Tidal

Now let me get this straight…piracy can be eradicated if artists just band together in the name of money?

That’s what this is all about, cash. For the misguided artists who believe this is their financial savior but primarily for Jay Z, who’s using OPM (other people’s money) to have a big score.

But it don’t really happen that way at all.

Did Jay call Peter Thiel?

Then he would have learned to go where there’s no competition. That’s how you win in the tech space. But Spotify’s got traction, Apple has a ton of cash and Deezer and Rdio are players. If you think Tidal’s gonna walk right in and get huge market share, you probably believed iTunes Radio was gonna neuter Pandora. But it did not. Hell, even Jimmy Iovine couldn’t neuter Spotify. Beats Music was a disaster in its initial incarnation. Give Jimmy credit for selling the enterprise to Apple, but without the profit-making headphones, there wouldn’t have been billions involved.

Headphones… A market where the usual suspects were asleep. Sennheiser, AKG, even Sony, they could not see the opportunity right under their noses. So Jimmy walked right in and gained market share, hell, built a MARKETPLACE, and the established entities are still trying to catch up.

But everybody knows what streaming services are. Thank Taylor Swift, who provided Spotify with its greatest marketing campaign ever. Suddenly, everybody knew what the Swedish streaming service was.

And why was Spotify successful? Because of the deep pockets of the owners, who were willing to lose on the way to winning. Beats Music did not have these deep pockets, and Tidal certainly does not. Unless the artists are all willing to kick in double digit millions, out of their fortunes, to turn the tide.

But that’s what a VC does. That’s his area of expertise. To see Jay Z try to triumph in tech is like watching WME and CAA and Universal lose cash on their investments/incubated projects. IT’S NOT THEIR BUSINESS, NOT THEIR AREA OF EXPERTISE! Why don’t you just decide to play in the NBA while you’re at it, or watch a lot of YouTube videos and become a doctor. Sure, we’re all envious of the money techies make, but if you think it’s easy, you don’t know any of them, or their stories.

So first and foremost you’ve got to pay for Tidal.

And therefore it’s dead on arrival. Just like Apple’s new music service. Because people are CHEAP! They love their money more than their favorite artists, never forget it. And the kind of person who pledges devotion to Tidal artists is the same kind who’s home alone, broke, waiting for their parents to put cash on their debit card. Now if Tidal had a free tier… But it doesn’t. It can’t afford to lose that much money. It’s not about the long haul. No one in music has been about the long haul since the turn of the century. First you get traction, then you monetize/charge. Can you say Instagram, can you say Snapchat? But suddenly, just because Jay Z is a famous musician he expects all of his fans to pony up ten bucks a month? Raw insanity.

As is the position of the artists on the stage. I’d be much more impressed if they all ankled their deals, got rid of the major labels and went it alone. That’s why they’re not making much money on Spotify, not because of the free tier, but because their deals suck. But these same deals apply on Tidal! They’ve got to license the music from their bosses! It’s utterly laughable, like nursery school kids plotting against the teacher, or a kindergartner running away from home. Grow up!

And sure, if you loaded Tidal with exclusive content it would be attractive.

But the iTunes Store wouldn’t promote your new release. And that’s where your money is today, and we’ve already established you’ve got a short term vision.

And what about future artists? How do they get a share of the pie?

And let’s say a new Hozier comes along, and Spotify outbids you, they certainly have deeper pockets. Then your monopoly on exclusive content falls apart, you Balkanize the landscape and you hurt everybody in the ecosystem.

And artists can’t get along with themselves, never mind others. True artists are singular. Come on, when’s the last time you saw Madonna compromise, or do a solid for another performer? Suddenly, everybody’s gonna play nice and get along? And how do they decide whose album gets promoted and for how long? We’ve seen this movie before, read “Hit Men” for instruction. Artists are all about the edge. Labels couldn’t band together to get rid of indie promo, some just saw it as an advantage, they’d pay when others wouldn’t, and then everybody paid once again.

Furthermore, right now Tidal doesn’t have critical mass and artists need other platforms to succeed. You don’t expect retaliation? I do. I certainly expect artists to break ranks, to provide content to other companies, therefore dissipating the hegemony.

And this is a big story today, what about tomorrow?

That’s what we’ve learned in the internet era, it’s about staying power, not the launch. Tidal is news this afternoon, by tomorrow no one is talking about it, never mind next week. Then the hard work begins. Are all these artists going to walk the streets in sandwich boards, garnering sign-ups like a political canvasser gets signatures? Of course not.

But then maybe someone will buy Tidal, and everybody will get paid.

But who is that company?

Apple’s already got Beats.

Facebook is about user-created content.

Amazon is not about acquisitions.

And Google already owns streaming music, with YouTube.

Who is gonna be that stupid?

Maybe there’s a mark out there, but probably not. Because investors are savvy. That’s how they made all that money to begin with.

So why don’t these artists go home and write compelling music.

Jay Z is the king of branding deals, but his Samsung app/album sank like a stone, despite NBA Finals commercial and all that Korean kompany marketing.

Because music is first and foremost about the art.

And great artists are lousy businessmen. There are exceptions, but they’re rare.

As for the self-promotion and the buying of the story by the press, I point you today’s Boy Genius Report wherein Jonathan Geller delineates how geeks trumpeted something that was not successful and investors poured in after the press took the bait and then the app tanked when Periscope launched.

It’s not like the public has never heard of Spotify.

And the public determines success, not the press.

Are they going to all fork over triple digits a year to stream on Tidal?

Not gonna happen.

“Meerkat is dying – and it’ taking U.S. tech journalism with it”

Shots

I can’t get this song out of my head.

It’s very easy to ignore the Top Forty. It’s very easy to ignore all music. That’s what the business and inside fans don’t understand, that they’re in a bubble and what they live for, their passion, oftentimes doesn’t translate.

I live for the Howard Stern show.

Because Howard is so good.

That’s how you cut through the clutter, you search for excellence and pay attention.

And Howard’s shtick has changed. He’s now part of the interview circuit. Because America is about selling, and you can only get someone to go on the record when they’re hawking something. And with Howard’s newfound status, as a result of network television, he gets the A-listers, they’re whores, and Stern gets more out of them than anyone else but now he too cannot make fun of these people, who so often deserve it. Howard “gets” Madonna” so he “gets” her new album? He could be the only one. It’s already been forgotten.

But not Imagine Dragons. They’re a hit act. Already excoriated on their second album.

That’s what happens when you’re not deep inside, you get the penumbra, you get the blowback, those who care say they’re not worth caring about and then I was in a store and I heard “Radioactive” and had to pull it up on Spotify and they perform that on Stern but what got me was the single from the new album, “Shots.”

Now the stories being told are fascinating. Despite the image of reality television, every act worth hearing struggles. For years. Two members of Imagine Dragons quit just before the band got signed. They were sick of playing covers and opening to almost no one. But it’s in the struggle that you hone your chops, that you get really good.

And Imagine Dragons are really good.

I know you don’t want to hear that, because if they’re good, you’re not.

Now I’m not saying you can’t be nearly talentless and be successful. But that’s a different kind of talent, one of conception, one wherein you look at the world a different way and come up with something so mind-blowing that people pay attention. That was Lou Reed’s gift. But we haven’t had that spirit here for so long.

But, if you can sing and write and play… Then you’ve got a chance.

So go to YouTube and pull up this interview.

Start by going to the yellow dot around 48:00, to hear the acoustic version of “Shots.”

Acoustic. Hard to fake it there.

And they’re not faking it whatsoever.

Am I out of touch
Am I out of place

NOT WHATSOEVER! NOT WITH THIS VOICE!

If you’re not enraptured you’ve got no life, no soul.

I’m sorry for everything
Oh, everything I’ve done
From the second day I was born it seems I had a loaded gun
Then I shot, shot, shot a hole through everything I  loved
Oh, I shot, shot, shot a hole through every single thing I  loved

The harmonies kick in and you’re in church. THE CHURCH OF ROCK AND ROLL!

There are changes, hooks. Cast aside your black clothing, your precious image, and just luxuriate in the sound.

And when you pull up the track on Spotify, listen to the studio version, you’ll be horrified, it sounds like the strip mall as opposed to the sanctuary.

And this guy was religious. He went on a Mormon mission to Nebraska. Tells interesting stories about meth and gangs.

He talks about his depression. About his parents. He reveals a three-dimensional identity and you like someone who previously you didn’t care a whit about.

Kind of like “Shots.”

This is the hit take. Because greatness does not need polish, it’s about capturing lightning in a bottle.

And they did here.

AND YOU BUY IT!

“Howard Stern Show Interviews Imagine Dragons 03/24/15″

Periscope

Tune in now, before the celebrities take over and the haters show up.

Something is happening here, but we don’t know what it is…

The hype has been deafening. The digerati congregated at SXSW and declared Meerkat the new savior. Then it was crippled by Twitter, which announced its own, me-too product, and we’re all sitting at home wondering what all the fuss is about, wondering whether it’s just the new turntable.fm.

You remember turntable.fm, don’t you? The service that ruled the airwaves for three weeks, before it crashed and burned and went out of business. Because the internet is endless fads. Kinda like boy bands. Sites come and they go. And if you’re not busy being born, you’re dying.

That’s what Amazon does so well, reinvent itself, push the envelope. Now they’re all about same day delivery. Whether it be by drone or not. Whereas Google was too stupid to realize mobile was going to disrupt their search monopoly. Just like Apple went from computer to iPod to iPhone to iPad, Google has been unable to have an Act II. Same with Facebook. Well, Facebook bought WhatsApp and now they’re into virtual reality and they’re trying, they’re really trying to imitate Amazon and Apple and gain new traction, and one has to give them credit for it, but my main point is even Facebook may not be forever. And in a culture where everything is evanescent, do I have to pay attention? It won’t be long before Facebook pages are calcified, set in amber, the site will be a ghost town no one goes to, because that’s the nature of the internet, we use and we abandon, can you say Geocities? But for now, all the attention is on Meerkat and Periscope. And I’m not gonna give you a primer. There are no instructions on the internet, just like with video games. You download the app and poke around and experiment and…

You find two naked girls in Westwood broadcasting from their kitchen.

Sex is always first.

Of course, you can pay for a one on one live stream on a cam site, but this isn’t about money, this is about the bleeding edge. And that’s what’s so exciting about Meerkat and Periscope, it’s all brand new.

Like I watched a sunrise in New Zealand. A cove in Australia. Someone making coffee in Amsterdam and a snowy spring in Siberia. Call me a voyeur, we’re all voyeurs, and right now regular people are letting you into their lives, just for the fun of it, and it’s strangely riveting.

They do it for the love. No one wants to be alone anymore. They want hearts and comments and interaction. They’ll perform if you show up and comment.

And who are these people?

Nobodies. Those with time. Who are not reading the newspaper, who listen to the tribal drum and want to participate.

That’s what’s so fascinating about the bleeding edge of the internet. The power fanatics, the government and the wealthy, don’t partake, they’re behind the curve, so busy luxuriating in their status they can’t see that they’re threatened, that everybody’s threatened.

But if something gains traction, the money moves in and the celebrities rule and the rest of us are excluded, left on the sidelines to pay and watch.

Believe me, no one’s gonna want to see nobodies broadcasting in the future. Why?

But now everybody does have his own television station. And we’ll get new stars, with talents we cannot predict.

And isn’t it funny that Facebook is about our permanent record, but Snapchat and Meerkat and Periscope are about impermanence. Experiences have trumped objects and fleeting has replaced lasting. We’re all in future shock. And I’d tell you you could ignore Meerkat and Periscope, but then you’d miss out on the fun. And it is fun to partake in something unformed, that is being developed on the fly.

You signed up for AOL and had no idea you were going to abandon it for the web, hell, you thought AOL WAS the web!

You didn’t know you needed broadband, on your phone no less. LTE enabled Meerkat and Periscope, never forget that. Innovation runs on technological breakthroughs.

And you might Facetime or Skype into a loved one’s life.

But what if you could Periscope into Britney Spears’s life?

Oh, you’ll be able to see Kim Kardashian’s fake life, she shows up wherever money is to be made.

And you’ll see sanitized backstage tours.

And cleaned-up shows.

But right now, you can see a cornucopia of talent that boggles the mind. Stuff you didn’t think you’d watch that you couldn’t even put a name on, but people are doing it.

And the nature of technology is we rarely foresee the uses. Remember when they kept telling us we needed computers to store our recipes? When’s the last time you did that? Did anyone ever do that?

Now I’m watching a cold morning in Krakow. I’ve never been there, looks bleak.

And a fortysomething male in bed in Vegas answering random questions. He likes cheese, he’s a singer.

And a guy doing karaoke in Los Angeles.

Who are these people?

What possessed them?

The desire to participate. To make up the future on the fly.

It’s happening.

Right now.

And we don’t know where it’s going.

And it’s titillating and exciting and you can’t understand by reading about it, just download the apps and play.

You remember playing, don’t you?

It’s what you did before you worked 24/7 to find out you couldn’t get ahead.

That’s who’s driving Meerkat and Periscope right now. Those outside the system, who have no idea where they’re going, but want to have fun along the way.

Isn’t that life?

Rhinofy-Stay A Little Longer

I can’t stop playing this.

I discovered it on the Spotify playlist “Top 100 Country Tracks,” which I follow and have synched to my phone and when I’m burned out on the usual suspects I pull it up and see what’s going on in the country world.

And too many of the tracks are me-too.

But then I heard this.

I immediately pulled my phone out of my pocket to see who it was…BROTHERS OSBORNE?

Like in JEFFREY OSBORNE?

No, that’s not country music.

And I don’t know much about country music, I’ve just become inured to it because it’s picked up the flag of rock and roll and is running with it, when everybody who’s still playing that music has descended into narrow, unlistenable niches. So, is Brothers Osborne an old act or a new one? I’m confused. Because, like I said, I know Charlie Rich, but don’t quiz me on George Strait’s first fifty number ones, I’m clueless.

And I’m hooked from the very beginning.

It’s the PICKING!

And the sound. Intimate, without being depressing.

And I’m not sure what the guy is singing about, but his voice is mellifluous if not outstanding and then the song changes, at first it’s like a drive in the country, kind of like Danny O’Keefe’s gem, “Along For The Ride,” and then it switches completely, into a groove that’s more akin to pop than country, rhythmic, but infectious nonetheless. And then back to that ride in the car…

And at this point there’s a lead guitar. And I’m catching the lyric about taking t-shirts off each other, and I’m riding with the track, I’m enjoying it but it’s not a ten, and then that guitar starts to wail, they’re singing intensely, and two and a half minutes in, the track changes completely. You think it’s fading out, you’re enjoying the introspection and then…

A guitar comes in and starts jumping all over the track. Not high and trebly like on the metal cuts.

And then the guy starts picking faster, you’re digging it, but believing it’s going to fade out.

But it doesn’t.

The guy starts wailing.

And you’re waiting for the vocal to come back in, since there’s no fade-out in evidence.

But the cut gets quiet at 4:24 and then there’s an explosion of guitar, and then it’s intense and they’re picking at ten, it’s like an Outlaws track, “Green Grass And High Tides.”

And then it ends.

WHAT WAS THAT?

So I play it again.

And I’ve got that quiet, intimate picking… Is this really the same record?

And then there’s that change, and I’m fully hooked.

And then there’s that guitar wailing and when it ends I’ve got to hear it again and again and AGAIN!

I’m thinking this is closer to the Allman Brothers than country. It hearkens back to the seventies, when the guitar was king. And the guitar hasn’t been king for so long.

But we baby boomers, we remember.

We went to Manny’s, Sam Ash, we lusted after Fenders, we bought amps, we needed to replicate this sound. Hell, scratch a boomer and you’ll find out he’s got a rig in the garage and he practices and he’s got a pickup band and now that his kids are out of the house it’s what he LIVES FOR!

But these people don’t play new music, they just spin the oldies. The classics.

And I’m thinking if only they heard this…

And you should hear this Brothers Osborne track “Stay A Little Longer.”

There’s a demo on Spotify, I’ll include it in the playlist, it’s the same song but not the same record, it doesn’t have the same magic.

That intro picking, that hooks you immediately…it’s absent.

The change works, but despite having wailing at the end, absent the production the demo doesn’t succeed.

And let me reinforce, that wailing at the end of the single, produced version is not show-offy, it’s restrained, which is why you enjoy it so much.

So, even if you think you hate country, if you can appreciate a good guitar solo…

You’ve got to listen to this.

Hang in there. Be sure to ride past the 2:30 mark.

So far, this is not burning up the chart, it’s got some action, but it looks like it’s gonna stall.

Then again, all the legendary tracks from way back when were not hits, they were not made for the chart, but for the listener, who appreciated them. Hell, ” Fillmore East” broke the Allmans, but they didn’t have a hit until AFTER!

So, check this out.

Rhinofy-Stay A Little Longer