“Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential”

Luke O’Neil, who seems to write pretty much every article on every site these days, calls bullshit on that stupid “How much does it cost to book your favorite band?” link that around this past week. Some acts seem way lower than they should be, some acts seem way higher than they should be, and there a lot of bands making more for one show than you made last year. O’Neil mentions a lot of sites who should know better shared the list anyway. Basically, this isn’t what your favorite band earns every night, it’s what your favorite band would charge to play at your Bar Mitzvah. Lastly, and smartly, O’Neil ties the sharing of this list to that Facebook dude cluelessly railing against viral media content.

This is exactly the sort of thing the Internet Thinking Apparatus was talking about yesterday in the wake of Facebook exec Mike Hudack’s anti viral media rant. Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential. Being able to affix a few famous musicians’ names and some big dollar figures to a headline under the guise of Data is a perfect recipe for viral success. It’s certainly worked here. The post is one of Priceonomics biggest traffic hits, with 1.2 million views as of this moment. Someone should put together a list of what traffic-worshipping sites charge for their integrity. A few ten thousand views seems to be about the going rate. That would be a huge viral hit.

“Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential”

Chuck Klosterman on KISS

I’m not sure I would have started reading “The Definitive, One-Size-Fits- All, Accept-No Substitutes, Massively Comprehensive Guide to the Life and Times of KISS” if I’d know it was over 10K words. Who am I kidding, I would have started it and then left the tab open for half a year. In any case, I read the whole thing in 2 sittings, and it’s quite enjoyable. Klosterman is at his best writing about metal he loves more than most people. This wouldn’t be nearly as long if it didn’t include a review of each of the albums, but how are you going to skip them when they’re right there? (Also, this marks the second KISS article I read this year, which I can’t really explain. I never liked the band at all, but they’ve got a different ethos to most bands (basically $$$), making them more interesting to read about.)

Some highlights:

Kiss do not make it easy for Kiss fans. There’s never been a rock group so easy to appreciate in the abstract and so hard to love in the specific. They inoculate themselves from every avenue of revisionism, forever undercutting anything that could be reimagined as charming. They economically punish the people who care about them most: In the course of my lifetime, I’ve purchased commercial recordings of the song “Rock and Roll All Nite” at least 15 times2 (18 if you count the 13-second excerpt used in the introduction to “Detroit Rock City” on Destroyer). Considered alone, this is not unusual; there are lots of bands who capitalize on the myopic allegiance of their craziest disciples. In 2009, Pavement announced a reunion tour and asked their most dogged fans (myself included) to purchase tickets a whopping 53 weeks in advance. Every decision was premeditated for maximum fiscal impact. “Instead of one announcement mapping out the entire tour itinerary,” noted the Washington Post, “concerts have been announced one by one, in a fine-tuned sequence seemingly designed to maximize profits in every possible way.” It was savvy business (and almost no one complained). Yet Pavement would never brag about this level of calculation. They would rationalize their actions, or they’d remind the media that they never explicitly said they wouldn’t add extra shows, or they’d chuckle about the swindle only when no one else was around. Pavement would always take the money, but they’d simply (a) say nothing, (b) feel bad about it, or (c) pretend to feel bad about it.

One thing I’ve learned in my life is that — creatively — it’s better to have one person love you than to have 10 people like you. It’s very easy to like someone’s work, and it doesn’t mean that much; you can like something for a year and just as easily forget it even existed. But people remember the things they love. They psychologically invest in those things, and they use them to define their lives (and even if the love fades, its memory imprints on the mind). It creates an immersive kind of relationship that bleeds into the outside world, regardless of the motivating detail. In pop music, the most self-evident example is the Grateful Dead, although Rush and the Smiths fall into the same class. Another example is Fugazi. Two others are Bikini Kill and the Insane Clown Posse. These are artists who diametrically impact how substantial factions of people choose to think about the universe. The social footprint they leave is far deeper than their catalogue.

Chuck Klosterman on KISS

Dear Miley Cyrus, From Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O’Connor goes long with an open letter to Miley Cyrus begging Miley to take herself more seriously. There’s some looniness from Sinead, as you’d expect by now, but also a LOT of hard truths about how young women are treated in the music industry.

The music business doesn’t give a shit about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.

Miley responded by Tweeting a picture of Sinead’s Twitter meltdown from January of 2012. I don’t know if it’s important or not, but Sinead’s Tweets have been deleted for quite a while so someone had to go out and get them for Miley to share. Assuming someone in Miley’s position doesn’t have time to dig something like this up, it makes you wonder what kind of people Miley has around her. JFC, what am I even talking about this is stupid.

Dear Miley Cyrus, From Sinead O’Connor

How to make a star II

The other day Jason put a post on Kottke.org called How to make a star. I’d had one of these links up in the tabs for a couple months, and this other one I just found today, but both are related to star making.

From August of 1999 (via Stellar), a profile of Ray Manzella, something of a blonde-maker. He helped make Vanna White, Jenny McCarthy, and Pamela Anderson stars. The article mentions 3 women he thinks will be stars. I’d never heard of any of them, but according to Google, two of the three have had fairly successful careers (and one is married to baseball player Scott Podsednik). The other one doesn’t seem to have a Google record at all.

Ray’s a very handsome man. When people meet him, they often try to guess which movie star he looks like-Roy Scheider, Michael Douglas, Ted Danson, George Hamilton? Maybe that’s why this feels so innocent, so wholesome, like he’s just cheering on the team. He beams down at the photos. Any one of them might be the next Vanna, the next Pamela, the next Jenny, the next perfect Ray Manzella hybrid that becomes not just an actress but an icon you can cross-promote from movies to books to dolls to toothpaste to infomercials. They sold a million Vanna White dolls on the Home Shopping Network-a million dolls! “These girls jump off the page,” he says. “They’re channelstoppers, every one of them. If all three make it, it wouldn’t surprise me. If not, I’m gonna quit the business.”

In March, John Seabrook wrote about Rihanna’s song making team in the New Yorker, really about pop music in general. There’s a TON of interesting stuff in this story.

Most of the songs played on Top Forty radio are collaborations between producers like Stargate and “top line” writers like Ester Dean. The producers compose the chord progressions, program the beats, and arrange the “synths,” or computer-made instrumental sounds; the top-liners come up with primary melodies, lyrics, and the all-important hooks, the ear-friendly musical phrases that lock you into the song. “It’s not enough to have one hook anymore,” Jay Brown, the president of Roc Nation, and Dean’s manager, told me recently. “You’ve got to have a hook in the intro, a hook in the pre-chorus, a hook in the chorus, and a hook in the bridge.” The reason, he explained, is that “people on average give a song seven seconds on the radio before they change the channel, and you got to hook them.”

The top-liner is usually a singer, too, and often provides the vocal for the demo, a working draft of the song. If the song is for a particular artist, the top-liner may sing the demo in that artist’s style. Sometimes producers send out tracks to more than one top-line writer, which can cause problems. In 2009, both Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson had hits (Beyoncé’s “Halo,” which charted in April, and Clarkson’s “Already Gone,” which charted in August) that were created from the same track, by Ryan Tedder. Clarkson wrote her own top line, while Beyoncé shared a credit with Evan Bogart. Tedder had neglected to tell the artists that he was double-dipping, and when Clarkson heard “Halo” and realized what had happened she tried to stop “Already Gone” from being released as a single, because she feared the public would think she had copied Beyoncé’s hit. But nobody cared, or perhaps even noticed; “Already Gone” became just as big a hit.

How to make a star II

Lookout Records shutting down

Gosh, this is sad news. The label that was home at one point or another to Screeching Weasel, Green Day, Avail, Rancid, and Operation Ivy, among others, stopped putting out new music in 2005, and since then has struggled to right the ship. Unfortunately, losing their distributor, CD printer, and mail order provider in the span of a year was too much to overcome. This is a microcosm of something, but really the label kind of died in 2005 when they gambled on new bands with money owed to the higher earning older bands. They lost and thus lost the rights to Green Day and Op Ivy’s back catalog. The specifics aren’t clear in their blog post, but it looks like their sending everything left over back to the bands. Here’s an interview with Lookout Records co-founder, Larry Livermore.

Lookout Records will be closing its doors over the next few months. Most people that are reading this know that the label stopped releasing material towards the end of 2005. It was then that Lookout ended its long relationships with Green Day, Operation Ivy and a few other artists. That development meant significantly scaling down the business, which included letting the staff go and moving from the label’s Berkeley headquarters and warehouse into a small office.

It wasn’t easy to keep catalog items in print and that became especially challenging when our primary compact disc manufacturer and our distribution partner Lumberjack-Mordam went out of business unexpectedly. Having our physical distributor and a manufacturer go belly up disrupted our sales, meant a significant loss of income, and caused inventory and accounting problems. The next year when our mail order partner, Little Type, went out of business, Lookout was also dealt another significant blow. We did our best to resolve the issued caused by these developments but both ultimately amounted to a lot more work and severely impacted income.

Lookout Records shutting down

How much does a band get paid from Spotify?

I’m always fascinated by the ‘economics of music’ blog posts when they come from the musicians. Uniform Motion has a new album out, but not in stores because they don’t have a distributor. They were kind enough to let us know what they earn when you listen to their music (or buy it from a digital service like iTunes). These numbers also make more clear their decision to let you pay what you want for a digital download. *The post is in Euros, but you’ll understand.

With Spotify, we’ll get 0.003 EUR/play.
If you listen to the album all the way through, we’ll get 0.029 EUR.
If you listen to the album 10 times on Spotify, we’ll get 0.29 EUR
If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get 2.94 EUR
If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get 29.47 EUR!
If you use the free version of Spotify, it won’t cost you anything. Spotify will make money from ads. If you use any of the paid versions, we have no idea how they carve up the money. They only disclose this information to the Major record labels…

Via Stellar / @Chartier

How much does a band get paid from Spotify?

Open letters to Bon Jovi

Steve Jobs isn’t the problem here. The music industry is the problem—too many bad songs are the problem. It’s the reason the audience doesn’t roar when you talk about playing a new track or two that were added for a re-release of your greatest hits. If your greatest hits were from the last three years, imagine how much money you’d be making on album sales even beyond your touring.

In a letter from Jeremy Horwitz to Bon Jovi who recently said “Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.”

Via

But then I also went back to look at all of the Open Letters to Bon Jovi I could find:

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Regarding Setlists)

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Regarding Palestine)

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Plea for Tickets)

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Crush Review)

Open letters to Bon Jovi