RSS

Category Archives: music biz

An Unlikely “Champion”

A long-time music milestone was broken this week.  LeAnn Rimes’ How Do I Live was toppled as the longest-running song on the Billboard Top 100, which held the previous record of 69 weeks.  So, you’d think such an accomplishment (I mean we’re talking a nearly five quarters, here) would be championed by the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift or any of the plethora of other bubble gum rockers that are always being thrown in our face.  But, no, this time the record goes to the unlikely champion of Jason Mraz, and his stalwart release, I’m Yours.

jason mraz

Now I love(d) this song.  I first heard it through my kid, who recommended it because he knows “my style”.  However, he liked it too.  So did his guy friends and of course, so did his girl friends.  Like most popular songs that are well liked, I’m Yours, spent several months around and on the top of the charts and got decent radio play, but nothing to indicate that it would still be around over a year later.

This song has lived since 2005, when it was written.  Mraz started performing it live in 2006 and the audience always had such a positive reaction that he eventually included it on his 2008 release We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.  (Yes, Mr. Mraz is quite amusing…for more, see his website www.jasonmraz.com)

But, 71 weeks with no sign of dropping off?  Why?  I mean, I’m Yours is catchy and highly entertaining, has great lyrics and is performed with great emotion, but isn’t it similar to Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy?

As far as I can tell, the song hasn’t had significant label backing, hasn’t been featured in any movies, isn’t attached to a mega star, and isn’t a novelty sensation.  It just keeps hanging around…and is now nominated for a Grammy for Song of the Year.

Is it the coffeehouse delivery of Mraz that is so familiar?  Or, is it the simple pleasure of the song?  The appeal across age, ethnicity, or geography?  Is it the connection of the lyrics?  Is the simple “happiness” of the song?  Is the song just that good?   You tell me…

Take a look/listen to Mraz’s performance of I’m Yours and give me your theory as to why it has been “the little single that could”.

Note:  I included this extended live version because I think it really demonstrates the song the best.  Here’s the lyrics to review, as well…

Well, you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but your so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks, now I’m tryin to get back
before the cool done run out I’ll be givin it my best test
and nothin’s gonna stop me but divine intervention
I reckon it’s again my turn to win some or learn some

But I won’t hesitate no more,
no more, it cannot wait
I’m yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
open up your plans and damn you’re free
look into your heart and you’ll find love love love love
listen to the music at the moment people dance and sing
Were just one big family
And it’s our godforsaken right to be loved loved loved loved loved

So, i won’t hesitate no more,
no more, it cannot wait i’m sure
there’s no need to complicate our time is short
this is our fate
I’m yours

Scooch on over closer, dear
And I will nibble your ear

I’ve been spendin’ way too long checkin’ my tongue in the mirror
and bendin’ over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
and so I drew a new face and I laughed
I guess what I’d be sayin’ is there ain’t no better reason
to rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons
it’s what we aim to do
our name is our virtue

But I won’t hesitate no more,
no more it cannot wait
I’m yours

well open up your mind and see like me
open up your plans and damn you’re free
look into your heart and you’ll find love love love love
listen to the music of the moment come and dance with me
ah, la one big family
it’s your god forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved

open up your mind and see like me
open up your plans and damn you’re free
look into your heart and you’ll find love love love love
listen to the music of the moment come and dance with me
ah, la happy family
it’s our god forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved

it’s our god forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved
listen to the music of the moment come and dance with me
ah, la peaceful melodies
it’s you god forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved

 

Tags: , ,

New Finds…Share and Compare

Some stuff I’ve recently been exploring…thanks to Shrew on Ellis & KJ…she’s been busy. 

Somebody to You, Lelia Broussard

  Hurricane Angel, Ellis Paul

  Little Mary, KJ Denhert

Share your finds…Post some of your “finds” in the comment section.  After all, word of mouth is what “sells” these indie artists.

 

Tags: ,

Music Maven’s Grammy Rundown

grammy1

Admittedly, The Grammys do not thrill me.  Unfortunately, moguls like Clive Davis’ seeming influence into the awards over the last few years leaves me very skeptical as to the nominations and the winners.

I mean, WHERE is Amos Lee?  Ray LaMontagne? 

However, in the spirit of Music comraderie, I made my own Grammy picks.  Personally, I think that they could cut out 2/3 of the categories and cut this puppy down to a half-hour show….but, whatever.  Here are the 2009 Music Maven Grammy picks.

Record of the year

  Please Read the Letter, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

Mainly because Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is so over-played.

Album of the Year

Because of their revolutionary, “name your price” sales strategy….

  In Rainbows, Radiohead — Videotape track

Song of the Year

Only one choice for me…loved her from the start.  Remember, she debuted her 12-song DC (rather than CD) for $6.99 on iTunes.

  Love Song, Sara Bareilles

Best New Artist

For her ’60s vibe….

  Mercy, Duffy

If Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl wins anythings, I will never turn on a radio again.

In the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category, I’m seriously torn between James Taylor’s Witchita Lineman and John Mayer’s thoroughly emotional Say, from The Bucket List.   However, I’m going to have to go with Sweet Baby James on this one.  The Glen Campbell kun-NECK-shun is just too strong.  The best song lyric of all time:

…and I want you more than need you, and I want you for all time.

‘Nuff said.

  Witchita Lineman, James Taylor

(Besides, Say wins a MM Grammy in another category — see below.)

Which, given the choices, leads me to Best Pop Album — JT’s Covers.  I was convinced by Seminole Wind and Not Fade Away.

I was intrigued by the nominations within the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance (who comes up with these categories?) pitting Sir Paul McCartney’s Amoeba Record performance I Saw Her Standing There against John Mayer’s Gravity performance from Where the Light Is.  While I have great affinity for McCartney, the Where the Light Is video is superb and Gravity is one of my all-time favorite songs.  Therefore, the award goes to….

  Gravity, John Mayer

The only performance in the R&B categories that I feel is worry of any award is Wayne Brady’s Change is Gonna Come.  Yes, Wayne Brady of Who’s Line is it, Anyway? fame.

  A Change Gonna Come, Wayne Brady

However, I’d like to see Jennifer Hudson win a Grammy, just because she is that good and she deserves it.  Note:  she is the only American Idol alum nominated this year.

In the Country categories, only two nominations piqued my interest.  Brad Paisley’s nomination for Letter to Me in the Best Country Song category and The Del McCoury Band’s nomination for Best Bluegrass AlbumLive at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.  Love me some Del…

  Nashville Cats, Del McCoury Band

John Mayer’s Say is a lock for the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture.  I love this song, music & lyrics.

  Say, from The Bucket List, John Mayer

Miscellaneous Other favorites:

Best Traditional Gospel Album, Down in New Orleans, The Blind Boys of Alabama

Best Traditional Blues Album, Pinetop Perkins & Friends, 95 year old Pinetop Perkins, with a line-up of Blues royalty.

Best Contemporary Blues Album — THREE New Orleans acts; Dr. John, Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball.  Can they simply split a Grammy?

And, finally the BIG category….Best Zydeco or Cajun Album….drum roll please……

Music Maven picks……

  Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys

 

 

 

Tags:

DRM Free iTunes!!

itunes_icon_360

Yes!  It is true.  Apple announced today that the entire iTunes library will soon be DRM-free.  Now, you can play any and all iTunes purchases on any device or computer you care to.  All I can say is HALLE-friggin’-LUAH.

It appears that a combination of consumer complaining, Amazon and Wal-Mart’s move to DRM-free, and an agreement by “the big four” to lighten up on rights helped to force Apple’s hand in creating a stir at MacWorld that would garner enough attention to over shadow the speculation on Steve Job’s health.

If that’s not enough, Apple also announced that tracks will now be offered at different prices, with older catalogue items going for 69 cents, while newer releases going for $1.29.  Some tracks will still be offered at 99 cents, but Apple assures that most of the catalogue will be at the lower price point, lowering overall iTunes costs.  Supposedly, for 30 cents a track, you can “remove” DRM from existing iTune purchases in your library, but I don’t think that will last for long.  Why am I paying an additional 30 cents for a song I already bought and they already paid licensing on?  Um, no.  However, all in all…great news.

So, why now?  Well…..glad you asked.  You see, part of the announcement also detailed how Apple will begin to offer iTunes via 3G technology to it’s fast-growing population of iPhone-aholics.  That provides the labels with a captive audience of 5 million tech-savvy, heavy spenders.  Oh, and by the way, the correlation between music listeners and iPhone users is extremely high.

Will opening iPhones to over-air, iTunes purchases at affordable prices keep the sinking music industry afloat?  It will certainly provide a short-term spike in sales, however with music now DRM-free, sharing will be easier and may actually discourage purchases among those technophiles who can simply transfer music between devices.

One thing is sure — the music industry is morphing, changing.  While it won’t go quietly into the dark night, it is becoming more conducive to the market…as it should be.

  Apple Marketing SVP, Phillip Schiller, gives us the details

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2009 in iPhone, iTunes, music biz, technology

 

Tags: ,

Is YouTube Down the Tube?

 

In the on-going battle between media moguls Viacom and YouTube/Google, Viacom has had to take the defensive and quell fears of invasion of privacy of hordes of internet video purusers of the wildly popular YouTube.  It seems that as part of the $1 BILLION dollar copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Viacom against YouTube and its parent, Google, a judge ruled that YouTube must turn over it’s vast database of videos and the usage data along with it.  This data would include user names, IP addresses and profile information that users have included such as hometowns and even names. 

Privacy advocates went ballistic, accusing Viacom of trying to acquire the names of YouTube uploaders and viewers in an attempt to pursue, in the vein of the RIAA’s prosecution of those downloading illegal music.  Viacom suddenly was thrust into a PR nightmare and had to substantially back-pedal and qualify that they only wanted the usage data to either prove or disprove that the majority of YouTube’s content is user established and proprietary to uploaders, rather than copyrighted programming.  As such, YouTube agreed in principle to provide the data “masked” through other naming or numbering to hide the actual user names and information from Viacom.  This may or may not appease the ACLU-types, as masking doesn’t necessarily protect users if they can be tied via a usage pattern to other databases that could provide user data.

It is interesting to me that Viacom had no real issue with YouTube until Google and their deep pockets made the scene.  Perhaps Viacom sees this suit is an easier money maker than, say, providing quality programming that would attract more and better advertisers. 

No, Viacom has chosen to pursue a company that has repeatedly shown that it proactively tries to prohibit copyrighted material from its servers and has always complied with taking down material upon request.  That complies full with the DMCA — the law by which this case is governed.  Confused?  Perhaps this video can shed some light.

In the meantime, there is speculation that Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart will actually be called as witnesses in the case.  Why?  I have no idea.  Perhaps it will be to lament how their pockets are being picked by wanton pirates who are uploading their shows, as well as nefarious viewers who are illegally watching their shows through YouTube instead of on The Comedy Channel, where advertisers pay hordes of money to Colbert and Stewart, by way of Viacom, for viewers to tune in there.

Here is a NEWSFLASH.  Viacom, along with many other media companies have MISSED THE BOAT.  Again.  Instead of joining forces with YouTube to further distribute their programming and broaden their audiences, they are once again, shooting themselves in the foot by trying to cripple or destroy one of the outlets that are actually helping them to sustain viewers.

Go through this with me.  Let’s use The Daily Show for an example.  Now, certainly, there are people who watch The Daily Show every day.  They consider Jon Stewart a god and tune in every day at x:30 to soak up his sardonic witticism and sarcastic political diatribes.  Let’s say that he gets a 10 share or 10% of American TVs were tuned in (a generous number, here).  That leaves 90% of us who are not watching him or maybe not watching anything, for that matter.

Common sense tells us that unless they happen to miss an episode, the loyal 10% are not relying on YouTube to provide their Jon Stewart fix.  So, YouTube is really a big, ole billboard for The Daily Show in that people like me may tune in to a YouTube video linked onto a blog that I read or that someone emails me.  Then, perhaps, Mr. Stewart intrigues or entertains me enough to take a real interest in what he has to say.  Well, I will want to hear him say it at x:30 on the days that he’s on and if I can’t make it, I can always set my DVR to record it.  Regardless, I am going to the source to get my content.

Let’s face it, old movies and TV shows don’t make YouTube until they’ve already been played on TV.  How does this affect my viewership of something like The Daily Show on The Comedy Channel?  They aren’t running every show in re-runs for me to catch up.  Some networks like NBC do provide episodes of their TV programs to watch via their websites, so I can understand their beef.  But, again, isn’t YouTube simply providing trailers for people to find these shows?  Very rarely are you going to find ALL of the episodes of a particular TV program on YouTube.  But, a snippet of one might just cause you to seek out the TV program (on its network), if you are appropriately stimulated to do so.

I also find it interesting that The Daily Show can be found on the front page of Hulu.com, so evidently they are not above having viewers watch their show on a competing network’s vehicle.  (Hulu is owned by NBC/Universal.)  While I understand that they are getting paid, why not try to strike a similar deal with YouTube.  YouTube actually approached Viacom about cutting a deal that would allow them to broadcast Viacom shows and in return, YouTube would build filters (similar to their porn filters) that would block material from Viacom projects from being uploaded without consent.  Viacom views this as strong-arming and has declined.  It just appears a bit hypocritical to me that Viacom agrees to sell its programming to Hulu (a competitor) and won’t work out a deal with YouTube and Google.  Sadly, what they miss is that if they did, they would be viewed as pioneers of progress and amply rewarded by increased viewership. 

While the revenue stream for musicians and writers is more convoluted, they are missing the same boat by not embracing the awareness-building outlet of YouTube to gain exposure for their music.  Some artists “get it” and that’s why you’re starting to see YouTube channels like Radiohead, AliciaKeys, mayermusic, and AmosLeePodcast.  These guys understand that YouTube is a vehicle for distribution.  To engage the viewer/listener.  To evoke enough of an interest to have that viewer buy tracks, seek out concert tickets, and become A FAN.  Once you’ve got fans, then the word of mouth of people like you and me become more precious than diamonds and gold.  The label is not getting the arist the kind of exposure YouTube and other non-traditional on-line outlets, like blogs, are providing.  Again, why not embrace the change instead of trying to eradicate it.  In the annals of history, there is no-one who has ever stopped progress through limiting technology.  Why try something that has been proven to fail every time?

YouTube may have a bit of a rock road to travel, however because of Google’s deep pockets they are here to stay.  IMO.  If not, I’m going to be really pissed.

Here’s some Tubeliciousness that I came across today.  Imagine being deprived of these?

  Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

  Street Corner Preacher, Amos Lee

  It Take Two to Tango, Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles

  Slip Slidin’ Away, Paul Simon (live @ Abbey Road)

 

Tags: ,

Old Dog….New Tricks

For months now, I have been receiving James Taylor’s monthly newsletter. Click on the link to be directed to JT’s newsletter library. They are informative and entertaining.  June’s newsletter talks about “shed” tours and the richness of the artists who are currently touring with the wily grandfather.

He also goes into detail a couple of times about affordable tickets and trying to ensure that people who want to see him/them have the opportunity to do so.  It’s evident that JT’s career is more about the music than the money.

Now, this is not a new concept but admittedly, JT isn’t usually correlated with new and progressive music marketing and promotion.  However, he hasn’t survived and thrived in the biz for the last 40 years simply waiting for Carole King to write him another hit.

At least JT has some vision and is adapting to the new world. While not earth-shattering, in itself, his newsletters show his desire to embrace new approaches and technologies to “kuneck” with his fans….you know, folks that have been following him for 30 to 40 years.

If an icon like James Taylor gets it, you’d think younger, supposedly “hipper” artists would too.

Added bonus: JT performing his non-conventional rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at Game 1 of the NBA Championship.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2008 in james taylor, music biz

 

Ding, Dong….

Sony BMG announced late yesterday that Clive Davis has been de-throned as Chairman and CEO of the dinosaur BMG label, replacing him with Barry Weiss — the wonk who brought us NSync, Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears, and The Backstreet Boys.

Wow. What a brave move… Move Clive to Chief Creative Officer so that all of the artists like Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow and all of the American Idols who adore the King of Creep won’t revolt and storm the offices with torches demanding retribution. (Big ole eye roll.)

Not to worry, the guy who single-handedly created the fantastic music business we see before us today will survive to continue to collect millions off the backs of the artists that he indentures, likely until he slithers away and dies.

In the revolutionary move of turning the helm over to Barry Weiss **insert sarcasm** , Sony BMG has given a loud and proud answer to all of its critics about where they sit in terms of changing their business to meet the needs of the buyer.

IT. AIN’T. GONNA. HAPPEN.

If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, look for Mr. Weiss to amp up the volume (pun intended) on manufactured, high gloss, synthesized, bubble-gum pop, which will in all likelihood put them out of business.

The world is changing guys…the asteroid is coming.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2008 in music biz

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.