Tuesday, September 29, 2009

R.I.P. Greg Ladanyi

I just heard word that my friend Greg Ladanyi had passed away after sustaining severe head trauma caused by a freak accident while working with artist Anna Vissi in Greece. Greg's resume as a producer and engineer over the years was remarkable, working with Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Fleetwood Mac, Toto, among others. Dying at the age of 57 is too young, especially for someone who took care of himself as Greg did. Such incidents offer a time for reflection on one's own life and just how precious and grateful one needs to be. R.I.P. Greg.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sandy Pearlman Quote

"They say cream rises to the top, or maybe it's just that shit floats..."

Sandy Pearlman speaking at the Transmission Conference yesterday

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spotify, can it survive a Free to Premium (Freemium) Transition?

Spotify, one of the most talked about music services yet to be in the U.S., founder Daniel Ek recently admitted that a little less than 10% of it's users in the U.K. actually have upgraded to the ad-free pay subscription Premium model in an article in The Guardian. A lot of people are trying to look at this in many ways as those types of numbers will not make Spotify profitable based on their current arrangements with the labels, but their capital reserves (venture capital money) will allow them to survive for awhile. But what really is the problem? Again, I haven't had the chance to use Spotify but my instincts tell me stripping away the ads aren't enough for the casual (and largest group) user to pay. Most people see value when they GET something the other group doesn't and NOT getting ads appears isn't enough. Spotify may have backed their way into a corner here if they start offering unique content to subscribers only but until they offer a better business model we may once again see doom for yet another ad-supported music play, regardless of how easy and well laid out it is. Total Live Music is built with the intent of a Free to Premium (Freemium) play, however it's much easier to see that the free content is the aggregated live music media from the web with the Premium content being future shows captured exclusively for Total Live Music's portal, giving the end user a clear distinction to the value of the proposition for upgrading.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sights with Sounds

Bob Dylan

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kanye West hacks Total Live Music!

Oh the humanity of it all!!! When will this guy stop!!! It's one thing to diss on superstar Taylor Swift but we're just a little web site trying to offer some live music to people. Kanye West hacks and disses Total Live Music here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Music Still Dominates YouTube Views

Music videos are the number one type of content viewed on YouTube according to a recent chart released by TubeMogul, an online video analytics company, seen above. Supports my argument from a previous post regarding Vevo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scarcity in the Music Industry

Seth Godin, a well followed and innovative marketing expert, offers a very simplistic point of view about about 'free' in a recent blog post here.  As it applies to the music industry, particularly to the recorded music industry, I think his first line says it all

"I think it's dangerous and often fatal to put free on top of an existing business model. Things fall apart."

Unfortunately for the recorded music industry this has already happened, very difficult to put a price on a recording that once it's made available to a small few becomes very abundant to all.  So what really is scarce in the music industry?  Well one we know for sure and will always be is talent.  Artists that for what ever reason make their fans react in ways that from a business standpoint, makes them spend their money on things that are not in abundance (tickets, merch, etc.).   The labels move into tying up all the rights of an artist (360 deals) is just another way of them saying that we can't get a return on just recorded music so we need to get the return on other avenues as well.

But in doing so I think we are beginning to recognize other scarcities as well and until we fill those voids we will continue to see a decline in the number of artists that break through to the masses.  Major label efforts are continuing to be reliant on the fact that radio is the primary place for which people consume their music but recent studies have proven that this is not the case and every day becoming less so.  So now we see the scarcity on the label side being in marketing.  When I worked for a label (which my last employment was 5 years ago) they had at any given time an entire promotion department working a single track by an artist with only one product manager overseeing the marketing efforts.  I know this has changed a bit since then but I believe there is much room for improvement.  The label that steps up and starts offering marketing tools and services that become the focal point of the artist campaigns and do so in a successful way will not only start to see their return much faster but will have a line of artists looking to be a part of a company that can offer services that are so scarce that they can't find the execution anywhere else.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sights with Sounds

Sunday, September 6, 2009

R.I.P. Skip Miller

I awoke to some sad news this morning learning that my friend, Skip Miller had died on Friday of cardiac arrest.  I met Skip under different circumstances than in the business.  We were neighbors and he and his wife would take evening strolls past our house with their dog while I would be out watching the children play.  After many social discussions, my wife said "Did you know Skip used to be the President of Motown?"  I had know idea the Skip that I had met, the one who I talked about street damage, dogs names, children, pressures of living in LA, etc. was the 'Skip Miller'.  What followed was a series of lunches where he opened up to me about his business dealings and most recently the passing of Michael Jackson, whom he had a relationship with and his family.  He was the closest person I knew to the Jackson world and his insight of what was going on offered me a perspective I would not had received anywhere else.  The changes in the business have brought about quite a bit of stress to those who had their footing in the old ways of doing it.  I'm hoping those stresses did not lead to his passing but it's hard not to think they didn't contribute.  Change affects many people and it's not always for the better.  I'll say a prayer today for my friend Skip Miller and his family knowing he's in a better place.  Although are time for knowing each other was short, R.I.P. my friend.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Vevo's $300M valuation

Vevo, the  recent joint venture between Universal and Sony music with YouTube providing backend tech support is currently shopping for money at a $300M valuation.  No doubt online entities such as Hulu, which raised $100M based on a $1B valuation proved there was a market for television content owners when built with an end user ease of use and content to satisfy demand.  But is music in a similar position as television currently?  I have my doubts.  The biggest question is rights; what do the labels have rights to that hasn't currently been exploited on the web already?  With their dwindling front line releases they will have to set their value based on catalog, which is extensive, but seems to be accessible already.  Also, if they continue to diminish their new artists releases they will be dependent on striking deals with new talent, outside of the deals they have with the labels, based on the Vevo experience for which the jury is still out?

One of the reasons I moved to the live experience is that I understood this day would be coming.  One where the only place you will be able to successfully replenish new content to keep fans engaged online enough would be artists offerings of their live media, for which every night there is a performance in which new content can be created.  The argument is who gets the rights to the "live" performances which are being spelled out more and more in contract negotiations and what are you doing with those performances (broadcast, transactional, etc.)

I'm sure Vevo will be successful in a raise despite what the price for the money is.   They certainly have a catalog and a smart team for which to build the business initially.  The big question I'm sure by some of the investors is how do they plan on keeping a sustainable business?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sights with Sounds