Tag Archives: Clear Channel

Just Try Not to Listen

The level of commerce that is associated with rock and roll is something that is best not thought about. It’s sort of like the old line that you never want to go into the kitchen of a restaurant—regardless of whether it has three Michelin stars or it is a McDonald’s—because you’re likely not to have much of an appetite as a result of what you’ll discover.

So it is best that we enjoy the filet—or the Filet o’ Fish—without much consideration beyond the object itself.

It is best that we enjoy the work of our performers without knowing what it is that has gotten them in front of us, assuming, of course, that the performers in question are those who have visibility that is perceptible beyond a small group of like minds.

But sometimes it is bracing to see how things are.

Case in point: the boiler plate description of Clear Channel Radio. This is how that company describes itself:

“With 237 million monthly listeners in the U.S., Clear Channel Radio has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. The company’s radio stations and content can be heard on AM/FM stations, HD digital radio channels, Sirius/XM satellite, on the Internet at iHeartRadio.com, and on the iHeartRadio mobile application on iPads, and smartphones, and used via navigation systems from TomTom, Garmin and others. The company’s operations include radio broadcasting, online and mobile services and products, syndication, event and promotion creation and operation, music research services and national television, radio and digital media representation. Clear Channel Radio is a division of CC Media Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB:CCMO), a leading global media and entertainment company. More information on the company can be found at www.ccmediaholdings.com.”

Sort of sounds like that Skynet from the Terminator movies. Or, to take another science fictional analogy, the Borg. Resistance is futile.

This past weekend Clear Channel launched iHeartRadio, its competitor to Pandora. And it just didn’t hold a press conference followed by a cocktail party.

Rather, it held a two-day event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It calls it the “inaugural iHeartRadio Music Festival.” A music festival in a stadium in a casino seems a bit odd, but there it was.

The event started with the Black Eyed Peas. It closed with Lady Gaga. And in between there were performers ranging from Jay-Z to Sting, from Kelly Clarkson to Jeff Beck, from Jane’s Addiction to Kenny Chesney. It was hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

That’s entertainment circa 2011. Sure, it’s long been this way. Just not so widely and well packaged.

My advice: Stay out of the kitchen.

A Fool and His or Her Money…

Deal with it.For the past few years, after the music industry’s fortunes went bottom-up and, consequently, the performing artists got even more taken to the Vaseline jar than they previously had, it seemed that the only way that performers would be able to make a quasi-reasonable living was through live performances. The return from the shows wouldn’t be predicated on the take from the tickets, but from whatever swag they were able to sell to the faithful.

After all, one of the issues vis-à-vis ticket sales was that there were corporate interests involved in many of the venues, which worked to their favor. “They,” not incidentally, were Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which are now a singular pronoun.

Continue reading A Fool and His or Her Money…

Live Nation gets $78 per fan

According to Live Nation‘s Q2 2009 Earnings Call for investors, the concert industry seems to be doing pretty well despite the fact that it’s down a little:

Overall, for the quarter our revenue per fan was $78.16 compared to $81.82 in the second quarter of last year. The drop of 4.5 is all because of declines in our revenue due to currency changes. On a constant currency basis our 2009 revenue per fan would have been $84.24, an increase of 3%.

I’m not exactly sure how that “revenue per fan” calculation is derived, but it sounds to me like people are paying an average of about $80 per ticket for Live Nation concerts these days. I tend to avoid big shows like that, but damn, does that sound right? Is that what you people are paying? Or is this just the U2, Madonna, Jay-Z and Nickelback crowd?

And what do you suppose is going to happen to that “revenue per fan” line item once Live nation inevitably merges with Ticketmaster?

Via Billboard.

Previously: Ticketmaster/Live Nation vs. Senate Judiciary Committee; Senate Urges Review of Ticketmaster-Live Nation Merger. And, coincidentally, on this same day in 2001 we were discussing which bands we’d “be willing to pay $30 to see” (Fuck Ticketmaster, 2001).

Ticketmaster/Live Nation vs. Senate Judiciary Committee

Obama‘s Non-State of the Union wasn’t the only action on Capitol Hill yesterday. Executives from Ticketmaster and Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel) went before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights to discuss their proposed merger. Jim DeRogatis recaps the hearing for the Chicago Sun-Times:

All of the senators voiced strong skepticism about the merger–including traditional foes Orrin Hatch (R-UT, and an amateur recording artist) and Charles Schumer (D-NY, and a Bruce Springsteen fan outraged by Ticketmaster’s handling of the upcoming tour)–and they hurled barbed questions about skyrocketing prices, duplicitous ticket schemes and unfair competition at Ticketmaster head Irving Azoff and Live Nation boss Michael Rapino.

A native of downstate Danville, Azoff stressed his background as a music fan who traveled to Comiskey Park to see the Beatles and who promoted acts such as Dan Fogelberg and REO Speedwagon during his time at the University of Illinois. “This business is in far worse shape than many people realize,” he said, adding that the merger is necessary to save it.

DeRo had also liveblogged the hearing as it took place, so check that out for more details like this gem: “Curiously, when Azoff says the word ‘merger,’ it sounds a lot like ‘murder.'”

Despite the Senators’ apparent outrage, I’m skeptical that anybody’s actually going to stop the merger. The era of Teddy Roosevelt‘s trustbusting was 100 years ago…

Ticketmaster + Live Nation + Front Line = New Model? Really?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ticketmaster and Live Nation are close to a merger:

The combined company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster [How clever! – ed.], and would merge the world’s biggest concert promoter with the world’s dominant ticketing and artist-management company. The resulting firm would be able to manage everything from recorded music to ticket sales and tour sponsorship. It could package artists in new ways, for example, allowing corporations such as a cellphone provider to sponsor a concert tour and to sell an exclusive download of a song.

Because it would be so vertically integrated, the new company would also be able to muscle out competing concert promoters and have more power to dictate ticket prices to consumers.

What effect do you think this will have on you? Any chance this will do any good for anybody? I’ve consciously avoided Ticketmaster for years, so I could really give a shit.

Live Nation was spun off from Clear Channel back in 2005. Remember Clear Channel? Boy, back in the day, they were Enemy #1. Those were the days when we had the audacity to hope that commercial radio might one day become listenable. Before iPods. Does anybody even care about Clear Channel anymore? Seems almost quaint now.

Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel) Ousts Ticketmaster

Live Nation writes its own ticket:

Live Nation, which ended talks with Ticketmaster in August, was bullish on the decision, terming it “limited investment.” The key, and Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino has repeated this often, is to control customer data, increase the amount of interaction with concert-goers and to capitalize on expanded distribution channels and sponsorship opportunities.

Is this the ultimate battle between two evils? What’s that saying about my enemy’s enemies?

Previously: Out in the Cold (2005); Find the Cost of Convenience (2002); Fuck Ticketmaster (2001).

Clear Channel Sells Filesharing Data

Wall Street JournalPirated Music Helps Radio Develop Playlists:

Earlier this year, Clear Channel Communications Inc.’s Premiere Radio Networks unit began marketing data on the most popular downloads from illegal file-sharing networks to help radio stations shape their playlists. The theory is that the songs attracting the most downloads online will also win the most listeners on the radio, helping stations sell more advertising. In turn, the service may even help the record labels, because radio airplay is still the biggest factor influencing record sales. […]

Universal Music Group, the record company that distributes Shop Boyz, also looks at file-sharing data, largely for help figuring out which songs are working best or what to pitch to radio. But executives have mixed feelings about the information. “It’s troubling that there is so much activity [that] it’s useful” for research, says Larry Kenswil, executive vice president for business strategy.

So wait a minute. The music industry is acknowledging that there are some non-infringing uses for p2p networks? That’s a switch. Will this lead to an all-out villain vs. villain battle between Clear Channel and the RIAA? Godzilla vs. Mothra!

Via techdirt.

Clear Channel Bought Out for $19 Billion

Not sure exactly what this will mean for the future of radio, but Clear Channel was bought out for $19 billion from private equity firms.

Tidbits from Bloomberg:

• “The company also plans to sell 448 of its 1,150 radio stations and all of its 42 television stations.”

• “The company lost more than 60 percent of its market value since 2000…”

• “Now the company plans to sell almost 40 percent of its radio stations. None of those are in the top 100 U.S. markets and the assets represent less than 10 percent of revenue.”

• “The deal leaves current executives in charge of the company, including Mark Mays and his brother Randall Mays, 41, who is chief financial officer.”

• New owners “Lee and Bain have been buyers of media companies before… [They] partnered with Providence to buy Warner Music Group…”

Guessing this is just another “same as the old boss” type of scenario. But who knows?

Rebel Yell – A Shout out to the Dixie Chicks

Naked Chicks Rule!Three years ago, the queens of country cross-over, the Dixie Chicks, alienated the country music world with a rather inocuous comment about President George W. Bush. The comment, made just days before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, brought the trio a world of trouble and cast them as traitors in the eyes of many country fans. With a new album due this week, anyone who thinks the Chicks are ready to repent and play nice had better think again.

When the Dixie Chicks debuted in 1990 with their independently released Thank Heavens for Dale Evans nobody could have guessed just how independent the future chart dominatrices would be. The group that helped push the later-day country crossover craze of the late 90s and establish themselves as the queens of MOR hits has become a firebrand of independence and integrity—and it all started with an off-the-cuff remark in a foreign country on the eve of war.

Continue reading Rebel Yell – A Shout out to the Dixie Chicks

Nashville Cat

Pedal Steel TransmissionDuring a recent visit to Nashville, I had an opportunity to visit the Emerald Studio. Architecturally blocky and office-cum-warehouse on the outside; a state-of-the-art facility with polished wood surfaces and an array of electronics on the inside, yet a sense of being a place where work is done in a creative manner, not some sort of antiseptic environment where the creativity would be predicated on the technology. And I learned about how Nashville does charting in a way that makes the traditional approaches used in other parts of the music business seem molasses slow. There I watched part of a session. And had the opportunity to talk with one of the musicians, a long-time steel guitar session player. While he has had the opportunity to play on the road with some of the genre’s notables, mainly what he does is get called in to places like the Emerald to ply his craft, or art. He’s been doing it for more than 20 years. What, I asked him, is it like today, versus how it was in days gone by: different? better? same? Consider that this is a man who must play to get pay. A man with a family and a mortgage and truck payments and insurance and. . . all of the stuff that ordinary people deal with, yet while many people have day jobs that provide them with the means to financially deal with all of that, he has chosen a route that is far different. He is not a name-brand musician. He’s the sort of person whose name is on the liner notes in a comparatively diminutive font. He’s not complaining about this, mind you. But it strikes me that he—like many of the musicians who play the very fabric of much music that we hear (or not)—have taken a path whereby their livelihood depends on how good they were their last time out, and whether they can get another gig. He’s not complaining about this, mind you. It is what he does. But it is one thing to think about making a living this way when you’re in, say, your twenties and another thing entirely when you’ve pushed past 50 and are still living out the consequences of the earlier decision.

Continue reading Nashville Cat