Russell Simmons Talks About The State Of The Music Industry
December 5, 2014
"Artists are finding all kind of ways to use their brand to earn money," he said. "Being a music star is a lot more than selling records, if not at all. If selling records was what the music business is about, they would all move onto something else. They're not counting their royalties as their income, they're counting all of the things that they influence, all the multi-billion dollar business that their branding and building and affecting. Music is still consumed today more than yesterday, still growing in terms of the way people consume it. More music all the time, it just keeps growing in terms of its influence in society and also its influence in various different businesses. So now that we can't make royalties off of records, we gotta go make them pay, that's what the music business has to learn to do."
-- Def Jam's Russell Simmons
In the last issue of the newsletter before the Thanksgiving holiday, I suggested reading an interview with music producer Steve Albini.
This week, I thought I'd suggest watching an interview with Russell Simmons, who discusses "the new era in the music industry" he did with Grammy U and All Def Digital.
The interview runs just over seven minutes, and it's time well spent. Russell Simmons Discusses New Era of Music Industry
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
AND SINCE RUSSELL SIMMONS BROUGHT UP ARTISTS' BRANDING…
Yes, artists branding to the left of you, artists branding to the right of you, into the valley of their bank accounts ride those lucky enough to get oodles of dollars with commercial endorsements and more.
From The Los Angeles Times comes this article (which is a great add-on to what Simmons said above) 'Commercial bond between bands and brands is deepening'
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
AND A SHORT INTERVIEW WITH ANOTHER MUSIC INDUSTRY LEADER, JIMMY IOVINE
From GQ online, 'The Music Legend Who Just Might Save Apple'
"You may know him as the co-founder of Interscope Records and the visionary who created Beats (with his partner, Dr. Dre), then sold it to Apple for $3 billion. And yes, that is primarily why Jimmy Iovine is a Man of This Year. But did you know he was a sound engineer on 'Born to Run?' That he produced Patti Smith's 'Easter', Tom Petty's 'Damn the Torpedoes', U2's 'Rattle and Hum'? That he co-produced the film '8 Mile'? That he's a Big Brain in Residence at Apple now? We're running out of room here, but you get it: Jimmy Iovine has been a man of many, many years and decades before this one, and this interview is long overdue." Read the interview
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
AND THOSE RECORDS THAT SPIN AT 33 1/3 RPM JUST KEEP GETTING BIGGER AT RETAIL
Sales reach over a million for the first time this millennium thanks to British bands including Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and Pink Floyd.
"It's really remarkable. We're seeing it come back as a significant earner for the music industry as well. Only five years ago this business was worth around £3m a year. This year it's going to be worth £20m." Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
WHERE ALL THOSE DOLLARS GO WHEN AN INDIE BAND TOURS
Generating cash flow and profitability for an indie band isn't easy, and I expect everyone knows that.
Just how much it can cost a band is itemized in this great post Read 'Pomplamoose 2014 Tour Profits (or Lack Thereof)'
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
APPLE PASSES $700 BILLION MARKET CAP
Steve Jobs would be proud. Setting a new record for U.S. corporations, Apple's market capitalization surpassed $700 billion, last week.
"That puts Apple at 1.7 times the capitalization of the world's second-biggest company, Exxon," Bloomberg notes. "Confidence in Apple has been growing since the company unveiled larger-screened iPhones in September, followed by slimmer and faster iPads in October." Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
THE TV NETWORKS AREN'T LONG FOR THE WORLD THING
I don't know how many times a week I now hear from almost everyone I know (and you readers), "I can't watch the commercials on TV anymore … I'll just Netflix the entire season or DVR it and skip the commercials later."
A week ago Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, "The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030." Read that here: NETFLIX CEO: Broadcast Networks Dead by 2030
Some TV network execs might want to argue with Mr. Hastings, but then there's this news as well: "The rapid rise of digital streaming media players -- Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast -- has now given these devices nearly a 20% total share of all U.S. TV households in 2014 -- up from 12% in 2013. A study from market researcher GfK shows that Roku has a 6% share, with Chromecast at 5%, Apple TV, 4%, and Boxee and Amazon Fire TV each with 1%." Digital Players Grab 20% Of TV Households
So now 20% of households have these digital media players, and I'll bet all those who have them will find themselves watching a whole lot of YouTube, Netflix, and everything else available via one of those devices, and a whole lot less broadcast TV.
The clock is ticking faster than I think even Mr. Hastings thinks.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 8
THE ALBUMS YOU DON'T NEED THIS YEAR
Once again, my thanks to Portland's Best DJ (and drummer), Clarence Duffy, for suggesting this item for the newsletter.
It's the AV Club's annual list, and this year even Pink Floyd made it with their new album 'The Endless River,' which they call the "Least essential collection of whale sounds from some classic rock legends:" Read the whole list
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 9
TOPS IN STREAMING
SoundExchange reports "2015 is right around the corner but before we get to the new year, lets take some time to celebrate music's biggest accomplishments in 2014.
SoundExchange has put together three exclusive charts revealing the top streaming artists, top breakout artists and top tracks from the past year. Topping these lists, respectively, are Drake, Sam Smith and One Republic's Counting Stars.' Read more
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 10
UH-OH FOR PONO
From newsletter reader Jon DeLong comes this e-mail: "Hi Stephen, I wasn't sure about Pono. I thought it might appeal to a few of us folks that want to hear music as recorded in the studio, rather than being able to have 4,000 songs on our devices. I guess I was wrong. The competition seems to be heating up."
And here's the reason why (thanks Jon!): A revolutionary British technology is bringing a whole new meaning to the sound of music. MQA will change everything. Check out the 'Music Is Changing' website for more
BETWEEN THE GROOVES
ITEM: Online video distributor Aereo, which suspended operations shortly after its Supreme Court defeat in June, said on Friday that it filed for bankruptcy. The Barry Diller-backed start-up launched in New York two years ago and expanded to 12 cities before ceasing operations in June, three days after the Supreme Court ruled that the service infringed broadcasters' copyrights. Read the whole story
ITEM: The Top 5 Media Turkeys of the Year. A look at the media figures and organizations that proved most embarrassing, unliked, and down on their luck in 2014. Full story at TheWrap
ITEM: 10 Implications of Tablet Sales Slowdown Not only did the tablet market experience what IDC called a "massive deceleration" this year, but the prospects for a tablet sales recovery are looking poor. Read on to learn more about the worldwide tablet market and why some manufacturers are likely a bit anxious about the future.
ITEM: Buried in a list of consensus estimates and potential growth drivers from video at major digital advertising companies, Macquarie Securities Analyst Ben Schachter says Facebook is likely to introduce a competitor to YouTube. Read the whole story
YET ANOTHER REASON NOT TO USE TWITTER: Twitter can't shake a lawsuit accusing it of violating an anti-spam law by sending text messages to recycled phone numbers. In a ruling issued last week, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria rejected Twitter's position that the prior user of the phone number consented to receive text messages. "This argument fails," Chhabria wrote in an opinion allowing the lawsuit to proceed. Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
Holiday Gift Guide: 45 Perfect Presents for Music Fans
How Jimmy Iovine Made It 'A Very Special Christmas' in 1985
Courtney Love Denied Editorial Control on Kurt Cobain Doc
Where's The Cash For Musicians Today and Beyond?
How Well Do You Know 2014's Biggest Hits? Take Billboard's Hot 100 Quiz
What's the best music streaming service?
Let's Be Pigs Not Hogs: How to Thrive in the Age of Digital Music
14 Ways to Make Money From One Song
Robin Williams Talks Sex And Comedy In Newly Unearthed Recordings
6 Hidden Sides of Disneyland Only Employees Get to See
8 Actors Who Look Exactly The Same on Every Movie Poster
Tech toys for bigger kids
iPhone 6, Xbox One Top 2014's Holiday Hardware Shopping List
Stuff those stockings with tiny tech
Stream-off: Chromecast vs. Roku. vs. Fire TV. vs. Apple TV
Short News Items ...
MAYBE IT'S THE MUSIC:
This year's American Music Awards fell 15% from its 2013 result. That's currently the AMAs second-lowest result ever among the key demo with only the 3.4/12 of 2012 doing worse.
Bruce Springsteen was the guest of honor at the 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year benefit, which featured an eclectic mix of artists -- including Neil Young, Elton John, Jim James, Mumford & Sons and Mavis Staples -- covering classics from the New Jersey icon's massive songbook. A televised version of the event, "A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen," will premiere December 5th at 9p ET on PBS, as part of the network's Arts Fall Festival 2014.
PRINCE RIPS IT:
It doesn't matter if Prince is on the bill or in the audience -- if the Purple One decides he wants to rip out a guitar solo, you must oblige. The R&B/funk legend was recently in attendance at the W Hollywood Hotel's jazz night and decided to crash a performance of the Beatles' classic "With a Little Help From My Friends." Prince scorches a Gibson Les Paul for two minutes before casually handing off the instrument to its owner, leaving the room as if he didn't do a really cool thing. Watch it here
Creed lead singer Scott Stapp says he's broke, living in motel. Stolen funds, unpaid royalties and an IRS mixup have cost him, the rocker says in a Facebook video. 'I went two days without eating because I had no money and ended up in an emergency room.'
ANOTHER TALK SHOW BITES THE DUST:
The 'Queen Latifah' Show talk show is cancelled. It will run originals through the end of March, and then bye-bye.
THE YEAR'S BEST:
It was another excellent year in music, illuminating darkness when it sometimes seemed the only light was from burning buildings in Ferguson. From vets like U2 and Leonard Cohen to newcomers Charli XCX and FKA Twigs, here are 50 albums that ruled. Read More
HBO SERIES ABOUT MUSIC BIZ IN '70S:
HBO is ready to rock 'n' roll with Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger. The cable channel has given a series order to the drama project from Scorsese and Jagger, it was announced on Tuesday. The as-yet-untitled series, which is set in 1970s New York, will explore the drug and sex-fueled music business as punk and disco were breaking out, all through the eyes of a record executive trying to resurrect his label and find the next new sound.
'IDOL SUIT' THROWN OUT:
Deadline.com reports The $250 million lawsuit from 10 former American Idol contestants charging Fox, producers FreemantleMedia, former executive producers Nigel Lythgoe, various sponsors and others with racial discrimination looks to be over. Read More
NEW 'IDOL' JUDGE:
Fox TV just filled some "Blank Space," officially naming Scott Borchetta — the man who discovered Taylor Swift at age 14 — as Randy Jackson's replacement for the upcoming season of "American Idol." That said, the network is calling the swap more of a "reimagining" of the mentor role.
UNICEF has launched a new campaign, #IMAGINE, to draw attention to the challenges children face around the world and help raise money for the organization. The campaign did a video of John Lennon's "Imagine" that features cameos by more than 100 people, including musicians, actors, celebrities, sports figures, dignitaries and children's choirs. Among them were Katy Perry, Adam Lambert, Courteney Cox and Lance Bass singing the song alongside clips of Lennon performing it. Part of the project is a digital app, made by TouchCast, that enables users to record their own versions of the song. Some of these performances will be combined with versions from other artists and UNICEF ambassadors into a multi-lingual "world" mix produced by David Guetta. TouchCast for iOS is available for download at the #IMAGINE website or via the Apple App Store.
'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,' the first fully authorized documentary about the late Nirvana front man, will see release on HBO in 2015. The film is the first to be made with the cooperation of Cobain's family, and was written, directed and produced by Oscar-nominee Brett Morgen ('On the Ropes', 'Crossfire Hurricane').
WATCH OUT, SCIENTOLOGISTS:
HBO is readying a documentary that will take a penetrating look at the Church of Scientology and its influence in Hollywood. Going Clear, based on Lawrence Wright's book 'Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief', is expected to air on the network in 2015, according to the Hollywood Reporter, with a premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January if finished in time.
PRINCE PULLS SOCIAL MEDIA (AGAIN):
Prince has pulled his profiles off both Twitter and Facebook. Prince's @3rdEyeGirl Twitter account and his Facebook pages suddenly are dark. As has been the case for month's, virtually all of Prince's videos are also absent from YouTube and Vevo. Only "Breakfast Can Wait" was up on Vevo.
STAR WARS TRAILER:
The first trailer for "Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens" debuted online last week. The one-and-a-half-minute preview teases a new robed villain handling what appears to be the next evolution in lightsaber technology. Full story at TheWrap
U2 will kick off their Innocence + Experience tour in May, playing 19 cities with two shows in each. "We're going to try to have a completely different feeling from night one to night two, playing with the idea of innocence and experience," says Bono. Read More
THE DEAD STILL WALKING TALL:
Multichannel News reports "Sundays audience for AMCs zombie-themed series was up 23% from last seasons corresponding episode. In addition, the show drew 9.6 million adults 18-49, which was up 24% from season fours mid-season episode." According to Forbes, "The Walking Dead" took over social media during Sunday's episode, with a 238% increase in mentions over the prior week.
Bobby Keys, the legendary saxophone player best known for his work in the studio and on the road with The Rolling Stones, died this morning (Tuesday) at his home in Franklin, TN from cirrhosis. He was 70. In addition to his signature sax on such Stones classics as "Brown Sugar," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "Emotional Rescue," he recorded with George Harrison, John Lennon, The Who, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Barbra Streisand, B.B. King, Carly Simon,Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others.
Rock & Roll Hall of Famer keyboardist with The Faces/Small faces, and 20-year Austin resident, Ian McLagan suffered a stroke on Monday and was admitted to Brackenridge Hospital on Tuesday, where he died Wednesday at 2:39p according to those who worked with him. Ian was 69.
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
CIA Admits Role In 1985 Coup To Oust David Lee Roth
LANGLEY, VA—Shedding new light on a tumultuous period of upheaval that dominated international headlines nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. government declassified hundreds of documents Tuesday that confirm the CIA covertly organized and executed the coup that ousted lead singer David Lee Roth from Van Halen.
According to a preliminary analysis, the newly released information includes more than 1,600 pages of formerly top-secret material detailing the CIA's clandestine plot to infiltrate the platinum-selling rock group and unseat the magnetic, impulsive musician from his leadership position in the spring of 1985. The documents reveal that the agency worked behind the scenes for years, beginning after the release of the disco-inflected "Push Comes To Shove" single in 1981, to foment the internal turmoil and unrest needed to destabilize the band and ultimately force Roth to step down from the American heavy metal act. 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