The Sisario Article

“Hip-Hop and R&B Fans Embrace Streaming Services”

Read this. It’s the most important information about the music business online today. Which means that you’ll probably never see it, you’re probably still reeling from that faux article in the “Tennessean” saying that the co-writer of “All About That Bass” only made $5,679 from streaming:

“‘All About That Bass’ writer decries streaming revenue”

That article’s wrong, Kevin Kadish was misquoted, that’s the PANDORA number! And for those not paying attention, which seems to be just about everybody, the rate for radio and for choose your own songs on Spotify are completely different…

But the song remains the same. You’re gonna get paid on listens, and if you ain’t got none…

The sales paradigm is history. In 24 months it’ll be de minimis, inconsequential. And when we go to the streaming metrics a whole bunch of artists are gonna get a whole lot poorer, and the readers of this newsletter who are attached to the ancient paradigm of yore are gonna tear their hair out.

You know, rock bands who write their own material and release it as one long album…


Actually, that formula got murdered by disco, after it got long in the tooth as corporate rock.

But then MTV rescued the rock business until hair bands softened the sound, made us all queasy, and it became all about hip-hop and pop.

And that’s where we are today.

I’m not saying you can’t make your old music in the old way, I’m just saying don’t expect anybody to listen to it, don’t expect to get rich.

We’re in the middle of the great transition.

The baby boomers are about to emit their last gasp. Everybody but the titans has already been eliminated. Unless you’re running the operation, you’re gone.

And there are some Gen X’ers with power, mostly in the live sphere, but we’re getting ready to skip generations and hand the baton to the millennials, who have no allegiance to classic rock, radio or the rest of the b.s. we hold so near and dear.

As for Sisario postulating that hip-hop is being driven by Beats 1, that’s ridiculous, Beats 1 is part of the old game, the only difference is that it’s international. Radio is a second-class enterprise because you can’t hear what you want when you want, it’s not on demand, it’d be like being limited to one television network and having to endure the commercials, you’d freak if you’d experienced today’s zillion channel universe. Hell, Apple eviscerates ads on the hand-set and Beats 1 is trying to jet us back to the last century? Who’s driving this bus?

Certainly not the people streaming podcasts via Bluetooth in their automobiles.

First they came for the CDs.

Then they came for the cable.

Don’t be married to the old carrier, be married to content. And the truth is these hip-hop and R&B acts are speaking the truth, and the popsters create catchier music than the old farts with their guitars. And never forget the Beatles were catchy, the Stones too. You start with the hit, everything else comes thereafter.

Furthermore, Sisario is casting a wide net, hip-hop is one thing, R&B another. This is not marginal music, you know that if you listen to the Weeknd. But it is the sound of today.

Does it frequently have boasting lyrics with no interior monologue, no reveal of inner thoughts and demons?

Yes, and that’s sad. Once upon a time music was integral to our lives because of its soothing quality, the songs understood us in a way nothing else did.

But that was back before money became God and the educated middle class left music behind. Believe me, interior monologue is coming back. But I can’t tell you when.

But I will tell you that sales are now a meaningless metric. One can argue they always were. Because to be in someone’s heart and mind you’ve got to be listened to. And today, you only get paid if someone listens. That should be the target of your campaign, to get people to listen. And one song is enough, you build on that. In other words, one hit is worth much more than ten GOOD tracks. A hit drives listeners to check out more.

It starts as a singles business.

And the competition is fierce.

And despite the vocality of the old farts, the power resides in the youngsters, because they are the ones streaming the tunes. They’re not just talking, they’re listening.

And the kids don’t care about history. They’re just like you were back when when you were addicted to the radio, when you were addicted to MTV, you were drawn to the hit. Made by people parading their fame all over the universe.

And in an era of chaos, that which breaks through sustains. Expect number one to last longer, at least on the streaming chart, which is the only one that counts. And tracks go slow, like Fetty Wap’s, or fast, like Bieber’s. Fame will gain you notice but you’ve got to deliver. If you’re starting out, it’s a long hard slog.

So, so long not only record stores, but discs of all kinds. You love vinyl, great, I know some Civil War re-enactors you might want to talk to.

So long meaningless sales reports in the media. They’re gonna switch completely to streaming as soon as “Billboard” does, which will be a step too late, but is in the offing.

So long front-loading your publicity. If you can’t get people to listen over time, if your album has got no legs, you’re better off not putting it out. People know whether it’s a dud in a day. And no one is fooled by your scorched earth publicity campaign, they’re actually turned-off! The hip-hop and R&B stars lead with days worth of advance publicity, if they employ any at all!

How could they get it so right?

Because they’re in touch with the street, and they know that if you’re not busy being born…

You’re busy dying.

Comments are closed