Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Changes In The Entertainment Vocabulary

Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

I want to tell you today about some changes that have occurred without notice within the music business.

RELEASE DATE - Once upon a time this was a cherished word ultimately meaning that a date had been planned when your music would be released to the stores for sale. To make this happen there would be thousands of dollars spent in marketing plans, sales programs, advertising and salaries. Tour expenses had been approved and the artist probably al ready had a major budget video shot with airplay and TV advertising run.

Today the Internet has made the term Release Date virtually disappear by offering direct access to the consumer. Most independent artists are trying to get as many songs as possible in front of as many people as possible so they can start selling themselves doing shows, merchandise and anything else that can make them a living. Sales programs have been regulated to the major 4 stores, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target & Best Buy and this doesn’t even take into consideration iTunes and the Internet.

INDEPENDENT PROMOTER - This is a real lost to many within the recording industry. Here were the Kings & Queens of the record business. The people actually dealing directly with the radio station personnel and making the deals that would get records played, promoted on-air and eventually place the artist in the market doing a show. A good record promoter could command a 6 figure salary for themselves and a 7 figure budget for the promotion of the product. These were the Knights Templar of the recording business not only bringing airplay home to the major labels, but also being able to rectify problems between artists, labels and radio.

Consolidation, National & Regional consultants, corporate advertising and governmental politics made this job start to dry up. Add onto that the unscrupulous individuals that take your money promise you a group of stations or an individual radio station and then find reasons to say that you are at fault for making the song NOT get played. The Independent promoter is now history totally ineffective at creating radio spins on any major chain of radio stations.

RECORD POOL –Pools were created to receive music FREE from the record labels and charge the DJ’s to have access to the music. As part of the service of being the mediator from streets to corporate the record pool had each one of its members give written feedback on every song that they attained. For this the pool directors were treated royally by the record labels, given trips, free admission to conferences, and other perks.

This phrase has not disappeared but only morphed into something entirely different than its original context. Now record pools charge the RECORD COMPANIES to place their music within the clubs of the specific membership. Record pool directors and upper echelon pool personnel have become quasi Independent promoters and are charging enormous fees to place music on radio mix shows and occasionally on the air for a limited time. (Make it or Break it) This is really a travesty for many of these people have no business acumen, formal training or scruples.

CHARTS – A sacred word among major label executives and a magical word for independent record companies. Being on the charts meant that you were popular, making spectacular sales and probably had a record that was destined to give the artist the ability to perform in regional and national tours. The bible of the Industry was Billboard with R&R running a close 2nd.

Chart position today is a farce at best, not signifying massive sales. For example this weeks #1 album in the country sold 166,000 a far cry from the weekly sales of over 600,000 common just a few years ago. The #5 record on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart only sold 55,000 and has a grand total of 551,749 for 18 weeks worth of sales. I don’t even know anyone outside of a major company that evens subscribes to any of the trade magazines. But even more critical is the concept that new artists still believe that if you are on the charts than you will get some type of preferential treatment within the entertainment industry. There are now Chart Promoters that will take your money and promise you position on a major record chart, even though you don’t deserve anything. Please don’t think that your record is the only “hyped” record on the charts and this helps make the charts useless.

The business is changing rapidly and a few smart executives are making the change with joy and intelligence. Sometimes it is wrong to think that you have talent when you have never done anything to prove your talent in your life.

It is always wrong to try and fool the people, especially when the people are intelligent and aware.

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