Niall Horan At The Palladium

Richard told me it was an UNDERPLAY!

I sauntered into the Palladium expecting attendance to be sparse and the people who were there to be kids. But the place was packed and those in attendance were way past puberty, not that there was not screaming involved, but average age was 19 or 20, what was happening here, weren’t teen phenoms supposed to be time-stamped, to have their era and then be done, like the Cassidy brothers, Bobby Sherman and New Kids On The Block?

But no, Niall Horan has a #2 record, soon to be #1, how did this happen?

The audience is in control. That’s what Barnett told me. Used to be radio was the arbiter. But now the public gets a voice. Turns out they’re still into 1D. And those streaming numbers force the hand of radio and other old line gatekeepers.

Not that the starmaker machinery is not involved.

That’s what people don’t buy, the same ones paying attention to the press and the scuttlebutt. Saying major labels are over, you can make it on your own and streaming is the devil. Did you read today’s RIAA report? Revenue is up 17%! A far cry from the last decade when it was all doom and gloom, and paid on demand streaming is 43% of the total, far outnumbering downloads and physical.

The future’s so bright you gotta wear shades.

So Richard and Harry allowed Niall to make the record he wanted to. Which is a backlash against the overbearing label shenanigans the Mottola era inaugurated, never mind the reign of Clive Davis. The team was established and the record was recorded but they did argue about the single, which took 17 mixes to get right, because today it is all about the single, and if it’s not right you’re screwed.

And then Niall went around the world twice promoting himself and his new music. They told me he was good at it, remembered names, and I took this with a grain of salt until I was on the stairs after the show and he said “Hi Bob.” Hell, there are musicians I’ve known for decades who make like they don’t know me, ones I’ve written superlative stuff about, but this guy I met in passing as part of a group remembers me? I didn’t believe it. I thought he was prompted. But no, Niall just told me Richard had mentioned that I was gonna be there last night.


People want to work with nice people. Talent isn’t enough.

And you work harder than a financial wizard, with a hell of a lot more jet lag. Niall shrugged when I queried whether he was burned out, he said he’d been around the globe seven times so far, hell, he just celebrated his 24th birthday in Japan! Staying up all night drinking until the English football came on.

When he’s not playing golf, that’s how he blows off steam. When he’s unavailable on the links.

And the label meshed with management and worked radio and the usual suspects, it’s a juggernaut, I tell you!

And now is where you pooh-pooh the whole damn thing, saying the music sucks, but the truth is Niall’s solo work is closer to Neil Young than Nas, and it ain’t just kiddie ditties, it’s more…rock and roll. With melody.

Yup, young people are gonna save this world. Everything old is new again. Niall loves the Eagles, and you may hate them, but the Eagles had superb songwriting skills, with melodies and choruses, and so does Niall. Not making a direct comparison, it’s just that what goes for rock today is oftentimes too self-referential, such a reaction to what once was that you can’t understand it unless you’re deep in the rabbit hole. Put on Niall’s new album at a dinner party and everybody will enjoy it. Songs with meaning you can sing along with, what a concept!

And right now Spotify is dominated by hip-hop. Because those were the early adopters. And as you can see the joke is on the pooh-poohers, because it’s streaming that’s driving revenue. Will other genres make an impact?

That’s an interesting question.

Hip-hop has culture, never underestimate the story.

But Niall has 1D story.

And those fans know every word and sing along.

And come in droves.

There’ll be a shed tour next year, but demand far outstrips that. But if you want credibility, you’ve got to act in a credible way.

Think about this, as you were glued to the past streaming won.

Now, youngsters not burdened by your baggage are gonna reinvent the business with the building blocks of your youth and succeed.

What’s the problem?


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