Anyone with a keen eye in the music industry will know that there are some genres that are doomed to extinction and others that are only going to be truly appreciated by people at the periphery. Classical music is one of these genres. Although it was all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries, it has been squeezed out of the mainstream and is now mostly enjoyed by old pensioners and the odd musically inclined young adult or teenager. Classical music appreciation, unfortunately, is almost non-existent amongst the younger members of our society. It has to compete with the likes of Taylor Swift and Eminem and their packaged, consumer-friendly tunes and rhythms. Continue reading Slick Marketing for an Old Genre »
No doubt you feel a twinge of envy after hearing the story of the couple Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, considering that Sean is the only child of the late John Lennon and Yoko Ono, while Charlotte is a magazine runway model. The two dwell in simplicity, their main activities together being sketching, talking about films and going to cafés. Their story resembles a clip from Godard movie; both unreal and ideal.
When they wrote the song “The World Was Made for Men”, the couple said that they were just kidding around one day. The song was created based entirely on a lush harmonious collaboration of voices, and was first heard on last year’s album “The Acoustic Sessions”. Charlotte said that they both wrote the song and wondered if they would have a band eventually. This dream later became a reality for the two when they launched GOASTT.
Looking at how Charlotte entered into the music industry, we see that she had just been a typical musician with nothing more but her old acoustic guitar, given to her by her father. Music initially just served as her diversion when the fashion industry was on its ebb.
On the other hand, Sean was not a newcomer to the music industry. At the tender age of 20, he was the back up for his mother’s album “Rising”. Then he joined Cibo Matto, a New York pop group with an inclination toward art. Nevertheless, when he decided to go solo, his music did not earn him attention from fans. This was seen on his first album “Into the Sun” which was released in 1998. The album was a compilation of psychedelic pop songs which was launched through the Beastie Boy’s Grand Royal Records. In 2006, he made his second solo album, “Friendly Fire”, but again did not gain much attention.
Everything changed with the launch of GOASTT, which seemed to give Lennon the energy to graduate from the small time circuit. Having Charlotte beside him has definitely changed things for Sean Lennon.
They just don’t make music executives like they used to. The music executives from the “old days” had an ear for music and were often songwriters themselves. They also had the knack of recognizing talent, and many a music career owes it to the keen ears and eyes of dedicated music executives. Don Kirshner was one of the greatest music producers of the old guard, an exclusive group of people that is dwindling every year. He died in January 2011, leaving behind a family, a legacy of great music and a life’s worth of tremendously successful careers. He was recognized all over the world as a man who knew his music inside out.
One of my favorite Don Kirshner artists is Neil Diamond, a man who owes his stardom to Kirshner’s ardent promotion. Neil Diamond went on to sell 115 million records worldwide, a feat exceeded only by the likes of Barbra Streisand and Elton John. Kirshner had a special place in his heart for men like Diamond, who were songwriters themselves. In fact, Don Kirshner respected anyone who knew how to mold a song. Kirshner himself had incredible songwriting skill and was formally inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
Kirshner also had an active family life. Unlike most in the industry, he stayed faithfully by his wife for fifty years, raising two children and being as much of a hero in the house as he was in the industry. In an industry tossed and turned by controversy, divorce and mistrust, Kirshner rose above his peers as a standard of excellence. In fact, I am more touched by his achievements at home than I am by his achievements in the industry. His death depressed me a little because I know that his generation is almost gone and there are precious few in the music industry today that can fill his shoes. My only consolation is that his music will live on forever.
The evolution of music has been marked by one singular concern: making music as personal and as individual as possible. Look at the development of music in the west. It began with concerts, where hundreds of people would collectively experience an orchestra or band playing pieces composed by men like Beethoven. The musical experience got even more personal with the invention of sound recording equipment and playback instruments like the gramophone. Now music lovers could appreciate music in the comfort of their own homes (well, at any rate, the cream of the society that could afford such devices could appreciate music in the comfort of their own homes…). Continue reading Clothing That Controls Your Music »
Have you ever been to a record store selling used and promotional copies? You’ll see many CD’s reading “For promotional use only – no reselling”. You probably had to think twice whether to buy a copy or not, wondering if it could be some sort of illegal sale. If you have ever bought a “Promo” CD before, you can rest assured that the FBI is not going to show up at your door and arrest you while your neighbors look on in horror.
Just recently, a higher court in San Francisco ruled that buying and selling of promo records is not in any way copyright infringement. Promo records are copies that are distributed by record labels, mostly to radio stations and some music critics, before the actual release date.
It was a big name in the music industry, Universal Music Group, that sued a California resident, Troy Augusto, about 4 years ago. The record label sued Augusto for allegedly reselling their promo CD on eBay. Similar actions would have been taken had the case favored UMG. Prior to suing Augusto, UMG’s standard practice was to send notifications to eBay with the objective of stopping the auctions. In court, Mr. Augusto firmly argued that he has the rights to sell the copies because he owns them, and stated that the First Sale Doctrine is applicable in his case.
The First Sale Doctrine dictates that if you own a book or recording which you legally acquired, you retain the right to do whatever you want with it. You can give it to a friend, have the library keep it, or sell it to a record store. This rule makes borrowing a book from library possible. Thus, it annoys publishers and music labels as their profitability opportunity is impacted.
The Supreme Court originally ruled when this doctrine was codified that anyone who has bought anything in these categories are given the full ownership as long as the products is not being copied or reproduced. This case clearly showed that there is a distinction between copyright sale and sale of copy, so buy with confidence!
You may have heard the rumors, which have been circulating for nearly a year now, that Google will launch its own digital music service which will involve a cloud-based digital locker. This service will enable users to store their music for a $25 annual fee.
Google has started reaching out to different record labels hoping that they will jump into the deal, which will allow them to share access to their music. Part of the deal involves a feature that would let online users to listen to and browse through an online store’s music selection without purchasing the tracks they like. Instead of downloading the music file, users will just store them in the “music locker” then listen to them later on.
Unlike the conventional way of purchasing music file which only allows a 30 seconds snippet preview; Google’s music service feature will friends of its subscribers listen to the purchased music files at least once without having to buy it themselves.
This idea of offering a digital storage locker is actually a retry of an initial attempt made by another company a decade ago: the MP3Tunes website, owned by Michael Robertson. He was the first to launch internet-based music services. At MP3Tunes,Robertson introduced a music service with online streaming, but his initial efforts landed him in a lawsuit with Universal Music.
Part of Universal Music’s lawsuit against MP3Tunes was emphasizing that the latter was violating copyright issues by acquiring music files illicitly. At present, MP3Tunes is battling another lawsuit with another record label, EMI, for the same sort of music copying charges.
Google’s attempt to connect the public to its cloud based music services would have been the first time since the failed attempt of MP3Tunes. While streaming providers like Rhapsody and MOG have invaded the industry of online music services, there are some features that users dislike. For example, most users still prefer to download the files onto their computer, so perhaps they have several reasons for not trusting the online locker concept.
Following MP3Tunes attempts to introduce online music locker to the public were Apple’s Lala, which would have been iTunes’ version of online locker. Lala has since ceased operation. Another similar service is Best Buy’s Napster.
Establishing another media service is Google’s way of expanding its social network. With the desire of record labels to continuously profit from online users, selling the rights remains impossible.
Google has tried every means to convince the big record labels to let them get in on the media industry. In fact, Google has contracted with a law firm to take care of the negotiations every step of the way. Whether the record labels would sign in the deal with Google or not remains a question to most of us.
One thing is for sure—the profit generated and projected for the music industry will never go away, hence the interest of record labels in retaining full control of the business. It will always be the music giants’ prerogative to protect copyrights of its artists, and as an extension, their own profits…so unless Google can accomplish those goals, maybe they shouldn’t hold their breath.
We all knew this day would come. The downfall of the compact disc was inevitable once technologies like MP3 players and streaming Internet radio started gaining consumer acceptance. It was only a matter of time before the industry realized the trends of our times and readjusted their distribution strategies. However, the demise of the compact disc, although in the making for at least a decade, is only starting to show visible signs. Sony recently announced that it would be shutting down one of its two compact disc manufacturing plants in the States and commented, in no uncertain terms, that the main reason for the closure was the increasing dominance of digital music distributed via the Internet.
The era of the compact disc is officially over. We have not used them for at least half a decade (my personal collection of CDs is gathering dust in a corner of my attic). They have ceased to be a part of our lives. Compact discs will join the likes of cassettes and vinyl records, collected by fringe enthusiasts and ignored by the rest of the general populace. Like most technologies that have outlived their purpose, compact discs will be remembered with nostalgia but rarely missed.
Truth be told, I’m a little surprised that it took this long to for the compact disc to be retired and for plants to be shut down. Officials at the plant linked the rise of the digital music and online piracy to the decision to shut the compact disc manufacturing plant down, and they are spot on. Personally, I have not bought a single CD in the last two years. Most of the music I want is readily available online. Additionally, I can pick and choose which tracks I want from an album and get other interactive features a compact disc simply cannot offer me. I don’t even know where my CD player is right now! Likewise, millions of other people across the world rely on their MP3 players today to satisfy their musical needs.