Yup, I'm A Slacker — Part 1: The Eric Garland Interview

I first interviewed Eric Garland from Big Champagne on February 16th. That particuliar Dishing With The Digerati interview seemed to get a big response — and rightly so. Every time Eric engages he brings his “A” game, answering all questions honestly, with depth and a sense of constant good humor.

Knowing that I had some big personal news to impart, I figured who better to tangle with then a master of both media measurement and the art of a good interview…

Isquith: Hi Eric, we meet again.
Garland: We both look taller and thinner.
Isquith: ha. Especially on this platform.
Isquith: So, it has been an eventful Spring
Isquith: How are things going in Big Champagne land?
Garland: It’s Spring?!
Garland: Last thing I remember it was CES.
Isquith: We have lost the seasons in LALA land.
Garland: Three months on the road, I’ve lost the plot.
Isquith: But look…we have labels being sold, business models morphing, and even underemployed guys like me getting in the fray.
Garland: Oh, no. Don’t tell me that www.digitalmusicinsider.com is not going to get your full attention!
Garland: You have news for me??
Isquith: I do. I am going to be even MORE of a Slacker than before.
Garland: So, you’re going to work for a physical retailer?
Garland: OHHHHHH…
Garland: You meant more of a SLACKER, as in Slacker Radio, than a slacker!
Isquith: Yes, I’m joining the Slacker Radio team come May 3rd.
Garland: CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW GIG.
Isquith: Thank You.
Isquith: Full disclosure…I knew I wanted to catch back up with you this Summer…because I really wanted to get your take on the first 4-5 months of 2011…and then, selfishly, I realized that you would be perfect to engage with around the issues brought up in going through this process of finding a new work home.
Garland: I am very excited for you — and for me. You know Slacker has been a great reporting partner for us, and so our day jobs intersect.
Isquith: I did not know that, and that’s great news!
Isquith: Not being in the building yet…
Garland: It’ll be in the packet you get from HR.
Isquith: There are many things I’ll need to learn.
Isquith: But, It doesn’t surprise me that Jim Cady (my new boss) and Jonathan Sasse & the rest of the team there “get” B.C.
Isquith: I was very impressed with the way they embrace data on top of curation/artistry.
Garland: 2011, the year of everyone finally “getting” me LOL…
Garland: Seriously, though, for those following along at home: what is a Slacker? And how is it different from a Spotify, and Rdio, or a MOG…?
Isquith: Slacker is a Personalized Interactive Radio offering, that listeners engage with across a variety of platforms.
Isquith: Online, Mobile, Offline with cacheing etc.
Isquith: The thing that I love is that it sits mid-way in my view between a pure Tech-solution play, and a curated broadcast model.
Garland: So, “personalized radio”…is that more like Pandora, then? Programmed for you and only for you but not exactly *by* you?
Isquith: I think directionally what you said is correct, and Pandora has done a really nice job in the space. But there are some important nuance differences between Pandora & Slacker.
Isquith: Like Pandora, Slacker allows you to start with a song or artist…and then provides a listening experience leveraging off that starting point.

Isquith: But there are some interesting differences in terms of being able to also plug in to 100+ genre-oriented professionally programmed radio stations…and a very good interface that makes sure that any session can be totally controlled by the user, through liking or disliking songs, skipping, dialing up or down familiarity, etc.
Isquith: Another difference is that the music flow on Slacker is programmed much more around musical affinity than Pandora’s Genome model of “sounding like” your starting song.
Isquith: The best explanation I can give is a couple of musical examples…
Garland: Those are my favorite kind of examples!
Isquith: Let’s say you love Nirvana “Sliver” or ‘School”. You were into Nirvana early. Pick those songs and you will get some equally cutting edge indie rock (say Pavement or Sebadoh) on Slacker because there is a sensibility or fit culturally, as well as a fit sound wise.
Isquith: Similarly, lets say you love Jethro Tull Aqualung…you will likely get the Stones from the 70’s on Slacker, again because there is some cultural affinity…more than just a sound affinity.
Isquith: I like it comes down to cultural curation vs. pure sound matching…
Garland: This subject is obviously of great interest to me (programming, recommendation, the wisdom of crowds), so I’ll resist the urge to take us down that path other than to say that Slacker has described its approach as “hand programmed” radio and I think that description fits.
Garland: So, you’re getting back in the pool. You were out sunning yourself for awhile. Any perspective gained or lessons learned when you were out?
Isquith: Well, when I think back to being at Warner, it’s amazing how myopic you can be when facing the day to day. Not because you aren’t open-minded, but instead because you are so busy fighting your revenue and marketshare battles day in, and day out, that it is very very hard to carve out the physical time and emotional room to really think.
Isquith: The business is so unsettled that it can be hard for label people to find the time and space to be creative, think effectively, and then act decisively.
Garland: So often your gig is at odds with your smarts.
Isquith: Maybe, sometimes, yes. But just now…in last few months…What I’m seeing is tremendous opportunity for people who have really started to think through what I think you could sort of call…
Isquith: “the connective tissue” between fans, artists, and music experiences. Where tech connects fans to music.
Garland: I’m encouraged that you’re seeing that too. Tell me specifically where the new opportunity lives, maybe give me a few examples.
Isquith: OK.. Take a great TopSpin campaign, or Twitter simplifying and changing how fans and artists connect, or companies like Slacker and Pandora that help you discover more and better music. It seems like that connective thing is powerful. Powerful culturally, and powerful for business.
Isquith: Look at the Twitter discussions and the energy around Arcade Fire winning the Grammy. It was a win for Twitter and more importantly for fans as it went down live and people were reinventing TV and there was excitement for a sec ….excitement about The Grammys…of all things.
Isquith: Broadcast Television
Isquith: Somehow you have to wonder, in the wake of Twitter, if the whole broadcast needs to be live.
Garland: Oh, I don’t wonder about that. *Clearly* no more tape delay.
Isquith: Or Foursquare amplifying concert experiences…that feels connective and filled with potential.
Isquith: I think people want what they want when they want…but they also still want to be turned on to new music and entertainment and expect and delight in technology helping them do have that discovery experience.
Garland: Grammys and concerts are great examples of “traditional” media experiences winning through new technologies and social interactions. I’m concerned, broadly, about traditional media companies.
Garland: Among other things: do they enjoy a competitive advantage anymore?
Isquith: Ironically, I think it’s harder for the traditional companies to focus on the “connective” stuff.
Isquith: It’s not their core competency, Making and promoting art/content is…not connective stuff.
Isquith: right?
Garland: Right! That’s Coke’s core competency…Gillette’s…
Garland: Let me add a corollary to that question…
Garland: Among other things: do they enjoy a competitive advantage anymore? Does the next Jimmy Iovine (and team) do as well at Polaroid as the last one did at Interscope.
Isquith: I think there are some strengths that ONLY the content creators maintain.
Isquith: So, for example, when I hear that Warner & EMI are really focused on keeping their Publishing & Recording rights together…I think that is very smart.
Isquith: The recordings still do have worth, and the content creators need to make it easier and more seamless to extract that value for themselves and for potential business partners.
Isquith: So keeping the rights that actually allow business creativity to flourish makes sense.
Garland: But going forward…your “content creators” will include Polaroid and Coke and McDonald’s and CAA and and and…
Garland: Coca-Cola Music has already been established, well-funded and staffed with top executive talent from major labels.
Isquith: Yes, agreed. And think of how much of a no-brainer it will be for those companies to say…”ok, we will sign you for 1 “project” only…50-50 split…but we need complete publishing and complete recording & name and likeness flexibility”
Isquith: Can you imagine if Nike could only sell the sneaker top but no heel or laces?
Isquith: I think if you are an artist you want to be able to have all your ducks under your control to move around….and ultimately content creators want the same…the devil is in the deal. At what price and what is the new deal model splits?
Isquith: What’s great for Tech companies is that as tech matures around music, I really believe Programming Knowledge (Writing code etc.) mixed with Data Expertise and an Artistic Sensibility is a potent business model.
Isquith: Think of Apple for typing out loud!
Garland: Hope so, for my sake.
Isquith: You are in a great lane with Big Champagne, I really believe that.
Isquith: But see what I mean regarding Apple?
Garland: Clearly, and that has to be at least in part why you would be excited to be a Slacker.
Isquith: Yes. I am really really excited
Garland: Ok, while you are excited…
Garland: …a handful of rapid-fire q’s from me:
Isquith: I don’t want to make this all about Slacker…so let’s just say, I think the bet on curation in terms of honoring the artistry of music is a shrewd and exciting business strategy.
Garland: My friend and biz partner Jonathan Daniel has known you a long time. He told me that when he was an artist, you were the first person to tell him the truth. (You were probably the last.) Confirm or deny.
Isquith: I told JD that his band owned no mountaintop…and they needed to pick one. True.
Garland: I want to get the quote *exactly* right, but he told me that you said, “Good news and bad news. The good news is you might be the New York Dolls. The bad news is the label thinks you’re Wham!”
Isquith: I think it was “Lords Of The New Church” not the Dolls. But…the legend reads better with your edit!
Garland: See, this is why no journalism for me. Can’t quote anybody right to save my life…
Isquith: hardly
Isquith: Next question big guy….
Garland: Next question: this site is great. I mean, really great. You know I don’t give that away easily. It was born of your being an ex-company man. What happens to it now that you’re a company man again?
Isquith: I am going to keep tending to the blog, even though it will become a secondary priority, it has become a passion.
Isquith: I just love the ability to talk to a group of folks out there who are interested in this stuff…and often push back, prod, and tickle me as we go along.
Garland: I taught this week at USC and UCLA (a passion) and I put you in my Keynote slide deck. I tell the kids, “everybody here tonight who is reading hypebot and digitalmusicnews and billboard, you should also read Jack.”
Garland: And I mean that, sincerely. What the world needs now is less retweeting, more thinking.
Isquith: You flatter me, and its embarrassing and humbling.
Garland: Oh, and a new Frank Sinatra.
Garland: Stay at it, Jack. We need your voice!
Isquith: I will do my darndest.
Isquith: I have 1 last question for you Eric…
Garland: Present!
Isquith: What the heck is next?
Garland: Saturday.
Isquith: Rebeeca Black would be so proud. Is she working at BC?
Garland: Yes, she’s head of marketing but not ready for that to leak!
Garland: Seriously: what’s next:
Garland: More players. Big players (yes, even bigger). More money (investment and consumer dollars). A true redefining of “music business” that is so profound we are still only paying lip service to it right now. There will be huge, exciting and transformative opportunities around artists and artistry that have nothing to do with this history to this point.
Garland: In terms of the sentiment around music as a business, here’s what’s next:
Garland: Broad recognition that the *reason* social networks (Face Book) and social gaming platforms (Zynga) enjoy multi-hundred gajillion dollar valuations is: audience. Specifically a vice-like grip on huge audiences who *engage* at levels previously unimagined by brands and their marketers.
Isquith: Great stuff as always Eric. It fascinates me that you see a historical break, a new curve in the “history” of the business, and the emergence of a new set of players who will drive the business, and will drive the culture around music…I do too. In fact, I’m betting on it.
Garland: Further recognition that *every* important music artist who has ever found an audience has enjoyed a more powerful claim on fans than a social game ever could. Recognition that hiking uphill in the snow both ways is something that you do for your children. Your spouse. And your favorite artists.
Isquith: Yes, artistry that connects and creates that indescribable experience of being a fan, is a driver for an incredibly powerful human reaction.
Isquith: The NEW music business will be built on it. At least I think so.
Isquith: Thank you as always Eric for your wonderful insights, wit and patience.
Garland: Good night, Jackie.

Fred Jacobs, Jacobs Media Interview — Dishing With The Digerati #9

When I first heard about Fred Jacobs, it wasn’t good. I was a young Record Label upstart, and my bosses were upset that Fred’s invention — Classic Rock Radio — was taking over signals across the country. In those days, Fred was seen as a somewhat mysterious and dangerous man.

Flash forward a few years to the mid 90’s and I finally encountered Fred at of all places, a wedding of a mutual close friend. What a shocker. I sat next to Fred for more than four hours, and found him to be whip smart, warm, witty, and a fantastic conversationalist. During the course of that afternoon, Fred share great insights about broadcasting and media, but also veered off with me as we discussed  marriage, parenting, travel, food, and technology. Life and how to live it. Fred was great company, and from that point forward I made it my business to stay in touch with him and his brother Paul and all their efforts at Jacobs Media.

Through the ensuing 15+ years I have seen Jacobs Media embrace business opportunities around Alternative and Public Radio, and steer the company into the digital age. They have consisitently urged early technology adoption to their clients, and lived their own advice by investing in digital initiatives.

I caught up with Fred on Tuesday, and we discussed radio, corporate fear, Groupon, Apple and what is next.

 

Isquith: Hi Fred

Jacobs: Hey Jack

Isquith: Fred, for the folks out there who don’t know you…can you give us a few sentences on what Jacobs Media is all about?

Jacobs: Sure. We are a media research & consulting company that got its start in radio where we’re best known for coming up with the Classic Rock format. In the last 15 years or so, we have branched out into digital media & strategies.  We launched a mobile apps business in 2008 that has been very successful.  So our footprint has widened.

Jacobs: Or expanded.

Isquith: Well said, and that is exactly why I was excited to talk to you.

Isquith: Meaning…

Isquith: That it’s somewhat cheeky, I suppose, that we call this interview series “Dishing With The Digerati”…

Jacobs: I like that.

Isquith: But I feel you guys have earned the “digerati” mantle

Isquith: Your company, Jacobs Media, has crossed over and looks to Digital for much of your brand identification, revenue, and growth…but am I wrong in feeling terrestrial radio is struggling with its transition?

Jacobs: No, you’re right.  Broadcast radio is trying to get its head around the media usage hierarchy and prioritize the types of digital avenues that are optimal.  But it goes beyond that.  Broadcasters have been used to shaping the agenda, but now it is very much in the hands of the consumer.  The good news is that many stations and personalities are still very content-rich, but at times struggling to determine the best avenues to reach a rapidly moving target.

Isquith: I grew up as one of those kids hiding his radio past bedtime from my parents…sneaking in more listening.

Isquith: As radio gets disintermediated by iTunes, Pandora, Blogs, Slacker etc…it still seems to me they have that huge “storytelling” advantage.

Isquith: Yet, at least with music radio, it seems like you never actually HEAR the DJs anymore?

Isquith: Is this a topic that comes up in your circles?

Jacobs: Yeah, it’s a condundrum. On the one hand, a great radio DJ can be a guide or sherpa that transcends services like Pandora or iTunes.  On the other hand, the advent of PPM – metered measurement – has served to conspire against this type of content.  Many radio PDs are afraid to make mistakes, and its safer to just play another song.  That might help in the ratings in the short-run, but damages the brand uniqueness over the long haul.

Isquith: this is a classic old-media problem, no? For example…Labels make money from physical CDs but must transform to singles and digital to be relevant in future…or AOL was relying on walled-garden subscription, but had to tear down wall after dial-up had it’s day…

Isquith: So how do you advise Radio to tackle this engagement vs PPM play-it-safe dilema?

Jacobs: It’s very hard.  Radio was such an easy business for so long.  Broadcasters had the market cornered, and then consolidation came along in the ’90s and seemed to solidfy radio’s hold.  But technology has disrupted that, forcing operators to rethink everything.

Jacobs: As for PPM, it’s a slippery slope.  While the service is more granular in that it appears to provide more analytics to what stations program, it can be very deceiving, too.  Radio people have to learn how to adjust to the “rules of PPM” (just as they learned how to maniuplate or adapt to the diary), without losing their souls.  The other piece is that because of the economy and other pressures, training at the station level has become less common.

Isquith: Full disclosure, despite being a Music Business veteran, I stopped listening to commercial music radio 7-8 years ago.  However, I still listen to Sports & News in that format.  The only commonality I find, when I think about why I still listen to those formats, is timeliness and storytelling

Isquith: Are there any examples of commercial stations bucking the trend?

Isquith: Music Stations still embracing DJs, curation, etc?

Jacobs: Fortunately, there are several.  And what’s interesting about them is that they’re breaking those aforementioned “PPM Rules” and winning.

Isquith: I imagine it takes a combination of strong leadership and ownership freedom?

Jacobs: MMR is case study #1.  They have strong personalities around the clock, and they’re varied.  Preston & Steve in the morning do one of the best, most current shows on the radio.  Pierre Robert is a legend who is VERY involved with the music from both a presentation and a concert attendance basis.  He is passionate with a capital P.  Jaxson champions local music in the afternoons, and Matt Cord has more of an alternative flavor at night.  All one station that is heavily involved in the Philly community.  Programmer Bill Weston and his team are deeply committed to doing personality music radio.

Jacobs: Other great examples are KISW in Seattle, with strong personality shows in both drives, but a great musical base throughout the day that is so indigenous to that market.

Isquith: I will check back in with them both.

Jacobs: I can name many more – fortunately.

Isquith: Let’s jump to the RAIN conference you just came back from in Las Vegas.  Major take-aways from your time spent there?

Jacobs: I really enjoy the blend of traditional broadcasters and the pure-play folks.  It’s a real nice mix that produces controversy and a nice dialogue.  There were several great panels, including “The Future of Music” where I felt I learned something from an outspoken group of digital broadcasters.  Kurt did his usual good job on his state of the state.  His conclusion was the “Things are moving faster than you think.”  That sounds simple, but it is really very true.

Isquith: It is true. Audiences migrate in a heartbeat. Look at Myspace, which was a juggernaut 4-5 years ago.

Isquith: Where there any notable disagreements?  Flash Points?

Jacobs: On “The Future of Music,” there was consensus that the music industry is hurting itself with onerous royalties, preventing even more exposure to artists and their work.  As Ted Cohen cynically asked, “Is litigation a revenue stream in the music industry?”

Isquith: He is not far off. Fiscal realities.

Jacobs: On your MySpace comment, you are right.  Think of the Flip camera – gone in 4 years.  And at CES this year, it was all tablets.  But the year before, it was netbooks.  All in 12 months.

Isquith: yes…OK, lets play a game.

Isquith: I will throw out 5 quick statements…..

Isquith: you respond off top of yr head

Isquith: game?

Jacobs: GO

Isquith: #1:  If I had unlimited funding, 1st place I would invest in would be”…..

Jacobs: Hiring more developers for jacAPPS.  Mobile is an incredible space and we want to be even bigger players.

Isquith: #2:  Clients should spend less time talking about xxxx and more time focusing on xxxx

Jacobs: Short term financial goals…

Jacobs: …where the audience is moving and the best ways to give them the content they enjoy anywhere anytime.

Isquith: #3: Most surprising, interesting person i have met in last year or so has been….

Jacobs: Can I name 2?

Isquith: yes for sure

Jacobs: Jeff Pulver, the guy behind 140 Characters Conference.  He truly is a humanitarian and is a driving force behind doing cool things & the real-time web.

Isquith: tell us a bit more…

Jacobs: And Stephen Clark, anchorman for Channel 7 here in Detroit.  He started “The Backchannel via Twitter and is transforming television news and the way that viewers interact with their TVs.

Isquith: #4:  The best way I learn about what consumers really want is to……

Jacobs: Moderate Listener Advisory Groups – I probably do 50-75 a year – small groups of consumers pulled from databases, mostly from radio stations.  We get enough data.  From these folks, we get the stories behind the numbers – sort of colorizing the data.

Isquith: let me stop on that for 1 sec…

Isquith: I lived this too at AOL…

Isquith: Those kinds of well-targeted focus groups are terrific

Isquith: How can people doing this kind of research make sure they are getting the right folks in the room?

Jacobs: It’s challenging and you cannot put TOO much weight on them.  But if you do enough of them, you see patterns forming.  For example, I’ve been hearing people screaming for coupons and discounts for two years – long before we started using Groupon and Living Social.

Isquith: that is fascinating.

Isquith: Function of the economy? or just something that “is”…?

Jacobs: Totally, the economy.  All of a sudden, people actually start considering the price of stuff.  Can they get a better deal?  No one wants to pay retail in the heart of a horrible recession.  Now it’s about “deals.”

Isquith: OK, back to wrapping up our little game…

Isquith: #5: a 2-part question (I cheated)…..a- Favorite album of all-time?  b- Favorite tech device/platform/toy of the moment?

Jacobs: Donald Fagan “Nightfly”

Isquith: brilliant!

Isquith: and on tech side?

Jacobs: You know, I still love my iPhone (3G). Really.  It is so amazing to me how Apple gets so much stuff right the first time out. iPad is a great example, too. I know that sounds like an Apple lovefest, but here it is, a year later, and I’m not sure any tablet can touch iPad for design, functionality, or price.  It’s not perfect and we’d all like to see changes, but for a device that is truly a game-changer, Apple keeps making them.  (Did I mention the iPod?)

Isquith: Fred, Thank you so much for sharing your time & insights with me today.

Jacobs: Jack, this was fun.  You gave my fingers and my brain a great workout.  I am truly honored that you interviewed me.

Isquith: Thanks Fred… any last parting words?

Jacobs: We have to keep growing and learning.  These are such fascinating times and we all feel challenged every day.  I get charged up just thinking about it.

Isquith: Perfectly stated.  Thanks again, hope to see you sooner than later Fred

Jacobs: You, too.  Be well.

 

Jeff Rabhan NYU Chairman — Dishing With The Digerati #8

 

If you are looking for the classic old school Record Label-Mailroom-to-CEO story; Jeff Rabhan is not your guy. Instead, Jeff has created his own Music Business path — Rolling Stone journalist, Elektra A&R executive, manager at the Firm and on his own, and now Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at  Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Jeff’s career path, as well as his point of view, is truly unique.

A passionate fan of music, technology and youth culture; Jeff exudes enthusiasm for new ideas and good natured back and forth. We caught up with Jeff last Thursday, as the Yankees opened the Major League Baseball season, and Jeff opened the Pandora’s Box that is a Dishing With the Digerati interview:

 

Isquith: Hi Jeff

Isquith: Thanks for chatting today…big day; start of baseball season and I would guess start of home stretch of your Spring semester?

Rabhan: You got that right!

Rabhan: Right about now, I wish I were a baseball player

Isquith: Me too. Bad hip + lack of talent

Rabhan: age is not on our side, either. But, experience is

Isquith: Jeff. You have one of the most unusual jobs in our world…can you tell us a bit about it?

Rabhan: I’m part professor, part manager, part administrator, and part fortuneteller

Rabhan: I Chair and oversee the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University

Isquith: How did the academic job come about?

Rabhan: It’s a long, sorted tale…

Rabhan: but basically, what started off as an inquiry about a guest lecture became a cross country move and a full-time position

Isquith: So, here you are living in NYC…& once again, like your A&R days, hanging around with 17-22 year olds?

Rabhan: Yeah, it’s crazy. I get older but they all stay the same age

Rabhan: (yet) much of those days is what made me a good candidate for this job

Isquith: What has been the biggest surprise in getting so immersed with this generation?

Rabhan: the biggest surprise is seeing how early in life they make career decisions, and how seriously they take their path

Isquith: yes, seems like there is no more “I have time –I will really figure this out when I am 29”

Rabhan: you have to remember that for a kid who applies to the program, they have basically decided by age 16, that they want music to be a part of their life in some capacity

Rabhan: whereas people like you and I bounced around quite a bit, there is little warm up for today’s college set

Isquith: As an ex-Music Journalist, A&R guy, and Artist Manager…what do you think was most helpful in teaching?

Rabhan: Wow. That’s a good question, and a tough one to answer.

Rabhan: all three come in handy from time to time, but if I had to choose, I would say Manager.

Isquith: As an ex-manager as well, that makes sense.

Rabhan: Manager because really it is the most intense personal interaction with a creative human being that you can have from a business perspective.

Isquith: is it because, ultimately, a manager needs to know the widest amount about the music biz?

Isquith: it’s such an intimate, intense experience. managing

Rabhan: making decisions (whether right or wrong), is a requirement

Rabhan: reading, interpreting, and deciding is sometimes an instantaneous process

Rabhan: and those are life skills regardless of what you do

Isquith: One thing that I am seeing across the traditional music business…is decision paralysis

Rabhan: I think a lot of that is due to despair and a true lack of understanding of the technology

Isquith: Because with tech & other rapid challenges….the old model isn’t set up for fast, nimble, continuous decisions?

Rabhan: self-preservation is the fall-back position when fear is the driver.

Isquith: …it is understandable to want to hold on to something that has been that lucrative for that long.

Isquith: it’s just tough to shake culturally

Rabhan: but your point is correct – the majors only have one thing, so they smother it. They are not capable of doing anything else.

Isquith: playing defense, not offense.

Rabhan: aha. yes, you’re correct. When you remove the physical item it allows for a cleaner line of sight in risk taking. The best comparison I can make is Las Vegas where by removing the physical money and replacing it with chips (micro chips, money chips, same thing)

Isquith: Great analogy.

Rabhan: I also think that there are so many choices in the digital music space that it’s difficult to know which platform and which company within that platform is going to survive

Isquith: Lets talk about these choices…whom do you see as today’s big drivers (besides commercial radio)?

Rabhan: I think the fastest growing driver is recommendation-based software – Pandora, et al

Rabhan: and will be the future of music discovery for new artists

Isquith: Based on numbers? Or a bigger impact you can feel too?

Rabhan: it’s a feeling

Rabhan: it seems to be what everybody wants out of their technology — to be told.

Isquith: Yes…remarkable how people with wildly diverse musical interests, all seem aware of Pandora

Isquith: Those “guideposts” seem to resonate

Rabhan: to have emotional decisions and personal choices known about them by their machines.

Rabhan: …the true definition of “smart phones”

Isquith: What else are you seeing from your “kids”

Rabhan: and in my opinion, Pandora really isn’t really even that good compared to how good it’s going to be

Rabhan: (for the kids) I see there is a badge of honor that comes along with “knowing”

Isquith: Take that further…how so?

Rabhan: being the first to discover, to read, to know, to find, still remains a huge part of the process

Rabhan: “digital taste making”

Isquith: so knowledge is sort of like a ticket stub, or a t-shirt…it’s personal identification?

Rabhan: absolutely

Isquith: here’s a joke for you Jeff that relates to this…

Rabhan: I love jokes

Isquith: What’s the best definition of a Pitchfork Hipster?

Rabhan: ???

Isquith: “Never mind, you probably haven’t heard of them & wouldn’t understand anyway”

Rabhan: that’s really funny

Rabhan: can I tweet it and give you credit?

Isquith: sure

Isquith: OK, back to our stuff

Isquith: lets play a quick game

Isquith: I will throw out 5 quick statements… and you respond

Rabhan: game on

Isquith: #1- If I had unlimited start up money, I would invest in…”

Rabhan: mobile apps

Isquith: YouTube: is it GOOD for music?

Rabhan: good for music videos

Rabhan: great for research!

Rabhan: so, yes, good for music

Isquith: OK, definitive answer. I LOVE that.

Isquith: #3….Smartest, most interesting person I have met recently?

Rabhan: Brett Leve Co-Founder of Summit Series and also artist Kenna continues to evolve as one of the more interesting and long-term relationships in my life

Isquith: please tell us more…

Rabhan: Summit Series is a TED-like conference for the younger set and is truly creating a environment of collective leadership amongst young entrepreneurs

Isquith: this sounds fascinating.

Rabhan: Kenna has evolved into an entrepreneur by using music as his means of creating lasting projects

Rabhan: location changes every year – this year’s conference is on a boat

Isquith: true story…..the 1 piece of advice…

Isquith: as I passed the AOL baton to my successor was…

Isquith: “Never get on a boat for an artist event”

Rabhan: haha that is SO f*****g funny

Isquith: ok #4….Thing I miss most about being on “inside” of Music Business?

Rabhan: Not a single thing

Isquith: Amazing!

Rabhan: because I still talk to the same people, but everything we talk about is different

Isquith: I can truly understand that

Isquith: #5…f you could only save 1 album from a metaphorical fire…it would be?

Rabhan: London Calling

Isquith: Oh my. You are on my wavelength.

Isquith: Did you ever see ‘The Future Is Unwritten”…the Joe Strummer bio?

Rabhan: I have not seen it, but it’s on the list.

Isquith: I honestly cried.

Isquith: So moving, powerful, and timeless.

Rabhan: It just moved to the top of the list.

Isquith: Jeff…thanks so much for chatting with me, and honoring my suspect movie recommendations…

Rabhan: thank you for thinking that what I’m doing is worthy of conversation. I certainly feel that my contribution is significantly more meaningful now than ever before.

Isquith: Keep the young’ins believing in ART and commerce…thanks again Jeff.

 

 

Marc Reiter Q Prime Interview — Dishing With The Digerati #7

 

Marc Reiter is not  just an exceptionally nice guy,  he is also one of the smartest and most effective managers in the music business.  After cutting his teeth as a product manger for Epic Records in the late 80’s, Marc joined powerhouse artist management company Q Prime in 1992 and has not looked back since.

Through the years, I have found Marc to be remarkably insightful around technology issues — he combines, as you will see, a great combination of thoughtfulness and practicality as he navigates ever-changing terrain on behalf of his artists.

I caught up with Marc on Monday morning, and we talked about the stuff we always talk about — music, artistry, technology, life, and of course, Fast Times At Ridgemont High:

 

Isquith: Hi Marc

Reiter: Hello Jack

Isquith: Gather you are in NY at Q Prime world headquarters?

Reiter: yes I am.

Reiter: wow, that sounds funny

Reiter: but I guess it’s true…

Isquith: For those readers who don’t know you, and Q Prime, can you give us the elevator pitch/Twitter rundown on Q Prime

Reiter: q prime is an artist management company, based in NYC, but we also have offices in Nashville, L.A. and London. it was formed in 1982 by Cliff Burnstein & Peter Mensch, who still run the show today.

Reiter: we manage a gaggle of great artists, including:

Reiter: metallica, red hot chili peppers, josh groban, muse (n. america only), the black keys, snow patrol, three days grace, eric church, silversun pickups, cage the elephant, garbage, the mars volta, ximena, foals, the big pink, animal kingdom, american bang, sara watkins, nickel creek, jonathan singleton & the grove, gillian Welch, Rene Fleming’s music career, and baroness!

Isquith: Excellent. We just used to say: “The biggest and best management company” in my AOL & Warner days…

Reiter: well, we’re not the biggest, but i won’t disagree with the other part of what you used to say…

Isquith: Let’s jump in to your role: From my seat it seems to me that you are both a key day to day link for artists with the complete  industry,  as well as for your company.

Isquith: How do you see your role?

Reiter: actually, i don’t have a title here. no one really does. although we do have day-to-day people, my role is basically more of a creative/marketing type of role. i just try to come up with ideas that will help our artists in some way; be it album sales, ticket sales, whatever…

Reiter: obviously like with any job in management, it ends up being a lot more than that.

Isquith: that’s very dot.com.

Isquith: Not to embarrass you..but I always saw you as intellectually really hungry about digital matters, and also very pragmatic for real world uses.

Reiter: well, I’m not sure how to answer that. i guess i AM embarrassed!

Isquith: I found you had zero agenda in contemplating any pitch, activity, plan…simply you wanted to: 1-understand it…2-see how it could help a QPrime artist

Isquith: Metallica & Mission Metallica is a great case example

Reiter: Mission Metallica is a great example in a lot of ways

Reiter: I think that is a blue print of “How to properly execute a perfect set-up of an album…” in SO many ways

Reiter: but at the same time, I’m not sure it can be repeated by too many other artists

Reiter: or labels

Isquith: Well, lets revisit one aspect of Mission Metallica…

Isquith: Can you remember when it was 1st pitched in its roughest form…what was the initial reaction ?

Reiter: it was first pitched to me in January of 2008, in a very rough form, although in hindsight, it rally wasn’t dramatically different from what we ended up doing. And my initial reaction was similar to getting hit over the head with a croquet mallet. it was that dramatic. it just hit me, like, “holy shit! this is it! this is exactly what we NEED to be doing! i can’t wait to tell the band about this! they are going to love it…even though it’s going to be more work than they’ve ever known!”

Isquith: It was fortuitous that you had the vision to see it.

Isquith: I think it’s because at heart you are still a big fan

Reiter: a blind man could have seen it

Reiter: a blind FAN could have seen it

Isquith: The idea of giving and getting value…in all the run up and excitement as an album is being made and THEN moves towards release date, only a true fan REALLY gets the power of that.

Reiter: I think you’re right.

Isquith: Why do you think Metallica & WB were unique in pulling it off?

Reiter: that’s what Metallica CONSTANTLY preaches…and if you’re around them long enough, it’s going to sink in sooner or later. you have to think like a fan, act like a fan, and BE like a fan

Reiter: i honestly think it was a perfect storm.

Reiter: Warner had the personnel and the intelligence…and the initial IDEA!! and metallica had the insight to see that it was worth the time and effort to put in. they ALSO had the personnel to document the recording process, and have an incredible fan club and .com operation run by Vickie Strate, which is the missing link that many other bands lack.

Isquith: Fair enough. OK, Let’s stop being SO positive. Major Labels take lots of crap…some deserved, some not. What IS deserved? What is the most frustrating aspect of managing a band on a major today, compared to say 5-10 years ago?

Reiter: it’s all been well documented already, so i don’t think we need to spend too much time on it. let’s just say that the most frustrating part about dealing with ANY label -be it major or indie- is that there are too many top-heavy pyramids out there in terms of the structure. in other words, there are no worker bees to get any of the actual work done (i can say this as a former worker bee at a label!), so that work either falls on managers, or it never gets done.

Isquith: I think the complaints of hierarchy are fair…but I will also tell you that the stripping away of worker bees has been a killer.

Isquith: the worker bees used to be there, but perhaps they were hard to get to, unless you knew all the buttons to push…

Isquith: now, I think they may be writing blogs or working at start-ups.

Reiter: … and in terms of the digital space specifically, that is an area that requires SO much work and SO many man hours to pull off ANYTHING! so it is up to the artists and their managers to tackle a lot more of THAT work on their own.

Reiter: and they’re doing a great job writing those blogs and at those start ups…but unfortunately, the labels aren’t willing to fund the artists’ efforts to pay for someone to help them get their web site/store set up, or to get their album pre order going, etc.

Isquith: Lets talk Digital a bit more for a sec. Q Prime has worked hard on broadening your relationships with Apple, the portals, etc…how do you guys handle digital internally? You’ve brought some digital folks aboard too?

Reiter: yes, we have increased our focus in the last couple of years. i mean…DUH! we have to!

Reiter: we’re slow, but not THAT slow!

Isquith: smiling at keyboard right now

Reiter: we’ve brought on a couple of digital assassins, and always look to make changes that will make us better

Isquith: OK, lets play our game

Isquith: Free association

Isquith: Ill throw out 5 quick sentences/thoughts…you react

Isquith: #1: “If I had unlimited start up money, I would build or invest in….”

Reiter: a plumbing or HVAC company

Isquith: ha

Reiter: i shit you not

Isquith: must be a homeowner

Reiter: tech moves too fast…people have to live somewhere, and they’ll always need heat and they’ll always need plumbing.

Isquith: #2: The most interesting person I have met lately is…

Reiter: A cancer researcher at a recent tj martell board meeting. talk about creativity! these guys are really fighting an unbelievably evil enemy…and they need to come up with amazing ideas if they are going to win…which they ARE doing, albeit slowly.

Isquith: well said. One good thing about the older thriving Major Label system was support shown for TJ Martell Foundation.

Reiter: word

Isquith: #3: Is YouTube Good For Music?

Reiter: yes. it’s radio and mtv combined

Reiter: (cliff may fire me for that one)

Isquith: Fast Times At Ridgemont High or Spinal Tap?

Reiter: Fast Times…hands down

Reiter: That was my skull! I’m SO wasted!!!!

Reiter: Aloha Mr. Hand

Isquith: the Charisma Of a Robin Zander

Isquith: and finally, they key hard hitting question…

Isquith: Sammy or David Lee?

Reiter: I’ve order Sammy’s book, but…Diamond Dave all the way.

Reiter: might as well Jump

Isquith: Like you tell your bands….diversify and keep as many avenues open as possible

Isquith: You never know.

Reiter: word

Isquith: Well, thanks Marc…always a pleasure to catch up

Reiter: thank YOU, Jack. i hope i didn’t let you down, compared to the others who’ve preceded me.

Isquith: Hardly. Anyone who understands physical as well as digital, manages this many cool bands, and can also quote liberally from Fast Times is a ace in my book.

Isquith: Bye for now.

Reiter: thanks!

Jeff Price Tunecore Part 2 — Dishing With The Digerati #6

Jeff Price is truly a man on a mission. The founder of TuneCore, the independent digital distribution company, Jeff is passionate about “democratizing” the music business, and “righting some wrongs”.

As you will see in this two part interview, Jeff has a lot to say about the current state of the music business, and pulls no punches along the way.

Part 2 below — including our discussion on the death of artist development, and Jeff’s take on where we are headed next.

 

Isquith: So, here we are in 2011. The retail side of the business has been changed meaningfully through digital distribution and your Tunecore efforts to a significant degree….

Isquith: But what about all the OTHER gatekeepers?

Isquith: Radio, Press, Licensing etc.
Isquith: What are your thoughts there?

Price: the only significant gate keeper that I believe still exists is in commercial radio

Price: outside of that…..

Price: and as people move to the “cloud”

Price: The first thing you must be clear on is that, inexorably, we are moving towards an all-streaming delivery of music. Should you be interested, you can read more details about the coming streams in an article I wrote some time ago entitled, “The Stream that Snuck Up on You.” The premise is that in an era of (near) constant connectivity, there is little-to-no reason to actually have the file on your device.

Price: Soon, about the only place where (for better or worse) you won’t be online is on a subway. Combine this constant connectivity with a virtually unlimited selection of music that is available for instant streaming, and you truly must ask, “What is the distinction between ‘ownership’ of a file and streaming?”

Price: with this type of accessibility

Price: and connectivity

Price: radio will become less relevant

Isquith: I buy into the power of the cloud. It’s also clear that Apple/Google/MSFT are readying as they spend for these capabilities…

(Editors note — we spoke to Jeff before the recent Amazon Cloud announcement)

Price: outside of that the only “gatekeepers” left are old school guard trying to proclaim there is no change

Price: like Tommy Silverman

Price: Board members of the RIAA, A2IM and SoundExchage make public statements

Price: claiming music is not selling

Price: and that (not my quote) 80% of the music released via TuneCore is “crap”

Price: and is “cluttering” the market stopping the good music from selling

Price: I guess we need to tell Civil Wars, who used TuneCore

Price: and had the #1 album on iTunes for 7 days, that they don’t count

Isquith: Fair enough

Price: or Lecrea with over 2M songs sod that sorry dude, you are not real

Price: I have a list of thousands and thousands of artists that have outsold and out earned “major” artists

Price: btw – majors have a 98% failure ratio on releases

Price: I am not a label killer

Isquith: Why do you think there is weakness in other areas of the business besides old school physical retail and major labels?

Isquith: for example…Concert Revenues are down

Price: I however do believe that when Drake used TuneCore and sold 300,000 singles in 11 days outselling Lady GaGa

Price: he was on par

Price: there is no more class distinction

Price: artists are all now just artists

Price: each as important as the other

Price: weakness comes from the old model

Isquith: But if you are a promoter…either Ticketmaster or AEG or even a small Mom & Pop promoter….shouldn’t this create bigger opportunities and results?

Price: Arrested (Artist) Development

Price: a get rich quick strategy that was single based; that did not develop more catalog

Isquith: So you are saying…stopping artist development has had a trickle down negative effect to promoters, etc?

Price: oh hell yes

Isquith: OK, that is reasonable.

Price: this is why legacy artists do so well (live)

Price: they developed over time

Price: Bruce Springsteen

Price: first album sales were low

Price: it crawled up over years

Isquith: Springsteen’s 1st 2 LPs failed, U2s first 2 albums likewise

Price: developing fan base etc

Price: and they grew over time

Price: now its like opening weekend of a movie

Price: 1st album sells best and all the others decline

Price: one hit wonders

Price: This get rich quick strategy helped destroy the value of labels and the careers (and potential careers) of thousands of artists.

Isquith: I’m going to throw out 5 quick questions, and hold you to 1-2 sentence answers

Price: ok

Isquith: Here goes

Price: will limit myself

Isquith: 1- “If I had unlimited start-up $, time and energy…I would look at…

Price: music publishing

Price: cure for cancer, help Japan

Isquith: 2-” The most interesting person I’ve met lately is…”

Price: Fred Bourgoise

Isquith: tell us more…

Price: about Fred?

Isquith: yes please

Price: co-founder of Bug Music Publishing

Price: largest independent publishing company in the world

Price: sold it about three years ago

Price: he did for Publishing

Price: what TuneCore did for distribution

Isquith: ok….#3 – “Most Gratifying part of my day/week is….”

Price: honestly, it’s going to sound corny

Isquith: corny is often true

Price: but it’s when I play any role whatsoever in helping someone reach their goal

Price: and from time to time, it happens

Price: and I smile

Price: knowing i was able to contribute to that person’s dreams/aspirations

Isquith: it’s a big driver for many of my friends in music

Price: I get more pleasure out of helping someone else

Price: than myself

Isquith: #4 — Most frustrating part of day/week?

Price: when people do not know or understand the reason behind what I do are #3

Price: i did not start TC to make a buck

Price: i did it to change something i thought was wrong

Price: whether TuneCore exists or not

Price: there is no reason why any artist should be denied access to distribution

Price: keep their rights..get all the money from the sale of it

Price: so yes, cynics – who tend to project themselves onto you

Price: just b/c that’s how they operate does not mean the rest of the world works like that

Price: there are some good people in the world …(thank god!)

Isquith: last one….#5 : if you could only, god forbid, save 1 all time album (file) from a burning fire…..it would be?

Price: Rubber Soul

Isquith: hard to argue that one

Isquith: any parting words of wisdom?

Price: In regards to musicians

Isquith: anywhere you would like to take it…

Price: its important to understand copyright

Price: You MUST, MUST

Price: MUST

Price: this is what drives the entire business

Price: these are YOUR rights

Price: codified in the US constitution

Isquith: Know Your Rights, Joe Strummer once shouted…

Price: they are boring

Price: but its how you make a living doing what you love

Price: with this knowledge

Price: you can make decisions

Isquith: thank you again Jeff for making the time for us, and telling us the story of Tunecore.

Price: thank you for the opportunity

Price: I now have carpel tunnels syndrome

Isquith: Yup, you can thank DMI for that. Look forward to meeting in the physical world.

Jeff Price Tunecore Interview Part 1 — Dishing With The Digerati #6

Jeff Price is truly a man on a mission. The founder of TuneCore, the independent digital distribution company, Jeff is passionate about “democratizing” the music business, and “righting some wrongs”.

As you will see in this two part interview, Jeff has a lot to say about the current state of the music business, and pulls no punches along the way.

Part 1 of our chat can be found below, in which Jeff lays out his take of modern distribution, the fallacy that the real music industry is dying, and more. As you will see, Jeff refuses to be constrained by conventional wisdom, or the short form platform of AIM.

Part 2 will be posted today as well — including our discussion on the death of artist development, and Jeff’s take on where we are headed next.

 

Jeff Price Interview — Part 1:

Isquith: Hi Jeff

Price:  hi
Isquith: Thanks for chatting, we have many mutual friends…but believe this is our 1st meeting
Price: it may be
Isquith: Well, bless the digital world. Who knew—Digital Music Insider, a place for friends.
Price:  MySpgitial?
Price:  Facebigital?
Isquith: Nice
Isquith: I’ll stick with Q/A….
Isquith: In any case, Tunecore has had a fascinating run of late…for folks who don’t know , can you give us the elevator/RTwitter pitch
Price:  this is a long answer
Price:  you certain you want it via IM
Price: I mean this is about 1,500 words
Price: at least
Price:  I don’t like going infomercial
Price:  the company was founded on a principal and philosophy
Price: that does not get down to 144 characters
Price: it was not created to upsell – it was created to right a wrong
Price: sigh
Price: this is going to be long
Price:  but ok
Price: first its important to understand what the industry was
Price: artists needed to get signed to labels in the old days

Price:  b/c labels had the one thing artists could not do on their own
Price:  distribute their physical product across 3.7M square miles of the US to 10,000+ retail stores
Price: labels had deals with distributors,
Price: distributors had 500,000 sq ft warehouses
Price:  where CDs would be stored
Price:  they had 30 people picking/packing and shipping orders
Price: they had 30 more people out in the US
Price:  running into retail stores to convince the buyer at the store
Price: to take in copies of the CD and place it on a shelf
Price: there was limited space
Price: only so many titles could be in stock
Price:  the distributor would beg, borrow plead
Price: to get access to the shelf
Price:  they would win and dine
Price: and they would front money on behalf of the label to rent space in the store to get the CDs in
Price:  however, every CD that shipped out was on consignment
Price:  meaning they could be returned at any point for a full refund
Price:  so the distributor needed a returns department
Price: to take back all these unsold CDs
Price:  throw out the damaged ones
Price: refurbish the ones that were re useable
Price:  they also needed a finance department to deal with 30/60/90 day payment terms
Price: returns/credits etc
Price: it was a HUGE Endeavour
Price: the distributor would make money off each CD sold
Price:  for example
Price:  the distributor sells the CD for $10
Price: to Wal-Mart
Price: Wal-Mart marks it up to $17.98
Price: and makes $7.98
Price: the distributor takes 20 – 30% of the $10
Price:  lets make it 20%
Price:  so they pocket $2
Price: the label gets the other $8
Price: from that, the label pays the artist a band royalty of about $1.40 – $1.70 per unit sold
Price: they keep the rest to offset costs
Price:  band only gets paid if recouped
Isquith: Digital was supposed to change this complex Gatekeeper/Heavy Infrastructure model….
Price: the distributor earned its money
Isquith: Enter Tunecore?
Price: getting there
Price: the record label would then try to make the artists famous

Price: and monetize that fame
Price: via selling or licensing music
Price: tah da

Price:  that’s the economic food chain of the music industry
Price:  if the art caused reaction
Price:  fame would ensue
Price: CDs get bought
Price:  the machine makes money
Price:  in comes digital stores
Price:  1st napster
Price:  training people to download to music and listen on a computer
Price: then iTunes
Price: so in comes Apple to the perfect storm
Price: (10:07:49 AM) two changes to the industry
Price: (10:07:56 AM) 1) unlimited shelf space
Price: (10:08:03 AM) everything can be in stock at no detriment to anything else
Price: (10:08:12 AM) no longer need to fight to get on the shelf
Isquith: Also, the removal of the RETAIL gatekeeper to a significant degree?
Price:  2) unltd inventory that replicates on demand as a perfect digital copy
Price:  getting there
Price:  no up front cost for inventory
Price: old days, make 50,000 CDs hope to god they sold
Price:  if not you still had to eat the cost
Price:  new days – no up front cost for inventory, always available
Price:  as perfect digital copy
Price:  with those two things
Price: AND
Price:  the ability for an artist to market directly to their fans
Price: via social, youtube, FB etc
Price:  the majors were disintermiediated
Price:  so that’s the lay of the land
Price: I was approached by new music distributors
Price:  in 200x
Price: that wanted to distribute spinARTs music
Price: to digital stores
Price: they wanted a % each time the music sold
Price: like the old school distributor
Price: made no sense to me
Price: they moved a file from point a to point b
Price: they idea that they would make an unltd amount of revenue
Price:  each time the music sold
Price: for what exactly?
Price:  they pitched me on marketing services
Price:  with all due respect, marketing does not scale
Price: and I had been doing it for 17 years
Price: they had 10,000 releases a month
Price:how can you market 10,000 releases a month
Isquith: yes, nice for a solo operator, but not easy to build equity and companies behind?
Price: not to mention after the first week or two of “marketing” they would move on
Price:  so i would band my head against a wall begging, borrowing, pleading spending for the band
Price: the band would tour, lay on floors, eat ramen
Price: so when their music sold some third party took 20 – 20% oft the money?
Price:  for what?
Price:  it pissed me off
Price:  i believe artists and labels were getting screwed
Price:  you are the white stripes
Price:  you have back catalog
Price: your new album takes off
Price:  and you are going to give up x% of the money from the back catalog
Price:  b/c some company placed the songs on iTunes
Price:  ??
Price:  i mean COME ON
Price:  the digital stores will not do deals with artists for a variety of reasons
Price: (so i picked up the phone and called my friend Gary
Price: he was an engineer at eMusic
Price: i worked with him
Price: i said we should create a website where ANYONE on the planet can go
Price: upload their music, click a button and have worldwide distribution of their music.  There will be NO gatekeeper.  And the artist will receive 100% of the revenue from the sale of their music
Price: via a non exclusive agreement that they can cancel at any time
Price:we just get paid a simple flat fee
Price:  9.99 for a single
Price:  49.99 for an album
Price:  that’s it
Price:  democratize the industry
Price: let everyone in
Price: under a model that allows them to keep all their rights
Price: and get all the money
Price:  technology allows it
Price:  the business model was missing
Price: so I flipped the industry
Price:  5 years later
Price:  TuneCore is
Price: TuneCore is the largest distributor and music rights aggregator in the world.  It also represents one of the highest revenue generating and unit sales music catalogs in the world
Price:  TuneCore distributes more music in ONE DAY than a major does over THREE YEARS
Price:  TuneCOre artists have sold over 300,000,000 units of music
Price:  (300 million)
Price: in the past 24 months
Price:  generating over 140M in gross music sales revenue
Price: and another 150M in publishing income
Price:  when you set the market free
Price: (and all is available
Price:  consumers make their own decisions
Price:  and all of a sudden things that would not have been signed sell
Price:  and sell a lot
Price:  music sales are UP
Price:  not down
Price: revenue for artists is UP
Price:  not down
Price:  there is more music being bought, shared, streamed, stolen listened to now than at ANY point in the history of the world
Price: the stories about the end of the industry are just factually incorrect
Price:  album sales are down
Price:  but people buy (more) music by track across catalog now

Stephen Baker Final Jeopardy Interview — Dishing With The Digerati #5

One of my first memories of  Stephen Baker was watching him interview my son, Elias, about his iMac. It was the late 90’s, and Steve was getting at the essence of what made the iMac one of Elias’ favorite “toys.”  Fifteen minutes and one game of “Tyrannosaurus-attacking-the-aliens-that-clearly-live-inside-every-translucent-iMac” later, and Steve had uncovered exactly what made the iMac beloved to my son. Design, design and design.

Steve has been doing something similar with technology ever since. That is, astutely analyzing trends by understanding how tech applies to people’s lives in the real world. Through stints as Business Week’s Mexico City and then Paris Bureau Chief, to guiding much of the Tech section for Business Week through two dot-com booms, Steve has written brilliantly on a variety of topics including cloud computing, blogging and  the disruption of the music industry.

Most recently, Steve is the author of two fascinating books — The Numerati (2007), about the mathematical modeling of humanity, and now Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything (2011), in which Steve takes us behind the IBM Watson Jeopardy story.

I caught up with Steve early on Monday morning, and filled with coffee and curiosity, I asked him where we were headed next…

 


Isquith: Hi Steve

Baker: Hi Jack

Isquith: Great to be able to chat today…for those who don’t know you, can you give us a snapshot of what you are up to now, and a bit of background?

Baker: I just published a book, Final Jeopardy–Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything. It’s the “biography” of IBM’s Jeopardy machine, Watson, and also a look at what sorts of knowledge and skills we’ll need to know. Before that, I worked at BusinessWeek and published a previous book, The Numerati, in 2008

Isquith: Nicely done. You were twitter ready before the revolution.

Isquith: Full disclosure, I first met you in your Business Week days

Isquith: As you rose to run their efforts around reporting on technology

Baker: Probably more relevant for your readers is that at BusinessWeek I covered blogs and social media, and co-wrote a cover story: Blogs will Change your Business. It covered the revolution that would bury the magazine

Isquith: What year was that?

Baker: That story came out in 2005

Isquith: Well, it’s been a tough slide down for 6 years in the publishing business thats for sure

Baker: Full of opportunity for 20-somethings, though. No slow ladder-climbing for them.

Isquith: How so for opportunities in Publishing?

Baker: When I broke into journalism, I worked at a weekly in Vermont. The circ was 2,000. I had to pray that some big shot from New York would come skiing there and happen upon one of my stories. There was no way to propagate my material, other than putting it in an envelope and mailing it.

Isquith: You needed to win over gatekeepers to report on gatekeepers?

Baker: I was utterly dependent on them

Isquith: That is certainly much like music was…

Isquith: but now you can both make, and post music with much less barrier to entry

Isquith: Yet, both publishing and music making still need audiences to complete the connection, no?

Baker: Just a question of getting paid for it. But back when you’re trying to get clips, you’re not interested in money. I would have paid the NYT a week’s salary to run one of my op-eds back then.

Isquith: Whereas the right take and a sharp quick point of view can get you traction now?

Baker: My son Jack, who is trying to make it as a reporter (his blog is TheSconz.com) happened upon a camel in Madison, Wis. It was brought there by the Daily Show. It fell in the snow. Jack shot the video, became a YouTube hit, was featured on CNN, got a radio gig. (Now he’s) starting to monetize…

Isquith: Boom. Quick. Now.

Isquith: OK, let’s jump into Watson. People seem to have an incredible emotional reaction to The Watson vs Human aspect of the  Jeopardy story. Why do you think it has touched such a nerve?

Baker: People are used to machines replacing their muscles, legs, arms, wings (ha ha). But when machines start talking (semi) intelligently and replacing brain functions, people start to worry.

Isquith: Do you think the worry is about jobs alone?

Baker: I think it’s broader than that. It’s our place in the world. Machines, in this sense, are like aliens who are invading our world. They may come to know what we’re thinking, or at least come to conclusions about what we’re thinking, who our friends are, whether we’re likely to commit violent acts, etc.

Isquith: Yes. It seems people feel exposed on some level.

Baker: I just wrote an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal about it.

Isquith: Not bad for the kid who would have given it away in Vermont!

Baker: You know, talking about monetization, you wouldn’t believe how pissed I was this morning when I saw the op-ed was behind a firewall. Here the WSJ was acting rationally, building a business model for content I’d written, and I just wanted them to give it away for free and have it go viral. I’m a little torn here.

Isquith: Real life and real commerce colliding.

Isquith: AOL, famously, tore down the walled garden…trying to move to free + advertising content play

Baker: Yes, you wouldn’t believe how much free content I’ve been producing to promote the book. And I have this feeling that people are gobbling up the free stuff-and not bothering the buy the book.

Baker: Now AOL bought Huffington Post (where I post my stuff for free) and are getting rid of hundreds of journalists

Isquith: Yet, here is Murdoch working hard to build his wall w the WSJ & The Daily

Isquith: Isn’t this a true either or question?

Baker: While his MySpace disintegrates

Isquith: Or is there room for fluidity and nuance and shape-shifting?

Baker: I don’t think it’s either/or. Whatever works, and probably pieces of both.

Baker: I noticed that while I couldn’t read my WSJ story online, I could log in and comment on it. That’s one of the nuances, I guess

Isquith: I actually  strongly agree.  Take it further from your POV?

Isquith: Lets take BOTH of these ideas…..machine intelligence & walled-gardens and talk Music

Isquith: You are a big music fan, and also have written very well about the Music Biz…..do you think there are any new lessons for the music biz in the Watson era?

Isquith: for example, Pandora at 80mm users is interesting, no?

Baker: Watson-like machines are going to be able to dig into people’s comments about music and come up with all sorts of correlations that will make the likes of Pandora and Rhapsody seem very primitive.

Isquith: So, does that technological road ahead advantage smart & scrappy satrt-ups, or just big guys like Apple, Google etc?

Baker: I use Pandora, for instance, and it blindly follows the different channels, not taking into account my mix of channels, my current circumstances, what else I’m doing in my life. It doesn’t know me at all. But it could.

Isquith: The user has to do the work to make turns…..the car doesnt learn you & drive itself.

Baker: But the car will

Isquith: Whose car will it be?

Baker: Our grandchildren will have to “hack” cars to be able to drive them.

Isquith: If  you had to guess….music-industry wise?

Baker: It’ll be a shared subscribed resource in the cloud, my guess. It’s ridiculous that I pay more than $100 for TV every month, automatically, but have to pick and chose my music at 99 cents per

Isquith: You don’t buy that people require some kind of music ownership?

Baker: And the quality of the files is so horrible. My mp3s are more scratched than my vinyl

Baker: No, I don’t think you need ownership if you have rights. Think about the photos you have on Flickr.

Isquith: Ha. I’ve lost WAY more files moving and dealing with hard drives, than I ever lost CDs, LPs etc.  True true.

Isquith: Do you think these trends….machine intelligence & decreased barrier to entry….are hopeful or even more painful, for a business like the music industry?

Baker: I actually kind of like my status quo now. I have maybe 1,000 LPs that I don’t have digitally. So I have two different musical worlds, one on the move, one in the living room. They hardly overlap.

Isquith: So, for FANS…Listeners…this might be a golden age?

Isquith: But how about for old content companies like Labels and newer companies like Apple, Google, Pandora etc?

Baker: I would say this is a golden age of content. All this stuff is plentiful and free, and artists keep recording as they look for a business model. When they find one, it might be a bit more painful for the consumer.

Baker: I think the new content companies will do fine. They don’t rely on music, don’t have huge costs associated with it, but they benefit from it and can weave it into their offerings, and then use it to learn more about their customers.

Isquith: Lets play a free association game.  I will throw out a phrase and you pipe in with whatever you like.  Cool?

Baker: fine

Isquith: “The next industry/space to get truly disrupted by Tech will be….”

Baker: medicine

Baker: Watson will be working in hospitals, working on diagnoses, patterns of disease, etc. And yes, Watson will work for insurance companies and become a defacto death panel

Isquith: I think you are serious about all except the death panel.

Baker: It was a joke to assume that death panels didn’t exist long before Obamacare. Insurance companeis make decisions.

Isquith: There is certainly some painful reality in that.

Baker: Try getting a transplant when you’re 85

Isquith: As anyone who has grappled taking care of older parents knows.   Good point.

Isquith: OK, back to our slightly more frivilous game…

Baker: ok

Isquith: #2  “”The biggest mis-conception about Watson/Machine Intelligence is…”

Baker: That it’s trying to replicate human intelligence. People get all caught up in that, as I mentioned in the op ed. And they miss sight of the bigger point: If the machine does your job, it doesn’t really matter if you consider it “intelligent” or not.

Isquith: So, its more about understanding the new reality of thiese kinds of machines…

Isquith: this kind of intelligence…and adapting OUR roles and skills?

Baker: You know one great thing I’ve learned about Watson, Jack?  Watson has no sense of humor and can’t come up with original ideas. Which leaves you to your own devices.

Isquith: Perfect.

Isquith: OK good..#3…”If I ran Clear Channel Radio or ABC, I would…”

Baker: The fact that I’m sitting here thinking instead of typing right away might tell you something. I can’t think of anything smart, except perhaps to find some excuse to give authors like me gobs of air time!

Isquith: Appreciate the honesty.

Isquith: I am stumped every day by finding a path.

Isquith: OK, #4:  “You know who/what Label Presidents should check out…”

Baker: I went to a concert Saturday night at a local church and heard a pianist, Eric Olsen, who blew my mind. It took classical pieces, like Chopin, and turned them into jazz and then back again. And I thought: How could a person so talented be unknown outside these walls, and draw an audience of only 40 people or so?  It could be a cause of despair, but actually, I find it inspiring that musicians can be so great, regardless of the “business model,” or even obivious to one.

Isquith: So, that much talent …unheard…could mean opportunity?

Baker: Well, I don’t know if it could mean opportunity for the labels. But the pianist could presumably find several thousand fans and perhaps make several thousand dollars that he’s not making now.

Isquith: Right.  I’m very focused on this idea that you are circling towards…that is…

Isquith: that there is immense opportunity in (using tech to) connect fans with artists & music

Isquith: and that it is a bit of a jump ball about who owns that connective tissue, in terms of building business models

Baker: Almost everything is small. And the ones who figure out how to arrange the pieces will make out fine.

Isquith: OK, last one….#5…..”All this tech-talk is nice, but when I want to escape… I listen to…..”

Baker: I’ve been listening to Joaquin Sabina, a Spanish singer/songwriter who reminds me a bit of Dylan, even to the point of having a voice destroyed by years of smoke, singing and other abuse. I love his songs and his Madrid pronunciation.

Isquith: Great tip.  The music digerati will approve! Thanks so much Steve for your insights and time.

Baker: Loved it. See you, Jack

Isquith: If the machines don’t see us 1st.

Baker: Oh, that’s a given

Jay Frank CMT Interview — Dishing With The Digerati #4

A veteran of the dotcom wars, I first met Jay Frank when he was at Yahoo, running Music Programming and Music Industry Relations. As his competitor of sorts at AOL, it was impossible not to like Jay. Jay is enthusiastic, whip-smart, and extremely nice. If you spend five minutes with him, it is apparent that Jay loves both music and technology, and posseses a unique ability to contextualize what is happening in the space.

Today, Jay is the always busy Senior Vice President of Music Strategy for Viacom’s CMT, leading the company’s digital strategy from Nashville. Jay is a published author, and his book, Futurehit.DNA, has evolved into a compelling blog and discussion home for the digerati.

I caught up with Jay as he was crunching data, tweeting, cutting deals and putting his shoes back on in yet another airport security line.

 

Frank: Hey

Isquith: impressive…IM’ing from a conveyor belt while putting  your shoes back on?

Frank: Pretty much

Frank: It was the music police…looking for stolen files

Isquith: So, you know the drill…..we are dropping science on an old school platform…AIM.

Isquith: For those who dont know you…

Isquith: Tell us what your role at CMT is…

Frank: My role is SVP Music Strategy.  This means I oversee music across all platforms…videos on air, digital, mobile, etc.

Isquith: Dream job…at least dream title.

Frank: I came there after 7 years as vp of music programming at Yahoo! Music

Isquith: Full disclosure, we were competitors.

Frank: Yeah, it is a dream job…also because there really are very few jobs that can truly program cross platform.

Frank: Yes, we competed, but it was fun to go up against you.

Isquith: I feel likewise. Hopefully, we both raised the game in general. I know you did.

Frank: That was the goal.  At least we got people to realize there is viable legal alternatives to digital music.

Isquith: So, jumping to the present….what has the struggles of the Recording Industry meant to CMT?

Frank: Lower budgets and less risk

Frank: Both on new artists and the videos they make

Frank: For videos that’s not necessarily bad news because costs have come down so much

Isquith: does that create a vicious cycle?

Frank: But investment in stars is rarer and we need them to thrive

Frank: Yes, it is a vicious cycle because risk is inherent in the business…but country labels are stuck because country radio rarely takes risks so who do they turn to?

Isquith: I always thought the idea that it was “OK” for labels to crash was BS……if you are in the ecosystem, you need stars and thriving businesses

Isquith: And on the audience side…the fan side…do you see changes across your platforms?

Frank: It is ok for labels to crash, but it’s not ok for the music business to abdicate the star making investments

Isquith: Tackle the audience ? …really want to hear yr take….

Frank: Yes, the country fan is now fully digital and engaged.  They do just about everything but Foursquare-type stuff…they don’t need to let their friends know they’re at the Tractor Supply Co.

Isquith: I did LOL. really.

Frank: This also means country acts can break outside of radio, but the industry is still afraid to really give it a try

Isquith: Jay, when you were at Yahoo you were a total full genre person.  Do you miss not getting to play as much in other genres?

Frank: I do, but with my book Futurehit.DNA, I get to interact with other genres so it’s ok.

Frank: Plus CMT has shows like crossroads and our awards show that have other genre artists visiting us.

Isquith: Yup, that booked rocked..literally & figuratively. OK, speaking of Rock…I have to ask you about a fire you ignited a couple of months back…The “Rock Is Dead” meme.

Isquith: Tell us what happened….

Frank: Yeah, that was fun to write…

Isquith: And what you think in retrospect?

Frank: We both know people ignore stats at their own peril

Frank: And the stats against rock’s vibrancy are clearly there, but there is still a ton of time and investment in that direction.

Frank: Many people tried to dispute me, but none of the arguments held up.

Frank: Now, rock is truly not dead…it’s just in the underground, which is probably good for the format

Frank: But to think tons of money can be made from rock moving forward is probably too risky for most.

Isquith: The data is convincing, I agree. Also….the economics of making albums not songs, being reliant on touring etc are challenging around Rock.

Frank: And having to pay 4-5 people in the band…it doesn’t add up

Frank: Royalties come I. The same way whether there’s 1 or 10 people in the group.  Much easier to pay a musician out and take the whole pie.

Isquith: let’s play a game….cool?  (jeez I sound like Hannibal Lecter)

Frank: I thought you were the Wargames computer

Isquith: Free association…I say a phrase…you finish/respond

Frank: Sure

Isquith: Statement #1 :” If I had FU start-up money, the company i would do would be…….”

Frank: A new model content company.  Everyone has jumped into the new distro models, but nobody is investing in content anymore.  That smells like opportunity to me.

Isquith: ooh, thats good

Isquith: what do you mean “new content”

Isquith: in this case?

Frank: Well, labels are struggling because they can’t change the foundation of the house.  The contracts are the contracts and they are all over the place from artists in the 60s thru today.

Isquith: keep going

Frank: A new content company would need to think of a whole new foundation to structure profits on.  Most likely the model is not outsize profits like the past, but stable modest profits that any company can be proud of.

Frank: One of the great books in the last few years is Curse of the Mogul.

Isquith: the book?… think the title gives a clue?

Frank: In the book, the author argues that entertainment companies underperform the s&p 500 routinely because they chase charts and not a sound business model.

Isquith: Yes!  Market Share NOT profits.

Frank: If a new content company cared more about solid business sense with decent profits, they’d get by a lot farther.  Many indie bands do this on a small scale every day.

Frank: Ok…#2…

Isquith: Statement #2: “What Brands REALLY want from Music is….”

Frank: Good feelings to sell product.

Isquith: Not hard metrics?

Isquith: Conversion rates etc?

Frank: As much as there’s more money now from brands, always remember they really don’t care about the music.

Frank: Exactly.  They want to see sales.

Frank: If your music helps them sell, they’re happy.

Frank: If not, they dispose of you fast.

Isquith: Cool.   What do you think of this idea of ‘Coke or Kraft will be the next “Label”?

Frank: I like it to a degree, especially Converse creating a walk-in studio.

Frank: But that’s a fad and not sustainable.

Frank: Traditionally, music content companies offspring from device guys.

Frank: Still somewhat shocked that apple hasn’t formed a proper label.

Isquith: Good stuff. Statement #3: ” The smartest , most interesting person Ive encountered in last few months is…”

Frank: Jack Isquith!

Isquith: its been a dry few months!

Frank: Oh you want the real answer.

Frank: Shelly Palmer.  He’s just a realist on where new technology takes us and how it affects our lives.

Isquith: I’m not hip to him…give some context

Frank: He’s a blogger and tv personality in NY.  Has a great email list at www.shellypalmer.com

Isquith: Thanks for the tip.

Frank: He just talks about technology as it relates to our lives.

Frank: Not as it’s supposed to be.  His outlook is so simple and if people think like the consumer, they just might grow.

Frank: Darn, I got about 5 min.  Boarding now.

Isquith: Statement #4:  There is a terrible fire, and you can only save 1 tech  device…..it is?

Frank: The smartphone.

Frank: It’s the best computer/communication device we have

Frank: Plus it’s easy to grab in a panic.

Isquith: Statement #5:  ….What album or Dig File do you save?

Frank: Ooo…last year I really dug Bear In Heaven and Efterklang

Frank: But I’m also liking a lot of Euro dance music like Martin Solveig

Frank: In country, I love this new guy Ty Stone that Kid Rock is grooming.

Isquith: Jay…Thanks so much!

Frank: Anytime!  Did I beat that Crush interview?

Isquith: I know you are boarding..we really aprreciate your impressive multi-tasking and mind & heart.

Isquith: re beating Crush…JD has a thing or 2 to worry about.

Isquith: after all, He sat at his desk!

Frank: Yeah, you don’t kill it until you do an Isquith interview on the go.

Isquith: travel safe, and thanks for dishing.

Frank: Any time!

Frank: See ya later

Isquith: go get em. Thanks again.  bye bye

Frank: Any time

Jonathan Daniel Crush Mgmt. Interview — Dishing With The Digerati #4

 

Jonathan Daniel is a delightful contradiction. Bass-Player/Business-Mogul…Amused Fan/Serious Power Player…Former Artist/Current Manager…Songwriter Supreme/Music Tech Genius.

Jonathan, along with partner Bob McLynn, guides the carrers of  a host clients ranging from Chiddy Bang to Cobra Starship to Hole, all under the Crush Management moniker.

We caught up with Jonathan on Monday morning — where despite the hour, he rolled easy and rocked hard. JD dished on the tech disruption, Grammy recoginition, life with Courtney Love, and whatever happened to fun:

 

Isquith: Good morning JD…Think you know how we do this. Close your eyes, make believe it’s 2003, presto…Dishing With the Digerati/AIM Interview Style.

Isquith: So you & I have know each other for years…dating back to your artist days. But for folks who only know you through Crush Management, how did you make the transition from being in a band to manager?

Daniel: yes, i often credit you with being the first guy who told me the truth in the record business.

Isquith: egads.

Isquith: what in the world did I say?

Daniel: you said “here’s why you’re fucked, you think you’re lords of the new church and the label here thinks you’re wham”

Isquith: sounds like (a younger) me.

Isquith: OK, 1st contextualization…..you rocked, sorta, in bands for years.

Daniel: you know the old saying “those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym?” artist to manager transition is the music equivalent

Isquith: when did it start? Mangement?

Daniel: for better or worse, i knew how to put together a band that could be popular enough to get a record deal but once i had one, i didn’t really get how to go to the next level.  Whether or not my bands were good enough is certainly debatable but one thing is for sure, we were more popular pre-deal than post-deal and that seemed wrong to me.

Isquith: You were early in embracing technology, yet never struck me as particuliarly geeky.  i remember you being active in the Space back in My CDNOW days… 2000-2001…is that right?

Daniel: When napster hit, I saw a way to handle bands in a DIY style through marketing on the web that could maybe be a small business under the radar of the real business

Isquith: Yes..it’s coming back to me. You GOT Napster right away.

Isquith: and if you’re a big music fan….it WAS exciting. Right?

Daniel: yes–i saw the space as punk rock. i dont have any real technology skills and for a music fan it was amazing–all the music anytime you want for free. i would argue that free was the least important part of the equation back then

Isquith: Take that further…..

Daniel: if you look at the 3 great napster ideas it was 1. all the music 2. amazingly easy to use 3. free.  if we had put up a toll both and just charged everyone then, we might have a bigger online business now.

Isquith: I think a bigger EVERYTHING business, but heck it’s your interview.

Daniel: i get why there was pushback from the top–when you’re the king and someone says “we’re having a revolution”, your instinct is not to go “great!” you want to protect what you’ve got.  That being said, napster was a truly amazing discovery that if the industry had embraced early, would’ve, in my opinion, helped prevent the decline

Isquith: so, here we are 12 years post-Napster…12 years!….and we STILL haven’t leveraged most of the Napster promise. Do you see more pain ahead, or do you think a rebound can happen for Labels & Publishers & Promoters?

Daniel: the beauty of music online is there are infinite choices now. the challenge of music online is there are infinite choices now.

Daniel: This makes it harder to to have hits and this is a business built on hits

Isquith: well said, on both counts.

Isquith: You spend your days now, guiding artists careers and working through all these hard choices…all this infinte noise.

Daniel: so the challenge for all involved is can the margins be enough to support anyone other than artists and, maybe, a personal assistant

Isquith: Whats the most challenging part of your gig?  What’s the most gratifying?

Daniel: for me, its a super exciting time because within chaos is opportunity.

Daniel: The most challenging part without question is getting those first fans for a new band

Daniel: if you write a hit song in the forest…

Isquith: Then only my blog will hear it.

Isquith: I know the drill.

Daniel: well put

Isquith: I hate to embarass you…but, wow, that must have been thrilling to see Train win that Grammy, and be thanked so specifically in front of the world (editors note–see the video here and below)

Isquith: how did that feel?

Daniel: i’m not gonna lie, it was really great–it speaks volumes to what an incredibly appreciative group they are.

Daniel: to speak to what you were asking before, these are the most gratifying moments.

Isquith: They wrote a great song, worked hard, and you did a brilliant job …for anyone who has worked behind-the-scenes it was really heartwarming.

Isquith: OK, curveball time.

Isquith: Let’s play some free association. I will throw out 5 or so phrases, and you just let it rip.

Daniel: thank you man–it has been a really fun ride with them

Daniel: shoot

Isquith: Game?

Isquith: OK, here goes…

Daniel: i love the game!

Daniel: the rapper that is

Isquith: If I ran a Major Label, the first thing I would do is…

Daniel: listen to all the records

Daniel: our business is so much easier when the songs are there

Daniel: train had hey soul sister on their demos they played me

Isquith: keep going…this is great.

Isquith: And no one focused on it?

Daniel: no, in fairness to everyone else involved prior–they were too in it.  you know that nine inch nails song “i was up above it, now i’m down in it”?  I think about that lyric alot

Daniel: its key to management

Daniel: if you get too down in it, you cant help the band

Isquith: perspective…forest/trees/ —  got it.

Isquith: OK, free association phrase #2:   “If I had unlimited VC funds, my first bet…the first lane I’d go down, would be…”

Daniel: can i buy the oakland raiders with it?

Isquith: you can not.

Daniel: as far as the music business goes?

Isquith: Broadly defined, yeah.

Daniel: mobile

Isquith: “I feel sad kids can no longer……”

Daniel: honestly, fuck the kids. they are so overpriviledged! when i was a kid, the closest i could get to an artist was sending $10 bucks to some fan club and then 6 months later i’d get a crappy membership card and a fake signed photo in the mail.  If i were 12 now i’d never leave my room–free baseball stats, music and porn. kids have it real real good.

Isquith: You make such lame copy JD.

Daniel: i’m very professional!

Isquith: Love you madly.

Isquith: ok, give me 1 sec…

Isquith: too buisy laughing too tyoe

Isquith: #4  “Smartest/most interesting person I’ve met in last year is…”

Daniel: david nelson–he’s a 16 year old kid I emailed because i read a cnn post about him building a site using the tools youtube gives you that just has music content from youtube. muziic.com

Daniel: he’s fascinating

Daniel: he lives in the middle of nowhere and he builds apps he needs for himself to make his music online experience more enjoyable

Isquith: I just clicked that. Oh my. I have a weeks worth of posts just on this.

Daniel: i flew him and his father to new york–he’s got braces and the whole bit

Isquith: OK, ….and #5…….. ‘A day managing Courtney Love is like a day….”

Daniel: depends on the day!

Isquith: OK, give us a great day and a, um, challenging day.

Daniel: when she’s good courtney, she’s everything i signed up for–wickedly funny, smart, musical–its like you and i talking about the replacements.

Isquith: you flatter me.

Isquith: which I love.

Daniel: a challenging day makes you understand why the album was called live through this

Isquith: perfect.

Isquith: OK, let’s finish with this…

Isquith: If you had 1 piece of advice in this exact moment in time,  for any artist or aspiring artist, it would be….

Daniel: this business is based on unique original artists who’s music was so good that it moved millions of people. So at the end of the day, the most credible artists–from radiohead to the beatles were not only cool, but had big ass hits. That should be everyone’s goal–to see a million faces and rock em all.

Daniel: write great songs! in the end, best song wins!

Isquith: and on that note…youve been a great interview, thank you, drive home safe!!

Isquith: thanks JD. You will be hard to top for the next Digerati….

Daniel: i hope you’re the next president of some big label.

Isquith: not sure if thats a blessing or curse.