From: Andrew Loog Oldham

Re: Phil Spector

As you and i have discussed i knew phil, the stones did too, before the tom wolfe casting, before the madness and the medication, before the silly old man trolled out in his viagra limousine much too late at night.

The man who brought good cheer and maracas to “not fade away” at regent sound on london’s denmark street in february of ’64 ; who, when bill and charlie were knackered and had gone back to the hotel, played bass as jack nitzsche played harpsichord to keith’s accoustic as jagger sang and made “play with fire” forever at 5am at RCA on sunset and iver.

This was before the recognition set in like a permanent wound to the soul, before the medication de- wired an already fragile system. One of the last straws was attempting to record a UK university band, Starsailor. Spector was back at the location of his earlier Harrison and Lennon triumphs, and sometimes you cannot go home again. Phil had been sober a few years, he returned to LA and Dan Tana’s, defeated and started drinking again. As any knowing alcoholic will tell you you may have stopped drinking but your body did not. Lana Clarkson was only a couple of drinks away.

You write perfectly of the Lennon collaboration.  An added ingredient to that mix was probably that Phil would have to be on his better behavior.  One of John’s gifts was that he could whack you with a word. And with Phil he did just that.

RIP Lana Clarkson and RIP Phil, who died many years before.

I saw a recent prison mugshot of Phil. He looked better than I’d seen him look in yonks. Perhaps he’d been unable to self- medicate in jail…

One 45rpm to add to your list. “Try some, Buy Some” by Ronnie Spector on the Apple label; in Bowie’s Top Ten as well.

Abrazo, ALO


From: Toby Mamis

Re: Phil Spector

Phil came to see Blondie at the Whisky, accompanied by Dan and David Kessel (sons of Barney), in 1977, and told me he wanted to produce them. I told him they were under contract to Richard Gottehrer and also Private Stock.  We arranged to have dinner with him and the band at Carlos N Charlies a few nights later, and at the last minute he (predictably) cancelled and offered to send his driver to bring us up to his old house (up in the hills behind the Hamburger Hamlet at the west end of the Strip). So I went with Debbie, Chris, and my former partner whose name I don’t speak or type, and it was, to say the least memorable.  His bottles of diet Manischewitz (who knew that was a thing).  He was armed, even inside his own home.  He played us rough mixes of the Leonard Cohen album at more than full volume, ear-splitting. He sat at a piano and asked Debbie to sit with with him and sing some old song I didn’t recognize (something like “I’ll Be At Your Wedding” I think) – the sheet music was on the piano.  When we were leaving, he couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door to let us out and had to call his driver to come help and also drive us back to Carlos N Charlies.  By that time, our car keys were locked up inside Carlos N Charlies til the next day.  It was WAY past closing time.  


From: Claris Sayadian-Dodge

Re: Phil Spector

I met Phil Spector during his recording of Celine Dion at Ocean Way studio-1 in ’95. I don’t believe anything was released from those sessions that lasted for weeks. 

Story of Mr Spector (he made sure we addressed him that way) terrorizing our parking attendant with a gun circulated quickly. Then one late afternoon, the assistant called my office and said Mr Spector wants me to visit the studio and hear his song. That sounded odd. I was just the manager booking the studio and producers seldom cared to hear my opinion! 

I hesitated at first thinking it’s got to be a joke. But, after many calls, I gathered myself and stopped by. He sat behind the Neve console and asked me to sit in the back on the couch and listen. After about an hour, I asked to be excused. I usually went home after finishing work about 7 or 8Pm. He insisted that I stay. Yes, the sound was big. Ah, it must be his wall of sound, I told to myself. 

So, after another few hours, I went to the lounge and heard from the musicians who had been held up in the studio overnight. I can’t remember, how I got out. It may have been an excuse like, taking care of my elderly mom or something. He finally let me go.

The following day, his assistant called and said Mr Spector wants to get together over a cup of coffee. I wish I could remember her name. Was it Michelle (Hal Blaine’s daughter)? Anyone remember mid 90s and these sessions? Anyhow, I never agreed, siting that it’s my policy not to mix up socially with clients.

That Christmas, I got a check for $100 from Mr Spector. I never cashed it. It now sits in a frame on my desk. I just noticed it says MS Claris. Wow, that’s cool.

During one of many requests to meet him, his assistant told me how he became a different person after his son’s death (at age 9 from leukemia). 

Mental illness, the silent killer, effects even the brightest. He admitted to being bipolar and having mental problems much later. His father had committed suicide when Phil was a young boy. As you say, he wrote his first song after the words on his Dad’s epitaph: “To Know Him Was To Love Him.”

How things could have been different. 

Perhaps, “Let It Be.” 

RIP Mr Spector (December 26, 1939 – January 16, 2021)


From: Dave Dederer

Subject: Re: Streaming 


I was already thinking this after listening to some of your recent podcasts with industry insiders and now even moreso after reading today’s post: there’s still a lot of ignorance re how much money’s being made in streaming. 

The upside is far beyond even what you’re reporting:

“What we’re saying here is 200 artists made nearly half a million bucks from streaming last year. You keep nearly all the money if you’re your own label, but the new standard is closer to a fifty/fifty split of net if you’re signed to a label and if this is the case, this means that over 200 acts made in excess of $215,000 from streaming last year.” 

The Presidents own the masters to our debut album. We’ve had total control of them throughout the digital era (Sony Music’s license to them expired in 2003).  Just two tracks from the debut, “Lump” and “Peaches,” make up nearly all of our streaming.  

We’re certainly not in the top 200 most-streamed acts.  Or even close.  Yes, “Lump” was an Alternative Rock #1 and “Peaches” and a few other Presidents tracks charted high on Alternative Rock and the Hot 100, and the record sold ~5M+ copies worldwide in its first go-round, but the reality is we’re a mid-level catalog act, we’re small potatoes, nobodies.  

But the revenue numbers you’re talking about apply to us.  Generated almost entirely by just two mid-level catalog hits. 

Do you know what that means?  If you really grasp it, it will make your hair stand up on end!!!

Do the math.  If our puny little label is generating well into the six figures from just two mid-level catalog hits (and we have spent ZERO dollars on marketing in 20 years), can you imagine what the Sony, Warner and Universal catalogs are generating?  Holy crap!

It would take 10,000 words here to explain all the details and I don’t want to write that much.  In brief, we (and any other label that has an intelligently-run catalog division) run our business with a level of efficiency that would have been inconceivable in the physical media era — near-total transparency in monthly accounting, no breakage, no returns, etc.  Our monthly operating costs are a few percent, max, sometimes as low as 1-2%.  Yes, that means close to 100% margin.  And the part that gets lost is that there is more music consumption/use than during the CD or any other previous era. Volume and margin are both higher than they have ever been.

Of course, we’re talking about labels and artists who own their masters.  If you have an unfavorable deal with your label, well, that’s a whole different conversation.   




From: tepnomusic

Subject: Re: Streaming

Your calculation is 100% correct, I made around 210k on streams last year, and then adding money from Soundexchange, remixes, new pub deal with Sony/Atv, Socan/Ascap and I’m now indie! Another thing I noticed is the amount of streams I got in December, probably my biggest streaming month last year. I’m saving every penny, music careers can be very short for low tier artists like me.


From: Gordon Charlton

Subject: Re: Streaming TV

“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches” George Bernard Shaw.


I’m in the twilight of a 40 year career in the music industry and I have just started teaching about the music industry to student musicians and student managers. 


One of the opinions you often hear quoted by my students is that streaming companies pay paltry money to artists. A prime example is this article: with this weekend’s Guardian. Nadine Shah, who has 34k followers but only 110k monthly listeners blames streaming for her not being able to pay her rent. She’s won many awards over the course of her career but to most mainstream music fans, she has gone under the radar. Unfortunately, critical acclaim has never paid bills, in the old music business and in the new one this rule applies. 


As someone who has managed a couple of artists who have owned their own masters I’ve experienced how regular income can be made from streaming and, obviously, that income, depends upon how much people like your music, which is why I was delighted to read your piece about streaming. 


I’ve now posted it on my school’s Forum to help these students realise that there is still gold in them thar hills in today’s music business. 


Subject: Re: Do Stand So Close

Bob that’s funny that you bring up Rod Stewart. I know Sting and Rod had a little heat between them. I think it started when we were on the Rod Stewart Out Of Order tour doing some stadiums in Florida. We borrowed Stings private plane and after a show at Tampa Stadium Rod asked me for a sharp knife. He then carved a friendly little note into the beautiful exotic wood table on the plane that said and I quote

“String You Miserable C*nt Where’s Your Sense Of Humor “

I don’t think Sting was too happy about that.

Stevie Salas


Subject: Re: The Rock Camp Movie

Bob, I’m really glad you covered this.  You really hit the nail on the head with the fact that this may not be for everybody, however anyone that ever had any inspiration, even for a moment to get up on stage and perform gets it. I have been to many of the camps and have been a cheerleader for David Fishof and the Rock Camp.  My observations have been that the campers don’t just get to hang with Rock celebrities, but in putting a band together with them they are actually realizing their dreams.  As you say, David is a hustler, but also a great promoter.  I think one hook that leads to his success is they treat the campers like stars.  Sure, they pay, but they get to spend several days rehearsing for a performance with their own roadies, real backstage catering and people waiting on them hand and foot.

I always get a kick out of the fact that Fishof attributes the revival of the camp to Pollstar. As he tells it, after the first camp didn’t really make it and after a few years off he was at the Pollstar Live conference and “Who was the producer of the Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp” was offered up as a rock and roll trivia question.  I’m not sure if anyone knew the answer, but consequently some of the celebrities at the conference asked David why he wasn’t still doing it.  The rest is history!

My best, keep it up!

Gary Smith


From: Tom Kenny

Subject: Bowie 5 years gone —January 10th


It’s Bowies 5th anniversary on January 10th.

He disliked tributes and awards shows but loved the simple act of talking about how a song can connect you with a total stranger sitting next to you at a show or in line to buy tickets or an album.

He was the ultimate conversationalist.

So many people have great anecdotes of meeting him or something happening to them on the way or during a a show. Some of us where very fortunate to have worked or performed with him but he was equally funny and conversational with just ordinary citizen he’d meet along the way.

When we were in The Tower Theatre in Philadelphia in 2002 on the Heathens tour he asked me to ask the gentleman who was the stage manager if he’d been working there for a long time. I approached the man and he told me he’s been there since the early 70s and the last time Bowie was there he spoke to him at length as he was nervous about that show.

I went back to Bowie and he told me and the rest of the crew that he’d launched Young Americans and several other shows and had recorded a live album in that theatre and when he stepped up to the microphone for sound check on that day in 2002 some of those memories came flooding back when he saw the man in the corner as he’d seen him in exact same position all those years ago,

After that sound check Bowie went over to the old Geezer and the guy reminded him of the crane they used to load in Ziggys stardust lighting.

Let’s never forget wonderful venues , human beings and the artists that have performed there and their work that still gets us through these days 

They are hallowed ground and places of worship for us nonbelievers ,



From: Randall Wixen

Subject: Bowie/Arnold Corns Pseudonym

Did you ever hear these versions?




From: Eric Bazilian 

Subject: Re: Randall Wixen On Selling Your Publishing

No truer words, literally and figuratively. Maybe Dylan needs a bigger boat, but I want my songs to work for me and my descendants 70 years after I’m gone. 


Subject: Re: The Beatles Sneak Peek

Hi Bob, yes yes yes. What a great thing to see in the time of COVID. There’s an angle that not many will catch that’s really important: NO ONE IS WEARING HEADPHONES WHILE RECORDING.

They are just playing in a room, looks like there’s some pa speakers so that voices can be heard and so those in the control room can speak with the band, but my guess is the overall sound level is moderate, only as loud as it needs to be. Everyone has an amp near them, they can hear themselves best, but the band in the room is what they are ALL hearing. There is a bit of bleed from the mics, the drum mics pick up the guitars and bass, but it’s not a big deal unless there’s a massive mistake by one of the players. The pa speakers appear to be aimed to miss the instrument mics, so even if there’s a little bleed it isn’t a problem. I have been a recording engineer for decades and this is NOT how it is generally done, nowadays everyone has headphones, they each have their own mix, and it is illuminating (or shocking) to go listen to the various headphone mixes each player set up for themselves after the session is over. The drummer has MOSTLY DRUMS and CLICK, and so on.

Headphone listening is not the same as listening in a room. The intense level of transient detail is distracting, and I think it’s dangerous to your hearing. But, we use them in virtually every session.

Of course, recording a track instrument by instrument, musician by musician, part by part is also too common now. Each sound is *perfected* and fussed over, close miked to the point that each part sounds like it’s living on a piece of glass an inch in front of your nose. The level of *control* over the sound of any instrument has gone so far as to make perfection possible. Ugh! Arghhh! Someone said that technology “raises the level of mediocrity.” Indeed.

In fact, NO CLICK is pretty important too. Playing to the click means you don’t really have to groove, you just get on the grid and lock it down, you can use the click to defend your playing. “See, I’m with the click, you’re rushing.” Without a click the whole thing changes – you live or die together as a band. And, the tracks feel completely different, they feel alive, because they are.

Back to the no headphones thing – I’m in conversations with a band that wants to record as soon as it is safe. I was speaking with the bassist today about trying the no headphones approach, just like in the Beatles clip. They have had some success over the years, they want the project to sound live, sounds like they might be willing to try it. They already don’t use a click. I can’t wait…

Best…Hank Linderman


From: ben stauffer 

Subject: Re: WB/HBO Max

Can you imagine, ceteris paribus, if we were still in a CD era during this pandemic? Expecting that the pressing plants would all be running on-time and that we would be beholden to Amazon and the mail delivering said product to consumers all around the globe? What fortune for creators and rights holders to be able to distribute music to consumers over the wires at this time.



From: Robert Holladay

Subject: Re: WB/HBO Max

Good insights, Bob, especially about the speed of change. I’m moving to a new house in a new city and so far can’t find anyone to take my CDs (over 1,000). 


Subject: Re: Bode Miller On Winning

Hey Bob,

Great piece on Bode.

When my concert promotions company (Concerts North) had our offices in Portsmouth, New Hampshire I gave office space to Bill Rogers who was just finishing “Bode Miller Flying Downhill The Early Years”. Bill had grown up skiing with Bode at Cannon  Mountain and I was producing concerts at Loon Mountain at the time. Bill and I then screened this film in Lake Tahoe and several ski towns around the country. Watching Bode train and his distain for sponsors and the Olympic trainers reminded me so much of great rock musicians like John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, etc who didn’t want to follow the rules – they were true originals who had a new way of doing things and wanted everyone else to get out of the way while they broke new ground.

The way Bode talks about chasing speed and just seeing the fastest way down the mountain is how Magic Johnson saw the basketball court or Pele saw the soccer pitch, just everything else melts away, not concerned with proper form or his competition just doing it his own way.

I agree Bode has been totally misunderstood, he is not only the greatest US male skier ever but is a world class athlete in several sports. He grew up with an uncle who ran a tennis camp so is an incredible tennis player, competed to play in the US Open in golf, played minor league baseball, won the 2002 ABC Sports Competition putting athletes from various sports up against each other, etc.


Joe Fletcher

Crescent Bay Entertainment

Carmel, CA


From: Rick Alexander

Subject: Re: Homeland Elegies



The following 12/13/20 post from the Facebook feed of Sunday Times bestselling author Simon Scarrow will no doubt resonate with you…

“Good writing in the age of the Creative Writing degree course pandemic.”


My wife handed me a recently published ‘literary’ novel this morning and asked me to read the opening and tell her what I thought about the writing. It’s a debut novel and the author is a graduate of the burgeoning empire of Creative Writing degree courses. The premise of the novel is very promising. So far, so good, I thought. Then I began to read, and by the time I had got through the first twenty pages I’d had enough…


It’s not that the writing is bad. There’s a certain mellifluous skill in the composition, and the author has done their research, but the style seems to be the only saving grace of the writing. The characters are flat and the story seems to take a distant second place in order for the author to parade their lengthy descriptions. Sometimes the effort to impress crashes to the ground with a confused thud as the wax that binds the words together loosens under the glaring scrutiny of the reader. (Sorry, couldn’t help playing the MFA game there).


Take this phrase, when referring to a photographer’s choice of a smaller camera for convenience – ‘the putative authenticity of spontaneity’. You can kind of see what the author is getting at, but the sense of it is lost in the clash of semantics. Aren’t authenticity and spontaneity more or less the same thing? Why would it be putative if it was authentic? It’s the kind of unnecessarily complex phrase that I am sure looks good on the page in the milieu of a Creative Writing degree course, but it only serves to obscure meaning while sounding erudite.


The wider effect of this approach is to constantly throw the reader out of the shimmering between the words on the page and the imaginative world they conjure up. I don’t think it is a good strategy to keep reminding readers that they are looking at print. Once in a while a polished gem of a sentence is worth the effort for the gratification of the writer and reader, but not for almost the entire duration of a novel. It only serves to aggrandise the author and diminish the creative opportunities for the reader.


When I read a book I want to be given the tools to create a lived experience in my head. I can live with the odd writerly flourish but I don’t want the author to constantly demand that I put down my readerly tools and admire their writerly skills. Are such authors so insecure or, worse, arrogant (and insecure) that they require such constant affirmation of their craft? It is possible to balance elegantly crafted writing with great characterisation and story-telling skills. Rosemary Sutcliff did it, as did Dodie Smith and more recently Yasmina Khadra.


Don’t get me wrong. I am perfectly happy for there to be plenty of Creative Writing courses out there. They serve a useful purpose in giving ‘putative’ writers the space and time to experiment and refine their craft. I felt the same way about the old PGCE courses where one third of the time was spent teaching and two-thirds of the course concerned thinking about teaching in order to define the best teaching strategies for each individual teacher. You get better teachers that way. You should also get better writers from similarly purposed Creative Writing courses.


And yet it feels like those who attend such courses are encouraged to look inwards, as if their writing has no relevance outside of the confines of their studies. This is reflected in much of the published output of Creative Writing course graduates, most of whom would appear to fall into the rut of ‘big words, small print, low sales’ and end up, if they are lucky, teaching the next generation of those doomed to follow the same path.


That’s not to say that there aren’t some hugely successful writers who emerge from Creative Writing programmes. But, from what works of theirs that I have read, I doubt that their legacy will long survive their deaths, or the deaths of their careers. For my own part, I am not interested in the posterity stakes. Nor the literary. I want to tell a story and tell it well enough that it is experienced as if a custom-made movie was playing inside the head of each individual reader. And that’s it. The old adage, trust the tale, not the teller seems to be the purpose of good writing.


A rewarding read, for me at least, should be about the story and the characters, not the author. The trouble with so much of the output of Creative Writing courses is that they seem to encourage the authors to leap out of the pages of their writing to such an extent that they become obstacles between the reader and the text that the reader has to fight past the author to get at. Where is the pleasure in that? What is there to admire in such a process, other than the author?


If I want to spend my time observing self-regarding individuals then that’s what television celebrities and politicians are for. People who care about stories and good writing are better than that. And, if they are wise, they avoid hostages to fortune like offering courses leading to the qualification of ‘Master of FA…’

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