Oh Cannes, Cannes, yes we CAN. It's Obama's day and It's so strange to be so far away in the South of France. But never have I seen French people waving American flags until today!!! It feels so nice not to cower and be quiet about being American.
I'm here at the big European music conference, MIDEM. I've been to panels and showcases. Mostly just eavesdropping. Everyone's talking about the wide open field. How things are changing moment to moment. How the smart phone is the future and the fun part will be the third party applications that will change our worlds! Apparently in a year we won't even recognize the music business.
And I'm just wistful I guess. CDs are over. Music is "consumed" that's a big word here, primarily on cell phones, song by song. Young, developing artists have to bushwack their way through the jungle of YouTubes and Pandoras and ÃÂWhatevah's" to hopefully catch someone's ear somewhere and hopefully miraculously attract a steady income. But the name of the game is to make a lot of stuff cheaply and throw it out there for FREE. That's right, as we've known for a while now, music is just going to be FREE. It "wants" to be free. What's the problem? You can still tour and sell your t-shirts.
Well, if I hear one more boasty !@#$%^ (insert word of your choice here) talk about how amazing it was when Radiohead gave away their record for free, when Prince gave away 2 million copies of his new record, How cooooool Coldplay was when they gave away their music..How exciting it is to go after all this NEW money that's out there, how to monetize all these new alternative streams .blah blah blah blah. One guy yesterday was going on about new artists seeking out venture capital, and advertising revenue. Ummmmmm. Just because you have a web site, just because you made a record, just because you put a cute stream of yourself up on YouTube doesn't mean people will suddenly love you and make you a star. It's pretty rare that magically the masses and the money will start flowing to your door.
The major label music "business" still centers around a very few choice artists who are marketed and promoted like crazy. The rest? Building a CAREER? That may be a concept of the past. Seems like the new model is more about fifteen minutes, which is now really ten in the new attention span.
Don't get me wrong. I'm stoked about the possibilities of all the stuff people are coming up with. There are a gazillion really cool ways to infiltrate and disseminate. And I'm loving the immediacy of it all. But still, NO ONE is answering the nagging, fundamental question of how to make a living making music. None of these bozos ( and I use the term lovingly) is fessing up.
So I will. It's getting harder and harder. I don't know how it will continue to be possible. Digital sales are lovely and wonderful, but they do not make up for the loss of brick and mortar, physical sales. There is no ad revenue for mid-level artists who draw a respectable but moderate stream of visitors to their sites. Another guy on another panel yesterday was all a-bliss about going after YouTube and getting a share of their ad revenue for one of his artists. She had had about two hundred million views. And it took him 9 months and I would imagine a bevy of high end lawyers to get it done. He admitted that one of his newer' artists had had twenty million views and that amounted to about $15,000. But again, it took almost a year of fighting with Google/YouTube. Most of us just can't swing that. And he had the clout of the biggest single at the time behind him.
radiohead's manager, Brian Message.
Enough. I have been saying for years now, that no one is speaking up for the "middle class" artists out there. It's just not as sexy I guess. So I'll keep trying. Meanwhile, "Bootstraps" I say! You can hook them around your ears if you've been pulling them up for long enough!! Enough again. Forgive my rant.
My most favorite part of being here? Seeing old friends who have survived the ups and downs. My champions and fans who have persevered because they LOVE MUSIC.
Jim Cuomo, from RYKO, jb and Russell Aiello, from PLUMB days
Tom Glagow, my biggest German champion, MCA and Chrysalis and now C.A.R.E Music.
My glass is raised to these guys, and hopefully I will get more pictures up and be able to honor more of the people who have stood by me. Bottom line? I still love my job.
And GOD BLESS OBAMA. There were people gathered all over here in front of tvs, French, Danish, Japanese, even some Romanians, all waving tiny flags, tearing up at Obama's bold powerful words. May we all rally and support him no matter which side of the fence we;re on. I think we all have the opportunity and the responsibility to collectively "do the right thing." The state of the world is embarrassing. We've lost track of the most precious things in the face of greed and caprice, ignorance and power-mongering. This is our mirror and our window. I will keep looking inward so that I can try harder to see out.