Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen

I never liked MySpace even when everyone said you HAD to have a MySpace page.  It was ugly.  After they let users personalize their page, it got worse.  Half the time the music player worked.  It was a good way to hear a musician's offering, when it did work.  For awhile it was the big game in town.  How quickly things change.

I was a consultant on a project that was geared towards high school kids. I worked with Scott Gerber, who was a student at NYU at that time.  He showed me his Facebook acccount.  It was only open to college students then.  He told me this was the future.  Lately people are writing Facebook's obituary.  The latest cry is that Tumblr is taking over Facebook.

MySpace was sold to ad network Specific Media for $35 million.  Newscorp paid $580 million for it in 2005.  Now there's a write off.

Facebook will be launching their music offering.  Not quite sure what that will mean.  About 85% of the people in my circle are on Facebook and are active users.  I've seen people post some really dumb things and I've seen it as a great way to keep up with my relatives in other parts of the county.  I'm not an active user.   I haven't used it to listen to music or keep up with my favorite artists.  It will be interesting to see where music and the social network go.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sound Bouncing Everywhere

Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal Performing Seventh Avenue
Last night's show, The Bottom Line Presents:  New York On My Mind, was moved from an outdoor show at Rockefeller Park to the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center (it rained), which was unfortunate.  It's a glass enclosed atrium with ceilings reaching to the sky.  Sound bounced everywhere.  Mojo Mancini was the house band.  Their dark (what other kind should there be?) arrangement of Summer In The City somehow cut through the acoustically challenged room.  I loved it.

Performers included Bottom Line staples: Garland Jeffreys, Christine Lavin, Willie Nile and Loudon Wainwright III.  I only saw Rosanne Cash at the Bottom Line once (it was a wonderful songwriters in the round night with the very talented Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter).  She too was a part of the evening and fully played out the New York theme by performing her own Seventh Avenue with John Leventhal on guitar and brought the band out to sing The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).

Pete Fornatale hosted and Vin Scelsa read Walt Whitman (inaudible in the atrium).  At any given time, there was at least one DJ from WNEW-FM at the Bottom Line.  

My friend Sean and I left after Rosanne.  We had been there for over an hour at that point and couldn't deal with the cacophony. The show was intimate and should have been in an intimate venue.  Unfortunately the rain can't be stopped in NYC.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Kris Kristofferson

Some people just don't age (clarify:  they do not become old thinkers, rest on laurels or washed up), whether musically, physically or mentally.

Kris Kristofferson is 75 today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Morning Music Wars

Kenny Chesney wins.

On Friday mornings I tune into the three network morning shows to see who's performing. 

CBS is perpetually struggling to come remotely close to GMA or Today.  I think they hit rock bottom today.  It's not because the music they had was bad, it's just that Jennifer Hudson was on GMA last week!  They couldn't have a exclusive?  There is so much music out there.  Why not try something completely different?  Not much is expected of them so they can experiment.  Make a positive statement.   They message I'm getting is we're so low on the totem pole, we can only get guests that have already played the other  shows the week before.  Yikes. 

Good Morning America had the Disney girl, Selena Gomez.  Makes sense.  ABC is part of the Disney World, she has a new movie and album out.  Lots of young girls in the audience with their parents. There's nothing new here.

Kenny Chesney is a seasoned performer.  It showed in his Today performance.  He puts on a show. 

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Obit Column

I'm almost afraid to get the latest from Bob Lefsetz.  It seems like everyday someone new has gone to rock and roll heaven.    I wrote about Andrew Gold and Gil Scott-Heron.  Two behind-the-scene guys, without household names passed away and are worth mentioning.

First Martin Rushent best know for producing the Human League and the ubiquitous Don't You Want Me?  He worked on so much music that was part of my collection: T. Rex, The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, XTC, the Go-Go's, Generation X and Pete Shelley's first solo single Homosapien.
Here's the Telegraph's obit

Steve Popovich started the label Cleveland International.  Without him, there would be no Bat Out Of Hell.  He signed the Jacksons to Epic Records when they left Motown. He was instrumental in the careers of Cheap Trick and Ian Hunter. Here's the Plain Dealers obit.

These are the people that mean so much to music and the music business.  You may never know their names, unless you are like me and read every word from every liner note, but they left an indelibile mark on your ears.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Thank You For Being A Friend

There were many rituals, rites of passage, events whatever you want to call them at my high school.  One of these was ring day. It occurred when we were juniors and it was a ceremony to get your high school ring.  Buying a ring wasn't an option, you had to do it. I didn't want one, knowing full well I wouldn't wear it. I chose the cheaper silver version. I think I was the only one in my class that didn't have the gold ring. It cracked in the back about a month after I got it.  So much for the Jostens' ring.

Girls (there was no male students at my high school) would perform songs. If I remember correctly we wore the rings on a red ribbon around our necks and when the ribbon was cut, we were presented with our rings.  It took place in the school auditorium.

Having learned to play the guitar, I joined forces with two others to perform. We really wanted to sing Hall and Oates' It's A Laugh, but we couldn't get that song choice approved, so we went with Thank You For Being a Friend.  It was all about having fun and turning the song into a clap-a-roo.  Anything to shake up an otherwise, slow moving, predictable event.

Thank You eventually became the theme song for The Golden Girls.  For my birthday this year, my  high school friend Jill, gave me a card that played the song.  It's been in my DNA since it came out.

Andrew Gold, the writer and singer of that song died after a battle with cancer.  I seem to expect musicians to live forever (think Keith Richards), so it always comes as a surprise.  Andrew's other hit was Lonely Boy.  I always liked the sweet Never Let Her Slip Away.  He knew how to write a hook.  He was a multi-instrumentalist who played on, wrote and/or arranged songs for Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Celine Dion and James Taylor.

What I didn't know about Andrew was his musical lineage.  His mother is Marni Nixon who was the singing voice for Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.  His father is Ernest Gold, the Oscar winning film composer. 

Friday, June 03, 2011

Online Theft of Music Killing Musicians Says Universal Music Group Distribution President

Universal Music Group Distribution President, Jim Urie is back on the trail to enlist his mailing list to support the passing of bill S. 968.  The bill is also referred to as PROTECT IP.  This is really a bill to protect the RIAA (otherwise known as the lobby group for the major record labels), not musicians.  This is the second go round for Jim.  I do not support the bill as I think it's an innovation killer.

Below I'm posting the letter I sent to Jim, which explains my concerns.  Here's the link to the letter Jim is asking his music industry colleagues to send to their representatives.  

As Techdirt points out, online theft of music is not killing artists or songwriters, which is what Jim states in the letter he wants me to put my name to and forward.  Nothing going on in the music business is killing musicians that I know of.  Yes piracy is illegal, but it's at the point where it's a non-issue.  There is no turning back for the record labels. I'm sure if illegal downloads were killing people, Dateline would have been all over the story. 

I've alerted both my Senators, who unfortunately are co-sponsors of the bill, that I do not support the bill and I'd like them to distance themselves from it.  If you're a musician or anyone who believes in creativity, I urge you to do the same. 

Dear Jim,

I've worked in the music industry for over 25 years, so I've seen lots of changes.  I knew the major record labels were going to have a rough time years ago because they refused to innovate, collaborate or release better music.  Supporting S. 968 is a mistake for the music business and any other business.  Stifling creativity and innovation under the guise that this will save the music industry is wrong.  The industry itself is fine.  It's the major record labels that you refer to and the difference should be noted . 

Online piracy is probably affecting 2% of the musicians and that % may be high.  A healthy music business is important to my livelihood, whether the major labels survive, is not.   I managed bands for years and despite having gold and platinum records, they never saw a dime in record royalties from their record labels.  Grant it, the labels did provide services for the musicians as well as rack up extraneous promotion, marketing and entertaining expenses without the full knowledge of the artists.  My experience is that not selling CDs means nothing to 98% of the musicians. 

I will contact my Senators (Senators Gillibrand & Schumer represent my area and sadly both are co-sponsors of the bill) and Representatives and ask that they DO NOT support S. 968. 

I believe your take action message is misguided as written and there is no way for me to amend it. 

Paula Sartorius

Note:  I sent this letter to Jim yesterday.  As of my posting today, I have not gotten a response.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Faye Treadwell Former Manager of the Drifters Dies

The Drifters was a prophetic moniker.  The band was a revolving door of personnel, but there was one person who had the rights to the Drifters and that was Faye Treadwell.  The Hollywood Reporter announced that Faye passed away at age 84.  She is being hailed as a pioneer.

I was surprised I never heard of her so I did some research.
  • She was one of the first African-American female entertainment managers. 
  • Her husband George, who died in 1967, had control of the Drifters after buying out original member Clyde McPhatter.  
  • Faye bought out her husband’s former business partners and assumed management and control of the group.
  • She moved to London in the 1970's and took the Drifters with her.
  • In 2006 she won a legal battle to retain control of the Drifters' trademark.
The Drifters most famous alum are McPhatter and Ben E. King.  Their hits include Under The Boardwalk, There Goes My Baby, Up On The Roof and Save The Last Dance For Me.  It's a legacy worth fighting for.