Friday, June 30, 2006

Bob Lefsetz wrote this rant, and I felt it worthy of reposting here:

EMI and Warner (The Merger)

This isn't about music, this is about money. And when it comes to money, the brass at EMI isn't even in the same LEAGUE as the brain trust running Warner.

EMI is looking at this from a music perspective. How to ultimately compete with Universal and Sony BMG in a three way fight for dominance. Whereas those who are running Warner are laughing hysterically, they stole the music group from Richard Parsons, it's now worth twice what they paid for it, AND they've already gotten all their money back AND MORE!

Just because major labels are in trouble don't think their value is going to go down to zero. Quite the contrary. The crisis is in NEW music. They're like the TV networks, they're going to lose market share. But EMI and Warner have incredible CATALOGS! Hell, insiders know the BMG catalog isn't worthless, but it pales in comparison to that of Sony. And Sony's catalog is not in the league of Warner's. So who's stupid here?

And, the original PolyGram catalog and MCA wares are not up to par with either Sony or Warner. Combine them with A&M and Island and you reach critical mass and sell Bob Marley discs forever, but Warner has Neil Young and Led Zeppelin and most of James Taylor's hits and if you think these recordings are going to be worthless in the future, you truly know nothing about the Internet.

We're in an interim phase. Where sound recordings are sold at the iTunes Music Store for a buck a track, trying to replace lost CD business. But sometime in the future, this ridiculous stranglehold will end. Music will be much more easily acquired and at a much lower individual track price, to the point where people will acquire the aforementioned acts and the Doors and even Aretha Franklin in vast quantities. Probably over and over again. It's gonna be a goldmine. And Warner is poised perfectly to reap rewards.

EMI? Not quite as good. They've got the Beatles. Never discount the Beatles, but EMI's catalog is not as good as Warner's by a long shot. But, EMI controls publishing. A cash cow. Which also is going to blow up, not only when recorded music sells on the Net, but when songs are used in all kinds of new ways. Both Warner and EMI are worth a fortune, for slightly different reasons.

The guys at EMI want to continue to play, because, after all, that's all they know. Not Eric Nicoli specifically, he's from the biscuit business, but Alain Levy and his can have their music company when you pry it from their cold, dead hands. Levy got bounced once, he's not going to let it happen again. He's convinced he can win in the new era, if only he has the size to compete with Universal and Sony BMG.

But the guys who control Warner could give a fuck about the music, never mind the music business. They're all about the cash. Why make things easy for Nicoli and end their profitable run when they can continue to own Warner, pay themselves, and watch their stock GO UP! Yes, that's what's happened.

It's pure negotiation. EMI NEEDS this, Warner does not. And he who does not need a deal always wins.

It's kind of like Jerry Perenchio and Univision. God, the guy doesn't even speak Spanish. He just saw a great business opportunity, and hired people to run it HIS WAY! Which is exactly what Thomas H. Lee, et al, did with Edgar Bronfman, Jr. If you think this standoff is about Bronfman wanting to continue to be in the business, you know nothing. Sure, he may have that desire, but this is all about the bread, period.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Have you seen yet? It's a music generator program. You tell it what artist, group, or song you like and it creates a radio station based on that sound and similar sounding music. It's pretty cool... Their license doesn't cover all music (like I told it that I like UGK, and it couldn't play any UGK because it isn't licensed to do so, so it played Pimp C music).


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Almost ten years ago, I met a rapper doing his thing on the indie tip. He was selling his CDs in pretty decent numbers. I tried shopping him a deal to no avail. None of the labels were interested, which was odd because he had a powerful attorney (he was also mine at the time, which is how we met) and a track record of pretty decent success.

The artist ended up taking a bullshit deal with a new label that had no distribution yet and no track record of success. I tried to talk him out of it. The artist signed because he said he needed the money (I guess getting a job and staying true to his music until a better situation came along was not an option). No surprise that the label went bust and the artist never had any success.

Fast forward to 2006. The artist gets out of his bullshit deal and decides getting radio spins is the way to get a record deal and have success. He called me and asked me to shop him a deal. I passed, because I have yet to see an artist get a favorable record deal that leads to success, based on the limited leverage of just radio play (radio is no guarentee to the labels that an artist will sell well--but sales are great leverage, so I shop deals based on regional sales). I introduced him to my attorney (different guy than before) knowing at least he wouldn't get jerked.

So the artist hires one of the best radio promoters in the country and talks him into getting the spins on spec (meaning the artist will pay the radio guy once he gets a deal). I think you know where I am going with this... so the artist gets a deal (another new label with no track record of success) and forgets to pay the radio guy. Oops...

So he neglected to pay his radio team (ya know, the ones responsible for getting him that deal) and they have now cut him off. Let me explain what happens when an artist decides to skip that pesky outlay of cash--the radio spins go from 100+ a week, to ZERO. Once a song comes to a screeching halt, it's next to impossible to get it started again. Once radio is burned, it's hard to get the artist started again.

Meanwhile, the artist rented a Ferrari for his video shoot and was seen driving all over town by the guy who never got paid. Well, I don't need to tell you what happened... the artist is done at radio. If this kid is able to get ANY spins at radio in the south, it will be a fucking miracle. How can one person be so stupid?!

Guess what all this drama is over? $5,000. He couldn't pay his radio guy just 5 grand out of his $300,000 advance. Unbelievable...
David Banner...David Banner... I'm in the middle of shopping a deal for The Core DJs and Tony Neal was kind enough to send over the new David Banner street anthem called "Get Money!!"

OK, so the song goes a lil somethin' like this:

"If Steve Rifkind stiffs a nigga, then I'm back on the block, I'll shove this pistol in your mouth and run my hands through your sock..." I had to listen to it a couple times to understand exactly what Banner is saying. At first I thought he was saying Rifkind didn't pay him, but I know that IF that was the case, he would have called me (probably even before his lawyer). Then I realized that he was saying that IF Rifkind were to NOT pay him, he'd have to resort back to the streets and rob and steal to feed himself. I took it like he was saying thank God for what he had so he wouldn't have to turn to the streets to survive. I chuckled over the fact that I misunderstood what he was saying...sometimes I feel like such a white girl...

Then, I wondered what Rifkind thinks Banner is saying. If I had to listen to it a few times to get it, and I know Banner well, what would his label head think? I started to send him an email (at 4 AM) and then realized I was being silly. Of course Rifkind didn't misunderstand the song...

Well, when I woke up yesterday, it was still eating at me, so I dashed off an email to Rifkind's blackberry saying, I know you didn't misunderstand the song, but just in case you did, I listened to it a few times and here's what he is actually saying....sorry for being silly, but I just wanted to make sure you heard it correctly, because it confused me at first.

No response.

Uh-oh. Rifkind always hits me back within minutes because I never bother him with dumb shit. Finally, I receive a response about 30 minutes later (that's long for Rifkind) that says he heard the song, listened to it ten times and Banner is absolutely dissing him.

Uh oh.

This man's feelings were really hurt. He's going through a rough time right now, so this must be magnified 100 times in his world. He thinks Banner has dissed him. This is the president of Banner's label. Banner's career is in the hands of this man. And he thinks Banner dissed him. Uh-oh...

So we're going back and forth about the song, and I'm trying to tell him to get the lyric sheet and listen to the song again, and to read the lyrics. Banner is NOT dissing... He says he heard Banner dissed him in Ozone and now this song and he's pissed and hurt.

Uh oh.

So what do you do when someone thinks they were dissed when they weren't? Isn't this how wars start?

What do you do when your label president thinks you dissed him in a song? What if he's convinced he was dissed? Now what!?

Uh oh.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Time Warner Cable sucks. I lose my cable connection (Road Runner) at least twice a week. It just disappears for blocks of time with no warning, no explanation, and certainly no price adjustment. For the $50 they stick me for every month, plus the $15 a month their co-owned AOL slugs rob me for each month, one would think they’d get their shit together.

The second a better solution comes along in broadband, I’m on it. It will delight me beyond words to pull my $65 a month away from these fuck ups called Time Warner/AOL. Ditto for my Sprint cell phone service, by the way….

I already left Bell South in the dust for the $125 that I was paying each month to those corporate thugs-- I now pay $25 to Vonage for better service. I remember all those times my phone bill was two days late and Bell South cut me off so they could hit me with that super high reconnection fee (that they were kind enough to spread of 12 monthly installments so I could be reminded for a year that they are greedy). So now their customers are leaving in droves to be treated better for a more reasonable price. Hah! Couldn’t happen to a nicer company. Idiots.

OK, I’m done ranting now. Of course I have to wait to post this on my Blog because I can’t get on the damn internet. Now we’re back to Time Warner Cable and how they suck. The second another broadband choice comes along…

Friday, June 09, 2006

The music business is a bitch who doesn't love you back.

Man that's real. I wish I could remember who said that to me last week. At the time, I knew it was true, but didn't realize how genius is was until it rumbled around my brain a bit this week. The music business IS a bitch that doesn't love you back.

I'm just back from the Bay Area again. Checking out the Hyphy Movement. The labels are scared. They think it's just a fad. But how can such a huge and passionate reaction be just a fad? I don't think it can be. I do understand how someone without their ear to the street, sitting in a glass tower in Manhattan could misinterpret it though. Watching the BDS and SoundScan of E-40 isn't a testament of the Hyphy Movement, it's a reflection of Warner Bros working a record. That's just MY opinion though.

I gotta tell was cool to see a Hyphy Show (Thizz Nation, Keak Da Sneak, Mistah F.A.B., Mac Mall, etc), but it was even cooler to meet Mista FAB's team. Sometimes, as I travel around the country, I meet the teams behind artists and am not impressed (including NY where the industry is based) because it's usually the artist's brother, or cousin, or neighbor's siter's brother's dog's uncle representing them. Then I met Stretch and Gary. I can't ever recall being so impressed with the level of industry knowledge, sheer drive and ability, and business acumen of any artist's representative before. They had me all fucked up. OK, I know I just offended every team everywhere around the US, but you gotta meet these guys in the Bay to understand what I'm saying. Not only do they know what they are doing, but they even know the inside industry gossip that like 10 people in the inner circle of the NY Urban Music industry know. Very, very impressive.

Needless to say, they can ask me for anything, and it's theirs. Move the moon a little to the left? Done! Just say the word. I think we ALL need to aspire to be as sharp as these guys are. Myself included. I'm gonna have to step my game up a notch.