Wednesday, March 25, 2009

End Of An Era

The end of an era is at hand. As an old philosopher once said”Everything must come to an end”. This year at MIDEM 2009 two things were in their death throes, completely bringing an end to this portion of the music industry.
First the CD has become an object of the past worldwide as witnessed by the poor attendance of physical distribution companies, CD manufacturers and record labels. MIDEM director Dominique Leguern said "It's not a music industry crisis, it's a CD crisis." This does not mean that the music business is suffering as many experts have criticized. Many segments of the music industry saw incredible growth such as digital delivery, publishing, and licensing.

At MidemNet the business had said that within the next two (2) years the only people still making and playing CD’s will be old people. The idea of even using a CD player seems to be ancient and absurd.

The second and most shocking portion of the music industry was the worldwide executive view about Gangsta Rap. Thugs, gangsta’s, hoes, record pools, dj’s and more should be aware of the new condition of music outside of the United States. International distributors, labels, publishers, wholesalers and one stops no longer have an interest in Gangsta RAP music from the USA.

I met with companies from China to the UK, Cuba to Russia and onto one company had an interest in American Gangsta rap music. Every country said basically the same thing “American rap is violent, filled with overt sexual images and not conducive to the quality of life in our countries. We would rather sell local and national based acts from our own country whose musical messages condone better ideas”. I have heard specifically from the Italians and French that the R&B they want from America should not contain any rap lyrics.

Looks like keeping it real has finally caused the rap industry the pain and drama that is written about in the music they created.

Monday, March 23, 2009


As more and more countries turn to cell phones as the individual source of communication, more and more applications for the cellphone are being developed. The ability to contact a customer directly is creating a new wave of dependence upon the cell phone. Shortly the cellphone will become the most important device in your life.

Here are a few new concepts all ready in use through out the world.

1. Digital Wallet - A digital wallet (also known as an e-wallet) allows users to make electronic commerce transactions quickly and securely.
A digital wallet functions much like a physical wallet. The digital wallet was first conceived as a method of storing various forms of electronic money (e-cash), but with little popularity of such e-cash services, the digital wallet has evolved into a service that provides internet users with a convenient way to store and use online shopping information. Now the digital wallet application has moved to the cell phone and smartphone allowing the user immediate electronic access to their accounts.

2. Home & Car Monitor – New systems monitor environmental conditions for sudden changes in temperature, power supply, water on the floor, and fire, smoke and intrusion alarms. Smartphones are equipped with an output relay, which can be used to remotely turn thermostats on or off, immediately contact police or rescue services and monitor your vehicles condition.

3. Entertainment Center – currently you can read a novel, watch You Tube videos, see “live” television events, download music, set your home recording system, buy tickets to events, listen to FM radio or online radio, download movies, play interactive games and surf the Internet.

4. Health Monitor / Personal Records Keeper - Biometrics is used as a form of identity access management and access control. Most commonly used in personal technology devices as the fingerprint scanner. This application has found its way onto the cellphone platform and is becoming the initial tool for security. Based on the new Obama administration plan, personal health care records and individual health monitoring of the aged and afflicted will be directed to the cellphone, protected with biometric scanning.

5. Multitasking Business Tool – Finally the cellphone has become a multi tasking machine allowing the customer to view online documents, send and receive information via the mobile airways, and the Internet. Video phoning is now a reality and conference calling is a day to day actuality.

The growth in portable video devices, in my view, will drive demand for downloading content. The trend in video extends to user-generated visual content as well. The integration of increasingly sophisticated cameras into mobile phones and the growth of memory capacity will have a large impact on sharing photos and personal videos via mobile networks, and thus on bandwidth requirements.

The cellphone business is starting to grow up and with it are new opportunities to generate content, applications and new usages.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Recently I heard talk of rising gasoline prices becoming a primary factor in the demise of small acts touring around the United States this summer. It seems that the garage band, R&B act, Blues act, self contained Top 40 group, Jazz act or Gospel group can no longer afford to pack up the van and hit the road to do shows. As with most things in the music business the major companies have changed the way the “game” is played and are doing well. Concert tours from January to June grossed $1.05 billion in North America, the same as the midyear gross in 2007, according to a report this week by Pollstar, a trade magazine that measures concert revenue. The top grossing acts were Bon Jovi with a gross of $56.3 million, followed by Bruce Springsteen, with $40.8 million, and Van Halen, with $36.8 million. In addition to rock and pop, country acts placed high on the Pollstar list. Kenny Chesney is No. 4, with $35.3 million; Rascal Flatts No. 8, with $25.4 million; and the bill of Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood grossed $18.5 million to reach No. 11. With the exception of Kanye West (No. 6, with $31.6 million) and the Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige tour (No. 7, $30.7 million), hip-hop is largely absent.

The under representation of Urban based acts has me wondering what could be the cause? I feel that it is a combination of several factors that has lead to this particular moment in history. First the art of creating a song has been drastically reduced within the Urban community. The songwriter has become more of a cadence rhyme than a professional gifted in the art of weaving a lyric. Popular songs today are totally concerned with sexual prowess and have nothing to do with the concept of love and harmony. The few songs that are GREAT lyrical pieces are regulated to late night radio or specialty radio shows and have no place on video television programming.

Singers have become dependent on “auto correct” in the studio and can not carry a tune if you put handles on one. I listened to the BET awards over this past holiday and without looking at the screen I did not hear ONE singer that was in key. Many of today’s acts feel that vocal pyro techniques and not solid lyrics and a GREAT controlled voice is what‘s needed to interpret a song. Add into that the physical gyrations needed to sell on stage and you have one HOT MESS. There was a time when a popular singer could sit on a stool and weave a full hour’s show of love, heartache, misery, joy, happiness and more emotions within every person in the audience.
The current producer driven songs have one major fault in them, and that is the inability to have a REAL melody and not a 4 note change within the entire tune. To produce a song and not know why you use certain chords and notation is like performing heart surgery without going to medical school. You know the heart is there but you really don’t know exactly how to make it better. Couple this with the music sample community and you not only have a hot mess you have a hot STINKY mess. Music education can cure this problem. Learning how music works and the HISTORY of music makes all the difference in the world.

Most Managers today do not know how to find the best performance out of their artist. Where is it written that you must take your clothes off to make your music song better? How can you find excellence when you do not know what that really means? Good managers assist the act in developing a positive show that not only absorbs the potential audience but also assists the act in growing and understanding what it takes to keep a certain caliber of performance. A good manager also develops merchandising to be sold on tour to help the bottom line and to ensure a stronger fan base.

Not everyone in the industry is so worried. Live Nation is doing strong business on some of its most important tours, said Jason Garner, its chief executive for North American music. Madonna’s tour, which begins in Europe next month and comes to the United States in October, is already 90 percent sold out, he said. Coldplay’s summer dates are also 90 percent sold out, and the New Kids on the Block reunion, starting in September, is at 80 percent, a Live Nation spokesman said.

Lil Wayne all though having sold over a million records of his latest album debut has yet to reach the Pollstar Top 50 Touring acts. Boy George, Neil Diamond and Stevie Wonder are ALL making more money on tour than the majority of major label Urban, Jazz, Blues and Gospel based acts.

There are many 3D environments that now have “Virtual Live” performances where artist avatars are performing on screen while the artist performs at their home. In fact there have been several artist collaborations across continents creating these virtual live performances.

The business is changing rapidly, how will you grow?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


When was the last time you heard of anyone getting a deal from a mix tape given to an executive at an awards show? Don’t worry I’ll wait for the answer.


What makes you think that a mix tape will get you a major label deal? How crazy are people, or are they just that naive that they will believe anything. Creating a mix tape does not take the place of radio spins, cd sales, publicity on the artist, nor promotion & marketing of the product. But of course the new generation wants everything NOW without trying to create a positive foundation for themselves.

The Hip-Hop Awards are coming to Atlanta and I have been bombarded with email and other literature asking people to send your music and some money and we will put your tune on a mix tape that will get in the hands of some industry movers & shakers. This has got to be the most ridiculous promotional venture I have ever heard. If I or anyone that I know is at an awards show and you hand me a mix tape it will be tossed on the floor, left on a chair, given to a groupie or trashed before I leave that show. I will not carry it around like badges of honor letting everyone there see me “promoting “a mix tape.

Not once did I read or hear about publishing your tune, copyright protecting your tune or creating something entirely from your company that could become a promotional item. Just send me your tune and your money and you can get hooked up on this mix tape with other artists that are just as STUPID and talent less as you.

Mix tapes are not the only crazy item available for the Hip-Hop Awards show. There will be thousands of postcards, flyers, business cards and posters created just for this event and not ONE of the artists listed will get a major deal from any of it. Street teams will flood the area around the event and at each one of the clubs “pimpin” off of the Hip-Hop Awards event to plaster the parking lot, descend upon the club and bother the attendees both outside and inside of the venues. When did this become promotion, or better yet when did it STOP becoming promotion?

I guess as I get older I just see past ALL of the Toro Poo Poo and try to look at the heart of a situation. There is a thriving business in creating wild promotional campaigns for individuals and companies who don’t know the entertainment industry. Just make completely wild accusations, get the money and then tell the artist that if their record had been better they could have gotten a deal. This is going on at conferences, award shows, festivals and especially at the record pool / mix show level, where people are being told that they can get on-air if they follow a wild promotional campaign. Occasionally these promotional efforts work and a song does get on the radio. Once there the record label does not have the staffing or expertise to make significant sales happen based on the spins received. That leaves the label with airplay but no way to utilize it other than to hear their tune over the radio.

Major labels and most independent labels that aspire to major deals are looking for a track record on your tune. They want massive amounts of Internet play, a solid fan base that is constantly growing, retailers that want the product when the label approaches them and as many owner rights as they can take. No where in this equation does a label ask for a mix tape, postcard, flyer, etc.

Start creating a business for your music and not a gamblers dream. Remember that the music industry is at least 90% hard business work and 10% luck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Movies On The Move

It won’t be long before cable and satellite television companies will start complaining about the unfair advantage the Internet is having on their business. Microsoft's Xbox LIVE and Sony's PlayStation Network will soon become formidable competitors to incumbent Pay-TV services. Leveraging broadband-enabled game consoles as Over-the-Top video platforms - thus bypassing cable and satellite TV operators - these companies will offer a compelling alternative to traditional TV programming by providing a more immersive, interactive video experience.

Xbox 360 is the only game system that lets you instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix. This movie-watching innovation is available to Xbox LIVE Gold members ($49.95 a year) who are also Netflix members ($8.99 per month minimum) and allows them to instantly watch movies streamed from Netflix via Xbox LIVE for no additional monthly fee.

Sony's CEO Howard Stringer noted, "Sony's unique position in electronics and entertainment will enable us to provide specialized offerings for Sony customers directly to their televisions outside conventional distributors and without the need for any set-top box." Sony's PlayStation Network is not only a Blu Ray player, but allows it’s users to choose from hundreds of full-length movies from top studios including 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment and The Walt Disney Studios. Plus, choose from a large inventory of TV episodes from a variety of television partners, many available in standard-definition (SD) or high-definition (HD).

Even before the launch of Experience, Microsoft's Xbox LIVE had amassed some 15,000 movies (1,000 of which are HD) and some 13,000 TV shows for download-to-own. Xbox LIVE was the first online video portal to offer HD downloads for TV viewing. The Netflix partnership adds 12,000 movies and TV programs to the mix, all for free streaming to Netflix subscribers. This enables Xbox 360 users to access on-demand movies and TV shows within the Xbox Experience social environment with a click of their remote.
Sony's PlayStation Network has collected close to 1,000 movies and hundreds of TV programs for download-to-own. As well, it has announced plans to expand dramatically its video library in the next few months in order to compete with Xbox LIVE.Even Nintendo, staunchly dedicated to pure gaming experiences, enters millions of new homes each month as the set-top box du jour, it's no video player. There's no Netflix, no Blu-ray drive, not even a proper DVD slot. However, Wii isn't without its possibilities when it comes to streaming video, and there, a Japanese company called Fujisoft is leading the charge. Fujisoft has introduced 'Everybody's Theater Channel' to Japanese Wii users the service launched this January 27th, it will be second, following the BBC "iPlayer" which hit the UK in early April 2008.

Fujisoft prices by the block, with one block of three TV episodes equal to one movie -- and will charge 300 Nintendo Points for one 2-day rental, 600 for two 3-day rentals, and 800 for three 5-day rentals. Currently their video library is limited to Japanese anime, movies and TV programs. But they are in talks with Nintendo America, and if talks go well everything could change.

The future for satellite and cable television companies does not look bright. In fact the current model facing the cable & satellite industry makes these companies PAY upfront for the films they want to show. Future licensing deals with one of the video gaming companies could totally change to a pay per view or pay per download with NO upfront costs involved. This would basically open the platform to unlimited viewing with NO COST to the video gaming companies.

Movies are on the move, and that move seems to be away from satellite and cable television.