We’re waiting for the older generation to die.
The most insightful thing I’ve heard this year emanated from the lips of Irving Azoff, he said Lucian Grainge thought his competition was Doug Morris.
Do you see what happened here?
Doug got eased out of Universal because he was too old. So he’s on this vendetta to prove Vivendi wrong. And Lucian needs to win against Doug, so he does insane things, like overpay for EMI. Hell, even Sony didn’t swallow EMI’s publishing division whole, it brought in outside investors to help carry the weight. Meanwhile, stuck with a pig in a poke, he now owns EMI’s recorded music division, he can’t return it to Citi, Lucian’s paying a fortune in legal fees in order to absorb said company as opposed to selling it.
Is this any way to run a business?
Meanwhile, you’ve got other old farts married to radio, albums, all the relics of the seventies. It’s as if Steve Jobs came back from the dead and tried to convince everybody to use an Apple II, saying life was simpler back then, we were all on the same page, there was less competition, things were good.
But Steve Jobs is dead.
And some day the old farts running the music business will be too.
Last night I went to a dinner at Cecconi’s. You know, the hipster restaurant where Morton’s used to be. One Direction was eating in the corner, or so I was told, but we were ensconced in the private room, fourteen people, half from music, half from tech.
I was the oldest one there.
Most people my age don’t have the time. Somewhere in your fifties, it becomes all about lifestyle. Eating, playing golf, your kids have left the nest… Whereas those younger than that are hungry, they’re still on the way up.
These people were hungry.
And I’d like to tell you the music people were ignorant, backward, out of touch… But they were not. Actually, they were more in touch than the tech people, who seemingly only wanted to build something, flip it and get rich.
That’s the difference between music and tech. Music, when done right, is forever. I.e. the Beatles, the Stones, all the classic rock acts, not to mention Sinatra. Tech, no matter how well it’s done, is destined for the scrapheap. Whether it be UNIVAC or Palm. Its time in the sun is very brief. And the tech people want to use our music to make their money, not worrying about hurting that which should last forever.
And the people in the room felt music should last forever. Ironically, it’s the old farts who don’t feel this way. Because they need to get paid.
There can’t be long term thinking in the music business, because the old farts need to get paid. None of them own their companies. All of them have contracts, with bonus provisions, which they plan on getting, by hook or by crook. They don’t care about what’s good for the company, never mind the music, they only care about what’s good for themselves. That’s why there’s so little progress.
And the tech guys say give us your music, we’ll give you equity. One of these enterprises has to hit…
And the label people say they can’t give them the music even if they wanted to. Because oftentimes the artists say no. And some of the biggest artists aren’t even about the money. It was remarked that Madonna is in a pissing match with Lady Gaga, she’s got to prove that she’s the progenitor, that she’s still bigger, money is almost irrelevant.
And the television agent said despite being a music fan, he wanted no part of the business. Because there was no business. Same as it is in movies.
That was fascinating. I always like to explore someone’s success. How did this TV agent like saying no?
That was no problem. Because when you say no in TV, there’s always another opportunity, there’s always another season, outlets that need more programming. Say no in movies and your career may be over.
And the lawyer in the room said her clients were all about giving away the music. And she represented household name acts. It was the labels who stood in the way.
And the end result was I see no movement.
But I foresee giant change within the decade.
Because the old farts are gonna die.
We’re no longer gonna debate the merit of CDs. Or radio. The target demo will have grown up without CDs and they’ve never experienced great radio, to the degree they’re even listening. And this generation will only be interested in hits. Why should there be an album? I just want the single.
Everything the old people take for granted, that’s in their DNA… The younger generation doesn’t believe in, they don’t even care about. And they’re here to replace us.
Castigating P2P is like trying to deny someone’s summer camp experience. Yes, Napster burgeoned in 2000. If you were computer-savvy then, let’s say you were nine, you’re now twenty one. All you know is P2P and files.
Meanwhile, I know a famous manager who still doesn’t use a computer, to this day!
We’re in an era of gridlock. And what the last decade has taught us is to follow the audience. They’re leading. While we’re bickering about rights and the way it ought to be, they’re utilizing the new platforms and programs to slice and dice and acquire just what they want to. We don’t need to teach them, we need to follow them. Better yet, get in front of them.
But the old farts keep yelling for them to come back. It’s kind of like herding cats. Impossible. But they keep trying.