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He pointed to faster connections for mobile technology, the introduction of VEVO, and the as-yet-untapped possibilities of Facebook as possible successful future endeavors.
NARM DISPATCH #2:
THE MORNING AFTER
HITS' Man in San Diego Mark Pearson Parses the Good News and Bad from Confab
NARM ’09 got into full swing with this morning's Opening Session, beginning with President Jim Donio’s introductory remarks.

During his 21-year history with the association, he has seen a decade of unbridled growth, followed by an equally steep decline. He wasted no time getting to the obvious somber facts. According to Big Champagne, there are currently over one billion illegal downloads every month taking place, with overall business down 49% since 2000. In the last four years, we’ve seen most of our major national retail chains close their doors.

And it’s not just the U.S. feeling the pinch. HMV is the only national chain left standing in the U.K.

Donio also struck a typically optimistic tone in his belief that there are as many solutions as there are problems. He pointed to faster connections for mobile technology, the introduction of VEVO, and the as-yet-untapped possibilities of Facebook as possible successful future endeavors.

Still, the effect that the current state of the music business has had on the convention itself is plain to see. No official figures have been released yet, but attendance is definitely down. Donio was adamant that the need for NARM to go forward despite hard times was essential. And he is quite proud of the fact that there were some 350 companies represented this year, with 70 of them being new the convention. “Whatever the situation,” he concluded, “Music makes it better.”

Former Chairman Sue Peterson, who recently retired from Target, fostered a nice round of applause from the crowd. The new Chairman was announced in J&R’s Rachelle Friedman, who in turn named the new board with notable additions from the mobile community. Those include Amazon’s Pete Baltaxe, Homer’s Mike Fratt, Best Buy’s Ed Hogan, Nokia’s Adam Mirabella, Value Music’s Rob Perkins, Verizon’s Ed Ruth and Baker & Taylor’s Arnie Wright. This year’s Vice Chair is iTunesCal Cole, with Anderson’s Steve McClanahan serving as treasurer. Friedman also stressed, among other NARM initiatives, one for sustainable packaging as NARM embraces the green.

The keynote interview was with newly appointed RedOctane President/CEO Daniel Rosensweig, the man behind the wildly popular Activision series, Guitar Hero. Moderated by vid game composer Tommy Tallarico, Rosensweig's comments, not surprisingly, told of a future in which video games only increases its presence as a force to spur major sales of known artists and help break new ones in the process.

“Every culture has music,” he told the crowd. “We can extend where that music can go.” He used the forum to hawk new products such as Band Hero (which includes Rock Band elements such as a mic, drumset, bass guitar, etc.) and DJ Heroes, which will feature a turntable for scratching and music from the likes of Eminem and Jay-Z. Rosensweig took a hard stance on not paying licensing fees ,saying the pure volume just makes it unfeasible. (Some executives took exception to that after the session.) He ended with a typically bullish attitude of the continuing growth potential of the vid market.

Interspersed throughout the morning were performances from Mercury/IDJ’s pop bombshell Jessie James, Virgin’s alt princess A Fine Frenzy and Vanguard’s Trevor Hall, comprising what some called the best music the morning session had heard in years.

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