Devaluation of Music
2007 by Keith Holzman,
Holzman Solutions Unlimited.
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become greatly concerned that
music is no longer considered
to be magical, and I suspect
I'm not alone in this belief.
Music has become a mere commodity
and is not valued for the exciting,
emotional experience it's capable
of creating. A number of things
happened recently that have
confirmed this realization.
I was growing up, it took a
number of weeks' allowance for
me to afford to buy an album
-- bought as a stack of five
or six 78s in those days --
of whatever music I was into
at the time. As I grew older,
buying music became a regular
habit, if not an illness. Music
has always filled my life in
one way or another. When I was
not working in the theatre (my
original choice for a career)
I had a standing invitation
from the senior record executive
at Doubleday Bookstores in New
York to sell records in the
music department at whichever
of their Manhattan locations
I was needed. I think I spent
most of my salary there buying
LPs at wholesale prices.
my brother's urging I eventually
chose the record business for
my career and joined him at
Elektra. Over the years I've
continued to spend a lot of
money purchasing music in the
currently prevailing format.
My home is filled with row upon
row of LPs and CDs, almost all
of which were paid for with
cold, hard cash, although some
have been gifts from friends
in the industry. That's after
I've given away countless cartons
of music to libraries in the
Los Angeles area.
has an incomparable value to
me -- as inspiration, pure melodic
enjoyment, intellectual exercise
(there's nothing quite like
analyzing the structure of a
Bach fugue to invigorate your
mind) and as the background
to just plain living.
what I see happening today is
mind-numbing and extremely dangerous
to our industry.
music has become a tool for
businesses to use as a come-on
to something else. For example.
It's just been announced that
Adidas, the giant sport shoe
manufacturer, is planning a
summer download promotion. Though
plans were not finalized, according
to a June 8 piece in Digital Music
concept will involve download
giveaways on a customized Adidas
microsite, and various advertising
tie-ins related to the destination."
Here's music being devalued
for the benefit of selling sneakers!
article by Lars Brandle in the
June 9 issue
discusses a clash over "covermounts"
in the U.K. These are free CDs
that are attached to covers
of magazines, and more recently,
newspapers. "The issue
has long been the subject of
debate between labels and retailers
here, while trade body the Music
Managers Forum has been particularly
vocal about its negative aspects.
ludicrous it is that the music
industry are shouting about
illegal downloading,' Music
Managers Forum chairman Jazz
Summers asks, "but they're
giving [music] away for free
on the cover of a paper? It's
the same thing."
Billboard article discloses
that, on a recent Sunday, the
national Mail gave away 3 million
copies of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular
Bells" as part of the newspaper.
Free, but for the purchase of
something to wrap your garbage
read quite a few news stories
last week about a deal that
Warner Music Group is making
with Lala.com that will allow
anyone to listen to WMG music
for free. Robert Levine, in
New York Times on June 5,
writes that Lala "will
make the vast majority of albums
in the Warner Music catalog
available at its site as audio
'streams,' which can be heard
online but not downloaded. Although
listening to those streams will
be free for consumers, Lala.com
will pay Warner a royalty each
time a user listens to a song."
may remember Lala as the site
where fans can trade their used
CDs for a fee, further devaluing
the CD, and the music it contains.
not forget about big-box chains
like Wal-Mart and Best Buy that
sell CDs at bargain, loss-leader,
prices in order to generate
traffic in their stores. These
prices are usually at or below
their cost, making it a lot
tougher for other music retailers,
who need to sell CDs at higher
prices, in order to stay in
there's radio. Stations that
exist primarily for playing
music pay only for performance
rights -- at annual fees set
by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. They
do not pay for specific songs
or compositions, and more important,
they do not pay record labels
for use of the recorded masters.
This is something that prevails
only in the U.S. In almost all
other nations in the world,
radio stations pay record labels
for use of their music.
me, music is an emotional, and
and I hate seeing how it's become
curious how others in the record
business perceive what I believe
is an extremely serious trend
that threatens our entire industry.
I invite your comments and opinions,
and if there are enough provocative
responses, I'll compile them
for a future newsletter.
Copyright 2007 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights
reserved. Adapted from "Manage for Success," Newsletter #74,
Keith Holzman is the principal of Solutions Unlimited, a management
consultant specializing in the recording industry. A trusted advisor
and troubleshooter, he is a seasoned music business senior executive
with extensive experience in all aspects of running a label. He was
President of ROM Records, Managing Director of Discovery Records,
Senior Vice President of Elektra, and Director of Nonesuch Records.
He publishes "Manage for Success," a free monthly email newsletter
devoted to solving problems of the record industry. You can subscribe
at his website <http://www.holzmansolutions.com>. Keith is a member
of the Institute of Management Consultants and has served as a
panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a board
member of many arts organizations. He can be reached at
Keith is also the author of the recently published "The Complete
Guide to Starting a Record Company" available both as a 235-page,
printed spiral-bound book, as well as a downloadable E-Book.