Recent Posts in industry

September 16, 2014

Clear Channel

It's been almost nine years since Clear Channel spun off Live Nation (who went on to buy Ticketmaster). Now:

Clear Channel on Tuesday refashioned itself as iHeartMedia, accentuating how the lines between online and AM/FM radio are blurring at the country's biggest company on the broadcast dial.

"It's not a company with a bunch of old radio stations and outdoor [billboards] anymore," Chief Executive Bob Pittman said in an interview. "We've transformed, so let's now take a name that matters."

iHeartRadio is Clear Channel's digital arm, a Pandora-like online service that also hosts the digital streams of the company's 840 traditional radio stations like KIIS FM in Los Angeles. Effective Tuesday, CC Media Holdings Inc. became iHeartMedia Inc. The company's over-the-counter stock ticker symbol will also change, effective Wednesday.

Streaming is the industry's most promising segment of growth, but tech-centered outfits like Pandora -- the Web's biggest radio operator -- and on-demand subscription services like Apple's Beats Music and Spotify tend to attract the most attention as they race to dominate the burgeoning sector. By recasting itself as iHeartMedia, Clear Channel not only recognizes the company itself has changed but also believes it will get due credit in the tech community for its gargantuan scope, Pittman said. [CNET]

August 13, 2014

by Ian Chainey

friday

I put together the weekly Upcoming Metal Releases at Invisible Oranges. Not to get too first-world-complain-y, but it can be a pain. With staggered release dates across the world (UK: Mondays, US: Tuesdays, Black metal: DGAF), my Excel tracking sheet ends up looking like a string board on The Wire. I end up having more corrections than a Prince-written essay on proper grammar.

So the announcement on Billboard that major labels and their partnerships are looking to shift to a global street date occurring weekly on Fridays sounds pretty good on the surface. (Kanye West: Yeah, duh.) The reason for the change is to thwart piracy, which makes sense if you subscribe to the logic that the first receiver is the first leaker. Torrents have made the world smaller and faster, so this gives artists in the laggy US market a chance to pack on some moved units.

Of course, there are downsides. It could further hurt on-the-street retailers and smaller labels. According to Billboard:

While sources say that digital music service providers like the Friday street date, not all physical merchants have given the change their blessing; some indie labels and indie merchants are opposed to having the global street date on Friday. They say they like the concept of having street dates early in the week because they feel it helps sell more CDs -- devout customers of an artist will come in on Tuesday while others will come in on payday, which is usually at the end of the week. Yet, in the end, brick-and-mortar stores and indie labels may not have much say in picking which day of the week functions as the global street date.
That and charts might have to be reconfigured to better track total sales, which is probably causing Casey Kasem to utter a downpour of curses in the afterlife.

Still, this won't happen for a bit. As of now, the biz is eying July 2015 for the change to Friday.

Continue reading "Music industry may move release day to Friday, worldwide"

October 8, 2013

Elbows

Goodbye Elbo.ws...

...With a heavy heart, however, we feel it's time to turn off the bot. It's not an easy decision, but a few factors have proven hard to overcome. We get more DMCA notices these days than ever before (mostly regrading photos, believe it or not) and our advertising has dried up. Google doesn't appreciate our aggregation as it once did.

At this point, we're planning on keeping the lights on until the end of November. After that, we'll probably redirect the domain elsewhere.... [Elbows Blog]

It's been real.

October 7, 2013

by Doug Moore

Thom Yorke at the UIC Pavilion (more by James Richards IV)
Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke is well known for his general dissatisfaction with music industry pay models at this point. Radiohead helped affect a sea change in the music industry by becoming early adopters of the pay-what-you-want online sales model. Since then, Yorke and Radiohead producer/Atoms For Peace collaborator Nigel Godrich have become outspoken critics of the pay models built into online streaming services, and of Spotify in particular.

Over the summer, Yorke and Godrich both pulled their solo and Atoms For Peace material from Spotify. As ever, Yorke was good for at least one stinging quip:

"New artists get paid fuck all with this model."
Yorke and Godrich also argued that Spotify is essentially set up to benefit its shareholders, rather than the artists whose music it offers to its users, and that the service colludes with major labels in an effort to wring more profits out of their classics-rich catalogues.

The announcement set off a lengthy debate that involved such oddities as Radiohead manager Brian Message piping up to dispute Yorke and Godrich's argument.

The debate petered out for a while, but picked up again last week when Yorke gave an interview to the Mexican culture site Sopitas, in which he again disputed Spotify's sustainability in response to a question about the future of mainstream music. Yorke offered a particularly memorable analogy at the end of his response. Here's the whole thing:

"I feel like the way people are listening to music is going through this big transition. I feel like as musicians we need to fight the Spotify thing. I feel that in some ways what's happening in the mainstream is the last gasp of the old industry. Once that does finally die, which it will, something else will happen. But it's all about how we change the way we listen to music, it's all about what happens next in terms of technology, in terms of how people talk to each other about music, and a lot of it could be really fucking bad. I don't subscribe to the whole thing that a lot of people do within the music industry that's 'well this is all we've got left. we'll just have to do this.' I just don't agree.

When we did the In Rainbows thing what was most exciting was the idea you could have a direct connection between you as a musician and your audience. You cut all of it out, it's just that and that. And then all these fuckers get in the way, like Spotify suddenly trying to become the gatekeepers to the whole process. We don't need you to do it. No artist needs you to do it. We can build the shit ourselves, so fuck off. But because they're using old music, because they're using the majors... the majors are all over it because they see a way of re-selling all their old stuff for free, make a fortune, and not die. That's why to me, Spotify the whole thing, is such a massive battle, because it's about the future of all music. It's about whether we believe there's a future in music, same with the film industry, same with books.

To me this isn't the mainstream, this is is like the last fart, the last desperate fart of a dying corpse. What happens next is the important part."

You can listen to the whole interview with Yorke below. Spotify turns five years old today; if you want to celebrate, you'll have to choose someone else's music to stream from its archives.

Continue reading "Spotify turns five; Thom Yorke calls it "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse""

September 12, 2013

Irving Azoff
Irving Azoff

Former Live Nation head Irving Azoff has teamed with the
Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) for a new music venture called Azoff MSG Entertainment. Forbes reports that MSG agreed to pay Azoff Music Management $125 million and contribute a $50 million line of credit for the new company. Not a record company in the old school sense, AMSGE offers 360 Deals which encompass all aspects of their careers. Writes Forbes:

What makes this venture interesting is that the company will have four divisions; artist management, music publishing, television production and live event branding, and digital branding. Couple that with the many venues owned by MSG that could host concerts with the company's artists, and you have a look at what the new world record major label looks like.

For the record, Azoff and MSG chairman James Dolan aren't calling this a record label, but they don't have to. It's an outdated term for an outdated concept anyway. The traditional record label combined talent scouting, artist development, distribution and marketing, but each of those operations have changed substantially in the new millennium. Record labels now have fewer A&R talent scouts than ever, and in this one-failure-and-done atmosphere we live in, artist development is merely a nice term with little execution. Couple that with a dying brick and mortar music retail business and companies that market really well in media that mostly doesn't matter nearly as much to music consumers as it once did, and you can see that something in the way the current music business is run has to change. - [Forbes]

August 15, 2013

SZA

To quote HipHopDX:

With a roster filled with numerous emcees, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) has taken a different route with their newest signee, SZA. Hailing from Maplewood, New Jersey, the songstress was announced as the label's latest addition earlier in the week.

Prior to signing with TDE, SZA released a handful of projects including last year's See.SZA.Run and an EP titled, S. The singer is also gearing up for the release of her Z EP, which will feature her recent singles, "Julia" and "Teen Spirit."...

...This latest news from TDE comes shortly after it was rumored that Queens rapper Action Bronson and singer Jhene Aiko would serve as TDE's newest signee's. As of now, neither of the two artists are signed to TDE.

Congrats SZA!

Listen to both of SZA's recent singles below, and of course don't forget to listen to Kendrick Lamar's new battle rap while you're at it too.

Continue reading "SZA signs to Top Dawg (home of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock)"

June 3, 2013

by Bill Pearis

The Drums @ Brooklyn Bowl, 2012 (more by Ryan Muir)

The New Music Seminar is back in action for 2013, happening from June 9 - 11 in New York City. A regular summertime fixture here from 1980 - 1995, the NMS returned in 2011 and expanded last year. While featuring industry panels, there are also showcases too on June 10 & 11 with a kickoff show at Webster Hall on June 10 featuring The Drums, Pearl & the Beard, Avan Lava, and Hess is More. Tickets for that show are on sale now and NMS attendees can get in with their badges (which, starting at $249, are priced for industry, not music fans).

Most of the showcases, however, happen at small Lower East Side venues like Pianos, Cake Shop and Tammany Hall. One that's notable is an all-Swedish showcase at Cake Shop on June 10 featuring Chris Merritt, Yves Jean, State of Grace, and Full of Keys. Visit the NMS website for full showcase and conference schedule.

Speaking of Swedish and Cake Shop, tonight (6/3) at the Ludlow venue are three Scandinavian bands who were here to play NYC Popfest over the weekend. The show is headlined by Finnish band French Films who were (along with UK group Flowers) the breakout band of the weekend, bringing some rock n' roll swagger to the fest that is often just associated all things twee and cute. (They're playing a few times this week, actually.) Also playing: Sweden's Alpaca Sports (jazzy orch-pop), and Azure Blue (ethereal synthpop).

If NMS doesn't float your boat, next week has two other festivals: Chickfactor 21 at Bell House from June 11 - 13, which overlaps a little with The Northside Festival in Williamsburg (6/13 - 6/15).

May 29, 2013

Bowery Presents

NYC-based concert promoter Bowery Presents, who have expanded over the years to NJ, Boston, Philadelphia and across the Northeast, are getting bigger again. This press release recently went out:

Tim Sweetwood has been hired by The Bowery Presents to promote concerts in his home city, Atlanta, as well as other available opportunities throughout that region as part of the newly launched The Bowery Presents: South. Sweetwood has been the talent buyer at the Masquerade and has produced shows in and around Atlanta for the past seven years. Tim has worked with artists to grow them beyond the Masquerade, culminating in the recently completed Shaky Knees Festival. The launch of The Bowery Presents: South continues the independent promoter's commitment to embracing regional and local music industry professionals, when they expand into new markets.

"I am thrilled to say that I am now part of The Bowery Presents," says Tim. "I think this marriage comes at the perfect time. My business and relationships have been rapidly expanding, and I believe being part of The Bowery Presents will help move everything to the next level. Regional expansion has been a goal of mine, and I am looking forward to the new relationships that will come from this move.

Look for more details soon, with shows beginning this fall.
As mentioned above, Bowery Presents: South will start out with Tim in Atlanta with plans to promote shows "throughout that region". That would include Athens, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama, and rumor is that Bowery will be doing shows at an old theater in New Orleans (The Civic Theater). Stay tuned for more details, and watch out Live Nation!

May 17, 2013

Village Voice

It's Black Friday at The Village Voice:

The planned layoffs at the Village Voice, which caused its brand-new editor-in-chief and deputy to quit in protest, went down this morning regardless, Gawker reports, and included legendary gossip columnist Michael Musto and veteran theater critic Michael Feingold, both of whom had already filed forthcoming pieces for the paper. Food critic Robert Sietsema was also let go. "So many people have come out to offer their love (and opportunities)," Musto told Hamilton Nolan. "My brand will be feistier than ever." We don't doubt it. The Voice, on the other hand ... - [Intelligencer]
Michael Musto had been with the iconic NYC alt-weekly since 1984. Also leaving, The Voice from its longtime Cooper Sq. offices.

May 10, 2013

Village Voice

More changes at the storied Village Voice. A pair of editors handed in their resignations yesterday...

Will Bourne, who became editor last November, and Jessica Lustig, the deputy editor since January, met with the staff at 11 a.m. on Thursday to announce their departure. In a phone interview, Mr. Bourne said that Christine Brennan, executive editor of Voice Media Group, had told them to lay off, or drastically reduce the roles of, five employees on the 20-person staff. Rather than carry out the cuts, he and Ms. Lustig resigned and left immediately, in the middle of closing next week's paper.
Bourne commented to the New York Times that he was told that the "bloodletting had come to an end" when he came on board and that he would not "preside over further layoffs."

The Voice subsequently denied the layoffs, but insisted that "further structural and staffing changes" were required.

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