Contrary To What You've Been Told, The Album Is Not Dead
October 12, 2012
"Consumers are buying music 1 track at a time. I think people will pay 99c to get a single rather than steal it. I think people would rather steal a full album rather than pay 10 dollars or more for it. Labels need to make the effort to get artists to deliver in a manner that realizes these perspectives. The album is dead."
-- Mark Cuban 'The Album Is Dead,' published on CNET in January 2008 ( http://tinyurl.com/ybrzsyc )
A lot of people in the industry (and outside of it, like Mr. Cuban) have proselytized for some time now that the album is dead.
There were lot of reasons people started believing it. They read all the reasons why.
iTunes was to blame they said, as people cherry-picked their songs and album sales declined. That became the banner waived by dozens and dozens of artists. Steve Jobs, according to Jon Bon Jovi, was "personally responsible for killing the music business."
But as I said over and over again in the newsletter, nothing was more responsible for declining album sales than the lack of real long-term artist development at almost all major labels. Artist development (as I've also said too many times) was once an integral department inside every label, but those departments vanished as the MTV video budgets swelled and tour support dwindled.
Last week I wrote about the success of Mumford & Sons selling 600,000+ copies of their new album in one week, without a video in heavy rotation anywhere (except on YouTube where they have million of views on several of their songs), without all the media hype, etc.
This week, Mumford & Sons held onto the #1 position on the Billboard Top 200 album chart with over 150,000+ sold, and it's anticipated they will hold the slot again next week with another 100,000 in sales. That would mean almost Platinum sales (one million) within three weeks of release. Again, without all the bells and whistles associated with too many artists today who "fit the image" (what the labels want) but whose staying power in the content of their music, is temporary.
The album is dead? LOL
Tell it to Mumford & Sons, Taylor Swift, Wilco, Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Muse, Carrie Underwood and that girl with the voice that's been on radio now near two years, Adele.
Good music sells. Great music sells a lot more. A WHOLE LOT MORE.
I don't think that's any revelation. I'm sure every label executive knows that already.
But if they do, why aren't there more big albums selling in the multi-platinum range?
Last week I wrote about Mumford & Sons, and this week they are the Billboard magazine cover story.
Read the article for a great look at the group who remains in the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart this week: http://tinyurl.com/9uzajjs
THE 'A-SIDE' -
UPDATE ON STEVE VAN ZANDT'S KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN FOR RASCALS
Steven Van Zandt's Kickstarter campaign for The Rascals, for the "ONCE UPON A DREAM" reunion shows, has 12 days left.
The project needs to raise $100,000 by October 24th to make it all happen. As of today, the project is at $79,426 already pledged by 382 people.
You can donate as little as $1 if you're a fan: http://tinyurl.com/8ue2dw2
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO
When a new single called "Love Me Do" hit British record shops exactly 50 years ago, the group known as the Beatles was all but unknown to the country's pop fans.
"First hearing "Love Me Do" on the radio sent me shivery all over," George Harrison would recall.
Read more about it on Rolling Stone here: http://tinyurl.com/9cxu66m
And you can look back at some great photos and at the moments that shaped the life of one of the 20th century's most important artists, John Lennon, on CNN here: http://tinyurl.com/8ofmd2y
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
IS SPOTIFY'S BUSINESS MODEL BROKEN?
CNET asks the question because financial numbers for privately held Spotify have surfaced and the music service appears to be in a world of hurt.
Read more on CNET here: http://tinyurl.com/9elpktv
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
PANDORA'S FOUNDER DETAILS HOW MUCH ARTISTS ARE GETTING FROM THE SERVICE
From The Hollywood Reporter, "In an effort to push lawmakers to pass a new legislation called the "Internet Radio Fairness Act," Pandora founder Tim Westergren has unleashed a new weapon -- blabbing about the paychecks the company is sending recording artists.
Pandora is disbursing nearly $3 million each to artists such as Drake and Lil Wayne (although the money is really shared with the collection agency and then the record label and others)."
Read the rest here: http://tinyurl.com/947nj9e
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
STEVE JOBS LEGACY
CNN's Brandon Griggs takes a look at how Steve Jobs legacy has already changed, and how it might be viewed in the future.
Read it here: http://tinyurl.com/8ac6sod
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
MIKE LOVE SAYS HE DIDN'T "FIRE" BRIAN WILSON, BUT BRIAN SAYS IT SURE SOUNDS LIKE IT
"It kinda feels like getting fired" -- Brian Wilson to Mike Love, in his letter to The Los Angeles Times in response to Mike Love's letter, explaining that he didn't fire Brian or Al Jardine and that the 50th Anniversary Reunion Shows were only a temporary thing.
Read about the ongoing feud/dialogue between Brian and Love it on The Los Angeles Times website here: http://tinyurl.com/8lbru3h
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
WHAT FACEBOOK DIDN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW BEFORE ITS IPO
Widening what is known in political circles as a credibility gap, Facebook reportedly did everything possible to mask its true revenue potential prior to its IPO in May.
Letters published by the SEC "depict a [Facebook] management team hesitant to disclose information and still guessing at even rudimentary aspects of its business just weeks before the company held the largest-ever technology initial public offering," Bloomberg reports. Facebook was particularly oblique about mobile business strategy -- "holding back crucial details until the SEC pushed for further disclosure."
Read more on Bloomberg here: http://tinyurl.com/9svag5z
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 8
LAUREL CANYON, THAT MAGICAL LOS ANGELES PLACE ... A 1-HOUR TV SPECIAL
Laurel Canyon's mojo worked its magic on bands like The Byrds, who hit it big with Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!," Buffalo Springfield with their unforgettable anthem "For What it's Worth" and just to drop a few more names of 1960s residents and extended guests ... the band LOVE, the Mamas and the Papas, Jimi Hendrix, The Monkees, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Eagles, Sonny and Cher, Carole King, Three Dog Night, The Turtles, Alice Cooper, (the immeasurable) Frank Zappa and long time visitors from across the pond, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson, John Mayall, Eric Clapton and Donovan ... just to name a few.
If you're in the Los Angeles area, you can watch the one-hour primetime special "The Legends of Laurel Canyon" from Eye on L.A. at 8:30p PT on Saturday, Oct. 13 on ABC7. If you're located outside of the KABC-TV viewing area, you can watch the special after it airs on abc7.com/EyeOnLA.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 9
GOOGLE TO TAKE "A.I." TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Credit cards aside, what's next on the horizon for Google?
For one, the company appears ready to take new artificial intelligence software -- apparently modeled after human brain cells -- and bake in into some existing services. In the simplest terms, "the company's neural networks decide for themselves which features of data to pay attention to, and which patterns matter, rather than having humans decide that, say, colors and particular shapes are of interest to software trying to identify objects," explains MIT's TechnologyReview.com.
Shortly, Google's speech recognition services are expected to benefit from these mind-bending efforts.
Read the rest here on Technology Review: http://tinyurl.com/97b8npz
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 10
'GET THE LED OUT' -- HOW LED ZEPPELIN BECAME THE BIGGEST BAND IN THE WORLD
If you're a Zeppelin fan, then "Get the Led Out" is the ultimate book for you.
The lushly illustrated book begins with a unique day-by-day timeline based on Carol Miller's radio show of the same name, and it provides a behind-the-scenes view, revealing quirky details, achievements, and adventures big and small. Twenty-seven rare, unguarded interviews feature the band members themselves, as well as other musicians and insiders who witnessed it all, including Jason Bonham, Chris Squire (Yes), Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Alice Cooper, and music industry legends Danny Goldberg and Ron Nevinson. The book also includes a comprehensive discography.
Check out the book on Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/8fzwvrz
The book is written by old friend and industry heavy, Denny Somach. Denny is an author and Grammy Award-winning producer through his company, Denny Somach Productions--one of the most successful independent producers of syndicated and network radio programming in the country. DSP's landmark programming includes "Legends of Rock," "Live From the Hard Rock Café" for NBC; "Rolling Stone Magazine's Continuous History of Rock and Roll" for ABC; and Scott Muni's "Ticket to Ride." Denny is considered to be an originator of the Classic Rock format and has created some of the most memorable programs in rock radio. He has appeared on numerous television shows, including the Today show, Larry King Live, the Early Show, Dateline NBC, and CNN's Moneyline. He is the producer of Carol Miller's Get the Led Out, as well as the popular Zeppelin website ledzeponline.com.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 11
TOWNSEND TALKS AND PLAYS AN ACOUSTIC VERSION OF 'WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN'
On October 9th, The Who's Pete Townshend sat down with Rolling Stone head honcho Jann Wenner for a chat about the legendary guitarist's revealing new autobiography, Who I Am.
You can watch the full discussion, and stay tuned until the end, when the rocker kicks into the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Watch it here: http://tinyurl.com/9qsd35y
THE 'A-SIDE' - BONUS TRACKS
* At one of the year's biggest mobile shows, manufacturers hope to excite the public with new devices and software. But with so much focus on the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3, and nothing game-changing on the horizon, can anything new break through? http://tinyurl.com/9csectd
* Purported iPad Mini pictures leak via Twitter. The new pictures stack the presumptive iPad Mini next to the 10-inch version, and show off the Lightning dock connector: http://tinyurl.com/9sqdovz
* Cool phones for under $100. There are plenty of good smartphones in this price range. If you're willing to sacrifice the cachet of having the "newest device on the market," you can get a great phone without re-mortgaging the house. Read more
* iPod Touch: The almost-iPhone. It does everything but make calls. At first glance, the fifth-generation iPod Touch seems very much like its predecessor, but it's definitely an all-new device. Check out our hands-on to see why we call it the best iPod of all: http://tinyurl.com/9d6lux6
* Best big-screen TV values under $1,000. In the past you needed to spend a lot of money to get a big-screen TV (50 inches or bigger) that also had respectable image quality, but no longer. Earlier this year, I posted a poll asking how much you would spend on a TV, and more than half of the respondents said $1,000 was the sweet spot. If you have a grand burning a hole in your pocket, follow the link for the biggest and best TVs you can get for your money: http://tinyurl.com/9srbama
Short News Items ...
Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman are separating after 30 years of marriage. (I guess things were too sunny in Philadelphia).
Organizers of the second Railroad Revival Tour announced today that they have canceled the train-bound festival, which was set to feature Willie Nelson, Band of Horses and Jamey Johnson. The event was scheduled for eight shows across the country beginning October 20th at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA.
Lady Gaga has been revealed as the unidentified peace activist to receive the fifth and final LennonOno Grant for Peace. Gaga joins Pussy Riot, Rachel Corrie, John Perkins and Christopher Hitchens as an honoree. She will accept the award and a donation in person today in Reykjavik, Iceland, and will give the donation to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
VINYL UP AGAIN:
According to year-to-date Nielsen Soundscan stats published by Billboard, vinyl LPs are up another 16.3% this year, with 3.2 million units sold. And, on the way to another record-setting annual performance.
"MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR" OUT:
Last week I told you the "Magical Mystery Tour" DVD as coming, and now it's out. The Beatles website now has an entire page dedicated to the film and its music and you can explore it here: http://tinyurl.com/94paglw
Yes, another award show. (Yawn) Nicki Minaj and Rihanna secured four American Music Awards nominations each Tuesday as voting booths were opened to the public for the 40th anniversary of the awards show. Among the artists securing multiple nominations were Drake, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, One Direction and Usher with three each, and Carrie Underwood, Chris Brown, fun., Gotye, J. Cole, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Luke Bryan and Pitbull with two apiece. Awards will be handed out in 20 categories including a new one, Electronic Dance Music, where the nominees are David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Skrillex. The event will be held on Nov. 18. ABC will broadcast the three-hour show.
NEW BLACKBERRY NEXT MARCH:
Hope you're not holding your breath, BlackBerry fans. No BlackBerry 10 phones until March 2013, says an analyst.
BID ON TOM PETTY'S JAG:
Starting on October 11th, Tom Petty fans have 10 days to bid on his sleek, champagne-colored 1996 Jaguar XJS Convertible on eBay, where the rocker is auctioning it off for charity. All proceeds from the auction will benefit Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans FrontiÃ¨res, the medical humanitarian organization that provides independent health care and assistance in over 60 countries.
Beyoncé has dropped out of Clint Eastwood's planned remake of "A Star Is Born," Variety reports.
Bobby Keys, the Stones' regular saxophonist, confirms to Billboard that the group is "gonna do some more concerts, starting in November with two in England and then a couple here in the States, then there's a few added concerts after that. Keith told me a couple months ago there was something in the wind and just be ready to go. I'm waiting for them to send me the plane ticket and the information, and then I'll go."
STEVIE SEZ SHE'S SORRY:
From The Hollywood Reporter, "Stevie Nicks regrets her rant against Nicki Minaj for allegedly threatening Mariah Carey on the set of 'American Idol.' Nicks publicly sided with Carey, a fellow music industry veteran. "How dare this little girl! ... If I had been Mariah I would have walked over to Nicki and strangled her to death right there," Nicks told The Daily as she was promoting her new documentary, "In Your Dreams."
LOUIE OFF UNTIL 2014:
Louis C.K. announced in a conference call that his show Louie will be going on an extended hiatus until 2014, The Wrap reports. "I want the show to keep getting better," C.K. said. "I want Season Four to go somewhere new."
BRIGHTMAN HEADS FOR SPACE:
Sarah Brightman has booked a trip to the International Space Station and hinted at doing a "space concert." The British soprano will become the first recording artist in space after teaming up with private firm Space Adventures.
Police in Texas detained Nelly last night after finding .64 ounces of heroin, a loaded .45-caliber pistol and 10 pounds of marijuana in the rapper's tour bus, TMZ reports.
STONES DOCUMENTARY DATE:
The Rolling Stones career-spanning documentary, "Crossfire Hurricane," will premiere November 15th on HBO.
Samsung is once again free to sell its Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the United States, following the higher court ruling that overturned the injunction Apple had successfully sought.
IT'S BECAUSE OF TABLETS:
The growth rate for PC shipments in the third quarter as tallied by Gartner was far weaker than J.P. Morgan had forecast.
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
"My model for business is the Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other's kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people."
-- Steve Jobs, on "60 Minutes" in 2003.
"First we got to go back to before grunge and why grunge happened. Hair bands dominated the airwaves and rock became more about looks than about actual substance and what it stood for -- the rebellious spirit of youth ... That's why 'Teen Spirit' rang so loud, because it was right on point with how everyone felt, you know what I'm saying? It was weird because hip-hop was becoming this force, then grunge music stopped it for one second, ya know? Those hair bands were too easy for us to take out; when Kurt Cobain came with that statement it was like, 'We got to wait awhile.' ... I have always been a person who was curious about the music and when those forces come on the scene, they are inescapable. Can't take your eyes off them, can't stop listening to them. He was one of those figures. I knew we had to wait for a second before we became that dominant force in music."
-- Jay-Z, commenting on the impact of Nirvana on the music scene in an excerpt from his book, "Pharrell: The Places and Spaces I've Been"
"We feel the ghosts of Keith and John. The second phase of the Who in a sense was really when we started to tour again around the year 2000, 2001. We were still able to evoke the sound, particularly with Zak Starkey. Now it's much more difficult even though Zak's there. John's sound was very big and rich and organic. When John died, there was a hole in the sound onstage and I was able to grow into that and find space. And I have to say as a guitar player, I prefer working without John. But as a member of the Who creating the incredible, powerful, driving, visceral sound, he's gone. I can't really do that again."
-- Pete Townsend, talking about the Who, and dealing with it in past and present form
"Oh, we'd be open to it. She's terrific. I don't like that kind of music, but if you listen to what she did with Tony Bennett, the girl can sing. Oh yeah. She could do straight-ahead rock. I would get rid of all the dancers and the beds onstage. If I were her I would come out with a rock band next time and just rock it out."
-- Gen Simmons, commenting on the possibility of doing something with Lady GaGa, in Billboard
"You have the East Coast music Mafia - they are clearly more motivated by each other than reality. Filling their criteria is leaving them at this point some pretty slim pickings. Would we accept? Of course, because it matters to our fans. So I would be gracious. But honestly, it means nothing to me."
-- Paul Stanley of KISS, commenting on whether he's upset KISS has not yet been inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Hope In Students' Eyes Too Much For Screenwriting Teacher To Handle This Week
LOS ANGELES-Spending his Tuesday office hours meeting individually with each student in his Screenwriting II class at the University of California, Los Angeles, part-time lecturer Sam Albrecht, 33, told reporters that the eagerness and optimism in his students' gazes had become too much for him to bear.
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