Jason Flom-This Week’s Podcast

When Jason got booted by Lyor, I asked Roger Ames whether Flom was done.

Ames said no, that the ability to spot and sign talent was rare, and once you developed it, you never lost it.

Which is why Jason went on to sign Katy Perry at Capitol and Lorde and Greta Van Fleet at the reactivated Lava.

Jason not only signs talent, he markets it. Kid Rock was dead in the water until he took Lewis Largent out on the golf course and got him to listen to “Devil Without A Cause.” Then MTV added it, and the album went diamond. That’s ten million in sales, for those not conscious before the turn of the century.

Not that everything Jason has signed has broken, but his batting average is stratospheric, he’s a Hall of Fame hitter by music industry standards. There was Matchbox Twenty, the Corrs, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Tori Amos, Simple Plan, even Thirty Seconds To Mars, whom everybody else wanted to drop, but when Jason met with Jared and found out he was turning down acting gigs to break his band, he invested in him.

Now Jason’s father was a legendary New York attorney. But his dad came from nothing, and ended up giving money over and over again to Harvard, because its law school gave him a chance. This philanthropic gene was inherited by Jason, he puts his money and his time where his mouth is, most notably with the Innocence Project, which specializes in getting the wrongly accused out of jail. Listen to his podcast,

Wrongful Conviction,” for further details

Now unlike so many of the fat cats, Jason doesn’t lie. He’s never told me an untruth, that’s not who he is.

And he also admits what he doesn’t know. Which is stunning. You’ll bring something up and he’ll say he knows nothing about it and he’ll ask you to explain it.

I really don’t know any other music exec like Jason. Sure, he’s an imperfect human being, but we all are.

But he knows how to close, he knows how to strategize, he knows how to break.

This his story from the beginning until now. From playing in a band in high school, from taking a break from college to try and make it, from putting up posters in record stores to ultimately signing hit acts.

You’ll learn something.

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No One Is Listening To These Women

I spoke at a conference in the Marina today, after I was done an old friend I hadn’t seen in nearly two decades came up to speak to me.

She is a woman.

That’s not that common in the music business. It’s a male-dominated construct, where there’s little upward mobility for women, they inhabit the lower ranks, but only a few make it to the top, and the business can’t stop championing those who do.

But that’s not enough.

It occurred to me during this conversation that men don’t really listen to women, certainly not in the music business. We’ve played our sports, we have our codes, and we exclude women. And most of us don’t even know it. We keep saying we’re not the problem, but we are.

You see there’s little opportunity.

Whether it be country radio programmers saying the audience doesn’t want women or the Grammys not offering Lorde a performance slot, but finding time for multiple appearances by Bono and Sting. Where were the three time female appearances? And although I am not a fan of the Lorde album, there was plenty of great work by women, let’s start with Miranda Lambert, but she doesn’t get any respect either, because country artists are redneck hicks and the coastal elites look down upon them. It’s true, have an accent and you’re dismissed. Isn’t that how we got into this mess, by leaving out others?

I don’t want to hear that they didn’t nominate any women producers because there aren’t any, that’s no excuse.

And one thing’s for sure, we’re not providing on-ramps for women, no way, we just say none play at the man’s level, that the opportunities for reward are not there.

That’s the crime of Neil Portnow, his bias, he doesn’t know any better, but that does not mean he should get a pass. Everyone can make a mistake, everyone can misspeak. But if you do it about race, you’re bumped, remember Al Campanis, DECADES AGO, but Neil gets another chance? I don’t think so. Meanwhile, the women are organizing against him and the men? Crickets. That shows how much support women are getting in this business.

Never mind the constant cries of “I never saw it,” “I’m not one of the bad guys.”

I guess you believe since you’re not racist no one else is, that African-Americans haven’t been shafted and don’t need a leg up.

We’re living in changed times folks. You’re so busy protecting the man’s interests. There’s a great opinion piece in Monday’s “New York Times.” It’s entitled

“#MeToo Has Done What the Law Could Not”

You need to read it, but right now I need to quote some salient points.

“This mass mobilization against sexual abuse, through an unprecedented wave of speaking out in conventional and social media, is eroding the two biggest barriers to ending sexual harassment in law and in life: the disbelief and trivializing dehumanization of its victims.”

When a man says it, he’s believed. When a woman says it, she’s “hysterical” or “crazy” or “on her period.”

“Even when she was believed, nothing he did to her mattered as much as what would be done to him if his actions against her were taken seriously. His value outweighed her sexualized worthlessness. His career, reputation, mental and emotional serenity and assets counted. Hers didn’t. In some ways, it was even worse to be believed and not have what he did matter. It meant she didn’t matter either.”

We’ve got to protect men and their careers at all costs. After all, women are breeders, housewives, it’s the males who are the breadwinners.

Not.

I’m not saying there aren’t false accusers out there, but I am saying that men have almost all of the control and power and the burden of proof on women is often insurmountable.

There’s a theory that this was all instigated by the election of the Pussy Grabber In Chief.

All I know is we can’t turn back the clock, we have to deal with the world we live in now, one where sexual harassment has been given light and airtime, and men take a backseat as the women lead.

The Wall fell, democracy reigned, and then strongmen appeared.

Whites felt powerless and elected Trump.

Women felt powerless and came out of the woodwork and accused men.

There’s pent-up anger about being left behind.

I’m sorry if it makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to feel more uncomfortable, then maybe you’ll put yourself in women’s shoes, know how they feel, instead of being silent, protecting the corporation and the bosses who don’t care about you anyway.

That’s right, the government eviscerated whistleblower protections but the people… They’re protesting.

And you can get on the bandwagon or not, you can come down off your high horse or live in that ancient world where you wink at your bro and let them get away with it.

If you’re a male and you don’t know a male who has mistreated women…

You’re lying.

You are the problem, you let them get away with it. Because you believe in some team ethos, a silent code.

But that’s for the Mafia, and in America it’s been eradicated.

Furthermore, just because you’re sexualized, that does not mean you’re giving license to be taken advantage of. We keep hearing from old men “she was asking for it.”

Come on, have you got no self-control, can you not hear the word NO, can you just for a second believe these women are right?

We’ve heard rumors for decades about some of the fallen. No one believed their victims back then, but now they do.

Maybe you should too.

Not only the famous are abusers.

Wherever there’s money and power there are liberties taken.

Like in the music business.

As for Neil Portnow forming a task force…

Sometimes you need new blood.

It’s not about investigation, it’s not about a new code so much as pushing aside the ancient men with their out-of-date values and replacing them with young thinkers who will do the right thing. Hell, that’s one of the inherent problems in today’s music business, the ruling class of old white men who missed the internet and think they know better.

They don’t.

And they need to be held accountable.

And we all must pay for their sins.

That’s what living in a society is all about.

Re-JT at the Super Bowl

His performance has been universally panned by the press.

I point you to:

“The Washington Post”: “This Is How Justin Timberlake lost the Super Bowl”

“The Los Angeles Times”: “Justin Timberlake had nothing to say at the Super Bowl and wouldn’t stop saying it”

TMZ: “Justin Timberlake’s Halftime Show A Deaf-ing Disaster”

So the question becomes, where does this leave popular opinion? Does this hurt his career or does the sheer fact of his appearance help him? No doubt Timberlake sold tickets for his tour last night, although his album is considered to be a complete stiff. So his fans support him, and those who don’t don’t. But one thing we’ve learned, is to be ubiquitous, to be considered all-encompassing, there must be a positive vibe about you and your career, and with this performance JT seems to have turned the corner, arguably to his detriment.

This has been the first time this has happened with a Super Bowl appearance. Seen as a marketing opportunity, there’s always been scuttlebutt about the performance but no negative outcomes were experienced, unless you count the people talking about Janet Jackson’s career, but maybe she just didn’t have another hit…

So, once again, you can always say no, and sometimes should.
If you’re courting the press, know the press can turn against you.
And we know if your album is a hit or a stiff within a day now, that’s what streaming service data will tell you.

So you’re best to go your own way, reinvent the paradigm, be happy you’ve got your core audience and prey upon it, because the bigger you want to be, the more chance you have to fall.

P.S. Press, especially traditional media, means less than ever before, but when the stars align and the outlets agree, it can sway national opinion/conventional wisdom.

Justin Timberlake & The Super Bowl

You never want to be upstaged.

Justin Timberlake was selling entertainment.

The NFL was selling drama.

Once upon a time the game was lousy, it was about the commercials and then the halftime performance. As for new groundbreaking commercials, that paradigm is dead. Steve Jobs and Apple established it, a few others rode on the coattails, and then it was done. Kinda like Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” promotion/release, once you’ve seen the trick it can’t be repeated. Kinda like SNL. It pushed the envelope forty years ago, with its original cast, when we all lived in a monoculture and television was safe, but now almost no one gets the references, there are no punch lines and the only ones who care are in the mainstream media trumpeting efforts the rest of us don’t care about. That’s the story of today, how the younger generations have broken free of the constructs of the older and the older just don’t get it, despite convincing themselves how hip they are by using iPhone X’s and driving Teslas. Just ask them how to use Snapchat, which is already passe. As for Instagram, which they’re bragging on, they don’t know it’s cooler to have a private account, and argue with me all you want but never has the older generation been so out of touch with the younger one since the generation gap back in the sixties, only now the baby boomers are holding the wrong end of the stick.

As for football itself, when the right wing, establishment paper of record says that millennials don’t care, then you know it’s spiraling down. Read the below if you’ve got a WSJ subscription, but it’s oldsters who are cheap, who don’t want to pay, youngsters know everything costs, and if they want it, they pony up, otherwise they ignore it.

So you’ve got a 37 year old Justin Timberlake trying to sell tickets and a new album. What you must focus on here is his age. You think he’s young, whereas he’s a married over-the-hill dad selling a formula that dried up years ago. Pop is dead. Better off to have a hip-hop act. But that would offend too many viewers. But that’s what art does, make you feel uncomfortable, make you question your preconceptions, make you wonder if it’s you or them.

In this case it was definitely Justin Timberlake. If you thought his performance was significant you must be a young ‘un who never lived in an era where music drove the culture as opposed to being a sideshow. Timberlake was a highly rehearsed cheerleader, but the last I checked none of the sideline jumpers has ever become famous. He ran around on a field populated by coached “fans” and it was noisy and raucous and if this is your idea of entertainment, so be it. If you want to go to the show and jump around and feel good, so be it. I mean we all need an escape, but the truth is we live in challenging times and he or she who speaks to this wins in the end, those who play it safe ultimately lose out. This ain’t sports, this is art.

And when art is done right there is drama. That’s why you listen, to uncork feelings, to follow the story. There was no story in JT’s performance other than I’m cute, I’m rich, LET’S CELEBRATE!

I’m not in such a celebratory mood, Most of our country is not. That’s how we got into this mess, Trump appealed to the left out. So did Bernie, but Hillary and the establishment refused to believe times have changed.

But I know this is true. Which means no matter how much you said you liked JT’s performance I’m sticking to my belief that it was meaningless, other than the Prince interlude, especially when they overlaid the “symbol” atop Minneapolis. That had gravitas. But that only reminded me how Prince came to kill, and did. Anybody who followed him had to live up to him, and so far no one has. Even Bruce Springsteen looked small, even though first and foremost the Boss is about story and drama, the whole kit and kaboodle that cause triumph in music, that work irrelevant of hits.

So it was a great game. With a great story. Backup quarterback defeats the big bad Brady. Bellichick doesn’t smile. It’s almost unbelievable. But when done right, that’s what sport delivers, it’s a metaphor for life.

But like I said, too often this has not happened in the Super Bowl.

But this year it did. It made Justin Timberlake look small. Like our entire music business. The Grammys, the institutions, they’re all in peril.

What makes hip-hop work is it’s not beholden to any of it. Radio, major labels, press, it can succeed as a result of its own culture. Not so different from when classic rock triumphed in the first place. Hit? What is that?

Last I checked choreography has nothing to do with music. Just because they danced on MTV that does not mean your record is worth listening to.

Justin Timberlake never should have done this show. But his manager couldn’t down turn the offer, to be in front of all those people, to sell tickets.

And that’s where music resides, in the marketing era. Where salesmanship eclipses art.

Go to the show if you want to. Drink your tequila, shake your booty, but when you come home I’m gonna ask you what it was all about.

And you’re gonna say “a good time.”

But music used to be more than that.

“Ahead of Super Bowl, Poll Shows NFL Is Losing Its Core Audience”