Monday, October 15, 2007

Here's the trailer for the new Nomads DVD...
I'm happy to post this "exclusive" extract from Marty Thau's forthcoming Red Star Chronicles...

Back in the '60s you could record a song on a Monday and within a week you'd have records on the street and one week later know if you had a hit, or miss. Massive marketing planning, tour support programs and artist development meetings weren't necessary, or even contemplated. If it sounded good it would be manufactured and promoted. That was all it took. Today it's all about lawyers, accountants, micro-managers and formulaic music strategically designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

It was more fun back then when idiosyncratic entrepreneurs with a need to reinvent the wheel and A&R execs with "commercial ears" and the ability to relate to audience preferences ruled the roost, and it remained that way until Wall Street’s honchos discovered "leisure time activities" and the "youth market" in the late '60s. It was at that critical watershed moment that the record industry shifted from being a simple little fun game to play to Wall Street's darlings.

No one could’ve imagined that in just a few decades full length CDs would be recorded for as much as a million dollars a pop by major artists, that videos might cost as much and marketing and manufacturing costs would add many hundred of thousands to the total investment. It was inconceivable to even fantasize that a label could sell 10 million copies of a recording but that moment came and went thanks in part to the fact that the old business model of the major music business companies was reduced to helplessness and inefficiency because of its failure to adapt to the rise of modern technology and the computer revolution. Rather than embracing digitalization and the opportunities it implied for promotion of product and distribution, the industry stuck its head in the sand.

Today artistry has been forced to take a back seat to commerce because for the labels it’s all about chasing hits and the quick fix. Today if a CD sells 100,000 copies on a major label it’s considered a loser but that old school rule of thumb is currently being re-evaluated as the major music industry becomes more and more of a niche business. The industry complains that record sales are plummeting and profit margins are thin largely because of the illegal swapping of music files over the Internet but, if the truth were known, the record industry has been ripping off consumers for years and gleefully gouging artists for major chunks of their livelihoods. Finally consumers are now hip to it and it gets down to this - the music industry is built on bullying, smug intimidation, is largely corrupt, greedy and unethical and in need of someone or something to shepherd it from the past to the present to the future.

Today’s consumers believe there is far too much disposable music – translation; trite and unchallenging sounds parading as music -- in the marketplace at inflated prices. To make matters worse, the live concert business is heading for a steep decline because there are very few new acts that anybody wants to see. MTV no longer has any integrity and is a moronic and irrelevant train wreck in need of new world solutions. Terrestrial radio’s centralized and predictable programming is littered with endless commercials and has played itself out. As for satellite radio, they’re having a tough time convincing people that what they offer is revolutionary and worth the monthly fees they charge and that they’re not playing terrestrial radio’s same old drivel.

There’s no denying any of these problems but hopefully, in the not too distant future, the music business will "get it" and be reinvented and once again be the relevant driving force it once was. It’s quite an amazing turnabout from the days when popular music was the hippest artistic medium on the planet and at the forefront of mass communication for a whole generation as well as being an important social and political force in everyday life.
It should be noted that there's nothing inherently wrong with a major label -- it has cash, stability, infrastructure, a full staff and relationships. Acts would sign with majors if only they weren't so untrustworthy and want all of the act's money.

Here’s an amazing bit of trivia for you trivia buffs – the record business is the only business in the world that loses money on 90% of its products! In my opinion, any business with such a pathetic track record deserves to be shuttered.
Bjorn sent me this... not exactly good news for a Monday morning but...

From The Copters homepage:

The End (2007-10-13)

After nearly thirteen years as The Hellacopters we're now sad to tell you that we are breaking up. The reasons behind this very difficult decision are many and too personal to go into here.
Playing in a rock and roll band isn't always a walk in the park, but thanks to all of you who rocked out with us at sweaty clubs, rainy festivals or at home by the stereo throughout the years, it's been a fantastic trip. We'll never forget your support.
We recently finished mixing our seventh and last studio album and it'll be released early next year according to initial plans. We feel like we wanna say one last Goodbye to you and throw in the towel with a bang, so we're aiming to do a farewell tour through Europe and Scandinavia sometime in the spring. So you're not getting rid of us just yet.
The Hellacopters