Tag Archives: lists

Dead Man’s Wallet

The publication that once self-described as “The Capitalist’s Tool,” which eventually had an unfortunate if apt meaning, Forbes, has, like its competitor, Fortune, long been into creating lists. This was something that preceded the clickbait approach of so-called listicles, which are pretty much predicated on short attention spans. In the case of Forbes and Fortune the lists were predicated on numeric data that their readers could use for purposes of comparison and analysis rather than distraction.

Still, times change for all.

One of the things that is tough to overlook about the music industry—and let’s recognize that what is most visible are the industry participants rather than artisans or craftspeople—is that it is hugely measured in the metric of “hits,” which means “sales,” which means “revenue,” which leads to “earnings.”

In the recent Q3 earnings call, for example, for Universal Music Group, during which it was noted that the company had its fifth quarter running of strong earnings (e.g., revenues of $2.68 billion), Sir Lucian Grainge (and know that Grainge wasn’t knighted because of dragons), pointed out that while there are some 100,000 tracks uploaded to streaming services each day, this is really not helpful because it tends to be “low-quality content,” as distinct from 114-million album seller Taylor Swift, about whom he remarked: “You just have to look at the excitement around the world on a brilliant album by a brilliant artist with this week’s Taylor Swift release. That drives consumption, it drives audience and it drives new people to everything to the products, to the platforms, to other music.” And, of course, it drives revenue.

But Swift is still with us, and Forbes has complied a list of the top-earning artists and entertainers who are dead but still minting some serious coin during the past 12 months.

Of the list of 15 people, musicians take eight spots. The first two on the list are J.R.R. Tolkien ($500 million) and Kobe Bryant ($400 million).

But then there is a musician at number three. David Bowie. He (or more accurately, some legally existing entity, but from here on out we’ll just cite names rather than estates, tontines, corporations, and what have you) earned $250-million. This primarily from a catalog sale.

(According to Will Page of Tarzan Economics, which runs numbers related to the music industry, the global value of music copyright is $39.6-billion, which is now 40% more than in 2001, the year of peak CD; now 55% of the value is predicated on streaming.)

At number 4 is a man who has been dead since August 16, 1977. Elvis earned $110-million during the past year. This is mainly a take from Graceland and various variations of Elvis-branded objects. One might image that at some point in the past—maybe 2001—we hit peak Elvis. Consider: 50,000,000 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong came out in 1959. If they were an average 20 years old then, this means they’re now 83. The only hip shaking most of them are going to do could lead to a fracture. Still, they’ve evidently got some disposable income.

James Brown, the former hardest working man in show business, is in the fifth position, $100-million. This is based on music rights, real estate (evidently hard working and smart), and his name and likeness. Two interesting things to know about him: he was short: 5-foot, 6 inches (according to the CDC, the average male is 5’9”) and he died on Christmas (2006).

Michael Jackson is in sixth position, with $75-million in earnings. Shows in Vegas and on Broadway and his catalog accounts for the major portion of this income. (Speaking of Vegas, while there seems to be an increasing trend toward musicians doing residencies there so they don’t need to travel, it is worth noting that Jackson’s ex-father-in-law performed there more than 600 times, including a run of 58 sold-out shows—that’s entertainment.)

Seventh place, at $55-million, is held by Canadian musician Leonard Cohen, whose “Hallelujah” seems to be a song people like to cover. According to the New York Times Cohen died the night of November 7, 2016, “during his sleep following a fall.” Cohen’s Wikipedia entry has it that “His work explored religion, politics, isolation, depression, sexuality, loss, death, and romantic relationships.” Probably not the life of any party not being held in the basement of a funeral home. Cohen’s earnings were from publishing and his masters.

The most-unexpected musician on the list is in ninth, with $25-million: Jeff Porcaro. Yes, the drummer for Toto. He died in 1992 at age 38 of a heart attack. While some may sneer at Porcaro and Toto, the opening paragraph of article that appeared in 1997 in Drum! magazine by Greg Rule is worth quoting in full because one can only assume that Drum! magazine probably has writers who know a little more about, well, drummers than the rest of us:

“For two-plus magical decades, Jeff Porcaro set the standard. Whatever the session, whatever the stage, when he picked up sticks it was pure magic. Smooth as silk. Deep beyond all comprehension. Taste, impeccable time and attitude for days. He had it all. From his breakthrough sessions with Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan in the mid ’70s to his final notes with Toto on Kingdom of Desire in 1992, the man with the golden groove was consistently brilliant. ‘He was one of the best drummers in the world,’ said Eddie Van Halen at a tribute held for Jeff in late ’92. ‘Definitely the groove master. He was just so heavy.’”

Porcaro’s earnings came from publishing and recording royalties. (Apparently Pocaro’s half-time shuffle beat on “Rosanna” is considered by many to be iconic. Speaking of that song, it was written about Rosanna Arquette, who had been dating Steve Porcaro, Toto keyboard player and yes, Jeff’s brother. Arquette is also the person about whom Peter Gabriel wrote “In Your Eyes.” She’s clearly something.)

Positions 12 and 13, $16-million and $12-million, respectively, deserve a shrug: John Lennon and George Harrison. Royalties and rights for the music in Get Back. One of these days George will get ahead of John. . . .

Bowie illustration by Michelle Rohn for Forbes.

Looking at Lists

Although ranking lists are common and therefore something to be ostensibly sniffed at, let’s face it: we all fall to the allure of the ad populum. We want to see what groups of other people think, either in order to justify our own positions or to maintain that the wisdom of crowds is actually the stupidity of crowds.

Or, at a more superficial but just as important level, it is like eating potato chips: non-nutritious but damned tasty. (Lists are actually less deleterious to one’s well being than the chips are, as while there may be fat in the list, there is likely no salt, so you have to bring your own grain to the assessment of the results, and the size of that chunk may be rather large.)

When I Googled “richest musicians,” the featured snippets box, that thing that sometimes shows up at the top of the results page, listed:

1. Paul McCartney
2. Andrew Llyod Webber [sic]
3. Jay Z
4. P-Diddy
5. Madonna
6. Herb Alpert
7. Dr Dre
8. Celine Dion

and while the top of the snippet indicated that the list included 17 more that were just a click away (i.e., it is a list of the top 25), I noted that the domain was “.ng,” something that I was not familiar with.

So I Googled that and discovered it is for Nigeria. I wonder if a prince who has millions of dollars that he would like to put into my bank account is in any way involved in creating the list. After all, McCartney and the others have serious money, too, so they undoubtedly hang out with that guy who needs a place to park his immense fortune and it could be that this list is simply a list that he created to keep track of his pals.

There are plenty of other sites with their versions of the “richest musicians,” including the monetary sounding “ledgernote.com,” the musical “playback.fm,” the institutional “gobanking.com” and the financially hip sounding “wealthygorilla.com.”

I don’t know if my virus protection is up to any of them, so I decided to forego additional research on that area of listed information.

Continue reading Looking at Lists

Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc


A lot of people are saying things about this photo. Not us, but a lot of people. Some very smart people; the best people.

I updated my Facebook picture with his smirking mug and added a couple comments. That got people talking…a lot of them.

Here are 300+ things people are saying about #TrumpDoc (of the 570, and counting).

  1. Can’t stop telling you about the time he met Donald Fagan at a boat show.
  2. Ends every question during a physical with, “If you know what I mean…”
  3. Signs your high school physical form on sight, asks if your mom’s dating.
  4. Asks if you’ve ever ridden in a convertible, casually dangles Sebring keys.
  5. Won’t stop asking if you’ve signed up for his band’s mailing list.
  6. Has a secret stash of Zima on his boat, Breakin’ Wind.
  7. Says Michael McDonald is “the voice of my generation!”
  8. Thinks AOL is the Internet. Concurrently somehow still has a NetZero account.
  9. Invites you over to see his margarita glass signed by Jimmy Buffett after he “saved his f*ckin’ life from a ‘gator the size of a goddamn Buick” in a parking lot in the Keys
  10. His favorite coffee mug is a badly stained, circa 1985 plastic one with a barely legible racist joke on it. It leaks, so he wraps it in a bandanna. Continue reading Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc

Top Shelf 2010

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted FantasyThis is a slightly edited version of a message board reply I made in reponse to a great post about the “Matador at 21” event in Las Vegas this fall. The original poster, Barabajagal, described his feelings about the event as “a way of celebrating, yet leaving behind, this music that meant so much over the last 20 years,” and I got to thinking about my own feelings about this music as GLONO approaches its tenth birthday…

Twenty-one years. Think of that in terms of rock and roll history. Look at a label like at Atlantic Records. They started in 1947 as a jazz/r&b label and twenty-one years later they released Led Zeppelin. I realize that between 1947 and 1968 things were changing radically and quickly, but still.

Twenty-one years ago, no one had cell phones, and personal computers didn’t do much other than games and word processing. The world has changed pretty radically since 1989, too. But Matador albums still sound like Matador albums. Which is great, I guess. Look at this discography. They’re one of the most consistent labels out there (along with Merge), but it’s okay to get bored with it and to stop caring about new releases that sound like warmed up versions of stuff that came out 20 years ago.

But if you think things are bad now, just wait until the full-on 90s revival kicks in…any minute now…

Continue reading Top Shelf 2010

Hot, Not, Wot?

HeatmiserOK, let me set this up by providing the explanation of who the person being cited is from the press release that her firm put out: “Marian Salzman, president of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America, is known across industries for her annual analytical take on about a dozen business, consumer and social trends that she believes will become prominent in the coming year.”

Known across industries, perhaps, but heretofore not known across GloNo.

Continue reading Hot, Not, Wot?

National Recording Registry 2009

Patti Smith - HorsesThe Library of Congress has announced its 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry.

Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with selecting 25 recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. The selections for the 2009 registry bring the total number of recordings to 300.

Lots of notable additions this year, including ten with distinct rock and roll connections:

• “Tutti Frutti,” Little Richard (1955)

• “Smokestack Lightning,” Howlin’ Wolf (1956)

Today!, Mississippi John Hurt (1966)

Soul Folk in Action, The Staple Singers (1968)

The Band, The Band (1969)

• “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn (1970)

Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson (1975)

Horses, Patti Smith (1975)

• “Radio Free Europe” (Hib-Tone single), R.E.M. (1981)

• “Dear Mama,” Tupac Shakur (1995)

You could make a pretty nice mix out of those selections… If you were to dip into the full list, you could make an amazing comp. (Hmmm, that gives me an idea for a “21 Best” list. Stay tuned…)

Continue reading National Recording Registry 2009

21 Best Post-Ram Paul McCartney Songs

Crazy Paul McCartneyA while back, Jake asked via Twitter why it was that Paul McCartney hadn’t made an album as good (and weird) as 1971’s Ram, which prompted a forum question for a list of the exceptions. If you’re not familiar with Macca’s first two solo albums, McCartney and Ram, you need to go buy them now. They will surprise you. They are raw, which is a description not often associtaed with Sir Paul’s solo output, but believe me they are.

Skipping the obvious “Greatest Hits” fodder, since you already know that stuff, these are the 21 post-Ram songs you likely don’t know…but should.

Continue reading 21 Best Post-Ram Paul McCartney Songs

Whaaaaaat? Ten Party-Stopping TV Theme Songs

B.A. BaracusOccasionally, when my ipod is on shuffle at a party, everyone will stop dancing, squint a little bit, and try to identify the cheesy yet inspirational song that starts coming through the speakers. The one that rings all sorts of memory bells. Newsflash dickweed, it’s a classic TV show theme song. And guess what, hotshot? I like it.

Don’t call it a guilty pleasure, not in the same vein as “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. It’s just a quick pick me up. Like rock stars with a line of coke. Maybe it’s that I’ve heard them all a billion times as I was growing up, and they are ingrained in my subconscious. Maybe I enjoy my memories of the escapades these fictional characters found themselves in. Maybe I’m a weird 85 year old woman with horrible taste in music.

Regardless, here is a list of the ten best that you should have in your library to cue up when you are riding a ten speed and the wind is whipping through your beautiful hair. Please keep in mind, this isn’t a rank of the shows themselves, strictly the theme songs, although one could argue that the shows actually make the songs better. When you hear them, the images pop up into your subconscious so I guess they go hand in hand.

Continue reading Whaaaaaat? Ten Party-Stopping TV Theme Songs

The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2009

The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2009These are twenty-one songs available as MP3s that we linked to in 2009. They’re all still available (as of today), so download them now and make yourself a mix as a way to remember what you were listening to last year. Once again, people are whining about how 2009 sucked, but the list below proves there was plenty of good stuff out there, and it wasn’t even that hard to find.

Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve” from Middle Cyclone (Anti-). Posted Jan 14.

Von Bondies – “Pale Bride” from Love Hate and Then There’s You (Shout Factory). Posted Feb 4.

The Felice Brothers – “Run Chicken Run” from Yonder is the Clock (Team Love). Posted March 25.

Continue reading The 21 Best Legal MP3s of 2009

Top Shelf 2009

Jay Bennett2009 was quite a year. A lot of people died. In this year’s introduction, I’d like to focus on three people who shaped my taste and helped develop my obsession with music.

Mary Travers was the cute blonde in Peter, Paul and Mary. As a toddler, I listened to the Peter, Paul and Mommy album on headphones connected to a reel to reel player. We have Super8 home movies of me in a diaper doing it. In college, I took my mom to see one of their reunion tours. I blubbered with nostalgia and joy through the entire set.

Like every other person alive in 1983, I fell hard for Michael Jackson. I, however, continued to respect and defend him for the next 20 years. My first real concert was the Jacksons Victory tour at the Pontiac Silverdome. I may have stopped buying his records after Bad, but I continued to love his singles and videos. And I dreamed of a Rick Rubin style, stripped down, soul comeback. Imagine if he’d hooked up with the Dap-Kings!

Wilco was my favorite band through most of my twenties, and during that entire time their guitar player was Jay Bennett. He was a perfect sideman and creative foil. And it’s a goddamned shame that he went out the way he did. Would the Democratic healthcare reform have saved him had it been enacted years ago? Who the fuck knows? But it’s a tragedy that a dude who gave the world so much joy went out like that.

Another year, another decade, another bunch of people. Gone. But hey, at least there was a bunch of great music to listen to as we regained our cynicism after a brief, audacious moment of hope…

Continue reading Top Shelf 2009