The Message To Hollywood Studios? "Embrace Digital Or Die"
July 26, 2013
"Economically, it's more expensive to make movies. I hope digital movies change that."
-- 'Life Of Pi' director, Ang Lee
"If you can dream it, you can do it." -- Walt Disney
I started this newsletter in 2003 to address the music industry's reluctance to understand fully how powerful the Internet could be as a distribution tool for tens of millions of people all over the world, who had been downloading music illegally and trading files with friends even longer
I think I ran this quote a dozen times in different articles, ""The proper response to digital technology is to embrace it as a new window on everything that's eternally human, and to use it with passion, wisdom, fearlessness, and joy." -- Multimedia producer and consultant, Ralph Lombreglia
Needless to say, all of my words (and those of countless others who were at labels and incredibly frustrated to see what was happening all around them) fell on deaf ears, and the music industry learned its lesson the hard way: by doing little or nothing. By being reactive, instead of pro-active when it came to technology.
Yes, I know all the excuses the labels put forth. I received literally hundreds of e-mails from label execs (most of whom all lost their jobs as labels kept cutting staffs to improve their bottom line) every time I chided the industry for wasting time in transitioning to the new world on online media. Instead, the labels and their useless industry association, the RIAA, went about suing people in hopes that would somehow miraculously stop all the damage that had been done. That quest was as successful as Don Quixote's attacking windmills.
I also wrote in many of those old issues that the Hollywood film studios should learn from the music industry's mistakes and get aboard the digital train before it left the station, and the studios in the dust.
This past week, newly appointed president of Paramount TV, Amy Powell, who has long stood out as a digital advocate in slow-to-change Hollywood, is a sign that Hollywood is getting the digital message loud and clear.
From an article on The Wrap, "The move resonates most in the context of another recent promotion – Kevin Tsujihara taking over as the head of Warner Bros. Tsujihara, like Powell, was in charge of a less sexy, less moneyed part of a major media company. In Powell's case, digital and microbduget films; Tsujihara was focused on Warner's digital assets before taking over WB's home entertainment division."
The wheels are turning in tinsel town. Slowly, but they are turning. And not a minute too late for the film studios.
Read 'Hollywood Studios' Message to Executives: Embrace Digital or Die' on The Wrap
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
GOOGLE HAS A SMASH ON ITS HAND WITH CHROMECAST
Even before Google announced the price of the new Android/iOS-friendly TV streaming solution, people on Twitter were buying it. a sticklike device that connects to one of your TV's HDMI inputs and accepts video wirelessly pushed from smartphones, tablets, and the Chrome browser.
It's available for just $35 starting today from the Google Play store in the U.S., with availability in other countries to follow. Google is also offering three months of free Netflix to Chromecast buyers and even existing Netflix subscribers will be able to take advantage of the promotion. Read more
Google on Wednesday debuted Chromecast -- a small stick that wirelessly connects consumers' laptops and mobile devices to their TVs. Even at just $35, GigaOm's Janko Roettgers thinks Chromecast is perhaps the genius device that Google has ever invented.
"Chromecast is pure simplicity: Search and discovery of video content is happening on the mobile device or laptop, and all Chromecast does is stream media from the cloud."
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
RUSSELL SIMMONS AND UNIVERSAL LAUNCH A LABEL ON YOUTUBE
The man behind Def Jam, who brought hip-hop to the masses, is out to create stars on YouTube through the newly-created All Def Music.
And he's teaming up with the world's largest music company to do it. Read more
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
NETFLIX ON A ROLL, BEATS ANALYSTS PREDICTIONS, 30 MILLION NOW SUBSCRIBE
When you're hot, you're hot. Netflix is HOT.
The company credits 'Arrested Development' for its subscriber growth and said it would expand into documentaries and stand-up comedy specials.
Full story at TheWrap
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
NOW THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE ASKS 'If You Care About Music, Should You Ditch Spotify?'
It doesn't look like the Spotify pro vs. con arguments are going to end anytime soon.
Now The New Yorker magazine has printed an article that sums up the situation to date, and goes on to ask some very valid questions. Read the article
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
THE BOSS AND HIS FANS...THE NEW DOCUMENTARY IS GENERATING GREAT BUZZ
I don't know how many people I had to either drag to a Bruce Springsteen concert, or spend hours talking to about his live performances to get them to understand Springsteen mania, but it was a good number of people. And this was all before the Springsteen mania occurred with the release and success of 'Born In The U.S.A.'
I was fortunate to see "the Boss" a few dozen times before all that mania, and one thing I felt from the first time I saw him back in 1975, was the incredible relationship Springsteen had with his audience.
A new documentary now examines that extraordinary relationship. From The Wrap, "'Springsteen and I,' which comes to movie theaters in special event screenings on July 22 and 30, is a documentary that used crowdsourcing not to fund the movie, but to shoot it...The film, produced by Ridley Scott Associates, is compiled from 2,000 video submissions sent in by Bruce Springsteen's fans -- and as much as "Springsteen and I" is centered on the iconic rock star, it is really about the devotees and obsessives who have followed him for the past 40 years."
Full story at TheWrap.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
FROM 'FUTUREHIT DNA'S' JAY FRANK, 'MUSIC DEPRECIATES THREE TIMES AS FAST AS MOVIES'
"How fast does music depreciate? Try three times as fast as movies. This isn't quantified by me just making a random statement. This is actually what the US government is saying."
Read the article by Jay
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 8
TOP DIRECTORS SAY 3-D IS BEING OVERUSED
I don't know about any of you, but in my opinion, there aren't enough great films to warrant paying the extra dollars for #3D at the box office.
Is 3D Still Cool or a 'Tax' on Moviegoers? 3 Top Directors Say the Format's Overused.
Full story at TheWrap.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 9
iTUNES NOW HAS ONE BILLION PODCAST SUBSCRIBERS
Demonstrating its massive media breadth, Apple this week announced that the iTunes Store has surpassed 1 billion podcast subscriptions.
"That's a whole lot of talking," Macworld writes. That said, "No doubt some of those subscriptions don't translate into nearly as many 'listens' ... If you've ever had newspapers or Instapaper articles accumulate over time, you know how a podcast subscription can get." Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 10
THE iPAD RULES
In June, Apple's iPad accounted for 84.3% of all tablet-based Web usage in the United States and Canada, according to new data from Chitika.
"The 84.3% mark is the iPad's highest share of tablet web use so far this year," GigaOm points out. And, with more usage comes more opportunity for Apple to sell mobile ads, and iTunes content. Adds GigaOm: "People actually using the tablets they buy from Apple is, of course, a good thing for Apple." Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
* Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs
* These Songs Are 25 Years Old
* Watch: Surviving Members of Nirvana Join Paul McCartney in Seattle
* David Geffen Talks Moguls, Money and More
* Rolling Stones Release Hyde Park Shows as Live Album
* Best Late-Night TV Moments of the Decade
* Lady Gaga Tops List of Highest-Paid Celebrities Under 30
* Music Photos of the Week
* U2's Upcoming Tour: Three Fan-Friendly Scenarios
* Giorgio Moroder Sits Down for Lengthy Fireside Chat, Plays Influential Tracks
* 8 real gadgets first thought up by the movies
* 13 Photos That Shatter Your Image of Famous People (Part 2)
* Apple 'iPhone Lite' pictured in two versions -- report
* Classic Sony headphones: Still top after 30 years
* When it comes to digital content, are the Emmys broken? Or just painfully behind?
* Microsoft Cuts Surface Tablet Price to Spur Demand
Short News Items ...
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES:
Kanye West: had a confrontation on Friday with a photographer at LAX that has resulted in a police investigation after the paparazzi claimed that West battered him during the incident.
MCCARTNEY SAYS HE AIN'T RETIRING ANYTIME SOON:
As his Out There! world tour rolls into its final weeks, Paul McCartney talks toRolling Stone about how much fun he's been having on the road: "The age of the audience is wild - there's so many young people digging it. Half of them know the words better than I do!" Read More
DIANE WARREN HONORED:
Award-winning songwriter Diane Warren will be honored as the International Music Person of the Year Award at the 2014 Musexpo. The industry confab takes place at Los Angeles' Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel from April 6 to 9.
GAGA WILL DEBUT NEW SINGLE ON MTV VID AWARDS:
Lady Gaga is set to perform live at this year's MTV Video Music Awards in New York on August 25th. According to MTV, she will perform the first single off her upcoming album, ARTPOP, out on November 11th.
PUSSY RIOT SUPPPORT:
Paul McCartney, U2 and Bruce Springsteen are among dozens of artists who have signed an open letter with Amnesty International calling for Pussy Riot's release. The organization told The Associated Press that more than 100 musicians have joined the cause, which also includes Adele, Radiohead, Madonna, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Sting and Ke$ha.
A NOT SO 'EASY RIDER':
Peter Fonda is suing clothing manufacturers Dolce & Gabbana and retail chain Nordstrom, claiming that the companies are unlawfully peddling T-shirts bearing the actor's likeness. Fonda's lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, says that Dolce & Gabbana USA "knowingly manufactured, distributed and sold, or licensed for sale" T-shirts bearing images of Fonda from the 1969 counter-cultural movie "Easy Rider" without his permission. Fonda wants $3 million for his trouble.
David Crosby once said the bassist for Neil Young's band Crazy Horse "should be shot." That bassist, Billy Talbot, tellsRolling Stone the comment actually makes him happy: "I never wanted to be like anybody else." He has a new solo album, eight years in the making. Read More
NO SACHA FOR FREDDY:
Sacha Baron Cohen has dropped out of a planned biopic on Freddie Mercury over creative differences with the surviving members of Queen, the late singer's band. Deadline reports that the band, which has script and director approval, envisioned a family-friendly PG movie about Mercury, while Cohen hoped to make a grittier R-rated film about the flamboyant singer's life.
APPLE HAS ANOTHER GREAT QUARTER:
Strong iPhone sales helped Apple beat analyst expectations for its third fiscal quarter on Tuesday, posting quarterly revenue of $35.3 billion and profits of $6.9 billion. The company also reported earnings per share of $7.47. Analysts had predicted revenue of $35.01 billion and EPS of $7.32.
PHISH SWIMMING AGAIN:
Phish will be on the road again this fall for a string of dates starting with a three-night stint at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia on October 18th, 19th and 20th, the band announced on their website.
Beats by Dr. Dre is rolling out a new line of studio headphones, which the company is calling "the sound of the future." Available everywhere this August, the next generation of professional headphones features a new design, lighter materials, improved noise canceling and better power management (namely, a rechargeable, 20-hour, Lithium-Ion battery as opposed to AAAs). It will retail for the same price point as version 1.0 at $299.
Singer Sheryl Crow listed her ten-acre Hollywood Hills compound for $15,950,000 in October of 2012, and then cut it by two million in January of this year. When that didn't attract a buyer, she lopped off another half mill in May. And just last Friday, she reduced the price by another million, according to real estate blog Redfin. The current asking price is $12,495,000 for this historical spread with three homes; one a cottage built in 1885, another a restored Spanish Revival with four bedrooms and three and a half baths.
Actor Dennis Farina, who starred as Detective Joe Fontana on 'Law & Order,' has died, his publicist told TheWrap on Monday. He was 69. Farina died suddenly Monday morning in Scottsdale, Ariz., after suffering a blood clot in his lung, Farina's publicist said. He' survived by three sons, six grandchildren and Marianne Cahill, described as "the love of his life of 35 years." His big-screen appearances included the Steven Soderbergh crime caper 'Out of Sight,' 'Get Shorty' and 'Midnight Run.' He also appeared in the Michael Mann films 'Manhunter' and 'Thief'
Quotes of the week
"I don't know, man. I can't imagine ever not doing it. It's what I do, and it's what I've always done, and I love it so much. Of course, there's got to be some kind of physical limitation. But I haven't found it. I mean, I did that show last night, and I'm thinking, "Jesus, God, man. You know, you're not 25." But then, my other side of my head's going, "Yes, you are! Get on with it!" So I haven't found my physical limitation yet. If I do, then I'll have a think about the question. 'Til then, I'm ignoring it."
-- Paul McCartney, answering the question whether he'll retire from touring soon.
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Area Dad Wants To Watch New Blu-Ray Of 'Spring Breakers' By Himself
PAOLI, PA—Instructing his wife and children to stay away from the den for the next few hours, area dad Dave Landler has announced that he wants to watch a new Blu-ray DVD of 'Spring Breakers,' the 2012 film starring Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, alone. Read the rest and laugh
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.
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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