Monday, August 31, 2009

Artists Performing Albums Live In Sequence

Steely Dan wrapped up the Los Angeles stay of their tour called "Rent Party" at the Gibson Amphitheatre last week.   Over three nights they performed a different album in sequence (as well as other songs), choosing Aja, Gaucho, The Royal Scam in that order and on the fourth night they took internet requests from their fans.  This is becoming a common occurrence by artists these days and in some ways it seems like a way to play the market more than it should with a different angle. I'm torn as to whether I like this trend of artists performing their albums in sequence at their shows.   Although it offers fans a recall of a listening experience I look at it as more of a stunt on behalf of the band.  It does showcase some songs that may have never made it onto the setlist but on the other hand, I fear it takes away some of the spontaneity that I as a fan expect at a live show.  I think there are debates on both sides but I would love to hear your thoughts.  Do you think more artists should be doing this?  If so why or why not?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"The Death Of The Music Industry"

David McCandless is putting together visual charts at his site Information Is Beautiful. One of them is titled "The Death Of The Music Industry" where he publishes an info graphic he credits to the New York Times illustrated below. A frightening visual reminder of the changes that have occurred to the music industry. Years are to be read left to right (although not clearly defined) from growth to decline with each individual chart representing a format. (Click on image below to enlarge)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sights with Sounds


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Digital Music Forum West

I've been invited to participate on a panel at the Digital Music Forum West, being held at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles October 7-8. I've been on a number of panels before but as a creative label executive. This will be my first one as a digital media entrepeneur. The panel I will be participating on is Social Media with a focus on the social networks and the music industry. I am looking forward to hearing how my fellow panelists as well as the audience interpret and perceive today's climate based on their experiences.

Founder of shares his thoughts on Digital Strategies

An article and interview by Greg Sandoval at CNET News with Michael Robertson, founder of, in which they discuss current digital music models and how Michael feels are flawed based on the current cost structures dictated by the labels can be found here. I agree with Michael on a most of his points, royalty rates that don't support business models, eagerness to be partnered with large corporations on behalf of start-ups, consumers will have the final say, etc. But I think this is more of people trying to hang on to old ways of thought rather than tearing down a business model. The labels have the right to dictate the value of their assets (their recordings) and time will show if they can hang onto that as it appears the value of recorded music gets closer and closer to zero based on market forces created by consumers. On the other hand, a number of these digital start-ups funding by large venture capitalists were contingent on developing a relationship with these labels and access to their catalogs, even knowing that it was a matter of time before the bank goes dry. I addressed attention economics in an earlier post and I truly believe that's where all this is heading but it is difficult to make a business of it until some changes occur by all parties. As they say 'timing is everything' and eventually all the parties that are involved in this game will either adapt or die.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Paper or Follow Thru?

A friend of mine quoted me a saying today "Good on paper, bad on follow-thru" and we both had a chuckle as to how well that seemed to apply to many in not only the music business but other businesses as well.  Often times people are impressed by resumes, online profiles, pedigrees, schooling, etc., etc.  There are a number of measuring devices we try to utilize based on person's history to give us an idea as to how we think this individual stands in regards to how they go about their business.  I truly believe the most over looked of these devices is good old fashion success.  Not the people that had it once because then we can write it off as luck but someone who has over the years demonstrated the ability to continue to achieve success multiple times based on the ability to grasp the task at at hand, diligence, desire to win and of course, a lucky star.  But as they say, the 'harder I work, the luckier I get'.  I am product of the street, a graduate of the Univ. of Iowa with a B.G.S. (Bachelor of General Studies). I moved to Los Angeles with $50 and no car on a Thursday and by Tuesday the following week I was taking the number 3 bus line to the Atlantic Records office as a temp filling in where needed.  As fate would have it, I am proud to say I was personally involved in the signing, developing and navigating artists and their projects that sold well over 40 million records.  I was responsible for making people and my organization $100's of millions and that is something that can never be taken away.  I went out on my own a little over 5 years ago (I hate to say that's when I started to be an entrepreneur as anyone who knows the risks of being an A&R person knows that it carries as much risk as any entrepreneur), raised angel financing and built a business that offered media publishing tools for artists to record and sell their live shows directly to their fans online.  Recognizing the habits of the online live music fan after capturing and marrying it to portals such as the AT&T Blueroom I jumped at an opportunity to benefit talent and their fans even more based around the event experience , tour histories and the media that comes from it, thus I began Total Live Music.  I've sat in meetings with some captains of industry and geniuses of the arts and overall have lived a very blessed life.  Why do I ramble on about such things? Because our country has been going through one of the most difficult times I have ever been a witness to.  Being from Iowa, I had grandparents who would tell stories of the Great Depression while working on the farm.  I also heard stories of heroism and loss by my family during World War II and when my father was called to duty he didn't hesitate.  These were people I revered, hard working, decent people who would stand up for what was right, answered the call of their country and their success was measured by the closeness of the family and their ability to harvest and provide food for those they loved and cared for.  I guess in today's world they "wouldn't look good on paper but had great follow thru".  There are a lot of people in this world right now that need jobs, they didn't all go to an Ivy league school, work for Yahoo/Google/Apple, didn't have the family pedigree that put them in play, etc.  They just happen to have a lot of character, which to me is the measurement of success and the more you have, the more successful you are. I'll take that every time!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sights with Sounds

Music as a Shared Experience

I had a woman approach me after last night's Maxim Ludwig & The Santa Fe Seven show at the Hotel Cafe and say "You're his manager right?" in which I replied "Yes" She then said "Well then he should have played the last song earlier before that important person left" The only response I could muster at the time was something like ok, thanks for your input and I felt very dumbfounded by that remark. At the time I was upset but now after 24 hours of reflection I feel inspired, not because the "important person" left but rather that the last song inspired someone to the point that she was disappointed that individual didn't hear it. That's what music is suppose to do, particularly the live experience. Make you feel that you are witnessing something special and you get disappointed others aren't there to share the experience. I talked to that "important person" today who loved what Maxim did but to me the most important person in the room is the man or woman that gets so inspired by a song that they wish it could be shared to those they feel should hear it. When you're generating that type of response you know you're getting through to people with your music.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sights with Sounds

Elvis Costello live at Amoeba Records. Check out Jim Lauderdale playing guitar and singing back-up. I signed and made a couple of records with Jim during my A&R years at Atlantic Records.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Irving Azoff Quote

"Since 1966, when I started in this business, I've worked in almost every aspect of entertainment. I've been a manager, I've run a record label, I've produced TV shows and movies - pretty much everything. And, still, the most powerful thing I know of in entertainment is the live experience. The performer onstage receiving the adulation of fans - there's nothing like it, and that's never going away"

Irving Azoff, The New Yorker, Aug. 10, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Attention Economics and Music

There has been a lot of discussion for a long time now in regards to the value of recorded music. It certainly doesn't carry the same value it did ten years ago and no matter what the causes that have lead to this erosion in value it doesn't appear it will ever go back to what it once was. However, I agree with the point of view that this is only true in regards to the industrial economy but music still continues to have value within the the attention economy. Brad Burnham, a Partner at Union Square Ventures, explains "attention vs industrial" economics and that of "free" wonderfully in his blog here. The problem with attention economics is that it is not so easily monetized and defined. The most obvious way to monetize attention is advertising, followed by items for upsell and then the data, the information you have gathered on the people whose attention you were able to get. But how do you make money on attention if music becomes a niche play? I guess it is all a matter of where you fit on the food chain. If you're just the distributor you must aggregate the niches to make it as large as possible for a return but for an artist and their partners, you extract more from less fans. Eventually this will balance itself out but for now you have two incredibly big market forces, venture backed technology distributors and content rich artists that have for the past ten or so years trying to build the right models. I have been involved on both sides and I still find the most rewarding that of working with the artists and helping them figure out the answers to their puzzles rather than creating more for myself.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Maxim Ludwig & The Santa Fe Seven

Let me preface this post, I'm biased. I manage this artist, but after 20 years, making close to 100 albums and selling more than 40 million I feel I I've earned a right to my opinion regarding talent. Maxim Ludwig is probably one of the most talented artists I have ever had the privilege to be involved with. After a stunning performance at Stagecoach Festival he has been enjoying a month long residency at the Hotel Cafe here in Los Angeles. Following the first night of his residency, Randy Lewis, music critic of the Los Angeles Times, wrote a review of the show that appeared in the paper titled "Maxim Ludwig tears fearlessly into uncharted territory" . As a true reflection as to where we are in this business Maxim has neither a record or publishing deal, but what he/we does have is a strong team that is building up around him. More importantly, he continues to amaze me with his prolific songwriting, penning at least a song a day as well as a youthful perspective and eagerness, as Randy Lewis states, to go into "uncharted territory" that so many artists and people in the business are scared to venture.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I just heard news that Jim Dickinson has died. We also lost another great in Les Paul. Two musical giants in the same week. R.I.P.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Radio Podcast Link

Here's the direct link to the podcast as I made a guest appearance on the NPR show The Exchange . I appear on the second half hour to talk and take calls on the currrent state of the music business and it takes a while to download so please bear with it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Iowa Public Radio tomorrow

I've been invited as a guest on the program The Exchange which is streamed live and is also available on podcast here. We'll be discussing the ever-evolving music industry and the show begins at 12:00PM EST. Tune in and listen up!

Woodstock Remembered

Total Live Music recognizes both the music and social value that the The Woodstock Festival created. We are celebrating it all week on the Today's Featured Video section located on our Home page from performances from the festival. Such artists as Joe Cocker, Richie Havens, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, etc. will be showcased. Never before had so many people gathered over 3 days to experience music and the joy and love surrounding it. We need to keep understanding the social impact music (and all arts) has on our society and treat it as the treasure it is!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Total Live Music keeps moving on!

It's been awhile since my last post, been busy trying to get the business moving. Total Live Music started out as a dream that with the intent of being much bigger than a portal to share live music media. I recognized while I was capturing shows for Rancid, Toots and The Maytals, Rilo Kiley, Hootie and the Blowfish among others as well as events like Coachella and The Mile High Music Festival that there was a real need for someone to offer services to artists surrounding their live music offerings. Some people have tried but usually it's the technologists who have no real respect for artist's content (it's their expressions of life for christs sake!) and that time and again things were being handled with an alternative agenda. I've sojourned on regardless of financial setbacks and now realize that I have accumulated the largest database of live concert events online at . Although it's an accomplishment to be proud of there is still much work to do. There is still an opportunity for someone to help these artists in capturing their shows and offering them software marketing tools and services so they can reach their fans via computer or cell phone device. No one has found the keys that open the door to this treasure chest and many have tried and quit yet I continue on. We are getting closer to offering the artists, which means you the fans will benefit as well, solutions so we can truly say we are Total Live Music. Stay tuned!!!