It’s Like The News

People hate hip-hop like they hate Fox News.

We’re used to a monoculture in music, a cohesiveness, a comprehensible landscape.

But that’s all been shot to hell.

But the usual suspects act like it hasn’t.

Radio is the land of hip-hop and oldies, along with verticals that seem to exist in their own rarefied air, like AAA and Active Rock.

Streaming is the land of hip-hop.

Country is still beholden to the old terrestrial radio paradigm.

Meanwhile, they keep printing a Top Ten in the newspaper like it matters. Meanwhile, that Top Ten is totally fraudulent. It’s not sales, but a hybrid of sales and streams and certain plays count and others don’t and one cut can equal a whole album and no wonder people are confused.

We keep thinking we’re gonna go back to where we once were.

Hell, there is an iTunes chart. A Spotify chart.

But they don’t reflect what is really happening out there.

Hell, I’ll argue you’re better off looking at concert grosses. That shows true demand, people showing up and paying, fans.

But the point is now, more than ever, the genres don’t mix.

Sure, they rap in country records, but they don’t play hip-hop records on country stations.

But just to complicate it a bit more, fans of country might also like hip-hop. With everything available, people can cross genres easily.

But we keep boiling it down to statistics and it looks like hip-hop kills everything else and everything else is irrelevant.

But that’s not true.

But if you’re looking for your genre to eclipse hip-hop, it’s probably not gonna happen, but you have to play on hip-hop’s terms, which means there must be collaboration, which pays dividends in social media, getting the word out, and you must embrace all the tools of the web/app/internet world.

This is what is holding the other genres back.

Don’t listen to the terrestrial radio hype. Yes, it’s still the best way to reach the most people, the only problem is the active people, i.e. the youngsters, aren’t listening, they’re all on on demand platforms.

You play for the future, not the past. You skate where the puck is going to be.

And that’s all in on demand.

But how do you create demand?

YOU GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE!

And most people are online constantly, and if you’re not, you’re toast.

So you shouldn’t compare yourself to other genres. You shouldn’t complain you’re not on Top Forty radio. Top Forty radio is NEVER going to play your non-hip-hop music. Playlists are getting narrower, not broader, and they’re never going to go broad again.

But let’s get back to the hate.

Most people over thirty can’t understand today’s music marketplace.

And honestly, those under that age are not so smart either.

You keep hearing about these records you hate. It agitates you. You want relief.

But it’s just like people watching Fox News. They don’t care about you, they’ve got blinders on, this is all they know. And you can rail about other bands or other songs and they just won’t listen. Meanwhile, you’re wondering how we can live in such a world.

It’s positively Tower of Babel.

But it’s only a zero sum game on the chart.

But not in real life. If people come to see your act, it’s not at the cost of the act in another genre.

No one is making sense of what is going on.

The labels only sign that which is percolating and sells. Never have they been more of an enterprise as opposed to a museum.

The distributors say it’s not their fault, Spotify and Apple and Amazon are just serving demand, they’re not trying to change public consciousness.

Meanwhile, you have trouble finding the music you like amongst the dross.

So feel free to hate hip-hop, many people do.

But don’t bother going on about it, build your genre up, testify, spread the word, and embrace new marketing and distribution tools.

If anybody tells you they know what’s going on in music, don’t listen to them, because NOBODY KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON! At most, people only know the facts in their own genre.

But you can make news and have success in yours.

As long as you stop complaining about theirs.

P.S. My inbox is gonna fill up with people castigating MSNBC and lauding Fox News, but that’s just the point. This war between believers is fruitless. But thank god music is not quantifiable, not based on facts. You can love what you love and be proud of it, YOU SHOULD!

Music Media Summit Update

I lied.

It’s not gonna be at the Four Seasons.

The reason you haven’t heard from me about the conference is because…the Four Seasons is closed because of the floods, they said they were going to reopen on April 1st, then they were noncommittal and now say they won’t be reopening until June 1st. So, if you were just gonna attend for a cheap stay at the resort, you’re out of luck.

But the conference is still happening!

We scrambled and we just signed a deal with last year’s hotel, the Kimpton Canary, so we’re on!

So, what is it you’re signing up for?

Essentially the live podcast experience. Since I last weighed in on this, and told you Troy Carter would be interviewed, we’ve booked Rob Glaser and Daniel Glass.

Rob Glaser began at Microsoft and then started RealNetworks. Hell, he’s even a board member at the PBA, the Professional Bowlers Association, for those who remember their addiction to the oiled lanes and their pursuit of a perfect game.

Also, I’ll be interviewing Daniel Glass, of Glassnote Records. Who has built not only Mumford & Sons and Phoenix into household names, but also Childish Gambino and now Jade Bird.

So you’ll get a chance to interact with the speakers. You’ll hear their stories, how they made it. And you’ll also get a chance to hang with like-minded people and have fun. And fun is the one thing that money can’t buy, but the truth is you can put yourself in a situation to obtain it!

So, the dates are April 29-May 2nd. You arrive on the 29th, you leave on the 2nd.

You should come.

Music Media Summit

P.S. If you have questions on content, e-mail me, if you have questions on logistics, e-mail Jim Lewi at: jim@liveworksevents.com

The Flying Tomato-Spoiler Alert!

“The thrill of victory…
The agony of defeat.”

That’s what we heard every Saturday afternoon, when Jim McKay took the mic for ninety minutes as ABC traveled the globe bringing us back footage of events both noteworthy and curious on “Wide World of Sports.”

We looked forward to it. We knew the record for jumping barrels at Grossinger’s. We watched antique timing in faraway cities.

And we dreamed.

Life is about dreaming. When your fantasies are gone, you’re done. You’re always dreaming of a rainbow, of a valley over the mountain, of a better place, it keeps you going. And on the journey there are unexpected highs.

Like watching the Olympics in South Korea.

I’m a Winter Olympics guy. I’m a snow sports guy. I grew up on the east coast when there were no track and field clubs, no swimming teams with 6 AM practices, none of the start ’em before consciousness and groom ’em for greatness. We were just kinda normal. We went to school, we changed into our dungarees after class and played in the park. We were exposed to greatness on television, but it was far from our everyday experience.

Then came the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. We did not know they were a charmed event never to be repeated, all athletes in one small area for a week. The destination was perfect, all snowy and alpine, and the last time I checked the United States victory over Russia’s hockey team was still on the scoreboard in the ice arena.

But that was decades ago.

Now Americans are good skiers.

Now athletes are jocks.

Now they’ve modernized the events to appeal to the younger generation.

But it’s the oldsters who are watching.

And they don’t exactly know why. It’s tradition. It’s a way to connect. It roots you to who you once were.

Now for a moment there, live events were all about tweeting. About broadcasting your opinion to the masses. But the great communications revolution is not Instagram, not influencers on YouTube, but one on one connections, when your phone lights up with an iMessage or text illustrating that your relation miles away is doing the exact same thing you are.

Watching.

My little sister in Minneapolis was waiting for the slalom to begin.

Mikaela Shiffrin is not that lovable. Certainly less than the oft-injured Lindsey Vonn. You see she’s a machine. And sports used to be for everyman. Before you had to exclude other activities and spend hours in the gym. I’m into dominance, I’m into success, but when you give up a powder day to run gates, what are you gonna do with the rest of your life?

Have fun, like Shaun White.

Sports are most interesting when they’re created on the fly, before the codification, before the rigidity. When like-minded acolytes are developing the rules.

Shaun White was at the tail end of that, the grommet who grew.

And then he became an American story. He failed, he played music, he lost his muse.

And now he was ready for his big comeback.

In the semis he performed.

He excelled in the first of three final runs.

And then the Japanese competitor from Breckenridge pulled ahead.

And this is where the humanity comes in. The Flying Tomato psyched himself up for his next run and…failed.

We’ve all been there, behind the 8 ball, how do you rise to the occasion?

Most choke. Some exit all together. But it’s the nature of life, you’ve got to stand up and compete, or lose.

And it’s easier to lose than win.

But winning moves you further down the game board of life, where your fantasies lie.

And this is not digital, this is not ones and zeros. There’s no help, no cheating, just you and the elements. Could he do it?

I wasn’t sure.

It’s easier to lead than to come back, especially at this elite level.

He failed in his second attempt.

And now it was down to his final chance.

It was the driver’s test. It was the SATs. It was the bar exam. But it only comes every four years and you age out. Imagine the pressure!

But losing is no big deal. After all, White is already rich, already famous, his life is set, he’s got his gold medal, but…

The line between victory and defeat is a razor’s edge, in a moment you can lose it, how do you ride the serpent?

Now many people go into the arts to avoid sports, they don’t like the competition, they’re more into exploration.

But the truth is we’ve all got to deliver, we’ve all got to serve somebody, we’ve all got to answer to ourselves.

So Shaun White threw down.

It’s meaningless. A sporting competition. Not involving nuclear weapons or diplomacy, not about hunger or health. Still, all our little lives are important to us. These moments, these hills climbed, change the course of our existence.

So, Shaun White does his best and then…

Waits.

Credit NBC, they didn’t repeat his run, they just lingered on White, as he stood there anxiously, both elated and worried. He knew he threw down a good one, was it good enough?

And when it turned out it was…

He exulted.

He slapped hands.

And then he cried.

Big boys do cry. But too many big boys hold it inside, are controlled, refuse to let their real feelings out. They’re compromised.

Which is why we look to sports for our better selves, to be instructed.

The failure in Sochi, the accident Down Under, all the practicing…

It came down to one run. A gauntlet. A superpipe. His destiny.

So we feel good for Shaun White. And we feel good for America. In one run he eclipsed all the b.s. in Washington, all the hate, all the division… He draped the flag on his back and then it slid to the snow. Was this offensive? Is this what we’re discussing? It’s not about the country but humanity, about people. And those in power have forgotten how to live, or at least how we live.

Most of what we do no one is paying attention to. We roll the dice and move our pieces down the board. We take risks, we look for instruction but there are false gods everywhere, telling us they know and we should follow them. It’s hard to hew to your own line, hard to keep your eye on the prize.

And then you see someone do it and EUREKA! The clouds part and the sun is bright and you can see the path, you know where you’re going, you believe you can get there, you don’t care if anybody’s paying attention, you’re doing it for yourself.

That’s when you smile inside.

When you feel part of a community, when you gain inspiration from the trials and tribulations and triumphs of another human being.

When you see Shaun White win the gold medal at the Olympics.

Jim Guerinot-This Week’s Podcast

He made me feel inadequate.

You think you want to go down one path, then you find out you’re unsuited for it. Even worse, you age and discover that your heart’s desire is not. I remember wanting to be an agent, at this late date the idea of negotiating for a living is anathema to me, but what did I know then?

Bupkes.

Anyway, Guerinot grows up in Rochester and moves to Orange County, the home of his beloved Lakers, and finds his way in the music business because he’s a self-starter. He books gigs at school, then takes over a club, then works for a promoter and goes on to an even bigger one. There’s a great story of sitting on Brian Murphy’s couch while the promoter calls Cynthia Fox, the legendary KMET deejay, about upcoming Springsteen shows at the Coliseum. What we want is access and to feel like an insider. Guerinot achieves both.

But when he feels he’s getting a raw deal at Avalon he moves on to Universal and doesn’t like it there and ends up at A&M. Geiger hips him to gigs, it’s all about your network, but it’s also about being hungry and taking advantage of opportunities.

Which Guerinot does.

Which makes me feel inadequate. I’m more cerebral, I’m more reticent, I’m so busy weighing the options that I don’t take advantage.

And for those out of the loop, Jim ends up managing not only Social Distortion, but the Offspring and Nine Inch Nails and No Doubt and he even has a record label with total control under Clive Davis!

And now he’s excited about teaching.

You’ll get it all here.

Listen for the story.

But also ask yourself if you can be Jim. If you could make the same choices and create the same opportunities.

If not, maybe you should forge your own path.

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