Hollywood's Summer Bust
September 5, 2014
"The film industry is about saying 'no' to people, and inherently you cannot take 'no' for an answer."
-- James Cameron
From The Hollywood Reporter article Box-Office Crash: What Caused Hollywood's Miserable Summer? -- "It's official: North American summer revenue barely cracks $4 billion, an eight-year low and down 15% from 2013"
From the same article," If there's a common refrain on Wall Street and in Hollywood as the season ends, it's that next summer will restore balance with 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' 'Fast & Furious 7,' Pixar's 'Inside Out' and Universal's 'Jurassic World.' But with so many entertainment options now vying for eyeballs, the fear is that summer 2014 is the start of a new reality. "You have to answer two critical questions: Do I have to see it now? And do I have to see it on the big screen?" says Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. "If the answer is 'no' to either, you are in trouble."
So, next summer yet even more rehashes of past films are the answer? What?
How about if the Hollywood execs, who make the multi-million dollar decisions to green-light films, look at some of the biggest films of 2013 and see what they possess?
You can see the list the top 100 box office films of 2013 here.
A handful of films on the list, only 12% by my count, accounted for over $2 billion in box office last year. Those films were either based on true stories, made from best-selling novels ('The Hunger Games,' 'The Hobbitt,' etc.), or had extremely creative screenplays ('Her,' 'Frozen').
Yes, there were bang-bang boom-boom box office biggies as well ('Man Of Steel,' 'Fast & Furious 6,' 'Thor,' World War Z,' etc.), but one need only look at the Top 100 of 2014 thus far to see the list mostly consists of an abundance of bang-bang boom-boom movies, rehashed titles, and just plain bad films not many thought were worth spending the money on at theaters.
In the end, we remember those films (and songs) that stir our emotions, whether tragic or comic. And the greatest of those films all possess great stories. All the speeding cars, the bigger explosions, the latest CGI special effects, don't stay with us for long, but great stories do.
That's why people watch "The Godfather' repeatedly. It's like a great Greek tragedy transposed by Coppola into a masterpiece.
That's why people love 'Star Wars.' Not because of all the special effects (yes, they were, and continue to be excellent), but because the story is one of good versus evil, father versus son, a story that's been told in many ways over centuries.
Samuel Goldwyn, one of Hollywood's greatest producers, hired the best writers of his day, including Ben Hecht, Sinclair Lewis and Lillian Hellman.
Goldwyn is also remembered for his famous/notorious quotes about Hollywood, and this one should provide a warning to all Hollywood execs making movies today: "Why should people go out and pay money to see bad films when they can stay at home and see bad television for nothing?
That might be exactly what's happening this year at the box office.
But for the Hollywood execs and film studios, it's not something to laugh about.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
MORE ON STREAMING … EVERYTHING IS NOT AS IT SEEMS
"The Streaming Effect: Assessing The Impact Of Streaming Music Behavior" is a new report from MIDiA Research focused on the music market's reaction to streaming music options and the effects of listeners' choices on music sales. Listeners have an array of easy free choices, described in the report as a "hierarchy of free," from which to choose.
So, though there may be many more listeners left to make the transition to streaming, that transition continues to be difficult. In fact, it may well be that free ad-supported options rule the day establishing a much lower and more turbulent source of core revenue for recorded music." The Streaming Effect: The Landscape May Be Gloomier Than Pictured
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
RDIO EXPANDS FREE SERVICE
Online music streamer Rdio is embracing freemium with a slick redesign that emphasizes free radio-like streams. The freemium model helped Spotify grow its substantial user base, and is seen as part of the reason that Rdio, which does not share user numbers, has grown much more slowly. "What we've learned collectively over the last few years," said Anthony Bay, Rdio's chief executive, "is that the most successful models are freemium models."
And more ... Aiming to step out of the shadow of Spotify, Pandora and Apple's iTunes Radio, four-year-old Rdio beefs up its free radio-like service and designs a warmer welcome for the uninitiated. Rdio revamps itself for streaming-music newbies
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
Grammy Winner Explains the Real Problem With Today's Music (And How We Can Fix It)
Prince Charles Alexander is a Grammy Award-winning musician, recording artist, record producer, audio engineer and educator. He is a professor in the Music Production and Engineering Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
"It is not music that is the problem in the music business; it is the message and the messengers. If you do not speak to this generation in a language they can understand, then people who are uninformed will gladly continue defining music culture for years to come," he writes.
Read the rest from Prince Charles Alexander on the Sonicbids Blog.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
THE BEST DEAL OF THE YEAR
When something good comes along, you should take advantage of it.
And this, in my opinion, is something REAL good.
I have been a fan of The Features for years now, thanks to my son, who turned me onto them many moons ago.
It's always surprising to hear such great music by an incredible band that some major label still hasn't signed. I crank up "How It Starts" every time I play it, and you probably will do too.
Right now The Features are giving away a free compilation album and this exclusive NoiseTrade compilation includes some of their most popular recordings from their last three albums ('Some Kind of Salvation', 'Wilderness', and 'The Features').
If you haven't heard The Features by all means take a listen. Click Here to Download the album … and oh yeah ... NoiseTrade allows you to leave tips, so it's okay to leave a little $$$ if u enjoy the music.
BETWEEN THE GROOVES
Thanks to industry veteran Jon Scott for putting together two recent Music Industry Reunions in Los Angeles. Both were a huge success, and the success of those has prompted Jon to schedule another, this time in New York City.
Scott said, "I've had numerous calls from music industry friends in New York who asked why don't you have a reunion in the Big Apple? It's obvious that we as a music industry just don't get together as much as we used to. So my answer is, let's just do it. From early response I can tell it's going to be an incredible event."
So, to all industry veterans who read this newsletter, please join your friends to just laugh, tell some stories, give a hug, and just hang with each other for one night. It's a no-host bar and food event.
The Music Industry Reunion is set for Wednesday October 15th at The Hill Country Barbecue Market, starting at 6p. The restaurant is located at 30 West 26th Street, and tickets are limited. This is an invitation-only party. For information, contact Jon Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org or Greg Lee, email@example.com
The New York Music Industry Reunion organizing committee putting it all together consists of: Jon Scott, Greg Lee, Judy Libow, Roxy Myzal, Ted Utz, Wayne McManners, Harvey Leeds, Steve Leeds, Pete Gidion, Jim DelBalzo, Jessie Scott
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
3 Tips From Jack Conte: "There's no such thing as just being a musician anymore"
Why Beatlemania couldn't happen today
Throwback Thursday: Bob Dylan Sang for Civil Rights in 1963
The Algorithm That Lets James Murphy Turn Tennis Matches Into Music
Could Video Games Teach Us to be Musicians?
All Ages All Gone As Festivals Add Age Restrictions
Monster enters audio streaming game with SoundStage speakers
What You Really Need to Know About Releasing Music on Vinyl
More Competition: WiMP To Launch Hi-Fi Music Streamer TIDAL In US, UK
How To Know If Your Dumb Idea Will Change The World
iPhone 6 -- the jolt that mobile payments need
Windows 9 Is Badly Needed, Assuming It Actually Works
Drone sneaks peek at Apple's 'spaceship' campus in progress
Your TV now comes with Roku built in
Samsung reveals 'affordable' Wi-Fi streaming speaker
Sony MDR-XB950BT: A Bluetooth headphone for bass lovers
The smartest speaker-buying tip of all
Turn any wall, table, or fridge door into a touchscreen TV
Short News Items ...
MORE ZEP 4:
Led Zeppelin have previewed their next round of reissues with a teaser of a previously unreleased version of 'Led Zeppelin IV"s lead track, "Black Dog." Billed as the basic track with guitar overdubs, the song features distinctly different vocal harmonies. Read More
GEORGE HARRISON BOXED:
George Harrison's first six studio albums, released between 1968 and 1975 on the Beatles' Apple label, will be available as newly remastered individual releases and as part of a box set this fall. The eight-disc box, 'The Apple Years 1968-75', complements Harrison's 2004 release, 'The Dark Horse Years 1976-92', and will contain a DVD with videos and a never-before-seen, seven-minute film directed by Harrison's wife Olivia. It will also contain a book with an introduction by Harrison's son, Dhani (who oversaw the releases), previously unpublished photos and new essays by radio producer and author Kevin Howlett. All of the releases will be available on September 23rd.
Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams aren't the only huge additions heading to The Voice this season: Taylor Swift will stop by for an episode to serve as an advisor to the hopeful contestants, Us Weekly reports.
NO WONDER 'THE VOICE' SAID BUH-BYE:
CeeLo Green has pleaded no contest to one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance, stemming from a July 2012 incident where the singer was accused of slipping ecstasy to an unknowing 33-year-old female. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said in a statement that the singer was "immediately sentenced by Superior Court Judge Mark Young to three years of formal probation and ordered to complete 360 hours of community service." Green must also complete 52 Alcohol Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
AND BUH-BYE TO HIS OWN SHOW:
TBS has canceled CeeLo Green's reality series "The Good Life" after a disastrous weekend that began with him pleading no contest to a felony charge of giving a woman the drug ecstasy and continued with a series of tweets about rape. A network source said the show was done in by low ratings. But Green's activities since Friday couldn't have helped.
NEW PRINCE STUFF:
After taking a rare four-year hiatus from releasing studio albums, Prince will drop a pair of new LPs on September 30th: One a collaborative disc with his group 3rdEyeGirl called 'Plectrumelectrum' and the other a solo album dubbed 'Art Official Age.' Prince has already unveiled a couple tracks from both albums, like Art Official Age's "Breakdown" and Plectrumelectrum's kinky "Breakfast Can Wait," and this week the rocker debuted another new track, "U Know," on his SoundCloud page.
MS. UNDERWOOD EXPECTING:
Carrie Underwood is pregnant with her first child. She announced the news via Instagram Monday: "In honor of 'Labor' Day, Ace & Penny would like to make an announcement. Their parents couldn't be happier," she posted, along with a photo of herself with her dogs, sporting "I'm going to be a Big Brother" and "I'm Going to Be a Big Sister" T-shirts.
Sitting on a couch at Wilco's Chicago headquarters, Jeff Tweedy is enjoying "kind of a snow day," even though it's summer. Torrential rain has forced the postponement of a hometown show, so he's talking about his family band with son Spencer instead. Read More
HOUDINI STILL A DRAW:
History's "Houdini" mini-series conjured plenty of viewers with its premiere on Sunday. The mini-series, which stars Adrien Brody as the famous magician Harry Houdini, drew 3.7 million total viewers with its premiere airing Monday, making it the most-watched cable mini-series premiere so far this year.
AND DANCERS NOT DRAWING:
Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11 finale Wednesday dipped just one-tenth of a ratings point from last year, but that was enough to mark a new finale low for the show.
Joan Rivers, the sharp-tongued entertainer who opened doors for women in comedy, died at age 81. Her daughter Melissa released a statement on Thursday afternoon announcing the legendary comedian had died. "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17p surrounded by family and close friends," the statement said. From her "Tonight Show" return to her short-lived Fox show, a collection of Rivers' best moments in the wee hours at TheWrap
Glenn Cornick, the original bassist for Jethro Tull, passed away August 29th at his home in Hilo, Hawaii. He was 67. Billboard reports that Cornick died of congestive heart failure and had been receiving hospice care recently. Cornick was a founding member of Jethro Tull, appearing on their first three albums before departing the group in 1970.
Jimi Jamison, the lead singer of Eighties rock bands Cobra and Survivor, passed away August 31st after suffering a heart attack. He was 63. Jamison served as Survivor's lead singer from 1984 until 1988.
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Job Applicant Totally Nails Interview With Person Who Will Make Life A Living Hell For Next 5 Years
SAN ANTONIO—Appearing upbeat and optimistic upon leaving the offices of Red Spur Media on Thursday, local job applicant Marc Tullman told reporters he totally nailed his interview with the man who will make his existence a waking nightmare for the next five years.
The 32-year-old prospective marketing analyst said he "knocked it out of the park" during his meeting with Red Spur vice president Peter Palmero, who in just several weeks will start casually dismissing Tullman's ideas and begin to routinely embarrass him in front of colleagues, setting the hellish tone of his work life for years to come. 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.
Smart Marketing Consulting Services
Smart Marketing Consulting Services has been in business sixteen years, and consults clients in the music, entertainment, attraction, media, and technology industry on branding, marketing, online exploitation, maximizing new media, and more.
"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