Posts Tagged ‘music industry’

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Indie bands and OC creator’s new web serial

January 14, 2009

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The creator of The OC, Josh Schwartz, has a new project, Rockville, which is a web-based serial centered around a music club, presented in four-minute chunks. Unsurprisingly, given the setting and Schwartz’s history of launching new bands with The OC, he’s announced that he plans to showcase indie bands in each webisode, if ‘showcase’ is the right word for ’15 second cameo.’ More interesting, however, is what he plans to do with the rest of the footage – Schwartz plans to put the full live performances online, with possible plans to release a DVD. Here at z=z, we’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about music in advertising and in TV shows, so it’ll be interesting to see how well it works in this mostly untried medium.

Reuters

MP3: The Futureheads – Decent Days and Nights (featured on OC Mix 4; more Futureheads)

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The changing economics of touring

January 9, 2009

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Two recent articles, one in the Economist’s culture magazine (link) and one in the Independent (link) both take the recently released 2008 concert revenue figures as a starting point to discuss the future of touring musical acts. Unsurprisingly, the Economist gives a deeper historical perspective (I’m impressed by their ability to work in a reference to Tom Stoppard), whereas the Independent’s article focuses more on the numbers, including a list of the highest-grossing tours of 2008, with Madonna (pictured) at the top of the heap. The Independent reports that music sales have fallen in the last five years due to, among other factors, “the corrosive effects effects of piracy.” They also note that concert revenues are up by 13%. While they fail to connect these two things, both articles quote David Bowie:

The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within ten years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. …Music itself is going to be like running water or electricity…you’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left.

Even more remarkable is that it’s from an interview with the New York Times in 2002.

MP3: David Bowie – Hang on to Yourself [buy]

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Apple is removing DRM from iTunes

January 6, 2009

apple-logoIt’s official – Apple announced today that it will no longer use digital rights management on songs from iTunes, taking effect before the end of the quarter. This goes hand-in-hand with a change in the pricing structure, with song prices ranging from 69 cents to $1.29. In case you’ve ever wondered why z=z only linked to eMusic, Beatport, and Amazon – this was why. I still listen to CDs that I bought twenty years ago, and Apple had no interest in making sure I can do this with their protected songs – why should they care, after all, since I’ve already paid them? So I’m delighted to see Apple take this move away from the dark side.

Reuters article: link

(thanks to Scott for the heads-up!)

[trivia note: Propellerheads’ “Take California” was the first song  used to advertise the iPod, way back in 2001.]

MP3: Propellerheads – Take California

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2008: Best and worst songs in ads

January 2, 2009

[embedded YouTube video; if you can’t watch it, click here]

Following up on some previous posts about music and advertising, and doing one last wrap-up for the year that’s just ended…

Ad Age magazine did a nice little roundup of the ten best songs in advertisements in 2008, together with the ten worst (which makes for much more entertaining reading, as you might imagine). Some interesting artists in there, ranging from Ennio Morricone through the Kinks through Liars. The article includes links  to video of all the ads.

(above, a mashup of Esurance ad and a video for Cloud Cult’s “Lucky Today”)

Book of Tens: Ad Songs of the Year

MP3: Liars – Clear Island [buy]

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Listen local: Passion Pit

December 11, 2008

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[click image for full version]

The head of BBC Radio 1 thinks that Cambridge, MA’s Passion Pit are the next big thing. Radio 1 is unusual in that it is simultaneously non-commercial and mainstream and, at least in the UK, getting added to its playlist means you’ve made it to the big leagues. The Guardian recently posted an interview with Radio 1’s head of music, George Ergatoudis, about the process by which artists get chosen for airplay. It’s kind of nice to read about their involved process of meetings and how their challenge is to balance music that is accessible and that which is more difficult (rather than, say, about how they are beating off promoters with a stick or quietly doing pay-for-play). To be perfectly precise, Ergatoudis says that Passion Pit are the next MGMT, which makes sense given that they occupy a similar point in the happy, catchy, danceable pop-electronica space.

Incidentally, the image above is a charming review of both a Passion Pit concert and their album, Chunk of Change, by artist Andrew Kuo; click on it to see the full version.

MP3: Passion Pit – Sleepyhead [amazon]

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Music and advertising

December 3, 2008

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Here on z=z, we’ve written previously about the alliance of independent music and advertising. Bethany Klein, now a lecturer at the University of Leeds, wrote the book on it, literally –  her book As Heard on TV: Popular Music in Advertising, is scheduled for release in April 2009. It’s based on the research in her dissertation, and a paper that was just published in Media, Culture and Society, “The New Radio: Media Licensing as a Response to Industry Woe,” gives us a taste of her work.

As the title suggests, she suggests that the rise of music licensing (providing soundtracks for commercials and TV shows) is one way in which the music industry is hoping to hedge against the widely-feared, quite hypothetical revenue loss due to filesharing. Klein paints a portrait of cultural mores in transition: licensing one’s music for advertising has gone from being construed as ‘selling out’ to being widely considered a good way to get exposure. She suggests that this change in perception is a consequence of the deregulation and consolidation of commercial radio, and the subsequent loss of diversity in playlists. As Joe Pernice says, ‘It’s almost like commercial and television placement are the new radio.’ But as with commercial radio, Klein argues, the commercial imperative of corporations and TV shows is fundamentally at odds with artistic goals (even if music supervisors present themselves as saviours of independent music). And as licensing becomes increasingly accepted as a way for new bands to get exposure, it’s going to start looking a lot more like radio, with minimal licensing fees paid to the artist or even a pay-to-play model. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, MTV is leading the way, and Klein describes their astonishingly sleazy policy: if you submit a video to be considered for airplay, they reserve the right to strip the visuals and use the music as a soundtrack to its shows, without even paying a synchronization fee.

There’s a lengthy interview with Klein at policy website Miller-McCune, which also has a sidebar on ten famous (or infamous) uses of songs in advertisements. Klein’s paper is behind a paywall, but you can read the first page here and you might be able to ask a friendly neighbourhood academic for a copy of the PDF if you’re interested.

MP3: Iggy Pop – Lust for Life

[via Boing Boing]

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Bootlegging vinyl

November 25, 2008

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Interesting Resident Advisor article on bootlegged vinyl albums, with a focus on electronic music. It’s kind of a perfect storm – DJs and aficionados are always looking for rare tracks, digital masters are more widely available, the quantities are small enough that it’s rarely worth it for the artist to file lawsuits, and bricks-and-mortar music stores are already struggling, so they have an incentive to look the other way.

Link: “Bootlegs: Unauthorized at any speed

Image: Vinyl spines by Flickr user aeioux, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.