Friday, January 04, 2008

(01.04.08) Recommends:

Music Business Friday.

Today we're presenting three articles that have been bandied about this week by Young Hollywood's Emerging, Influential &/or Intoxicated [But Mainly Intoxicated (Or, At Least Post-Holidays Hungover)]. Actually, we just presume these links have been bandied about between these people, as we technically cannot get any of these groups to return our phone calls, text messages, or emails.

First up is David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars from Wired Magazine. If you've seen David Byrne in the last several years there's a chance you've seen him work a Power Point presentation. We're not kidding about this; dude has mad .ppt skillz. This article isn't a power point, but it's still got that graphic-designer-gone-boardroom look that only people like David Byrne can pull off: cool charts, bulleted lists, numbered lists, embedded interviews. Particularly recommended is listening to the interview with Mac McCaughan of Merge Records. The music business seems to be in good hands when you hear people like Mcaughan speak.

Next, we've got U.S. Album Sales Fell 9.5% in 2007 from the NY Times via the AP. This article is probably going to be reported as another sign the music industry is on its death bed, but frankly, it doesn't have enough analysis to tell us much. Album sales are down 9.5% from '06. Sales of digital tracks are up 45% from '06. Apparently, sales of albums in "traditional format" are actually down 15%, but the way the numbers are tracked, every ten digital tracks sold equates to one "album" sold which brings us to the 9.5% number. But then, overall music purchases, including albums, singles, digital tracks and music videos, are up 14% from '06. So we think this article actually says the music industry is far from dead. It's just trying to figure out its future. And isn't that what we're all trying to do?

Finally, we've got a rumor about Jay Z starting a record label with Apple. Our gut tells us that there is no way this rumor is true. We can't imagine the Justice Department going for it, or other labels going for it, or even Jay Z going for it, really (it's our understanding that he pulled his latest album from iTunes because he felt it should be experienced as a full album and not as single tracks. Whether this is true or not, we think it's a fair enough point. Books aren't available by the chapter, right?). But it's out there. And we're only spreading it because we love the theory behind the rumor -- the merger of people who understand technology and people who understand music. It's the natural way forward, but it increasingly seems that neither side wants to listen to the other.

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