Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What happened on Friday June 22nd?


I wrote the following at HI-WATT-cha doing.... She did a great post on Paul's birthday, and I wanted to share his iTunes commercial with her. This led me to comment on Starbucks selling and representing Paul on his latest CD. Her comment back to me was.

Hey AC!! OOOOooo thanks for the connect to the Paulie may rock, but so do YOU, AC! Wow, a loaded question about the Starbucks...hmmmmm...not easy to answer especially today when they gave me a freebie...I'm so easily "bought off" LOL!!! The indie snob in me is so into my street cred companies (Drag City, SubPop, Carrot Top, Matador)that I would be hesitant to endorse the Starbucks thang, and yet I'm just happy that music continues to get out there no matter what the circumstance or environment. What do you think, AC? I would very much like to have yer thoughts too, oh and pretend at Starbucks that they made you the wrong will getcha a freebie too!! LOL!!!

Which caused me to respond with the following.

I like the idea of Starbucks getting into cd production, artist representation and sales. I think its a great way to get people to buy music. You buy a coffee, you see a CD, impulse buying. It's the best way to cash in on the sales cycle. Don't let the sucker think to much. Also the traditional record/cd companies have fucked up big time, all they are looking at is their bottom dollar. Something has to happen so that the artists keep making great music.

What they need to do is set up a wireless transmission system. you buy the music, it’s sent to your mp3 player and you have the music to play when you leave the store. Now all you have to do is get the music industry to agree, the artists to agree, the tech companies to agree on a file transmission format and everything else. I guess we will just keep buying the CD's at Starbucks or anywhere else.

The only thing I don't agree with is if there contract is exclusive and you can't buy the music anywhere else. I don't like monopolies.

I'm going to stop writing, You've given ma a great idea for a post .. you'll have to stop buy and read it in a few days

Which leads to this post, because I want to expand on the ideas that I've brought up.

Before the turn of the century music was presented live, then if you liked it you would go out, buy the sheet music and play it at home or at a social event. The artist wasn't important it was the writer/sheet music company that made the money.

Then came the gramophone, the sheet music was written, a performer was found, they recorded it, records were sold and distributed locally, not nationally or internationally (for the most part, unless you were a Caruso) On top of this the early record player/gramophone was expensive, not everyone could afford it. Then came Radio ... all of a sudden you didn't have to wait for Aunt Bessy to come over to the house and play for you or go and visit your cousin with the record player. You could turn on the radio and listen to the latest and greatest jazz/opera or popular music song that was playing at the time. Local and national music was suddenly being presented to people at a very limited expense. (I'm not sure about the US but in Canada in those days you were supposed to purchase a radio license to listen to the radio. (I have a old Marconi radio from the 1920's with the radio license) But, the sheet music companies and the musicians union hated this new fangled contraption because they felt it was taking work/money out of their pockets. So the sheet music/unions/record companies got together and put out rules on how music could be presented on radio. Once again this didn't last very long because it was cheaper to put a record on then to hire a band to come in and play. (If you weren't with the CBC you could even sell the airtime between the records and make money) Or you could pick up a signal from the states and simulcast or rebroadcast live music, radio drama's, new and information programming, at a very minimal cost to the radio station. Radio really grew and began to ignore the rules that the Sheet Music, Record/Distributors, Musicians Union, were trying to enforce. (Hey these guys were only trying to get paid .. sound familiar?).
Then came some very powerful forces, radio sponsorship of a program, national networks, and popular music. Jazz was no longer being played in the seedy dark night club by great black musicians. It was being brought to the general public by clean, nice looking white boys (sorry for being crude but its true) The big band cleaned up jazz for the general public. In the US and Canada (more so in the states, we were stuck with the CBC, but the signals drifted into Canada .. remember a electronic wave recognizes no border) national networks began to come together. So you could broadcast a show from New York that would cover the whole east coast, so why not bring in a band that could attract listeners, have it sponsored by a national company and make money. This attracted a incredible audience and as the 30's transitioned into the 40's and 50's this was how music was presented to the general public. A big band toured, had a sponsorship deal with a national network, did a friday/saturday night live concert, a had record deal with a national distributor and sold their records. But this didn't mean that the music/song wasn't played/recorded by a different band/artist across the world and that it wasn't sold on a different label on a regional basis. You have to remember that the artist really didn't matter at this time. A sheet music company was being paid, for the most part the songs weren't being written by the artists, they were buying or being given the music by the sheet music companies, who had a staff of writers who wrote the music. The bands arranger then took that sheet music, modified/arranged it for the band's/artist’s style.
At the same time as the growth of popular music strange things began to happen in, mostly in the states (home of popular music), small regional record companies/distrusters began to record local Folk/Country/cultural/racial groups .. they marketed this music on a very local basis, but a lot of these Artists did write their own music or take music from the cultural background that they represented. The Carter family, the early folk blues musicians and the early country and western artists. These musicians were never widely popular, the Carter family did end up with a national radio show, but the other never had more then a regional affect, but they did influence later musicians and their audience.

Look, I'm not writing anything that you can't find online or at a bookstore/library.. sorry about taking up so much time to get to the point. What I am trying to say is that at one time the sheet music industry tried to stop radio because they saw it as an attack on their profit. Then the record companies fought against the Artist/Performer, because they didn't think they could make money off a musician performing there own music. Then they fought against top 40 radio because not all the artists were represented, or they complained about race radio, album oriented rock radio and boring old AOR. The tried to prevent recordable cassettes because you could then copy and distribute music without paying for it or it destroyed the way the artist wanted his/her music presented. Then they fought against file sharing because of the same reasons. They have all forgotten the same small thing. A song is made popular not by a radio station/file sharing/, it’s made popular by a person who has the time and budget to buy the music and listen to that album or song.

In 2007 we have so many things that we can spend or time and money on. We want it instantly, music buyers can buy a video game for $60, go to the movies for $20, buy a book for $10, go to a concert for $100, go out clubbing for whatever the cost is now (I’m to old to remember clubbing).
The record companies / Artists need to figure a way to distribute their music in such a way that it makes it impulsive purchase. Most people don't go into a record store on impulse, they go to buy a CD. Starbucks is getting the idea, they have the CD's beside the cash register and people do buy it on impulse. Why not do this with other stores, buy a Big Mac and a CD, buy tank of gas and a CD. Or better yet, set up some way to transmit the song from a storage unit to a MP3 player so that you can buy the song on impulse. Set it up at a club or concert where the band is playing, at a festival or at the corner store. Someone has had to have thought of this already, the technology exists to make it work, they're probably just waiting for all this digital rights crap to disappear before they go ahead and do it.

My first love has always been music and sound. When I was a kid I had an old Grundig FM/AM/Shortwave radio (the only way you could tune in a signal was to open the back and turn the wheel by hand. Damn the tubes got hot). I would stay up late into the night listening to music from around the world (by the way this is around '73/'74). Now I can't play a instrument worth a damn (I'm finally willing to admit that I am to lazy to learn a instrument), but I wanted to be part of how sound is created. I first thought being a Radio announcer would be the greatest. Then after going to college for Radio I learned that with my monotone voice and dry sense of humor it would just not work for a rock jock. So I set my sights on being a Audio Engineer .. now I'm a software sales guy. But I still love music, we just have to get these idiots to realize, we will buy it they just have to make it available in the locations we are at... Starbucks is on the right track.

Listening to Ophelia by the Band