Attorneys In Apple Antitrust Lawsuit

Must Find New Plaintiff By Tuesday


Justice      After slogging through years of legal tussles, the antitrust class action lawsuit against Apple Inc. encountered another hiccup this week when the presiding judge removed the last remaining “named plaintiff” from the suit. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers scolded Marianna Rosen and her attorneys on Monday (Dec. 8) for not providing more complete information about the iPods Rosen had purchased. That move came after Apple lawyers successfully argued that the devices Rosen bought were not among those affected by the lawsuit.

Judge Rogers also quickly rejected Apple’s argument that the case should be dismissed because it’s too late to name a new plaintiff. She ordered the attorneys suing Apple to identify a new lead plaintiff by Tuesday (Dec. 16).

As reported by Billboard, a class-action suit must identify at least one person as a “named plaintiff” who suffered the losses or injuries alleged in the case. Rosen had previously said she purchased several iPods that qualified, but Apple attorneys produced evidence that those devices either had the wrong software or were purchased outside the time frame of the lawsuit. Rosen and her attorneys said she had purchased two other iPods in 2008, but Apple lawyers were able to produce records that showed they were purchased with a credit card issued to her husband’s law firm. Apple attorney William Isaacson argued that meant she was not legally the purchaser. A series of pretrial rulings had narrowed the case to covering just 19 months between September 2006 and March 2009.

Both sides estimate 8 million people bought iPods that were potentially covered by the lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim Apple used restrictive software that prevented iPods from playing music purchased from competitors of Apple’s iTunes store, and maintain that amounted to unfair competition. Apple was able to sell iPods at inflated prices because the software froze makers of competing devices out of the market, plaintiffs’ attorneys argue. They also say Apple is liable for $350 million, an amount that would be tripled if a jury finds the company violated federal antitrust rules. 

Lawyers: Apple Secretly Deleted

Competitors’ Downloads From iPods


     Before the antitrust suit against Apple was delayed while attorneys search for a new lead plaintiff (see story, above), lawyers presented evidence that the company deleted music that some iPod owners had downloaded from competing music services without telling them. According to the Wall Street Journal, when a user who had downloaded music from a rival service in the period between 2007 and 2009 tried to sync an iPod to the user’s iTunes library, Apple would display an error message and instruct the user to restore the factory settings. Attorney Patrick Coughlin said that, when the user restored the settings, the music from rival services would disappear.

“You guys decided to give them the worst possible experience and blow up” a user’s music library, Coughlin said in U.S. District Court in Oakland.

Apple insists the moves were legitimate security measures, and Apple security director Augustin Farrugia testified the company did not offer a more detailed explanation because, “We don’t need to give users too much information. We don’t want to confuse users.” Farrugia told the court that hackers with names like “DVD Jon” and “Requiem” made Apple “very paranoid” about protecting iTunes. Updates that deleted non-Apple music files were intended to protect consumers from those system break-ins, he said, explaining, “The system was totally hacked.”

Apple declined to comment to the Journal outside of the court testimony. 

Time Spent Listening To Pure-Play

Streams Increases While AM/FM Slips


     Satisfaction and time-spent with digital streaming of broadcast (AM/FM) radio is slipping and soon could be overtaken by such on-demand pure-play companies as Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes. That’s the word from Bridge Ratings President Dave Van Dyke, who said in a LinkedIn post that time spent with broadcast simulcast online streams five years ago (2009) was 2-1/2 half hours a day, while pure-play time spent was just under 1-1/2 hours. Furthermore, until 2012 broadcast online listening and pure-play listening continued to increase.

That all changed in 2013, Van Dyke says, as time spent per day with online broadcast streaming dropped while pure-play time spent continued to increase. “At Bridge Ratings, our first thought was that this could be an anomaly,” he observes. “The perception was that all internet streaming behavior was increasing. [But] trends do not support this thinking.”

In fact, a new year-end analysis from Bridge Ratings suggests that, since 2012, broadcast radio online daily time spent listening (TSL) has fallen 9.4% (2.65 to 2.40 hours per day) while pure-play online listening has increased 65% (1.7 to 2.35 hours per day). “By this time next year, online pure play time spent will have surpassed broadcast radio’s online simulcast TSL,” Van Dyke says. “And if broadcast radio streaming content remains more or less the same as it is, we project this trend will continue on out to at least 2017 with a large gap favoring pure play internet listening.” 

Grooveshark Offers New Digital

Music App In Plan to “Go Legit”


     After suffering a string of legal setbacks over the last few years, Grooveshark has developed a new app designed to set the company on a legitimate path to digital music streaming. As CNET reports, the new Broadcasts app lets users create customized radio stations without running afoul of the record companies. The app, expected to launch next month, lets customers build and access custom radio stations and text fellow users as they listen to music. Designed for iOS and Android users, the app will cost 99 cents a month and be commercial-free. The online stations will be developed directly by users rather than generated by Grooveshark.

One of the primary objectives behind the new app is to create a business model that will keep the company out of the court system. Grooveshark currently offers websites both for PCs and mobile devices in which users can search for and stream an unlimited number of songs produced by major record labels. That system led several record labels to sue the company, arguing Grooveshark lacked the necessary rights to upload the copyrighted songs. Back in September a federal judge in New York ruled that Grooveshark’s co-founders had uploaded almost 6,000 songs for which they had no licenses, and subsequently destroyed evidence of the uploads.

Since then, Grooveshark has created dedicated iOS and Android apps for its streaming service, but both of those apps were taken down following complaints from the record labels. The new Broadcasts app means Grooveshark will pay government-mandated performance fees set by the Copyright Royalty Board rather than negotiate directly with the recorded music companies. 

Pandora Releases New User

Interface For Mobile Listening


Pandora Mobile      Pandora this week released a beta version of a refreshed mobile user interface that includes new station personalization features and functionality. According to a company statement, the update currently is available to only 3% of iPhone and Android smartphone users, but will roll out to all mobile and tablet listeners over the coming months.

“For more than a decade, our engineering team has worked to perfect the personalized radio listening experience and unleash the infinite power of music for our listeners,” Pandora Chief Technology Officer Chris Martin said in standard PR-speak. “With our users logging more than 1.65 billion listening hours in September alone, we were extremely mindful in the way we made adjustments to the [user interface] so as to enhance and simplify the experience.”

Major changes include enhanced station personalization capabilities and improved artist discovery. The redesigned interface also is reported to be simpler to use and clearer to the ear. “Listeners are given a different sense of place and navigation with the new transitions from the ‘station list’ to the ‘now playing’ screen, and can view comprehensive thumb history and adjust thumb feedback for old tracks listened to,” the company said. [Read more: Company statement]



A publication of Bunzel Media Resources © 2014

The boggling mixed signals of “Peter Pan Live!”

Why on earth did NBC decide to do this show?

“Peter Pan” wasn’t a technical disaster or a racist cringe-fest — but man, was it weird

The boggling mixed signals of "Peter Pan Live!": Why on earth did NBC decide to do this show?
Allison Williams as Peter Pan (Credit: NBC/Nino Munoz)

“Clap your hands if you believe!” a girl dressed unconvincingly as a boy implored the camera, breaking the fourth wall in a moment that is probably supposed to be really touching. Tinkerbell, a tiny blob of CGI, is dying in a faux-mossy lantern. The girl-boy — Allison Williams, playing Peter Pan — is dressed in studied scraps of fishnet and green leather breeches, and she is directing her concern at a camera that we have spent the whole evening dutifully pretending doesn’t exist, as it follows her around cavorting on wires hanging from the ceiling.

NBC’s “Peter Pan Live!” promises to be my next holiday tradition (and when NBC says holiday, it means Christmas), so it looks like I’m going to have very depressing Decembers from here on out. But before I wrap myself up in blankets on my easy chair and resign myself to a lifetime as Ebenezer Scrooge, please allow me to complain a little.

I understand that this live musical thing is a huge success for NBC — “The Sound Of Music” netted a cool 18 million viewers, which is an insane number for any programming that isn’t a sporting event in this day and age. For cast and crew, it’s a thrilling opportunity to make something that can’t be improved upon by a second take; for audiences, it’s a chance to come together for some appointment viewing (read: group snarking). Something could happen, is the exciting, fun part of live television; it’s what draws audiences to “Saturday Night Live,” the Super Bowl, and the Academy Awards, for different reasons.

But NBC’s production of this 1904 musical did nothing different, interesting or risky. (It wasn’t even really live! The singing was all pre-recorded tracks. What was the point, NBC?) Aside from a few changes to Tiger Lily’s song to make it slightly less racist, “Peter Pan Live!” was “Peter Pan,” more or less intact. Which is mind-boggling. If Disney had produced this, audiences would be asking: Why is it so overwhelmingly white? Why wasn’t Tiger Lily’s role rethought or cut entirely?

And the most obvious response to all of this, naturally, is that “Peter Pan” isn’t meant for television, because it’s a play, and it’s not meant for modern audiences, because it was written in 1904. But then that leads to the most obvious question that struck me as I was watching last night: Why on earth would anyone make this show in 2014? As the fabulous and opinionated Tom and Lorenzo wrote this morning: “There’s a difference between ‘old-fashioned entertainment’ and ‘offensive minstrel shows’ and this falls somewhere in the middle.”

We live in a world where a feminist retelling of the book of Genesis is a bestselling book and an upcoming miniseries on Lifetime. Where children’s fables are being unpacked and retold to include more female and minority perspectives. The “Hunger Games” franchise and the Marvel and DC universes are engaging with complex, dystopian themes in their storytelling. We are not shrinking violets in our American living rooms, and neither are our children, and yet this version of “Peter Pan” is like a time capsule from 1904, unwilling to do anything to disturb the fragile social norms of a bunch of long-dead white Brits.

NBC hewed with the standard set by Mary Martin in the ‘50s and went with Peter Pan being played by an adult woman, and a classically feminine-looking one at that. The result was a lot of hilarious queer subtext — hilarious not because a bunch of women in a love quadrangle is inherently funny, but because it was so obvious that NBC had no intention of creating that subtext. The plot has something to do with all women wanting sex from Peter while he calls them “Mother”; also hilarious, but also depressingly unintentional.

“Peter Pan Live!” was, to be fair, executed adequately. It’s competent, and not a lot more than that. Allison Williams didn’t make a mistake on live television, but didn’t exactly win the hearts of thousands, either. Christopher Walken seemed to understand how cheesy it was, and went for it with glee; he’s not exactly hamming it up, but he’s mincing up a storm during the dance numbers. The camerawork couldn’t quite decide if it was going to follow the actors around or sit back and watch them, the way an audience would; the tension between the two made for some seasickness. And all of the delightful shortcuts of theater — which require your willing suspension of disbelief in exchange for the thrill of watching players act out a story live, right in front of you — looked terrible on-screen, particularly if you happened to be watching in HD. (The comb Peter gives Wendy was tacky spray-painted plastic, and they knew it, and we knew they knew it.)

“Peter Pan Live!” was mediocre, bland and depressingly safe, and because Wal-Mart spent millions of dollars tying in advertising throughout the whole thing we’re likely to see dozens more musicals brought boringly to life around the holidays. I’m not looking forward to it. But Scrooges, fortunately, are comforted by all the great tweets.


Steve Jobs’ Emails Used As Evidence

In $350 Million Apple Antitrust Case


Lawsuit      Opening statements began yesterday (Dec. 2) in the long-running class action lawsuit claiming Apple Inc. violated antitrust laws by restricting music purchases for iPod users to Apple’s iTunes digital store. The plaintiffs, a group of individuals and businesses who purchased iPods from 2006 to 2009, are seeking about $350 million in damages from Apple, which they allege unfairly blocked commerce from competing device makers. At the time, iPods only played songs sold in the iTunes Store, or those downloaded from CDs, and not music from competing online retailers. The suit claims customers had to stay with the iPod, and buy higher-priced ones rather than cheaper, alternative music players, in order to keep their music files. Apple has since discontinued this system.

Bonny Sweeney, an attorney for the plaintiffs, showed the 8-person jury in a federal courtroom in Oakland, CA, a series of emails from top Apple executives. These include messages from the late Steve Jobs discussing a challenge in the online music market from Real Networks, which had developed a rival digital song system that allowed music purchased on Real’s store to be played on iPods. “There was a concern by Apple that this would eat into their market share,” Sweeney told the jury.

She noted that in one email exchange, Jobs wrote to other Apple executives with a suggested press release about Real Networks. “How’s this?” Jobs wrote. “‘We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod.'” Apple marketing chief Philip Schiller responded, “I like likening them to hackers.”

Apple eventually introduced a software update that barred RealPlayer music from being played on the iPod. Plaintiffs say that step discouraged iPod owners from buying a competing device when it came time to upgrade.

Apple attorney William Isaacson hit back, arguing the company had a right to improve iTunes to protect iPods from security threats, as well as from the damage caused by Real Networks software. “It posed a danger to the consumer experience and to the quality of the product,” he said.

Apple insists it did not possess monopoly power in the digital music player market, and that it has no legal duty to make its products compatible for competitors.

If the jury finds in favor of the plaintiffs, any monetary award would be automatically tripled under antitrust laws. [Read more: Reuters

Pandora’s Merlin Deal: “Pay For Play”

Or “Pay Less To Play More”?


Long Tail Money      As details of Pandora’s recent deal with Merlin and independent record labels leak to the public, music industry analysts are beginning to question if the arrangement doesn’t smack of legal payola. NPR last week reported the Merlin deal includes a provision that its artists receive more spins on Pandora’s advertising-supported streaming service, and Pandora pays less in royalties per track than it would if were giving those same spins to non-Merlin artists. Plus, Merlin-affiliated labels get to suggest “favorite” tracks for the service to play.

While there’s no law prohibiting this sort of practice within the scope of online radio, Georgetown University adjunct professor and copyright attorney Jim Burger told NPR this kind of deal would receive immense scrutiny if it were taking place on AM/FM radio. “If they were a terrestrial radio station and they were getting a discount on certain music as long as they played it more than other music, that would be considered illegal,” he said, noting that stations would have to announce such an arrangement upfront.

Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews disagrees, saying there’s no comparison between payola and what his company is doing. “Payola is where record labels pay radio stations to get airplay,” McAndrews said in an interview. “The opposite is what happens today. At Pandora, we pay the record labels and the artists to allow airplay. So it’s completely different. Every song will go through the Music Genome Project, and our listeners still retain the ability to personalize their stations the way they always have.”

Disclaimer: The author of this story once published a novel about payola titled “Pay For Play.” Limited pre-owned titles can be found here on Amazon. The author receives no compensation for these sales. 

Three Studies Suggest Link Between

Free Listening And Improved Music Sales


     Three consumer studies released in late November suggest listening to music on free streaming or download services has a positive effect on music purchases. As reported by Billboard, the timing couldn’t have been better, as Taylor Swift’s divorce from Spotify brought attention to that service’s business model – and opened a debate on whether digital streaming helps or hurts music sales. While not conclusive by any means, the three studies do provide some context to the issue:

  1. A study conducted by Pandora suggests a small “Pandora Effect” among its listeners. Using an “A/B” analysis that prevented listeners in some areas from hearing certain songs, Pandora was able to illustrate that listening to music on the streaming service has a positive effect on music sales. For both new releases and catalog music, listening to a song on Pandora provides a slight sales lift. Plus, this so-called “Pandora Effect” grows as a song is streamed more.
  2. A study by the Country Music Association found  streaming services such as YouTube or Spotify are three times better at driving music sales than AM/FM radio. About 25% of survey respondents purchased new music after streaming it compared to 8% of radio listeners. Of course, not all of this streaming is free, but Pandora and Spotify both have more “freemium” than paying users, and YouTube (thus far) is free, as well. So in the context of free music, the CMA survey’s takeaway is that free music provides a positive promotional benefit.
  3.  A new user study from BitTorrent says its users are more likely than average internet users to pay for a music subscription and buy digital music. As Billboard notes, the idea that people who engage in peer-to-peer downloads spend more than average people isn’t new. And while the purchase of music by BitTorrent users may simply show a shows correlation, not causation, it does point out that some active music consumers engaged in both paid and free options do buy music.

High-Fidelity Music: Are Consumers

Settling For Convenience Over Quality?


Music Business      As the recorded music industry increasingly turns its attention to digital streaming services as a major revenue stream, are listeners being forced to settle for poor audio quality? That’s the reasoning behind Neil Young’s new Pono service and the new high fidelity digital music system Apple reportedly is creating with the input of U2. But do consumers care enough about quality to pay the additional cost, and will the music industry get behind the companies that want to provide it?

Three self-professed audiophiles – an audio journalist, a musician/sound engineer, and a music industry analyst – recently told International Business Times whether consumers really care about sound quality and whether or that interest will translate to dollars.

Steve Stone, a writer for Audiophile Review and The Absolute Sound, says the difference between MP3s and high-definition or high-resolution music is “the difference between a bottle of Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck and a 50-year-old Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Full-resolution music is like looking out over a scene through optical glass vs. looking through a window that hasn’t been washed. [But] loss-y MP3s require your brain to do more work to fill in the spaces. It’s hard to get into.”

Noah Landis, Neurosis keyboardist and an audio engineer for the past 25 years, told IBT the sound of MP3s “isn’t horrible…just flatter-sounding than high-def” and says there’s definitely a place for high-definition streaming music for audiophiles at home, even if they have albums, CDs and great audio equipment.

Then there’s Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer and former pro audio editor at Billboard, who says a market for high-quality sound exists, but he believes it’s niche rather than mass market. “I think the public at large probably does care about sound quality, but they don’t care enough,” he observes. “The days of marketing music on the virtue of sound quality ended in the late 1970s with Steely Dan and Pink Floyd. We’re seeing the triumph of convenience over quality.” 

U.K. Vinyl Music Sales Top 1 Million

Units For The First Time Since 1996


     While making up a minuscule slice of the entire music sales pie, vinyl continue to find its ways into the hearts – and onto the turntables – of audiophiles around the world. The latest example: More than 1 million vinyl records have been sold in the U.K. this year, the first time their sales volume hit that mark since 1996. Driven by the album “AM” by the Arctic Monkeys, the surge in sales also was powered by Pink Floyd’s first album in 20 years. The group’s “Endless River,” which became the fastest-selling vinyl release in Britain since 1997, tallied 6,000 sales in its first week.

“In an era when we’re all talking about digital music, the fact that these beautiful physical artifacts are still as popular as they are is fantastic,” Martin Talbot, managing director of the Official Charts Company, said in an interview with the BBC. “Only five years ago this business was worth around £3 million [$4.7 million] a year. This year it’s going to be worth £20 million [$31 million].”

As a result of this small but resurging market, U.K.’s Official Charts Company is planning to launch a weekly vinyl chart to track the category. [Read more: Hollywood Reporter]


A publication of Bunzel Media Resources © 2014


Jerry Lee Lewis on touring with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins

“They knew, even then, they were seeing the greatest thing”

Cash, Perkins, Jackson — they were all legends, they were all young, and the early tours were unforgettably cool

Jerry Lee Lewis on touring with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins: "They knew, even then, they were seeing the greatest thing"
Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, December 4, 1956 (Credit: HarperCollins/Getty/Michael Ochs Archives)

Jerry Lee Lewis did not know where he was, precisely, just somewhere in Canada. The caravan thundered down highways that were barely there, the roadbed eaten by permafrost, the gravel flying like buckshot against the bottoms of the big cars. There was a long Lincoln Continental, a Fleetwood Cadillac, a mean-looking Hudson Hornet, and a brand-new Buick Supreme; it was new for only a thousand miles or so, till the potholes got it. The big sedans might have been different colors, once, but now they were all a uniform gray, the color of the blowing dust. Jerry Lee rode in the passenger seat of the Buick, sick of this great distance between crowds and applause, six hundred, seven hundred miles a day. “I didn’t drive. . . . I was paid to play piano and sing. Stars don’t drive.” Instead, he read Superman, or used a cigarette lighter to fire up one cherry bomb after another and flung them out the half window to explode under the trailing cars.

“That first tour was me, Johnny, and Carl, and Sonny James, Marvin Rainwater, Wanda Jackson. We put eighty, ninety thousand miles on that Buick, across Canada, across everywhere . . . throwing cherry bombs the whole way.” Sometimes he missed high and the cherry bombs exploded against windshields or on the hoods, and Johnny and Carl would curse him mightily, curse unheard, but one time he misjudged and the cherry bomb bounced off a window frame and into J. W.’s lap, and J. W.’s screams echoed inside the Buick for a good long while, longer than was seemly for a man. They could have used a chaperone, all of them, or a warden. The lead car was jammed with drum kits, guitar cases, and sharp-cut jackets and two-tone shoes. The only other provisions they packed were whiskey, cherry bombs, and comic books.

He cannot really remember all the little cities and towns they traveled through, not even the names on the road signs, only the vast, empty spaces in between. They would go two hundred miles or more and not see a café or a motel. “We’d stop at a store and get some Vienna sausages and bologna and bread and pickles and mustard, and pull over to the side of the road and have a picnic. . . . Calgary, that was one of the places. Quebec. They went crazy in Quebec. Pulled their dresses up.”

To the owners of the motels and truck stops, it must have seemed like the lunatics had wandered off the path, had stolen some good cars, and were terrorizing the countryside. “Johnny came in my room and saw this little bitty television in there, and he said, ‘You know, my wife’s always wanted one of them.’ And I told him, ‘Fine, go steal one from your own room.’ ” And it went that way, eight hundred, nine hundred miles a day, half drunk, pill crazy, larcenous, and destructive and beset by loose women and fits of temper, and it was perfect.

“We had some good fights,” says Jerry Lee. “A good fight just cleared the air.”

Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash had begun the tour as headliners. They were still the big names at Sun then and, Sam Phillips believed, his best moneymaking ventures. The problem was this newcomer, this blond-haired kid, who did not know his place and had no governor on his mouth, and in such close proximity, they could not tune him out and could not run away and could not kill him, either, though they considered it. He even had the gall to suggest, as the days wore on, he should close the shows, him with just two records cut and shipped and not even one yet on the charts. Who, they wondered aloud, did that Louisiana pissant think he was?

They were starting to call the music “rockabilly” now, but the kid refused to label himself as that, to endorse any kinship with that hillbilly-heavy blues that sold so well in any town with a tractor dealership on its main drag. To Jerry Lee, the word was denigrating, something imposed on these country boys and their music by the outside world. “I wasn’t no rockabilly,” he says, “I was rock and roll.” Carl was pure rockabilly—“Blue Suede Shoes” was the music’s anthem—and Johnny, the storyteller, was more country than most young rock and rollers aspired to be, though his “Get Rhythm” rocked out good and strong, as Jerry Lee recalls. The audience loved all of it, bought tickets by the handful and just moved to it, man, because it made old, traditional country music seem like the record player was too slow, and in town after town they lined up, hungry. But increasingly, as his stage presence swelled and swelled, it was Jerry Lee who created the excitement, who got them dancing, and so he demanded more and more of the spotlight. It was, he believed, only his due.

More than one music fan, more than one historian of rock and roll, have wished for a time machine, just so they could travel back to this one time, this one tour, to wedge into those packed auditoriums on the vast plains and in the Canadian Rockies, to see it all happen the way it did, to see Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, young and raw and wild, singing into big Art Deco microphones that looked like something that shook loose off the hood of an Oldsmobile, on stages scarred by a million metal folding chairs, in auditoriums where next week the featured attraction would be a high school production of The Merchant of Venice.

* * *

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Maud, Oklahoma, it’s the Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda…” And before the announcer could even get it out, the crowd was hollering and hooting—with here and there a wolf whistle or two—as Wanda Jackson came out from the wings in high, high heels, hips swinging free and easy like she walked that way going to the mailbox. She had not a made a sound yet, and already the loggers, drillers, and insurance men were beginning to sweat. This was no cowgirl. Her dresses were fringed, to accentuate her flying hips, and low-cut, to accentuate something else, and her legs were slim and perfect and her waist was so tiny a big man could encircle it with his two big hands. Her big hair was dark brown and flowing, and her big eyes were framed by a starlet’s arched eyebrows; she was a goddess with a voice like a beast, and she growled as she sang that a hardheaded woman is a thorn in the side of a man.

That was hard to follow. But here came Sonny James of Hackleburg, Alabama, striding out in his Western suit, a thin, dark-haired man who had survived the Korean War, singing a love song of the ages. “Young Love” was the song, and it wasn’t the words that made it lovely but how he did it, like smoke on velvet.

Next came that good-looking Marvin Rainwater, who wore a fringed buckskin shirt and a headband onstage, because he was one-quarter Cherokee. He sang in deep baritone about how he was “gonna find him a bluebird, let it sing all night long.” He was a mellow singer, a balladeer, and smoothed out the crowd before the real headliners came on, the boys from the land of the rising Sun.

First came Carl Perkins, in his too-tight pants and pointy sideburns, and he let it rip:

Well, it’s one for the money

Two for the show . . .

Through force of will, Jerry Lee had climbed up the bill and over and straight through Carl, till now there was only Johnny Cash, in his elegant, somber black, hovering just above him on the marquee. That night, there had been the usual argument over who would close the show. Johnny, with the bigger name and a song on the charts, had the promoters on his side: he got top billing, which meant he had to follow Jerry Lee. But first Jerry Lee had to surrender the stage.

The stage had become a kind of laboratory for Jerry Lee, and he was the mad scientist. Onstage he mixed and matched songs and versions of songs, stitched together some parts and discarded others; because he was Jerry Lee, he did what he felt like in the moment, in a set that was supposed to be four or so songs, but he ignored that, too. He gave them “Crazy Arms” one minute and “Big-Legged Woman” the next, and they clapped to one and stomped and howled to the other. His show got wilder and increasingly wicked on that tour, and the audiences bellowed for encores. He had heard that Canadians were earnest, reserved people, but he must have heard wrong. More and more he was beginning to understand that, while the music was at the core, that was just the start of it. Putting on a show was like flipping the switch on Frankenstein’s monster, then watching it show the first twitching signs of life. “You got to dress right, act right, carry yourself right; it all had to come together.”

The good-looking part, well, God had handled that. But you had to use it. His hair, by now, had become almost like another instrument. Under the lights, it really did shine like burnished gold, and at the beginning of a show it was oiled down and slicked back, and he looked respectable, like a tricked-out frat boy or preacher’s kid. But on the rocking songs, he slung his head around like a wild man, and that hair came unbound; it hung down across his face, and that just did something to the women—and their screams did something to the crowd, and things just got kind of squirrely. As it came unbound, the waves turned into tangled curls and ringlets, and it seemed to have a life of its own, a wicked thing, like Medusa herself. Sometimes he would whip out a comb onstage and try to comb it back under control, but it was too wild to tame. “I was the first one in rock and roll to have long hair,” he says, thinking back to that night, “and I did shake it.”

These were the biggest crowds he had seen or heard, and he can see and hear them still.




He did one encore, then two, and at the end he did “Shakin’,” in pandemonium.

“They wouldn’t let me off the stage.” By the time he finished, the people were out of their seats and the constables were looking antsy. Jerry Lee swaggered off the stage, one arm held stiffly in the air, a salute more than a wave. “And I left ’em wondering who that wild boy was.”

Johnny Cash stood there, sweating and almost white, as the crowd screamed for more. As Jerry Lee remembers it, “he was like a statue. He never said a word.”

In the auditorium, a woman had fainted in the aisle.

Jerry Lee walked right on by Johnny. “Nobody follows the Killer,” he said over his shoulder.

The crowd was still yelling “Jerry Lee! Jerry Lee!” as Johnny came out onstage.

They quieted, respectfully, as he sang “I Walk the Line.”

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.

I keep my eyes wide open all the time.

They loved Johnny in Canada, but it was like a lull after the storm. “Johnny wouldn’t follow me after that, said he wouldn’t never follow me again,” says Jerry Lee. “He said, ‘When he’s through, it’s done.’ Can’t nobody follow me.” That night, after the show, the girls came by not one or two at a time but in a crowd. “It was unavoidable, too,” says Jerry Lee. “The girls come by in the evening, even before the shows sometimes, when the sun went down. And I just told ’em to go on,” and then he smiles at that, at even the possibility of such a thing happening, of his sending away a beautiful girl.

“My gosh, what a time.”

Some legends begin like that, in great drama, and others are purely accidental. Somewhere on the road, in another place he cannot really recall, he got sick and tired of playing sitting down while everybody else in the place was on their feet, so he just rose up to play standing. He loved the piano, but it did anchor a man and give him feet of clay. But as he rose, the piano bench was in the way. “So I decided I would just take the heel of my boot and push the piano bench back just a little bit, to make some room, but my boot got caught and I gave the bench a flip across the stage, and man, it tore that audience up. And I said, ‘Well, so this is what they want.’ ” If they liked it when he just tumped it over, what would they do if he hauled off and kicked it across the stage? So he did, and they howled and hooted and the women screamed, so he had to do it every time now, every blessed time.

“Oh, yeah,” says Jerry Lee, “I was a little bit out of control.”

Performers came and went on the tour, but Jerry Lee spent most of his time with Johnny and Carl despite the tension between him and the other two. It seems almost sweet now, to think of them as a fraternity of young men playing jokes and scuffling in the dirt and acting like spoiled children on the road, as they hammered out their craft. But the road was a good bit darker than that. Everyone was addicted to something. Carl drank hard, most nights and some days, and Johnny was hopelessly hooked on pills, always talking about deep things like man’s inhumanity to man, and prisons, and whether or not pigs could see the wind. And there was Jerry Lee, flying high on all of it and running hot.

“I liked Carl,” says Jerry Lee. “He became my friend. He was a great talent. He could sing, had a real good voice, and he could play that guitar. He could play all over that guitar.” His feelings about Cash are more complicated. “Johnny, well, I just didn’t think he could sing. Wrote some real good songs . . . but let’s just say he wasn’t no troubadour.” He and Cash would be friends off and on and even record together as older men, but in the cold northern spring of ’57, the man in black was one more obstacle in his way.

Oddly enough, when things finally boiled over, it was not Cash he had to fight. One night, in a town he cannot really recall, he and Carl Perkins sat in some lounge chairs outside a small motel, just cooling it in the chill air. Springtime temperatures in the Canadian mountains were about zero some days, but they hated being cooped up in the tiny hotel rooms. At some point in the evening, there had been a quart bottle of brown liquor in their proximity, but no one could remember exactly where it went.

“Carl was pretty well drunk,” recalls Jerry Lee, “and I was just drinking, a little bit.”

That night, Perkins was wearing a fancy shirt from Lansky’s in Memphis, where Elvis got his clothes. “Does this shirt look good?” he asked Jerry Lee.

Jerry Lee did not care if Carl was wearing a burlap sack tied together with fishing line. He only cared what he looked like, and he knew he would be elegant standing in a mudhole.

“Don’t I look good?” Carl asked.

Jerry Lee felt like spitting. He snarled, “You an’ Elvis, always walking around in these fancy clothes, always worried about how you look . . .”

Jerry Lee may have been slightly more drunk than he recalled. “Carl come out of that chair ready to fight, and the next thing I knew we were fighting across the trunk of that Buick.” It was not, he says now, an epic battle. “I wasn’t throwing no good punches, and Carl wasn’t, either.” He does remember getting in one good backhand, and then it was over, and they were friends again, but the jealousy would continue. “It was unavoidable. I would get encores in front of twelve thousand people, two encores, three encores. . . . They knew. They knew, even then, they were seeing the greatest thing.”

He played one stage that was built on a giant turntable that spun slowly around as he played. “I didn’t like that. I liked to stay in one spot, so I could keep my eye on certain people.” He would lose sight of a pretty girl, he said, if he was spinning, spinning. “And then I just had to get my eye on ’em all over again. I could always spot my girl then. Wasn’t no problem, finding a beautiful girl. Look, I’d say to myself, there’s a couple. I’d say, Look, there in the third row.” In Quebec, he almost fell in love. “They pulled them dresses up, and I hollered, ‘Pull it up a little bit higher, baby,’ and they did. Man, they just laid it on you. And they kept on just layin’ it on you, night after night, city after city.”

He was still married, of course, to the volatile Jane, who was still in Ferriday with his son and his parents’ family, but the truth is that he tried not to think about her that much, anymore. It had been a marriage of necessity, and it seemed less necessary two thousand miles away. “I was living the dream,” he said, even if the reality it was based on was, for the time being, more than a little thin.

They drove on for nearly two months, doubling back for even more shows in more remote places, wide-open during the day, wide-open at night, smelling of sweat and whiskey and gunpowder. He was off his leash completely now and, it seemed to some people, almost a little out of his mind. He had taken to playing the piano sometimes with his feet, his size 9½ loafers, and the crowd roared for that, too. “I played it with my feet, in key. It can be done, if you know what you’re doing. It wasn’t just no stunt. I played it.” He was showing off and showing people up, and the crowd was in love with all of it, and by late spring his lightning was bouncing around the airwaves, just weaker and more distant than he would have preferred.

The musicians who played with him remember any encounter with him as a kind of validation, a kind of certificate of authenticity. Guitarist Buzz Cason would later write how he walked out of a theater in Richmond and saw Jerry Lee, the great Roland Janes, and Russ Smith, his pint-size touring drummer, dancing after a show on the roof of a ’58 Buick, just dancing, because the time onstage was never quite long enough. He remembers traveling with Jerry Lee to Buffalo, and that Jerry Lee wanted to make a side trip to Niagara Falls. He stood on a wall overlooking the great cascade, his blond hair whipping in the wind, and stared down into the abyss for maybe thirty seconds, then jumped to the ground. “Jerry Lee Lewis has seen the Niag-uh Falls. Now let’s go home, boys.”

Once on a swing through Texas, he saw two singular-looking individuals sitting at a table in a big nightclub. One was his onetime piano hero, Moon Mullican. The other was the homely but melodic Roy Orbison, another Sun artist. “It was in Odessa, Roy Orbison’s hometown. Roy, his point was, he wanted to borrow fifty dollars from me, so he could get out of that town. . . . He said he knew he could cut a hit record if he could ever get out of that town. And I said, ‘Well, I’ll be glad to loan you fifty dollars.’ ” Orbison quickly grew jealous of Jerry Lee at Sun, believing that Sam Phillips was devoting too much of the label’s energy to one man. It wouldn’t be the last time that happened. “He got a little upset,” says Jerry Lee, but at least he got out of Odessa.

“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” was finally on the radio, not just in Memphis but nationwide, and according to Billboard, “taking off like wildfire” in country, rhythm and blues, and pop. By the time he got back to the South, it had become a constant on Memphis radio. “They were playin’ it in all the hamburger joints,” he says, and he would ride down the streets of Memphis in his red Cadillac with the top down and hear his own genius wash all around him and into the almost liquid air that is Memphis in summer. Sometimes he’d take his cousin Myra, who made goo-goo eyes at him under her dark-brown bangs.

Excerpt of “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” (C) 2014  JLL Ferriday, Inc. Reprinted courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


Federal Judge Rejects Sirius XM’s Call

For Summary Judgment In Pre-1972 Case


     The Turtles keep on rolling to copyright victory, as a federal judge in New York has ruled against Sirius XM in the ongoing battle to collect royalties on recordings made before 1972. Last Friday (Nov. 14) Judge Colleen McMahon of United States District Court in Manhattan rejected Sirius XM’s motion for summary judgment, saying the Turtles have performing rights to their recordings under New York State law. She gave Sirius XM until Dec. 5 to dispute the remaining facts in the case; otherwise Sirius XM will be ruled liable for infringement.

“General principles of common copyright law dictate that public performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings do exist,” Judge McMahon wrote in her decision. The ruling comes after a separate win for the Turtles in September, when a federal judge in California found Sirius XM liable for infringement under state laws there. According to The New York Times, that decision was viewed as a major victory for artists and record companies, although its wider impact was unclear because it applied only to that state.

Judge McMahon’s decision strengthened the music industry’s position that pre-1972 recordings are covered under state laws. Still, recording and broadcast industry executives say the potential for widespread confusion over music licensing – for example, it may mean that thousands of AM-FM radio stations, as well as restaurants or sports arenas where music is performed, may have been infringing on recording rights for decades – likely will require clarification from Congress. 

YouTube Launches Music Key In

Already-Crowded Streaming Field


     After years of false starts and seemingly endless label negotiations, YouTube’s Music Key launched earlier this week to the ultimate question: will users actually pay $9.99 for something  they previously received free of charge? That’s the monthly rate Google set for its ad-free service that also offers offline functionality, with a company spokesperson telling Billboard, “The goal is more ways to play music on YouTube, giving artists more ways to reach fans and make money.”

So why create a subscription service, especially given the competitive landscape? As Billboard notes, Apple is certain to grow its share of the streaming market, Amazon is going after middle-of-the-road listeners with Music Prime, and Spotify has a head start of 12.5 million U.S. subscribers (28 million worldwide in 2013, according to IFPI).

Still, many industry executives hope Music Key will help YouTube clean up the metadata that often gets lost in uploads of master recordings and drives users to the original composer and purchase links. This has been a core asset of YouTube’s Content ID system, which has disbursed more than $1 billion in revenue to labels and content creators since 2007. 

YouTube Refuses To Remove Songs

By Artists Represented By Azoff’s GMR


     YouTube apparently has refused to remove songs composed by artists represented by Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights (GMR), forcing a showdown between the 42 artists the music icon represents and the Google-owned video site. The dispute stems from YouTube’s claim that it has licensing deals in place with the record labels, while Azoff contends that in order to publicly perform those 42 artists’ songs, the company also has to pay the songwriters, which Azoff says are “massively underpaid” when it comes to digital services.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the primary question here is whether YouTube has a right to perform these songs until proven otherwise. GMR thinks the burden of proving a valid license is on YouTube, which reportedly says it has a multiyear license for the public performance of works represented by GMR. The licensors aren’t identified, but it’s possible that YouTube believes its covered by prior deals made with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, or a foreign performing rights organization.

Howard King, an attorney representing GMR, says YouTube has failed to comply with demands to stop performing those 20,000 songs. “Obviously, if YouTube contends it has properly licensed any of the songs for public broadcast, a contention we believe to be untrue, demand is hereby made that we be furnished with documentation of such licenses,” he says.

By contrast, a spokesperson for YouTube told THR, “We’ve done deals with labels, publishers, collection societies, and more to bring artists’ music into YouTube Music Key. To achieve our goal of enabling this service’s features on all the music on YouTube, we’ll keep working with both the music community and with the music fans invited to our beta phase.” 

Music Key Could Thwart Apple’s Move

To Reduce Monthly Subscription Fee


     It’s no secret that Apple has been engaged in heated discussions with the major record labels to lower the price of on-demand music to $5 per month from the standard $9.99 currently charged by such subscription services as Spotify, Rhapsody, Google, Rdio, and its own Beats Music. According to Forbes, Apple is telling record labels that $5/month for all-you-can-hear on-demand music is the right price because the best iTunes customers spend about $60 per year on music downloads. The obvious thinking here is that this $60 annual revenue per user (ARPU) could be the best record companies can hope to get from those consumers who still actually pay for music.

This may be a convenient talking point for Apple’s negotiators, but – as Forbes points out – two important factors strongly counter that argument. First, for all the talk about monthly subscription fees (and Taylor Swift, below), the vast majority of users of on-demand music services don’t pay for them at all. Second, in 2011 Google introduced

a technology called Content ID that enables copyright owners to make money, if they choose, when users upload content to YouTube. The system detects users’ uploads of copyrighted works and gives copyright owners several options, including to block the uploads or monetize them through ad revenue sharing. By 2011, the major labels had opted to allow many user uploads of their content for monetization, and they also supply their own “official” music videos.

As a result, YouTube is a de facto on-demand music service and, as noted by Forbes, possibly is the biggest one in the game. Market research from Edison Research and Triton Digital suggests that, strictly as a music service, YouTube has about four times the U.S. user base of Spotify, Rhapsody, and Google Play Music All Access combined. No one pays for YouTube, although some may pay for its Music Key service, which will hit that same $10 monthly price point when it comes out of beta. 

Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta: Spotify

Paid Less Than $500,000 To TS Last Year


     The verbal fisticuffs between Spotify and Taylor Swift have not let up, with the streaming music service’s Daniel Ek insisting the pop music icon was on track to earn over $6 million in royalties this year. This claim came after a Spotify spokesperson said Swift had been paid a total of $2 million over the last 12 months for the global streaming of her songs. But Scott Borchetta (above left), CEO of Swift’s label Big Machine Records, says that’s nowhere near the truth, maintaining Swift earned less than $500,000 from Spotify streams over the last 12 months.

“The facts show that the music industry was much better off before Spotify hit these shores,” Borchetta told The New York Times. Noting that the amount Spotify paid out over the last year was “the equivalent of less than 50,000 albums sold, he said Swift actually earns more from her videos on Vevo than she did from having her music on Spotify.

While half a million dollars will cause few people to weep, it should be noted that Swift’s most recent album, 1989, became the first this year to sell more than a million copies in a week – a feat only equaled by 18 albums in history. Unlike most performers, she can make millions of dollars from traditional album sales, but by keeping her music away from Spotify even as it begs for her to come back, she and Borchetta say they’re trying to make the larger point that the service doesn’t pay its artists a reasonable fee. “[Taylor Swift] is the most successful artist in music today,” Borchetta says. “What about the rest of the artists out there struggling to make a career?” 

Sony Music Wary Of Ad-Supported

Streaming After Taylor Swift Move


     Taylor Swift’s claim that subscription streaming services hurt music sales has caused Sony Music to reconsider its own digital music plans. PC World reports that, during a recent company briefing, Sony Music CFO Kevin Kelleher questioned whether or not the free, ad-supported services are taking away from how quickly, and to what extent, the company can grow those paid services. “That’s something we’re paying attention to… It’s an area that’s gotten everyone’s attention,” he observed.

This is important because, as CD sales and digital music downloads continue to shrink, streaming services offer a potential ray of sunshine for the recorded music industry. Such companies as Pandora and Spotify routinely lose money due to a combination of high royalty fees and low revenue, an imbalance that appears to be due to poor ROI on ad-supported tiers and not enough premium subscribers to sustain a business model.

While Sony says the move by Taylor Swift (not a Sony artist) to pull her music from Spotify made the company sit up and take notice, it isn’t enough to make anyone want to change the dynamics of the digital music business. In fact, Sony says it’s “very encouraged with the pay streaming model.” Approximately 27 million people worldwide pay for streaming subscriptions, Sony says, and the company is focused on helping that number grow.


A publication of Bunzel Media Resources © 2014


What The New GOP House, Senate

Will Mean For The Music Business


Capitol Building      The returns are in and the Republicans took decisive control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate last night (Nov. 4). While political pundits and armchair quarterbacks are dissecting what this means for the country, Billboard has taken a look at what this new Congress might mean for the recoded music business in the coming year. “Over the next two years, Congress could decide if pre-1972 recordings get a digital performance right, determine if record labels get a performance right at terrestrial radio, and review the Department of Justice’s rules for ASCAP and BMI,” writes the publication’s Glenn Peoples. “Additionally, there will be continued efforts toward a major copyright update.”

In his report, People points to three primary issues related to the new Congress:

  1. Who among the Republican party will lead the House Judiciary Subcommittee on intellectual property? With the retirement of Howard Coble (NC-6), the House subcommittee that oversess copyright and intellectual property issues is going to get a new chairman. Sources say House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) could appoint Darrell Issa (CA-49), “a self-described techie who is ‘unpredictable’ and doesn’t fit into a simple narrative.”
  2. Who will become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee? Outgoing chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont has supported many issues important to the entertainment industry, but it’s less clear where ranking Republican member Chuck Grassley of Iowa stands on the issues.
  3. How and when will Congress move forward? As Peoples notes, several events outside Congress could impact the manner and timing of legislation important to the music industry. Appeals court decisions will determine if digital music services must pay for the performances of pre-1972 recordings, the Copyright Royalty Board will set new internet radio royalty rates, the Department of Justice will conclude its review of ASCAP and BMI’s consent decrees, and the Copyright Office will issue a report that could help change music licensing for the streaming era.

Warner Music Group Signs Major

Licensing Deal With SoundCloud


     Warner Music Group this week became the first major record label to sign a licensing deal with SoundCloud, which is hoping to build up a catalog of major artists to attract listeners to both its existing free service and a subscription service it plans for next year. The deal calls for Warner’s music to be available through SoundCloud’s free ad-supported service and its planned paid streaming service, although the record label will not necessarily make its entire library of music available. As reported by Fortune, Warner reportedly will take a 3% to 5% stake in SoundCloud as part of the alliance.

The deal calls for Warner to receive a share of ad revenue when the label’s songs stream via SoundCloud, and also will be paid when its songs are re-cut and worked into remixed audio that users post to the service. Additionally, the label will receive a share of revenue from SoundCloud’s new subscription streaming platform, which is expected to launch in the first half of 2015.

“SoundCloud is a platform built on music innovation and it has a rare ability to drive music discovery while enhancing the connection and collaboration between an artist and their following,” Rob Wiesenthal, Warner Music’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Our deal will foster that relationship, while providing a powerful range of income opportunities for WMG’s artists and songwriters.”

SoundCloud’s free, ad-supported streaming service attracts 175 million unique listeners every month. 

Irving Azoff Launches Global Music

Rights To Compete With ASCAP, BMI


     Former Live Nation Chairman Irving Azoff (pictured left) this week announced the launch of a new music publishing venture designed to compete directly against ASCAP and BMI in the $2 billion performing rights market. The company, known as Global Music Rights, is part of Azoff MSG Entertainment, a joint venture established last year with the Madison Square Garden Company. The management of performing rights has been a steady part of the music business for a century, but disruptive technologies, new competitors, and a series of lawsuits over how songs are licensed have introduced critical change to the landscape.

As reported by The New York Times, ASCAP and BMI represent more than 95% of the songs available in the U.S. and are governed by decades-old regulatory agreements with the Justice Department that restrict how they negotiate with outlets that use music. Recently, some big music publishers have complained that these rules lead to low royalty rates, and havethreatened to leave those organizations if regulatory changes were not made.

Global Music Rights has lured a client roster including such diverse artists as Smokey Robinson, the Eagles, Bruno Mars, the estate of John Lennon, and Megadeth with the promise that it can generate royalties that are as much as 30% higher than they can get through ASCAP and BMI. “I vowed when I started this company that I was going to take care of artists,” Azoff said in an interview with the Times. “I tried to identify places where I felt that artists were not getting a fair deal, and the performance rights area jumped out at me. It was a place where I felt I could help our writers.”

The Madison Square Garden Company – which has committed $175 million in backing to Azoff MSG Entertainment – said it would consider splitting itself into two companies, one for its sports properties and the other for entertainment. 

Taylor Swift Pulls All But One

Of Her Songs From Spotify


     Country crossover superstar Taylor Swift has pulled all but one of her songs from Spotify in a move designed to reinforce her argument that streaming services tend to cheapen the value of music. This isn’t the first time there’s been a rift between Swift and the streaming music service; in 2012 she refused to allow her 2012 album titled Red on Spotify when it debuted, but later released it after sales began to wane. Her most recent release, 1989, has never appeared on the streaming platform, and the only song of hers that remains on it is “Safe & Sound,” from The Hunger Games soundtrack.

Swift has been highly vocal about music sharing and streaming, and shared her thoughts on the subject in an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal last summer. “Piracy, file sharing, and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently,” she wrote. “Music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.

The decision to keep 1989 off Spotify was quite a blow to the company, which has created a playlist in her honor called “What to Play While Taylor’s Away.” And a blog post on the Spotify’s website says, “We love Taylor Swift, and our more than 40 million users love her even more. Nearly 16 million of them have played her songs in the last 30 days, and she’s on over 19 million playlists. We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone. We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy. That’s why we pay nearly 70% of our revenue back to the music community. PS: Taylor, we were both young when we first saw you, but now there’s more than 40 million of us who want you to stay, stay, stay. It’s a love story, baby. Just say ‘Yes.'”

Prediction: Taylor’s music will return to Spotify when sales of 1989 begin to slow.


Taylor Swift’s 1989 Is 2014’s First

Million-Selling Album…In One Week


     Just like predicting the sun will come up tomorrow, Taylor Swift’s 1989 has become 2014’s first million-selling album. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the superstar sold 1.287 million copies of the album last week, making it the first released this year to sell a million copies, and the year’s second-highest seller overall, behind the Frozen soundtrack. As reported by USA Today, Swift is the first act ever to have three albums sell a million copies in one week: her Speak Now release sold 1.047 million in 2010, and two years later Red debuted with 1.21 million sales in one week – the last time any artist album did that.

“She’s an incredible anomaly, like no other artist,” says Keith Caulfield, Billboard‘s associate editor of charts/sales. At a time when year-over-year album sales have fallen 14%, “she has convinced consumers to want to buy an album. They want the full and complete Taylor Swift experience, and that experience includes buying the album,” he told USA Today.

Only 18 albums have ever sold a million copies in a single week. The week Red was released it accounted for nearly one out of every five albums sold, and 1989 took 22% of all album sales the week it came out. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything be that high a share of the total market all by itself,” Nielsen SoundScan analyst David Bakula says. 

At $9.99 A Month, Streaming Has

Yet To Be The Tide To Lift All Boats


     The conventional wisdom – if there is such a thing – within the recorded music industry is that subscription streaming services are the future of the business as CD and download sales continue to atrophy. Still, as label execs, accountants, and attorneys ponder future earnings, there’s a growing realization that that streaming revenue is not growing quickly enough to offset the impact of those declining sales. As MiDA President Mark Mulligan wrote this week on his Music Industry blog, “it’s an eerily familiar echo of the recurring narrative of the ‘noughties’ that download sales were not growing quickly enough to offset the impact of declining CD sales. The situation is very different now in that the industry licenses the disruptive force.”

A decade ago the combined impact of changing consumer behavior patterns, growing piracy adoption, and the loss of content scarcity were factors the industry had little control over, Mulligan says. “Yet this present shift is more fundamental and will have much bigger long-term impact. This is the shift to the consumption era. Streaming happens to be the tool of the moment for harnessing that shift but with current pricing strategy the industry’s toolset is woefully unable to fully harness the massive potential that exists.

Mulligan says the single biggest issue is the binary nature of streaming pricing: $9.99 or free. “The leap from zero to $9.99 is simply too big,” he explains. “Even a 30-day trial still leaves the consumer with the same zero to $9.99 leap at the end.” As a result, the super fan aficionados are now spending less because of streaming, as 23% used to buy more than an album a month, while now they spend $9.99 a month – and that spending is spread across a far greater quantity of music, meaning a smaller pie is being divided into even smaller slices.

“It wasn’t meant to be this way,” Mulligan says. “A high tide was meant to rise all boats. Mass market music fans were meant to increase their spending to $9.99. The aspiration is reasonable enough,…but it will take some time to get them there and they need a helping hand in the meantime.”


A publication of Bunzel Media Resources © 2014


It’s Time To Revive Hypercard

HyperCard, an application program and programming tool released for the Apple Macintosh in 1987, represented the ‘computing for the people’ philosophy that enabled users to go past the pre-built software that came on their machines, and to program and build software of their own. “Mac users could use Hypercard to build their own mini-programs to balance their taxes, manage sports statistics, make music – all kinds of individualized software that would be useful (or fun) for individual users.” Now Jer Thorp writes that the end of HyperCard left a huge gap that desperately needs to be filled – a space for an easy to use, intuitive tool that will once again let average computer users make their own tools. According to Throp, this type of plain-language programming makes sense, particularly in an application that was designed specifically for non-programmers. “I find the largest concern for learners to be not with the conceptual hurdles involved in writing a program, but with obscure and confusing syntax requirements. I would love to be able to teach HyperTalk to my students, as a smooth on-road to more complex languages like JavaScript, Java or C++.” By putting the tools of creation into the hands of the broader userbase, we would allow for the creation of ultra-specific personalized apps that, aside from a few exceptions, don’t exist today.”

HyperTalk wasn’t just easy, it was also fairly powerful. Complex object structures could be built to handle complicated tasks, and the base language could be expanded by a variety of available external commands and functions (XCMDs and XFCNs, respectively), which were precursors to the modern plug-in. But ultimately, HyperCard would disappear from Mac computers by the mid-nineties, eclipsed by web browsers and other applications which it had itself inspired. The last copy of HyperCard was sold by Apple in 2004. “One thing that’s changed in the intervening decades is that the hobbyist has largely gone by the wayside. Now you’re either a user or a full-fledged developer, and the gulf is wider than ever,” writes Peter Cohen. “There’s really nothing like it today, and I think the Mac is lesser for it.”