Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The State Of Radio

Clear Channel will be laying off up to 1000 people, mostly in programming in mid and small size markets according to an article in Paid Content. Wikipedia state that Clear Channel owns 900 radio stations and is the largest radio station group owner. Not much talk is directed at the state of radio for the down slide in sales in the music business. The consolidation and control of radio to a handful of companies has had a monumental effect on how people hear music. I don't know anyone who listens to terrestrial radio now. Radio used to be a personal and local comfort. Stations are now programmed by one body of people, rather than each station taking into account their audience. The Jack stations sounded like an iPod on shuffle mode. Songs are not back announced so you have no idea what you just listened to. Major labels should have been protesting that years ago. You can't buy a record if you don't know the artist or what the title of the song is. The listener doesn't get insight on the recording, who may have played on it or when the artist will be in town. All of that came from a knowledgeable, passionate radio station staff. That all used to be part of the listening experience. Public radio still serves people this way (think WFUV, KEXP).

It was reported over a week ago that online radio listeners have increased to 42 million from 33 million in 2008. More on an article in Billboard. In most cases the stations that are truly online stations and not streaming from an existing terrestrial station are programmed by DJs in their home and sent from their laptop. It may not be a local thing, but it's a much more personal thing. The playlists are usually posted live; therefore, you never have to guess at who you're hearing. I remember putting my transistor radio, tuned to WABC, under my pillow at night. There was nothing more reassuring than that. The image of a child falling asleep with her laptop at her head, is probably not that different a scenario.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Social Media Strategy Outline For Bands

Hypebot posted a graphic that sums up why bands must use social networking tools. It's not telling artists anything new, but it does lay it out and makes it all very logical. This will help bands to focus their marketing. At the center of the hub is the website from which all roads (whether Reverb Nation or Twitter) lead to.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Study Finds Those Who Download Free Music, Tend To Purchase 10 Times More Than Those Who Don't

According to a Norwegian study, those who downloaded free music, either legally or illegally, purchased ten times more music than people who did not download free music. Billboard recaps a story in Afterposten. The study followed 2000 people over the age of 15.

This points to what I always believed, that serious music lovers will always purchase music. I think a lot of people download music to get a preview of what they will purchase. The few seconds you can sample on iTunes is not enough to judge. How long did the major labels release albums with one hit and 9 inferior songs without the option of buying just the single? The music consumer got fed up with it. They got hip to the lousy music. Wonder why the single is king now?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Saturday is Record Store Day

Unfortunately record stores are becoming a dying breed. Go support your local record store tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Do Royalties From YouTube Amount To?

Peter Waterman, songwriter of Rick Astley's hit "Never Gonna Give You Up," is not happy with Google's royalty payments and compared his royalties from YouTube to the "exploitation" suffered by foreign workers in Dubai according to a piece in the Telegraph. The Astley video has been viewed 154 million times on YouTube, according to the article, and Waterman says he has received £11 ($16.30) from Google. There are several posting of the video on YouTube, including Pop Up Video versions. The views ranged from 1.5 million to 16.3 million views. I'm assuming these are global views and not just US. If so, the 154 million claim seems rather high.

The PRS For Music organization based in the UK, wants Google/YouTube to pay higher royalties to songwriters for use of their work online and Waterman's comments were part of a press conference for the PRS for Music group, which is demanding higher payments to content creators.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Season Opener At Shea (oops!)

Tonight is the Mets official opening of Citi Field, which I continue to call Shea. My friend T'Boo refers to it a Two Shea (touche). In the spirit of things, my dog Dusty put on her game face and donned a Mets jersey. Let's Go Mets!

NIN Drummer Update on Promotional Campaign

Josh Freese, the drummer from Nine Inch Nails, posted a bunch of ways his music could be purchased: lunch with him, he'd write a song with your name in it, hanging out with Mark Mothersbaugh, etc. He wrote to Bob Lefsetz with an update on how his promotional campaign is going. The beauty of the campaign is that he did something with humor and integrity. How could you not be taken in by it? He seems to be enjoying it as much as his fans. It sounds like it is a winner. Here's the posting.

From: Josh Freese
Subject: Checking in with an update.
Hi there Bob. How are ya?

So, I wanted to check in and give you an update on what's been going on just after the first week or so of my records release. My label, "Outerscope Records" (that's me, my girlfriend and our nanny when the kids are asleep) is proud to report that I've sold about 150 of the $50 of the packages and all 25 of the $250 packages (those went in the first 24 hours.) In less than a week I have sold 4 of the $500, 2 of the $2,500, 2 of the $5,000, and the big old $20,000 package! No one has bought the $75,000 package yet but I've had someone fairly serious inquiries about it (still only "talk" at this point though.)

Any-hoo, I just started my "lunches" with people and I've been on the phone nonstop for the past few weeks with people who have bought the record (and a phone call option). It's actually been completely hectic and I've just finally got my head above water for a minute. My friends were joking the other day that I may be the only person in the music business that considers himself to be selling TOO MANY RECORDS right now! These phone calls and lunches are a lot to keep up with and I've hardly just begun. I still stay "BRING IT!" though. I made my bed and now I gotta' sleep in it.

I'm still waiting for some numbers regarding how many downloads or just regular CD's I've sold but my expectations aren't very high. But if it all stopped right now I can walk away feeling successful about the whole thing and I am pleasantly surprised at how many of the "packages" have sold. I truly did not expect them to sell so well. And sure it's been great to make some money doing it, but the most rewarding part has been getting feedback from people about how much they liked what I'd come up with. Or how much they laughed while reading the stuff at their desk or in the studio with their friends huddled around the computer. Getting the nod from smart, creative people always feels good. I've received emails and phone calls ranging from guys in Pearl Jam, to Tony Hawk to Trent Reznor to Billy Gibbons to Devo to top producers and label people all loving it and giving me big props on the whole thing. I had the head of marketing at a very prestigious and famous company (who shall remain nameless) tell me that she "hung her head in shame for a week after seeing my marketing plan." It was like, here she was doing this for a living and some dumb-ass rock drummer came along and smoked her at her own game... or something along those lines (sorry, I think I just pulled a muscle from patting myself on the back.) We had a laugh about it and I thanked her for the compliment. Point being, it's been nice receiving so many accolades from people I admire and from professionals who deal in this world every day. I also love the fact that this has nothing to do with drumming and writing music but EVERYTHING to do with being creative and unique.

I've got 6 of my 25 lunches under my belt now and it feels pretty good (and weird.) I've got one tomorrow and I'm doing 2 back to back on Saturday. I schedule all lunches from 11 AM to Noon so I can continue on with my "normal life" of showing up and doing sessions. So far people seem surprised and appreciative when I call them at home in Texas or Iowa or Greece or Australia (called all those places and another 100 cities so far.) The guy from Florida that bought the $20,000 package and I have been joined at the hip since Sunday and I won't even go into all the stuff that we've done in the past 4 days but I've already gone above and beyond for him and we're continuing to have a blast. I'll start posting stuff soon on my website and on youtube but just to give you a quick with Maynard James Keenan, pizza at Mark Mothersbaugh's house, sensory deprivation tank sessions, a signed snare drum I used on a Nine Inch Nails tour, slumber party at the Queen Mary, going to gigs of mine with me, pulling items out of my closet, etc, etc......He's a great kid and a friend for life. We're having him check out of his hotel and stay at our house tomorrow night. It's a LONG, LONG story that I'll write about later. You can laugh when I say this but it's true when I tell you that he came into my life for a reason other than just the $$. I actually feel bad about taking the $$ because at this point I'm not hanging out with him or pretending to be his friend for the cash. He got all of his stuff (and a bunch more that wasn't on the original menu) a while ago. He's a sweet 19 year old kid who's had a really rough last couple years (like REALLY fucking rough.) Like....this money he spent to come out here is part of a inheritance he received (you can fill in the blanks there.) I feel like his big brother and I'm trying to make this one of the best weeks of his life. OK, we're getting a little too heavy here SO...for now here's a shot of me and my first lunch date last week at the ol' Cheesecake Factory. His name's Andrew, he's a photographer for the OC Weekly and a super guy! Bob....if you want I'l throw ya a free $500 package and we can go floating in Venice and then whip over to Sizzler sometime. I'm telling ya'd dig it! Trust me...I'm a drummer.

Josh F

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Night Lights

Tonight is the season finale for Friday Night Lights. I should have been telling you to watch it at the beginning of the season, but there many ways to watch a show now. This season was first aired on Direct TV before airing on NBC, which is why the show is still in production. It's been renewed for two more 13 episode seasons. The writing and the acting are quality. It's also nice that this show is not chock full of gratuitously placed music. It's a show about real people, oh it happens to involve some football.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Common Line of Clothing Inspired by Microsoft

Common, the rapper and actor has two endorsements running now: a new fragrance for Diesel called "Only the Brave," and a line of PC-inspired clothing called Softwear for Microsoft.

According to the article in Billboard, Common has also partnered with Microsoft to launch Softwear, a clothing line inspired by PCs and revolving around when the machines started to become popular. Softwear tee-shirts, some of which were designed by Common, were made available in retail stores just a few weeks ago. (This news was originally reported in December)

After reading this I had to see what clothing inspired by a PC looked like. I can't imagine Microsoft sparking a person's creative inner fashion designer.

A Common designed shirt:

This design immediately takes me back to the 1980's. This shirt would be worn with leggings, possibly belted and of course the wearer would have on pointy-toed boots.

Here are two samples of classic shirts:

Nothing immediately comes to mind after viewing the DOS shirt or the one that features Bill Gates. Wait, wasn't there a Jim Morrison T Shirt with his mugshot from his arrest in Florida? These two are part of the collection but not designed by Common. I wonder if these are selling. I couldn't find sales figures. According to the clothing line's website, these cannot be purchased online, only in select stores. This seems like a very low tech strategy. In fact, this all seems very misguided. I'm not sure who the audience is or if there is an audience for items. Does Common have the influence to make this work? Has anyone seen a person wearing one of these shirts?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer wrote to Bob Lefsetz about her experiences with her record label, Roadrunner Records and her fight to be dropped from the label. She recorded a song called Please Drop Me to the tune of Moon River. Shades of Graham Parker's Mercury Poisoning. She's a member of the Dresden Dolls and made a solo record with producer Ben Folds in Nashville. Not being able to listen to Please Drop Me, I still decided to follow the link she provided. My puppy is sleeping (I have to grab the time when I get it), so audio was out of the question. Amanda is entertaining and informative. I guess I shouldn't find this story hard to believe, but it is. From her Leftsetz posting:

i had to EXPLAIN to the so-called "head of digital media" of roadrunner australia WHAT TWITTER WAS. and his brush-off that "it hasn't caught on here yet" was ABSURD because the next day i twittered that i was doing an impromptu gathering in a public park and 12 hours later, 150 underage fans - who couldn't attend the show - showed up to get their records signed.

Here are some other links to read about what makes her tick. I promise to listen to her song as soon as Dusty wakes up. I'm intrigued.

The Dresden Dolls
Who Killed Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer

Friday, April 03, 2009

Mary Tyler Moore at the Y

Leonard Lopate the legendary radio show host on WNYC, interviewed Mary Tyler Moore at the 92nd St Y. Mary has a new book out, Growing Up Again, which focuses on her life with diabetes. She was candid about not being a model for those with diabetes. She drank and smoke for many years after her diagnosis, which occurred after a miscarriage. The smoking actually caused her eyes to "bleed" and cloud over. She eventually had an operation which enabled her to see, but she no longer has peripheral vision. Mary looks great. In fact she looks better than she has in awhile. She looks more like the TV Mary we grew up with.

Leonard brought up Mary's fondness for Fox News, which of course created a nice banter between the two. Both saw Bill O'Reilly in a different light. She's a supporter of stem cell research. She believes there will be major breakthroughs in curing diabetes in her lifetime.

A highlight of Mary's career occurred in the second season (according to her, Wikipedia has it listed as the first season, airing on Oct 10, 1961) of the Dick Van Dyke Show. She was cast as the "straight man" for Rob Petrie. The writers took note of her sense of humor and decided to write a little bit of comedy for her. Laura dyes her hair blond to make her more attractive to Rob. She explained that when Rob came home she hid herself and her hair behind a life raft (who knew why that was in their house)to explain why she dyed her hair. To applause, she recreated her famous "Oh Rob" lament.

The Dick Van Dyke show, filmed 30 episodes per season. It seems that all my current favorite shows, including Friday Night Lights which was picked up for two more seasons, have less than half that per season, coming in at 13 episodes.

Bill Persky was in the audience. When I heard that name, the opening credits of That Girl came to mind. He's a writer/director who worked on That Girl, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Kate & Allie, etc.

They didn't touch on much involving her own show. They mentioned the amazing cast and that she was diagnosed as the show was in development. She said she based her character in Ordinary People on her father, a very stoic man, who never said I love you.

Mary did mention there was some movement on a possible return to the theater for her.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Hello It's Tums

I've seen the Tums TV ad twice now and I'm not sure why they use Todd Rundgren's Hello It's Me in the ad. My guess is the song brings back great memories and gets your attention. I hate to think that Hello It's Me triggers heartburn. I remember being in London in the mid-80's and there were tons of pop songs being used in commercials, not what was happening in the US then. Now songs are routinely placed in commercials, not always appropriately. I know a lot of people are still pondering Lust For Life promoting a cruise. Is the jingle industry dead? I miss hearing music written specifically for a product. How many of us can still recite the Big Mac ad? Two all beef patties, special sauce....... Wasn't it great to be stuck on Band-Aids, cause Band-Aids stuck on me? I understand the money was probably great for Todd, but I hope I can put out of my head that crazy image of a person eyeing pizza and then feeling sick every time I listen to Something/Anything.