â€œThe Infinite Dial: Radioâ€™s Digital Platforms (Arbitron and Edison Media Research), says the monthly audience age 12+ for Internet radio now tops an estimated 52 million, which is up from about 37 million people in 2005. The weekly Internet radio audience also increased by 50 percent over the past year, with 12 percent of the U.S. population age 12+ having listened to Internet radio in the past week.â€? (FMQB)
Anyone who has surfed MySpace lately can tell you with some level of certainty that nearly everyone on the planet is actively online. Young people especially have embraced technology to the point of dependence. Labels have recognized this activity to a degree and put a little more effort into their new media departments, however what theyâ€™re investing is nowhere near what they invest in off-line marketing. Indie labels have taken note of how affordable and effective new media is and have thrown the majority of their money in online marketing and it has proven successful with their â€˜hype bandsâ€™ being snatched up by majors at a startling pace.
Austin-based emo rock band Furthest From The Star have put a relatable rock face on the sometimes taboo subject of cancer with their self released album This Waking Moment, produced by Dwight A. Baker (Firekills, Retrograde, Honestly) and mixed by Daniel Mendez (Trapt, Dashboard Confessional, Train). Their polished, professional album, great stage show, legitimate story of interest, and a slew of glowing album reviews have FFTS wading through a sea of local and regional offers, with their attention fixated on a larger deal, hoping to get their message out to the masses. No management or legal attached. For more information contact AJ at Altsounds 405.514.6832.Â Check out the tracksÂ Cry For Help, It Serves You Right,Â My Last Hope
Here are some interesting facts and figures from digitalnews.com:
â€œAccording to the RIAA earlier this month, shipments of physical configurations to US retailers topped 705 million units in 2005, an 8.0 percent drop from the year earlier. And since peak year 2000, overall shipments have dipped a substantial 25.2 percent. Meanwhile, the digital story helped to soften the blow in 2005, contributing $1.074 billion to an overall $12.270 billion purse, creating a dip of just 0.6 percent year-over-year.â€?
â€œA total of 11,070 new releases from major labels during 2005, and 49,261 from independents. Of that combined total, just 32 new releases crossed the one million (platinum) mark, averaging 1.79 million units each. Furthermore, an additional 62 titles crossed the 500,000 (gold) mark, often a minimum break-even level for many releases.â€?
Why did independents release over 38,000 more records than major labels? Perhaps because they are only spending a fraction of the money. For an independently released album to compete on a major level it takes at least a $100k investment by the label. Majors will spend that much on shrimp cocktail at a signing party. Most indies, however, have little interest in competing in the mainstream and invest more along the lines of $50-75k. With an absolute minimum investment from a major label for an album being in the ballpark of $750k (not including salaries), itâ€™s no wonder they are having such a difficult time breaking even. Indies can sell around 30k records and turn a profit, but if majors donâ€™t hit the Gold or Platinum mark, itâ€™s considered a failure due to the financial loss. With a major label staff making in a year roughly what an indie label would spend on putting out records through its entire existence, it really is no surprise that major labels are trimming down while indies are staffing up.
American Idol has done more than subconsciously force the unwitting public to drink more Coke and buy Fords. The Idol phenomena has turned well over 30 million average citizens into somewhat informed music critics. Despite the boos and hisses at the notorious Simon Cowellâ€™s comments, the public votes generally seem to echo his opinions, thankfully because if Paula Abdul were the barometer, American Idol would be similar to the Special Olympics where everyone gets a gold just for trying.Â Ignoring the irrelevant judge banter and disagreements, America has done a surprisingly good job of recognizing not only who can sing, but who has talent worthy of a career. By far one of the highest rated shows on television, American Idol has involved the public in the music business more intently than just purchasing albums. What probably started out as a ploy to push more records has somehow changed the public perception of singers and how we hear their music, introducing words like â€˜pitchy,â€™ â€˜off-key,â€™ â€˜vocal toneâ€™ and â€˜performance qualityâ€™ into American vernacular alongside clear definitions and examples.
The most unexpected thing about American Idol is that the public selection tends to shy away from run-of-the-mill Barbie doll pop-tarts. Since it is genuinely a singing contest, lacking autotune and airbrushing, a contestant stands out purely on ability and personality. Season 1 winner, Kelly Clarkson, a chubby 20-something waitress from Texas took home 2 Grammyâ€™s this year in the broadcast that had about half the viewership of the show that launched her career, proving that while they support their selections by buying the albums, the public interests are in selecting new talent. 2003 proved to be a good season for American Idol with heavy-set winner Ruben Studdard and effeminate country boy runner-up Clay Aiken, selling well over 5 million albums combined. 2004â€™s soulful songstress and single mother Fantasia Barrino has filled the gap in R&B, pun intended. Last yearâ€™s winner, Carrie Underwood, probably the most â€˜Barbieâ€™ finalist yet, took home a number of country music awards recently showing that sheâ€™s not just fittinâ€™ in, but being respected in her chosen genre, although put there by a completely different demographic.
This yearâ€™s Idol is probably the most fascinating yet, with the finalists sharing little in common outside of a brilliant talent from a niche background. The average age of the remaining contestants is 24, with all of the remaining male contestants over the age of 25. The finalists are certainly unique, ranging from the classically trained beauty Katharine McPhee to the snaggle-toothed, diabetic, car mechanic with an inspired voice, Elliot Yamin. This year is also a first for rock music. Last yearâ€™s soft rockers, Bo Bice and Constantine Whateverhisnameis were embarrassing to rock fans, however this year Idol has struck gold with Chris Daughtry, who could have easily reached fame without the help of this show. Bumpkin Kellie Pickler, prodigy Paris Bennett, soulman Taylor Hicks and disturbingly pretty Ace Young round out the remainder, each putting their talents on display each week, despite the â€˜themeâ€™ curveballs that are thrown at them.
Idolâ€™s effect on the American music consumer is a significant one and one that should be paid attention to by anyone working within the industry. The public is learning how to hear music. They are being taught what is good and what is bad. They are figuring out who is worthy of their respect, and more importantly their money. To the surprise of many, age, background and physical attributes are playing little part in selection and support. Elliott, with his jacked up grill actually stands a better chance of winning than pretty-boy Ace Young for the simple fact that Elliott has an incredible voice and a â€˜realnessâ€™ that Ace canâ€™t touch. Husband and father, Chris Daughtry has been a fan favorite, simply because he is a better rock singer than half the artists currently on the rock charts. For A&Rs, I think this is interesting. Perhaps the public isnâ€™t putting the same level of importance on the superficial attributes record labels have come to hold so dear. Idol gives the public the opportunity to see aspiring artists exactly as they are, flaws and all, and the public has been overwhelming in their support, pulling in around 35 million votes every week.
Both 80’s influenced pop acts Liam and Me and The Anix are creating some A&R curiosity. Three labels are flying to check out the hardcore supergroup The New Tragic. Lastly, much talked about Dan Friedman’s actÂ Ludo should be closing on a deal soon as they will be performing at Don Hills (NYC)Â Monday,Â April 17thÂ for Epic, Octone, Atlantic, and Jive. After breaking a 17 year Billboard record with their #1 modern rock song, 10 Years signs a worldwide publishing deal with Warner Chappell.