Thursday, April 28, 2011

Albums are for fans, singles are for newbies

Albums are for fans, singles are for newbies.

Don't make an album expecting to reach a new audience.  If you want to reach a new audience, focus on the single.

-Bob Lefetz

Bob is so spot on.  Consumers stopped buying music because they were sick of getting one or two good songs on an album and the rest were mediocre.  They still had to plop down $12-$15.  When you anaylize the cost, they paid about $7 per song, if there were two good songs on the CD. 

When I was growing up, all we really had were singles.  I did buy, or my parents bought for me Meet the Beatles and the rest of the Beatles albums through Help. I owned all the Monkees albums.  It probably wasn't until the 1970's when I started buying albums on a regular basis. Up to that point it was all singles.  When I bought Build Me Up Buttercup, do you think I was wondering if the Foundations had a whole album of songs like that?  No.  I had three Bobby Sherman singles, but no albums, same for the Supremes. 

I remember the lyrics to all those songs to this day, even if I haven't heard the song in years.  Music sticks with you whether it's a song or a whole album full of them.  Put out music when you make it.  Don't save it for an album.  There are only a few amazing concept albums that are meant to be listened to as a whole.  Keep your fan base active.  There should be no downtime when it comes to enlightening your fans.  No one is waiting three years for your next album. 

Read Bob's full post here

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mavis, A Tribute to Ellie and Bettye

Lincoln Center Out Of Doors just announced their summer lineup and it's chock a block with morsels for your ears.  The women come on strong.  Lesley Gore, La La Brooks, background singer extraordinaire Ula Hedwig and Toni Wine are just  a portion of the females performing on July 30th, which includes a tribute to Ellie Greenwich.

Mavis Staples takes you to The Damrosch Park Bandshell the following day.  Did you see the profile of her on CBS Sunday Morning this week?  Laurie Anderson brings along some friends on August 10th.  Closing out the summer on August 14th is Steve Cropper and friends Tribute To The “5” Royales.  Joining them will be powerhouse Bettye Lavette.

Phoebe Snow RIP

Just listening to the Wrap Up Show on Howard 100 and was sad to learn that Phoebe Snow passed away.  According to ABC News, she died from complications of a brain hemorrhage she suffered in January 2010.  As her manager Sue Cameron put so well, "The loss of this unique and untouchable voice is incalculable."  Gary Dell'Abate said he loved having her on the show. She always came on reluctantly, but loved the feedback she received.  She was a devoted mom to her daughter, who was brain damaged and died at age 31. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Believe Anything You've Heard About This Band

PR gets one over on journalists. Ann Powers demystifies the "band" Delicate Steve. It's actually one guy, Steve Marion who records instrumental music. He's on the Luaka Bop's label.

It's hard enough to get any press attention for your band. It's that much harder to convince someone to write about instrumentals.  Steve's label thought it would be a great idea to get Chuck Klosterman to write the bio. Chuck is a music writer and has written several books which  include one about visiting musician death sites.  He was given free reign to write whatever he wanted. He didn't even have to listen to the music.  The idea paid off.

Publicists have told me that nobody really reads past the first few lines of a press release.  Well the headline of Delicate Steve's is a winner.  THE CRITICS UNILATERALLY CONCUR: DELICATE STEVE IS A BAND WHO CREATES MUSIC.  This basically tells you that Delicate Steve perform and more than likely write their own music.  Ann pondered this.

My favorite line of the bio:  "Delicate Steve was signed to the label before anyone at Luaka Bop heard even a moment of their music – all he needed to experience was a random conversation about what they hoped to achieve as a musical five-piece." The "he" they are referring to is a real person, but not an A and R guy as mentioned.  I wonder if Chuck was thinking The Rutles when he wrote this.  The Rutles was filled with so many brilliant stories.  There were strict security measure taken for The Rutles first play at Che Stadium:

As a security precaution the Rutles arrived by helicopter a day early. This enabled them to be safely out of the place before the audience came in. It was a brilliant public relations coup. The kids were screaming so hard that thousands never noticed the difference. Promoter Syd Bottle described it as the most exciting twenty minutes of his life.

Delicate Steve - "Wondervisions" Video (Feat. Nat Baldwin) from stereogum on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sammy's Alien Abduction

In my last post, I reviewed Sammy Hagar's book.  I did not mention his encounter with aliens, which seems to be the part of the book getting the most attention.  I would be remiss if I didn't post the recreation of that scene as shown on Jimmy Kimmel's show.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rockstar & Entrepreneur Does It Get Any Better?

Being a rock star is a dream so few people achieve.  Being a successful entrepreneur is probably an even bigger dream now.  Being both, well does it get any better? Sammy Hagar appreciates what he has. 

Red: My Uncensored Life in RockHe has such passion for music and life, which is what makes reading his book Red My Uncensored Life In Rock so much fun. 

He grew up in California.  His grandparents were migrant farm workers. His mother, a first generation American (Italian parents), married his father when she was 15 years old.  His father “could beat up anyone.”  Sammy is the baby of his family.  The mother, with kids in tow, would flee the father more than once.  His father was an abusive alcoholic.  When his dad was sober for nine months, it was the happiest time of Sammy’s childhood. 

As with a lot of musicians, when he heard the Beatles, his career path was decided.  Sammy saw the Rolling Stones in 1964 in San Bernardino.  He and a friend (who taught him to play guitar) snuck in the venue right behind the band. He was at the band's first US show.  His mother told him if he learned how to play Never On Sunday, she would buy him a guitar. Not wanting this opportunity to pass, he learned the song and got his guitar. 

Great lesson for aspiring musicians:  If you want something bad enough you’ll get it.
“I got a record deal because I went to bed writing songs.  I woke up in the morning writing songs.  I spent every second of my waking hours trying to write songs.”  He’s a great songwriter. He’s writing the lyrics to I Can’t Drive 55 as the cop is giving him a speeding ticket. 

He never stopped touring.  After he left Montrose and embarked on a solo career, he opened for bands like Boston.  On nights off he would play smaller venues.  He was on the road constantly.  He befriended promoters such as Bill Graham and Louis Messina.  He was selling out arenas, but Capitol Records couldn’t get him past the 350,000 records sold mark.  When he signed with Geffen Records, the hits followed. 

The cliché story is the one where the musician becomes popular, has success and then it goes to his/her head.  He/she becomes complacent.   Sammy does a 180. “Success really motivated me.  When I was hungry I lacked confidence.  I was faking it.  It took fame and fortune for me to become myself.” 

No matter how famous he was, his mother reminded him that he needed something to fall back on.  He took this to heart and the entrepreneur took over. He co-founded the second largest fire sprinkler company in the US. He owned a bike shop.  He funded a travel agency.  It didn’t make him a lot of money, but he had no travel costs on the road.  I worked for such a company that was co-owned by John Telfer who was managing Joe Jackson at the time.  He funded it for the same reason. 

One of Sammy’s financial disasters was a clothing company.  He turned his “red” branding into a line of clothing.  They didn’t meet deadlines and it went under. 

His best-known ventures are the Cabo Wabo Cantinas and Cabo Wabo Tequila.  The history of both is worth the read.  A few years ago he sold 80 percent of his Cabo Wabo tequila business to Gruppo Campari for $80 million

Oh, there is also a band called Van Halen.  If you want rock star tales, there are plenty of them in this section. Sammy as it seems is  always looking for something to stimulate him.  He took a pay cut to join Van Halen.   The band’s best songs came during the Sammy years. Why Can’t This Be Love and Right Now are the standouts. 
It was not easy reading about the decline of Eddie Van Halen.  Sammy doesn’t paint a rosy picture.  Although he appears to have loved working with him, Eddie’s misery was too much to deal with.  After Sammy was pushed out of the band, you’ll wonder why he ever wanted to try a second time.

This book is inspiring for someone who wants to be a musician and/or entrepreneur.   If you’re willing to put in the hours and are passionate about your craft/project, it can be done.  Stay positive and grasp life.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Coachella Live Streaming On YouTube

The music starts here at 4pm PST. 

Here's the schedule, which is subject to change:

Tonight, April 15th
Channel 1
4:10PM • The Drums
4:55PM • Cee Lo Green
5:45PM • Moving Units
6:30PM • Ozomatli
7:25PM • Interpol
8:35PM • Ms. Lauryn Hill
9:55PM • Kings of Leon
11:15PM • The Black Keys
12:05AM • Gayngs
Channel 2
4:00PM • !!!
4:50PM • Warpaint
5:35PM • Cold Cave
6:25PM • YACHT
7:10PM • Cold War Kids
8:00PM • Titus Andronicus
9:00PM • The Pains Of Being Pure ...
10:00PM • Tame Impala
10:55PM • Monarchy
12:00AM • Flogging Molly
Channel 3
4:30PM • The Morning Benders
5:45PM • Ariel Pink's Haunted Gra...
7:25PM • Interpol - surveillance
8:20PM • Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
12:00AM • Scala & Kolacny Bros.

Saturday April 16th
Channel 1
4:00PM • Freelance Whales
4:50PM • Erykah Badu
6:05PM • Broken Social Scene
6:55PM • Here We Go Magic
7:40PM • Gogol Bordello
8:30PM • Mumford & Sons
9:25PM • The Swell Season
10:20PM • Bright Eyes
Channel 2
4:30PM • Two Door Cinema Club
5:20PM • Cage The Elephant
6:10PM • The Foals
7:00PM • The New Pornographers
7:55PM • The Kills
9:05PM • Big Audio Dynamite
10:05PM • Elbow
11:00PM • Raphael Saadiq
11:55PM • Scissor Sisters
Channel 3
4:00PM • Black Joe Lewis & the Ho...
5:45PM • Jenny and Johnny
6:35PM • Yelle
7:30PM • Brandt Brauer Frick
10:25PM • Empire Of The Sun

Sunday April 17th:
Channel 1
4:00PM • Wiz Khalifa
5:00PM • Nas & Damian Marley
6:10PM • Death from Above 1979
7:25PM • The National
8:30PM • Ratatat
8:55PM • The Strokes
Channel 2
4:00PM • Jack's Mannequin
4:50PM • Jimmy Eat World
5:55PM • Fistful of Mercy
7:25PM • Duran Duran
8:35PM • Chromeo
9:45PM • PJ Harvey
11:05PM • She Wants Revenge
Channel 3
4:00PM • Angus & Julia Stone
5:35PM • MEN
6:05PM • Best Coast
6:55PM • Foster the People
7:40PM • Ellie Goulding

It's Friday

It's Friday!  The Rebecca Black video Friday has hit the 100 million YouTube views mark in one month.  This is faster than Justin Bieber's Baby achieved the same milestone.  He took 2 months and 8 days.  Earlier in the week we heard that  Glee will cover Friday in their prom episode.  Hey, it's Friday!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Does Buying A Music Company Make Financial Sense?

Bids are coming in for the Warner Music Group.  The sale includes the publishing arm, which is profitable.  The other half is the record label and we all know record labels do not make a sound financial investment or could they?  It all depends on the price you pay for it.

The NY Times is reporting that bids are around $3 billion.  Richard Greenfield, an analyst at the financial services company BTIG is quoted in the article as saying,  “Warner hasn’t traded to a $3 billion valuation since 2007 and as far as I can tell, the music environment is getting worse and worse, not better. So assuming the price talk is real, why is somebody willing to pay that much?”

That money doesn't make sense.  If the stakes were lower, it would not be that crazy to turn the assets into gold.  I've been trying to get a music project off the ground, which in simple terms would be a music database.  If someone or company was willing to put the Warner assets (and they are extensive and credible) to good public use, I'm sure they would see financial rewards.   People would love access to the archives as well as good new music.  Warner had a reputation for being the artist friendly label.  They cared about their acts. 

Whoever buys this company should not hire the men who've been running the business for too long now.  Hire those who believe in the integrity of the music, who have passion, not just big eyes for a way too big paycheck.  The business has lost it's sparkle and I believe it can regain it.   It all depends on the price paid and the people running it.

Friday, April 08, 2011

When Harry Met Sharon

Billy Crystal's daughter, Lindsay did this piece on Rob Reiner and her Dad pitching a sequel of When Harry Met Sally to young film industry execs.  Poor Sally is dead and Harry needs to find true love. Look for many cameo appearances. 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Music Leaders Surrendering To Their Management Team

In Fred Wilson's blog today, he talks about 360 Reviews for CEOs. He says they should be done regardless of whether you have 10 or 1000 employees.  I have never heard of a music company attempting one. 

A 360 review is a great way for the senior management team to anonymously evaluate the CEO, President, etc of the company.  More times than not, this person is usually isolated from day-to-day happenings.  Many times employees won't share certain information for fear of losing their jobs or being put on the sh*t list. This information would, in the majority of cases, strengthen the CEO as well as the company. 

Fred suggests that the  CEO should be present when results are revealed and therefore, can explain his/her self.  It's helpful if you have a management coach run the proceedings.  For a small sum, don't you think a company like Sony Music, Live Nation or Universal Music would benefit from hiring a management coach to conduct such a review?  I'm guessing that unless the board mandates it, no one in upper management will suggest conducting such an inquiry of his or herself.  What does this say about those in charge?  Has anyone heard of a music company conducting a 360 Review? 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Death Cab's Live Streamed Video

Last night, Death Cab For Cutie shot their scripted, one take video and simultaneously streamed it live.  You Are A Tourist was directed by Tim Nackashi. The video opens with the lead singer entering the screen, within seconds it looks like a male and female streaker run in the back of the set. There are ladies dancing (think the June Taylor Dancers), lots of illumination and a series of lit rooms which all have a hidden little story. Lots of overhead shots accompany a hypnotic song with a mesmerizing drum beat. Death Cab will have you under their spell. 

Mashable interviewed bassist Nick Hammer about the video before they shot it. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Friday On My Mind

By now, I think everyone has heard or heard of Friday by Rebecca Black. Her mother paid Ark Music $4000 (according to the agreement with Ark,  Black has 100 percent ownership and control of Friday, including the master recording and the music video) to come up with the song and shoot the video.  YouTube views are over 84 million.

Everyone knows who she is.  This of course has led to a possible lawsuit..  Black and her mother are accusing Ark of copyright infringement and unlawful exploitation of publicity rights according to CNN.   Ark founder Patrice Wilson said Black will get her master and will be removed from the Ark Website (As of this writing, only the video is posted on the website),  as she is no longer with them. 

The song now seems to have a life of it's own.  Watch Stephen Colbert and friends' version from the Jimmy Fallon show.  Make sure you play it till the end to experience the extravaganza.

Friday, April 01, 2011

What News!?

Lefsetz on Rebecca Black signing record deal, Madonna to star in Spiderman, Nirvana to perform and more. 

Music Ally:  Farmville's Zynga to bid on Warner Music.  This one almost makes too much sense.

Huffington Post introduces digital subscription for employees of the NYTimes and residents of Winnepeg Canada. reported that Rutgers University paid Snooki of Jersey Shore Fame $32K to appear at a Q&A at the school. 

Which is the true story?  I feel like Mike Walker of the Gossip Game.