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Album Sales Slump Continues

According to Nielsen SoundScan album sales have dropped 3% so far this year though digital single sales have increased 96%. This preliminary first quarter outlook is part of a larger trend with seen albums steadily losing ground.  Last year overall album sales sunk 7.2% according to Digital Music News. 

Long term concerns remain as to whether single track sales can increase at a rate great enough to offset the full album sales slump.  Smart executives are putting Increased emphasis on bundling tracks with additional content (video, digital booklets, ticket incentives, etc.) as well as income from cell music services to increase revenue.

Who Needs The DJ's?

TRadiohe internet has helped to keep many niche music genre's alive and provided the tools for them to find and feed as wide an audience as possible.  Of course with smaller audiences comes smaller revenues; so one of the sad bi-products has been the rise of soulless DJ free broadcasts.  You can hear Christian-death-metal-hip-hop 24/7/365, but chances are the broadcast will really be a random loop of tunes programmed by a computer.

Sure its  wonderful to hear a steady stream of your favorite tunes without interruptions.  But there is something bland and even lonely about random tune after tune without context or explanation; even if every one of them is so well chosen you wish you had them on your iPod.

Both sides of this phenomenon - the joy of the niches and the loss of the DJ - came into focus Garysrecently while reading a wonderful piece by Chris Dahlen on Pitchfork called "Who Needs The DJ".  The story is essentially a profile of Gary Sredzienski who has done a weekly polka radio show on The University Of NH's WUNH for almost 20 years.  (An old friend of ours, Bruce Pingree, has actually been on the same great station for 30 years with a blues based eclectic mix in the tradition of the original great FM jock.s) Sredzienski's loyal audience relies on him to the point where folks have been known to drive to a hilltop and sit trying to catch the 6000 watt station's scratchy signal.    But Dahlen takes the topic a big step beyond this single cool and quirky DJ and station. "Community radio has all but disappeared from the air, and Unh the personal touch of pirate radio and podcasting (and we'd add net broadcasting) have yet to replace it," writes Dahlen. Meanwhile, thanks to the digital music revolution, we have more choices, and more sources of broadcast or streaming music than ever. And most of them don't have DJs."

Dahlen is right. We used to rely on DJ's to help us discover new music and to tell us insider stories and what bands were on tour.  At first its a welcome relief form all of the commercials, but soon it becomes just song after song after song. A very few net broadcasts have found a reasonable Radioparadise_2solution using voice tracking technology which allows the jock to quickly record an entire show in minutes dropping their voice between the chosen digital tracks. One of the best at this is Radio Paradise who hand pick every music set with some wonderfully eclectic and surprising song choices. Then they add just enough commentary to make you feel that you have a guide along your musical journey. 

The net has also provided a myriad of opportunities for music personalization.  You can hear what you want whenever and wherever you want to.  And with services like Pandora you can even discover new music based on your preferences.   Gone for good are the days when you had to guess a song or artists; now the info is scrolling across your screen and more info and purchasing are just clicks away. 

But without good guides to point out the hidden treasures would any journey be quite as fulfilling?

"Dylan wrote that song for his newborn son and that's George Harrison playing rhythm guitar. The song was recorded late one night when..."

French Efforts To Open Apple's DRM Will Have Little International Effect

The media is going gaga over proposed French legislation that would force Apple to open its priority DRM software to others.  Siting interoperability issues that are certainly slowing the march towards digital domination, the French are certainly onto something.  But we at Hypebot is not going to waste a lot of space on this story.  Why, you ask?

Apple will pull out of the French market faster than a pig chasing truffles rather than change their business model.   

If you still want to read more click here.

Sideload Aggregates Thousands Of Free Label Downloads

It had to happen sooner or later.  Someone would do a thorough job of collecting all of the thousands of free perfectly legal DRM-free mp3.'s that record labels have sprinkled across various promotions Sideload_logoand make them available in one easy to download place.  Not just the cool Indie bands you can download on PureVolume, but U2, Pink Floyd and Green Day too.

Touted primarily as an online music locker to store your whole collection, Sideload.com was started by the original folks who brought us mp3.com and arranges more than 30,000 legal tracks in an easy to find and easy to download format.  It will be interesting to see how long some of the more mainstream product remains available, but for now its a great site to use to fill up your new iPod.

New NARM Study Gives Music Retailers Hope

A new NPD Group study for NARM (National Assoc. Of Record Merchandisers - aka record stores) surprisingly found "opportunities in the near-term to increase sales among an active group of consumers who still purchase physical music products."

Narm"...there's more competition than ever..." said NARM President Jim Donio, "but consumers report they still enjoy and value physical music products, which accounted for 94 percent of total music sales in 2005."  The study says that among teens, sales of CDs were actually up five percent in 2005. Even with teen gains, the data indicates that the industry is losing older consumers at an alarming rate. "Older adults have the interest and the disposable income, so the industry can't afford to take them for granted...To spur greater sales among this audience, it's important to make them aware of available music that might interest them, so they shop for music more often."

How much more in per customer sales record stores can be expected to squeeze out Cd_many_14seems dubious since the study showed that heavy buyers already spend nearly $250 last year on CDs. These core consumers, who represent 41 percent of CD purchases, remain passionate about collecting physical music. Not surprisingly, they're also learning about music from sources other than traditional radio, including video games, TV shows and movies.

A majority (54 percent) in the survey said they still felt music was an excellent or very good value, which compares favorably to DVDs (58 percent). A growing number of music buyers of all ages now patronize mass merchants and stores where they can also buy DVDs, consumer goods, and other products. This trend represents another challenge for traditional music retailers.

Cd_23"It's obvious that there is a core group of current consumers who are still predisposed to buying CDs in retail stores, so record labels and retailers should capitalize on this group now by creating demand..." added Donio. "...they want great selection and merchandise that is well organized and easy to search."  Then why is almost every retailer we know slashing inventory?

Continue reading "New NARM Study Gives Music Retailers Hope" »

What Can Artists Do To Cut Through Online Clutter? - A SXSW Report

The promise and power of the net for digital music distribution and marketing is not a new theme. But analyzing just what is and isn't working is new; and SXSW seems to be one of the places where this discussion has finally sarted.Warner_music_group_logo_11

"The streets have moved online," commented Jeremy Welt, VP of New Media at WB during a Friday  panel of top digital executives as reported by Digital Music News.  "...Welt pointed to the importance of knowing how to energize a targeted audience on the internet. 'You wouldn’t want someone handing out hip-hop samplers at the library,' he said, while noting that some groups are simply missing their promotional mark online..."

Yahoomusiclogos_17"...Jay Frank, head of Artist and Label Relations at Yahoo Music, encouraged bands to know thy  audience. 'You can miss out on a complete market just because your ego tells you that you have a different audience,' he said...(Emusic's)David Pakman...encouraged bands to do the legwork on their metadata, which makes the job of music programmers at digital music stores that much easier. "You have a higher likelihood that your obscure new artist will get into a recommendation stream," Pakman said...BigChampagne chief Eric Bigchampagne_6 Garland encouraged artists to become active participants in the file-sharing phenomenon. "Fans will distribute music without your participation," he said. "If people are spreading your music, you want to be an active part of that, and benefit from that fan interest."

Tell us what is and is not working for you online

Sony BMG Names Bowen COO

Sonybmg_17The executive reshuffling designed to heal the rift within the joint venture continues as Sony BMG named Tim Bowen it's COO on Sunday with responsibility for most day to day operations including digital music, marketing,and international.  Just last week Don Ienner added CEO to his list of titles at the Sony label group. Read the full LA Times story here.

A List Of The Web 2.0 Companies Shaping Music's Future

Below is a list of Web 2.0 (aka next generation) online consumer "audio" companies kept by a fourm on OpenBC. While noticing a few companies  missing, we were also surprised by the number that we had barely heard of.  Take a look at this list and you'll be reminded just how exciting and rapidly changing the digital music space is.  And prepared to loose a few minutes of your life as you click through and get a glimpse of the future...Bebop_logo_1

Notice some companies missing from the list?  Comment below and we'll publish an updated list later in the week. Check out all Web 2.0 categories at the OpenBC forum and thanks to Blackrimglasses and Sacred Cow Dung for the tip-off. 

SXSW Reminds Critic That As Much As Things Change Music Promo Remains The Same

An interesting take on how the net is changing how we often discover new bands and the people behind the scenes from the NY Times' critic at Kelefa Sanneh at SXSW:

"...For many of the savvy listeners (even, perhaps especially, the amateur ones) in town, Sxsw_1 this week might be the only time all year they're likely to see a band live without first having visited the site and downloaded an MP3. For a few days, an ancient tradition — checking out a band simply because a friend says it's good — comes back to life..."

"...But in another sense, SXSW provides a useful corrective to the world of MP3 blogs. When those songs get beamed around the Internet, it's seductive to think that bands and listeners have eliminated the middlemen: music goes straight from the recording studio to your laptop. This conference is a reminder of how many professionals it takes to turn an amateur band into a popular MP3. Here, "behind the scenes" is the scene: the place is packed with publicists (right now, Envelopes should be thanking theirs) and managers and booking agents and marketing teams and even a few old-fashioned radio D.J.'s. This is a big part of what makes SXSW tick: middlemen as far as the eye can see."

Orchard To Help Labels With Portable Recordign Studio

In yet another move designed to keep them ahead of the curve, digital distributor The Orchard and sister subscription download service eMusic have purchased a 24 track portable recording and mixing studio based in NYC that will enable it's distributed labels to create unique live and studio content  for distribution across all digital channels.

Top Orchard labels will have access to the equipment and they will facilitate live recordings at New Yorkvenues and broker access to unique New York spaces for innovative projects outside of the traditional “studio” environment.  The program offers labels a way to generate new and interesting music for their artists’ fans.  For digital retailers and mobile operators, The Orchard will use the system to produce targeted, exclusive music for featured placement in their digital stores. 

Hopeless/Sub City Records Sing A Different Tune

Nice piece in the LA Times about Hopeless/Sub City Records, punk labels that were founded and are run successfully on a premise other than searching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

Hopeless_1 In the first few years, Sub City donated funds to a diverse set of charities, but Posen says that the fans, many in their teens, wanted a more streamlined message about the issues closest to them, depression and teen suicide. In 2001, Sub City teamed Takeactionwith the hotlines, and it is now their major source of funding — although the label has given  more than $600,000 to other charities, including the Women's Justice Center and the Multiple Sclerosis Service Society.

Read the inspiring story here.

Nettwork Joins The Orchard For Digital Distribution. UPDATE: Verizon V Cast Also Taps Orchard

Orchard_4The Orchard has announced deal with the Nettwerk Music Group to distribute and market music across digital retail and mobile operators worldwide. 

Nettwerk is a multi-dimensional management company, record label and publishing business helmed by Terry McBride.  He has recently been in the news for his fight against the RIAA's P2P lawsuits and was ranked number 33 out of 100 Most Powerful people in music. Nettwerk  represents Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Dido, and others.

UPDATE: Today at SXSX it was also announced that The Orchard will become the first to directly supply indie music for full-song downloads on V CAST Music as well as mastertones and ring back tones. 

More Major Announcements Expected As SXSW Continues

- According to Digital Music News Verizon Wireless will hold a closed press conference at SXSW on Verizonwireless_5 . The Orchard has already finalized a deal with the wireless carrier and it believed that there are or will also be deal with IODA, CD Baby and the Digital Rights Agency. These deals are part of an "expanded catalog of independent music" and a strike against competitor Sprint.

- IODA will use SXSW to promote  its new Promonet platform that allows new media outlets like podcasters, net radio, and indie film makers to browse and search 10,000 pre-cleared, legal Promotracks that the labels have approved for promotional use, along with all the album art, release notes, artist photos and bios, preview clips, and other info along with links to purchase the music from digital retailers.

Reid Genauer On The Music Industry

"At some level people talk about the demise of the music industry and I think it is more an era of the artistic middle class."

"I feel like a lot of people chase misconceptions and on some level are trying to win the lottery. If that is your goal in being a musician then you are mis-guided."

- From Reid Genauer on the music industry and being a musician in this month's Relix Magazine. Genauer's unique perspective comes from being both a staffer at eMusic and the lead singer of Assembly Of Dust.  He was also once signed to Disney's Mammoth Records as the lead singer for Strangefolk

Murdoch Says Technological Change Leads To Better Media

Unlike most heads of major media corporations, 75 year old mogul Rupert Murdoch has not only been talking the new technologies/new media talk; he's actually been walking the walk with high Rupertmurdochticket purchases of companies like MySpace.  Now he's telling his newspapers bluntly that  they "...must give readers a choice of accessing their journalism in the pages of the paper, or on websites or - and this is important - on any platform that appeals to them: mobile phones, handheld devices, iPods, whatever..."

But there is hope. "Radio did not destroy newspapers, television did not destroy radio, and neither eliminated the printing of books." He added: "Each wave of new technology in our industry forced an improvement in the old."

Now if we could only get this guy to by a record label...

From the Australian via RAIN.

The New Cars Re-Launch With Smart Marketing

For someone who saw The Cars in Boston many times both before and after they became famous, it's a little hard to imagine The New Cars without deceased singer Ben Orr or Rick Ocasek (who always looked closed to being deceased). But the addition of Todd Rundgren on vocals as well as Kasim Sulton on bass and former Tube Prairie Prince on drums certainly helped to soften the blow.Newcars_homepageimage

What has impressed us the most so far about this "reunion" is how smart and creative the band's management is being about promotion and marketing.  Of course they are doing the usual stuff like good advance press, a CD of live hits and new songs, and a sponsorship with VH1 Classic. They've also had the smarts to pair them on tour with another icon of the era Blondie (who say it is there last full tour ever) providing enough bang for the buck to get aging fans out their recliners.

But the fun doesn't stop there. Every person who buys a ticket to the inaugural tour via VH1 or Ticketmaster will get a code for a free full album download via eMusic.  Plus they've already got a spiffy new web site @ TheNewCars.com with music and all of the goodies you'd expect only from a much younger MySpace driven act. They're also offering a number of smart VIP and membership packages.

Most of this has been done before, but seldom if ever have we seen this complete a package put together for a classic or adult act.  And as capitalistic as all of these VIP packages and memberships sound, what better time will The New Cars have than at their inception to monetize the surrounding hype? And who has more disposal cash than their adult fans now in their peak earning years?  It will be interesting to see how these new media promotional tools work for this act and their adult demographic.  We're betting that it's going to work.

The Music Industry Is Like Coal In The '70's

"This puts music in the same place as coal in the 1970s" - HITS

"Sixteen tons and what do ya get? Another day older and deeper in debt."  - Tennesse Ernie Ford

From a HITS guest editorial by Adam Singer, "The price of recorded music is falling, and the hope is that increased digital consumption will compensate for this...Power is shifting from aggregators to navigators. In other words, those that collected creative works and stood between the creator and the audiencestudios, broadcasters and record companiesare losing their primacy to those that help you find the content."

"...Their problem is not the oft-quoted piracy, the length of copyright term or falling CD sales. The problem is whether the intermediaries between artist and audience can change their cost base to fit this new world. This puts music in the same place as coal in the 1970s, steel in the 1980s and TV in the 1990s."

Warners Grants Creative Commons Open License For Fort Minor

I followed a mention on BoingBoing that led to ccMixter where label Machine Shop/Warner Brothers Fortminortherisingtiedhas issued a Creative Commons license (think open for non-commercial use) that allows visitors to manipulate and remix the track. Fort Minor and Linken Park vocalist/guitarist Mike Shinoda will choose a winning remix.

To say that it's unusual for a major label to give away a full track, not to mention making it available for open re-mix, is an understatement.  This is particularly true since, given the Linken Park connection, this is not a band that WB should be begging to get heard.  Apparently one of those behind this smart move is Ethan Kaplan, tech guru at Warner Brothers and publisher of both BlackRimGlasses and the REM related site Murmurs.  Kudos to Kaplan and company for this creative and forward-thinking (not to mention pretty damn cost effective) promotion!

Interscope Anoints Schur With Own Label Suretone

InterscopeIn this era of upheaval and declining revenue, its hard to believe that old-fashioned "we'll give you a pile of money to start your own record label" insider deals are still happening.  But that's exactly what it feels like as Interscope announced a joint venture with Jordan Schur's Suretone Records, a new company founded by the music industry veteran.

In forming the new company, Schur leaves Geffen Records where he served as president for more Geffen_1 than six years. Before that, Schur founded and managed Flip Records where he signed and released artists including Limp Bizkit and Staind.

As part of the deal, Schur will continue to oversee the recording careers of Weezer, The Cure, Rooney, New Found Glory and Angels and Airwaves, the new band put together by Tom DeLonge (blink-182) who will remain on Geffen and will carry the Suretone imprint. The Pink Spiders (which will be released through Geffen), Headway, Eastern Conference Champions and all newly signed acts will be on Suretone Records and released by Interscope.

Another ultimate insider Jeff Kwatinetz, CEO of The Firm and which represents several artists on the new label , said, "Jordan Schur is the most dynamic, talented, and driven executive in the music business today. The fact that he is leaving the corporate culture and returning to being an owner whose destiny is directly tied to his artists is only good news for myself and my clients."  We can almost hear Kwatinetz counting the coins.

Schur likes to be viewed as a guy who does things differently.  Only time will tell if Suretone is anything more than the same sorry old pig with some new lipstick on.

P2P Pirate Bay Draws A Million Users Per Day

Wired_19 Just in case you thought maybe, just maybe, all of those RIAA and MPAA lawsuits were slowing downloaders just a little, here comes some news from Wired.com:

"...lawsuits have continued to drive more users to The Pirate Bay, which today boasts 1 million unique visitors a day. The Pirate Bay's legal adviser, law student Mikael Viborg, said the site Piratebayreceives 1,000 to 2,000 HTTP requests per second on each of its four servers."

"That's bad news for the content industries, which have fired off letter after menacing letter to the  site, only to see their threats posted on The Pirate Bay, together with mocking replies....no one has successfully indicted The Pirate Bay or sued its operators in Swedish courts..."

The Pirate Bay's seeming immunity (is credited) to the basic structure of the BitTorrent protocol. The site's Stockholm-based servers provide only torrent files, which by themselves contain no copyright data -- merely pointers to sources of the content. That makes The Pirate Bay's activities perfectly legal under Swedish statutory and case law..."

Tube Music TV Gains Viewers. But What's The Plan Les?

Tubetv_1Ex-MTV executive Les Garland has been touting his Tube Music TV service for about a year now, but the channel is just starting gather to momentum.  The Tube has announced a distribution agreement with Tribune Broadcasting Company who operate 26 television stations in 22 markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

THE TUBE is the first music network to be distributed using the new broadcast technology known aMtvlogo s digital multicasting. Viewers will be able to receive the network free, over-the-air on television sets equipped with digital tuners and on the digital cable tier where available.  Tribune stations will begin broadcasting THE TUBE Music Network programming in local markets this summer.

Another outlet for music and music videos can never be a bad thing. But in an era of video on demand via the net and cable and increased narrow-casting; it's hard to see how a broad appeal music channel is a smart long term business plan.  Or is it - much like MTV was in the early days of cable - just a way widen programming with content produced and paid for by record labels and others?

Read the press release here.

Live Nation's Rapino Speaks Out On Concert Industry Woes

The live music industry gathered recently in Las Vegas for trade magazine Pollstar's annual Concert Industry Consortium.  Keynote speaker Michael Rapino, head of concert promotion giant Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel, formerly SFX) laid out a long overdue fact based account of problems facing the touring industry: Livenation_logo011106_2

"...of the total American population, 71 percent did not attend a live concert last year...That means only 29 percent of the population do attend live concerts every year....we can group these fans based on the number of shows they attended in the past year. What we call our Occasional Goer, those who only attended one concert in the last year, represent 23 percent of the population. Our Concert Goer group, those attended two concerts in the past year, represent just four percent of the population. And finally, our heavy fans, those we have called our Concert Aficionados, who attend three or more concerts a year, represent a Indietvcrowd_11 meager two percent of the total population."

...if we line up 100 random people against the wall...71 people never go to concerts. Why then do we spend millions of dollars on TV, radio & outdoor mass media trying to reach just these (other) 29 fans. Our advertising dollars are wasted on the 71 people who never come to concerts anyways..."

"We've got a lot to do, and we must re-engineer our business to service the new fan of today. The tables have turned. Power has shifted to the consumer....we need to remain immersed in technology, grounded in the streets and we must remain in constant contact with our customers...We must stop talking amongst ourselves. We need to start listening to the fan.

As someone who spends most their days doing business in the live music industry, I can confirm that the lack of creative promotion on both the local and national is one of my greatest frustrations.  Promoters have done little to change their promotion efforts even their fans habits have changed.20 or even 10 years ago promoters booked a band, hooked up a radio co-promotion, and  waited for the record label to spend money.  Today labels have stopped investing in new talent (particularly in any long term way) and the avid music fan is probably listening to online broadcasts, satellite radio, or their iPod. 

Things need to change in the live music industry including smarter promotion and a better fan experience. Rapino, Live Nation, and trade magazine Polltsar appear to be trying to be a catalyst for that change.

Cic2006mastheadblacklogo_3Pollstar Magazine is available by subscription in print and online here.  We've been lucky enough to attend the CIC conference for many years and this year gave a panel we've written about here called 100 Free & Affordable High And Low Tech Way To Promote Live Music.

Value Added Music Disc Sales Rise Even As CD Sales Stumble

Hypebot (and others) have been suggesting for many months that one way to get consumers to actually pay for music is to think "value added". In other words, give them a reason to lay down $15-Dualdiscs_2 $20 instead of grabbing it for free online or from a friend.

It now appears that those that are doing it (most notably Sony BMG and some indies) are being rewarded.  Today Coolfer commented on a Hollywood Reporter piece that shows music DVD and DualDisc sales increasing even as standard CD sales continue to fall.  "The days of a single format world are over," said one Sony BMG exec.  Hypebot wholeheartedly agrees.

Do Single Releases Hurt CD Sales? Do We Care?

Cd_22One of the more discussed issues in the music industry right now is whether or not single sales in advance of the full CD release cannibalize for album sales or actually feed greater demand. Personally we think that in an era  more diversified media landscape, P2P and  single song downloads the debate will become increasingly pointless. 

But just in case you still care - and many obviously do - we are struck by a Newyorktimes215x35_5suggestion floated in a NY Times piece and amplified by commentator Bob Lefstez: RELEASE THE SINGLE AND CD ON THE SAME DAY. It certainly seems to have worked for Island/Def Jam and the impressive first week sales of Ne-Yo.  (But then again Victory didn't put Hawthorne Heights up on iTunes ever and it's first week sales were only OK.) .

Lefsetz_2 Lefsetz took the thought a step further suggesting reminding us of how "...Steve Jobs announces products during his speeches and says they're available RIGHT NOW, in Apple Stores? And then there's a MASS EXODUS to buy up each and every item in inventory as soon as he stops speaking?"

How cool would it be if someone like Neil Young or the White Stripes went on TV and the net one night and announced that a much rumored CD would available be in stores the next morning? 

Oh wait...never mind...It would never work....no one in this industry knows how to keep a secret.

New Hawthorne Heights Debuts At #3 Despite Victory's Best (or Worst) Efforts

Victoryrecords_7Despite loud posturing, a few dirty tricks and a whole lot of expensive old-school promo, Victory was only able to push Hawthorne Heights to #3 on Billboard's Top 200 in it's first week.  The bands latest CD moved 103,000 units while Disney TV movie soundtrack "High School Musical" sold an impressive 128,00 in it's second week of release. Ne-Yo's debut release hit #1 with 301,000 units - almost 3 times the sales of Hawthorne Heights.

Under different circumstances any indie rock CD debuting at #3 and selling more than 100,000 copies in a single week would draw kudos for both Victory and the band.  But given Vicotry's excessive over-hyping and encouraging street teamers to hide Ne-Yo CD's at retail, Hawthorne Height's impressive achievement is no cause for celebration.

Indie Label Assoc. A2IM Calls For FCC Payola Probe

A2im_logo_1_c_1Last week A2IM (The American Association of Independent Music) which represents more than 100 indie labels sent the FCC a letter urging the commission to investigate radio to see if there’s a level playing field for indies vs. the majors. The letter is particularly poignant given yesterday's court filings against radio group Entercom as part of NY Atty. General Eliot Spitzer widening payola investigation.  Spitzer has also been very critical of the FCC's lack of action. Some highlights from A2IM the letter:

"...One of the most serious allegations facing the broadcast industry is that radio stations engaged in business activities that made it virtually impossible for songs released by independent labels to be considered for airplay within existing formats. Independent music is booming...independent labels now make up over 27% of sales in the American music market (and about 80% of the music available to consumers—representing the broad cultural diversity of the musical landscape). Yet, somehow, music released by independents is virtually absent from the commercial airwaves..."

"...the New York AG has initiated action at the state level and has successfully garnered disclosure and settlements from two of the major recording companies so far. The associated fines are viewed by many in our sector as mere slaps on the wrists in comparison to the financial harm caused nationally..."

"It is absolutely vital that any full investigation addresses the issue of how to ensure that the vast diversity of American music has a fair opportunity to access the public airwaves."

Click below to read the full text of the letter.

Continue reading "Indie Label Assoc. A2IM Calls For FCC Payola Probe" »

Spitzer Files Suit Against Entercom

Entercom_2The music industry is buzzing over this morning's announcement that NY Atty. General Elliot Spitzer has filed suit against Entercom, the owner of 105 radio stations nationally.

"By accepting secret payments in exchange for air time, Entercom compromised its radio programming and violated state and federal laws. What makes this case especially egregious is the extent to which senior management viewed control of the airways as an opportunity to garner illegal payments from record labels," said Spitzer.

Some of the emails and statements quoted in the suit are priceless:

  • A memo from a programmer at WKSE in Buffalo in 2003 to Columbia Records stated: "Do youRadio_19 need help on Jessica (Simpson) this week? .... if you don't need help I certainly don't need to play it."
  • In another a station manager described how he preferred to deal with record companies instead of independent promoters because record companies were more generous:

"As of this date I choose not to work with an ‘indie.' My program director Dave Universal is vehemently opposed to working with an indie.....Dave generates $90,000+ in record company annually for WKSE. I receive a weekly update of adds and dollars from Dave ....Forcing Dave to work with an indie at this time is the wrong move."

  • A PD complaining about using a paid CD previews program: "Are the few dollars earned with the CD previews worth killing our TSL (time spent listening) on the weekends?"

An Entercom executive replied:  "These are not optional. They come from corporate and generate millions of dollars for Entercom."

Today's lawsuit can only serve to increase consumer cynicism about broadcast radio. Read more in an Newsday/AP story here; or HITS has it's own take on events available here. A Reuters story is here and how Wall Street viewed the news can be found via MarketWatch here.