Dinner With Jason

I’m sitting downstairs at Jason’s house in Aspen, typing on the Cinema Display.  You know what they say, buy as much screen real estate as you can afford.  I’ve now got 23", but 30" is a whole new dimension, you can have multiple apps open at one time, you’re IN the computer.

We’re here for Aspen Live.  Take a look at the pictures.  If it looks fun that’s because it IS!  The highlight of my year.  Other conferences have bands, it’s about deals.  Aspen Live is about bonding, here’s where I made most of my friends, here’s where we reconnect.

Felice and I were supposed to fly in tomorrow, but Jason asked if we wanted to come a day early.  Well, rather than get to the airport two hours ahead of time to fly to Denver and then on to Aspen, it was a no-brainer to leave two minutes from my house and arrive an hour and thirty nine minutes later.

Now many of you may not live in Southern California, you might be experiencing winter.  But for Felice and me it’s a novelty.  We broke through the cloud ceiling and were confronted with the SNOW!  It’s a complete head-change, you get in touch with your inner self, you feel so ALIVE!

I’ve been to Jason’s house before.  But this is the first time I’m staying overnight.  This time I’ve had the ability to settle in, to see what a string of hit records, all the way from Twisted Sister to Skid Row to Stone Temple Pilots to Tori Amos to Kid Rock has wrought.  The record business has been very very good to Jason.  Then again, it wasn’t a one way effort, Jason’s worked, HARD!

Funny to see Jason in action.  He talks to EVERYBODY!

We were accosted by the NetJet desk person on the streets of Aspen.  It was like they’d gone to high school together.  He insisted the hostess at Cache Cache pull up a chair.  So they could talk.  About everything from New York to skiing to the Stones.  Upon exit, while Felice and I were climbing the stairs, we heard Jason exclaim "MICHAEL GOLDBERG", and then he stopped to converse, catch up, with the owner of the Belly Up.  On some level it was like being with my father, he was the same way, you’ve got to know EVERYBODY.  Me, I’m too uptight, I’ve got too much social anxiety, I’m learning to be a member of the group, but it hasn’t been easy.

And when we got back to the house, after it was discovered the hockey game Felice and I were playing wasn’t fully operational, we settled in for some ping-pong.  Jason beat the two of us.  Hell, you don’t get this successful by LOSING!

But what IS winning anymore?

As Jason said at dinner, 1 1/2 is the new four million.  The record business is shot.  You can’t sell discs and iTunes has turned out to be a paper tiger, a fraud

iTunes sales ‘collapsing’

And how long is the ringtone business gonna last?  Sideloading is imminent.  And the rap gravy train…  With broadband ubiquitous, people just STEAL that one track.

And then we started reminiscing.  About the old days.  Jason was talking about the box of albums Ahmet dropped by the house when he was fifteen, after Jason’s father had given Ahmet some legal advice.  It included "Goat’s Head Soup".  And Jason promptly said how much he loved HEARTBREAKER!  I said "It’s my FAVORITE song on the RECORD!"  And when Jason told me it was all about the intro, I smiled so broadly, because this is EXACTLY how I feel.

Jason spoke of having a hundred albums.  Putting his head between the speakers to get CLOSER to the music.  I knew exactly what he was talking about.  I remember getting my first pair of stereo headphones for my fifteenth birthday, and discovering "I’m very cold…" at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (I’m sticking by that, I STILL don’t think it’s "I buried Paul.")  Music was EVERYTHING!  Now it’s..?

Funny how we’re all the walking wounded.  Especially all those who’ve been downsized.  How did this happen?  How did something we loved so much grind to a halt?

Oh sure, there are great new acts out there, but the addiction, the CULTURE, is not the same.  That culture has to come back.  How is this going to happen?  I’m not really sure.  But I’ll tell you the very first step.  Doug Morris is gonna monetize the stealing.

Yup, everything’s in Doug’s hands.  Times have changed.  Doug no longer wants to compete, with the Farm Club, etc.  He no longer wants to stop the future.  He just wants to get PAID for the future.  And the future is imminent.  CD sales are gonna drop so hard, so soon, that SOMETHING will have to be done.

David Dorn believes there’s a service on the horizon, the equivalent of YouTube or MySpace, that will come along and save us.  We’ll just have to say yes.

I hope we can say yes.  Like Universal did to YouTube.  EVERY DAY people e-mail me about videos on YouTube.  It USED to be this way with Napster.  There was an excitement, EVERYBODY was talking about music.  Those days have to come back.  Not only to save the business, but our SOULS!

Walk around Jason’s house.  It’s a veritable museum.  Of the days of yore.  When the music business roared.  When record companies threw parties, when money was wasted because there was SO MUCH OF IT!

As Billy Joel sang, I loved those days.  There was excitement instead of depression.  Music was the pulse of the nation, of the world.

It’s all about opening the floodgates.  Today we have a controlled business.  The only radio that matters is Top Forty, and it doesn’t play the best of everything and certainly not the number of tracks in its appellation.  We’ve now got the ability to get more music into the hands of more people at a lower price.  We’ve got to pick up the gauntlet.  We’ve got to cease the lawsuits.  Publishing companies have to go to a percentage rate.  Record companies have to share the wealth with the artists.  We’ve all got to give a little to get a lot.  We’ve got to stop warring and make peace.  Music not only inspires, it heals.  Let’s take a lesson from the great tracks, let’s think of the joy encased within our favorite songs, and with that spirit SPREAD THE WEALTH!  Too many fat cats are trying to perpetuate an old business model.  And it’s not working.  Just ask Jason.

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