Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Springsteen’

Artists and Record Labels Are At It Again … This Time It’s For Keeps

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

the doors at the whiskey a go go - Google ImagesThis past weekend I was lucky enough to catch the Sunset Strip Music Festival in LA.  Seeing Motley Crue and Public Enemy, playing live outside on the Strip, and The Doors, live at the Whiskey A Go- Go, where they started as a house band in the 60’s, (with David Brock on vocals doing a mind blowing rendition of Jim Morrison), was truly an unreal experience … and just what I needed. Working with the major music labels for the last eight years and following this beleaguered industry from the business side, I always rely on some good-old live, loud music to quickly put things back in perspective for me.

Last week the New York Times wrote an article reporting on yet another potential crushing blow to the music industry, a little known revision to a copyright law from the mid-seventies, dealing with musical artists regaining rights to their songs. Basically the law grants artists “termination rights,” allowing the artists to regain control of their work from the labels, 35 years after the songs release, provided they file the proper forms two years in advance.

“The recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley, a founder both of the Eagles and the Recording Artists Coalition. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.” Some big names released in 1978 and eligible to be granted termination rights in 2013 include, Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” and the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute.

This will be a bone of contention for years and will certainly wind up in court and in the hands of lawyers, some of whom I’m sure were rockin’ right alongside me. Thirty-five years is a long time, but after seeing these bands perform over the weekend with passion and energy, sounding better than ever, something tells me they’re not going away anytime soon, and thank goodness!

Listening to bands tell their stories between songs during the festival reminded me of how this whole thing started and why it’s all here in the first place…and never a  mention of words like copyright or piracy. I say avoid the legal fees, pay the artists instead and let Don Henley go back to singing with his Eagles band mates.

The Music Business Rocks On… Shrugging Off Internet Challenges From The Past

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Image Source: The

Image Source: The

Over the last 10 years the music business has resembled the “boy” in lyrics from any of the countless number of songs written over the years about “boy meets girl,” “boy loses girl,” and/or “boys falls back in love with girl.” The music industry has been in a tailspin since 1999 (coincidentally the same year Napster was spawned). The advent of peer-to-peer services caused massive music piracy and, with free music just a click away, proved to be the direct blow that would send CD sales plummeting and ultimately crippling a once very profitable industry.

However, the music business seems to have bottomed out and actually managed to grow over the last two years (the entire British music business grew 5 percent from 2008 -2009). One way it has managed this is by returning to its roots – live performances. When I attended my first concert, (Ozzie Osborne –  What was I thinking?), I had no idea at the time Mr. Osborne, for the most part, was touring as a way to market his new album. Although I would like to think the bands I saw back in the day were there because they truly enjoyed playing live (I’m sure some did), the concert was more of a live commercial to promote their new albums and get people to buy them.

These days’ bands are touring again to cash in on booming ticket sales (with top acts commanding over 100 dollars) and are laughing all the way to the bank as they play in front of sold out crowds. “Many of the acts selling out stadiums are old,” says Rob Hallet, the president of international touring at AEG Live. The top three American touring acts last year were U2 (average age: 49), Bruce Springsteen (61) and a double bill of Billy Joel (61) and Elton John (63). All have contributed to a surge in ticket prices – tripling from $1.5 billion in 1999 to $4.6 billion in 2009.  It’s not that more people are going to live performances, but rather paying more per ticket. According to Pollstar, a research firm that tracks the market, the average ticket price should be $35.30 today if they increased in line with inflation. Instead the average price of a ticket costs a whopping $62.57.

Bands not only are relying on live performances. They also are looking to alternative revenue streams to help mitigate the drop in CD sales, such as merchandising, sponsorships, online streaming and emerging markets. One area that is booming is publishing. Music’s best customer is television “Watch any evening’s worth of TV and count how many times you hear music in the background,” says Jeremy Lascellas, chief executive of Chrysalis.

If the music business could figure out a way to share a synergistic relationship with the Internet, other forms of media and entertainment can surely learn from their long strange trip. Although the music industry is relying less on CD sales and more on alternative revenue streams – one thing is certain: people continue to pay a premium for quality content regardless of whether it’s coming from a 3-D movie screen ($20 average price per ticket in New York) or Mick Jagger’s 67 year old vocal pipes.