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Friday, May 29, 2009

Interviewed by Justin Sachs

Thanks to Justin Sacks for interviewing me on his blog today. Justin's website, Motivate Your Teen, helps teens to improve their grades and leadership skills.

Justin wanted to know how my band improvement book, How To Make Your Band Sound Great, could help young musicians in the very first bands. As I've stated in previous posts, the book answers the questions that I always had about all of my bands, which were pretty much, "Why don't we sound as good as xxx (fill in the band)," but offers help and advice in all areas of being in a band, from performance to equipment to interpersonal relationships to getting booked.

Thanks, Justin. I hope I contributed something to your readers.

Performance Royalties In The UK To Decrease

In a surprise move, the UK PRS for Music performance rights organization (England's equivalent to ASCAP or BMI) has agreed to lower performance rates over the next 3 years to "stimulate the growth of digital music."

The rate, which was set at $.0035, will be lowered to $.00135 per stream. The rate is already so low as to barely make a dent in an artist's income, but to cut it by more than half makes the entire thing a bit of a joke.

The idea is that the less a subscription service or Internet radio station has to pay in performance royalties, the better chance it will have to stay in business. Sounds good on the surface, but the real problem is that once again, it's the artists who will suffer the most. "Let's cut the royalty rate so the stations and digital companies can stay in business," rather than "Let's help the artist's out who are barely making ends meet instead of the distribution companies who are living off add dollars."

Help some of the companies out? They don't deserve it. Bad business models, or worse, no business models at all deserve to die if they can't make a go of it. If an artist or songwriter can't get an equal break, then neither should the companies they deal with.

If the PRS really believes that this will stimulate music sales, they are either out of touch or deluded. Build a better service or have a better model, just the way an artist has to have a song that everyone wants to hear to rise above the crowd.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sales For The Week Of May 18th

All in all it was a pretty good week for recorded music, with 9 releases showing positive sales from the previous week. That's actually pretty good, considering that last week only a single album had a sales increase. It just goes to show that a blockbuster hit brings the sales up for everyone, which has always been the case. Even in our new Music 3.0 world, some things still don't change much.

As predicted, Eminem scored a big first week hit with a sales figure of just over 600k, with Green Day following with 162k (down 26% from it's first week of sales). There were 16 new entries on the charts. Eminem's Relapse actually becomes the biggest seller of the year after only 1 week on the market.

The charts are always worth watching not only from an industry-health point of view, but as a proof of concept as well. The concept here is that good music will always continue to sell in reasonably high numbers, regardless of the digital environment that we live in. And it proves even more robustly that when you have a week where the #1 release only sells 50k, the quality of the music is still the ultimate reason for any sales at all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clear Channel Puts Another Nail In Radio's Coffin

As if radio couldn't get any lamer, radio conglomerate Clear Channel is about to implement national playlists for all its formats on all its stations. This means that there will be one playlist that every station of that particular format of music will use across the country.

Why is this so bad? Radio is a local medium. People listen for local news and weather, as well as announcements for social events. But musical tastes are local as well and through the years that's proven to be the force behind many of the musical trends that started locally and eventually grew nationally and internationally. With a single national playlist, local music is strangled at birth with no chance of even getting heard. In fact, a study last year found that 82% of the music played on radio was from major labels. Where's the diversity in that?

As an example of how music grows from a local scene, note the following:
  • Elvis broke out of Memphis and the South before signing with RCA
  • James Brown broke out of Atlanta and Cincinnati
  • Al Green, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and all the Stax/Volt artists broke out of Memphis
  • The world-wide hits from The Romantics started in Ohio first
  • Aerosmith broke out of Baltimore (although they were from Boston)
  • REM and the B-52's broke out of Athens, Georgia
  • Nirvana and the whole Grunge movement broke out of Seattle
New music needs local radio more than ever. Homogenized radio that conglomerates like Clear Channel offer has been the cause of radio falling further and further into irrelevance. Nationalizing the playlists only causes traditional, terrestrial radio to slip closer and closer to death.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

KoffeeHouse And It's Rich Blend Of Music

I had the pleasure to produce a very interesting video shoot of an event at a house overlooking the famous Zuma Beach in Malibu over the weekend. The event was put on by KoffeeHouse, an organization who regularly presents a number of fine singer/songwriters in an informal acoustic setting to raise donations for various charities.

Originally created 9 years ago by Jeremy Koff in his backyard as a way to expose local musical talent, the events grew larger and more more formal over the years, and he was eventually joined by partner Chris Ng. KoffeeHouse now presents some really outstanding talent to an audience that really appreciates what they're hearing (something not always true in Southern California).

This weekend's event's location was at a spectacular mansion overlooking the one of the best beaches in the world in Malibu. If you've watched the TV show The Bachelor, then you know the place. The 5 artists during the daytime outdoor session included songwriters whose works you're already hearing or have heard on television and the movies like Mozella, Chris Pierce, and Tyrone Wells as well as the California Rasta stylings of Trevor Hall (hard to believe he's a white kid in LA) and Scottish songbird Sandi Thom. Additional artists also performed later that evening inside the house, which unfortunately we didn't see or shoot. The event was MC'd by college "Entertainer of the Year," comedian/magician Justin Kredible.

We were shooting the event as a pilot for the new music network ARC, a Comcast on-demand channel dedicated to new, cutting-edge entertainment. ARC already airs several shows that our company (2b Media) created and produces including Favorite Music of the Stars and Guitar Universe.

I have to admit that the talent level at this event was incredibly high and way beyond what I expected. I loved each artist and enjoyed every minute of their music, and the Malibu setting wasn't too shabby either. When you're producing a shoot, you usually don't have time to really enjoy the proceedings, but the KoffeeHouse event was thankfully an exception.

KoffeeHouse puts on an event about once a month and they're pretty much just word-of-mouth, invitation-only, but on July 25th they'll have a fully open to public show at the John Anson Ford Theater in Hollywood. Check out the KoffeeHouse website for more tickets and more info.


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