Lefsetz Letter » Hits Sales Chart – 11/21/05

24. Neil Diamond “12 Songs”
Columbia
Sales this week: 43,167
Percentage change: -53%
12 songs you can’t buy at any price, since Sony recalled all the discs because they compromised computers. More evidence that labels don’t care about careers, only the bottom line. Look at the 52 acts whose CDs and careers have been compromised. Their public is mad at them. They look like pansies. Even though under the onerous contracts they signed they couldn’t prevent their albums being released in a compromised form.

This would have never happened thirty five years ago, when the acts had power.

Wouldn’t have happened twenty five years ago, when Tom Petty refused to have his album released at $8.98, a new high price. MCA needed the money, Tom needed his credibility. He didn’t want his fans to be guinea pigs.

From Lefsetz Letter archives.

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McCartney, CDs and Boomers Feed Concord Music’s Growth

A story of growth with focus:

Concord, however, focuses on getting steady sales from its catalog of 13,000 master recordings and releasing new albums by artists — like James Taylor and Chick Corea — who all pull their own weight.

“The majors and the classic business model have been hit hard because the hit business has been hit hard,” said Mr. Barros. “A low batting average doesn’t work.”

Mr. Barros said he expected Concord to have more than $100 million in revenue this year, 10 times more than in 2003, and said the company had a consistent operating profit. It has about 160 employees, up from about 50 in 2003.

That is a long way from where it started in 1972 as a small jazz label based in Concord, Calif., about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco. It kept a relatively low profile through 1999, when it was bought by Norman Lear, a longtime television producer; Hal Gaba, an entertainment executive; and Tailwind Capital.

via McCartney, CDs and Boomers Feed Concord Music’s Growth – NYTimes.com.

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Does This Latte Have a Funny Mainstream Taste to You? – New York Times

NYT reported in 2008 about the state of music sales at Starbucks:

The coffee chain began its musical offerings with a 1994 album by the saxophonist Kenny G, an early investor who now records on the company’s own label, Hear Music. But it cultivated a more discerning musical reputation with releases like a collection from the Blue Note jazz label.

Despite adopting a broader musical approach, Starbucks on average sells only two CDs a store each day at company-owned shops, according to people briefed on its business. Starbucks disputed that figure but declined to provide a different one.

In a business where CD sales are in free fall, many executives remain thankful for exposure in Starbucks’s 6,800 company-owned shops, including Tom Corson, executive vice president at the RCA Music Group, which released the current album by Ms. Keys. It has sold more than 120,000 copies at Starbucks.

via Does This Latte Have a Funny Mainstream Taste to You? – New York Times.

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Most Successful Female Songwriter

KING NAMED MOST SUCCESSFUL FEMALE SONGWRITER BY WHITBURN

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 17, 2000–Billboard Magazine Pop Music researcher, Joel Whitburn is the definitive source for all facts musical. In a Los Angeles Times review of his most recent offering, Whitburn named Carole King as the #1 most successful female songwriter of the 1955-99 pop music era. By Whitburn’s calculation, King has written or co-written 118 pop hits that have made the Billboard Top 100 Charts during that period. Leading all comers is Paul McCartney with 169 charted hits.

via CaroleKing.com.

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Quick note

Music Facts has just received its first comment on a post. Yes, it was an spam attempt and was automatically blocked by software, but that qualification does not diminishes the significance of this event. A first is a first. The first authentic comment will be another milestone when it happens.

Getting attention from spammers only means that you are starting to get attention…

And so end this note, the first (and probably last) time I appreciate being spammed.

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Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany

Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany

Documentary which looks at how a radical generation of musicians created a new German musical identity out of the cultural ruins of war.

Between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original and uncompromising music ever heard. They shared one common goal – a forward-looking desire to transcend Germany’s gruesome past – but that didn’t stop the music press in war-obsessed Britain from calling them Krautrock.

This BBC4 documentary is a sort of “prequel” to the previously mentioned Synth Brittania. I was hoping it would be as entertaining the earlier-mentioned sequel, but that was not to be the case. It starts well enough describing the turmoils around 1968 and Germany’ post-war trauma etc. and has many amusing scenes throughout but it spends too much with a few lesser known bands too experimental to my taste.

I am not saying you should not watch it, I only mean that you should not be surprised if a 60-minute documentary about non mainstream bands reveals itself  to be non entertaining in a mainstream fashion. And this is not a surprising statement to make.

For the record, a few amusing scenes:

  • Iggy Pop on the beach remembering going shopping for asparagus with Kraftwerk’s Florian Mayer
  • A very young Richard Branson signing very experimental act Faust
  • Amon Düül II’s singer recalling when she found the actual Ms. Baader and Mr. Meinhof  hiding at her apartment. (She promptly expelled Germany’s most wanted criminal from home)
  • Young Kraftwerk members sharply dressed and heavily made up trying some groovy dance
  • The place were Hansa Studios (where Bowie recorded Low and Heroes!!) was located has become a cafe, I think.
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All Music Coverage Statistics

As of June 9th, 2010, the Allmusic database contains no less than 1.9 million albums, 17.6 million tracks, 1.6 total artists involved and 348 thousand composers. There are more than three hundred sixty thousand album reviews.

It took them 19 years of continuous work to gather all this information.

For curiosity, we can compare the current statistics of the database with the ones from May 21st and see how much the database has changed in the last 19 days:

image

So here you have it: almost 35 thousand albums were added in the period, nearly 2,000 per day (and that including weekends and eventual holidays). New albums reviews amounted to 1,725 or 91 per day.

Seems quite a lot of work, doesn’t?

Source: All music.

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A Musical Revolution, With a Cost in Fidelity

The change in sound quality is as much cultural as technological. For decades, starting around the 1950s, high-end stereos were a status symbol. A high-quality system was something to show off, much like a new flat-screen TV today.

But Michael Fremer, a professed audiophile who runs musicangle.com, which reviews albums, said that today, “a stereo has become an object of scorn.”

The marketplace reflects that change. From 2000 to 2009, Americans reduced their overall spending on home stereo components by more than a third, to roughly $960 million, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group. Spending on portable digital devices during that same period increased more than fiftyfold, to $5.4 billion.

via A Musical Revolution, With a Cost in Fidelity – NYTimes.com.

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Lunch with the FT: Paul McGuinness

McGuinness met U2 at a Dublin gig in 1978 – they were supporting a band his sister managed. “They were doing quite badly what they now do well,” he says. “Edge was playing notes rather than chords – this was punk and it was almost frowned upon to be playing individual melodies. Bono was very keen to make eye contact, and physical contact sometimes, with the audience. He was very hungry for making them look at him. He was then and is now an exhibitionist, as all great performers ought to be. It was just quite exceptional.”

McGuinness, who was managing a now forgotten folk rock band named Spud, signed them up in the pub next door, over pints the band members were too young to be drinking, and laid down some business rules. “I recommended very strongly that they split everything because I’d read about other bands where there were officers and men – the Rolling Stones being a classic example, and the Beatles – where the songwriting members of the group earned significantly more than the others.”

From their first deal, all four were credited as writers. “It has stood them in very good stead because it backs up the democracy of a decision if everyone’s making the same amount of money,” McGuinness says.

Unusually, McGuinness negotiated an equal share for himself. Do you still get 20 per cent, I ask? Apparently not. “That was, in fact, reviewed later,” he says. “I had to build the management company, and they had to build the production organisation that makes the records and does the tours. If our overheads were going to be intertwined, that would be to ignore the reality. There should always be a division between client and manager.”

Those rights McGuinness did not secure for the band at the start, he doggedly clawed back as deals came up for renewal, using the band’s strengthened negotiating position.

“It was partly a moral thing,” he says, sounding for the first time a little like Bono. “You’d see a writer complain helplessly when his work was used in an inappropriate way, and we were determined that would never happen to us.”

via Lunch with the FT: Paul McGuinness.

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A Quote I Could Not Resist

Some non-musical facts:

Dr. John Ioannides, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina, in Greece, has noted that four of the six most frequently cited epidemiological studies published in leading medical journals between 1990 and 2003 were later refuted. Demonstrating the malleability of data, Peter Austin, a medical statistician at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, in Toronto, has retrospectively analyzed medical records of the more than ten million residents of Ontario. He showed that Sagittarians are thirty-eight per cent more likely to fracture an arm than people of other astrological signs, and Leos are fifteen per cent more likely to suffer a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. (Pisces were more prone to heart failure.)

To help strengthen epidemiological analysis, Sir Austin Bradford Hill, a British medical statistician, set out certain criteria in 1965 that indicate cause and effect. Researchers must be sure that exposure to the suspected cause precedes the development of a disease; that there is a high degree of correlation between the two; that findings are replicated in different studies in various settings; that a biological explanation exists that makes the association plausible; and that increased exposure makes development of the disease more likely.

via Toxic chemicals and their effects on the body : The New Yorker.

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