Steve Albini Talks About The State Of The Music Industry
November 21, 2014
"The Internet has made it much easier to conduct the day-to-day business of being in a band and has increased the efficiency. Everything from scheduling rehearsals using online calendars, to booking tours by e-mail, to selling merchandise and records from online stores, down to raising the funds to make a record is a new simplicity that bands of the pre-internet era would salivate over. The old system was built by the industry to serve the players inside the industry. The new system where music is shared informally and the bands have a direct relationship to the fans was built by the bands and the fans in the manner of the old underground. It skips all the intermediary steps."
-- Steve Albini
If you have HBO and are watching Dave Grohl's weekly documentaries 'Sonic Highways,' then you saw Steve Albini in the episode they taped in Chicago.
Albini is a well-respected music producer, he was the Shellac frontman, and author of seminal 1993 essay, 'The Problem with Music.' He recently spoke in Melbourne about the advantages of the internet, the death of the major label system, copyright law and that 'purple dwarf in assless chaps.'
My thanks to Portland's best DJ, Clarence Duffy, for sending me this truly great read.
I've read the article twice now … and it rings loud and clear.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
THE STREAMING STUFF
Sony's Chief financial officer says that Sony, owner of one of the world's three major labels, needs to evaluate what kind of value it's getting in allowing catalog music to be streamed for free. Sony to take another look at ad-supported music streaming
So Taylor Swift has pulled her latest album from Spotify and made a lot of money from record sales as a result.
But is her vision of the future a little myopic? Streaming audio almost overtook CDs this year as the second-largest outlet for recorded music after digital downloads and it is only growing. Yes, streaming companies need to sort out royalties, as they currently stink, but what the public wants, the public gets, so artists will need to adapt as a result. READ MORE
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
BRUCE RELEASES LIVE SHOWS
Earlier this year Bruce Springsteen was asked about releasing live concert recordings. "That's not off the drawing board," he replied.
Now he's launching a live download site with a complete 'Born to Run' performance and his 2012 Apollo Theater show. Bruce Springsteen Launches Concert Download Service
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
FROM THE OREGONIAN, THAT VINYL THING: WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
"There's a real reason why there's a vinyl renaissance," John Vanderslice said. "There's a lot of people who are having an amazing listening experience. It's not false."
"Vanderslice, the musician and producer behind the devoutly analog Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, wasn't kidding. In an age of declining album sales and squabbles over Spotify and the other streaming services swallowing up the industry pie, U.S. vinyl record sales have quietly grown from less than a million in 2007 to more than 6 million in 2013, a number this year's soaring sales surpassed back in September. While vinyl numbers remain a drop in the overall bucket, just 2% of sales in 2013, they've become a pretty big drop — and the product of a global industry straining to deal with overflowing demand." Read the article
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
BOX OFFICE 2014 … THE GOOD AND THE BAD
The year stands in stark contrast to 2013, which set a record as the highest-grossing ever but saw several very pricey bombs
Full story at TheWrap
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE 'TWO RETROSPECTIVES LOOK AT WILCO'S LONG JOURNEY TO MAINSTREAM'
"In the retrospective innocence of the summer of 2001, the band Wilco had its fourth album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," rejected by its label, Reprise, which deemed the gorgeous pop record too experimental for mainstream listening. That astoundingly bad decision set off a fortuitous chain reaction: Wilco left Reprise with the masters of the record; when the songs started to leak, the band responded by streaming free of charge on its website. By the end of the year, playing this oddly prophetic collection in the shadows of 9/11, frontman Jeff Tweedy listened in wonder as audiences in packed clubs and theaters sang every word of songs they hadn't paid for.
None of this sounds all that remarkable today; at the time, though, it was astonishingly foresighted, and the success the band attained and has retained owed a lot, at least initially, to the David and Goliath story that "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" came to symbolize — the triumph of artistic integrity over commercial know-nothingness, taste over mediocrity."
BETWEEN THE GROOVES
ITEM: Neil Young has always been a socially conscious artist, but his latest issue is boycotting Starbucks. Good luck with that Neil, too many Americans need their "morning joe" to get started. Neil Young Urges Starbucks Boycott
ITEM: Apparently the zombies are killing more than just people. They are killing Sunday NFL ratings. 'WALKING DEAD' Ratings Thrash 'SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL' Third Week In Row
ITEM: If ever there was a WTF? interview, it has to be this one with Jaden and Willow Smith. For a good laugh read the excerpts.
ITEM: Nielsen will begin measuring premium streaming video TV programming from Netflix and Amazon starting next month, according to a report. Nielsen will analyze audio from digital over-the-top platforms -- without the cooperation of streaming services. The story was first reported in "The Wall Street Journal." Nielsen says the programming that is measured will come from existing Nielsen clients, and the data will be available to current Nielsen clients. Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
Dave Grohl Weighs in on Spotify Controversy
Country Stars on Taylor Going Pop: 'Taylor Swift Can Do What Taylor Swift Wants to Do'
Billy Joel Receives Gershwin Prize From Library of Congress
AC/DC's 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap' Gets Sales Bump After Murder-for-Hire News
Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel and More Honored at ASCAP's Centennial Awards Gala
YouTube Music Awards Returning in March
Billy Joel to Taylor Swift NYC 'Snoots': 'Let Her In'
Justin Timberlake Becomes Co-Owner of Audio Company AfterMaster
Apple's Beats Music Relaunch Reportedly Coming in March
Fire TV Stick vs. Chromecast vs. Roku Streaming Stick: Measuring the sticks
An affordable on-ear headphone with more expensive sound
Here's why you'll want to give the Apple iPad Air 2 this holiday season
Best Black Friday TV deals of 2014
Beats debuts Solo2 Wireless: first post-Apple headphones
These room-friendly 'micro' tower speakers bowled over the Audiophiliac
Apple May Push Beats Music to iPhones
Short News Items ...
AC/DC NEWS NOT SO GOOD:
The first bad sign came before AC/DC started recording their new album: Phil Rudd was 10 days late. "Our thing was we were going forward," Angus Young tells Rolling Stone, with the drummer facing serious charges and Malcolm Young lost to dementia. Read More
BEACH BOY BIO:
Mike Love, a founding member of the Beach Boys and lead singer on such hits as "Surfin' U.S.A." and "Little Deuce Coupe," has a book deal. Love has an agreement with Blue Rider Press for 'Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy.' Blue Rider, an imprint of Penguin Random House, told The Associated Press on Wednesday (Nov. 19) that the memoir is scheduled for a 2016 release. It will come out, appropriately, during the summer.
BONO AND BIKING DO NOT GO TOGETHER WELL:
"We're one man down," wrote U2 on their website this week after Bono suffered an injury while cycling in Central Park. That led to the postponement of the band's weeklong residency on 'The Tonight Show.' The singer will need surgery. Read More
'MIDNIGHT RIDER' LAWSUIT DEAL:
The parents of Sarah Jones, the camera assistant who was struck and killed by a train on the Midnight Rider film set, have reached a confidential settlement agreement with several of the defendants in their civil lawsuit, family attorney Jeff Harris announced Wednesday.
LOST DOORS MOVIE:
Jim Morrison met Ray Manzarek in film school. To document the Doors' 1968 tour, they reached out to old classmates. Surviving band members John Densmore and Robby Krieger say the long-lost project shows Morrison "as he really was." Read More
Taylor Swift makes history on the Billboard Hot 100, where her single "Blank Space" blasts from #13 to #1. As the song dethrones her prior smash, "Shake It Off," after four weeks atop the chart, Swift becomes the first woman in the Hot 100's 56-year history to succeed herself at the top spot.
MACCA VIRTUAL REALITY:
Paul McCartney can now be seen in virtual reality, new app from Jaunt, which will allow fans to watch the musician's performance of "Live and Let Die" from any angle imaginable. The footage was filmed during the last-ever concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, which McCartney played in August, almost 48 years to the day since the Beatles played their final live gig at the same venue.
Mike Nichols, the entertainment icon and husband of ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer, died suddenly Wednesday at the age of 83. Nichols' death was announced in a statement by ABC News Pres. James Goldston. Nichols forged his legacy as a director, helming hits on Broadway and the silver screen -- from "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Odd Couple" to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "The Graduate." He earned the Oscar for best director for "The Graduate." Rolling Stone's Peter Travers thought Mike Nichols might live forever. Read More
Jimmy Ruffin, the Motown singer whose hits include "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" and "Hold on to My Love," died Monday in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 78. Philicia Ruffin and Jimmy Lee Ruffin Jr., the late singer's children, confirmed Wednesday (Nov. 19) that Ruffin had died. There were no details about the cause of death.
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Band Dreams Of One Day Becoming Popular Enough To Alienate Early Fans
AUSTIN, TX—Hoping to eventually reach a worldwide audience, members of the alt-rock band Few Are Silent told reporters Friday that they dream of one day becoming popular enough to completely alienate their early fans. "Right now, we're just paying our dues by playing gigs around town, but it'd be pretty cool if someday we have a huge disaffected fan base that insists only our first two albums are worth listening to," said lead singer and rhythm guitarist Jack Lewis. 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.
"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
"When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people becomes an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk: culture-death is a clear possibility." -- Neil Postman