Friday, March 6, 2009

New Prince Album Is Too Much Music

The upcoming Prince album is to be a triple disc set and will be exclusively available at Target department stores. The set will include Prince's two original studio albums called LOtUSFLOW3R and MPLSoUN" and a third disc titled Elixer by his latest protege, the singer Bria Valente.

Prince has made 3 mistakes with this release:
1) 2 original discs is creative overindulgence and way too much music to be consumed at one time. Albums are dead, and long 2 disc sets promise that this release will be forgotten in no time. Prince would've been a lot better served by releasing just a few of the very best songs rather than diluting whatever good material he has with the filler that we know will be there.

2) the third disc by his unknown protege might get her some short-term exposure, but it's no guarantee of anything beyond the lifetime of a very short candle. It's already competing with Prince's two other discs, which is competing with all the other new releases, which are competing with Prince's catalog, which is competing with the internet, games, social networking, television, and all the other things that take one's attention these days.

3) choosing Target as the exclusive distributor probably wasn't the smartest business decision that Prince could make. Wal-Mart and Best Buy have longer reach and more traffic. Unless, of course, it was the only deal on the table.
It'll be interesting to see just how well the release will do, but the prediction here is it'll tank.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Band Improvement Book Finally Released

I hate to be so self-serving 2 days in a row, but just thought I'd announce that my new book, How To Make Your Band Sound Great, has finally been released.

The book is about the many ways to improve your band, starting with your individual playing, to the interaction of the band itself. The book also includes a DVD where I take a band (The Bohunks, a ska band from LA) and demonstrate many of the techniques laid out in the book.

This book has been in my head for a long time. You learn a lot about what makes a band sound great when everything is under the microscope of the studio, and I wanted to translate the things we do in making records directly to bands that always wonder, "Why don't we sound like xxx (your favorite band here)".

As a matter of fact, that's the main reason for the book. I can remember when I was in my very first band in Minersville, PA and wondered "Why don't we sound like the best band in town?" No one could tell me.

Then when I began playing with the best band in town I wondered, "Why don't we sound like the best band in the region?" No one could tell me again.

Later when I was playing with The Other Side, the best band in that part of the state, I used to wonder, "We're really good, but we could be better. Why don't we sound like an Aerosmith record?" Again, no one had an answer to that simple question.

Well, this book does have the answers, and if a band just follows a single tip from Chapter 8, they'll get better seemingly overnight.

I'm really proud of How To Make Your Band Sound Great, and if any of you should buy or read it, I'd love your feedback.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Snew Hits #1!

A band I produced last year, Snew, has hit #1 on the album charts of the on-line radio station Ilike2rock net radio. The band is commonly described as a cross between AC/DC and Aerosmith along with a bit of Jackl (though I don't here it) for good measure.

This is their 3rd trip to #1, with previous stints on High Octane Radio's Dirty Thirty, and Cyco.com. The band's Snew You album also made a number of "Best of 2008" lists from around the world as well.

Snew's worldly songs are observations about life and the human condition, rather than the typical love-hate relationship songs that most bands and artists resort to when they not accomplished songwriters. Combine that with some really classic rock riffs and you have something that you can't stop listening too. I must admit that I'm biased, but they've had so many really good reviews that I feel somewhat vindicated in feeling that way. You can see and hear them on their website at Snewyou.com.

I had a great time working with Snew, and it's great to see them have success around the world. We also just cut a version of Deep Purple's Highway Star with guitar god Allan Holdsworth playing the solos that are as unusual as they are great (yes, it's Allan playing a guitar and not an organ for the second solo). You can download it for free on their website.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Depeche Mode's iTunes Pass

The new iTunes Pass program gets its first attempt to break the 99 cent per song barrier with the new Depeche Mode record slated for release on April 21st.

iTunes Pass allows the buyer of the album to access exclusive content from the artist for up to 15 weeks. The content will include videos, exclusive singles, remixes and other content items and will be piped directly to the customer's iTunes account as soon as it's available. The charge is a flat $18.99 which includes the full album when it releases plus numerous extras. If a customer buys a Depeche Mode Pass today, he'll receive the new single Wrong as well as the Black Light Odyssey Dub Remix of the new track Oh Well. They will also receive the new album Sounds of the Universe on its street date plus promised music and video exclusives before and after the album's release over the next fifteen weeks.

iTunes Pass is an attempt to counteract illegal digital downloading by providing an extra value that can only be had by actually buying the product.

The program is also being offered for television shows like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, where it does seem to be a bargain. If you buy an individual episode, it currently costs $1.99, but if you now buy a 16 episode pack, it reduces the price of each show to 62 cents. However, you get the current show plus the next 15, not our choice of your favorite 15.

This amounts to something that Apple said it would never do - subscription.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2/3rds Of All Music Consumers Buy CDs

According to NPD Research, 2/3rds of all music buyers only buy CDs. Their research also claims that there are 2 to 3 times more CD consumers than for digital downloads.

If that's the case, where are those buyers at? They're certainly not buying product these days, as the sales are less than 50% of what they were in 2000. NPD also claims that there are 20 million fewer music buyers than there were as recently as 2006. Where'd they go?

I think it's the result of 2 things:

1) There are fewer and fewer places where you can actually buy music from a retail brick and mortar store these days. Sales would be a lot better if CDs were easier to find. The industry is losing the impulse buy, which is the thing that music stores were always good for. You'd go in to buy a certain CD and leave with 2 more. These days, even if you find a store that carries CDs, the choice is so limited that it virtually eliminates the impulse sale. Which brings us to:

2) The music just isn't as compelling as it used to be. The many years of neglected artist development finally caught up with the industry. You can't change the industry culture so drastically and not have it hurt. Here are the factors leading to the abyss that the industry faces (in no particular order):
  • Thanks to MTV, the industry regarded music secondary and signed artists for their image instead of talent.
  • The corporate culture of the majors caused them to be shortsighted in that quarterly profits became more important than long term artists development. If your first album tanks, you're history. When music was at its peak, an act might get 3, 4 or even 5 albums to develop their audience.
  • The record labels lost a huge portion of the audience when they milked the rap and hip-hop trend dry, leaving millions of record buyers out in the cold with nothing that appealed to them for so long, they became former consumers. Now they buy games, watch TV and play on the computer but they don't buy music.
The major labels will never get religion. It's too late. The industry has changed for all concerned; artists, record labels, retailers and consumers. Now we need someone to pick up the pieces to either bring those buyers back, or development some new ones.

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