Friday, October 31, 2008

Bruce Springsteen's Halloween Treat

Shore Fire Media sent me a link for Halloween.

A Note from Bruce:
Dear Friends and Fans,
If you grew up in central or south Jersey, you grew up with the "Jersey Devil." Here's a little musical Halloween treat. Have fun!

You can download the MP3 for free. The video is a bit creepy, which I'm guessing is the point. It starts off with The Boss emerging from water. It's dark, it looks like it's cold. He sings about witches and the devil. He wears a cross, looks angry and is a bit scary. He makes his point. In the final seconds of the video he submerges himself back in the water. Is it a baptism? Does this exorcise the devil?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Entertainment Lawyers: Hal Kant Raised the Bar

Entertainment lawyers (maybe lawyers in general) are derided, I'm guessing on a daily basis. For the most part, my dealings over the years with them has been nothing but positive. I lean towards being a logical thinker which is a bit of a paradox being in the entertainment business. A lot of the business is illogical, which is why I think I work so well with lawyers. There has to be logic in what they do.

Hal Kant a Queens born/Bronx raised, Beverly Hills attorney who's most prominent client was the Grateful Dead passed away on October 19th. The Wall Street Journal has an informative obit on him. He formed the Grateful Dead's business.

  • He gave his blessing to fans taping the shows
  • He made the band incorporate -which lead to health benefits and pension plans
  • He negotiated so that the band retained their master recordings
  • He made sure managers were paid a flat fee rather than a %.
The key to his success may be his degree in psychology which he obtained before serving in the Korean War. He used his GI Bill money to get a law degree from Harvard. When interns used to work with me. They would always ask "What courses should I be taking to learn more about music management?" My broken record answer was always psychology. I would always get a perplexed look. If you can relate to an artist on his/her level and see things from his/her perspective as well as keeping his/her business in mind, 90% of the time, you'll be successful. There is always that 10% that will never understand the business no matter how it's presented. Hal seemed to have his finger on the realities and the nuances.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Historic Baseball Day

I can't recall a suspended World Series game continuing two days later, but that will happen tonight in Philly. When we last left off Philly and Tampa Bay were tied at 2. The game will air after the 30 Obama infomercial.

In another historic baseball moment, in 1969 Tom Seaver won the Cy Young award. To put his amazing year in perspective, He received the highest numbers from Baseball Writers' Association of America's Hall of Fame vote. Tom Terrific went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA. He won two more games in his three postseason starts. Here is where the voting stands to this day. It's interesting that two pitchers who started their careers as Mets, lead the pack. Now if only a current Met could throw the teams first no-hitter.

Top BBWAA Voting Percentages for Hall of Famers
Tom Seaver (1992) 98.84%
Nolan Ryan (1999) 98.79%
Cal Ripken Jr. (2007) 98.53%
Ty Cobb (1936) 98.23%
George Brett (1999) 98.19%
Hank Aaron (1982) 97.83%
Tony Gwynn (2007) 97.61%
Mike Schmidt (1995) 96.52%
Johnny Bench (1989) 96.42%

Monday, October 27, 2008

CD Baby's Founder Received $22 Million for Site -Money Going to Charity

From Hypebot:

Entrepreneur Forms Musician's Charitable Trust

$22 million. From a one man operation in his garage to a $22 million sale to Disc Makers in ten years. It's a story that will flame the fires of hope for hundreds of music entrepreneurs The story is made more powerful because Derek Sivers is generous with his time and because he earned it by providing much needed services for indie musicians.

CD Baby sells CDs and downloads for almost a quarter million artists and to date has sold 4.5 million CD's paying out $83 million to them. I don't know about much about purchase multiples, but why would Disc Makers pay $22 million for a company that size whose core business, CD sales, is on the decline? TRUST. Those quarter million artists trust CD Baby to treat them fairly and pay them quickly. Disc Makers may be able to build on that trust and its own reputation to create a one stop shop for independent and d.i.y. music.
What will Sivers do with his big pay day? He's put into Musician's Charitable Trust: "I didn't even want the money... It's all just going back to the musicians," he told Venture Voice

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How Long Has This Campaign Been Going On?

Doesn't it seems like Gilmore Girls ended 4 years ago or is that how long this campaign has been going on? I was listening to Carole King's Tapestry and heard "Where You Lead" which made me think of Gilmore Girls
. On the final episode of the show, Rory is leaving to go on the road as a political blogger following Barak Obama's campaign.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Ever Narrowing Music Business and It's Effects

The fragmentation of the music business has affected so many areas beyond the major labels, which I don’t think a lot of people realize. There was a posting in Celebrity Access today about the uber-concerts/music festivals. Australian promoters such as Andrew McManus have had to renegotiate deals with agents and managers, McManus for the 54 shows he was to promote. The shrinking markets and sinking Australian dollar account for some of it. "The demise of the dollar has given me basically two hours' sleep for 10 days, working round the clock, dealing with umpteen managers, umpteen number of agents, to try to restructure the whole landscape of each deal to the point where I have actually sacked a number of deals," McManus told the Brisbane Times.
"Either the acts have taken a reduction or I've got rid of them … That's how bleak the whole ****ing thing's been."

For the most part, the record companies were doing us a great favor by narrowing the market. They limited the amount of musical offering each month. With new technology and options like CD Baby and TuneCore, anyone can record music on their laptop and have it up for sale/distribution within days. This completely dilutes the market. With so many choices how do you know what’s good, what you like, etc? There are sites like Sonic Boomers that suggest music they think boomers would like and they do a good job of it. For the most part, you could spend all day trying to keep up with every new act that comes out.

The inexhaustible number of musicians out there, which I think is a major reason for the declining interest in festival shows, really hit me when I looked at the list of bands playing CMJ. Here are the names of the acts I recognized for today’s schedule out of approximately 272 listed:

  • Charlie Louvin is 81 years old and he is possibly the Grandfather of alt country
  • George Clinton, know as the godfather of funk
  • Sam Champion I know them because they are named after the once local and now national weatherman
  • It’s Not You It’s Me Took note of their name a few weeks back, have no idea what they sound like
  • The Dears Canadian band that has been around for a few years
  • Juliana Hatfield Started in the Blake Babies
  • Ari Gold I don’t really know this artist, I just know the name as the agent on Entourage.
  • Matt Keating was managed by a friend
  • KaiserCartel is managed by a friend, but my husband saw their show a few years back and liked them and bought their CD
  • Dave Doobinin was on the bill a few times with All Night Chemists
  • Coheed & Cambria on Columbia Records. Richard on the Howard Stern show once wet his pants during one of their shows, as he couldn’t tear himself away from the performance to use the bathroom.

Technically I’ve only heard the music of 8 of 272 of them. Not sure if this means I am out of touch or the market is so saturated that it’s impossible to know. It's also quite a statement that 272 bands will be playing in NY tonight and most of it occurs below 14th St and it does not include all the day parties and performances that are not offical. I realize that my expertise is in adult alternative, but that genre has become pretty broad. A musician I know said that CMJ seems like a bunch of MySpace friends coming to NY to play. I don't know that you can fill a stadium or book a festival around a bunch of MySpace friends.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Surviving Sounds of Haida

Surviving Sounds of Haida is a documentary by Fred Otilius Olsen, JR. This project is near and dear to his heart. As a native Alaskan, he feels the importance of preserving the Haida language. There are only several people left who can speak it and they are over 75 years old. Alaska is in the spotlight these past two months, so the timing of the completed documentary couldn't be better. It gives us a completely different side of Alaska than the Wasillaesque point of view we've been seeing. Watch Fred's documentary. It's an 8 minute labor of love. Also check out Fred's New York Nitty Gritty website. A wry and insightful pictorial of New York.

For more information, the Haida language has it's own website.
I found it ironic that there was a translation of this line on their website:
Díi git dahlgiyáagang -- My daughter is pregnant

Adáahl dláng hl kíngsaang
(I’ll see all of you tomorrow)

Levi Stubbs-Lead Singer of The Four Tops

The music of the Four Tops was omnipresent on WABC radio when I was young. Their lead singer Levi Stubbs had a urgency in his voice especially heard on Bernadette. I remember being a little frightened by that song. Here was a guy who was pleading, on his knees, at wits end. crying for Bernadette with an intensity not heard by me at that time. The Four Tops had their first No. 1 single in 1965, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)”. Other songs that will always get the crowd dancing are "Reach Out, I'll Be There" -a favorite live cover for David Johansen, "The Same Old Song", "Standing In The Shadows of Love", etc.

Mr Stubbs passed away on the 18th. No cause was given. His wife of 48 years survives him, as well as 5 children.

According to his obit in the NY Times, Levi's cousin was Jackie Wilson (Higher and Higher). As jazz singers the Four Tops played the Tonight Show when Jack Parr was the host covering In The Still Of The Night.

Billy Bragg immortalized Levi in his song "Levi Stubbs' Tears":

When the world falls apart some things stay in place

She takes off the Four Tops tape and puts it back in its case
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs' tears...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lucky Old Sun: A Popular AlbumTitle From A Song That's 59 Years Old

Brian Wilson released his latest album That Lucky Old Sun on Sept 2nd. On Oct 14th Kenny Chesney released his latest album Lucky Old Sun. Huh? Brian Wilson has been playing the song live for over a year as part of a suite of music. He talked about his love for the 1949 song, which is why he included it on his latest record and names the album after the song. So Kenny Chesney decides to do a duet with Willie Nelson of the very same song and takes away the "That" for his album title. Was Chesney inspired by Wilson's song choice?

As Wilson told USA Today: "I always liked that song," he says of That Lucky Old Sun, first popularized in 1949 by Frankie Laine. "A couple of years ago, I went to the record store, got Louis Armstrong's version, brought it home and learned it. I rearranged it and taught it to my band."

Neal Hefti - Composer of Batman Theme Dies

Composer, arranger, big band trumpeter Neil Heft has died at 85. Two of the most memorable theme songs: The Odd Couple and Batman were written by him. Everyone can sing both of them. Hefti said the Batman theme was the hardest music he ever wrote. From the LA Times:

"I tore up a lot of paper," he told Jon Burlingame, author of "TV's Biggest Hits," a 1996 book on television themes. "It did not come easy to me. . . . I just sweated over that thing, more so than any other single piece of music I ever wrote. I was never satisfied with it."

"Batman," he said, "was not a comedy. This was about unreal people. Batman and Robin were both very, very serious. The bad guys would be chasing them, and they would come to a stop at a red light, you know. They wouldn't break the law even to save their own lives. So there was a grimness and a self-righteousness about all this."

Hefti said it took him "the better part of a month" to come up with the theme.

"I was almost going to call them and say, I can't do it," he said. "But I never walk out on projects, so I sort of forced myself to finish."

Hefti's "musical solution to a combined dramatic and comedic problem," Burlingame wrote in his book, "was perfect: bass guitar, low brass and percussion to create a driving rhythm, while an eight-voice chorus sings 'Batman!' in harmony with the trumpets. It was part serious, part silly: just like the series."

Hefti's "Batman" tune became a Top 40 hit -- for both the Hefti and the Marketts' versions -- and won a 1966 Grammy Award for best instrumental theme.

Miles Davis credited him with making the Count Basie Band sound as good as it did. Hefti produced, composed and arranged for Count Basie. He also served as head of A&R for Reprise Records in the early 60's. He also composed music for films including Sex and The Single Girl, Barefoot in the Park and How to Murder Your Wife.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

EMI Starting An Online Music Service

It seems like it's 8 years too late, but EMI is launching an online music service, which according to the WSJ is to gather customer behavior patterns rather than actually make money. There are so many ways to gauge what fans are thinking. Online message boards and postings are filled with kudos and complaints about what works and what does not. Throwing what I'm guessing is large sums of money into an already overcrowded field seems fruitless. There are so many places to buy music, the easiest being iTunes, Consumers will be confused with another entry like EMI's. It used to be the only place to buy music was either a record store or for the big artists a place like Target, now each label has it's own site. Tthe consumer doesn’t look for these sites. The labels have already lost trust with the consumer. Why would they go to the labels website to find out about an artist or buy music? They can go directly to the source meaning the artist or go to iTunes which is a trusted entity. There is also the option of pulling it from someone else for free. It's not trusted, but it is free.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Defamation Emails: How to Bash a Candidate with Falsifications and Half Truths

I'm not going to pontificate on whom to vote for. To quote Johnny Mathis (written by Allen & Stillman), "That's not for me to say". I have been forwarded an extraordinary amount of emails defaming the character of the candidates for the highest offices in our country. I have dissected and followed up on each one of them only to find that the information is either blatantly false or a half truth. What saddens me most is that the majority of people read it, believe it and delete it. I could be wrong, but I don't think people are trying to get to the bottom of the story and prove it's worth.

It's going to get uglier in the days leading up to 11/4. Most important is what the candidate stands for and is it what you believe in. Who do you think will be better at eliminating our dependence on foreign oil and helping to preserve our environment? Who is more level headed to guide us out of economic disaster? The next president will probably appoint 3 judges to the Supreme Court. How do you want them to vote? Who has a better foreign policy and who will help mend our global relations? Let's focus on the issues.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Musicians Unite: UK Leads The Way

Frank Sinatra tried to unionize US musicians. He found no other takers and eventually dropped the cause. Many, Many years later in the UK, musicians are banding together to gain control of their rights and not have the record companies negotiate the deals for them. Radiohead, Billy Bragg and Robbie Williams are just a few name that have signed on. According to the Featured Artists' Coalition's website:

The Featured Artists' Coalition campaigns for the protection of performers' and musicians' rights. We want all artists to have more control of their music and a much fairer share of the profits it generates in the digital age. We speak with one voice to help artists strike a new bargain with record companies, digital distributors and others, and are campaigning for specific changes.

Their manifesto, states that it's now time that the musicians take control of their destiny in this digital age. Radiohead is leading the charge. They are the first major artist to forgo a major record label on their latest release and feel that they should not have to live by rules that were dictated by the labels, which are not supporting their interest. Musicians that are interested can join the cause. Will the US follow?

Friday, October 03, 2008

MySpace Music

MySpace Music finally launched after a few false starts. From comments I've seen, MySpacers who offered free downloads from their page are not happy about the change. Apparently songs won't play, lyrics can't be downloaded and you have to arrange to "sell" your music for free. Expectations were not high for this new music service. It's a shame that artists can no longer control how their music is distributed on MySpace. Through their postings, these are the same people that built MySpace.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Concerts of Note

PHISH: After a 4 year retirement, Phish is reuniting for 3 shows at the Hampton Coliseum March 6, March 7 and March 8, 2009.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: will perform Monday at an Eastern Michigan University rally for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Springsteen will play a free acoustic set and headline the rally at Oestrike Stadium on Eastern Michigan's campus.

Springsteen is also scheduled to perform Saturday at a Philadelphia rally and on Sunday at Ohio State University. Springsteen will team up with Billy Joel in a joint concert at an Obama campaign fundraiser in New York City on Oct. 16 at the Hammerstien Ballroom. It looks like ticket prices range from $500 to $10,000 if there are any to be had.