Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Radio and Records THE RELATIONSHIP AT THE CROSSROADS

Recently you've probably seen the industry sites and blogs dealing with the comments and 'findings' expressed by a Texas based economics professor Stan Liebowitz on the relationship between Radio and Records. His angle is that the time spent with broadcasters playing music on the radio has actually hurt sales of new CDs and artists has of course run counter to all that we know about how much radio airplay (on any band - AM/FM/Satellite/Internet) has contributed to the awareness of the artists and their songs. Most of us who have been a part of exposing the music to lots of people know that it has helped many artists get exposed and many to make lots of $s. But, we see the record/artists industry grasping for more fees and 'taxes' associated with exposing their creative works and Mr. Liebowitz's claims here only fan the flames. Of course anyone on the planet knows that most of this was the record companies and perhaps some of the artists clinging to the old analog/cd distribution in an obvious consumer conversion to digital. They missed the boat so let's go drum up revenue somewhere is a 'cheap shot' but one we all have to answer.

Recently Dan Kelley who hosts http://www.classicrockfm.blogspot.com/ and also has a great background as a programmer and ops manager in our industry passed on Little Steven's comments on the whole issue. Remember that Little Steven is a very talented guitarist from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and also a host of Little Steven's Garage as well as an actor in the Sopranos but his perspective here is well thought out and does have a balanced angle on the issue. I have copied his comments from his Billboard Garage site below - I think we'll all agree with his well stated observations:

GARAGE ROCK July 21, 2007

LITTLE STEVEN VAN ZANDT
As even the slowest of us start to realize there will be no getting out of this permanently bad economy, that it isn't a cycle or a temporary blip, we will begin to see the last vestiges of reason, logic, pride, quality, integrity and dignity fly out the window.

Of course few of us will notice since most of those things have been systematically compromised, trivialized and marginalized by our corporate elite, and Lord knows our government, for quite some time and live on in our culture exclusively in disparate groups that by now must resemble religious cults and pitifully handicapped social niches.

The latest evidence of this sad loss of logic, pride and integrity comes in the form of a feverish obsession by virtually everyone to make all those greedy, evil radio stations pay for the privilege of playing our precious records.How dare they!

The free dance is over, buddy, it's time to pay the piper! It's perfectly obvious that this has been the problem with the record industry all along. Too much damn airplay!

And now that we've figured out that radio is the enemy, we're going to need a spokesman to voice our feelings and calm the outraged millions of customers who are angry and embarrassed at having been hoodwinked into foolishly buying records simply because they heard the song on the radio.

And ladies and gentlemen—right on cue—here he is:University of Texas at Dallas economics professor Stan Liebowitz, who argues that radio "acts as a substitute for music sales. If they weren't listening to the radio in their cars," he opines, "they might buy more CDs. "What else is he teaching those lucky kids in Dallas? That those oil wells out the window are the real keys to the greening of America?

With all due respect, professor, why will everyone be buying these CDs, or downloading or whatever? Because they like the artwork? We have talked about, right here, the new ways people hear music and its significance especially for young bands: ads, videogames, TV, movies, ringtones, car horns, whatever.But can any sane human being think all that can ever replace a great radio station?

Could it be that the professor has forgotten, or is too young to know, that there would be no record industry without radio?

Does anyone think it's a coincidence that ever since radio has been playing less and less new music, new music sales have gone down?

And now we want to make it less profitable for radio to support new music?I am a songwriter and a performer and I own record companies and publishing companies and I do not believe radio should pay anything to anyone.

And I mean every kind of radio.Let me go further and say anyone performing a song on TV or in a movie in a concert context shouldn't have to ask permission to do it or pay anyone either.Soundtracks? Yes, that's different. Videogames? Yes. Ads? Yes.

But radio stations and concert performers shouldn't have to pay for promoting our music and helping us sell it. Radio is the greatest thing that ever happened to us all, not counting Les Paul sticking that pickup on his guitar—which also worked out quite well.

The record industry, the publishers and our government should be doing everything possible to help radio, old and new, and start treating it like the national treasure it is instead of trying to kill the golden goose that's carried everyone for 60 years.And as for you economics professors, how about you spend some time figuring out why the value of the dollar is worthless and leave the music stuff to us?

See you on the radio.

THANKS LITTLE STEVEN.

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