Jeff Tweedy "While The Album Still Matters"
September 19, 2014
"Whenever the so-called experts say the album is dying as a format, I think: "Since when have we listened to so-called experts?" Are video games killing chess as well?"
-- Wilco's frontman, Jeff Tweedy
My son turned me on to Wilco well over a decade ago, and I thanked him for doing so at the time, but I don't know if I still thank him enough for his insisting I listen to the band every time they release a new album.
Wilco, in my opinion, is simply a brilliant band. If you've seen them live or on "Austin City Limits' or any TV show, you've already witnessed how great they are as musicians.
Jeff Tweedy, of course, is Wilco's frontman and leader, an exceptionally gifted musician who has always been extremely passionate about music, and who has been very vocal about the Internet, new media and technology, and much more.
But it's his real passion for music that draws me closer to Tweedy every time he says, or writes something.
This week, my son sent me the above titled article by Tweedy, and I knew immediately I had to share it with all my readers.
These days when we are being told repeatedly "the album is dead," Tweedy's article is a clarion call for all who are tired of hearing "the so-called experts," and who still believe the album as an art form, is such an important and vital component to not only music, but the music business.
Tweedy writes, "So does the album format matter? In one sense, I don't know if it does. The crucial thing is that people keep making art. I just think the world's a better place when people make stuff not to make a million dollars or to make them famous, but just to be creative. On the other hand, the album format matters, because it matters to me and I don't think I'm particularly unique or special. If it means a lot to me, then it must matter to someone else as well, and if that's the vocabulary or language we have to speak to each other, that's to be honored and that's beautiful. There's no reason to question it."
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
FOLLOW-UP TO LAST WEEK'S COMMENTARY 'APPLE & U2 MAKE A BIG SPLASH INDEED"
So, by now you've probably heard there were complaints and an online uproar after Apple downloaded a free copy of U2's new album to all iTunes accounts. Apple created a web page that facilitates one-click instant removal from your iTunes library, but all you really had to do was DELETE THE ALBUM if you didn't want it. (
At least that's what one reader told me via e-mail )
Despite all the complaints (and in comparison to the number of people who kept and are keeping the album, the complaints were small, despite what the media would have you believe), after all was said and done, after the massive surprise launch of their new album 'Songs of Innocence,' U2 have seen a dramatic chart bump for their back catalog.
From Rolling Stone, "An unprecedented number of U2's previous albums have now entered iTunes' album chart since the new record's launch. Earlier this week, 24 of the band's titles had reached the top 200, and the 'U218' singles album struck the top 10 in 46 countries. 'The Joshua Tree' from 1987, 1991's 'Achtung Baby,' 1983's 'War' and two versions of the singles collection are currently in the U.S. top 50, with 1988's 'Rattle and Hum' and 1984's 'The Unforgettable Fire' following close behind." Read more about that in the article
Now, what group would NOT want that? None that I can think of, based on how weak music retail is these days.
There's a real possibility that we might someday look back on this U2 album give-away as being the first of its kind.
And more: Neil Young isn't the only rock legend attempting to change the way we listen to music. On the heels of their surprise album release, U2 is reportedly working on a new "audiovisual interactive" digital music format with Apple that can't be pirated. Read More
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
FROM FAST COMPANY 'HOW TUNECORE IS MAKING RECORD LABELS UNNECESSARY'
From the article, "The music industry used to be a very different place. Artists would make a demo or figure out another strategy for getting discovered and signed by a record label. That label would then pay them an advance, facilitate the making of an album, and then put that album on the radio and store shelves.
Fast-forward to today: With record stores gone and the Internet making it easy for anyone -- from the most tech-savvy to total Luddites -- to illegally listen to whatever they want, the industry has been reeling …What TuneCore is doing is no different from what a record label would provide, but the all-important catch is who makes and keeps the money. A label would retain a significant percentage of ownership over the music, whereas with TuneCore, the artists have 100% ownership and are responsible for paying a flat fee, which can be under $10 depending on the service. "The traditional label model is an option, not a requirement, for success," says TuneCore's CEO Scott Ackerman
Read the article: How TuneCore Is Making Record Labels Unnecessary
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
THE GROWING POWER OF INTERNET RADIO
Did you know that more than half of Americans listen to Internet Radio? Of this population, 39% choose personalized radio, 27% prefer streaming live, and 18% is into on-demand music. As more and more innovative tech start-ups jump into the game for a piece of the American music business, we might be witnessing another powerful takeover in the already-crowded industry.
Historically, we have moved from expensive vinyl records to affordable cassettes, from loving cheap, convenient CD albums to worshipping mp3 files. The fact is music consumption has been and is going through a significant phase change -- similar to when we abandoned the classic Kodak film for digital cameras in the 2000s -- and its evolving trends continue to re-establish the basic structure of the music industry. Read the rest from Dash Two
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
FROM CRACKED.COM '5 FAILED ATTEMPTS AT KEEPING UP WITH MODERN POP MUSIC'
Truly a great little list to read, and I especially love the fact that the writer included in this short stack, Nickelback, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande. Read the rest
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
INTERNET TV GAINS MEAN STILL MORE PROBLEMS FOR TRADITIONAL BROADCAST TV
More TV content providers are looking to dip their toes in the waters of new Internet-based TV services. Walt Disney and 21st Century Fox are in discussions for deals with Sony Entertainment for its new cloud-based Internet TV service. Read the whole story
Adding to network TV's problems is the fact that Smart TVs, Internet-connected TV sets, will continue to gain increased worldwide use --- as well as standalone Internet set top video box devices. In 2020, it's expected global smart TV penetration will double to 30.4%. Read the whole story
From The Center For Media Research comes this news: "According to a new report by Nielsen, young people continue to shift their viewing activities to digital video. Since the second quarter of 2012, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 have increased their video viewing by 16 minutes a day and decreased TV watching by 10 minutes. But while Millennials may be leading the charge to non-traditional view, it's not solely a youth movement, says the report.
Technology has enabled increased choice, says Nielsen. At the core of it all is the consumer experience in interacting and accessing content. Some people want their content live on their TV delivered via traditional or broadband, some want to watch it at a different time, while others will increasingly look for it on-the-go and on-demand on their mobile devices. With smartphones topping 70% penetration and tablets inching toward the 50% mark, the growth in digital consumption can only increase, says the report."
For more from Nielsen, please visit here.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
VINYL NEWS STUFF
The love of vinyl can be a powerful thing.
It caused that guy in Brazil to try to corner the market yet he seems relatively sane in a video from CNN of his operation. DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are on tour with vinyl dug from the crates of Afrika Bambaataa himself. Nashville has been dubbed the capital of vinyl. Which leaves us wondering. Where does United Record Pressing get those presses?
BETWEEN THE GROOVES
ITEM: ASCAP has announced a new Songwriter's Workshop in NYC. This year's Jerry Ragovoy Songwriters Workshop as a tribute to historic ASCAP writer of hits such as "Piece Of My Heart," "Cry Baby" and "Get It While You Can." The workshop will be held at ASCAP's NYC offices and will span over three dates in October. During the sessions, a select few advanced songwriters will learn from guest speakers in A&R, Music Publishing, Management and other facets of the industry. The deadline for applying for this event is September 26th. If you are interested you can learn more here.
ITEM: It was a good and bad weekend for Apple. Pre-sales of the iPhone 6 line broke all previous records. At the same time, Apple's online ordering system broke repeatedly during an unprecedented rush to buy the larger and enhanced 2014 iPhone models. Read the whole story
ITEM: More bad news in Hollywood as Warner Bros. Entertainment is expected to cut as many as 900 to 1,000 jobs worldwide as part of a studio-wide cost-cutting move, according to people familiar with the company's plans. The estimated reductions would amount to more than 10% of the studio's 9,000-person workforce. The cuts will be made in late October or early November
ITEM: For A&E Networks -- and likely many others -- the mobile tipping point has arrived for video, with more people accessing streaming media from devices and set-top boxes than from the Web. As an entertainment platform, the desktop Web has always been a horrid experience that no one in the industry wanted to admit, even if consumers always knew it. Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
Listen to New Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Song 'Nature Boy'
Springsteen Goes Reggae In 1987
Paul McCartney Preps 3-Disc Collector's Edition of 'New'
Jack White's Label to Issue Second Paramount Records Box
Watch Panic! At The Disco's Amazing Live Cover of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
Hear an early take of George Harrison's "Dark Horse"
Jack White Bashes Foo Fighters, Rolling Stone at Boston Show
The 5 Most Frequently Signed Music Publishing Deals
Merchbar Launches with Curated Merchandise From 3000+ Top Music Acts
How To Promote Your Music Using Google's Hangouts On Air
More Pay TV Users Want To Cut Cord
Shazam-powered Siri can now name that tune in iOS 8
T-Mobile's CellSpot router gives top performance and features, for free
Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus preorders top 4M in first 24 hours
OLED TV: Best. Picture. Ever.
5 Insane True Stories of Hostages Outsmarting Their Captors
Short News Items ...
SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE HERE ON EARTH:
People who "don't want none" of Nicki Minaj: Nicki Minaj's high school. According to the rapper, her old high school in NYC doesn't want her coming back to speak to students. Nicki Minaj's High School Won't Let Her Come Back and Talk to Students
WELL, SHE'S ON THE CHARTS, HE ISN'T:
In honor of Sept. 11th, The President and First Lady stopped by an elementary school in D.C. Thursday to participate in the National Day of Service. When the President was placed next to sixth grader Madison, the girl confided that she had hoped the secret VIP stopping by her classroom would be Mrs. Knowles-Carter. "I really wanted it to be Beyoncé," she told President Obama, according to the NY Daily News. "But then I realized it was gonna be you."
FARM-AID STILL STRONG:
In the 29 years since an offhand Bob Dylan comment inspired the creation of Farm Aid, a slew of "aid" shows have faded from memory. Meanwhile, Farm Aid continues to prosper, with this year's show featuring great sets by Jack White, Neil Young and more. Read More
This year's Stand Up For Heroes benefit, an evening of music and comedy that raises funds for injured servicemembers and their families, will feature appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Louis C.K., John Oliver, John Mulaney, Brian Williams and other surprise guests. The annual show will take place at New York's Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5th, with tickets on sale September 17th at noon.
THIS WAS ACTUALLY A NEWS ITEM ON BILLBOARD, HONEST:
Selena Gomez Shows Off Her New Bangs on Instagram
1984 was pop music's biggest year, from Prince and Madonna to Michael, Bruce and Cyndi Lauper. New Wave, rap, R&B and mascara'd hard rock all crossed paths on the charts in the year pop popped, and Rolling Stone has ranked its 100 best singles. Read More
HEY, RIHANNA …WHY DON'T YOU SHUT THE F*** UP?
Rihanna (a victim of domestic violence herself) had harsh words for CBS after the network pulled her song from "Thursday Night Football" last week while devoting the pre-game show to report on the NFL's Ray Rice's domestic violence controversy. In a tweet she said "CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? NO, F*** you! Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this." (Editor's note: "Penalizing you"? LOL! Nobody watches an NFL game to listen to you, lady.)
Spin Media is shuttering "Vibe" magazine's print edition, marking the second time the hip-hop title has ceased publication in five years. The Vibe website will continue operating. Spin Media is also laying off 19 staffers who worked on the magazine, mostly in the video, photo, and sales departments.
ARETHA DOES ADELE:
Aretha Franklin will make an appearance on David Letterman on September 29th to announce her new album, and she will sing the lead single, her own version of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep."
BABS HEADED FOR TOP OF THE CHARTS:
According to Billboard, "Barbra Streisand may collect her 10th #1 album on the Billboard 200 chart next week with the arrival of her new all-star duets album, "Partners." The Columbia Records set, which was released on Sept. 16th, may sell over 150,000 copies in the week ending Sept. 21st, according to industry forecasters. That starting sum should be enough to fend off all other titles on next week's chart -- the top 10 of which will be revealed on Wednesday, Sept. 24th.
HECK YEAH, IT'S BIG MONEY WITHOUT HAVING TO SELL ANY RECORDS:
'The Voice' returns on Sept. 22nd and for new judge Pharrell Williams, it's more than just another gig. "I don't want to call it a job," Williams said at a recent press conference at Universal Studios. "You couldn't ask for a better opportunity!" Pharrell Williams Wants to Follow in Blake Shelton's Footsteps on 'The Voice'
Quotes of the week
"I don't see beauty in teenagers sitting next to each other texting and not talking face to face. I don't see that beauty in the way that pop music is all recorded on computers and Auto-Tune and presented in that really plastic way. And I guess I just do my best in whatever I do to try to defeat those ideas and present it in something I think is at least an attempt at getting at truth and getting at beauty. It is a lot harder now, and I am a little bit jealous of the artists from the other decades because it seemed like you could just do your job and not worry about this periphery of stuff," White added. "The idea that I just have to be a hustler now just to be a musician, you sort of have to sell yourself all the time now. I think you could have just been a songwriter and everyone else would do that around you. I doubt Frank Sinatra cared what was on his album cover."
-- Jack White, struggling to find inspiration in today's youth, talking to veteran newsman Dan Rather in The Big Interview, a wide-ranging conversation that covers everything from White's move to Nashville to how he envies the musicians of the Sixties.
"One of the nice things about a favorite pop song is that it's an unconditional truce on judgment and musical snobbery. You like the song because you just do, and there need not be any further criticism."
-- Henry Rollins
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Concert Security Drastically Overestimating Fans' Desire To Get Close To Cheap Trick
DAYTON, OH—Taking note of the dozen or so individuals standing in tight formation behind a row of linked steel barricades Tuesday night, sources confirmed that venue security at the Fraze Pavilion had drastically overestimated the desire of concertgoers to get close to the hard rock band Cheap Trick. "Back up, everybody! Everybody get back!" said one security guard to a cluster of fans. 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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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.
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