Friday, March 30, 2007


The platinum award Bob Seger just got for his Face The Promise album might also signal the end of his relationship with his long-time record company. Seger has been with Capitol Records for almost all of his nearly 40-year career, but a recent downsizing forced out many of the people that Seger and his management have known and worked with. A source in the Seger organization told, "We don't know anybody there anymore. All the guys that got us to do (Face The Promise) are gone."

On top of that, Seger's office has released a picture of him and the Silver Bullet Band getting their platinum awards in Detroit on March 17th, which was the last show of their Face The Promise tour. But the picture is titled "Will Seger Turn The Page?," and the caption says, "ironically, new label representatives for Capitol Records... did not attend" the ceremony.

Seger is working on a live CD and DVD from the tour that should be out this fall, and it appears that he will consider all options for releasing them.

If it happens, Seger would be the second high-profile artist to leave Capitol in recent days. Just last week, Paul McCartney announced his decision to sign with the Starbucks label Hear Music for his next album.


Although it was denied last year, the odds of a Blind Faith reunion are getting better. Eric Clapton has invited singer-keyboardist Steve Winwood to perform at the second Crossroads Guitar Festival, which will be held July 28th at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. There's no word yet whether drummer Ginger Baker will also be there, but Clapton did tell Rolling Stone that he and Winwood will re-connect at the festival because they have "unfinished business."

A full-on Blind Faith reunion is impossible -- bassist Ric Grech died in March 1990.

Blind Faith made their debut at a massive free concert in Hyde Park in London in June 1969. The band released one self-titled album, and they managed to complete one U.S. tour before Clapton left to join Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, who were the opening act on the Blind Faith dates.

In 2005, Clapton dealt with some other business from his past when he reunited with Baker and Jack Bruce for a handful of Cream shows in London and New York City.

Also signed for the Crossroads Festival are Jeff Beck, Sheryl Crow, Los Lobos, John Mayer, and Jimmie Vaughan, among many others. Proceeds from the event will go to the Crossroads Centre, the drug treatment facility that Clapton founded in Antigua in 1998.

Monday, March 26, 2007

TINY TUNES: Forget the Drum Solo - Radio SASS pares songs down to the bone

I thought this was a joke when I first read it, but no it is true. I don't know if any stations have adpoted this yet, but I suspect it is just a matter of time. This sounds like a really BAD idea......................

From Wired Magazine (March):

Why climb the "Stairway to Heaven" when you can take the elevator? That's the logic behind Radio SASS (Short Attention Span System), an experimental radio protocol currently in development that takes classic tunes and whittles them down to about two minutes.

"People's patience for music - even the stuff they like - is thin," says founder George Gimarc, a veteran programmer and former DJ from Dallas. "Twelve songs per hour won't cut it." Gimarc and his team of editors-musicians use what he calls "intuitive editing" to trim pop songs to their catchiest crux, pruning seconds from a guitar solo here, lopping off a chorus there.

Musicians are crying foul. "It's heinous," says Andrew Whiteman, lead guitarist of Broken Social Scene, a Canadian group known for songs that run more than ten minutes. "Music is not meant to be hook after hook." But Gimarc says most listeners don't miss the snipped bits. You decide: Check out the SASS versions of popular songs at

- Eric Steuer

And more from the Radio SASS website.................

Radio SASS starts out with the memorable beginning, followed by the best verses, best chorus and then wraps it up just as you remember. SASS offers a system of music edited by musicians, making the edits invisible. Just hear for yourself how satisfying this new sound is. Most listeners don't even notice that the songs are short, only that the station 'really moves.'

The one thing that is different is the pace of the station. Cycling through 30+ songs and hour, and 720 tunes a day, SASS does require a much larger station library. This allows broadcasters to develop hybrid formats, or deep libraries that they otherwise would never be able to exploit.

The SASS protocol offers up a distinct competitive advantage: NOBODY can play more music, period. It is also a format that the listener can't replicate on their iPod, or by punching from station to station to create a personal mix.

If it has come to this with radio, then what is next? Edited movies from 2 hours down to 20 minutes? I think we all need a heavy dose of Ritalin.

I would be interested to hear from anyone that hears of a radio station that has adopted this format.

As always, comments are welcome.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Album, a Commodity in Disfavor

Published: March 26, 2007

LOS ANGELES, March 25 — Now that the three young women in Candy Hill, a glossy rap and R&B trio, have signed a record contract, they are hoping for stardom. On the schedule: shooting a music video and visiting radio stations to talk up their music.

But the women do not have a CD to promote. Universal/Republic Records, their label, signed Candy Hill to record two songs, not a complete album.

“If we get two songs out, we get a shot,” said Vatana Shaw, 20, who formed the trio four years ago, “Only true fans are buying full albums. Most people don’t really do that anymore.”

To the regret of music labels everywhere, she is right: fans are buying fewer and fewer full albums. In the shift from CDs to digital music, buyers can now pick the individual songs they like without having to pay upward of $10 for an album.

Last year, digital singles outsold plastic CD’s for the first time. So far this year, sales of digital songs have risen 54 percent, to roughly 189 million units, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. Digital album sales are rising at a slightly faster pace, but buyers of digital music are purchasing singles over albums by a margin of 19 to 1.

Because of this shift in listener preferences — a trend reflected everywhere from blogs posting select MP3s to reviews of singles in Rolling Stone — record labels are coming to grips with the loss of the album as their main product and chief moneymaker.

In response, labels are re-examining everything from their marketing practices to their contracts. One result is that offers are cropping up for artists like Candy Hill to record only ring tones or a clutch of singles, according to talent managers and lawyers.

At the same time, the industry is straining to shore up the album as long as possible, in part by prodding listeners who buy one song to purchase the rest of a collection. Apple, in consultation with several labels, has been planning to offer iTunes users credit for songs they have already purchased if they then choose to buy the associated album in a certain period of time, according to people involved in the negotiations. (Under Apple’s current practice, customers who buy a song and then the related album effectively pay for the song twice).

But some analysts say they doubt that such promotions can reverse the trend.

“I think the album is going to die,” said Aram Sinnreich, managing partner at Radar Research, a media consulting firm based in Los Angeles. “Consumers are listening to play lists,” or mixes of single songs from an assortment of different artists. “Consumers who have had iPods since they were in the single digits are going to increasingly gravitate toward artists who embrace that.”

All this comes as the industry’s long sales slide has been accelerating. Sales of albums, in either disc or digital form, have dropped more than 16 percent so far this year, a slide that executives attribute to an unusually weak release schedule and shrinking retail floor space for music. Even though sales of individual songs — sold principally through iTunes — are rising, it has not been nearly enough to compensate.

Many music executives dispute the idea that the album will disappear. In particular, they say, fans of jazz, classical, opera and certain rock (bands like Radiohead and Tool) will demand album-length listening experiences for many years to come. But for other genres — including some strains of pop music, rap, R&B and much of country — where sales success is seen as closely tied to radio air play of singles, the album may be entering its twilight.

“For some genres and some artists, having an album-centric plan will be a thing of the past,” said Jeff Kempler, chief operating officer of EMI’s Capitol Music Group. While the traditional album provides value to fans, he said, “perpetuating a business model that fixates on a particular packaged product configuration is inimical to what the Internet enables, and it’s inimical to what many consumers have clearly voted for.”

Another solution being debated in the industry would transform record labels into de facto fan clubs. Companies including the Warner Music Group and the EMI Group have been considering a system in which fans would pay a fee, perhaps monthly, to “subscribe” to their favorite artists and receive a series of recordings, videos and other products spaced over time.

Executives maintain that they must establish more lasting connections with fans who may well lose interest if forced to wait two years or more before their favorite artist releases new music.

A decade ago, the music industry had all but stopped selling music in individual units. But now, four years after Apple introduced its iTunes service — selling singles for 99 cents apiece and full albums typically for $9.99 — individual songs account for roughly two-thirds of all music sales volume in the United States. And that does not count purchases of music in other, bite-size forms like ring tones, which have sold more than 54 million units so far this year, according to Nielsen data.

One of the biggest reasons for the shift, analysts say, is that consumers — empowered to cherry-pick — are forgoing album purchases after years of paying for complete CD’s with too few songs they like. There are still cases where full albums succeed — the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ double-CD “Stadium Arcadium,” with a weighty 28 tracks, has sold almost two million copies. But the overall pie is shrinking.

In some ways, the current climate recalls the 1950s and to some extent, the 60s, when many popular acts sold more singles than albums. It took greatly influential works like The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” to turn the album into pop music’s medium of choice.

But the music industry’s cost structure is far higher than it was when Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar. Today’s costs — from television ads and music videos to hefty executive salaries — are still built on blockbuster albums.

Hence the emergence of scaled-back deals with acts like Candy Hill. Labels have signed new performers to singles deals before, typically to release what they viewed as ephemeral or novelty hits. Now, executives at Universal say, such arrangements will become more common for even quality acts because the single itself is the end product.

With Candy Hill, Universal paid a relatively small advance — described as being in “five figures” — to cover recording expenses. Ms. Shaw, who formed the group with Casha Darjean and Ociris Gomez, said the members had kept their day jobs working at an insurance company and doing other vocal work to be able to pay the rent at the house where they live together.

If one of their songs turns into a big hit, they hope to release a full album, and to tap other income sources, like touring and merchandise sales.

But turning a song into a hit does not appear to be getting any easier.

Ron Shapiro, an artist manager and former president of Atlantic Records, asked, “What are the Las Vegas odds of constantly having a ‘Bad Day?’ ” — referring to a tune by the singer Daniel Powter that sold more than two million copies after it was used on “American Idol.”

While music labels labor to build careers for artists that are suited for albums, he added, “You have to create an almost hysterical pace to find hits to sell as digital downloads and ring tones that everybody’s going to want. It’s scary.”

As always, comments are welcome.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Neil Young live disc a teaser for boxed set

NEW YORK (Billboard) -
Neil Young has been a consistent presence on the charts since the late 1960s, but only once has he ever debuted higher than the No. 6 position enjoyed this week by the vintage concert CD "Live at Massey Hall 1971."

Young previously opened at No. 5 with the 1995 album "Mirror Ball," a collaboration with Pearl Jam. The new Reprise Records disc features acoustic versions of tunes that were mostly unreleased at the time, including six songs from his imminent 1972 release "Harvest."

"Massey Hall" and last fall's "Live at the Fillmore East" will be included as bonus discs in "Archives Vol. 1," a mammoth boxed set that has been in the works for 10 years and is something of a Holy Grail for Young fans. The package, which covers Young's career from 1963-1972, is set for a fall release. It will also feature eight audio CDs, two DVDs and a 200-page book of photos and memorabilia.

The remainder of the chronological collection features material cut with Young's early Canadian band the Squires, recordings from the period during which he lived in Topanga Canyon, Calif., scores of previously unreleased studio tracks and a live disc drawn from a week's worth of concerts from the Toronto venue the Riverboat.

"This really is an audio biography, not a boxed set," said Peter Standish, Reprise's VP of marketing, adding that three additional "Archives" boxes will follow. "The photos in the book are unbelievable. Those in and of themselves are incredible pieces of art."

The press-shy Young is expected to do some interviews in support of "Archives" but is not planning a tour around the release.

"A lot of people don't realize how extensive and intense the (2006) Freedom of Speech tour he did with Crosby, Stills & Nash was," says Standish. "I think Neil is taking a little bit of a break at the moment. But you never know what's around the corner. If the muse moves him, anything can happen."

As always, comments are welcome.

Friday, March 09, 2007

At Nashville record plant, vinyl LPs keep the musical faith alive

At Nashville record plant, vinyl LPs keep the musical faith alive

That dusty stack of records in the basement?
They're not as retro as you might think.

Many record collectors, DJs and music junkies still consider vinyl to be the gold standard of recorded music -- scratches, pops and all.

That enduring appeal has helped Nashville's United Record Pressing, which cranks out 20,000 to 40,000 records a day, making it one of the largest -- and last -- vinyl record manufacturers in the country."

Folks thought we had disappeared," owner and CEO Cris Ashworth said.

Started in 1962, the plant is as much a throwback as the shiny black discs it produces. The interior is dingy, the '70s decor looks like a vintage garage sale and a stale blend of ink and cigarette smoke permeates the air.

Ashworth, 56, sat down for a recent interview with an ashtray and pack of Merits by his side. He hardly looked the part of dance music guru, but 60 percent of his company's records are by rap, hip-hop and R&B artists such as Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera, Ludacris and Krayzie Bone.

Most of the discs are 12-inch singles destined for professional DJs at radio stations and dance clubs who still use vinyl records and turntables to mix, scratch and blend music.

"The record labels use us as a marketing tool to get that new track out there," Ashworth explained. "They'll come to me on a Monday, want it out on Wednesday and played Friday or Saturday night at a club or radio station."

Typically, the company will press four versions of the same song: a radio and club mix, as well as an instrumental and a cappella version so DJs can mix and manipulate the sound.

Another portion of United's product goes to retail stores, where vinyl is preferred by amateur DJs, collectors and purists convinced that the sound is superior to CDs.

"Vinyl has a distinct sound," said Doyle Davis, co-owner of Grimey's New & Preloved Music, a Nashville store where 15 percent to 20 percent of sales are vinyl. "You hear people use adjectives like 'warmer' and 'more round.'

"And there are other things beside sound quality. People know what the song titles are. It's not like, 'I like track 5.' You put the needle on and let it play through -- not jump around. You have more of an intimate relationship with the music."

Holding the line

Vinyl records use analog technology, whereby a physical groove is etched into the record mimicking the sound wave. CDs, on the other hand, transform sound into digital packets of information.

"No one ever doubts the quality of vinyl over any other format that's ever existed," said George Sulmers, a Nashville-based club DJ who spins classic funk and soul discs under the name Geezus. "I understand why change happened, but I don't think there was a valid need for the change."

The means of music delivery continues to evolve. Digital downloading has eroded CD sales. Some artists are skipping CDs entirely and releasing new music online for the casual listener and on vinyl for DJs and hardcore fans.

But vinyl still accounts for a small percentage of total music sales. Last year, 858,000 LPs were sold, compared with 553.4 million CDs, according to Nielsen SoundScan. While the 2006 figure was up slightly from 2005, the overall trend has been down from 1.5 million in 2000.

Ashworth believes the data is skewed, though, because a lot of vinyl is sold in mom-and-pop stores not reflected in the SoundScan numbers.

His company has managed to thrive by picking up business from competitors in a shrinking market. Today, he has only 13 competitors, compared with several dozen before CDs took over in the '90s. Revenues hit $5 million in 2004 and grew to $7 million in 2005. Last year saw significant growth over 2005, Ashworth said.

And yet the plant remains an anachronism with its rumbling presses that jar the floor, noisy blasts of compressed air and vats of blue nickel solution used to create the master discs.

A groovy history

Ashworth regards it a relic of Nashville's past, every bit as important as the old RCA studio where Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers recorded, or the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry enjoyed its heyday.

"We want to be the last vinyl plant standing, no matter what," he said. "There is no other plant that looks like this in the country. This is an antique."

Indeed, it still has the furnished apartment where Motown Records executives stayed when they came down from Detroit during segregation. The apartment adjoins a party room where Wayne Newton celebrated his 16th birthday.

Most of the major labels and many of the independents contract with United. Elvis Presley's reissues are pressed here, as well as recordings by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart, Alan Jackson, John Mayer and many others.

"If you look at the Hot 100 singles, we represent about 80 percent of what's on the chart," Ashworth said.

Ashworth himself is something of an oddity. A longtime corporate executive and former chief financial officer at Nashville Gas Co., he bought this place in 1999 with no experience or knowledge of the industry. At the time, the vinyl record business seemed doomed.

"My son was very worried about whether he was going to be able to go to college," he said with a laugh, adding, "Thank the Lord for a trusting wife."

But Ashworth made a go of it and then some, boosting employment at United from 10 to 60 people and fulfilling his own need to create something.

"A lot of people spend their lives doing something as opposed to making something, and I wanted to make something," he said.

"I wanted something tangible in my hands at the end of the day."

As always, comments are welcome.

Lead Singer Of Boston Dies

Delp Was 55.

BOSTON -- Brad Delp, the lead singer of the 1970s band Boston, has died.
Delp lived in Atkinston, N.H. Police called the 55-year-old's death "untimely," and officials said that they are investigating. There is no indication of foul play.

Delp was preparing for a summer tour and was planning on getting married.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Bob Seger's Face The Promise tour is coming to an end. He closes things out with a two-night stand at home at the Cobo Arena in Detroit next Thursday and Saturday (March 15th and 17th), and it's anyone's guess whether he'll go back on the road again. Seger told us he's going to take a break until the fall before he makes any decisions, but there are no guarantees that he'll be back on the road: "I figure if I take six, seven months and just write, maybe, and that's all -- you know, maybe a little bit of recording, but nothing else -- and just kind of reassess in October and say, 'How do I feel? Do I want to start another record?' But as I've said all through the tour, I'm gonna be 62 in May, and this very well could be it. (coughs) I just don't know. But I wanna get away from it for a while, and see how much I miss it -- I guess that's a good way to put it."

As always, comments are welcome.


Here is a great interview of David Crosby.................

The survivor of sixties excess explains why time is more valuable than money—and why it was Crosby, Stills & Nash, not the other way around.

Q: You once said of the sixties, “We were right about a lot of things . . . , but we were wrong about the drugs.” But wasn’t the most enduring art from the sixties a direct product of drugs?
A: They coexisted—it was not a direct result. The only drugs with any possible link to creativity were pot and psychedelics, but we had no idea—we thought they were all the same. The minute you get into hard drugs, you’re destroying creativity and you’re killing yourself, fast. Pot is a wonderful intoxicant—it really doesn’t do a lot of harm and is much better for you than booze. It’s a problem that rehab programs never seem to make that distinction.

Q: So it’s safe to say, then, that you still get high.
A: Well, that would be a silly thing for me to say, since it’s illegal.

Q: You’ve been an exponent of the mustache for decades. Any grooming tips?
A: The biggest thing to know about mustaches is you’re gonna have to start wearing a napkin. If you keep it clean, girls love ’em.

Q: And you would know—your 1967 song “Triad” is a touching ode to threesomes. Do you think people today are too prudish?
A: No, just too scared. I wrote that song during this little patch of history in between the invention of birth control and the onslaught of aids, when you could be as free as the breeze, make love to just about anybody you wanted to. It was pretty good timing.

Q: The hotel we’re in right now, the Carlyle, is where Melissa Etheridge’s ex-girlfriend Julie Cypher was inseminated with your sperm for the second time. Can you just order specimen cups and basters from room service?
A: No. Sorry.

Q: What do people not understand about prison?
A: Everything. It’s incredibly violent and you have to thread your way through it extremely carefully. My notoriety both helped and hurt me—some people liked me because I made good music, others thought I would be a real cool guy to kill.

Q: Crosby, Stills & Nash. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Crosby & Nash. CPR. How’d you always wind up with top billing?
A: Say the names any other way, it just doesn’t work. Stills wanted to be first, but it doesn’t sound right. I figured that out very early on.

Q: What’s wrong with the kids today?
A: Nothin’. They’re inheriting a pretty grossly out-of-shape world, and I hope they’re gonna be able to deal with it. All things considered, they’re being handed the fuzzy end of the stick, and I’m surprised they’re not more angry than they already are.

Q: Why do you think this generation’s opposition to the Iraq war is so feeble compared with how yours opposed Vietnam?
A: It’s very simple. Neil Young pointed it out: There’s no draft. In Vietnam, college students were staring death in the face, and that will get your attention very quickly—and bring your idealism to the fore. If they put in a draft people will react. And I’ll have to think about where I’m going to live because I have an 11-year-old son and they’ll be getting him over my dead goddamn body.

Q: If you had 10 minutes alone in a room with the president, what would you do?
A: I don’t think he’s bright enough to understand anything I’d have to say, but I’d talk to him. Don’t you think there should be a law that you can’t have control of nuclear weapons unless you can pronounce the word nuclear? But he’s not really the problem, he’s just a hood ornament. The guys running the engine are the problem. That’s what the song “What Are Their Names?” is about—we don’t even know the names of the people who are really running the world, the people in control of the major corporations.

Q: What could you buy with all the money you spent on drugs in your life?
A: A large ranch. I’m sure I spent $10 million, but it coulda been 15. The time I wasted is way more valuable than the money, though. Time really is the final currency.

Q: We hear that sentiment a lot. Is rehab culture now more dominant than drug culture?
A: There were people who were genuinely looking to get sober, then in Hollywood, as with everything, it became fashionable to go through that process. Some people probably did it who didn’t need to, others got help who really did need it. But it must be working—I know exactly one guy in the world who does hard drugs now, and I know thousands of people.

Q: What advice do you have for Pete Doherty?
A: I don’t really have any, and he wouldn’t listen to it anyway. He’ll reach the bottom and he’ll either want to fix himself up or he won’t. There isn’t anything I can do about it.

Q: Are you amazed you’re still alive?
A: Sure. I don’t know anybody who did what I did and lived. They must have more work for me to do here. Sometimes I get survivor guilt, too. I think about Hendrix or Joplin and other friends of mine and wonder, Why them and not me?

Q: What is the most misunderstood thing about the sixties?
A: That they happened in the seventies.

As always, comments are welcome.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Neil Young has picked a live version of his classic song "Old Man" to release as a new single. It was recorded in Toronto on January 19th, 1971, at a solo acoustic show that predated the release of his Harvest album. The track is on the upcoming release Live At Massey Hall, which is due March 13th.

The tracklisting for Live At Massey Hall includes "On The Way Home," "Tell Me Why," "Old Man," "Journey Through The Past," "Helpless," "Love In Mind," "A Man Needs A Maid/Heart Of Gold Suite," "Cowgirl In The Sand," "Don't Let It Bring You Down," "There's A World," "Bad Fog Of Loneliness," "The Needle And The Damage Done," "Ohio," "See The Sky About To Rain," "Down By The River," "Dance Dance Dance," and "I Am A Child."

Live At Massey Hall is the second release in the Neil Young Archives Performance Series, which is leading up this fall's Archives Volume I box set. That collection is rumored to have eight CDs and two DVDs and feature studio and live recordings from the years 1963 to 1972, much of which has never been released.

As always, comments are welcome.