The TV Ain't What Is Used To Be
April 27, 2012
"Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some."
-- Alfred Hitchcock
I've said previously in the newsletter on several occasions that network TV faces a bleak future. With the exception of special events programming (Super Bowl, awards telecasts, etc.), the numbers of people watching the top-20 weekly shows just keeps dropping.
Yeah, today there are more options for viewers than ever before. But perhaps today's network execs should remember well that Walt Disney quote I've run in the newsletter many times, "I never called my work an 'art.' It's part of show business, the business of building entertainment."
When something entertains the mass audience at large, they respond. Whether it's at the box office, on television, or the music that engages them from live concert performers or the music they hear that strikes an emotional spark, they usually respond in big numbers.
I still believe that if there was something good enough to draw in big audiences on a regular audience, the ratings might improve. (And if artists still made great albums, sales would improve. Ask Adele.)
The problem is that the audience at large doesn't need to respond when the networks want them to anymore. ("In the digital era, the future is one in which consumers watch or listen to what they want to watch, when they want, at any time they want, on any device. This is a generation that will not wait for content to be delivered to them at a prescribed time." -- Carly Fiorina, Then Chairperson & CEO of Hewlett-Packard, In her NAB Speech, April 2004)
Maybe network execs are starting to realize that by now, but they should have heeded Ms. Fiorina's words eight years ago.
Because, as if network TV execs didn't have enough problems with people watching more content on-demand and online on their PCs, tablets and laptops, now comes the news that "Four in Ten People Connect Their TV to the Net."
That's right, 40% of the people are already using their TVs to connect to the Internet. I imagine some network execs saw this statistic, read the story ( read it here: http://tinyurl.com/cedxr5j ), and took an extra dose of their Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, or whatever antacid they use.
But the networks are still content providers and they can reap plenty of revenues from that content no matter where it's available. A hit is a hit. Online or off. And hits make money.
And there's more.
GigaOM's Stacey Higginbotham writes "For those who even doubt that the future of TV involves broadband," she presents a chart showing how "real-time entertainment (primarily video) [Web] traffic is almost 65% of U.S. network traffic."
Her conclusion? "We can't put this genie back in the bottle." (Read her article, "Want to see how close TV and broadband are? Check out this chart" here: http://tinyurl.com/7ugptfc
The genie is definitely out of the bottle, and that "Pandora's Box," the Internet, was opened a long time ago.
Most people are now singing a new tune when it comes to "watching television."
Sing along if you know the tune.
"Bye, bye Miss American Pie,
Turned my TV on to surf the web and now I'm one happy guy,
Those good ol' network boys were drinking whisky and rye,
Knowing soon their old thinking ways will die,
Soon their old thinking ways will die."
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
iTUNES NOW HAS 28 MILLION SONGS IN ITS LIBRARY
From Audiokorner.com "The content glut keeps getting worse, not better, and this is now a very serious challenge for artists of all levels. Because even musicians that make incredible music are finding themselves drowned, undiscovered, and frustrated by statistics like these.
"We now have a catalog of over 28 million songs and 45,000 movies..." Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer during the company's quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. A figure like 28 million is almost impossible to conceive. But it would now take a human being more than 266 years to complete the entire iTunes collection front-to-finish, or approximately three lifetimes."
Read the rest on Audiokorner here: http://tinyurl.com/7e3eujf
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION OF FILMS DIRECT TO THEATERS VIA SATELLITE ... IT'S COMING
From The Wrap: "An initiative to beam movies into thousands of U.S. theaters by satellite is one of several technological leaps unveiled at the CinemaCon convention this week that will bring traditional movie distribution fully into the digital age.
From higher frame rates to laser projection to anti-piracy systems, the annual Las Vegas trade show has overflowed with gadgets and innovations intended to improve the movie-going experience while finding economic efficiencies."
Read the rest here: http://tinyurl.com/7r7jj9e
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
MICROSOFT WILL PREVIEW ITS NEW MUSIC SERVICE "WOODSTOCK"
From TheVerge.com comes news that "Microsoft will offer a sneak peek at its Zune replacement during E3 2012, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. The new music service, codenamed Woodstock, will continue Microsoft's shift away from the Zune brand towards the well known Xbox one. Insiders have revealed to us that Woodstock will be a cross-platform play, available to Windows 8, Android, iOS, and Xbox users -- playable from a browser."
Read the rest here: http://tinyurl.com/7pr36ly
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
FACEBOOK'S BUYING INSTAGRAM: THE FUTURE IS IN MOBILE
The Daily Beast's Dan Lyons gives his take on why Facebook forked over $1 billion to buy Instagram, and it's all about the future of mobile.
Despite Dan's belief "the PC is dead" (until every business in the world stops using desktop PCs, they'll be around), the article is spot on about why Facebook's Zuckerberg made the move.
Read Dan's article here: http://tinyurl.com/897opc5
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
CHECK OUT THE REVIEW OF CAROLE KING'S "LEGENDARY DEMOS"
A decade before she released her milestone album "Tapestry," Carole King was one of the most prolific songwriters that ever came out of "the Brill Building" in Manhattan.
She recorded demos for almost all her songs ... and those songs went in turn to artists like The Righteous Brothers, Aretha Franklin, The Shirelles, and so many more. Now, some of those original demos are available on the new album 'Legendary Demos.'
Check out Chris William's review of the album here: http://tinyurl.com/6rhew3n
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
SPOTIFY PLANNING AD-SUPPORTED RADIO
Spotify is already enjoying success with its current online music service, which functions like a music collection, allowing users to create playlists from specific albums and tracks. Not content to stop there, the London-based company is reportedly working on another format, which, like rival music service Pandora, would operate like radio.
"The new service would start by year-end and be supported by advertising, said the people, who weren't authorized to talk publicly," Bloomberg reports. The new, would-be service would already be cheaper to operate than Spotify's existing service, because royalty rates are lower and set by Congress, Bloomberg notes. What's more, "An online radio offering would advance Spotify's strategy of attracting users with free, ad-supported services who can be converted later into paying subscribers," it suggests.
According to Bloomberg, about a third of Spotify users have signed up for paid plans offering unlimited, commercial-free music on computers and mobile devices. According to sources, Spotify has already started notifying some content partners of its impending service.
Read more on Bloomberg here: http://tinyurl.com/7h23q2d
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 8
GOOGLE LAUNCHES 5GB CLOUD STORAGE
Expanding further into so-called desktop services, Google this week debuted a new cloud storage service with 5GB of free storage, and paid options up to 16TB. Dubbed Google Drive, the service is what The Washington Post calls "an evolution" of Google Docs. "If you've ever used the popular document-syncing service, you'll be right at home with Google Drive," it writes. "Just like Docs, the majority of the service is based in the web browser: You'll primarily be managing your account and viewing your files from the web app."
What's new? Users can now upload any file to Drive, not just work documents, though only the latter will take advantage of the live editing features made famous by Docs. "Unfortunately, while the interface is familiar, it also carries along the same issues we've had with Docs for years," WaPo adds.
"Sharing features are still overly complicated: you can invite individual users to view and collaborate on folders and files, and through some advanced settings you can make a publicly-viewable link." Meanwhile, the new service offers a mobile app -- but, so far, online for Android phones and tablets. Google says it's hard at work on an iOS version.
Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/cevnffc
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 9
NETFLIX: THE FUTURE NOT SO BRIGHT ANYMORE?
"Netflix's stock plummeted in after-hours trading on Monday, revealing persistent unease about the future of the company and doubts about the viability of its business model."
Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/c6eexdv
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 10
MAKE UP YOUR MIND ... ABOUT CISPA THAT IS
The Center for Democracy and Technology once opposed CISPA. (The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act)
Then, to the delight of CISPA's backers, it ceased actively opposing the bill. Now it's opposing CISPA once again.
Read the rest here: http://tinyurl.com/6ultarb
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 11
SO MUCH FOR TRYING TO VIDEOTAPE MOVIES IN THEATERS
Technology that allows cameras weighing as little 14.5 pounds in movie theaters that send out beams of light to capture three to six seats at a time on film, are on their way into theaters.
The 'Private Eye' will scope out would be video-pirates and hopefully aid in Hollywood studios efforts to diminish illegal copying of films while still in theatrical release.
Read then rest here on TheWrap: http://tinyurl.com/83u2usy
THE 'A-SIDE' - BETWEEN THE GROOVES
ATTENTION ALL BEATLES FANS
Each and every week I have the pleasure of listening to a great radio show online, Dennis Mitchell's 'Breakfast With The Beatles.'
The two-hour weekly show has been on-the-air for 20 years, and is in my opinion, one of the best radio shows I've ever heard. Week after week Dennis works hard to bring his listeners great Beatles' music with interesting guests. It's a weekly tradition for me.
If you're a Beatle fan, by all means check it out here and take a listen! http://tinyurl.com/yf483pa
THE 'A-SIDE' - BONUS TRACKS
* AMC's hit series "Mad Men" lives in a different decade thanks to what looks like an 8-bit video game, written by YouTube stars the Fine Brothers .read more
* Let's face it. The earbuds that come with your music player or phone may be free, but they are often less than stellar. Trust me, these are better. More
* Though the TV is the centerpiece of any home theater, it's really just a glorified monitor. The real fun comes with picking the video sources that will plug into it. Read more
* Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover just might be the pre-eminent keyboard accessory for the iPad, if you're looking for a highly portable and functional keyboard that travels light. More
Short News Items ...
BEACH BOYS ALBUM COMING FOR SUMMER (NATCH!):
The Beach Boys' reunion album is nearly mixed and on target for a planned June 5th release, according to the group's Bruce Johnston.
BIEBER GETS FIRST TOP-10 AIRPLAY:
Justin Bieber notches his first top 10 on a U.S. Billboard airplay chart, as "Boyfriend" reaches the top tier on Pop Songs, where it rises 12-10. He had previously risen as high as No. 14 on the tally with debut single "One Time" in 2009.
TAYLOR SWIFT TO PLAY JONI MITCHELL:
Taylor Swift is in talks to portray Joni Mitchell in a forthcoming movie, Variety reports. The country pop star is reportedly close to signing on for an adaptation of Sheila Weller's book Girls Like Us, a biography of Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon.
ROBIN GIBB ON THE REBOUND:
Robin Gibb's doctors say that the Bee Gees founder is making an astonishing recovery from the grave health problems that he has been battling.
DIAMOND HITCHED AGAIN:
Neil Diamond married his manager, Katie McNeil this past Saturday at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
TRACE & MAXWELL HOUSE DOING GOOD STUFF:
Trace Adkins and Maxwell House, in partnership with Rebuilding Together, a leading nonprofit dedicated to rehabilitating homes and communities, is hitting the road in a specially equipped truck to revitalize community centers, deliver grants and enlist Americans to volunteer at renovation events.
DYLAN AND ANGELOU HONORED:
President Obama is counting legendary troubadour Bob Dylan and poet Maya Angelou among this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients
The Beatles' first full concert in the United States at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. will be screened in movie theaters next month, Deadline Hollywood reports. The Beatles: The Lost Concert will be shown in a limited engagement at theaters across the United States on May 17th and 22nd, with a special premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in Manhattan on May 6th.
MORE CELLULOID STONES:
The Rolling Stones will hit the silver screen once again. Deadline Hollywood reports that Virgin Produced, the movie branch of Richard Branson's business empire, has just acquired the film rights to Robert Greenfield's 2008 book Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell.
KNOX NIXES NUGENT:
Fort Knox has cancelled Ted Nugent's appearance at its annual summer concert, following the rocker's incendiary comments about President Obama.
VAN HALEN SINGLE:
Van Halen will give away a limited-edition vinyl single of their song "She's the Woman" with copies of the new album A Different Kind of Truth on May 4th, Ultimate Classic Rock reports. The 7-inch will only be available at participating independent retailers, much in the same way that other acts release Record Store Day exclusives.
WHITE WILL SCORE LONE RANGER:
Walt Disney Pictures has signed Jack White to compose the score for "The Lone Ranger." The studio announced the Grammy-winning rocker will write, produce and perform the score for director Gore Verbinski's upcoming adaptation of "The Lone Ranger."
NICKELBACK & THE NHL:
The NHL has announced that Canadian rockers Nickelback will perform at the league's post-season awards show, the NHL Awards. The band will play twice on June 20th at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.
NO LOVE FOR COURTNEY FROM HER LEGAL TEAM:
Courtney Love's attorneys at the firm Pryor Cashman are hoping to withdraw their counsel following what they call a "complete breakdown" in communication with their client, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
GEE, WITH THE WAY HE LOOKS AND THAT NAME WHAT A SURPRISE ... NOT!
Wiz Khalifa was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession while in Nashville to headline Vanderbilt University's Rites of Spring concert, reports The Tennessean.
Sinead O'Connor has canceled her remaining 2012 tour dates, citing a "very serious breakdown."
Chris Etheridge, bassist and founding member of the Flying Burrito Brothers, died in Meridian, MS, of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 65.
Thomas "Tommy" Marth, the touring and studio saxophonist for the Killers, died earlier this week from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Reuters reports.
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
"He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation. This is just so sad to talk about. I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together. I'm going to miss him, as I'm sure a whole lot of others will, too."
-- Bob Dylan remembering Levon Helm in a message on his website.
"He showed his true colors to the world. I'm done with him; I'm never mentioning him or talking about him again. This is the only thing I'm going to say about Axl, and this is the last thing I'm ever going to say, ever, you're getting it, is I feel blessed and thankful that he was a part of my life for that chapter of my life, but that's it. That's it. I have no desire to know him or work with him or do anything with him again."
-- Former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler, talking about Axl Rose and his unwillingness to show for the Guns N' Roses induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame
"It's a sentimental thing for me. We've been together 50 years - that's a long time." Adds Mike Love, "Conceptually, the album is not going to be anything outlandish or silly, like Smiley Smile. It will be like the Beach Boys circa '65. I'm trying to write lyrics that fit the music without making it sound like you're writing from a hospice."
-- Brian Wilson, talking about the new Beach Boys album scheduled for June
"We were just at odds with the whole (major label) system morally and intellectually. We were stuck with a record label who didn't give two flying s***** about us because they couldn't get us on the radio. They were totally disinterested and washed their hands of us ... We were constantly surrounded by such negativity that it just ends up eating away at the individuals in the band and we began to take it out on one another. It was not a good situation."
-- Garbage's lead singer, Shirley Manson, in Billboard, talking about how relations had frayed with Interscope's Geffen Records
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Kanye West In Feud With Nation Of Syria
In the Onion's Daily Briefing, Tucker Hope reports on Kanye West's feud with Syria.
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."
"Work is life, you know, and without it, there's nothing but fear and insecurity." -- John Lennon