Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Value of Interns

In an interview with Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, he allegedly called Uptown Records in the early nineties to ask about internships. He contiuned the story by saying that they hadn't heard of 'internships'. Combs said, "It's where I come work for free for experience.". Uptown Records and many other entertainment related business jumped on the internship bandwagon.

As a student pursuing a career in the music business, I know all about internships. I've done a few of them. My tasks ranged from picking up after the bosses dog to planning a national radio promotion for a multiplatinum level recording artist. All for free. I feel that interns, especially in the entertainment business should receive financial compensation for there efforts.

The logic behind the, "work for free" phenomenon is due to the shear numbers of people who would love to work at a record label or concert company. It disgusts me that so many people who lack the passion for the music business attempt to enter the business, and it devalues my passion and work.

I can understand working for free maybe once or twice for experience to get a paid job, but as a college junior, I've done this dance 4 times and nobody will offer me a paycheck. The offers have been for pretty interesting good positions that require a high amount of skill. Hiring someone to arrange a national radio promotion is typically a $25 an hour job. I also did some on site work at major concerts working with sponsors, work that usually fetches $150 per show, for free.

I'm mostly just venting right now, as a poor college students, who has spent nearly $80,000 in pursuit of a passion who is fed up with being taken advantage of by companies. I know my value as a worked, and anyhow, I thought slavery was abolished in 1865.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Best Music Website Ever! A playable music search Engine!

Sorry about the last post. I do want to write about something extremley positive, though. The greatest music website to ever exsist ever!

Imagine sitting in your office/cubicle and being bored while working. Internet radio is getting stale, and you really, really, really want to listen to "Love Me Dead" by Ludo or "No Handlebars" by Flobots. Bam, enter is a playable music search engine. I'm pretty sure this website violates international copyright law, but it's still pretty cool. Basically, you can stream basically any major song and create playlists, all you need to do is search. It's perfect for curing a musically craving, or listening to songs before you buy them or steal them, or whatever you like to do. I'd be remiss to not promote a great website that got me through 400 internship hours, jamming out to Katy Perry.

Terrible Muic Makes it Mark

I'm sorry I haven't written anything new in a while. I've been swamped with tests lately. To change gears in this next post, I wanted to post an e-mail I wrote when I was a talent scout at a certain major label. I was asked to check out a band called, "Mercy Mercedes" in April of 2008 on behalf of the label.

I just wanted to give an update about the 'Mercy Mercedes' show. I went with a music industry buddy and my girl friend's sister to get a range of opinions. The very first thing that we noticed was that these guys had on very colorful clothing, and played very colorful gear, including three neon colored boxes they could jump around on.

As a band, they are very tight and had a very energetic performance that caught on to the crowd and was entertaining to watch. Musically speaking, it didn't catch me all that much. There were two songs that could be potential singles, but I still wasn't really buying into it.

There were only 20 or 25 kids at the show and I was able to speak with many of them and I asked some of my other friends at the show what they think. After the set ended, the band got universal positive reviews from nearly everyone I talked to. I asked if they liked the songs or the performance more, and people said they liked the songs just as much as the performance. Although the general consensus was this band was a talented bunch of guys, I still don't think the songs really wowed me all that much.

I spoke with the band after the show to ask a few questions and they told me they sold around 2,000 copies of their EP which doesn't include Itunes or online order in about 6 weeks of touring. This is huge and maybe their live show allows them to win over fans. If they did warped and sold albums at the gig, I bet they could sell 20 – 30k in a summer, which may well be how this band succeeds.

My female friend told me these guys were cute and dressed well which I guess is important. Overall, I wasn't impressed by the tunes although there are one or two songs that have strong hooks. The show was good enough to win over the entire crowd, and apparently this allows the band to sell merch and CD's. I probably wouldn't recommend this band to be signed because overall the songs are just not strong enough for radio or video play.

Not too scathing right? This band is signed to the Militia Group now, they had 10,000 plays today on myspace which is pretty significant, and they're EP is in every Hot Topic store in America.

Since when do 14 year girls have such terrible taste in music? At least I accurately predicted they're ability to succeed. I'm just being a bit self indulgent. I hate it when my professional is proven wrong by hard facts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

SanDisk makes the worst medium for music since the 8 Track

Recently it was announced that SanDisc, a maker of memory card and flash hard drives was going to release music on micro SD cards. The content is backed up by major labels, and Universal will be releasing nearly 30 titles on the format.

Okay, now that you're out from under the rock you've been under since the end of last week. The idea of a new non downloadable format has been floating about for the past few years. CD technology was invented in the early 1980s and is nothing new, but the idea people are going to purchase memory cards with music is a bit absurd.

WHY THIS IS BAD! People who know me know that I always back up my opinions with concrete facts. An article I read about this said that 75% of people still value music as a hard good, but I wonder if they polled the 12 -24 year olds who make up a majority of the music buying audience. I can't imagine anyone getting really excited about going to Best Buy to buy a brand new black piece of plastic containing songs they can download at home and put on there Ipods. The value of CD or album is seeing the artists expression in the artwork, the logos, the liner notes, the lyrics, etc. You can't get any of this with a black piece of plastic.

WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE! I'm sorry for yelling, but the marketing people are really, really, bad. I'm not one of THOSE guys who thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they are really missing the obvious. CELLPHONE CONTENT. Most every new cellphone has a microSD slot built right into the thing. I wouldn't find much value in paying 7 bucks for an album on this thing, but I do find value in buying ringtones, wallpaper, ringbacks, games, and other content from a favorite artist. How many 15 year old girls would buy a Katy Perry, Cherry Chapstick wallpaper for there cellphone? I can only imagine millions. How many die hard Metallica fans would appreciate this sort of content supporting 'Death Magnetic'? I can only imagine millions.

I love that a 20 year old can see what executives don't. There isn't much of a future in buying albums in microSD format if there isn't a better medium for playing it or content not added to a CD. I might consider paying $7 for an album and a concert movie on a card.

What do you all think? MicroSD music, a bad idea or a big idea?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Myspace Music - a viable model for the music business?

I didn't really want to write another post about a current event. I wanted to use this blog as a way to communicate my philosophies and values about the music business, but I had to comment about a very new and exciting development that I read about recently. Myspace Music.

The concept of it is really simple. A website that realizes heavily on music that profits from advertising will start using sponsorship from several major companies to create a web space that major labels can use to offer (some) free music to consumers,

This in general is huge, not because I think it'll be really great, although I'm optimistic that the labels will offer more than a few singles to download for free, but because this is the beginning of the ad supported model. My music professors and I have thought the music industry would eventually go down this road, and for one I'm really excited. I want to live in a world where music flows like water, the same way television content is mostly free.

I actually wrote a business plan for an ad supported model as early as 2006, and I'd love to find out what other people think of the concept of free(ish) music. Is this a viable model for the music industry? Is it profitable or foolish? Does it devalue 'ownership' of music?

If you’re on blogspot, feel free to comment, or you can e-mail me at if you want to chat about this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TRL - The End of an 'Era?'

I wasn't really sure what my first post was about, and I just learned today that after 10 years of broadcasting, MTV's staple music show, 'TRL' will be going off the air this November.

I watched TRL as a middle schooler beginning in 1999, viewing videos by bands as diverse as Britney Spears, NSYNC, Korn, Papa Roach, among others. My experience was probably typical of all generations of music loving pre adolescents, I came home as quicky as possible to watch, 'TRL' before starting my homework. Think, 'American Bandstand' or anyother similar show from the past 50 years. You might be wondering, 'Aren't you a man?'. I indeed am a man, a straight man, but this kind of behavior really wasn't that uncommon among my music loving friends of either gender, but I'm rambling, this is besides the point.

I'm writing this post to discuss, very briefly, the impact of TRL on pop music in the period of 1998 to 2002, in it's heyday, in what is called the first generation. Let's be totally, honest, people stopped paying attention to TRL when NSYNC stopped making music videos, and Carson Daly stpped down as the host.

TRL launched the career of the hottest stars of the late '90s and early new millenium. You could go up to any of my college peers, and they are conciously aware of the music from this time peiod due to the prevalence of TRL.

TRL is the direct catalyst for the commercial success of the Boy bands of the late '90s. NSYNC, 98 Degrees, and The Backstreet Boys only achieved commercial success after appearing on TRL. In 1999, the Backstreet Boys' second LP, Millenium achieved the highest first week sales ever from an LP, thanks in part to the many TRL fans who closed down the streets of Times Square in order to see the group live on the show. NSYNC's album, 'No Strings Attached', was the best selling first week debut in the history of recorded music.

If the number one video wasn't by a boyband, it was probably by a 'Pop Princess'. Christina Augilera and Britney Spears gained much success from TRL. Is it a coincidence that Britney Spears has been the source of constant attention from the press and also has had more videos, 14 in all, aired on TRL. Other singers like Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson also rose to fame from appearing on this show.

In more rececnt years, TRL showcased videos by Hip-hop stars and emo bands like Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy. It just feels wrong. TRL probably should have gone off the air years ago and it's presence on television is a reminds me of an era where Napster music flowed like a faucet, Boybands and Pop Princess reigned the videowaves, and the world and music industries were much simpler places. I won't miss TRL because it's a part of my youth, but I'm optomistic, nay, positive, that kids will find another outlet to experience pop culture, the same way kids have been doing it for over50 years.

I apolgize if this post if choppy and kind of pointless, I'm new to blogging and still exploting my voice. My next post may or maynot be about my views on the disney channel stars with a few good anecdotes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New to My Brand New Blog

Hey all! This is my first entry in this new blog, and I want to start off by introducing myself and letting you folks know a little bit about myself. My name is Steve, and I'm into the music business. I'm a student at the State University of New York, College at Oneonta pursuing a degree in Music Industry. I've held student positions at Eyeball Records, Mercury Records, and Live Nation.

Ok, now that introductions are out of the way, you may be considering why I'm writing a blog? I have three main reasons for starting a blog, I'm bored, opinionated, and broke. A friend of mine is a teleivison enthusiast and started a blog which can be found at which motivated to begin writing about my own passion.

You might wonder what kinds of things I'm going to be writing about. Is this another music blog to find out about new bands? The short answer is, no. I will focusing my writing on my take on current events going on the music business. I will discuss issues pertinent to artists, and I will also review an artist or CD from time to time if I really want to let the world know about something I dig. I will probably also throw in some anecdotes from my several years of industry experience.

The most important thing I can warn anyone reading my writing is that I'm 20 years old, illegal downloading become a big deal when I was 11 years old. I've come of age during a different time period in the music business then most of the professionals who currently hold jobs. That being said, these experiences are what inform my opinions, so my views will skew less to, "Oh my God, we're doomed", then, to "How can we be smart to take advantage of this opportunity."

I welcome discussion about ideas and opinions, and I hope you enjoy the blog.