Data Kills Tidal

“The numbers don’t lie: Jay-Z’s Tidal music service is already a spectacular flop”

Live by the data, die by the data.

In other words, Jay Z’s not so smart. He may have been able to extract cash from Samsung, but he’s living in the last decade, if not the last century.

You remember the 1990’s, don’t you? When the music business was controlled by labels and you couldn’t play without radio, money and MTV, when acts were invulnerable and there was a clear distinction between them and us.

No more.

Once again, Guy Oseary screws up. I wonder if anybody at Artist Nation has a clue. Bring back Paul McGuinness. There were never these missteps when he was involved. He knew it was about hustle more than the big idea. I say dissolve the organization and make these managers sink or float on their own, because they’ve positively lost track, if they were ever on it at all.

The days of hype are through. You can throw it against the wall, but it’s never gonna stick. It only sticks through hard work, a ground effort wherein you bond with your fans in mutual respect as opposed to bitching that you’re poor and you’re gonna save the music business when all you’re really interested in is saving yourself.

When you read the above article, you’ll learn that the Tidal app fell out of the top 700 on the download chart. If you had a number that low on SoundScan, you’d be selling enough copies of your LP to keep you in Coke. And I mean the drink, not the drug. Today opinions don’t matter, facts do. And the fact is the public is not embracing Tidal. Jay Z’s army is composed of those on stage with him, there are limits to his power, despite a fawning press eating up all his prognostications. As for the brain dead “artists” in business with him, their image has taken a hit. Whereas Marcus Mumford looks good by pooh-poohing the moribund music service:

“Mumford & Sons Diss Jay Z’s Tidal”

We’re at an inflection point. Where you have to decide if you’re a musician, or a business…man.

Turns out musicians have to love the music. Have to do it for the experience, not the cash. Because they just can’t make as much as their heroes, the corporate fat cats who rain down a couple of dollars in sponsorship money now and again. The artists’ power is in their believability, their credibility, pop may be heading for the cash register, but now is the time for real artists to grab the reins and head off into the stratosphere with their fanbase intact.

You know your fanbase… The people who go to your shows, who stream your music, who follow you online.

That’s all that matters when we discuss winners and losers, the data. Don’t complain about your Spotify payouts, trumpet how many people have actually listened to your music. Enough do and you’ll have a career. You’ll have enough dough to eat, sleep and drink. And if you’re looking for more, you’re in the wrong business. The Beatles didn’t get into it to be rich, the English musicians who created classic rock were just desirous of avoiding a life of drudgery in the factory. Stop complaining that someone stole your income and start creating. When did the United States become a nation of whiners? Bitching that someone not only moved their cheese, but stole it too. Music burgeoned when we were all in it together, an alternative to the crass corporations, the establishment, the man. Now Jay Z is the man, and that’s not very appealing to the populace.

Nor is the prospect of viewing exclusive content behind a paywall. When you’re used to seeing it for free on YouTube. You mean I pay a hundred bucks for a lousy ticket in the back and you’ve got to dun me for more? I’m struggling too!

And you’ve got to struggle to make it. You don’t get a million YouTube views overnight. You’ve got to find your groove, flesh out your act, maybe music is not your metier.

But once you’ve broken through you cannot break the bond with those who put you there. And the bond is not with the press, but the paying audience. We can see the smoke behind the mirrors, and we can see whether you’re real or not.

And Tidal is not real.

What if you gave a press conference and the press gave you a pass, doing no analysis, and the public rejected your offering?

Then you’d be living in the modern world where the media is in bed with politicians, corporations and the famous and the public is alienated.

Once upon a time, the public relied on the artists to salve their wounds, to point the way. Now they rely on each other.

That’s right, it’s more entertaining to correspond on Snapchat or Instagram than to listen to the words of blowhards. And even if we’re talking about you, you may not know we’re laughing behind your back.

No one wanted to do the hard work at Tidal, no one wanted to do the heavy lifting.

Spotify was in the States for three plus years before Taylor Swift blinked, before most people even knew what it was. But Tidal thinks it can jump-start success?

Apple’s got a head start because it’s got a platform already, that people are visiting, and it’s got everybody’s credit card number. That’s the heavy lifting.

Spotify is trying to convince people to pay for music.


Saving the pocketbooks of the artists. Who cares about that.

Fans are already giving artists tons of money. What is up with the wealth transfer? It’s no wonder the public rejected Tidal. Just like they reject everybody who talks down to them. Can you hear me Mitt Romney, chiding the 47%?

It’s a new world baby. To last you need a foundation. And that foundation is quantifiable. Either you’re gaining streams and views and fans or you’re not. And if you’re not, it’s your fault. You don’t make mainstream music. That’s cool. BUT YOU DON’T GET TO BITCH THAT YOU CAN’T GET PAID!

And if you’re lucky enough to have made it, know that your artistic capital is not forever. You’ve got to think about your audience first. Instead of ripping people off, figure out a way to get the true fans in the good seats. A fan will pay for decades, and without fans you’re nothing.

So the curtain has been pulled back.

And what we’ve found out is the music business is populated by greedy artists and business people who care not a whit about those propping up their culture.

Yes, Guy Oseary can get Apple to push U2’s new album to everybody, but he can’t even get the band to sell out arenas:

“Can U2 Reach Me Now? Ticket Sales, Radio Airplay Down In U.S.”

And sure, not many tickets are left. But this story broke because the data’s freely available, you can search Ticketmaster and StubHub and LivingSocial. We know what’s hot.

And you know what isn’t?


Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees

How did we get here? Where the only people who seem to care are those desirous of getting third-rate talent inducted and the old men who are on the nominating committee?

Once upon a time rock and roll ruled the world. They said it would never die.

But it did.

The problem with rock is innovation has stopped. There are some good bands, but they barely test the limits, stretch the dynamics, of those who’ve come before. It’s endless repeats of an old formula. And if you think that’s interesting, you’re probably addicted to your Nintendo 64.

Whereas music has twisted and turned, completely mutated since the core members were inducted.

Now the R&RHOF is all politics. Getting people in. And if you think Ringo Starr deserves to be in as a solo act, you’ve never heard Yes. “Roundabout” means more than all of Ringo’s solo hits combined. But for some reason, prog rock is sorely underrepresented in the R&RHOF.

We’ve all got deserving admittees who are not.

But we’ve given up hope. When KISS and Rush are in before Steve Miller and Kraftwerk, never mind Deep Purple, those who truly care throw their hands in the air and ignore the whole process. They know it’s flawed. That it’s not about artistry, but connections.

And the R&RHOF lumbers on ignorant of the country’s feelings. Making the ceremony bigger, including youngsters for the telecast the same way the Grammys include TV stars. This has got nothing to do with rock and roll.

Once again, rock is dead.

It was killed by greed. Michael Jackson put a stake in its heart with “Thriller.” And everything good dies out. Or how did Billy Joel put it, “only the good die young”?

So close the doors. Throw away the key. The Museum of Modern Art doesn’t include antiquities to broaden its appeal.

Let them have a Hip-Hop Hall Of Fame.

And if we’re lucky, an EDM HOF right next to it.

And while you’re at it, include a POP HOF. With a special one hit wonders exhibit that will draw throngs.

Just like Jann Wenner screwed up his magazine by shrinking its size and then publishing the unsubstantiated UVA rape story, he’s ruined the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Through myopia, by wielding tight-fisted control, by being so inside the bubble as to not know what’s going on.

The R&RHOF is the kind of institution people would rather not be a member of. Madonna’s got nothing to do with rock and some inductees are so far from luminaries, it’s laughable.

Rock ruled the baby boomers.

And since the baby boomers have political power and money, they think they can foist their viewpoint upon the country and it will stick. Just like the Koch Brothers believe by spending enough money they can control the narrative, never mind Congress.

Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

See that the biggest venue in America is the smartphone. And its stars are Snapchat and Facebook and they’re all about getting people to connect and communicate. It’s no longer about top down, but bottom up. The public rules. To see young and old farts blowing smoke at the R&RHOF ceremony is to witness something irrelevant, assuming we’re paying attention at all.

Rhinofy-Anything Goes

The big hit was “I’m No Angel.”

That’s right, Gregg Allman was free of Phil Walden and Capricorn. He signed a deal with Epic and lo and behold, nearly a decade after his last solo work, when MTV ruled and it looked like the game had totally changed, he broke through once again.

Not that the “I’m No Angel” album wasn’t slick, wasn’t different from what came before. But for those who never gave up hope, the album delivered. It was far from a sell-out, we were eager to BUY IN!

I bought it upon release, because I’m a believer.

And the track that resonated, that I could not stop playing, was “Anything Goes.”

So a couple of years later, the Allmans have reformed and my friend Steve Massarsky, who rescued Dickey Betts from bad deals, invited me to the show at the Greek.

And I’m hanging with the band, trying to work up my nerve to talk to Gregg. This was back before I could miss an opportunity, back before I figured it best to respect their privacy, unless someone introduced me and they knew who I was.

But I sidled up to Gregg. And I’m in his shadow, he’s quite a tall dude. And being the fan I am, I tell him I love “Anything Goes.” I don’t want to testify about everybody’s cut, but mine. I tell Gregg I love it at the end, after the break, when Gregg yells ANYTHING GOES!

And Gregg leans down and tells me…

“I can’t hit that note every night.”

Now you’ve got to imagine this. I’ve caught his attention. Gregg’s towering above me in his Cuban heels. He starts to whisper in my ear. It’s very intimate. Like we’re old buddies sharing a story.

And the story is…

He can’t hit that note every night. But sometimes he’s sitting on the organ bench and as he reaches over to play a note his nut gets caught under his leg and he yells ANYTHING GOES!

That’s it. Albeit a ten second version of a two minute story. I mean I figure Gregg’s going to reveal a musical moment, something deep only a musician can fully understand, he’s going to drop some wisdom on me.

But then he finishes telling this over the line story and he pulls back his head and looks me straight in the eye. Was he trying to freak me out, push me away, or be a brother? I still don’t know.

But one thing’s for sure, I was out of my league. Not only was Gregg Allman a rock star who’d slept with seemingly anybody he wanted, made millions and done enough dope to kill people, he was COOL! And I wasn’t and am never gonna be.

What happens now nobody knows
Anything goes
Anything goes
Anything goes

That’s the privilege of being a rock star. Anything goes. The limits and boundaries that the rest of us respect and adhere to don’t apply. That’s why we wanted to get closer, that’s why we went to the show. They had charisma, and they knew how to play and write. And they did it themselves. Their truth was in their material.

And the truth is “Anything Goes” is a magical track. It still works. Check it out. And at 3:20, as Gregg yells ANYTHING GOES know that he believes it, that’s his philosophy. At least when he’s around ME!

Rhinofy-Anything Goes

Google Antitrust Case

It’s the beginning of the end. Once someone starts investigating you for the sins of the past, your future is screwed.

Google is in trouble. Because tech is like music, it’s all what have you done for me lately. Only in tech, you can’t tour profitably on your hits of yesteryear, you can’t tour at all, old products go straight into the landfill. And Google dominated in the past and in the future it’s got question marks. That’s right, we live in a mobile world, it will become even more obvious within the next three to four years. You’ll be carrying around a giant handset and your desktop will be gathering dust. In developing countries people don’t even have desktop computers. And Google’s money machine depends on desktop search, it doesn’t work on mobile, on mobile the app rules, Facebook is the king of mobile search, that’s why their stock is going up.

Google got greedy. That’s what’s wrong with American corporations. The American ethos is to make it to the top and then illegally keep others from challenging you. Well, illegally in the eyes of the European Commission, these companies usually get a pass in the U.S. But not Microsoft. And Microsoft has never recovered from its antitrust entanglements. Who cares about Explorer, Microsoft lost out on mobile, and we’ve already established mobile is everything. Hell, Microsoft now has to give away its cash cow Office for free on mobile, in the hopes of maintaining market share!

So Google isn’t content with all that AdWords money. It’s got to mess with the results themselves, direct people to its own shopping site. And the end user may not care, may not even be aware, but competitors are livid. If your wares don’t appear in the results, they might as well not appear at all.

And this is why the European Commission is coming down on Google. Google’s response? THEY DON’T DENY IT! They just say that other sites are available and have made inroads, like Expedia and eBay. And that’s utterly hilarious. That’s the modern era, admit fault but accept no blame.

And now Google is caught up in this rearguard skirmish that is preventing them from moving forward into mobile.

But mobile is next. The European Commission is investigating Android, to see if licensees are forced to install Google apps.

In other words, there’s no free lunch.

Facebook makes you cough up your data. And Google may allow you to use the Android OS, but they want all the profits. That’s why Samsung went into the dumper, it just can’t make any money! And low cost competitors are eating the underside of the market. The only one profiting is Google.

And Apple. Which lives in a walled garden.

But Apple got caught in the antitrust crosshairs. With the iBooks Store. Ever notice that the company has never recovered from this? Has never become a force in digital books? While Apple was fighting the government, Amazon created apps that allowed you to read Kindle books on your iPad and iPhone. Apple will never be able to gain significant ground. It may not have had the skills to begin with, but the antitrust case was a drag on their innovation and execution.

So what have we learned?

That corporations are not your friend. There’s this fiction in America that the way you get ahead as an artist is to throw in with the behemoth company. But the truth is your interests don’t align. And if you think the money is free, you don’t know that the corporation knows business better than you ever will and whatever they give you is a drop in the bucket to them.

And the average person on the street… He or she believes in the corporation because the artist has forfeited credibility by chasing the dollar, not realizing there’s no way in hell the artist can make as much money as the businessman. And the public lacks the knowledge and powers of analysis that will illuminate the ways the corporation is using them to their disadvantage. So we rely on the government to protect us. But “government” is a bad word in the United States, the lackeys of the corporations have branded it so. As a result, most corporate behavior proceeds unchecked, no matter how nefarious.

But not in Europe.

America is not number one. Not in quality of life or social mobility. It’s a fiction we tell ourselves to work harder to grab that elusive brass ring. The American Dream is just that, a fantasy that never comes true. Sure, a few people win, but this is akin to the lottery, which is truly just a tax on the poor.

We can’t handle the truth. That those with money and its attendant power abuse that power. It’s the story of energy, it’s the story of tech.

But tech is fast-moving, as stated above. Which means that Google might not be a household word five years from now. That it might join the scrapheap along with DEC, Compaq and Sun, all of which were purchased and subsumed into ever larger corporations, never mind the enterprises that failed.

So which side are you on? Are you a tool of the man or an independent thinker standing up for what’s right?

What we’ve got in music is tools. Isn’t that the story of ticketing? How the public just can’t get a good one? Because of pre-sales and holdbacks and so many shenanigans that prevent you from paying face price and sitting in a decent seat.

Expand that concept and you get big business. The subterfuge, the power games…

I wish there was someone to believe in.

But I guess John Lennon had it right, you can only believe in yourself.