Archive for the Industry Category

Performing Songwriter also ending

Posted in Industry, News on June 4, 2009 by takecountryback

Performing Songwriter

From the Editor:

There’s nothing I’ve ever let go of that wasn’t ripped to shreds with red, agonizing, regret-stained claw marks. But not this time. This time there’s only a complete sense of peace and gratitude.

Over the past 16 years since I started Performing Songwriter, I’ve often wondered what the ending would look like. And Lord knows there were countless times that caboose should have smacked me in the head and rolled over me as I lay on the floor in drama-queen fashion, wailing, “I just can’t take it anymore.” My friends would inevitably gather ’round and say, “Oh for heaven’s sake, get up. Now, what can we do to help?” And I would pick myself up, blow my nose and take the next lead-footed step forward. We all knew there was still more to be done, and this magazine wasn’t through sharing its magic with me and everyone else it touched. 

Last week, after I wrote my June editor’s letter on unanswered prayers and we signed off on the issue, I was given a moment of clarity that gently told me, “It’s time.” There were no tears, no rolling on the ground, no drama and no regret. Only the aforementioned peace and gratitude that filled every part of me. And this time when I went to those friends with a sense of wonder and calm, each one smiled, put their arms around me and said, “Yes, now it’s time. And you’re going to be fine.”

Yesterday I had to walk into the office to tell the group of people who have become my family the news that the June issue would be our last. I, of course, hadn’t slept the night before, was filled with dread and could only pray for the grace to do it well. And each time I gathered myself and choked out the words, the reaction was the same: They hugged me, wanted to know if I were OK, and then asked what they could do to help. And therewas the grace—not in me, but pouring from each of them in a steady stream. They took what I was sure would be one of the worst days of my life and turned it into one of the sweetest. I am the luckiest person in the world.

I’ve talked for years about the beauty of independence. The fact is, it’s not the easiest road to take, but it’s the one with the biggest payoff in life experience, sense of purpose and whatever control life actually allows us. If there’s a train coming down the track we don’t need to have a meeting about what to do, when to do it and then vote on it. We don’t have to wait until the third or fourth car rolls over us, bloodied and barely hanging on, for some decision to come down telling us what to do. We simply step off the rails, fully intact.

Yesterday afternoon the Performing Songwriter staff sat in a circle and agreed that we were going to do this final act as a team. We believe our jobs have been to protect and maintain the integrity of the publication; honor its heart that’s big, beating and filled with goodwill; and to be in service to the community upon whose foundation this company has been built.

We know there’s a train coming in the form of an uncertain economy. We know there are changes that need to be made due to the nature of both the print and music industries that will affect the essential spirit of the magazine and take it in a direction that’s not really true to itself. And we know the only thing we have control over is this moment and our decision to lay the magazine down on our terms. It will be with dignity and pride, knowing the quality will never be sacrificed, its debts will be fully paid, our hearts will remain filled with gratitude, and we can stand tall knowing that we did it and it was a job well done. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to end this chapter of a most incredible journey.

To our readers, advertisers, writers, publicists, friends, co-workers and my mom, Mary Lou, these past 16 years would not have been possible without your support. I still can’t find the words to express how I feel, so I’ll just have to rely on the old standby: Thank you. You have filled my life beyond measure. 

And to all of the songwriters, artists, musicians and creative souls, you are why we came to work each day with such purpose. We know that music is vital to our culture as well as our hearts, and to create art is both noble and necessary. We need you to keep writing and performing and to believe in what you do. Your songs comfort us, teach us, unite us, provide us with joy, sit next to us in true companionship and give us a non-judgmental shoulder upon which to shed our tears. They let us close our eyes and relive bits of our youth, or sometimes compel us to dance around the kitchen in joyous abandon. But no matter what they provide, your songs are nothing short of gifts.

One of my friends said that Performing Songwriter has never been just a magazine. It’s the community that formed around it and supported it, and it just wore the clothes of a publication. The community is still there, steadfast and strong; it’s simply time to change clothes. I don’t know exactly what the outfit’s going to look like, but that wonder is part of the joy. And I’m looking forward to dreaming up the next chapter, closing my eyes and taking another leap of faith. Because if I’ve learned one thing during these 16 years, it’s that anything is possible.

So from the whole team at Performing Songwriter, please know that our hearts are bursting with gratitude. Having the opportunity to share this journey with you has been one of life’s greatest treasures that we’ll carry with us wherever we go. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Radio & Records Closes Doors

Posted in Industry, News on June 3, 2009 by takecountryback

Original Link

The current state of affairs has left The Nielsen Company with no other alternative but to immediately cease all services, products and events related to Radio & Records. The magazine’s final edition is the June 5 issue. Electronic products end today, the Web site will be taken offline soon. 

R&R Editorial Director/Associate Publisher Cyndee Maxwell stated, “Everyone on this team has worked extremely hard to fulfill the vision of Radio & Records, and everyone can hold their heads high on this very sad day. We had a highly talented group of people that always worked hard and gave it their best — especially in the recent past. I deeply regret that this day has come. The good news for some other companies out there is that we have many fantastic people who are now available to put their excellent talents, abilities and skills to work for someone else.”

Why Things Suck: Radio

Posted in Industry, mp3, Radio with tags , on January 24, 2008 by takecountryback

By Brendan I. Koerner Email 01.18.08 | 6:00 PM

Unless you enjoy hearing the same insipid Fergie song a dozen times a day, chances are you loathe mainstream radio. And for good reason: The FM band between 92.1 and 107.9, where commercial stations reign, is mostly a desert of robo-DJs and pop pabulum.The sad decline of conventional radio is an Econ 101 lesson in the consequences of artificial scarcity — and a B-school case study on the limits of scientific management. The scarcity is the fault of the Federal Communications Commission, which decided in the mid-1940s to confine FM broadcasting to its current frequency range, roughly between 88 and 108 MHz. The FCC’s spectrum-allocation rules, designed to prevent station signals from interfering with one another, further limited the number of broadcasting licenses it granted in any one market.

By the ’70s, thanks to a fecund period in popular music, a generation of audacious DJs, and cheap radios, FM had become wildly popular. That made stations valuable properties — so valuable, in fact, that only large companies could afford to buy and manage them. “The legal cost alone of getting on the air is enormous,” says Jesse Walker, author of the radio history Rebels on the Air. The government could have eased this situation by allocating more spectrum for radio use and increasing the number of licenses, Walker argues. Instead, Congress chose to relax the rules regarding the number of stations any one entity could own.

That’s where the scientific management comes in. The biggest barriers to building a radio audience are the polarizing power of music and the plethora of choices on the dial. So, when corporations like Clear Channel started buying up stations in the late ’90s, they set about building a lowest-common-denominator product that would be attractive to the most listeners. “There’s this idea of the perfect playlist,” Walker says. “Find it with research and attract the perfect audience.” But it turns out that the most lucrative audience is really just “people who will not change the channel during the ads.” The result: watered-down programming designed primarily not to offend.

So bored consumers are just tuning out. Listenership among 18- to 24-year-olds is down 20 percent over the past decade. Stations have responded not with bold programming but by cutting costs. They’ve also expended considerable resources to squelch competition from low-powered FM stations and Internet radio. Not that it has helped — 85 percent of teenagers now discover new music through sources beyond the FM dial. Even the biggest radio fans envision a grim future for the medium. One bright spot: The inevitable shift to digital radio could create more room for more types of content.

The Album is Dead – Mark Cuban

Posted in Industry, News with tags on January 24, 2008 by takecountryback

There once was a time when the release date of an album was exciting. For our favorite artists we knew when the last album came out and when the next album was due. If you loved the artist you bought it. If you didn’t you either bought the single or you listened to the album with your friends and then decided.

As the price of records and then CDs increased year by year, spending 20 bucks for a CD became a purchase you needed to be sure of rather than a no brainer or impulse buy.

Then free became an option.
Then aggregating almost unlimited free music on a PC and then an IPOD became easy.

So here we are in 2008 and the only given in the music industry is that CD sales have and will fall. And fall. And fall.

Reading last weeks billboard, something interesting popped out at me. The song Low Rider by Flo Rida sold 467,000 units in a single week. There were 27 digital singles that sold more than 100k units in that week. The obvious trend continues that people are ready, willing and able to buy singles of songs they like.

So the question arises, why don’t artists serialize the release of songs ? Why not create a “season” of release of songs, much like the fall TV season and promise fans that Flo Rida is going to release a new single every week or 2 weeks for the next 10 weeks ?

Sure, its not easy to come up with a great song every 2 weeks. But isnt that exactly the same problem you have with an album ? Maybe thats not the “creative process” for certain artists. That’s a problem for them.

What we do know is that music fans will spend 99c and that its easier to ask them for 99c a week than it is to get 9.99 at one time from them for 10 songs.

Serializing the release of music also allows for the marketing arms to be in constant touch with sales and radio outlets. Rather than having to initiate marketing plans and hope to reinvigorate the interest in an artist, it becomes a digital tour that never ends.

If an artist commits to release music on a weekly or bi weekly basis, then consumers can make a commitment knowing they are going to get something new and hopefully exciting for their 99c. If the commitment is strong enough its feasible that artists could sell subscriptions to their serialized releases. My guess is that consumers will feel better about subscribing to an artist and getting a song a week or every 2 than dropping 10 dollars at a time for an album.

In reality thats exactly how I buy my music right now. I dont do it by artist. I go to ITunes and I go through the top 10 lists and listen to samples and thats how I determine what music im going to buy.

If there was an option when I bought a single to subscribe to an RSS feed that would send me a sample of that artists song when they released a single, I would add that RSS feed to my browser. Add a 1 click to buy, and chances are Im going to buy a lot more music.

Is this idea so great Im going to start a music label ? No chance. I wouldnt get in the music industry if you paid me. However, as a customer and a buyer of music , if I knew that my favorite artists were releasing music weekly, i would certainly check by every week or listen to what was in my RSS aggregator to see what new stuff they had for me.

Consumser are buying music 1 track at a time. I think people will pay 99c to get a single rather than steal it. I think people would rather steal a full album rather than pay 10 dollars or more for it.

Labels need to make the effort to get artists to deliver in a manner that realizes these perspectives.

The album is dead

Worth Reading: David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars

Posted in Artists, Indie Artist Education, Industry on December 21, 2007 by takecountryback


David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars
By David Byrne

Full disclosure: I used to own a record label. That label, Luaka Bop, still exists, though I’m no longer involved in running it. My last record came out through Nonesuch, a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group empire. I have also released music through indie labels like Thrill Jockey, and I have pressed up CDs and sold them on tour. I tour every few years, and I don’t see it as simply a loss leader for CD sales. So I have seen this business from both sides. I’ve made money, and I’ve been ripped off. I’ve had creative freedom, and I’ve been pressured to make hits. I have dealt with diva behavior from crazy musicians, and I have seen genius records by wonderful artists get completely ignored. I love music. I always will. It saved my life, and I bet I’m not the only one who can say that.

What is called the music business today, however, is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that’s not bad news for music, and it’s certainly not bad news for musicians. Indeed, with all the ways to reach an audience, there have never been more opportunities for artists.

Where are things going? Well, some people’s charts look like this:

Some see this picture as a dire trend. The fact that Radiohead debuted its latest album online and Madonna defected from Warner Bros. to Live Nation, a concert promoter, is held to signal the end of the music business as we know it. Actually, these are just two examples of how musicians are increasingly able to work outside of the traditional label relationship. There is no one single way of doing business these days. There are, in fact, six viable models by my count. That variety is good for artists; it gives them more ways to get paid and make a living. And it’s good for audiences, too, who will have more — and more interesting — music to listen to. Let’s step back and get some perspective.


RIP Mike Hays, founder TwangCast,

Posted in Artists, Industry, News, Radio, RIP with tags , , on December 5, 2007 by takecountryback

TCB was saddened today to learn of the passing of Mike Hays.

Mike was the founder of and TwangCast. TwangCast was cyberspace’s revered and ground-breaking internet station created to showcase independent real country music that wasn’t been heard anywhere else at the time. Traditional country artists such as Dale Watson and Heather Myles reached a brand new audience. Countless artists were discovered via TwangCast’s influential and innovative programming. Mike’s passion for the music stemmed from his core, being a musician and singer himself. He knew first hand about the hurdles in the way of good music getting to the ears of willing listeners but instead of sitting back and accepting it as a given, he chose to make a difference. He was an active supporter of independent music and took that passionate drive to the floors of Congress to testify against the initial internet radio royalty fiasco.

Below is Mike’s obituary.

TCB extends their sincerest condolences to his family and friends as well as our gratitude for the impact his life has had far beyond the public person we knew.

Written by Gardiner Jones   

Michael L. Hayes

On Wednesday, November 14,one of Tennessee’s most respected Freedom Fighters, Michael L. Hays (Twanger), died at his home in Nolensville of a heart attack. Mike was born in Pulaski, TN on June 17, 1955 to Harold Dean Hughes and Doris Ellen Baker Hughes Hays, who have both preceded him in death, as well as his respected step-father, Freeman C. Hays, M.D.An avid motorcyclist, he was the State Legislative Corporate Director for CMT/ABATE, the state-wide motorcyclists rights organization, as well as that organization’s lobbyist. He was also a member of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation in Washington, DC, and recently lobbied on their behalf in the US Congress. Mr. Hays was also the sole proprietor his agency, Midsouth Talent & Booking. Prior to living in Nashville, Mike had been a radio announcer in Orange, VA, toured with his band, Mike Hays and the Haybailers, and prior to that had spent many years selling specialty audio equipment. Michael entered the US Navy in 1974, served honorably, and at the time of his discharge 1978 was a member of the Admiral’s band as singer and saxophonist.Mike is survived by his immediate family: one brother; Paul M Hays (Cindy), Washington, DC and three sisters; Barbara Thomas (Cam), Underwood, WA, Pamela Johnson (Shannon), Elizabethton, TN, and Patricia Ruth Emory (Jimmy), Richmond, VA. Also surviving are his daughter, Michelle Diana Williams (Indianapolis, IN), two granddaughters Savannah & Taylor, and grandson Bishop. Mike will also be deeply missed by his life partner, Carol Simpson of Nolensville, her three children and six grandchildren, and additionally, by a true army of Brother & Sister Freedom Fighters and many of his friends in the music industry.Visitation will be Monday, Nov 19,from 3pm to 5:45pm at Woodbine Hickory Chapel, 5852 Nolensville Road. The funeral service will be held at the same location beginning at 6pm. A buffet remembrance reception , hosted by brother Paul will be held at Mike and Carol’s home immediately following the service.On Tuesday, Nov 20 a procession led by the Patriot Guard will take Mike’s remains from Hickory Chapel at 9:00 a.m. to Maplewood Cemetery in Pulaski where he will be laid to rest at 11 a.m. near to his father, Mr. Hughes, and his paternal grandparents.Mike Hays was a man of faith, and had been close to the Methodist Church throughout his lifetime.Special memorials may be made to CMT/ABATE, Mike Hays Freedom Fighter Fund, P.O. Box 160223, Nashville, TN 37216-0223

Radio’s Newest Strategy: Play a Hit, Again and Again

Posted in Industry, News, Radio with tags , on December 3, 2007 by takecountryback

Henny Ray Abrams/McDonald’s, via Associated Press

Published: December 1, 2007

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 — For the millions of Americans who listened to Top 40 radio last week, it was almost impossible to miss “Apologize,” the string-tinged elegy performed by the modern rock band OneRepublic and remixed by the eclectic producer Timbaland.

WIOQ-FM, a pop station in Philadelphia, played the song 123 times last week, letting as little as 50 minutes tick by between repeat spins. And this month, “Apologize” broke the record for the most plays of a song on the nation’s Top 40 stations in a single week since computerized tracking began in 1990. The song played more than 10,240 times in a week, reaching an estimated audience of more than 70 million listeners, according to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, an airplay monitoring service, and the chart-keepers at Radio & Records, a music trade magazine.

The song’s success is more than yet another sign of Timbaland’s prowess — it’s the third hit from his latest album, “Timbaland Presents Shock Value” (Interscope), a compilation of genre-bending collaborations with everyone from Elton John to Fall Out Boy.

It’s also a sign of how radio stations are responding to the competition for listeners as radio’s audience fragments and rival entertainment choices abound. While the overwhelming majority of Americans still tune into traditional broadcast radio each week, they are listening less. And they are increasingly drawn to the dizzying choices of music and other programming available on iPods and satellite and Internet radio.

But many pop radio programmers appear keen to repeat the biggest hits as much as — or more than — ever. “Apologize” surpassed a record that had been set only in July by Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” according to the data. Of the 10 songs that have notched the most plays in one week, 8 joined the list in the last three years. And the oldest of the 10, Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” dates only to 2002. (The all-time most-played song across all radio formats is Santana’s “Smooth,” with more than 1.1 million total plays since it was released in 1999.)

Tom Owens, the executive vice president of content for Clear Channel Communications, which is the nation’s largest owner of radio stations and a big influence in the Top 40 format, said that “Apologize” deserved such heavy airplay because it had received “off the charts” results in listener research testing, and added that the song is devoid of content that might prompt more conservative pop stations to limit its airplay. Mr. Owens also said that Radio & Records and tracking services are counting slightly more stations than they used to, making it easier for big songs to break the record.

Even so, executives at some individual stations say they are playing hits more heavily than they did even two years ago. That is not so much out of concern over digital competition as it is a desire to respond to listeners’ busy lives, said Kat Jensen, music director for KKMG-FM in Colorado Springs, which played “Apologize” 78 times last week. “There’s a very limited window. If they’re going to listen 15 minutes a day, you want to make sure they hear their favorite song in that 15 minutes. It’s really the fast-paced life style that we all live.”

Many stations are also trying to keep up with listeners — and trying to draw new ones — by integrating their over-the-air broadcasts with social networks on their Web sites and other online features. But that comes against a backdrop of an eroding audience. The amount of time people tune into radio during the course of a week has fallen by about 13 percent during the last decade, according to data from Arbitron, which measures ratings for the radio industry.

Some analysts say that responding to the decline by repeating the big hits even more will set broadcasters on a path to losing listeners.

“What most of these folks do is retreat to a more safe position, and in radio, the safer position is to play fewer songs more often,” said Mike Henry, chief executive of Paragon Media Strategies, a consulting firm in Denver. Mr. Henry, whose firm helped develop a wide-ranging radio format known as Jack FM in the United States three years ago, added that the increase in plays of songs reflected “a fear-based response. That will only take you so far.”

While, “there will always be people who are just fine taking what they’re given,” Mr. Henry said, more and more people will be enticed by “programming their own media.”

For now, however, radio is regarded as the most powerful promotional tool when it comes to exposing new music — even if the connection between popularity on the airwaves and popularity in record shops is not as direct as it once was. OneRepublic’s album, “Dreaming Out Loud” (Interscope), sold roughly 75,000 copies in its first week on sale, a solid if less than remarkable debut. But the “Apologize” remix, which is included as a hidden track on the album, brought in sales of more than 140,000 copies on digital services like iTunes for the week that ended Nov. 25, for a total of almost 1.6 million copies of the song.

Not a bad comeback for OneRepublic, which was formed by high school friends in Colorado Springs and suffered through a near-miss with fame — including losing its previous record deal with Columbia Records — before the band’s popularity on MySpace helped it land a new contract with Timbaland’s imprint, Mosley Music Group, which is distributed through Interscope. “Even though radio does seem like it’s kind of an archaic behemoth, in terms of actually being able to pay the bills, it’s still one of the best ways,” said Greg Wells, the longtime producer who oversaw “Dreaming Out Loud.” “I’m aware of how fickle this kind of attention can be. Songs like that are rare for anybody.”


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