to watch it twice to really catch them all. Many of you would recognize a lot of real promotion people from the "glory days" who Hanks has rolled into one great character .
While watching the film recently with a friend of mine, he asked me if it was ever as easy to get a record played at radio as the film might suggest. The answer of course is no, but I did explain that at one time, label promotion people and radio's Top 40 program and music directors actually worked TOGETHER to find the best new music to benefit both the radio station and record sales. And, it was actually fun doing what we had to do.
A reader of this newsletter e-mailed a while back and told me he was riding in an elevator with a company attorney and the lawyer looked at him and said, "You used to do promotion, right?" And the reader replied, "Yes ... for years." And the lawyer asked him, "They tell me it used to be fun to be in this business ... is that true?" Yes, it's true. We had fun, we broke a ton of records, radio and records people were best friends and we celebrated each other's success stories.
Then along came (then) New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, with the allegations of rampant payola, the multi-million dollar fines, the alleged "cleaning up" of the record-radio relationships, and all to benefit the listeners, new artists struggling to get airplay, and all the other wonderfully politically correct promises. (Despite the fact, that there was no rampant payola in actuality discovered after all was said and done)
This week, four major radio broadcast companies have tentatively agreed to pay the government $12.5 million and provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists in separate agreements aimed at curbing the persistent practice known as "payola." (See the article below 'Radio Broadcasters To Pay $12.5M, Give Indie Tunes Some Play')
Rather than go into a lengthy diatribe of how ridiculous and laughable I think this settlement is, I implore all of you to read "The Hypocrisy of The Payola Settlement" by Professor Jerry Del Colliano from USC at: http://tinyurl.com/2p6tvr (That link is still valid if you want to read up on it)
The once symbiotic relationship between radio and records is mostly shattered now because of all these fines. Radio stations get licensed by the FCC so they are not about to do anything that will ever put them under the spotlight again. So labels will now have to work harder than ever to get respectable airplay on new artists (thank god for the secondary programmers who still listen to new music), and have to maintain a safe distance from radio people who make music decisions, lest they too be questioned about promotion practices.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to work in the business when radio and record people weren't afraid to grab a bite to eat together, to go to a movie together, to play new music for each other until the wee hours of the morning at the studio or at our hotel rooms when we were on the road, to talk about our lives outside the business, to just hang out and get to know each other. It made all our jobs that much more enjoyable and it made us all better professionals because we knew and understood each other's jobs. We had symbiotic relationships that allowed us to create success stories for each other. And always, it was about the MUSIC.
Like I said, the record and radio people back then broke a ton of new music. Many of the artists broken in the '70s and '80s are still making records today. Many of them receive airplay everyday on Classi- formatted stations all over the country. Many still tour to very respectable audiences. Many still sell "Greatest Hits" packages and catalog.
I don't think many of the new artists on the radio today will be able to do the same in 10 or 20 years. I think we're going to see a whole lot more of "one-hit wonders" as radio tries to satisfy an audience that consumes new music like junk food (witness the success of the 'Now That's What I Call Music' volumes as evidence), and uses the "flavor-of-the-month" for their cellphone's ringtone.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
FOLLOW-UP ON 'REMEMBERING THE BIG MAN': BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S EULOGY FOR CLARENCE
"Clarence doesn't leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die"
Bruce Springsteen has released the text of the eulogy that he delivered at the funeral of Clarence Clemons on June 21st at Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach, Florida. You can read it on Rolling Stone here: http://tiny.cc/1zohk
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
TABLETS STILL GROWING IN SALES AND POPULARITY
"One year after the launch of the Apple iPad, tablet adoption reached 13% of U.S. broadband households (approximately 10.5 million households), slightly below current netbook and e-reader adoption rates," said Jennifer Kent, a Parks Associates' mobile research analyst. "Mass adoption of tablets depends on consumers' ability to differentiate them from similar CE, and devices that overlap with the tablet will struggle to remain relevant."
Parks Associates estimates that nearly 16.8 million tablets will be sold worldwide in 2010.
Parks has great research available at: http://tiny.cc/dzoq5 check it out when time permits.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
REALLY? HOW ABOUT JUST TAKE THE MONEY & RUN?
A day after announcing that they will not appeal the Ninth Circuit's decision refusing to undo their $65 million settlement with Facebook to the U.S. Supreme court, the Winklevoss twins, with new counsel from Berkeley-based Meade & Schrag, filed their again case in federal court in Boston. In a court filing Thursday, the Winklevosses and their business partner Divya Narendra said they planned to ask the judge to investigate whether Facebook "intentionally or inadvertently suppressed evidence" during litigation, reports The Los Angeles Times. ( http://tiny.cc/z5tu8 )
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
$2.1 TRILLION (YUP, THAT'S TRILLION) TO BE SPENT ON DIGITAL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES BY 2015
Consumer spending on digital information and entertainment products and services globally will increase to $2.8 trillion by 2015, up from $2 trillion in 2010, according to a new forecast from Gartner Inc.
Worldwide consumer spending on digital information and entertainment products and services is projected to reach $2.1 trillion in 2011. Read more here: http://tiny.cc/5rj2y
And in other news, Canalys, an analysis firm for the technology industry, predicts that the total revenue from app stores across smartphones and tablets combined will double to $14.1 billion next year and reach $36.7 billion by 2015.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
THE RIAA LOVES iCLOUD (AS IF WE CARE)
This from the RIAA website: "The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued the following statement by Chairman & CEO Mitch Bainwol upon the introduction of the new service: "The music labels are in constant search of new, convenient and innovative ways to reenergize legitimate music use and deliver the world's best music," said Bainwol.
"This groundbreaking new model exemplifies the unique cultural benefit that springs from the partnership between music and technology. When a service comes along that respects creators' rights and ignites fans' appetites for their music collections, it's a win for everybody." ( http://tiny.cc/01szl )
Since when are ""the music labels are in constant search of new, convenient and innovative ways to reenergize legitimate music use and deliver the world's best music"?
More important, as the music industry's association, shouldn't the RIAA also be in "constant search of new, convenient and innovative ways to reenergize legitimate music use and deliver the world's best music"? If they had been looking for ways to assist the labels years ago instead of wasting tens of millions suing people for downloading and lobbying politicians, maybe the industry might be in a better place today.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
THE iPAD NOW HAS OVER 100,000 APPS
The iPad, which represents almost 90% of the tablet market, now has over 100,000 apps are now available. That number was reached in just 453 days, as compared to the 482 days it took the iPhone to generate the same number of applications.
Read more here: http://tiny.cc/muibf
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 8
PRINCE SEZ NO MORE NEW MUSIC BECAUSE OF THE INTERNET
The Purple One is at it again. He now says he won't release any new music until the Internet can be policed for piracy.
"We made money [online] before piracy was real crazy," Prince said in an interview published last week in The Guardian, a British newspaper. "Nobody's making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google ... It's like the gold rush out there. Or a carjacking. There's no boundaries."
Read more here: http://tiny.cc/2elcp
Well, the Internet ain't going away and nobody will ever be able to stop online piracy despite all the politicians and legislators trying to do so.
So I guess Prince will never release any new music.
And Now For Some News ...
Guess Who Took Ownership Of My Space? Justin TimberlakeROLLING STONE.COM
MySpace was sold this week for $35 million to the largely unknown advertising network Specific Media, but as it turns out, the ownership stake in the company will go to a household name: Pop icon and movie star Justin Timberlake.
"There's a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place," Timberlake said in a statement. "Art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there's a natural social component to entertainment."
Read more about it by clicking here.
Rolling Stone Adds It All Up To Find Out: Who Is The Queen Of Pop?ROLLING STONE.COM
Rolling Stone decided to put together a whole bunch of data to find out who really is "The Queen of Pop" and came up with the answer.
They used a bunch of measurements: album sales, digital tracks, YouTube views, radio airplay, the Billboard Hot 100 chart, social networking, touring, and more.
Read more about it by clicking here.
17 Years Of Apple vs. MicrosoftROLLING STONE.COM
All infographics fans should appreciate a lovely new artwork that details the history of computing according to Microsoft and Apple, spotlighting the incredible ups and downs both giants have experienced over the years.
Read more about it by clicking here.
BRIAN BIG SCREEN COMING:
Beach Boys front man Brian Wilson's epic life is headed to the big screen. Oren Moverman -- the co-writer of the surreal 2007 Bob Dylan movie "I'm Not There" -- has been hired to write the a script about the Beach Boy.
Guitarist Peter Frampton, 61, has filed for divorce from Christina Elfers, his wife of 15 years.
AOL GETS SLACKER:
AOL Radio, currently powered by CBS, will be relaunching this summer with a new partner, Slacker Inc. The music service will allow AOL users to choose updated features from their current Internet radio station, which has 350 stations.
THE VOICE CROWNS COLON:
Javier Colon won the first season of NBC's new hit show, "The Voice."
MY SPACE SOLD:
MySpace was reportedly sold Wednesday for $35 million to advertising network Specific Media, according to an exclusive on the Wall Street Journal's All Things D. News Corp. had bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005.
SHEEN CHARACTER WILL DIE:
To kill off Charlie Sheen's chances to ever return to "Two And A Half Men," the producers plan to have his character, Charlie Harper, meet a tragic death on the first episode of the new season, sources tell TMZ.
HMV SELLS CANADIAN MUSIC STORES:
Yet another once-healthy music retailer is bailing. Struggling British retailer HMV will sell off its 125 Canadian stores to restructuring specialist Hilco's Valco Capital Partners arm. The Sunday Telegraph reported the Canadian sale was expected to bring in some 5 million pounds for HMV, which has issued four profit warnings this year. Earlier this month, HMV secured a 220 million pound refinancing deal that would effectively involve British taxpayers taking a stake in the group.
BUFFALOED UNTIL THE FALL:
Buffalo Springfield have postponed their planned fall 2011 tour until next year, according to a post on Richie Furay's Facebook page.
WILCO IN SEPTEMBER:
Wilco are set to self-release their eighth studio album, "The Whole Love," on September 27th. The disc will be the first full-length record released by their brand new label dBpm.
FACEBOOK NUMBERS UP:
Facebook is now home to over 750 million active monthly users, TechCrunch reported, citing sources close to the company.
JACKSON'S JACKET BRINGS IN BIG BUX:
Michael Jackson's red and black leather jacket from the iconic "Thriller" video was sold Sunday for $1.8 million during an online auction. The jacket, worn in the 1982 award-winning music video, was sold to Milton Verret in Austin, TX.
EVEN TERRORISTS GET HACKED DEPT.
Unknown hackers managed to temporarily knock Al Qaeda's communications offline this week in 'well coordinated' attack, NBC News reports. Chalk up one for the good guy hackers, wherever and whoever they are.OSTORYOo
The Music Industry Past, Present & Future, And The Internet I answer questions on EconTalk
I did an interview about the industry and the Internet at EconTalk with host Russ Roberts. Russ is also a professor of economics at George Mason University, blogs at Cafe Hayek, and has written three novels that teach economics. He's also the co-creator of the Keynes-Hayek rap video. (And if your understanding of the economic meltdown that occurred needs to be enlightened, this video will do it)
In the interview we talk about the evolution of the music industry, the impact of the digital revolution, and I give my reasons for believing in the virtues and potential of the Internet in enhancing the music industry. I point out, as I have many times here in the newsletter, that the internet allows numerous artists to make money from their music and it can enhance revenues from live performances by expanding an artist's base. We also discuss the challenges facing record companies and I suggest that the full potential of the Internet as a distribution channel has yet to be fully exploited. There's a lot of ground covered, but based on the comments already posted of those who have tuned in, they've enjoyed it.
Read more about it by clicking here.
Quotes of the week
"Jersey Shore makes me somewhat ashamed to be Italian! It makes me wince"
-- Jimmy Kimmel to MAXIM on the MTV show that makes anyone watching feel smarter than the idiots in the cast.
"The failure to execute product development. They weren't successful in treating and evolving the product enough, it was basically this junk heap of bad design that persisted for many, many years. There was a period of time where if they had just copied Facebook rapidly, they would have been Facebook. They were giant, the network effects, the scale effects were enormous."
-- Napster founder Sean Parker, on why MySpace lost it all to Facebook
"Who the hell is Kim Kardashian? Who are these people and why are they famous and why are they advertising things and being asked their opinions about things? I just don't understand what these people did to be in a position of having everyone ask their opinions about stuff."
-- "Nurse Jackie' and former Ms. Tony Soprano, Edie Falco, answering when asked if she watches reality television, during an interview with New York Magazine's Vulture blog posted on Tuesday.
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Study: All American Problems Could Be Solved By Just Stopping And Thinking For Two Seconds
CHAPEL HILL, NC - A study published Thursday by psychologists at the University of North Carolina concluded that all American problems - from stuck jacket zippers to the national debt - could be solved if citizens just stopped, took a deep breath, and thought for two seconds before they acted.
Read the rest here and laugh: Click Here.
The BlogsCheck out Jerry Del Colliano's (the founder of INSIDE RADIO) daily blog, by clicking here: http://www.insidemusicmedia.blogspot.com
Check out attorney Ray Beckerman's website at: http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com where he prints news about the RIAA's ongoing activities
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"And the beat goes on, the beat goes on ... drums keep poundin' rhythm to the brain."
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