Jay Z-Aspiro/Wimp/Tidal

It’s all about the endgame.

That’s what amateurs don’t understand about business. Jay Z doesn’t want to own and operate a streaming service, he just wants to leverage his fame to raise awareness and then lay the whole thing off on someone else.

I’m sick and tired of entertainment people thinking they can compete in the tech game, as if it’s only a game, one can learn by observing, that there’s no skill involved and no experience necessary.

Universal tried this at the turn of the century. They had their own ridiculous streaming service Pressplay and Jimmy and Doug’s Farm Club. As if tech were about show, and they could pull the wool over the eyes of the public the same way they refuse to pay artists royalties.

But that is not the case.

Yes, Jimmy Iovine ultimately regrouped and got Apple to buy Beats, a fallacious concept if there ever was one, Apple’s clueless when it comes to entertainment, why else would they approve the U2 cram-it-down-our-throats fiasco. But have you noticed Jimmy has failed at the second most important thing to him, after getting paid, keeping himself in the public eye?

Jimmy’s disappeared.

Entertainment is about fame.

Tech is about changing the world. And becoming super-rich.

And how do you get super-rich? Via scale. Coming up with something that EVERYBODY uses!

That’s what the music business is lacking. The music business is now balkanized. Most people don’t listen to the same hits and this is a bad thing. It’d be like having dozens of operating systems in the smartphone sphere. When a company lends coherence to the scene, that’s when scale occurs and profits rain down. Instead, radio is running off into the ditch and everybody’s rallying around what once was, protecting their fiefdom, while Spotify scales and ultimately ends up with all the profits. Isn’t this why everybody now hates Tim Westergren? He lobbied users to contact the government to lower internet streaming radio royalty rates, then he took Pandora public and became a zillionaire and built a mansion.

That was Tim’s plan all along. People were just too stupid to see it.

And Jay Z is street smart. But to think he can compete with those who do this for a living is ridiculous. Sure, he made an impact in clothing, a wide open sphere, but what about champagne?

And what Jay Z doesn’t seem to realize is there’s only one winner in tech. One Apple, one Google and one Amazon. Hell, this last quarter Apple put a dent in Samsung. And now Jay Z thinks he can compete with Apple?

But Jay Z wants the money. Everybody in Hollywood wants the money. Disney, WME, CAA, DreamWorks, they used to be kings of the hill, now they’re also-rans in the money sweepstakes, which is what they really care about, art is a cover. So they’ve all got incubators and investments and it’s as laughable as sports stars becoming rocket scientists. Sure, it’s possible. But how many are going to do the work? And talk to Fred Wilson, investing is not something you learn in a week. But the press lauds the skills of Ashton Kutcher because he’s sexier than anybody who works at Kleiner Perkins, but they’re the ones who know, and are much richer.

Jay Z is paying a huge premium. Aspiro has a business, but it only pays to pay this much if you can scale it.

But Jay Z can’t.

I’m not saying that Spotify’s victory in the sphere is guaranteed, although it looks that way. But Deezer has traction, Apple is yet to put its toe in, and can leverage its handset business, and Rdio and Rhapsody want some of that juice.

And now Jay Z?

It’s a winner-take-all world. To think otherwise is to believe that Bing can compete with Google on search, but the truth is Microsoft has lost billions on Bing.

People only need one search engine. With everything just a click away online, people gravitate to the best. To displace someone atop the heap you’ve got to leapfrog them in technology, like Facebook did with MySpace, or deliver something heretofore unseen, as Google did with its search predecessors, with accurate results. What does Aspiro offer? CD quality streams. Which Deezer does too. And there’s absolutely no barrier to entry for Spotify and the other players, they can add high quality with the flick of a switch.

But Jay Z believes he can leverage talent, which I doubt, Spotify exists quite well without the Beatles, and they’ve locked up Led Zeppelin, and get the hip-hop wannabes to subscribe.

Doubtful.

But then he’ll try to get Michael Rapino to buy it.

But Live Nation just dismantled its Labs, which were the remnants of BigChampagne. Too many Live Nation acquisitions have failed.

And maybe Jay Z can find a customer in Rhapsody or Rdio, which will pay him to use his profile, since they have none.

But really, this is a sideshow.

A sad one at that.

One in which business trumps music. That’s all we’re getting from Jay Z recently. The Samsung/NBA/app album launch now this… How about one track that changes the culture?

But those in entertainment no longer care about cultural power. They’re just into it for the money. And they see what the Silicon Valley titans have and tell themselves they want some of that.

That’s right, once upon a time musicians were about changing hearts and minds, influencing millions.

Now they just want those millions to hand over cash, so they can get richer, fly private to Davos, be a big mover and shaker.

You become a big mover and shaker by writing a song that speaks truth that changes the world. Don’t try to be something you are not.

A business MAN?

How about being an ARTIST!

“Jay Z Bids for a Swedish Streaming Company to Expand His Empire”

Rhinofy-Ocean Songs

“Ocean”
Lou Reed

From the first solo album, when the Velvets were not yet savored history and no one was expecting much.

Yes, I was hooked by the initial track, “I Can’t Stand It,” but I was closed by the final track, “Ocean,” it’s the one that made me a Lou Reed fan.

Released in 1972, it’s best if you listen to it in those circumstances, alone, in the dark, preferably on headphones with all your modern digital devices turned off. It doesn’t take much to get it, but if you give it your full attention, let it wash over you, you’ll be fully rewarded.

This is how it used to be, when it was about the album, when we believed our artists put their all into the long player and the…last track was as important as the first.

After Lou got traction, a live Velvet Underground album from 1969 with a version of “Ocean” was released, I’ll include it in the playlist.

And then there’s the demo and…

“Walk On The Ocean”
Toad The Wet Sprocket

I’d say the band never equaled this, but the truth is “Walk On The Ocean” is so stratospherically good, almost no one could.

Meaningful and melodic, it’s pure magic.

“Pacific Ocean Blues”
Dennis Wilson

The best track on an overrated album.

I love Dennis, listen to “Angel Come Home,” from “L.A. (Light Album),” listen to his compositions on “Sunflower,” however, this LP doesn’t live up to the rep.

But this is the song that plays in my head.

“Swimming In The Ocean”
David & David

Mystical and moody, I don’t think anybody under the age of forty knows this album.

But they should.

By today’s standards, this is a hit, because it’s immediately catchy, you get it right away. That’s the standard now, not whether it’s radio-friendly, but whether people will be enamored and share it.

“Welcome To The Boomtown” went gold in the eighties, arguably it would be bigger today, because there are no clunkers, it sounds like nothing else and it’s GREAT!

“Ocean Of War”
The Samples

From the initial Arista album, that made their rep, before they went indie and were just as good.

A band that was ahead of its time led by a guy with a good voice who had melody at his fingertips.

“Drop In The Ocean”
Michelle Branch

The closing song from her hit debut, “The Spirit Room.”

She was just a teen and she delivered something that was not only listenable, but evidenced the wisdom of a much older person. If only today’s teen acts were as good.

Unfortunately, she was hobbled by this success.

Then again, she ultimately migrated to country before everybody else and had success with Jessica Harp as the Wreckers.

I’m always ready to hear what Michelle Branch has to say.

Play “Drop In The Ocean” all the way through. It’s not as catchy as some of the other tracks on this playlist, but by the end you’ll get it.

“Ocean Crossing”
Arlo Guthrie

From Arlo’s best album other than “Alice’s Restaurant,” 1976’s “Amigo,” which contains the anthem “Massachusetts.”

Unfortunately, this eminently playable album was ignored then. Unjustly. It still satisfies today.

“The Ocean”
Led Zeppelin

The last track on “Houses Of The Holy.”

Zeppelin fans know this by heart, the best part is when it breaks down at 2:15 and Robert sings…

“1000 Oceans”
Tori Amos

I used to love Tori so much, before she lost the plot, before the lyrics became completely incomprehensible. The amazing thing is, even though this is mostly just Tori and her piano, no one else has duplicated this sound. I wish Tori would.

“Oceans”
Coldplay.

I’m partial to the second album, but this, from “Ghost Stories,” has the signature sound, but was too dark to break through.

“Ocean Of Noise”
Arcade Fire

Dark and even if you’re not a fan, you’ll get it.

“The Ocean”
U2

From the very first album, “Boy,” which was my favorite until “Achtung Baby.”

Sure, it had the hit “I Will Follow,” but what appealed to me was the band’s darkness and experimentation, evidenced in this cut.

“Ocean”
John Butler Trio

From his very first album/cassette, I’m including the 2010 take from “Live At Red Rocks,” you can hear a recent studio take here:

“Ocean”- John Butler Trio

It seems that Mr. Butler missed his window, he broke up the original trio when he was on the verge of breaking through big time.

Go to one of his shows, you’ll be wowed.

“Ocean”
Joan Armatrading

Talk about missing your moment.

Joan cut “Love and Affection,” which goes unheard today, despite its brilliance, and then…never equals it, writes solid material, but no hits, and as a result she’s forgotten.

“Oceans”
Pearl Jam

From the initial album, “Ten.”

“Ocean”
Lush

From the hit debut.

“Porcelina of the Vast Oceans”
Smashing Pumpkins

From “Mellon Collie,” when the Pumpkins still mattered, before Billy Corgan’s immense ego collapsed the band.

You can believe you’re great, but that doesn’t mean you have to TELL US!

“Ocean Breathes Salty”
Modest Mouse

A hit single ten years ago.

“An Ocean In Between The Waves”
The War On Drugs

From everybody’s favorite new act.

“How Deep Is The Ocean”

Composed by Irving Berlin and done by everybody from Bing Crosby to Frank Sinatra to Eric Clapton, if I didn’t include it my inbox would overflow!

“My Bonnie (Lies Over The Ocean)”
Tony Sheridan

With the Beatles!

Released in America after they broke through.

Hear it here:

“My Bonnie (Lies Over The Ocean)”

 

Rhinofy-Ocean Songs

Spotify/Mediabase-Triple A

1. Mediabase – “Budapest” George Ezra

“Budapest” is number 58 on Spotify’s daily chart in the U.S. Number 99 on the weekly chart and number 54 on the worldwide chart. Why so low on Spotify? TOP FORTY AND AC ARE NOT PLAYING IT IN THE U.S!

Why is this, the song is a one listen smash and already proved its viability in the U.K. What kind of antiquated, ridiculous world do we live in where you’ve got to climb one chart to demonstrate your bonafides so you can climb another? I’d be surprised if “Budapest” does not cross over, but by then it will be ancient history in the ears of those who care.

Can we all get on the same page people?

It’s like having Twitter talk about six month old YouTube clips, everything’s in lockstep online. That is the world we live in.

2. Mediabase – “Make You Better” Decemberists

Not only is this not in the Spotify daily top 200, no Decemberists track is.

Yet all the press is citing the “Billboard” album chart, wherein the Decemberists debuted at number 5.

Huh?

Could it be that most people don’t care about the Decemberists?

Looks like it to me.

And it’s fine if you’re a fan, but I’m just pointing out the disconnect between the media/publicity world and the listening world.

Furthermore, the Decemberists’ new album, “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World,” is not even in the Spotify top fifty albums.

As for streams… The above track has been listened to 2,053,647 times. Not bad, but “Centuries,” off Fall Out Boy’s new album, which entered the “Billboard” chart at number one, has been streamed 50,728,320 times.

Interestingly, the non-single Fall Out Boy tracks have nowhere near the traction. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” has been streamed 5,857,009 times and “Fourth Of July” has been streamed 2,610,943 times…

As for the Decemberists… From the new album, “Philomena” has been streamed 266,606 times and “A Beginning Song” has been streamed 444,897 times.

So it turns out we live in a singles world after all. Yes, no one is holding back fans from streaming these complete albums, but it turns out people are drawn to the hit, only the hard core fan listens to more.

This is very different from the old days when you purchased an LP and played it through, over and over again.

3. Mediabase – “From Eden” Hozier

“Take Me To Church” may have been monstrous… “From Eden”? Not so much.

“From Eden” does not make the daily Spotify top 200 in the United States, nor in the world.

However, “Take Me To Church” got 500,042 plays on Spotify in the U.S. YESTERDAY!

“Take Me To Church” sold 137,182 tracks in the U.S. last week. It got streamed on Spotify in the U.S. 3,632,681 times last week!

So, it turns out people continue to play their favorite music, what a concept!

And all you Spotify haters, you streaming ignoramuses, are too stupid to see how this benefits your bottom line. That’s right, you’re gonna get paid forever, if you create something people want to hear. No one gets paid when someone pulls an old copy of “Rumours” from the CD rack and pushes play. But when someone revisits “Gold Dust Woman” on Spotify, forty years later, they do! And, subscribers are trending upward…

Furthermore, Hozier’s album is number 6 on the Spotify album chart. But methinks that is probably the result of “Take Me To Church”‘s 176,570,689 streams, because the next closest track has 12 million, one even has 5 million.

So, get big enough and some people will check out the rest of your music, but not most.

However, “From Eden” does have 14,436,275 worldwide streams. But they’ve accumulated over time, “From Eden” is not a hit on Spotify right now. But accumulating over time is good.

Will AAA airplay goose the track on Spotify?

Not significantly, it needs to cross over to another format.

Proving once again that AAA is a very small niche. Some big records get started there, but AAA is a backwater. Don’t shoot the messenger! If you like what they play, more power to you. Just know that most people are not listening to what AAA plays.

4. Mediabase – “I Bet My Life” Imagine Dragons

Now this is number 115 on the daily global Spotify chart with 233,611 streams.

But it’s number 96 on the U.S. daily Spotify chart with 90,888 streams.

More females stream it in the U.S. than males. And the prime listeners are 18-24, where males dominate. Go under 17 and it’s more females. Over 55 and it’s more females.

Now it’s important to note that Top Forty radio IS playing “I Bet My Life,” it’s number 44 on the chart. Showing that to make the big Spotify chart you’ve got to cross over.

And remember, Spotify pays on actual streams. So being number one in a minor format may make you feel good, you can brag about it to your mother, but it will not fatten your wallet.

Okay, now that I’ve depressed you, let me give you some bright points.

This week’s “Billboard” chart tells us the Arctic Monkeys sold 5,622 albums and “AM” resides at number 46.

But “AM” is number 21 on the U.S. Spotify album chart.

And you won’t see the Lumineers LP on the “Billboard” chart because it’s too old.

But the public doesn’t care about age, not when it comes to music. The Lumineers album is number 57 on the U.S. Spotify chart.

And Childish Gambino’s “Because The Internet” is 103 on “Billboard” with a meager 2,783 sales this week. But it’s number 22 on the Spotify U.S. albums chart!

And, Twenty One Pilots is number 83 on Spotify! Yes, their 2013 album “Vessel” is still being listened to.

CONCLUSION

And you wonder why the public is confused…

We’ve got purveyors saying one thing, radio saying another and then the people who really care seem to be listening to something else.

Who do you believe?

Nobody. You just get on Snapchat and start texting.

What is going on here?

Media still lives in the pre-internet era and everybody else lives in today. Publications repeat the hype of the purveyors and radio moves more slowly than it did in the sixties, no wonder they’re both going downhill.

We’re moving to a listen economy. It’s all that counts.

Sure, you want to broadcast your track on radio to incite listens, but it turns out that the only thing that really works is Top Forty radio, Triple A is a niche. A well-loved niche, but one that has few adherents, however vocal and passionate.

Why The Grammys Matter

Because he who makes order out of chaos emerges triumphant.

I’m not saying it’s important who wins, we all know artistic competitions are bogus, but appearing on the show? That’s a victory. I’ll even argue a Grammy is now more important than an Oscar, because the winners are easier to experience and check out further! You see them perform on the show and then, if interested, you can hear the rest of their music for free, online, whereas films are at least ninety minutes long and not easily available for one low price and you’ve got to credit the music business for getting it right.

Once upon a time a Grammy was irrelevant. When radio ruled and then MTV. We knew who was successful, who demanded attention. But just like Bruno Mars was anointed a star after his Super Bowl performance, everybody appearing on the Grammy telecast emerges a winner. With a leg up.

We don’t have time to check out everything, which is why if you’re on the undercard, if you didn’t get nominated for an award that is televised, you’ve already lost. Oh, you can trumpet your nomination and possible victory in your press materials, but how are you going to get anybody to pay attention?

Attention is everything in today’s world. Used to be there was a river of songs, now it’s a veritable tsunami, which is why so many people get out of the way, they’re afraid of being buried. But if someone makes sense of the incoming, if someone turns down the faucet to a trickle, then we’re not so overwhelmed.

So, the most important person in the music industry today turns out to be KEN EHRLICH!

Huh?

He’s the starmaker. The only man who can get everybody’s attention. He’s the guy building the show. You may think gatekeepers are history, that the internet eliminated them, but the truth is those that still remain have even greater power.

You’ve read all about the nominees, if you’re paying attention, but unless you’re a fan, you may have never heard their music. This was IMPOSSIBLE in the old days, prior to the internet. Everyone heard the Beatles, everyone heard Culture Club, we lived in a monoculture in the eighties and nineties. But when everybody is a self-promoting wannabe living in a niche those who are not diehard fans are clueless. That’s right, Top Forty is now a niche. A big one, but smaller than it’s ever been.

But when these same trumpeted performers appear on TV, the looky-loos have a chance of being closed, which is why not only do you want to get on the telecast, you want to do your very best.

Oh, the ratings are high because it’s winter and we savor live events, but don’t overestimate the twittersphere, the Golden Globe ratings were down, snark lives, but Twitter has jumped the shark. Still, ratings will be good because we’re all looking to be a member of the club, to be able to talk with our peers. That’s why the Super Bowl ratings are so high, not because of the game, not even because of the commercials, but because it allows everybody to participate, to play the home game. That’s right, you can go into work the next day with an opinion, you can contribute to the debate. Who are you going to debate about an appearance by Nick Cave? You went to the show, you enjoyed yourself and it turns out nobody at work has ever heard of him.

Credit Mike Greene, he made the Grammys legitimate. That’s right, the show used to be a joke, not even a poor stepsister to the Oscars.

And also credit the present regime for knowing it’s all about the TV show, the awards are irrelevant. They’ve reduced those given away on the telecast and Ken Ehrlich is doing his best to book superstar talent.

Like AC/DC.

Hell, their album didn’t even qualify, it was released too late, never mind having already tanked. But when those at home hear “You Shook Me All Night Long” or whatever nugget they and Ken agree to showcase, they’ll be reminded of the band’s greatness and have an urge to buy tickets.

McCartney hasn’t done anything Grammy-worthy this year, but he’ll appear.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s record is irrelevant, but by being on the show they keep both of their careers alive. That’s right, forget record sales, it’s all about exposure, getting people to hear your music, and if you can do it at an event, more power to you.

And that’s the world we presently live in, where the events are bigger than the performers. Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, ACL…they’re the stars, the acts come and go. Headliners are necessary, but they change every year while the festival lives on.

Kind of like the Grammys. There’s nobody who’s necessary, there are enough stars out there. Piss someone off and the joke is on you.

Sam Smith won’t become a star if he sweeps all the categories he’s nominated in, but when he performs on the show. No one cares who wins, never mind remembers. The days of Bonnie Raitt being catapulted into the stratosphere are history, hell, there’s not even much of a Grammy bump anymore.

And Jessie J… She’ll go from obscurity to household name in a matter of minutes. That’s the power of the Grammy telecast. It showcases everything important and there’s no musical show as important, except for maybe the VMAs, but now that MTV airs no music and the show skews so young it triumphs in the demo but is sealed off from the rest of the public.

That’s right, Grammy night is when the casual fan comes home to check out the goods.

And it really is all about the casual fan. Hard core fans will help you fill clubs, they’ll pay your bills. But the music business depends on those who don’t live for tunes, who can be convinced to listen and go to the show.

In other words, get out of your hole and see the big picture. The money is in mass. Don’t want the money? Then stop bitching that someone rained on your parade, complaining about Spotify payments and road costs… Our whole nation has gone to a winner-take-all model and it’s no different in music.

So congratulate those performing on the Grammys, they’ve already won.

Big time.