Taking Care of Business is a summary of the weeks music business news, from New Zealand and abroad. Our man Odeon Osmond tells it like it is.
It is March already. And for big league music business executives, such as myself, March means just one thing. SXSW. This week we will all be there. About 250,000 of us. We will descend on Austin, prop up the 1000's of bars, talk big and mostly forget to go and see any of the 3000 odd bands. We will be taking care of business.
And it really is business. In 2013 the festival racked in $200 million. The whole show was sponsored up to the eyeballs. Bands rocked out for free on the on the giant "vending machine" Doritos stage. Homeless people were used as roaming wi-fi transmitters. As the New York times asked, does SXSW benefit "bands or brands"? Either way, it is one big party time.
This year even Lady Gaga wanted to play the Doritos stage, though due to concerns about dorito induced rioting, she wasn't allowed.
That's not to say it is all bad. As Tom Windish, of the Windish booking agency says in Billboard, SXSW is less about discovery and more about a promotional platform. Windish have 121 of their bands playing at SXSW and he says some interesting things about SXSW here.
Aside from partying at SXSW the modern music executive - like myself - is all about the numbers. We're all about spreadsheets, stats, "socials" and connectivity. We also like to use the word "engage" a lot . So anyway, naturally enough it interested me to see that Spotify has just purchased music data company Echo Nest. As Billboard puts it the "growing importance of data in the music business as context becomes king in a world of virtually unlimited content." Yep, that sounds really exciting.
As the New York Times reports, we don't need ears to succeed in music these days - we just need algorithms. it is "the sweet stream streaming sound of data". Don't forget it's all about the music folks.
And here is an article about my kinda guy. The Frank Underwood of the music business. The guy who runs by far the biggest, most dominant and possibly most ruthless record label in the world. It is Lucian Grainge chairman of Universal Music. The Los Angles Times asks - can he save the music business? One algorithm at a time, one tech company at a time, thats how he is going to save it.
In local New Zealand news, Ian Jorgenson (AKA Blink) is closing down Wellington music venue Puppies. It opened in October 2012 and is closing in June this year, going out with a festival and a bang. Blink also completed the final Camp A Low Hum this year. Personally, I prefer to go to music industry showcases with free drinks and where the music doesn't drown out all the interesting things I have to say. However my wealthy golfing buddy's son is into this sort of alternative stuff. Plus, who knows, something useful like the next Titanium or Miley could come out of here. If you want to help them out you can contribute to this Kickstarter campaign. There is an interesting video of the venue, which is great for me and other A&R bigwigs because it means we don't have to actually go and see it for ourselves.
Finally, Spinal Tap, the movie, is 30 years old this month. Happy anniversary Nigel Tufnel.