why don’t you look at me / why don’t you see me go

The sto­ry in The New Zealand Her­ald yes­ter­day about the health of the NZ music indus­try, or oth­er­wise, elicit­ed this response from a read­er. I post it with­out com­ment or any edit­ing:

El Sid signs on.….

Cou­ple of years ago we were hear­ing that local music has nev­er been so healthy. At every NZ Music Awards.

I cant wait to hear what they’re gonna say this year!

It was bull­shit then and its bull­shit now. It’s hard­ly any form of rev­e­la­tion that artists have had to take sec­ond jobs. Most of them should nev­er have left them (if they indeed did-Zane Lowe nev­er left his!) in the first place. You seri­ous­ly want me to believe that the Bleed­ers expect to make a liv­ing from their music in a coun­try this size. They are the type of band that will sell more tee shirts than cd’s. Blindspott are hard­ly a hard work­ing band and their sopho­more album with Ger­man pro­duc­ers was prob­a­bly not aimed total­ly at NZ any­way. They must have had at least one eye on try­ing to con­sol­i­date on their much trum­pet­ed Asian suc­cess, and bloody good on them … so why are they are wast­ing their time and mon­ey at SXSW recent­ly …. try­ing to nur­ture inter­est in the US Indus­try that is already 20% down on last year’s dis­mal results. Why aren’t they back in Asia?

Bic is an inter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non. Camp­bell was hand­ed Bic on a plate and all cred­it due, they put the hard yard in over­seas. Back then Camp­bell said that Bic on p2p sites was the best guer­ril­la mar­ket­ing they had in cer­tain ter­ri­to­ries. Sony NZ and Inter­na­tion­al poured in the mar­ket­ing but they can’t do that any­more. It doesn’t work like it did back then. It’s a whole new ball­game! The majors know that bet­ter than any of us. They know any busi­ness that is in the busi­ness of try­ing to cre­ate demand instead of cater to demand is in trou­ble. All those old mar­ket­ing paths don’t deliv­er any more and the seri­ous sus­pi­cion is that maybe even the baby boomer pub­lic have wised up! Their kids cer­tain­ly have. The only time kids lis­ten to the radio is in their par­ents cars, TV view­ing drop off can be mea­sured in the dete­ri­o­rat­ing pro­duc­tion stan­dards of TV com­mer­cials. To kids Cd’s are like ‘things’. … It goes on. It’s back to basics. Real­ness. Play­ing live. Treat­ing your fans as spe­cial. Get­ting edu­cat­ed and get­ting smarter! Cre­at­ing new pro­mo­tion­al paths and exploit­ing the Net and work­ing with peo­ple who can be all things to the artist. By artists mea­sur­ing what they become by their art instead of how much they get for it. The irony tech­nol­o­gy has cre­at­ed ! Camp­bell’s man­age­ment com­pa­ny was near­ly all things to the artist, but he couldn’t (back then) not work with the labels . But, with his manager’s hat on, I bet he’s bloody not think­ing that now!

If I was Bic I’d be think­ing that drag­ging her brand (which is very cred­i­ble) thru this lat­est out­burst is seri­ous­ly uncool. Altho she will be cool. She has cat­a­logue and cred here and over­seas. One license of ‘Dri­ve’ to a car com­mer­cial will set her up for anoth­er year. Bic should be pissed off being treat­ed like this. Its like EMI try­ing to save their sink­ing ass by pour­ing all their eggs into Norah Jones’ bas­ket. You think the daugh­ter of Ravi Shankar believes she should be at num­ber one glob­al­ly, let alone gen­er­at­ing enough income to bail out a seri­ous­ly fail­ing cor­po­rate – no way jose. The MD’s of our local com­pa­nies know the writ­ing is on the wall and that the present mod­el has got to change or die. Mike Brad­shaw is a very smart guy. Camp­bell is a very smart guy. They know they should have attempt­ed to work with Nap­ster and learn to mon­e­tize P2P years ago, but instead their respec­tive boss­es tried to blow it out of the water and sue their cus­tomers. Dumb and dumb­er. The prob­lem of scale and dis­tance has ALWAYS been the prob­lem for local artists, and the Net is part of a work­ing solu­tion. If the labels and RIANZ spent the time, mon­ey and ener­gy of work­ing with the same tech­nol­o­gy as they have try­ing to con­trol it, local artists might be able to have more con­fi­dence in these same peo­ple. NZOA is in a pri­ma posi­tion to be a source for all local artists to be post­ed on one web­site that could have inter­na­tion­al promi­nence, posi­tion­ing and pro­file but MIC still per­se­vere in send­ing a select num­ber of artists to attend select fes­ti­vals that are still aligned to a redun­dant mod­el. For­get it. No one is home.

NZOA is the best thing that ever hap­pened to local music but they need to upgrade their cri­te­ria and re vamp their role. They got­ta pick up the ball. They long ago got into bed with radio pro­gram­mers who became A&R con­sul­tants to an indus­try that hard­ly had any A&R. Now radio and TV aren’t what they were. Local A&R was always the domain of local indies who nev­er got much air­play any­way. And it’s still the same old same old. Prob­lem is all the Indies are more flat ass broke than ever. Some of the artists them­selves are as much to blame. At WOMAD you saw high pro­file artists doing auto­graph sign­ings for their pub­lic in the pour­ing rain for up to an hour after their gig. I cant remem­ber the last time I saw local icons meet­ing and min­gling with their pub­lic, except at the pri­vate bar

The next thing that will start hit­ting the major labels, here and over­seas is that major artists wont re sign once their deal is up. And I can bet your lunch, that Camp­bell, with his manager’s hat on (again) is con­sid­er­ing this one! Oh Yeh! The majors are in a ter­ri­ble posi­tion. They can’t be all things to the artist, and that is what the artist needs. Man­agers can. Already the majors aren’t devel­op­ing new acts. They don’t have the resources viz time/money. The A&R vac­u­um being cre­at­ed now is only being bal­anced by the next Cold­play album. That’s all the majors can do. Wait for the new Metal­li­ca or what­ev­er. Soon as Cold­play and their ilk say ‘see ya’ (and they will) the majors wont be able to plug the hole in the prod­uct gap. Deliv­ery of prod­uct has always been the key to their cash flow. It’s here guys! Right under your fin­ger­tips. Tech­nol­o­gy has accel­er­at­ed to the point that it changes faster than big com­pa­nies can move to address it, let alone try get the cd out in time!

If youre in a young tour­ing band, get out of here. If you’re rely­ing on cd sales, get a job . If you’re smart, start treat­ing your fans bet­ter. If you’re a song writer, treat your cat­a­logue well and you will be sweet! Syn­chro­niza­tion, tour­ing and mer­chan­dise is where its at … but most of all… u got­ta BYOB !

El Sid.….

update: Bob Dak­tari, a long time indus­try insid­er, has more

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