Aspen-What’s Happened So Far

ANDY

Andy got hurt. Badly.

It was the last run, but it’s always the last run when you get hurt, right?

We were skiing Spar Gulch, which once upon a time was literally a “V,” but they flattened it out a few decades back and there was a bunch of sun and I’m skiing along and I start to hear yelling and I stop and turn around and see Andy face down in the snow. I thought he was dead. Truly.

Then he suddenly rolled over once, and then played dead again.

I was scared.

So I climbed up and Amy skied down and Andy’s glasses were broken and he wasn’t fully coherent, but he said he’d just had the wind knocked out of him and he’d be fine to ski down.

But then the ski patrol came along and Andy couldn’t sit up straight and he started moaning and groaning and they gave him oxygen and took him down to the ambulance…

He has a partially collapsed lung. A fractured scapula. Five broken ribs. And some brain trauma, i.e. a concussion.

His spirits are good, he’s cracking jokes, and they said he’d be back on snow in 8-10 weeks, but what freaked me out most, other than the injury itself, was how you can be completely normal one moment and in an instant disaster strikes and you’re not.

It appears that he was fearful of colliding with Amy. So he either skied over the back of her skis or he didn’t. Either he crossed his tips or he didn’t. There’s a huge gash in his K2, down to the core, but no one knows exactly what happened. A bystander said Andy fell on his head. Andy said he did not.

Life is risky. Live it to the fullest.

And I only hope when my time comes I can be as upbeat as Andy Somers.

PETER MENSCH

A tour-de-force. Put a dime in the jukebox and Peter Mensch tells mind-boggling stories, whether it be showing up in Paris with AC/DC’s per diem not knowing that he’d already been fired or talking about A&R’ing the Stones’ “Steel Wheels” album. And having Keith tell him to tell Mick…

The music business is comprised of iconoclasts. People who are passionate about tunes and couldn’t make it anywhere else. Those who go to college and have more records than anyone else in the dorm. Who went to shows alone because no one else would.

That’s Peter Mensch’s story.

And that’s mine too.

And there was so much more. I was riveted by the tales of his growing up. Having no friends. Being traumatized by switching schools at an impressionable age. Having his sister kidnapped. Getting out of the draft after sitting on the Group W bench.

You know “Alice’s Restaurant,” don’t you?

Of course we talked the modern music business.

But even more interesting was how Peter got to where he is. Starting as a tour accountant. Sidling up to AC/DC, who were opening for Aerosmith, being told he couldn’t manage the Scorpions because he had no experience and then having their U.S. lawyer relent. Signing Def Leppard. Mutt Lange coming to his flat in London every night with just one syllable of “Pho-to-graph.”

Peter said too many one act managers don’t know touring, and therefore make all-over deals with Live Nation or AEG, he thinks you can make more on your own.

Peter said that an album has to be great. Literally. Ten or twelve solid tracks. Good is not good enough. He’s working with Matt Bellamy on the Muse album as we speak, Peter flew into Aspen from London.

And it’s all about having enough good songs that when the consumer hears the ad on the radio and snippets are played, they’re desirous of going. Put up 15-16 great tracks and you’ve truly made it and have the road business to show for it.

And radio is key, Q Prime has its own department. They oftentimes get stuff started on Sirius and then cross it over to terrestrial. It’s about hard work and…

Once upon a time everybody knew Q Prime. But today the youngsters get all the press. Should you seek out Cliff and Peter and benefit from their experience?

Yes.

SETH GOLDSTEIN

Seth used to work for Fred Wilson. The dean of New York VCs.

Then he started turntable.fm.

Now he’s got a deejay app, DJZ:

DJZ

And to hear Seth talk about Silicon Valley, the venture capital world, is to hear what got Peter Mensch and me excited about music all those decades back.

Tech is where it’s at. But investors don’t want to touch anything that requires music licenses. But if you can build it on the back of something without licenses, they’re interested.

I was excited and riveted in a way that music rarely gets me anymore.

But there’s a nexus.

TOURING

Where all the action and all the money is. The labels get the glory. The promoters get the money.

I could listen to Rick Mueller analyze the business all day long. Don Strasburg too.

Live is burgeoning. Everybody shows up at the promoter’s door, that’s where the money is.

And the show is where it’s at. People may not want to pay much for music, but they’ll overpay for a ticket to the show.

It’s very exciting.

Rhinofy-Clapton Guest Appearances

“Dirty City”
Steve Winwood

Steve can shred quite nicely thank you, as anyone who’s seen him tear apart “Dear Mr. Fantasy” recently is aware. But despite killing it live, despite putting out one of my favorite albums of the twenty first century, “About Time,” independently, doing everything right, the man was fading in impact. So, he signed with Columbia and put out the mainstream album “Nine Lives” to almost no effect in 2008. That’s right, rather than stretching out and testing limits Winwood did it their way and few cared. However, there are two killers on “Nine Lives,” the opening cut “I’m Not Drowning” and this, where Clapton positively wails.

Get ready to have your mind blown.

I’m including the long version, all 7:46 of it, be sure to stay to the very end. This is music as you remember it, everything you’re yearning for. You’ll be stunned this isn’t a well-known classic.

“They Dance Alone”
Sting

Sure, he’s made some tone-deaf statements, about tantric sex and such, but the truth is Gordon Sumner is immensely talented and “They Dance Alone” is one of the best tracks on his best solo album, “…Nothing Like The Sun.” It features not only Eric, but Mark Knopfler and Fareed Haque. You probably know it, but it sounds so good, enjoy it, you can never burn out on it.

“Go Back Home”
Stephen Stills

Of course, Jimi Hendrix was on Stills’s solo debut too. Upon release the album was castigated for its unending guest contributions, but at this distance the album is astounding. “Love The One You’re With” was the hit, but “Go Back Home” is one of the stellar moments. And Eric was on it!

“Alacatraz”
Leon Russell And The Shelter People

Leon’s initial solo, with “Delta Lady” and “Roll Away The Stone,” was his best, but this uneven LP was the one that cemented his legend, when he began his victory lap after “Mad Dogs & Englishmen.” “Alcatraz” was one of the best cuts, it finished side one.

“Beware Of Darkness”
Leon Russell And The Shelter People

Yes, from the same album. And, stunningly, Clapton appears on the original, from “All Things Must Pass.”

“Prince Of Peace”
Leon Russell

From that legendary initial solo LP referenced above. Almost completely forgotten, “Prince Of Peace” will put a smile on your face if you know it.

“Romance In Durango”
Bob Dylan

The album AFTER “Blood On The Tracks.” It got very positive reviews and a lot of ink regarding controversial tracks “Hurricane” and “Joey.” The cuts you remember are “Isis,” “Mozambique” and “One More Cup Of Coffee.” But this, with Eric, is on the album too.

“Save It For A Rainy Day”
Stephen Bishop

From before “Tootsie,” before “Animal House.” The hit was “On and On,” but this got airplay, hell, it made it all the way to #22! How Eric ended up appearing on it I don’t know! But I do know being able to sing and write used to be important. Bishop rode these skills to the top, however briefly. Technology has put them in the backseat, unfortunately.

“If Leaving Me Is Easy”
Phil Collins

From his blockbuster solo debut. Phil returned the favor by producing “Behind The Sun,” a return to form by Clapton, with the stellar “She’s Waiting” and “Forever Man.”

“The Challenge”
Christine McVie

The connection is Russ Titelman, who produced both of these artists.

“Deep In Your Heart”
Paul Brady

Legendary songwriter who never broke through big on his own. This is from Brady’s 1985 album “Back To The Centre.” Start with the Gary Katz produced “Trick Or Treat” if you want to investigate further.

“Willpower”
Jack Bruce

With his old Cream-mate. A trifle, but the elements resonate.

“Early In The Morning”
Buddy Guy

Two guitar sensations working it out.

“Runaway Train”
Elton John

From Elton’s 1992 album “The One.” This is good, but if you’re interested in comeback albums, check out Elton’s 2001 LP “Songs From The West Coast,” where he recaptured the magic and not enough people cared.

“It’s Probably Me”
Sting

The big hit off the monstrous “Ten Summoners Tales” was “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You,” when Sting seemed to be able to throw off radio-ready ditties at will. The album is near-perfect, and Eric plays on this track.

“Gonna Be Some Changes Made”
Bruce Hornsby

Not Hornsby’s best work, but “Halcyon Days” is a return to form after “Big Swing Face” and Clapton plays on its two best tracks, this, the opening cut and…

“Candy Mountain Run”
Bruce Hornsby

Infectious, great groove, it’s the best cut on “Halcyon Days” and Clapton is featured.

“Every Time I Sing The Blues”
Buddy Guy

From Guy’s 2008 album “Skin Deep.” This resonates. Check it out. You’ll dig it.

“Roll On”
J.J. Cale

Where the maestro repays the debt he owes to the man who wrote so many of his famous tracks.

Of course Clapton played on the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” but he also played on the lost Jon Astley classic, “Jane’s Getting Serious.” The above is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Clapton’s work, but it illustrates that not all of his playing was done on his own behalf.

Rhinofy-Clapton Guest Appearances

What We Learned This Year

Steve Barnett is a hero. He took Capitol from zero to the top of the heap. Shows what an individual can do.

Sound may be lame on recordings, but it’s living large at the Forum, where a dedicated music space has touring acts and SoCal fans smiling. Talk about virality.

Festivals are king. It’s still shaking out how many we need, but there will be more.

Warner Music is an enigma.

Publicity is everything. Taylor Swift proved it.

Max Martin is the biggest star in music.

“The Voice” helps the career of the coaches, but does nothing for the acts competing.

You can’t get a good ticket unless you know someone, have a credit card which is sponsoring the gig and has a presale or you pay a scalper. Income inequality lives large in the live space.

Electronic music still did not break through. The Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas was the biggest festival in the U.S. but it got a fraction of the press of Coachella and Lollapalooza. Then again, the Sahara Tent at Coachella dominates.

All the money is in the ticketing.

Streaming won, you can tell by the debate. Just like with Napster, when everybody starts talking about it, the new era is here.

YouTube may not dominate. That’s the story of the month. How competitors are trying to lock up talent. Once again, it’s all about the acts, the acts have all the power. And he who pays most wins. Google’s deals suck. Just check their ad shares. No, that’s right, you’d rather bitch about Spotify, which pays so much more.

Pop, country and everything else. That’s the landscape.

A great record transcends genres. Sam Smith sounds nothing like anything else on the radio, yet it triumphed. The public is hungry for new and different, if it’s great.

Samsung was a fad, in phones. Tim Cook knew it was all about profitability, he gets props for that. Furthermore, the iPhone 6 is a gargantuan surprise/success.

Mark Zuckerberg is more than Facebook. He’s a force to contend with. His purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram illustrate that he not busy born is busy dying.

Jeff Bezos has revolutionized the “Washington Post,” it shows what money can do. It was the “Post” that broke the UVA/”Rolling Stone”/Jackie snafu. Proving once again that well-paid professionals with experience trump amateurs every day. You can have an opinion, but without facts you’re irrelevant. Which is why TV news is dying and all the online only news outlets have high valuations but don’t move the needle.

Data is everything. Nate Silver ushered in the era. But never forget, in art data is irrelevant, it’s all about inspiration.

In an era with no credibility, the one hit wonder is king.

We live in an on demand culture. People want everything at their fingertips instantly. Which is why we’re going to day and date in movies and the concept of windowing in music is fallacious. If you won’t sell it to me right away, I’ll steal it, never forget that. Your business model is not sacred, just ask television outlets.

We live in a mobile world. Everyone’s wired and connected. Sell to the handset.

Price matters. Otherwise, everybody would not be leaving AT&T and Verizon for the inferior T-Mobile. I love John Legere, but anybody with T-Mobile is just cheap. Because you want a high speed connection everywhere, and T-Mobile does not deliver this.

Usability is everything. Instagram just trumped Twitter because it’s comprehensible. We want instant news, but we want it in a format we can understand.

It’s so hard to break through in music, that when you do you and your record last.

Art is just a pawn in the game. As illustrated by the Amazon/Hachette war. It’s the writers who suffered. However, this was a corporate battle fought in secret. We never learned what the deal points were, it’s hard to side with the old institutions that say they support the artist but really are out for themselves.

Money. Either you have it or you’re envious of those who do.

Lucian Grainge is God.

Today’s Viral Video

“Cody Townsend’s Line Of The Year”

Greetings from Aspen, Colorado, where we’re in attendance for the 19th annual AspenLive conference, wherein old buddies reconnect and we discuss the music business on the slopes because we’re incapable of talking about anything else and we cement bonds that last a lifetime.

Truly. Almost my entire social life is based upon AspenLive people.

And what do you do in Aspen?

SKI!

At least I’m hoping to. I’ve had a resurgence of ankle pain as I’ve tried to get in shape for the season. Who knew that twisting it on Labor Day weekend would continue to be a factor as the months have ensued. And I live to ski, it’s the most important thing to me. (Other than Felice!) And as the years pass and I get older and it takes longer to heal I figure I’d better get my days in. I got 48 last year, 46 the year before. That’s right, with a laptop and an iPhone I can be ANYWHERE!

And there is a nexus between being in Aspen and the subject of this missive. You see a ski video is going viral as we speak. You need to watch it, even if you don’t ski, it’ll thrill you.

I saw it yesterday. I haunt the ski sites. I was stunned that Cody Townsend could hold it together. That’s right, it’s not the speed that gets you, it’s the anxiety.

I figured no one would care but me. But today the clip is blowing up. It’s all over social media.

So, the perpetrators of this stunt won.

And you will never forget it.

And I wonder why we no longer have viral tracks in music.

Well, we have them, but they’re so few in number. The last one I remember is Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” You forwarded it to somebody and they couldn’t help but send it on themselves after being infected by the music in one listen.

Then there was that CeeLo novelty track before that.

And Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” before that.

That’s right, Taylor Swift may own the news cycle, but “Shake It Off” never went viral. You didn’t have to tell anybody about it. It was decent, right up the middle, a hit. I expect nothing less from Max Martin, but that’s the point, it was what I expected, not a surprise.

And PSY’s track was not a surprise, the video was. It’s easier to create great video than great music.

But the first time we heard the Beatles… Either you know what it was like hearing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” emanating from the tiny speaker or you were not alive and I pity you.

The labels try to manipulate virality. But it’s all in the service of money. We don’t have enough one listen tracks, stuff that makes our heads blow off, that we can’t forget.

Need another example?

“Sexual Healing.”

And it may have taken you a listen or two to embrace it, but you knew “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was different and important as soon as you heard it.

Today everybody puts money first and tells you to listen to their endless opus multiple times to get it.

I want you to hit me with your best shot. I want you to surprise me. I want you to illustrate that life is not boring, that music is not me-too, that testing limits pays dividends.

PLEASE!

P.S. Ignore the YouTube counter, this clip is on multiple sites.

P.P.S. Technology is good, without it we wouldn’t have the POV video.

P.P.P.S. Stay until the very end to hear Cody whoop and exclaim. That’s what being alive is all about. That’s what going to the show should be all about. We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.