Category: Music

So. Apple is buying Beats…

I’m confused. Apple is the biggest, smartest, most strategic tech company ever, right?  Apple is, arguably, the most valuable brand on the planet. Why then, I ask, are they  buying a brand (for 3.2 BILLION)? And let’s be honest…that’s what Beats is. A brand…not a tech company, not a proprietary  tech solution of any kind…it’s a brand.

I thought about this for a minute…maybe two…and the more I did the more confused I was. Beats’ headphones, if you ask anyone other than the NBA and/or the teenager on his school bus, are not great. This is confirmed by yours truly. I tried them – all of them. I was intrigued by the brand, the style, the look, the feel…but the performance stunk. Sorry – that’s the truth. Try those cool looking Beats head phones vs. any Bose pair and you’ll see (or should I say hear?) just how inferior those suckers are. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine branded the crap out of Beats, got amazing spokespeople, get FREE advertising from high profile athletes and musicians…they’ve crushed the branding aspect and win the marketing game – They’ve done so well in that area that people don’t seem to care that the product is  just not that awesome. That alone should be a red flag for the best hardware/product company  on the planet, right? Apparently not.

Anyway…Beats also owns a streaming music service! Is that it Apple? Is that what you want? You want to get into the Music game? Oh wait…You have that covered too. There is a little thing call Itunes that, last time I checked, was the biggest music retailer online – in the world. If anyone thinks because Beats Music is a streaming service and that brings something new to the table – they are wrong. Itunes could click a button and stream tomorrow…They’ve actually been working on this for a long time. It was just a matter of time before they released that new product and crushed Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody and the rest of em’. And, just saying, Beats Music has about 12 subscribers and is pretty insignificant when you think about the others in the space. It’s just a shell, a skeleton – it’s not a business or a real product yet.

So Apple – Why? What problem does this massive acquisition solve? How does this add value to your shareholders? What does this do for your users? I’m still stumped…

Maybe Apple and Tim Cook got bored. They were like “we are sitting on 150 BILLION dollars cash…maybe we should spend some of that. So…let’s get crazy!” Perhaps they thought it was time to make some noise? Get out there and have people talk about them (see- me!)? That’s fair – I mean you got to keep things interesting right? Not everything makes sense and Apple sure has earned the right to do what they want.

While I may be confused – What is crystal. freaking. clear. is…Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre and Ian Rogers WIN. Bunch of rich geniuses over there. Well done fellas…. One day – I’d love to hear about how those conversations went w/ Tim Cook and Eddy Cue because how you guys convinced the biggest, most valuable, brand and tech product company ever to shell out 3.2B for a brand is nothing short of incredible.

 

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22 year old me is so mad at me right now

I’ll never forget it…I was 22 years old, interning/kinda working at Island Def Jam records, really diving into digital music (Itunes had just launched and Napster was a household name) and I had the best idea ever. It was really simple…but brilliant.

I was really in to A R – the department where a bunch of music snobs and trendsetters decide who gets a deal and who doesn’t – I was totally plugged into new/up and coming bands. Not only did I now what we were signing I knew what other labels were signing and would occasionally make some fantastic predictions. I was say “this band is going to be huge…” “they stink but someone will sign them”…”They ROCK, but i think everyone will stay away” etc…

A few of the bands/artists that I saw/heard that I 100% knew would blow up…did. I remember early My Chemical romance, All American reject demos, seeing Fallout Boy play their first NJ show at Skate and Surf , The Used first songs recorded before they even played live, the killers as they were just signed, The White Stripes, The Strokes and more. Other people got SUPER excited about stuff that I knew would fizzle out and never do anything. Oh, and they did too.

“Wow, this is cool – they pay people for this? I can do this all day.” I thought. But you see…I didn’t think I was that special – I thought…”A lot of kids like me could do this – they should”. Hence…my brilliant idea came in to shape.

I envisioned a music service – like itunes – where people could download (and or stream music) and “invest” points in artists they were digging. There would be different levels of success and for each level achieved there would be rewards that came in the form of real stuff (tickets, merch etc) and or more points. Points could be earned based on overal usage/engagement on the site and redeemed for more music and even real money (and the time I didn’t know this was impossible but it was not crucial to the model). I thought…”This makes ever kid their own A R person…everyone will get to “get in early” on bands they love, be encouraged to consume more music and get rewarded for when good stuff happens”.

On the other end of the equation…bands would sign up for the service (for a small fee) so that their points that were invested could be turned into real money to be used for production/touring/tacos/anything else they wanted. People would pay to have the ability to invest and be rewarded and artists would pay to be a part of the fund raising. I didn’t know it…but I invented crowd sourcing!!!! Not only that…I was “gamifying” Music before “Gamification” was a thing!

Now – I considered diving in full force…I made some inquiries about legal stuff/patents and seeing if anyone had thought of this before. But…that’s pretty much where is ended. I was finishing school…looking forward to a full job and moving to NYC. Then life took over and I never launched my idea. I talked about it with some folks and everyone agreed…brilliant. BUT…I didn’t do anything with it.

Now – there is a little (not so little if you know the space) company, ran by really smart people in NYC, called Kickstarter. These guys are doing exactly what I didn’t do (i.e. – only thought of)…and… they are worth several hundred million dollars (conservatively). WHAMMY! You win Kickstarter – well done. They are raising money, via crowd sourcing, for artists, bands, movies, individuals and anything else you can think. Really amazing stuff, very well designed, marketed and executed… and I’m glad I thought of it. http://www.kickstarter.com/
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It’s Ok guys dont fret…I did ok. I love my job and my career path has been wonderfully exciting thus far and I don’t really have any regrets. However a little piece of me wishes that I took the plunge and started that company. Let it be a lesson…don’t sit around on greatness because someone else will do it if you don’t!

Moments of clarity

You know those moments that happen once in a very long while where everything makes sense and you feel as if you are exactly where you should be? Sometimes it’s the right weather, perfect song, location and or overal state of mind that help induce these special brief moments of supreme happiness. No matter how or why they happen… doesn’t matter. Don’t ignore them. They are fleeting so when you catch one cherish it.

I’m so mad at the Killers right now.

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I was the biggest killers fan. Seriously…I saw them do the gauntlet of NYC venues and enjoyed every single one. From Mercury lounge…to Irving Plaza…to Roseland…to Mf’ing MSG. They rocked em all. I stood by them during “Sam’s Town” when people were hating…I loved it. Day and Age was a stretch but I could get down with it when the time was right. But holy crap guys…I still can’t get over how bad BATTLE BORN is. It hurts my freaking ears so much that I can’t even listen to the old records. Absurd lyrics…sleepy melodies…this is truly self-indulgence at its ugliest. What happened to the pop jams that made you want to dance, but were still cool enough that even the hipsters were feeling it? What happened to that underlying dangerousness that almost every song oozed? Brandon Flowers was THE rock star of the last 10 years…No other band had their success in the time that they enjoyed it. All these things multiplied the ultimate disappointment and the suckiness that is Battle Born.

Sadly for me…it doesnt just stop with this one bad record. It is SO bad that one of my jams from Sam’s Town and or Hot Fuss comes on the radio or my IPhone (on shuffle)…and my reaction is nasty. Like “turn that shit off!”. I’m so mad at them. The Killers made the shittiest record that one of my favorite bands ever have ever made.

Accidental Racist = fantasitc idea. poor execution.

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“If you don’t judge my doo rag…i won’t judge your red flag!”

AMEN Brad Paisley. Amen LL. Take it on my friends. TAKE. IT. ON.

I’m not sure what the big deal is. OH WAIT…yes I do. THE SONG STINKS!!!

The message, the original point and end goal is totally respectable and very admirable. They come from a good place. Way to go fellas. I think it’s fantastic that these two icons are trying to turn down a little bit of the racial tension that exists today and encourage some real conversation on the topic by leveraging their star power in their respective fields. But here’s the problem…It’s a god awful song.

Now…if LL threw down some sick beat by Timberland and Brad sung a sexy chorus, doing like a manly Rhianna thing, then we’d be talking. Right? I wanted a BANGER! Something I could make my ringtone, blast with the windows down…T-Pain shit. But that’s not what we got…We got a whiney, sleepy, country tune that makes my skin crawl. And the adlibs…oh god, the ab libs! “Can’t re-write history baby!”…”The relationship between the mason Dickson needs some fixin’!”, “R I P Robert E Lee!”. Holy cow…you can’t make this up. It’s an awful parody of itself.

Just another example of a fantastic idea (with good intentions)…but terrible execution. Happens all the time.

My Shame is F’ing awesome.

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These dudes have been doing it forever…and god damn it…they’ve gotten better with age. The newest record, “My Shame is True”, is beautifully nostalgic but totally current at the same time. The most personal record they’ve made, arguably, ever with some of the best structured songs I’ve heard from them, or any other three-piece punk band, in a long time. It’s so great to see them with so much momentum and that all the years of heavy drinking and drugs haven’t destroyed their bodies/voices and or mental spirit like so many others.

I lost faith in the boys in ALK3 once…but it was brief. I saw them play at the worst venue on the planet, Best Buy Theatre in Times Square and it was terrible. Just a bad show…hey, it happens. The sound was bad, they were sloppy (both from a playing perspective and a sobriety perspective) and the crowd sucked. It was just a disappointing show put on by one of my favorite bands. But again – it happens. I haven’t seen them live since BUT this record has 100% won be over and I’ve actually been finding myself listing to more catalog from them and enjoying those older tracks even more now. That’s when you know a record is good…not only does it, in and of itself, rock… but it also makes you go back and rediscover the band/artist in a new way and you appreciate their work on a more holistic level.

“My Shame is True”…Road tested…Chris approved!

I’ll be rocking this one in heavy rotation for a long time.