Home Think Tank

Erica Ramon began working with him to help build the MGMT management company, where she worked with major artists including Thirty Second to Mars, Audra Mae and Kongos. Since moving to New York City and joining DAS, she has managed projects for artists including The Pretty Reckless, Jimmy Cliff, Danny Seth and Katy Tiz.

“I would give the same advice to the performers and to those seeking a career on the business side. Make sure you are committed to the work and that this is something you look forward to waking up to day in and day out. There are perks to this industry for sure, but the work is real and it is 24/7. It can be especially challenging because art is subjective. There is always a strategy in place, but at the end of the day, we all like what we like and we can’t always articulate what or why that is. As an artist, you’ve got to be married to the music.”

Via Music Consultant

From Salon:

The 11-year old I was had listened to lyrics in a pretty cursory way – sometimes getting them wrong, as people do. I just didn’t get the impression that whoever was writing the song had something definitive to say. Like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is this very amorphous, whatever – it doesn’t seem like it needs to be paid attention to that much. It doesn’t seem like it’s particularly important to the writer. And here’s what’s key to me – it doesn’t seem like it’s that important to the writer. You don’t get the impression that whoever’s writing this really has something to say or really cares about the thing that they say. Here I am listening to you talk – which is so important – and you’re just not saying anything. You’ve yelled fire in a crowded theater, and there’s no fire.

And that informed the way I was listening to songs. Maybe a little later, when I heard Neil Young … And I think it was a while later before I heard any Dylan, and saw lyrics in yet another way – sort of poetic, but his craftsmanship is really incredible, his choice of language and use of words, specific kinds of words and interesting metaphors … That was all a revelation.

But the interesting thing for me was: You can talk about stuff, and only the people who care are going to notice. I thought that was really, really intriguing. And that little nugget of thought stayed with me for many years later, when I was trying to write my own songs, that was the ticket. Dylan is an amazing lyric writer. But I got it from that moment of listening to Gilbert O’Sullivan … Suicide, his parents dying, being left at the altar … that’s some heavy shit. In the context of this little pop song. This was intriguing – I thought, at some level, there’s a way to talk about things that you can’t talk about. But you sort of have deniability in a way – because only the people who listen will get it. The encryption key is, a listener who cares.

From Shareaholic:

With a $200 billion market cap and an active user base that rivals the entire population of China, Facebook has significant staying power.

For publishers, marketers and site owners, this is especially important because Facebook is the leading driver of social referrals to sites across the web. Also, surprisingly, over the last year, Pinterest has been giving Zuckerberg and company a run for their money as the #2 source of social referrals.

In the 3rd Quarter 2014 edition of the Shareaholic Social Media Traffic Report, we take a look at how much traffic each of the 8 most popular social networks sent publishers’ way. The data reveals “share of visits,” a percentage of overall traffic — direct traffic, social referrals, organic search, paid search, etc. — sites received, for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google Plus, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

This June, Facebook delivered nearly a quarter of the total visits sites around the web received. While its share of traffic has marginally shrunk since then, the ubiquitous social network still drives 4x more traffic than Pinterest.

Section I: Social Referrals Over Q3 2014

Our first chart observes “share of visits” for each social network over the months of June, July, August, and September 2014. The final column quantifies how much each social platform’s share has changed from June (end of Q2) through September (end of Q3).

Social Media Traffic Trends Report Q3 October 2014 chart

Of the eight social networks tracked, only two — LinkedIn and Google Plus — drove a greater share of traffic at the end of Q3 than they did at the end of Q2. The other six each saw their share of traffic decrease slightly, between 1.03 – 0.01 percentage points.

From SocialBreakers:

This just in: social media marketers have done more than just walked away from using YouTube for video content – they have sprinted. And where have they gone? Straight out of the grasp of Google and into the outstretched arms of Facebook.

One of the most interesting data pulls we have done in a long time shows that YouTube is coming under increasing pressure to maintain its status as the major distributor of video content. Marketers are increasingly turning to Facebook for video content – opting away from the YouTube-first, Facebook second approach that was so common.

Socialbakers analyzed over 180,000 Facebook video posts across 20,000 Facebook pages – here’s what we found.

Back in 2012, marketers were not even considering alternative options for sharing video content on Facebook. The standard process was to create a video, publish it to YouTube and share it via Facebook. However, the recent trend is clearly showing that content marketers are directly uploading video content to Facebook, meaning that Facebook is retaining the traffic at the expense of YouTube.

Facebook and YouTube video on FB pages

From IFPI:

  • Record companies’ total investment in A&R and marketing tops US$4.3 billion annually and more than US$20 billion over five years, according to IFPI’s Investing in Music report
  • Labels’ investment in A&R and marketing up from 26 to 27 per cent of industry revenues over the last two years
  • Report unveiled at ‘Friends of Music’ evening for MEPs in Strasbourg hosted by IFPI chairman Plácido Domingo

Record companies remain the engine room of the global music industry, investing US$4.3 billion annually in artists and repertoire (A&R) and marketing, according to a new report from IFPI on the changing face of the music business.

Labels remain the primary investors in artists, investing 27 per cent of their revenue in A&R and marketing, up from 26 per cent in 2011. Over the last five years it is estimated that record companies worldwide have invested more than US$20 billion in A&R and marketing.

More than 7,500 artists were signed to major labels’ rosters in 2013, with tens of thousands more on independent labels. One in five artists on labels’ rosters is a new signing, highlighting the role of fresh talent as the lifeblood of the industry.

Record companies invest a greater proportion of their global revenues in A&R than most other sectors do in research and development (R&D). Comparisons show music industry investment in A&R (16%) exceeding the R&D investment of industries including software and computing (9.9%) and the pharmaceutical and biology sector (14.4%) .

Investing in Music is published today by IFPI, representing the recording industry worldwide, in association with WIN, representing independent labels internationally. It is being launched at a ‘Friends of Music’ event for MEPs in Strasbourg hosted by IFPI and its chairman Plácido Domingo.

With fresh data and several case studies, the report outlines the evolving and enduring partnership between labels and artists in the digital world.

Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, says: “Investing in Music highlights the multi-billion dollar investment in artists made every year by major and independent record labels. It is estimated that the investment in A&R and marketing over the last five years has totalled more than US$20 billion. That is an impressive measure of the qualities that define the music industry, and which give it its unique value.”

Alison Wenham, chair of WIN, says: “Most artists who want to make a career from their music still seek a recording deal. They want to be introduced to the best producers, sound engineers and session musicians in the business. They need financial support and professional help to develop marketing and promotional campaigns.”

The report features data from record companies and case studies from around the world, including studies on Ed Sheeran, 5 Seconds of Summer, Lorde, MKTO, Negramaro, Nico & Vinz, Pharrell Williams and Wei Li-An.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • The costs of breaking an artist in a major market remain substantial at between US$500,000 and US$2 million. The cost typically breaks down as payment of an advance (US$50,000-350,000), recording costs (US$150,000-500,000), video production costs (US$50,000-300,000), tour support (US$50,000-US$150,000) and marketing and promotional costs (US$200,000-700,000).
  • Record companies invest in local talent and break them to a global audience. The recording industry is global in scale and exports artists internationally; but it heavily invests in local repertoire. In 12 of its leading markets, local repertoire accounts for more than 70 per cent of the sales of the top 10 albums.
  • Live performance has not replaced recordings as the driver of the music industry.While record companies invest US$2.5 billion in A&R, there is little evidence of such substantial investment in new music coming from any other source. All of the five top grossing live tours of 2013 were by artists who first released albums nine or more years previously, with one group having recordings going back 50 years. Few artists can achieve a scalable, sustainable music career without producing recorded music.
  • Unsigned artists want a record deal. Research conducted with the Unsigned Guide in the UK found 70 per cent of unsigned acts wanted a recording contract. The top drivers for wanting a recording contract are marketing and promotional support (76%), tour support (58%) and getting upfront financial support in the form of an advance (45%).
  • Brand partnerships and synch deals have grown in importance. A recording deal unlocks a range of different revenue streams for artists and labels. These include a new generation of brand partnership and synchronisation deals, involving the use of recordings in TV, film, games and adverts.

GLOBAL A&R AND MARKETING INVESTMENT:

2013
A&R US$2.5bn
A&R as % of revenues 15.6%
Marketing US$1.8bn
Marketing as % of revenues 11.4%
Total investment (A&R + marketing) US$4.3bn
Total investment as % of revenues 27.0%
Total industry revenues US$16.1bn
Source: IFPI. A&R spend includes advances, recording and origination, video costs, tour support and staff overheads. Marketing spend includes TV advertising, co-op marketing and online marketing/promotion.

Alec Baldwin sits down with Ira Glass to compare notes on interviewing, the afterlife, and how to find one’s voice – with a microphone or a camera lens. Now the veritable kingmaker of public radio, Glass has revolutionized nonfiction storytelling by using a voice that’s personable, modest, and emotionally engaged. In this extensive interview, Glass lays it all out: politics (he’s a Democrat; finds the left insufferable), religion (went through Hebrew school; done with it), fact-checking (you can never be too careful), and that dog who went as him for Halloween.

iraquote

Pitchfork: As someone who’s maintained a creative lifestyle for about 30 years now, what advice would you give to someone who’s considering that path now?

JC: One of the problems of our modern world is that there’s a lot of things to work through, but, at some point, everybody should take a pause from that and make something, so that it’s not just all one-way traffic. Human beings aren’t meant to be solely consumers—eventually, something has to come out. Otherwise, I don’t really see what the point of all that consumption is. The idea behind watching things and listening to things is that it stirs something within you, and hopefully that will stimulate you to then create your own thing.

I love the Internet, but it’s hard not to get lost in it. It’s not like a book where you start and get to the end. It’s like we’ve found a way to encapsulate all of human knowledge within one thing only to learn that you can’t do that. It’s an overabundance of information. Ultimately, it must be quite tough to be confronted with that. If you wanted to be a creative person and you are confronted with the sum product of mankind’s creativity up to this moment in history, that’s pretty daunting, like, “Where can I fit my voice in amongst all that?”

Pitchfork: Yeah, the idea of making something new can seem pointless because you know it’s going to be thrown on top of this endless pile of stuff.

JC: What people have to make sure of is that they’re not replicating something that already exists. You really have to ask yourself: “Is there a point in me doing this? Has this already been said before? Is this moving things along or is this just adding to the giant pile of junk that’s already there?” Social commentators give this kind of idea names like “cultural gridlock,” where things like music don’t seem to be developing so much. It’s not like the music of 1994 is that different than the music of 2014—and that’s 20 years worth.

But I believe that humans adapt to circumstance. The Internet is quite an unprecedented circumstance, so it’s going to take people a while to get their heads around it. You read things about writers, for instance, who get computer programs so that they can’t surf the Internet when they’re supposed to be writing. People are learning that you’ve got to find some way of shutting things off in order to give your own mind a chance to produce something. It’s interesting that most gadgets are called “iPhone” and “iPod,” with that “i” prefix, which is ego. But most creativity is not ego-led—a lot of it comes from the unconscious. So if you’re always checking your email or updating your Instagram profile, you’re not just looking out the window, daydreaming. You’ve got to let the subconscious in—that’s my main message to the world. I sound like I’ve been reading too many self-help books, don’t I?

Via Pitchfork

The last incarnation of our black rock band was called the Big Apple Band. We were R&B, fusion, jazz, rock-and-roll. One of the guys I had gone to school with had a major hit record called “A Fifth of Beethoven”—Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band. People thought that was us, so we changed our name to Chic. I wrote our very first song for this new entity: “Everybody Dance.” We premiered it at a club called the Night Owl Cafe. From this one club, the song blew up, and the whole scene would go there just to hear this song.

That song and “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” became big records in the underground scene and they were popular on the radio. Grace Jones, who was a goddess in those days in the club scene, expressed interest in having me and Bernard Edwards write and produce her next album. This was huge! We only had one record under our belts, and we get a call from Grace Jones? But we had never spoken to her, so on the phone she had this very bizarre vocal affectation. We thought she was putting on this voice for us as part of her code message on how to get into Studio 54. So she says, “Tell them you’re personal friends of Miss Grace Jones.” [Said in a faux-Austrian accent.] We knock on the door and say, “We are personal friendzzz of Meees Graaaysss Jones,” and the guy slams the door in our faces and tells us to fuck off. And we say, “No, no, no. Seriously,” and we try and get it better. “Weeee’re personal friendzzz of Meeeesss Graaaaysss Jones.” We sound like Bela Lugosi. He slammed the door in our faces again. So we went to my apartment and started jamming on a groove, like “Aww, fuck off! Fuck Studio 54!” And it sounded great. Then Bernard, in his infinite wisdom, said, “My man, you know this shit is happenin’, right?” And I was like, “How are we gonna get ‘fuck off’ on the radio?” So we changed it to “Freak Off.” And Mr. Hippie, the acid head in me, said, “You know, like how about we call it ‘Freak Out’?” Bernard was like, “What does that mean?” And I was like, “You know, when you drop a tab of acid, man, and things go bad. Or, how about, you know when you go to a club and you’re freakin’ out on the dance floor.” And Bernard said, “My kids are doing that new dance called the ‘Freak.’ ”

So we took this negative experience and turned it into a positive one, and we talked about being in Studio 54 dancing this new dance. We took Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” and Joey D and the Starliters’ “ Peppermint Twist” and made it be about the “Freak.” To make it sound like it was ours, we called it “Le Freak.” But we didn’t tell people how to do the dance because we didn’t really know how to do it. It became better to speak of it in this euphoric way, and talk about the experience of doing it. We say, “Have you heard about the new dance craze.” We assume you haven’t. “We’ll show you the way.” But we don’t! The dance never became “the Twist” or even “the Hustle.” But the song is a triple-platinum single. And when we were on American Bandstand, Dick Clark introduced us in a really wonderful way. He said, “This is the biggest song by a band nobody knows about a dance that nobody knows how to do. Ladies and gentlemen, Chic! ‘Le Freak’!” It was so right on the money.

Via Vulture

“A lot of people get famous now very quickly, and then they seem to have a turnover where they weren’t famous for that long, but someone else steps in to fill the slot. They’re sort of disposably famous I suppose. But I can’t keep up with who’s famous anymore … I know in my time, in my generation, if you had come, if they tried to offer my generation music by someone that had won a game show, it would have been hysterical. You would have been laughed out of the room. I mean we were suspicious of people that had hit records. I mean it was that different of a time.”

Via CBC

hile the whole world is talking about Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and other digital music services, a long-forgotten medium has come back from near-extinction: the LP. In 2013, 6.1 million vinyl albums were sold in the United States, up from less than a million in 2005 and 2006. The same trend can be observed in the UK and in Germany, where LP sales have climbed to the highest levels since the early 1990s. Global vinyl sales amounted to $218 million in the past year and it’s all but certain that the vinyl comeback will continue in 2014.

There are several possible reasons for the sudden resurgence of the LP. Music aficionados have always valued the warm, organic sound of vinyl recordings but it may actually be the rise of digital music that contributed most to the uptick in vinyl sales: as great as services such as Spotify are in making music accessible, they also commoditized music to a certain degree and took away the pleasure of owning a physical album. To those who still prefer to own a tangible product, an LP may just add a little more value than a CD does (CD sales have been crushed lately). Plus, as many labels ship vinyl records with download codes, buyers get the best of both worlds when they purchase a vinyl album – they get the convenience of an MP3 download alongside the physical and acoustic pleasures of an LP.

It should probably be noted that vinyl sales still account for a small fraction of overall music revenues, but it’s nice to see that there’s still some life left in a medium that has been around for so many decades.

Infographic: Vinyl Comes Back From Near-Extinction | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista