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Time to wake this thread up.

 

The NY Times Sunday magazine just did a long article about Rick Rubin, a music "guru" brought in by Columbia Records to try to revive the company. It seems that they are having a really hard time introducing new artists to the public.

The mighty music business is in free fall — it has lost control of radio; retail outlets like Tower Records have shut down; MTV rarely broadcasts music videos; and the once lucrative album market has been overshadowed by downloaded singles, which mainly benefits Apple.

...

"The kids all said that a) no one listens to the radio anymore, b) they mostly steal music, but they don't consider it stealing, and c) they get most of their music from iTunes on their iPod. They told us that MySpace is over, it's just not cool anymore; Facebook is still cool, but that might not last much longer; and the biggest thing in their life is word of mouth. That's how they hear about music, bands, everything."

...

While Columbia has made some small changes in its organizational structure, it has not instigated the kind of extensive alterations that Rubin says are crucial to the salvation of the business. Barnett is promoting the division at Columbia that sells music directly to TV, so that a network or cable show can introduce an artist to audiences the way radio once did. At Rubin's suggestion, he has also set up a "word of mouth" department, which will probably employ some members of the Big Red focus group along with dozens of other 20-somethings. The "word of mouth" department will function as a publicity-promotional arm of the company, spreading commissioned buzz through chat rooms across the planet and through old-fashioned human interaction. "They tell all their friends about a band," Barnett explained. "Their job is to create interest."

 

That "word of mouth" department mentioned in the article seems especially quixotic given the fact that Columbia is looking for a yearly revenue stream in excess of $700 million dollars. These guys are grasping at straws.

 

Assuming that Columbia's problems are symptomatic of the industry's, I am wondering why the music industry should choose this of all times to attempt to cut the new Internet radio medium off at the knees.

 

Then again, as they've proved over and over, these guys aren't very smart.

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That "word of mouth" department mentioned in the article seems especially quixotic given the fact that Columbia is looking for a yearly revenue stream in excess of $700 million dollars. These guys are grasping at straws.

 

Assuming that Columbia's problems are symptomatic of the industry's, I am wondering why the music industry should choose this of all times to attempt to cut the new Internet radio medium off at the knees.

 

Then again, as they've proved over and over, these guys aren't very smart.

 

"Hello, this is Jimmy, your really cool friend."

"Did you hear the new Scialfa, Patti album? It sure rocks. I downloaded it from iTunes yesterday and I can't stop listening to it, worth every penny."

"I hear she's also going to be on tour in a location close to #mp3_and_warez_xxxxxx_no_leeches soon. Check it out at www.columbiarecords.com"

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Maybe they could even arrange to have their bands play in clubs and bars, and offer $1 beers and $3 Cosmos and various Martinis. Create some old time viral marketing. If they're any good, they'll catch on.

 

Unfortunately, the big record companies expect every recording to go platinum in the first 24 hours, and that's not gonna happen

 

Seeing such a greedy, exploitative business like big music get whacked is so much fun. :)

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There's an article in today's WSJ how the major labels are helping their stars to create facebook pages, put their videos on YouTube, and create a fictional persona.

 

A 24-year-old singer and guitarist named Marié Digby has been hailed as proof that the Internet is transforming the world of entertainment.

 

In an Aug. 16 blog posting on her MySpace page, Ms. Digby wrote: "I NEVER in a million years thought that doing my little video of Umbrella in my living room would lead to this . tv shows, itunes, etc !!!"

 

What her legions of fans don't realize, however, is that Ms. Digby's career demonstrates something else: that traditional media conglomerates are going to new lengths to take advantage of the Internet's ability to generate word-of-mouth buzz.

 

Ms. Digby's simple, homemade music videos of her performing popular songs have been viewed more than 2.3 million times on YouTube. Her acoustic-guitar rendition of the R&B hit "Umbrella" has been featured on MTV's program "The Hills" and is played regularly on radio stations in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Portland, Ore. Capping the frenzy, a press release last week from Walt Disney Co.'s Hollywood Records label declared: "Breakthrough YouTube Phenomenon Marié Digby Signs With Hollywood Records."

 

Ms. Digby's MySpace and YouTube pages don't mention Hollywood Records. Until last week, a box marked "Type of Label" on her MySpace Music page said, "None." After inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, the entry was changed to "Major," though the label still is not named.

 

 

Page One

 

Other media giants played along with the game. Although the show bookers bokked her through Hollywood Records Company, the hosts played along with the game that she was a lucky nobody who just wandered in.

 

Once the album was completed late last year, Ms. Digby and her label began looking for ways to gain visibility. "I was coming out of nowhere," Ms. Digby says. "I wanted to find a way to get some exposure."

 

That's when the idea of posting simple videos of cover songs came up. "No one's going to be searching for Marié Digby, because no one knows who she is," Mr. Bunt, the Hollywood Records senior vice president, reasoned. So she posted covers of hits by Nelly Furtado and Maroon 5, among others, so that users searching for those artists' songs would stumble on hers instead. Her version of Rihanna's "Umbrella" proved a nearly instant hit.

 

The Lucky Nobody

 

As Ms. Digby's star rose, other media outlets played along. When Los Angeles adult-contemporary station KYSR-FM, which calls itself "Star 98.7," interviewed Ms. Digby in July, she and the disc jockey discussed her surprising success. "We kind of found her on YouTube," the DJ, known as Valentine, said. Playing the lucky nobody, Ms. Digby said: "I'm usually the listener calling in, you know, just hoping that I'm going to be the one to get that last ticket to the Star Lounge with [pop star] John Mayer!" The station's programming executives now acknowledge they had booked Ms. Digby's appearance through Hollywood Records, and were soon collaborating with the label to sell "Umbrella" as a single on iTunes.

 

"We did discover this artist through YouTube," says KYSR Program Director Charese Fruge. The DJ couldn't be reached for comment.

 

"I don't think we need a television show to find talent in America," crowed NBC late-night talk show host Carson Daly, introducing a performance by Ms. Digby last month. "We have the Internet." Mr. Daly's music booker, Diana Miller, says she booked the singer through Hollywood Records' public-relations department.

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I guess everyone loves a good rags-to-riches story, but that kind of obfuscation of the truth peeves me.

Right now, CBS News is holding a contest in which you vote for the best of three bands. In an effort to make the bands look as unprofessional as possible, one requirement is that their videos must be shot in someone's house/apartment. The band could have sold out a major auditorium, but you'd never know it.

 

Re: the Myspace/Facebook phenomenon - I heard that music executives now take into consideration how many Myspace friends an unsigned artist has! So, indie artists are now utilizing "friend-adding" robots.

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The NY Times Sunday magazine just did a long article about Rick Rubin
I just finished reading that. Bravo for Rick, I say, but if as he says he was looking for a challenge I'd say he couldn't have picked a more difficult one. He's already complaining about how long it takes to turn the Columbis "ship" around. This will be fun to watch.
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  • 3 months later...

For the first time in many months, I tried to connect to the MP3 stream from WMSE in Milwaukee. They have two radio programs on Friday that I really like: Chicken Shack with a focus on old country music ; and Buzz's Garage with noisy lo-fi garage rock and punk.

 

Buzz's program today led off with a Sonic Youth cover of Plastic Bertrand's Ca Plane Pour Moi. Devo's Come Back Jonee is playing as I type this. Great background music in the office.

 

WMSE.org

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  • 3 years later...

I've just found Pates Tapes. As Sally Schneider in the Improvised Life blog says:

 

"...hours of cool mixed tapes to listen to free online. They are the masterwork of Charles Pates, the Creative Director at Garnet Hill who, since 1977, has been creating mixes from his remarkable collection of vinyl records. Over the years they’ve gone from old-fashioned cassette to online music player, with an increasingly large following. It’s not easy to create a good mixed tape; it takes lots of thought and consideration and time…and a kind of improvisational mindset. Pates’ Tapes is a labor of love.

 

You can choose a tape to suit your mood or what ever’s going on, from Global Mixes, to Blues, to the best collection of Christmas Music we’ve heard.

 

All you have to do is choose the category, and hit PLAY!"

Click on one of the titles in the library, then on one of the tapes listed in the left column. The list of tunes in that particular tape show up in the right column. Wonderful.

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  • 1 month later...

I've just found Pates Tapes. As Sally Schneider in the Improvised Life blog says:

 

"...hours of cool mixed tapes to listen to free online. They are the masterwork of Charles Pates, the Creative Director at Garnet Hill who, since 1977, has been creating mixes from his remarkable collection of vinyl records. Over the years they’ve gone from old-fashioned cassette to online music player, with an increasingly large following. It’s not easy to create a good mixed tape; it takes lots of thought and consideration and time…and a kind of improvisational mindset. Pates’ Tapes is a labor of love.

 

You can choose a tape to suit your mood or what ever’s going on, from Global Mixes, to Blues, to the best collection of Christmas Music we’ve heard.

 

All you have to do is choose the category, and hit PLAY!"

Click on one of the titles in the library, then on one of the tapes listed in the left column. The list of tunes in that particular tape show up in the right column. Wonderful.

 

One annoyance: you can't fast-forward past any of the duds. I got stuck listening to "Convoy" and "Everything is Beautiful" on the same tape.

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