The Hype Thing
June 20, 2014
"What is hype? Well, hype is the glittering rhinestone on the jumpsuit of mediocrity that catches our eye and makes us think, 'Hey, maybe the Spice Girls don't suck.' It's the triumph of style over substance, predicated on the sad truth that most of us, if the gift-wrapping on the outside of the box is fancy enough, won't notice that inside there's nothing but a big pile of sh*t."
-- Dennis Miller, from 'Ranting Again'
Okay, let's start with the admission that just about everything is hyped.
Our movies, TV shows, fashion, cars, and of course, our politicians. What isn't hyped these days in our 24/7 popular media wasteland?
I've said in many previous editions of the newsletter, the belief that record labels could make anything a hit just by spending a ton of money on it and hyping it to death, was something that just wasn't true. If it was, then every label could spend on every artist and generate loads of sales. Sorry, it just doesn't happen that way. It's just not that easy. I've got a long list of artists we spent a ton of money trying to launch while I was in national promotion at Capitol and MCA Records, and they just didn't "happen."
In any case, hype needn't be looked at as a bad thing. It's part of the process of generating whatever it is you're trying to sell.
It's also good to see a lot of media cutting through all the hype, to bring reality to those who seek it.
This week, several articles that bring some reality into what's happening to some celebrities deserve to be read since you won't hear about in the mainstream media.
Despite Jennifer Lopez's media circus taking place before the release of her new album (including a cover story on Billboard), "J. Lo's "A.K.A." is expected to move only 25,000-30,000 units during first week." Read all about that on The Wrap
Ouch. BIG ouch.
Despite Beyonce and Jay Z's media circus taking place about their tour, ticket sales ain't what they should be for two megastars. "Here's what is true: Tickets are selling slow as molasses for the Jay Z-Beyonce "On the Run" tour of stadiums that's set to start in 10 days." Read about that as well
And despite the seemingly never-ending Kim Kardashian media circus that pitches tents weekly on every gossip outlet available, "no one is reporting the steep rating declines for this new season of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians.' The show's Season 9B premiere was down -29% in P18-49 vs. Season 8, and down -17% vs S9A premiere, and down -10% vs S9A finale." Read about that on Nikki Finke's new website
As Dennis Miller said in the quote above, it's all about "style over substance."
And style ...a part of fashion, changes frequently.
But substance ... well, that's quite another thing.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
A PROFILE OF A GREAT RECORD STORE -- AMOEBA MUSIC
Thanks again to Portland reader and great DJ, Clarence Duffy, on sending me this great article from FastCompany, 'How An Iconic Indie Record Store Stays Relevant.'
From the article: "An era of 99-cent song downloads and the ability to pay a nominal fee to stream entire libraries of music, Marc Weinstein's enterprise is an anomaly --a throwback to another time... Far from a neighborhood record shop trying to make a go of it, Amoeba is big -- its Los Angeles location alone has an inventory of more than 1 million items, and presents customers with almost an acre of music. And the company is profitable, to boot." Read the article
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A MAJOR MUSIC STAR HAS TO CANCEL OR DELAY CONCERTS
What happens when a superstar is forced to delay shows?
Paul McCartney's virus scare may be all but over, but the U.S. dates he's pushed from June to October have caused a ripple effect in the concert business, beginning with crew salaries and trucking contracts. Read More on Rolling Stone
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
BACK TO MONO FOR THE BEATLES
From The Beatles website: "London – June 12th, 2014 – The Beatles in mono: This is how most listeners first heard the group in the 1960s, when mono was the predominant audio format. Up until 1968, each Beatles album was given a unique mono and stereo mix, but the group always regarded the mono as primary. On September 8th (September 9th in North America), The Beatles' nine U.K. albums, the American-compiled Magical Mystery Tour, and the Mono Masters collection of non-album tracks will be released in mono on 180-gram vinyl LPs with faithfully replicated artwork. Newly mastered from the analogue master tapes, each album will be available both individually and within a lavish, limited 14-LP boxed edition, The Beatles In Mono, which also includes a 108-page hardbound book.
In an audiophile-minded undertaking, The Beatles' acclaimed mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Sean Magee and GRAMMY®-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz. While The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, for this new vinyl project, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records without using any digital technology. Instead, they employed the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and by detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers.
Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of The Beatles' albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.
Albums are available individually and collected in a limited 14-LP boxed edition, accompanied by an exclusive 108-page hardbound book."
Check it out on The Beatles website and watch the video there as well about the albums, and see a photo the box set
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
YOUTUBE AS A "FARM SYSTEM"
Jan Riemens built one of the largest online video networks in the world without YouTube. That sounds apocryphal now that YouTube reaches more than one billion people a month, but Riemens founded his company, Zoomin.TV, before Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim's invention took off.
"We make five times more money on off-YouTube video than on-YouTube," says Riemens. Full story at TheWrap
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
JACK WHITE'S NEW ALBUM SETS FIRST WEEK VINYL SALES RECORD
The vinyl market just keeps growing bit by bit, and it sure doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon.
"Lazaretto" -- released on Jack White's Third Man Records label through Columbia Records, debuts at #1 on the Billboard 'Top 200 Albums' chart and also sets the record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.
The vinyl LP sold 40,000 copies -- easily enough to debut at No. 1 on Billboard's Vinyl Albums chart. (The vinyl edition of the album has many unusual bonus features that clearly intrigued consumers.) Jack White's 'Lazaretto' Debuts at No. 1, Sets Vinyl Sales Record
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
YOUTUBE BLOCKING INDIE LABELS THAT DON'T SIGN UP FOR ITS NEW MUSIC SERVICE?
The Guardian reports that YouTube is dropping content from indie labels if they don't sign up for its upcoming subscription music service.
YouTube has signed up labels representing 90% of the music industry;i labels disagree. Merlin, their licensing agency, approximates that indie labels collectively account for a 32.6% market share of the recorded music industry's sales and streams.
The video company will begin testing the new music service, rumored to be called YouTube Music Pass, which will charge people for listening and watching music without advertisements and download songs to their mobile devices. Robert Kyncl, YouTube's head of content and business operations, said it will launch more widely later in the year. Read More
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
Queen Concerts From 1974 to Be Released as Live Album
Willie Nelson's Luck Ranch Destroyed in Storm
Inside Queen's Huge Summer Tour With Adam Lambert
Lady Gaga's NSFW 'Do What U Want' Video Clip Surfaces Online
Outkast, Foo Fighters Top Eclectic Voodoo Experience Lineup
Netflix inks talk show deal, inches closer to TV network
How Do I Get My Stuff Featured on Music Blogs?
A sweet-sounding, budget-priced audiophile stereo system
Vizio S5451w-C2 sound bar promises 'real surround'
Beats' next-gen on-ear headphone steps up its design and sound
How Amazon's phone stacks up: Amazon Fire vs. Apple iPhone 5S and Samsung GS5
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
16 Famous Mysteries That Everyone Forgets Have Been Solved
Short News Items ...
CLARKSON'S A MOM:
Pop music star Kelly Clarkson announced the birth of her daughter, River Rose Blackstock, Saturday on Twitter. "Thank you everyone for all of your well wishes!" she wrote. "Brandon and I are on cloud 9!! :)."
LOL BIG TIME:
According to The Sun, Kim Kardashian has enlisted the help of husband Kanye West as well as vocal and songwriting coaches to help her break into the music industry.
FREE STREAM FOR HOWARD'S 60th PARTY:
Howard Stern brought together an insane mish-mash of celebrities, comedians and musicians – everyone from Rob Zombie to Barbara Walters – for his 60th Birthday Bash. And now the media legend is sharing the dizzying results in a new uncensored video, which will stream for free on his own website and SiriusXM from June 23rd at 6a ET through July.
AND IF YOU'RE WAITING FOR THIS, HE'S BACK:
"Weird Al" Yankovic will be back next month with his first new album in three years. The veteran pop parodist announced over Twitter Saturday that the record will be released on July 15th, after teasing the news with several hints.
A judge has dismissed a plagiarism lawsuit against Lady Gaga that claimed the pop star's hit single "Judas" ripped off elements of Chicago musician Rebecca Francescatti's 1999 track "Juda."
For the fourth straight week, rapper Iggy Azalea's single "Fancy" exceeded three million weekly streams in the U.S., according to a report obtained by TheWrap.
CSNY BACK IN '74:
"There was just so much money on the table," recalls David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's massive 1974 reunion tour. "And there were sharks all around." Read Rolling Stone's comprehensive oral history of a wild, drug-fueled, ego-ridden trip. Read More
T-MOBILE & RHAPSODY:
VentureBeat reports that T-Mobile has just stated that it has partnered up with Rhapsody to make a new music streaming application called UnRadio. The new service different compared to other music streaming services because it lets users skip and replay tracks as much as they want. The application is available for free to T-Mobiles unlimited LTE plan clients. For others, the app will cost around $5. Read More
THE FIRST U.S. ROCK FESTIVAL:
One week before Monterey Pop, the Byrds, the Doors, the Hells Angels and an "acid doctor" to mitigate bad trips converged on a Marin County amphitheatre for the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival -- the first U.S. rock fest. Rolling Stone uncovers the story. Read More
PULSE AWARD WINNERS:
SoundExchange announced today the recipients of its inaugural 2014 SoundExchange PULSE Award: Lorde, The Neighbourhood, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, CHVRCHES and Lindsey Stirling. The SoundExchange PULSE Award recognizes the quick market entry and continued sustainability of artists in the digital radio streaming music space. These artists were recognized for bursting onto the scene in the non-interactive digital space.
TechCrunch reports that radio streaming service, 8tracks, has launched its new iPhone application. The 3.0 version comes with an entirely reformed interface, a simpler user experience and a new marketing strategy. At its core, it remains a radio service like Songza or Pandora, but with human-generated playlists.
THE CRITICS PICK TV'S BEST:
HBO's "The Normal Heart," "Orange Is the New Black," "Fargo," "Breaking Bad," "The Normal Heart," "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" and Allison Janney are among the winners for the Critics' Choice TV Awards. Full story at TheWrap
Lyricist Gerry Goffin, who with his then-wife and songwriting partner Carole King wrote such hits as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Halfway to Paradise" and "The Loco-Motion," died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 75. His wife, Michelle Goffin, confirmed his death. Goffin, who married King in 1959 while they were in their teens, penned more than 50 top 40 hits, including "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees, "Crying in the Rain" by the Everly Brothers, "Some Kind of Wonderful" for the Drifters and "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee. The couple divorced in 1968, but Goffin kept writing hits, including "Savin' All My Love for You" for Whitney Houston. Read more about Goffin on Billboard: Lyricist Gerry Goffin Dies: Carole King's Songwriting Partner Was 75
Tom Rounds, the radio and promotion pioneer who staged the first U.S. rock festival and co-created the long-running American Top 40 radio show with Casey Kasem, died June 1st, at age 77 from complications related to minor surgery. Rounds conceived the 'Fantasy Fair & Magic Mountain Festival,' a precursor to Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock that now stands as the first U.S. rock festival. In 1970, Rounds co-created American Top 40, a weekly show collating the top 40 songs on 'Billboard Hot 100 Singles' chart that began on seven radio stations and became the first national countdown show.
Quotes of the week
"I'm a British guy who came to America in 1970 and just loved every second of it. And there was one guy on the radio I used to listen to all the time who passed away today," Elton told a near capacity crowd before launching into his soulful Caribou classic. "So I want to dedicate this song to Casey Kasem. Travel safely, my angel."
-- Elton John dedicating his performance of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" at Bonnaroo, to radio legend Casey Kasem, who had passed away earlier in the day.
"We actually had a guy that was employed just to provide us with cocaine. We needed an incredible amount of energy to pull off that tour and I'm sure it helped in a way, but it is a very subtly destructive drug and there was a lot of it around. We were rock and roll stars at the height of our power and the height of our commerciality and the height of our ability to put asses on seats. We had it all. And sometimes you need to break that tension. Drugs and women were a part of that entire process."
-- Graham Nash, talking about CSNY's 1974 Reunion Tour
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Shocking 'Game Of Thrones' Finale Concludes With Arrest Of 5 Million Viewers For Piracy
NEW YORK—Following a critically acclaimed 10-episode run, the HBO series 'Game Of Thrones' capped off its fourth season Sunday night with a shocking finale that concluded with 5 million viewers being taken into police custody for pirating the show online.
"Wow, you expect some major shakeups in the final episode of the season, but that part right at the end when the FBI kicked in my door and told me to get on the ground? I did not see that coming at all," Boston resident Peter Herzfeld said of the surprise season-ending turn. 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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