Saturday, April 4, 2009

STATE OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS:MELLENCAMP



From John Mellencamp's Website

Over the last few years, we have all witnessed the decline of the music business, highlighted by finger-pointing and blame directed against record companies, artists, internet file sharing and any other theories for which a case could be made. We've read and heard about the "good old days" and how things used to be. People remember when music existed as an art that motivated social movements. Artists and their music flourished in back alleys, taverns and barns until, in some cases, a popular groundswell propelled it far and wide.


These days, that possibility no longer seems to exist. After 35 years as an artist in the recording business, I feel somehow compelled, not inspired, to stand up for our fellow artists and tell that side of the story as I perceive it. Had the industry not been decimated by a lack of vision caused by corporate bean counters obsessed with the bottom line, musicians would have been able to stick with creating music rather than trying to market it as well.


During the late 80s and early 90s the industry underwent a transformation and restructured, catalyzed by three distinct factors. Record companies no longer viewed themselves as conduits for music, but as functions of the manipulations of Wall Street. Companies were acquired, conglomerated, bought and sold; public stock offerings ensued, shareholders met. At this very same time, new Nielsen monitoring systems -- BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) and SoundScan were employed to document record sales and radio airplay.


Prior to 1991, the Billboard charts were done by manual research; radio stations and record stores across the country were polled to determine what was on their playlists and what the big sellers were. Thus, giving Oklahoma City, for example, an equivalent voice to Chicago's in terms of potential impact on the music scene. BDS keeps track of gross impressions through an encoded system that counts the number of plays or "spins" that a song receives.


That number is, thereafter, multiplied by the number of potential listeners. SoundScan was put in place at retail centers to track sales by monitoring scanned barcodes of units crossing the counter. A formula was devised whereby the charts were based 20% on the SoundScan number and 80% on BDS results. The system had changed from one that measured popularity to one that was driven by population.


Record companies soon discovered that because of BDS, they only needed to concentrate on about 12 radio stations; there was no longer a business rationale for working secondary markets that were soon forgotten -- despite the fact that these were the very places where rock and roll was born and thrived. Why pay attention to Louisville -- worth a comparatively few potential listeners -- when the same one spin in New York, Los Angeles or Atlanta, etc., was worth so many more potential listeners? All of a sudden there were #1 records that few of us had ever heard of…

Read Full Article HERE

Amen Brother Mellencamp!

MGT

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2 comments:

tom in glendale said...

Dennis,

I guess you remember me. Tom from Back Door Man Magazine who later became the teenage roadie for The New Order. I saw your posts on the Stooges fan forum thing. Ron and I had remained in touch throughout the years and when he died I found that forum and have posted a few things on there.

Ron's death was so shocking and sad. I went back for the funeral (with Claire Saltz, who I assume you also remember) and was glad that I did.

Anyway, I saw you with the DKT/MC5 when you played The Echo in Los Angeles and ran into you on Sunset Blvd earlier in the day outside your tour bus. I wasn't sure you remembered who I was while we were speaking.

Ron and I used to speak of the days at #404 at The Coronet on Sunset. The days of John Spacely living at the Tropicana, of the gigs you guys were able to get in those times of nowhere to gig, of John Reilly and Jimi Recca and Dave Gilbert and Ray Gunn and pooling money to get food and the time you guys pulled a Let It Be and played on the roof of the building.

I was trying to remember the gigs you guys did recently while talking to Don Waller (another name from the past) and came up with several more than I thought I might have. They were interesting days.

Anyway, I am a divorced Dad of a 17 year old hot shot guitarist who loves the 5 and The Stooges and the fact that his Dad knows some of those guys. He got to meet Ron before he passed and also met Scottie and Steve Mackay. A big deal for the kid. He went to school the next day and impressed as many teachers as he did students.

Currently living in Glendale CA not too far from where you all played at the Echo club. I live with a lovely woman named Catherine and still play guitar, bass, sing, etc. I put out a CD a few years ago with a band called The Wig Titans and continue to play around in my tiny home studio.

So, I hope you are well and I look forward to seeing you guys if you roll back through L.A.

Be well,
Tom G
Glendale CA

Machinegun said...

Tom,
Of course I remember you. Glad to hear you are okay and doing well. I am taking care of my 91 year old father almost full time. DKT may not even play this year. Economy mostly, and we haven't released any new product so who knows? Please send me list of clubs you remember the NO band playing as I am working on part 2 for the blog on the band. Any funny stories too? You don't have to, of course, but I could really use some help in the memory dept. Hell, I'll be 61 years old this year. Where did the time go? Let's keep in touch my friend.
Cheers
Den

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