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I have way too many talented friends out of work, people aren't having as much fun in their jobs, The Thrills made an amazing record, Warren Zevon is gone, and I love my iPod (and I'm fairly certain it has feelings for me as well, but that's another column).

A&R THOUGHTS BY AN
INDUSTRY INSIDER

At Least That’s How Rodel Refers to ASCAP’s Tom DeSavia, Who Weighs in on the Future of the Biz in the First of an Intermittent Series
So Rodel calls and asks me to wax poetic for the first in a series of guest columns.  I assume he recalls my journalist achievements at Cash Box in the mid-‘80s and felt I was suited for, if not the pages of HITS, at least the website.  After all, Cash Box was a trade magazine, too.  Hey, Adelson worked there also, so get off my back!  I was young and needed the money (Ed. Note: And now he’s old and needs the exposure)...

Anyway, I think I'm supposed to talk about the STATE OF THE INDUSTRY. Well, um, what can I say that everyone else hasn't already said?  I mean, we have been watching our business change dramatically for the past few years.  The buzzwords "merger" and "layoffs" and "downloading" are a part of everyday conversation.  Some folks say the music industry is dying; some say it's already dead (Weekend at Bernie's, anyone?).  I don't know.  I'm just a simple man who works at a performing rights organization.  I love my job.

What I do know is this—our industry is not building career acts. I have way too many talented friends out of work, people aren't having as much fun in their jobs, The Thrills made an amazing record, Warren Zevon is gone, and I love my iPod (and I'm fairly certain it has feelings for me as well, but that's another column).  I also know that my young niece, desperate to build a CD collection that defines who she is, has turned to buying only catalog releases and discovering Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin and some act called Nirvana, that was apparently big in the ’90s. She buys them because they are affordable and come with a guarantee of quality she can't find in most current releases.  She also can't find a catalog of albums by most new acts... one, two albums, they're gone from her radar.  She thinks records cost too much and there doesn't seem to be a quality control on most releases making them a worthy investment.  I think she's right.

When I look at who is pulling for her dollar it amazes me—cell phones, video games, Internet charges, fashion, and all sorts of various new technology.  When I was a kid it was basically music, movies, burgers, and if I waited with my friends outside the 7-11 long enough, some fool would buy us beer.  Records, as the sticker used to promise were our "best entertainment value."  I also had a good idea of what I was buying:  There
was something called FM radio back then that used to go deep in album tracks, record stores music was programmed by the clerks, Rolling Stone magazine used to feature musicians on its cover.  I know I can find info on the Internet now, but back then, somehow, it used to find me.  And I walked uphill in the snow to school and everything cost a nickel.

What's wrong?  Quarterly reporting?  The limited marketing to an age group that is clearly not that impressed?  The loss of regionalism in American radio?  Well, duh, yeah, all those reasons.

How does it fix itself?  I don't know if it does.  I think we need to acknowledge that the emperor is now completely buck naked, and he's burning illegal CDs.

Strong catalog at any company will keep the doors open.  Who are the catalog acts of the future?  There are some, but compared to the artistic outputs of past decades it's pretty bleak.  Your homework assignment is to come up with ten acts who debuted in the last ten years who will have a successful catalog, and, maybe, just maybe, still be relevant recording and touring entities.

Music has not lost its importance to the human soul... it never will.  Now go home and listen to Exile on Main Street.

Anyway, thanks for reading.  And now back to your regularly scheduled program…  Buzzin':  Some band at Spaceland, an attorney, a publisher, Joe Fleischer.
HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/6a)
NEAR TRUTHS:
WINNING NOMINATIONS
I.B. Bad on music's biggest comeback (12/6a)
ON THE COVER: LADY GAGA & TONY BENNETT
It's De-Lovely. (12/6a)
CALLING THE PLAYS:
JOHN JANICK
We salute the winner and still champ. (12/6a)
SONG STREAMS:
'TIS THE SEASON
It's beginning to look a lot like Xmas. (12/6a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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