When It Was Fun
March 27, 2015
"And the most amazing thing is I get paid for doing this."
-- Steve Martin
Several years ago, old friend and ex-EVP/Promotion (and more) at Columbia Records Bob Sherwood sent me an e-mail telling me that upon a visit back to the "Black Rock" (the CBS building where Columbia Records was headquartered) on 52nd Strret in New York City, he happen to ride the elevator with an attorney. (At least that's how I remember it)
I'm paraphrasing here, and recalling Bob's e-mail as best I can. The attorney looked at Bob and asked if he used work in the music division. Bob answered "Yes."
The attorney said, "I heard this used to be a real fun business at one time … is that true?"
Bob laughed and said, "Indeed it was."
Back in 2007, I wrote this in a commentary titled 'Once Upon A Time In The Record Business:' "I'm glad I had the opportunity to work in the business when radio and record people weren't afraid to grab a bite to eat together, to go to a movie together, to play new music for each other until the wee hours of the morning at the studio or at our hotel rooms when we were on the road, to talk about our lives outside the business, to just hang out and get to know each other. It made all our jobs that much more enjoyable and it made us all better professionals because we knew and understood each other's jobs. We had symbiotic relationships that allowed us to create success stories for each other. And always, it was about the MUSIC."
Like I said, the record and radio people back then broke a ton of new music. Many of the artists broken in the '70s and '80s are still making records today. Many of them receive airplay every day on Classic-formatted stations all over the country. Many still tour to very respectable audiences. Many still sell 'Greatest Hits' packages and catalog.
I don't think many of the new artists on the radio today will be able to do the same in 10 or 20 years. I think we're going to see a whole lot more of "one-hit wonders" as radio tries to satisfy an audience that consumes new music like junk food (witness the success of the 'Now That's What I Call Music' Volumes as evidence), and uses the "flavor-of-the-month" for their cellphone's ringtone."
Yes, it was "the best of times" and almost all of us in the business in the "glory days" couldn't believe we were actually getting paid to do what we did, in whatever capacity. It was all about the MUSIC.
At SXSW, Colin Hanks debuted his documentary 'All Things Must Pass' about Tower Records in the industry's golden era.
From Why Music Fans Need to See Colin Hanks' Tower Records Doc 'All Things Must Pass' -- "Everybody in a record store is your friend for 20 minutes or so," Bruce Springsteen announces in All Things Must Pass, Colin Hanks' nerdy, nostalgic documentary about Tower Records, which premiered last week at SXSW after seven years in the making. As ex-Tower clerk Dave Grohl points out later, this is not necessarily true of most record store employees, who have a snobbish reputation. But Tower was different.
For all his glorification of Tower's knowledgeable staff and comprehensive selection, Hanks also recognizes the need to tell a story that, in many ways, echoes the rise and fall of the record biz itself. This is why All Things Must Pass is worth seeing even if you're a music fan who possesses little nostalgia for Tower Records."
A truly GREAT music chain, and radio and records all working together because of the MUSIC.
Wow, was it fun.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
FOLLOW-UP TO JOAN JETT INTERVIEW LAST WEEK
In my rush to get Joan's interview in the newsletter and get it out to readers as fast as possible last week, I failed to mention that Joan Jett is received a trophy naming her a 'Golden God.'
It's the first time in the show's six-year history that a woman was honored with this award, which previously went to the likes of Kiss's Gene Simmons and Alice Cooper. "No one deserves this award more than Joan Jett," Cooper said in a statement. "She's never compromised who she is -- she's a rocker through and through. I wish some of the younger bands had the balls that Joan Jett does!"
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
LESS PEOPLE WANT THEIR MTV
From Rolling Stone, "MTV, once the network of choice for young people, is in a rut. Ratings slipped five percent last year, advertising revenues were down three percent, and viewership for last summer's Video Music Awards dropped 18%.
The channel's parent company, Viacom, just laid off several top executives -- including producer and 28-year veteran Dave Sirulnick, who was one of MTV's last ties to its golden age. "Some of the programming we acquired years ago just doesn't work anymore," Viacom's chief executive, Philippe Dauman, told investors, announcing a plan to save $250 million. Read the article
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
BROADBAND COMPANIES SUE BECAUSE OF NEW NET NEUTRALITY RULES
A pair of lawsuits challenge agency's new Internet traffic rules, calling them a violation of federal law.
BETWEEN THE GROOVES
TV Everywhere efforts are forecast to make stronger gains in terms of usage this year -- although growing too slowly for some TV executives. "Active viewership" of TV Everywhere services will hit 18% of all pay TV customers to be using it this year. Adobe says Apple's iPad is the most popular screen to watch TV Everywhere. Read the whole story
Digiday reports "Sorry, Meerkat. Periscope hit the iTunes store on Thursday morning and puts up some weighted competition in the world of video live-streaming: Twitter purchased the app for $100 million before it hit the public, and its release immediately generated major buzz." Read more
THE APPLE WATCH & BRANDS:
Digiday reports "The Apple Watch was formally announced just last month, but developers have been creating apps for the platform since November 2014, when Apple released WatchKit the toolkit that allows developers to begin coding and testing apps for the smartwatch." Read more
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
Ozzy Osbourne Needs Surgery, Cancels Ozzfiesta
Bursting The Music Tech Bubble
Personal Managers Name Hall Of Fame Inductees
Carole King Musical Heading to the Big Screen
Van Halen Plan TV Performances, Lengthy Summer Tour
Lollapalooza 2015: Paul McCartney, Metallica to Headline
The Doors, Radiohead Added to National Recording Registry
Kiss' Gene Simmons Gets Into the Horror Movie Business With WWE
Watch Tom Hanks & 'Late Late' Host James Corden Reenact Every Tom Hanks Movie in 8 Minutes
Brian Wilson Explains Scrapped Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey Collabs
Carly Rae Jepsen, Mumford & Sons Playing 'SNL' in April
Which Artists Wrote These Famous Songs for Other People? Click to Reveal!
Elton John, Mumford & Sons Headline Outside Lands 2015
6 Movies Based on a True Story That Left Out Important Stuff
Apple to Relaunch Beats Music Service With Trent Reznor
Four tidbits on YouTube star Michelle Phan even fans won't know
Headphones and home theater gear hitting this spring
The dirty little secret about bookshelf speakers
Amazon Fire TV Stick adds hotel-friendly Wi-Fi sign-in
Review: Creative SoundBlaster Jam
Apple Byte: Expect the new Apple TV at WWDC 2015 (video)
Periscope vs. Meerkat: Which live-video app is best?
Shipping soon: New 2015 TVs
Tablets on tap for spring 2015
7 things to consider before canceling cable
Short News Items ...
SWEET BABY JAMES NEWS:
The last time James Taylor released an album of new material, the Iraq War had yet to begin. "I got out of the habit of writing songs," says the singer, whose upcoming album 'Before This World' sounds like his enduring work from the Seventies. Read More
Before the Who kicked off their 50th anniversary tour this week, Rolling Stone spoke with singer Roger Daltrey, who said he wants the band to go out while they're on top: "The quality of the music is really what this is all about." Read More
AND THE WHO:
The Who Hits 50! tour dates at London's O2 Arena were part of what's being billed as the band's last go-round. But there was no air of sadness or finality: instead, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey bantered and bickered through almost all the hits. Read More
For the first time since 1981, Ringo Starr has the cover of Rolling Stone all to himself. Set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo act, he goes deep with Rolling Stone about his alcoholic past: "It gets really lonely, you know." Read More
SPOTIFY RANKS RS 500:
Spotify has taken the liberty of updating Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Tallying up play counts, the streaming service ranked Beyonce and Jay Z's "Crazy in Love" in the top spot, displacing Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." Read More
Industry legend and friend Sal Licata passed away on Friday after a brief illness. Kevin Carroll, who worked with Licata at Relativity, shared the sad news with us.
"Sal worked with Bob Krasnow and Tommy LiPuma during the early days of Blue Thumb Records," Carroll wrote. "He was a founding member of Clive Davis' original Arista team as EVP/GM, with Richard Palmese and Don Ienner as his promotion executives. Later, Sal was the President of EMI, fostering the successes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Richard Marx, Queensryche and others. After the EMI merger in 1991, Sal moved on, becoming President of RED Distribution and Relativity Records. There he created the most successful indie distribution model in music history and oversaw the career launches of such acts as Train, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Common, 311 and Government Mule.
"I learned a great deal from Sal," Carroll continued. "His leadership was extraordinary and he mentored many people, and I know the notification of his passing will be appreciated by all those he came in contact with."
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Study Finds Swans Only Other Animals Who Mate For Few Years, Get Scared, End Things, Then Regret It
ATHENS, GA—Revealing how closely the waterfowl's social behavior resembles that of humans, a study released Thursday by the University of Georgia has found that swans are the only other members of the animal kingdom that mate for a few years, get scared, decide to end things, and are later filled with immense regret.
Read the rest and laugh: Study Finds Swans Only Other Animals Who Mate For Few Years, Get Scared, End Things, Then Regret It
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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"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