Friday, August 11, 2006

Problem 10,001 with the Music Industry, and Business in General

Hi Readers (and Writers, and Performers, and Assorted Friends and Relatives),

I’m writing an article for and needed a break, because frankly it’s making my head hurt. That tells me it’s time for a new approach to the article, which means I’ll be scrapping the whole thing and starting all over after 3 hours’ work on it. (Which really blows, because it’s not like effective online writing bears any resemblance to what I consider great writing. It’s not meant to.)

But, if it makes my head hurt to explain something I can usually rattle off information about without a second thought, I can imagine how it would be for someone who may not have ever seen the information before. So I’d damn well better try again…

Which brings me to Problem 10,001 about the Music Industry (and Business in general): we rarely take the time to understand why we do certain things the way we do…from marketing methods, to overall business strategy.

For years, the M.O. of the music industry (and corporate America in general) has been, “Because we’ve been doing it this way for years.” Or, worse yet, “Because we said so.” Which doesn’t work, because you can’t effectively apply or reject a business method without a basic understanding of why. It’s also impossible to create a new business model without understanding why a certain methodology has been in place.

(I could probably take it even further and say something about how not understanding the “why”‘s doesn’t work in politics, either, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.)

The most successful people in business—particularly entrepreneurs--usually do ask “why” (or “why not?”) and try to understand the answers. Russell Simmons, Madonna, Jon Bon Jovi, P. Diddy, Donald Trump, David Letterman, and Hugh Hefner are examples of people who asked the questions, applied what works, and then created new methodologies for what doesn’t.

Back to my article (the goal of which is to help clarify some of the “why”’s)…Well, OK, maybe after dinner--takeout from California Chicken CafĂ©, which just arrived--and a little dark chocolate, which always brings clarity.

Have a great weekend,

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief,

P.S. My last blog has now been fixed and reposted. It appeared correctly when I first posted it, then at some point afterward was either hacked by someone or edited by Blogger. There was absolutely nothing in it that was a violation, so let's hope it was an idiot and not the fine people of Blogger. Either way, it sucks. This is America, people.

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Commentary on Stupid Things Celebrities Said in the Last 10 Days

Greetings from Los Angeles,

(8/11: I'm reposting this blog because after it posted correctly, it was either hacked and edited by someone unbeknownst to me, or Blogger went in and edited my comments.)

A few random comments on stupid things celebrities said in the past 10 days. I haven’t had dinner yet, so I’m feeling particularly acid tongued…

Mel Gibson (anti-Semitic and sexist remarks): As Donny Deutsch said on his show the other night, alcohol goes in, truth tends to come out, and something won’t come out that isn’t already in there. Hollywood needs to stand up and say how vile and hate-filled Mel’s comments were—especially given what’s happening across the Globe--and stop spinning it with the rehab excuse. Sure, he’ll be clean, which is admirable, but that’s no cure for hateful remarks about an entire group of people. Meanwhile, now where is that Moonshadows business card I grabbed last time I was there so I can put it on Ebay…?

Paris Hilton (didn’t know who Tony Blair is, and on E News said that she’s a like mixture of Princess Diana mixed with Marilyn Monroe): While it’s no surprise that Paris Hilton didn’t know who Tony Blair is, it is ridiculous that she’s continually rewarded for stupidity. As for her comparison of herself to Princess Di and Marilyn…Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe were intelligent and politically astute, so try again. Paris Hilton sets women back 50 years; there are plenty of intelligent beautiful women with beautiful wardrobes who should be given the airtime and ratings instead.

Lindsay Lohan’s mother Dina (said Morgan Creek Films came down too hard on her daughter by sending her a letter about her partying, adding “She’s just a young girl.”): She’s a young girl with multi-million dollar adult responsibilities that put food on the table for an entire crew of people. You can’t have it both ways. Maybe a little more conversation with Lindsay about less partying during the work week might have prevented the necessity of sending the letter.

Bono (who said on 60 Minutes that U2’s music will be around 100 years from now because their songs “have an emotional landscape”—meaning socially conscious lyrics--that were previously unheard of before): Oh, really? What about REM, Sting, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Neil Young, et al…

Elizabeth Hasselbeck (who went off on guest co-host Lisa Loeb about the Morning After Pill—which she seemed to have confused with ru-486-- on The View, prompting Barbara Walters to say, “Elizabeth. Calm down dear.”): Arrrrgh! Elizabeth Hasslebeck should get the facts right before spewing venom at a guest co-host. (Among other things, she got wrong the most commonly accepted medical definition of when conception occurs.) Since Elizabeth’s tirade helped spread misinformation to advance her own political beliefs, I compiled
some information about the Morning After Pill and how it works, and put it in’s Body and Soul Section. I used several sources to compile the information, but this one had a good list of Q&As about the subject.

(As to my opinion…Since the debate over when conception begins is currently largely dependent on someone’s religious beliefs, I think the government should stay out of it on the basis of religious freedom alone.)

Time to get that
turkey sandwich on whole wheat


Copyright 2006 Randi Reed

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unsigned Artist Lilly Allen Signed to United Talent Agency Based on My Space Tracking?

According to Reuters and my local news’ entertainment report, a UK artist named Lilly Allen, who had a Top 10 hit in New Zealand, has been signed by UTA (United Talent Agency) based on her ability to build a fan base on My Space, as well as her talent.

I have no doubt that could happen, if extremely high numbers of profile views, downloads, etc. were consistent and attendance at an artist’s shows was consistently high. Labels have certainly looked at artist’s mailing list numbers for years (especially in rock), and it’s often used as a determining factor when deciding between two artists. (And she had a label deal with Warner in the past, which I’m sure came into consideration.) So, My Space tracking and fan base numbers are an important consideration, regardless of how valid this story turns out to be.

The question is, will those page views and downloads translate into consistent ticket sales and interest in seeing the artist on TV and at other personal appearances? The solidity factor of the fan base may not be there to translate into a concert draw...Will a fan base heavily based on My Spacers go out and spend dollars on tickets? So if it’s true, I’d expect this artist to do a lot of webcasts and podcasts and other alternate income streams and not rely on traditional touring.

(I don’t include CD sales/ major label record deals in the income stream in this discussion because agents have nothing to do with record deals. Agents handle concerts, TV appearances, paid web appearances, film, and books, and some kinds of endorsements.)

Many people in the industry are waiting to see how the story plays out, and whether or not it’s even true. One report I saw about this story contained quotes from her rep that seemed to mention My Space more than the artist, and they’re pointing this out as suspect. Some people are wondering if it’s actually a publicity stunt for My Space, or if Lilly Allen signed an endorsement deal with My Space, or if her agency is possibly now representing My Space.

Given the timing, it’s a possibility, because My Space has certainly received their share of bad press over the past several months, and many members of the media seem not to know about the music aspect of My Space. Also, this week it was reported that My Space slipped to #2 in website hit rankings.! The first major talent agency signing of an unsigned artist, based on My Space tracking.

Or, it could be that the whole thing is true, and that My Space found out about it and issued a press release.

We’ll see...Meanwhile, if you’re an aspiring artist, never overlook the importance of building a large, solid fanbase online and offline, so that it translates into butts in seats. (Butts in seats sell CDs paid downloads and put more butts in seats. For a new artist, CD sales alone don’t put butts in seats.)

Live your dreams!

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Music Biz Savvy: If you're an indie artist, local band, or new National act who plays live shows…

Greetings from Los Angeles,

I wrote this on
My Space a while back, but as my brain cells fail to come up with anything witty to say on this busy afternoon, thought I'd post this here to give even more people the heads up...

Lately I've been noticing a scary trend that affects indie and agentless artists who play a lot of live shows:

Young promoters who've managed to get hold of large sums of money to produce shows, but who don't know the basics of live performance contracts.

I see this trend growing, because lately has been flooded with very basic questions from young concert promoters who have funding.

I find this troubling, because if someone doesn't know the basics of a live performance contract, it's highly likely they also don't know about local ordinances, OSHA regulations, event insurance, union rules, music licensing for live venues, or any of the ten million other details that go into putting on a safe, successful show.

There's a strong probability artists who work with them will get screwed over (from inexperience more than malice in this case). Or worse yet, the artist will be named in a lawsuit in the event of an accident--simply from the buyer not knowing what they're doing, and the artist getting tangled in the fallout.

So...If you're an artist who plays out a lot, know who the A-level and B-level talent buyers are in the cities where you play regularly, as well as for the cities where you want to branch out.

If an opportunity comes from a promoter you don't know, check them out. Find out what shows they've done in the past, and talk with some of the artists who were on the bill (better yet, their managers or tour managers)...Especially those at your level of your experience in the industry, and one level above.

A few things to ask...

Did they get paid? Were there any disputes/misunderstandings with the performance agreement? Were there any problems with the show? Were they resolved quickly? How did the promoter resolve them? Did Settlement go smoothly?

Meanwhile, take the time to learn your business so you'll know how to spot a bad promoter...and will know how to handle some of the problems that inevitably come from a promoter not knowing theirs.

Live your dreams,


Randi Reed, Founder / Editor in Chief,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.