2014 Is Almost Gone And Not One Album Has Gone Platinum
October 24, 2014
"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."
-- Woody Allen
The problem in the music industry is failing far too much without any innovation. (I'm excluding innovation in digital technology because the music industry had nothing to do with that.)
No innovation in the way music could be sold to consumers to engage them more.
No innovation in the kind of music being signed and marketed. (Just look at the weekly Top-20 Billboard Album chart in the newsletter every week)
Things are not good in the industry. You all know that if you read any of the media reports that come out frequently about declining sales, etc.
So far this year, 'Not One Artist's Album Has Gone Platinum In 2014.'
That's actually the title of an article by Hugh McIntyre on Forbes.com which starts with this grim statistic, "We are now nine-and-a-half months into 2014, and the sales numbers for the music industry are looking particularly grim. While the fourth quarter is typically when the most sales occur, things have never been quite so bad. In 2014, not a single artist's album has gone platinum. Not one has managed to cross that million sales mark."
Ouch. BIG-time OUCH.
And what could possibly be the cause of this bad news?
One could start by looking at the 'Now That's What I Call Music' volumes and see a whole lot of hit songs mixed with some not-so-big hit songs, and hear some of the reasons why most albums aren't selling Platinum-plus anymore. (That should again be a clarion call to all labels and their A&R people.)
Of course there's always the industry's favorite excuses: a) illegal file-sharing and downloading started the downward spiral; b) it's all because of what Steve Jobs created with the iPod and iTunes.
Charles Darwin said, ""It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
And for far too long, the music industry was not responsive.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
Microsoft to kill its free Xbox Music streaming service ... The free service will be retired on December 1st as Microsoft decides to focus on its subscription plan alone.
Guys like Thom Yorke and David Byrne can rage against the dying of the light as much as they want, but that won't prevent streaming from eventually becoming the dominant way music is distributed and consumed. Is what we have right now perfect? No. The whole thing is still a money pit for everyone involved except the consumer. Two Views On The Future Of Streaming Music Services and more...
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
YOUTUBE MONEY FROM TUNECORE
TuneCore has announced the launch of YouTube Money, a monetization and collection service for music videos.
Music videos are estimated to drive nearly 40% of all views on YouTube and a survey of TuneCore artists showed they now consider YouTube to be the third most important point of distribution for their music, behind only iTunes and Spotify. TuneCore Launches YouTube Money Music Video Monetization Service
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
PANDORA SEZ DATA WILL HELP MUSICIANS
Pandora's free AMP service pulls back the curtain on data culled from tens of billions of hours of listening to help musicians market themselves smarter.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
ARE ASCAP & BMI OBSOLETE?
Rightsholders have accused Google of promoting piracy since the dawn of search.
The online giant's efforts to end the practice have been frustratingly incremental. But they took several steps forward with some significant announcements over the last few days that include downgraded search results for pirate sites and upgraded ad units that promote music and other media better. Google Promotes Music With News Ad Units, Demotes Piracy In Search
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
13 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK, APPLE LAUNCHED THE IPOD AND EVERYTHING CHANGED
Apple introduced the first iPod 13 years ago today on October 23rd, 2001.
It was eight-and-a-half months after the Mac-only version of iTunes had been released. While there were other digital music services and players already on the market, the seamless coupling of iTunes and the iPod marked the official beginning or the digital music revolution. As Steve Jobs said that day:
"Music is part of everybody's life, everyone! Music's been around forever (and) it will always be around. This is not a speculative market. And because its part of everybody's life, it's a very large target market all around the world. It knows no boundaries." Apple Launched The Digital Music Revolution 13 Years Ago Today
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
CONGRATS TO JON SCOTT & FRIENDS ON ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL MUSIC INDUSTRY REUNION
After two successful Los Angeles music industry reunions, organizer Jon Scott took the party to New York City because of numerous requests.
The party, held at the Hill Country Barbecue, was a major success with more than 200 prominent music industry friends gathered together to share the friendships that developed during an incredible period of time music that helped shape musical history as we know it.
The Music Industry committee of Judy Libow, Roxy Myzal, Harvey and Steve Leeds, Jimmy Del Balzo, Jessie Scott,Wayne McManners, Peter Gidion, Greg Lee, Ted Utz, Jon Scott, are all to be commended for another incredible party. Great job guys!
Because of the success and numerous requests, another party is already scheduled in 2015. Make your plans well in advance and attend one of Jon's great reunions either in L.A. or New York City!
BETWEEN THE GROOVES
ITEM: Apple posts $8.5 billion in net profit for fourth quarter of 2014. Strong sales of iPhones powered Apple to a better-than-expected $8.5 billion in fourth-quarter earnings on revenue of $42.1 billion, the company announced Monday. Read more at TheWrap
ITEM: VentureBeat reports rocker Neil Young officially unveiled a new music download service and a high-tech music player at the Saleforces Dreamforce conference. Read More
ITEM: GamesIndustryBiz reports "Mobile gaming revenue is expected to surpass $21 billion by the end of this year, a 19% increase from 2013, but it's not all sunshine and roses in the mobile gaming industry. While opportunities abound, evidence has shown that success, as significant as it may be, is often short-lived." Read more
ITEM: Gmail is getting a major makeover in Google's newest app, Inbox. The app and Web service is completely separate from Gmail, and it seeks to change how your emails are organized. So far, it appears to absolutely succeed. READ MORE
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
Apple iPads, iMac get thinner, boast more features
20 Things Learned From Paul McCartney's Twitter Chat
Flashback: Foo Fighters Cover Tom Petty's 'Breakdown'
Michael Jackson Tops Forbes' List Of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities With $140 Million Haul
Rdio Upgrades 30 Million Tracks To High Quality AAC 320 kps Audio
Watch Paul McCartney Play Pool in Hilarious Lost Wings TV Ad
The Jimi Hendrix you never knew
Spotify Announces Family Pricing Plan
Google bundles Songza with Play Music app
Apple Unveils iTunes 12: Major Redesign, New Features
16 Places Everyone Pictures Incorrectly (Thanks to Movies)
Superb sound worth the extra scratch
Safari 8 browser on Yosemite shows major speed boost
Can a phone replace your wallet?
iPad Air 2 review: Still the gold standard for tablets
Readers' Choice: Your picks for the best speaker and headphone bargains
Short News Items ...
Pandora has added a new marketing product, Sponsored Listening, in exchange for one hour of uninterrupted listening. Sponsored Listening provides Pandora's free users with an hour of uninterrupted listening in exchange for viewing a short video, visiting their website or other ad interaction. Listeners immediately get one full hour of uninterrupted listening in exchange for the engagement. The advertisers' branding remains visible to listeners throughout the sponsored listening session offering additional opportunity for brand engagement.
Considering the Who are one of the finest live bands in rock history, it's scandalous how few of their classic performances have been officially released. But 'Live at Wealdstone,' the bootleg of a 1964 gig, might be the best pre-fame tape by any Sixties icon. Read More
RECORD STORE DAY:
Record Store Day will continue its Black Friday tradition this year with a smattering of limited releases from big groups and cult bands. Most notable among them are David Bowie's brand new song "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)" -- which is backed with another new tune "'Tis a Pity She's a Whore" -- and the continuation of Neil Young's Official Release Series, which includes remastered vinyl reissues of his LPs 'On the Beach,' 'Time Fades Away,' 'Tonight's the Night' and 'Zuma.' All of the releases, a list of which is available at RecordStoreDay.com, will be available at select independent record stores, also listed on that site, on November 28th.
MACCA & BONHAM:
Paul McCartney has shared a different version of the urgent-sounding, piano-driven 'Wings at the Speed of Sound' tune "Beware My Love" that features Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham behind the kit. The previously unreleased take of the song, which clocks in at a minute less than the studio version, will appear on the bonus disc of the upcoming deluxe edition of the record and finds Bonzo battering out a propulsive rhythm with intricate filigrees when the song moves to the bridge (and the former Beatle shouts, "Intro!"). McCartney shared the tune via Twitter's new audio card during a Q&A on Twitter in a reply to a fan.
BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH ORCHESTRA:
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of 'Back to the Future' next year, Universal Pictures will re-release the 1985 Michael J. Fox time-travel classic with live orchestration. According to Variety, the film will be screened in various venues around the world without the score, so that a live orchestra could perform Alan Silvestri's Academy Award--nominated music. The orchestra will also perform 15 minutes of new music that the composer wrote specifically for the engagements.
SONGWRITERS HALL NOMS:
When the Songwriters Hall of Fame announced its nominees for induction last week, four names with roots in Country music were among those included. Vince Gill and Toby Keith were nominated as performing songwriters, while tunesmiths Bobby Braddock and Bob McDill were nominated under the nonperforming distinction.
SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE HERE IN THE U.S.A.:
ABC's bid to refresh 'The View' brought the show's most-watched premiere in eight years in September (even after some downward adjustment thanks to Nielsen's snafu). But those lofted ratings quickly have fallen to earth. The show's 18th season has seen post-premiere-week viewership drop below last year, back when the need for a Barbara Walters-free makeover became apparent. 'The View's showing in the key demo is pacing downward for the fourth straight season and is 30% south of where it was five years ago.
HARRISON HOME SOLD:
George Harrison's childhood home in Liverpool has sold for just over $250,000 at an auction held at the legendary Cavern Club in the English city.
BALE TO PLAY JOBS:
Aaron Sorkin has confirmed to Bloomberg that the "Dark Knight" actor has been cast in an upcoming biopic about the Apple co-founder. Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed film "The Social Network," about the founding of Facebook, is at the helm of the picture and said of Bale's casting, "What we needed was the best actor."
Thirteen days after his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Paul Craft, the man behind offbeat, wisecracking Country hits like "Dropkick Me, Jesus (Through the Goalposts of Life)" and "It's Me Again, Margaret", has died. He was 76 years old. Artists like the Eagles, Alison Krauss, Bobby Bare, Ray Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, Skeeter Davis and Chet Atkins all covered his songs during Craft's half-century career.
Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post who held that post during the paper's key role in the Watergate scandal, died Tuesday of natural causes. He was 93 years old. Bradlee had been in hospice care since late September after the continued deterioration of his health and dementia. He has suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years.
Quotes of the week
"You're selling creativity. Raw creativity from talented people. Now, the problem has always been the studios. Although the beginning of the studios, the entrepreneurs who ran the studios, were sort of creative guys. They would just take books and turn them into movies and do things like that. Suddenly all these corporations were coming in. They didn't know anything about the movie business."
-- "Star Wars" creator George Lucas thinks the biggest problem in the movie business today is the corporations that are running it. Full story at TheWrap
"Twerking is not feminism. Thats what I'm referring to. It's not -- it's not liberating, it's not empowering. It's a sexual thing that you're doing on a stage; it doesn't empower you. That's my feeling about it."
-- Annie Lennox, in response to NPR's Steve Inskeep question, "What has made you comment on a lot of modern music today that is being put out by women as being over-sexualized?"
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Report: Slamming Boss Against Wall, Shouting 'Cash! I Need More Cash!' Still Leading Tactic For Securing Raise
WASHINGTON—Calling it the most effective method for reaching one's full earning potential, a report issued Thursday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that violently slamming one's supervisor against a wall and shouting, "Cash! I need more cash!" remained the leading tactic for securing a raise. 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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