Independent Realities And What The Independent Artist Can Do About It
March 30, 2012
"Mickey Mouse is, to me, a symbol of independence. He was a means to an end."
-- Walt Disney
I saw the following article I link to below posted on Facebook by DigSin's Jay Frank, and thought it would be good reading for a whole bunch of newsletter readers who are independent artists.
It's certainly not an article with uplifting news, but that doesn't mean any independent artist should be discouraged from pursuing their goals. Indeed, without the independent artists out there today, the music business would be worse off than ever and become a black hole, without the passion new artists bring to the surface each and every day with the music they create.
Each and every week I listen to new music from many of the independent artists who read this newsletter, or from others, who send me links to music they hear that inspires them from independent artists they love.
Weren't all real artists (not the one manufactured in studios around the world) independent before they were signed to a major label? Whether it was Dylan, Springsteen, Elton John, Billy Joel, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, and all the rest. At one point, they were all just making music on their own, playing clubs, and they started out independently, pursuing what they loved: the music.
You can read the article here: http://tinyurl.com/82dytj2 And after reading the article, I must again recommend highly Jay's book 'Hack Your Hit: Free and Cheap Marketing Tips For Musicians' to any and all independent artists out there.
Check out Jay's book here (as well his best seller 'Futurehit.DNA): http://tinyurl.com/3jxmo86
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
DVD AND BLU-RAY DISC RENTALS DOWN IN 2011
Consumers spent $5.65B renting DVDs and Blu-ray discs in 2011, Rentrak says citing data from its Home Video Essentials tracking service. That's down 3.4% from 2010.
The last quarter of 2011 was particularly doleful. The market for DVD and Blu-ray rentals plummeted 21.3%. (Hollywood better hope that means people were buying discs to fill Christmas stockings instead).
But consumer defections from disc rentals appear to be accelerating. Read more on The Wrap here: http://tinyurl.com/85unq86
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
HOW VH-1 BECAME A "NON-ESSENTIAL" TV NETWORK
What do OWN and VH-1 have in common? They're among the "4 Non-Essential TV Networks" whose failings Tim Molloy discusses in this post on The Wrap.
"When did the home of such witty shows as 'Pop Up Video,' 'Best Week Ever' and 'Behind the Music' start looking like an even tackier Bravo?" he asks. "When VH1 decided to de-emphasize music and cutting pop-culture commentary, and instead follow seventh-tier celebrities from their pole-dancing classes to that stupid handbag store they're starting."
Read the article here: http://tinyurl.com/7bso6ty
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
THE MATERIAL GIRL GOES SOCIAL NETWORK
It seems like a SuperBowl half-time show and mega-exposure didn't make her first single from her upcoming album, "MDNA," a hit, so Madonna tried something new last weekend by giving just one in-person interview: to comedian and late-night talk-show host Jimmy Fallon for broadcast solely on her Facebook page.
With a world-wide tour upcoming guaranteed to sell-out everywhere with or without a hit single, Madonna will always do something new.
Read about her going online and social network experience here on the Wall Street Journal: http://tinyurl.com/7tzt9ht
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
THE HIT SONG MACHINE
Joni Mitchell wrote about "stoking the star maker machinery behind the popular song" way back in 1973 in her song, "Free Man In Paris."
This week The New Yorker has an article about the same thing, but in greater detail.
Read about the hitmakers behind Rihanna and more here: http://tinyurl.com/6p9j2xd
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
SONY (OF COURSE) FILES TO DISMISS TOTO'S LAWSUIT RE: DIGITAL ROYALTIES
Major record labels continue to fight recording artists on the issue of compensation for digital downloads. Most recently, The Temptations filed perhaps the biggest lawsuit on this front yet.
Meanwhile, Sony BMG, which just agreed to pay $8 million to settle a similar class action, isn't finished contending with musicians who don't want to be part of that deal. In defending a lawsuit brought by the group Toto, which recorded the hit song "Africa," the music company says the band is "dissatisfied with the bargain that it struck."
Read the rest here on Billboard Biz: http://tinyurl.com/bpodm47
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
THE BLACK KEYS DRUMMER SEZ "DON'T TRUST SEAN PARKER"
Are The Black Keys this generation's version of Metallica? The band is bucking a trend in subscription music that even the labels love.
"He's an ass. That guy has $2 billion that he made from figuring out ways to steal royalties from artists, and that's the bottom line. You can't really trust anybody like that," said Patrick Carney, drummer the band during an interview with radio station WGRD.
Read the rest here: http://tinyurl.com/74ezlcu
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 8
THE COMPLETE TEXT OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S SXSW KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Bruce Springsteen's keynote address at this year's SXSW was an instant classic.
An impassioned plea on behalf of rock & roll, like an academic version of his nightly concert preaching. "How important can this speech be if we're giving it at noon?" he joked up front.
If you haven't seen the video of Bruce talking, you can read his entire speech here: http://tinyurl.com/7e9n9xc
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 9
E-MUSIC INVESTIGATES SPOOKY STUDIOS
School of Seven Bells' latest, "Ghostory," is inspired by apparitions. So eMusic's researchers recorded its otherworldly properties at the famously haunted Muscle Shoals studios. What they encountered was ... explosive.
Read the rest here and explore: http://tinyurl.com/7lnot8q
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 10
SIRIUSXM SUES SOUNDEXCHANGE
U.S. satellite radio provider Sirius XM has filed a lawsuit against SoundExchange and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), accusing the record industry organizations of interfering with its efforts to directly license the sound recordings. The complaint accuses SoundExchange and A2IM of being in violation of federal antitrust law, and New York state law.
Read the rest here on RAIN: http://tinyurl.com/7l2qygy
THE 'A-SIDE' - BONUS TRACKS
- A great YouTube animated video titled 'Major Label Offers "360" Recording Contract to an Artist' will make you laugh, but also shows some of the realities of the biz today, while being funny. Watch it here: http://tinyurl.com/dywtt5t
- For fun, check out 'Pop Stars' before they were famous on Billboard here: http://tinyurl.com/78e7exo
- iAlbums is a new, completely free iPhone app that wants to enhance the way you listen to music on your iPhone. It makes it easy to read more about your fave artists (including interviews and bios), look up lyrics to songs you just can't help but sing along to, and if nothing else, have visualization of all the albums in your music library. Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/85cepll
- Android phones for iPhone ditchers: Have you given up on iOS? Or are you trying to? Want to take the plunge into the dark side and join team Android? Check out CNET's collection of First Look videos of the phones that are best to ease you in to a whole new world. http://tinyurl.com/c6ohqot
- Want to know what the 1% people can buy? Check out Boeing's new business jet, which is fit for a king. The aviation giant unveiled a new private jet -- a modified 737-700 -- that is geared for luxurious long-haul flights. Think multiple HD monitors and very big beds. Plus a shower! It makes Lear Jets and others so ordinary. Check out the photos here: http://tinyurl.com/82fsp6m
Short News Items ...
BOX OFFICE HUNGER:
The Hunger Games gobbled up over $155 million at the box office in its first weekend-plus opening, which ranks third all-time behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.2 million) and The Dark Knight ($158.4 million). Remarkably, it debuted above all of the Twilight movies, and it also topped Alice in Wonderland ($116.1 million) for highest debut ever for a non-sequel.
WELL WORTH THE WAIT:
Don Draper did good last Sunday night. The season five, two-hour premiere of "Mad Men" garnered record ratings: a 2.5 Household rating of 3.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched episode of the series, up 21% from the season four premiere. It was a terrific two-hour show, with superb writing and acting as always.
HALF OF US HAVE SMARTPHONES:
Half of U.S. mobile users now have a smartphone, according to new data from Nielsen. The 49.7% of mobile subscribers with a smartphone as of February is up from 36% in the year-earlier period, reflecting a 38% increase. Underscoring that growth rate, more than two-thirds that bought a new handset in the last three months chose a smartphone over a feature phone.
Trent Reznor will receive ASCAP's Golden Note Award at the 29th Annual Pop Music Awards, April 18th, at L.A.'s Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.
ARETHA GOES BACK TO CLIVE:
Aretha Franklin celebrated her 70th birthday this weekend with the decision to reunite with her former mentor, record executive Clive Davis, for a new album. Franklin announced in a brief interview that she had signed a new contract with Sony Music Entertainment, where Davis serves as Chief Creative Officer.
NARM DOES KATIE:
Katy Perry will be named "Artist of the Year" during this spring's NARM at the Music Biz 2012 Awards Dinner Party on Thursday, May 10th, at L.A.'s Regency Century Plaza.
BIEBER'S STILL HOT:
Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" has sold nearly 300k this week and has already surpassed his best-ever first week of 199k for "Baby" in 2010. "Boyfriend" is projected to sell 400-450k for the week, which would be one of the Top 5 digital downloads total of all time.
GEE, WHAT A SURPRISE ... NOT!
Bobby Brown was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence in Los Angeles on Monday, TMZ reports. The singer was reportedly busted by cops in Reseda, CA for driving while talking on a cell phone.
ANOTHER ONE-HIT BAND CALLS IT QUITS:
Australian rockers Jet announced that they have broken up in a message on their official website. The band formed in 2001 and released their debut, Get Born, in October of 2003, which went Platinum in the U.S. and U.K. and eight-times-Platinum in their native Australia on the strength of "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?," their biggest hit.
PUMPKINS IN JUNE:
The Smashing Pumpkins have finally put a release date on the long-gestating follow-up to 2007's "Zeitgeist." "Oceania," born out of the band's large-scale project "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope," will be released on June 19th through EMI in the U.S.
AEROSMITH ON THE ROAD AGAIN:
Aerosmith have announced dates for their 2012 Global Warming North American Tour, which will kick off on June 16th at the Target Center in Minneapolis and wrap up on August 8th in Tacoma, WA. Cheap Trick will open for the band on all announced dates
GAGA AND SMASH HONORED:
Lady Gaga and the TV musical series 'Smash' were among this year's honorees Saturday by gay and lesbian media group GLAAD. In other GaGa news, the March issue of U.K. music magazine Q is causing a stir in the U.S. over a cover image featuring a topless Lady Gaga. According to Q, some stateside retailers feel the cover shows too much of Gaga's left breast. The shot also exposes a rarely invoked New York state law banning public display of the "lower boob" area underneath the nipple.
AND IT GOES LIKE THIS:
Maroon 5 are set to release the group's fourth LP, Overexposed, on June 26th with ten new songs.
YOU MIGHT MOVE LIKE JAGGER, BUT SO FAR HE'S NOT SELLING ANY FRAGRANCES:
March 5th of last year, Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine boldly announced his displeasure and disapproval with star-studded smells on Twitter. "I also would like to put an official ban on celebrity fragrances. Punishable by death from this point forward." It seems that Adam has had a change of heart. Now, a year later, on March 7th, 2012, he announced that he will be launching his own line of fragrances.
HOP FARM LINEUP:
Britain's Hop Farm Festival has announced a partial lineup, including headliners Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, and Suede. Bands confirmed for the June 29th-July 1st Kent festival include: My Morning Jacket, Primal Scream, Damien Rice, Maximo Park, Billy Ocean, Ben Kweller, Frightened Rabbit, and the Psychadelic Furs.
KIMMEL TO HOST EMMYS:
Jimmy Kimmel will host his first Emmy Awards this year, ABC announced Monday. The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards telecast will air Sept. 23rd.
VINYL SINGLES UP:
According to data released by the RIAA, U.S.-based sales of 45s -- categorized as "vinyl singles" -- surged 99.6* in 2011.
GET WELL WISHES TO:
Soul legend Bobby Womack, who is suffering from colon cancer, says longtime friend Bootsy Collins. Womack is scheduled to undergo surgery at a later date; and to Robin Gibb, 62, who is continuing to cope with health issues. The singer, who earlier this month said he was "beating cancer," has had further surgery, according to a statement released to the British media on Wednesday.
Earl Scruggs, the banjo virtuoso who helped shape the sound of 20th century country music with his guitarist partner Lester Flatt, died on Wednesday in a Nashville hospital. He was 88.
Eric Lowen, who half of the long-running singer/songwriter duo Lowen & Navarro, died on Friday in L.A. He was 60. The cause was complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which had been diagnosed in 2004. The Utica, NY-born Lowen and Dan Navarro (the brother of Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro) met as singing waiters in a West Hollywood restaurant in the late 1970s, kicking off a partnership that yielded "We Belong," a big hit for Pat Benatar in 1984.
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
"When Danny and the Juniors sang 'Rock and Roll is Here to Stay,' they didn't have a clue as to how terrifyingly, f***ing right they were going to be."
-- Bruce Springsteen, in his keynote speech at SXSW
"We just do one year at a time with the band. It seems to be the best way to take everybody's temperature and see what we're up for doing each year. It just didn't fall that we were going to be doing some big 40th anniversary tour - it may be better to sweep that 40 number under the carpet. People will look at the map and they'll figure out that we're really, really old. The Stones are doing the 50th, and the Beach Boys. So maybe we should stay out of that."
-- The Eagles' Glenn Fry, talking about the group's plans for their 40th anniversary tour in Rolling Stone
"This is the most difficult task ever. How do you address Clarence and Danny? How do you address that? You talk to 10 different people and they're going to have 10 different ideas. But it's really not easy. You're trying to do something that's very, very emotional, and at the same time, you don't want to make the show a funeral. You want to make sure the show is a celebration of life. It's a very delicate, very fine line to walk. And (Bruce) comes up with this rap -- it's so f***ing great, and so perfect. I'm awestruck. This guy still inspires me after 45 fucking years of doing this. I'm like, "Jesus Christ, that's so f***ing good, so important." It's such an important moment in the show ... It's probably the best start of a tour, I think ever, honestly."
-- The E-Street Band's Steve Van Zandt, talking to Rolling Stone
"I have a whole thing worked out in a motel room. All he has to do is show up with a camera. And I can't afford a director's fee."
-- Madonna describing how Quentin Tarantino's films inspired her new song, "Gang Bang," and imploring him to direct the video for it, during her online Facebook chat last Saturday w/Jimmy Fallon
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Sound Technicians Resort To Hanging Donald Sutherland Upside Down In Empty Stairwell To Get Optimal Voice-Over Tone
BURBANK, CA-During a recording session earlier this week, technicians at ProSound Studios found they were able to obtain a perfectly lush, heady voice-over resonance by hanging actor Donald Sutherland upside down from the railing of an empty staircase.
"We tried lowering him into an old smokestack, but you lose some of the subtlety in his lower register that way," audio engineer Kevin Coe said as he loosened Mr. Sutherland's leg buckles and eased him down onto the landing.
Read the rest here and laugh: Click Here.
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"And the beat goes on, the beat goes on ... drums keep poundin' rhythm to the brain."
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