It's no secret: ad-supported streaming music, held up as an alternative to both paid downloads and free-for-all piracy, has hit some twists and snags. A number of well-funded start-ups, like SpiralFrog, dove into the space and few have emerged intact. Only one, Imeem, can really claim to be a success--it has licensing deals with all four major music labels--but it's still been criticized for a tepid user experience.
So the question arises, why don't artists serialize the release of songs ? Why not create a "season" of release of songs, much like the fall TV season and promise fans that Flo Rida is going to release a new single every week or 2 weeks for the next 10 weeks ?
Whenever discussions like this arise, there's always the school of thought holding that most albums only have one or two decent songs anyway. This theme is presumably a close cousin to "all current music is … Read more
I picked this book up while traveling yesterday, read a few pages in the bookstore, bought it, and have blazed through the first 150 pages in little more than a day. It's one of the funniest and most entertaining books about music, culture, and business that I've ever read.
Like a lot of suburban white boys of a certain age, Dan Kennedy dreamed about being a rock star in his youth, but reality eventually intervened and he got a corporate gig. Only in this case, the corporation was Atlantic Records--Led Zeppelin's record label, as he points out. … Read more
CBS has alerted media that on Wednesday morning, the company will be announcing "a new unprecedented service" involving social music service Last.fm, which it purchased last year. On hand will be Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of the CBS Corp.; Quincy Smith, president of the CBS Interactive division; as well as Felix Miller and Martin Stixsel, two of Last.fm's three co-founders.
As storage becomes ever cheaper, maintaining a dramatically growing music collection can be hard work. There are few programs that will automatically tag your MP3s, fewer that will do it right the first time, and only a handful give you easy access to that meta information. 123Tag simplifies changing tag details, but is crippled by a clunky interface, and CATraxx makes a good show of trying to help you organize your tunes, but lacks a clear workflow.
Aside from his storied history of mastering downloadable software and ensnaring cyber-ne'er-do-wells around the globe, Power Downloader is also a longtime music collector. Since the very first 78rpm record he received as a young boy on Christmas Day untold years ago, Power has combed the stacks of record stores everywhere he travels. From Jerry Lee Lewis, the Beatles, and the Stooges to Arcade Fire, R. Kelly, and The White Stripes, Power Downloader has acquired a gigantic music collection that now also lives on his PC, portable MP3 player, and via software, any connected computer, or iPhone in the world.… Read more
There once was a time when the release date of an album was exciting. For our favorite artists we knew when the last album came out and when the next album was due. If you loved the artist you bought it. If you didn't you either bought the single or you listened to the album with your friends and then decided.
As the price of records and then CDs increased year by year, spending 20 bucks for a CD became a purchase you needed to be sure of rather than a no brainer or impulse buy.
Then free became … Read more
Musicians aren't merchants.
We certainly learned that through Radiohead and Trent Reznor's separate experiments with choose-your-price album promotions.
In October, Reznor, the leader of the band Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead attempted to promote and distribute albums online without the help of a major record label. Both offered fans the opportunity to obtain the music for free. Both saw some success.
But they also illustrated that the music business is probably better left in the hands of businessmen. Musicians are not the new labels. Artists need someone to provide financial support and business acumen. If we end up ridding the world of labels, we'll only have to re-create them--in some other, probably more nimble form.
Last week, I interviewed Reznor about the online promotion of rapper Saul William's album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust. In that interview, Reznor said he was disappointed that only 18 percent of the more than 150,000 people who downloaded the album paid for it. He and Williams offered two options: pay nothing or obtain a higher-quality audio version for $5.
By backing Williams with his money, name, and know-how, Reznor essentially thrust himself into the role of a music label. That is, a music label with a lot to learn. The first lesson was that you don't always back a winner. A music company's fortunes can often rest on its ability to discover superstars. Profits generated by a few marquee acts have always kept the companies going while all the other performers break even or lose money.
EMI said this week that only 5 percent of its acts are profitable. This kind of prospecting requires a huge investment.
Reznor said he didn't get involved with Williams to profit, but acknowledged that he spent too much making the album and said he hasn't yet recouped his money. A record company can afford to make bad bets once in a while, said Chris Castle, a music industry insider who has worked as a vice president for both Sony Music and A&M Records. Musicians, even successful ones like Reznor, probably can't.
We're only a few weeks into 2008 and you can tell that it's going to be a great year for music. New releases by British Sea Power, Sia (we have her full album stream!) and The Oaks are worthy of the Best of 2008 (let's just hope we remember them at the end of the year). But we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves -- we're still enjoying the Best of 2007. Indie To Go is an iPod-friendly sampler that features topnotch indie newcomers and chart-toppers. Stream the playlist below (while you work), then visit the … Read more