A Chat With Joan Jett
March 20, 2015
One of the best parts of all my years in promotion for Capitol Records and MCA Records, was getting to meet some truly great artists and some equally great managers. I'm still friends with many of them today, and I try to see them when they pass through town.
I had the pleasure of meeting Joan Jett and her manager Kenny Laguna, back in 1983, when she was signed to MCA. They were terrific to work with because they were both real rock and roll warriors. They lived for the music, and still do today.
I e-mailed Kenny Laguna awhile back to catch up and I wanted to ask Joan a few questions for readers of the newsletter. Kenny said he'd get it done, and lo and behold, his e-mail came this week with Joan's answers to my questions.
If you've ever seen Joan live, you know how powerful she is on stage. She gives 110% at every show.
After I witnessed her appearance on the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame show when Nirvana was inducted, I thought it would time to ask her the few questions I had in mind.
Thanks Joan … thanks Kenny for the time!
Q: I loved it when Dave Grohl called you out to play with them on "Smells Like Teen Spirit "and then said to the audience, "Here's Joan Jett … can you believe she's NOT in the Hall Of Fame?!" Well, it took a while, but the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame finally inducted you … how does that feel!?
JOAN: I never got into this business to collect accolades, but I am very honored to be included in the Hall of Fame. It is especially nice that I have had most of my success on a completely independent label, Blackheart Records, which I started with the Laguna family, when no label would have me.
Q: It was 31 years ago that "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks and became an anthem for so many people. I imagine that kind of success was a bit overwhelming at the time, as it would be for anyone ... how did you deal with it all at the time?
JOAN: I kept working as though nothing different was happening. As I look back, I think I might have missed a moment to really take in the miracle of that success, because we were all so focused on staying on top, and getting to the next level.
Q: What was the first record you ever bought?
JOAN: "All Right Now" by Free and "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple. Bought them together. My first.
Q: Who were your biggest musical influences and what drove to pick up your first guitar and learn to play?
JOAN: Black Sabbath, David Bowie and T-Rex were the bands that drove me to learn guitar. Later, the punk bands I saw in England really turned my head.
Q: Tell me about The Runaways ... when did you start the group and why do you think they never reached the kind of success here in the U.S. they had internationally? The 'Live In Japan' album was a big import hit and I remember so many label people screaming about the band at the time.
JOAN: The Runaways, we ahead of their time. The industry had a mindset at the time that girls shouldn't own their own sexuality. The Runaways we perceived differently in different social climates around the world. We were huge in Japan and Scandinavia. In Japan, it was all girls in the audience, but in Scandinavia there were lots of guys, metal heads and horny young men.
Q: When I think of the staying power of many artists, two things always come to mind: a) their live performances; b) their artistic integrity. You still perform with the same passion you did when you played small venues before "I Love Rock 'N'Roll" became a hit and you have never lost one iota of your artistic integrity ... everything you do is just 100% real and pure. Were you ever tempted to change your music because of changes in radio or trends in the industry?
JOAN: Not for one second. I would rather not have a career than pander to the trends.
Q: What artists are out there today (heritage or new) that you want to see live? That you listen to?
JOAN: Foo Fighters, Bowie, Rolling Stones,
Q: You and your manager Kenny Laguna have been a team forever, something rare in the music business today. What is the glue that keeps you two together?
JOAN: We don't compete with each other, and we take great pleasure in each other's work and success.
Q: What projects are you working on currently? Any more new music coming? Any TV appearances? You were great on Jimmy Kimmel.
JOAN. We are producing a movie called 'UnDatable John'; we have written and recorded the title song, "Miss You Already," for Catherine Harwick's new movie of the same name. We have a new clothing line, Blackheart Jeans, a TV show in development with CAA, called 'Growing Up Blackheart', written by our label head, Carianne Brinkman.
Q. Well, it sounds like there's no slowing down for you Joan … congrats on all the stuff in the works, and thanks for the taking the time to talk to me!
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
ONE SIGN THAT SXSW COULD BE ON THE DOWNSLIDE
This year's keynote speaker at the South by Southwest festival was (get ready for it) … Snoop Dog.
Now, I have nothing against Snoop personally, but having Snoop Dog be a keynote speaker makes for the perfect 'Saturday Night Live' skit.
Making him keynote speaker, and having anybody takes what he says seriously, is a big question in my opinion.
Then again, maybe they wanted Snoop just for the entertainment. Who knows?
With all the corporate involvement now in the festival, Snoop Dog speaking … is it just me, or is SXSW off the tracks?
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
LABELS TAKING A MUCH CLOSER LOOK AT SPOTIFY
She took a lot of grief in the media about it, but Taylor Swift's criticism of Spotify last fall has helped prompt major record labels to question the entire "freemium" music streaming model in hopes that consumers will upgrade to paid services.
"We need to limit free," says one source. Read More
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
AND HERE'S WHY LABELS ARE TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT SPOTIFY AND ALL STREAMING … GOODBYE "FREEMIUM"
From CNET: 'Streaming music drowns out CD sales in US for the first time'
U.S. revenue from streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and Apple's Beats eclipsed sales of CDs last year, according to data from the music industry's trade group. Read more
And ... Revenues from streaming music services grew 29% to $1.87 billion in 2014. Full story at TheWrap
And more: "Streaming services are going to be the major method in the way music is accessed. I don't think enough money trickles down to the songwriters," says Sony/ATV CEO Marty Bandier. Streaming music was supposed to be the savior of the record business, putting the brakes on piracy while mining new ground for revenue. But artists argue they are getting paid a fraction of their worth — and that advertisers, not musicians — are profiting. Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
YOU TUBE'S LOUDNESS CONTROL
From Productionadvice.com come the article 'YouTube Just Put The Final Nail In The Loudness War's Coffin'
What does this mean ? It means that YouTube have been using loudness normalization on their music videos -- and they've been doing it since December last year. Everything plays at a similar loudness, regardless of how it was mastered. And no one has noticed.
BETWEEN THE GROOVES
APPLE TV WITH SIRI:
Mashable reports, "We may finally see a new Apple TV this summer, according to a new report. Apple will show off an updated Apple TV set-top box, along with an App Store, at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this June, BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski reported." Read more
CHECK IT OUT:
What's it like to mix live sound for some of the world's biggest bands? Front-of-house engineer David Haines mixes live sound for the Black Eyed Peas, among others. He fills the Audiophiliac in on how it works. Read more
REALLY? MAYBE PEOPLE JUST DIDN'T WANT IT:
AdWeek reports "During a South by Southwest keynote today, Google X's moonshots captain, Astro Teller, told a packed crowd that Google Glass failed because of the negative publicity and bad marketing it suffered from in recent years." Read more
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Will Receive Theatrical Run
Music Publishing News Roundup 3.20.2015: "Blurred Lines," Pandora vs. BMI, Kendrick Lamar
Pharrell Finally Fights Back: Blurred Line's Verdict "Handicaps Any Creator"
Amy Winehouse Doc Coming This Summer
Watch Nile Rodgers and Karlie Kloss Bring Disco Back in Chic's New Video 'I'll Be There' Read »
Vegas Staple Carlos Santana Dishes on His Top 4 Sin City Tips (Including Skip the Gambling!)
Robert Plant to Bring Sensational Space Shifters on the Road
What The Music Industry Can Learn From The Beer Industry
YouTube star Michelle Phan's Ipsy startup hits 1M paid members
Google Launches "YouTube For Artists" Free Toolkit For D.I.Y. Musicians
Apple Brings iTunes Radio Inventory To Programmatic
7 Movie Special Effects You Won't Believe Aren't Computers
Retractable earbuds give this Bluetooth headphone an edge
Tim Cook On Apple's Future: Everything Can Change Except Values
10 ideas with the most funding
Amazon Fire TV Stick review: A streaming hot bargain
Apple said to plan September launch of subscription TV service
Short News Items ...
VAN THE MAN WITH FRIENDS:
Steve Winwood, Mavis Staples and even the late Bobby Womack all turn up on Van Morrison's new 'Duets' album. It's not a hits collection, but lesser-known songs the singer has been hoping to remake for years. Stream it here. Read More
TOM CRUISE WON'T BE HAPPY WHEN HE SEES IT:
Having already stirred up a hornet's nest when it premiered at Sundance, Oscar winner Alex Gibney's 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief' is about to become appointment viewing on HBO. "The best documentaries are made for the long haul," he says. Read More
R&R HOF SPEAKERS:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced presenters for this year's ceremony, including Paul McCartney inducting Ringo Starr and Stevie Wonder for Bill Withers. Patti Smith, Peter Wolf and Fall Out Boy will also help salute the Class of 2015. Read More
The government used to say it couldn't confirm the effects of marijuana because it hadn't been properly tested. "I'm a walking guinea pig. I've been testing it for well over 50 years," says Tommy Chong, who has become more active than ever in weed advocacy. Read More
PRINCE IN FORM:
The splits are gone, and the lascivious moments are toned way down. But at the Louisville show kicking off his Hit and Run USA tour, 56-year-old Prince proved that neither age nor reported hip problems have dulled his seismic live performances. Read More
Andy Fraser, bassist for legendary British band Free and co-writer of "All Right Now," died on Monday (March 16th) at his home in California after battling both AIDS and cancer. Fraser co-founded Free when he was just 15-years-old with Paul Rodgers, the late Paul Kossoff, and Simon Kirke.
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Study: Not Many Disco Songs About Daytime
NEW YORK -- In perhaps the most comprehensive analysis yet of the genre's lyrical content, a Columbia University study published Friday found that very few disco songs have been written about daytime.
The survey, which encompassed every known disco album or single released from 1973 through 1980, determined that the once-popular dance music celebrated the night, the nightlife, and boogieing till the break of day far more frequently than it did the hours between sunrise and sunset. 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
"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