Monday, August 27, 2012

Managing Bieber and Selling Perfume

It's no longer about the music, although don't let that be forgotten if it's what got you to the top in the first place.  The New Yorker profile of Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber's manager explains that you no longer have to make sure that your artist plays gigs and makes records.  A manager has to make perfume deals, create reality shows and sign a block of other talent (He also managed Carly Rae Jepsen and the Wanted).

Scooter wears Mickey Mouse and Star Wars T shirts and grew up in Greenwich, CT, which he liked to play down. He promoted parties in Atlanta and got two pieces of advice that resonated with him.
  1. Jermaine Dupri told him he'll never get rich throwing parties.
  2. David Geffen (his idol) told him to get out of the music business, which is why he is in several businesses. 
Braun & Bieber, Forbes Magazine
Managing young pop acts is different than managing rock bands or singer songwriters.  As the article points out, how much longer will Bieber listen to Braun's advice?  He seems to now, but is showing signs of a possible rebellion.  Young pop acts, usually way under 18 years old, will want success and a manager like Braun is a perfect fit.  He can wheel and deal for the artist.  According to him, he takes a standard 15 to 20% commission and he gives Bieber cuts in that commission when he signs artists like Jepsen.  That cut did come with a commitment from Bieber to promote her.

Rock acts tend to be a bit more grizzled and there is usually more than one ego a manager is dealing with.  Most of the times they are worried about credibility and selling out.  99.9% of the rock acts couldn't sell a fragrance the way Justin Bieber did, but they might be able to tour and have a long career.  The flip of that is Justin Bieber has probably secured enough money to quit now and never have to do anything for the rest of his life.  Putting out music into his 20's might not even be a goal for him.  Rock musicians usually realize the advice you gave them was great, but they realize it a year too late.  Timing is everything.

Young pop acts are more accepting and Braun appears to be very good at steering them to a large audience. He himself has one with over 1.8 million followers on Twitter.  The home page of his website is one graphic after another heralding his press.  He has philanthropic endeavors.

Is he the new David Geffen? It's too early to tell if the thirty one year old Braun has staying power, but for now, he is talking the talk. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Russian Band Sentenced To 2 Years

Yesterday I was listening to the Billy Joel interview on Here's The Thing. It's incredibly entertaining.  Billy talked about playing Russia.  After his performance he knew the iron curtain would fall. He said they didn't even know how to make toilet paper.  Well it looks like there is still a censor curtain that is raised high. 

Three members of the band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail by a Moscow judge (who is female).  They were charged with  hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.  Seems like it was more a staged protest against the re-election of Vladimir Putin, then religious hatred.  They spontaneously performed in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.   What better way to get attention then to perform in a church. No wonder Madonna has shown support for them. 

The NY Times reported that after the sentence was read, there was anti-censorship rioting.
Riot police officers arrested dozens of them, including the former chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is active in the Russian political opposition. Mr. Kasparov fought with the police and appeared to be beaten as he was bundled into a police vehicle. 
Pussy Riot being held before their court sentencing today. 

The saga began in February when the women infiltrated Moscow’s main cathedral wearing colorful balaclavas, and pranced around in front of the golden Holy Doors leading into the altar, dancing, chanting and lip-syncing for what would later become a music video of a profane song in which they beseeched the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Mr. Putin.  Security guards quickly stripped them of their guitars, but the video was completed with splices of footage from another church. 

Punk Prayer is not much of a song or a video, but it's apparent protest is the key here. The nuns do look panicked.  They may have feared for the church and it's sacred contents.  MTV noted that on the same day Pussy Riot was sentenced, a Moscow court also upheld a controversial "100 year ban" on Gay Pride marches in the city.  Free Pussy  is staging protests around the world, including two in NYC that should be going on as I write this. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TuneCore Shocker

Jeff Price the founder, CEO, mouthpiece and champion of TuneCore is inexplicably gone from the company.

This comes as quite a shock.  I knew Jeff when he ran the spinART record label.  Strangely he is still listed as CEO on the TuneCore website.  Co-founder Peter Wells  is also no longer working with them.

Jeff explains their mission and accomplishments in his open letter dated today.  Jeff was outspoken about injustices he saw in the music business, especially those against the artists by record labels.  Most of the time he was right on the money.  His goal was enabling musicians by putting the power in their hands.  They no longer needed records label and as of recently, publishing companies.  When I worked with Amoeba Records there was no question that we were going to work with TuneCore. It just made too much sense. Jeff was exited to have us on board. 

TechDirt has a detailed post, although it hasn't been revealed why Jeff and Peter are abruptly gone from the company.  This seems like a huge mistake.  Why fix it if it ain't broke? 

Update 8-17-12. 
Here's something I hadn't heard.  Since I posted this, I've spoken with a few people who worked directly with TuneCore.  They said the company was unorganized and had an inexperienced staff who could be difficult at times.  I also heard that one board member was pleasant and easy to deal with when nothing was getting done through staffers.  The old adage may hold here:  There are two sides to every story and then the truth.

Why is Mad Men's Joan Always Wearing Roses ?

 I didn't even realize Joan had roses on everything she wore when it related to her marriage or the crumbling of it.  If Peggy is wearing yellow, it will be a good work day for her.  Red is the power color for the females and the not so powerful for the men.

I am so late to this blog, but am fascinated by it. is the amazingly researched blog.  According to Tom and Lorenzo, We’re essentially a pop culture blog with a special focus on celebrity and fashion.  I have only paid attention to the TV portion of the blog (there's lots more). I do not watch a lot of the shows they cover, but for Mad Men alone it's worth a look.  I will watch that show in a whole new light from now on.  I might have to revisit on OnDemand. 

I do watch Revenge and their comments on the season finale are priceless.

On Victoria:
You can’t keep a good bitch in a bandage dress down.

On Emily:
Oh, Hamptons Batman! What the hell were you thinking? 

On Nolan:
Thank goodness Hamptons Batman has her saddle-shoed Robin to watch her back.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The First 45 You Ever Purchased

Bruce Warren of WXPN has a dialogue on his Facebook page asking followers to name the first 45 you bought.  Some of the responses made me laugh:  Seasons in the Sun, You and Me and A Dog Named Boo, Kung Fu Fighting.  This posting may not apply to those born after 1980.  The responses are definitely dictated by baby boomers. 

My first purchased single:  Mrs Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel.  I would probably still have it today if my brother hadn't broken it during a fight.  It's amazing how that first purchase is ingrained in everyone's brain.  It was so exciting to be able to buy a record with my money.  I'm guessing this is different for kids now.  Will they remember the first song they ever downloaded? Do you remember the first 45 you bought?