Volume 8, Number 1 (2008)
Published with Support from
Arthur Bernstein, Naoki Sekine, and Dick Weissman. The Global Music Industry: Three Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2007.
egies for Maximizing Your Music’s Popularity and Proﬁts. New
The introduction to The Global Music Industry: Three Perspectives points out that many of the books having to do with music on a global scale are “academic books that discuss the relationship between music and politics.” Few titles approach the music industry from a world perspective, and only a handful attempt to parse out the difﬁcult relationships that exist between the cultural and political issues in non-Western music and the business of music in those cultures.
The challenge, it seems, is to write a book on the global music industry that deals with the micro and the macro; the political, cultural, and geographic; the nuts and bolts of how business is done in every corner of the “known universe” and the vagaries of doing business the way it’s done outside the mainstream “Western” way. It is a daunting task, but luckily not so intimidating that no one is willing to try; two books were released in 2007 that made the attempt.
The Global Music Industry: Three Perspectives tries to tackle the whole world and cover the entire global industry (with the exception of Australia…more on that later). In my estimation, it falls short, and one easy answer to why is because the task is so daunting. The other main reason, I believe, is the lack of a central unifying thesis. The Global Music Industry is marked by good intentions, good information, but unfortunately a lack of consistent organization or focus.
This book is represented as collaboration, though one question I had in mind right from page one was, “who wrote what?” With the exception of chapter seven, “The Music Business of Asia” written by Naoki Sekine, it isn’t clear who is giving us his perspective. Indeed, with the subtitle Three Perspectives, I was expecting three different voices offering insights from three different viewpoints.
After a brief introduction (with a few troubling editorial issues1), the authors begin chapter two with the music industry in the United States. This is a problematic chapter, not organized well and rather directionless at times. The subsections seem arbitrary, with “Broadway and the Music Business” followed by “Censorship and the U.S. Government,” and close on the heels is “Music as a Political Torture Weapon.” The one—and only—paragraph in this chapter devoted to “Digital Downloads” states, “During the next decade or so digital sales will assume as much or more importance than the sale of physical CDs.” Perhaps we can’t blame the authors for not anticipating the demise of the traditional record store and the rise of iTunes or Rhapsody or YouTube, but even in 2005-2006, when the book was likely compiled, it didn’t take a futurist or a Wharton MBA to know which way the wind was blowing. Likewise, we are told that the future of satellite radio is “bright” (uncited, by the way, so we don’t know on what this proclamation was based). Of that there was little proof in 2006, and even less proof now as XM and Sirius are poised to merge just to keep their money-losing ventures from cannibalizing each other.
The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) phenomenon; the rise of an alternative distribution system as a source of DIY sales; the ongoing importance of non-traditional sources to market music; and the ease with which people can create, manufacture, and distribute their own music are all areas that are hardly mentioned in this chapter. They should have, especially since it is virtually a revolution in the United States today.2
Another organizational aspect to The Global Music Industry that might trouble some readers is relegating Spanish language music in the United States to the chapter, “The Music Business in Latin America and the Caribbean.” It is a tough call, actually, ﬁguring out how to think about the music industry for salsa, which was born in New York City but had its roots in the Caribbean. Miami is now arguably the center of the salsa industry, but this is one genre that has transcended national borders and has devotees the world over. Tejano music is also covered in this chapter, though it is more of a regional sound popular in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. The relative weight given to any one country in this chapter seems somewhat arbitrary, too. The Argentine tango is dismissed in one sentence, for example. Brazil also receives perfunctory coverage. Brazil has a signiﬁcant internal music industry and a cadre of successful acts that are supported within Brazil. Also, the country has had a tremendous inﬂuence on music and the music industry in the rest of the world dating back to the 1950s. Though Brazil is covered, the signiﬁcance of its contribution is minimized. One passage even suggests that success within Brazil might only be possible for artists who have succeeded outside the country: “It is an interesting sidelight…that some of the most distinguished guitarists in the country…all recorded abroad before they recorded in Brazil.”3 Perhaps this statement is true, but more interesting would be the who and why behind that statement, and if it seems to be a common occurrence in other countries in Central, South America, or any other regions of the world.
In general, I’m not sure what the authors intended with their coverage of the world’s various markets. For example, the chapter on Canada, the sixth largest market for music in the world, is only a few pages long. The coverage in chapter ﬁve (The Music of Africa) seems equally slight, though this may have been because it represents a small percentage of world music income.
I’m fond of chapter six (The Music of Europe) for several reasons. First, the authors clearly identify the problem of deﬁning what Europe is, then do a good job of treating its micro and macro aspects. There is much useful information, such as the various European countries’ requirements for local language airplay on broadcast media. This chapter has been organized better and isn’t bogged down with introductory material as in the
U.S. chapter on such topics as “Record Production” and “Current Types of Major Label Deals.”
Sekine’s chapter on the music of Asia is also noteworthy. One very useful aspect of this chapter is his knowledge of the region, and he has included many useful anecdotal tidbits: the custom in Hong Kong of artists playing big shows for extended runs, much like a Broadway show’s run, but in a 10,000-seat auditorium; the long-standing Japanese penchant for buying singles, rather than full albums; the forward-thinking Korean telecommunications companies investing heavily in music distribution online; or the fact that as recently as 2003, the vast majority of music purchased in India was still on audio cassette. This is information that can be very useful for students of Asian markets.
Finally, the issue of Australia: In the conclusion, the authors brieﬂy mention Australia and recommend someone else’s work if we want more information. It seems that the authors are acknowledging the problem here: it is difﬁcult to be an expert on everything. They shouldn’t have tried, in this reviewer’s opinion. Rather than writing on the music industry in the United States, for example, a region that already has been covered by several well-known texts, the authors might have spent a bit more time on the lesser-known regions, or perhaps brought in other scholars to help them.
For the last seven years here at Cal Poly Pomona, I have taught a class called “World Pop Music.” It has been required of all our Music Industry Studies students, and for this reason I felt it important to teach both the music side of world pop and the business side. I never found a text to use that worked well, especially a text that deals with the industry side of things. This Business of Global Music Marketing, by Tad Lathrop, is a book I could have used these last years. Lathrop’s focused organizing principle is relatively simple: increasing popularity for, and income from, one’s music through understanding and exploiting markets around the world. This principle gives the book a clarity and sense of purpose that is lacking in The Global Music Industry.
Lathrop lays it out clearly. He tells us the advantages and potential upside of doing business worldwide, and he doesn’t mince words on the pitfalls and difﬁculties that are likely to be encountered. When it comes to getting his information across, he is no-nonsense and at times this book reads like a series of “executive summaries.” No matter—his style complements his message.
Chapters are arranged with good business in mind. You start with planning and researching your potential markets (chapter two), plan your strategy in that market (chapter three), ﬁgure out the manufacturing, distribution, and pricing issues (both for digital and physical media, chapters four through six), promote your product (traditionally, “outside of the music infrastructure,” through live shows, and with “Integrated Marketing Communications,” chapters seven through ten). He then suggests how to manage the product (eleven) and manage the publishing rights (twelve).
A last chapter, my favorite of this book, is devoted to a series of short interviews with ﬁve individuals who have been involved with global music marketing in very different ways, from an American composer and record label owner to a leading distributor of digital music in Asia. Lathrop’s questions are geared to each individual he interviews, and what is most valuable about this is that each story is different. If there are future editions of this book, I would enjoy seeing this section greatly expanded.
The appendix is a useful listing of worldwide resources, from the “Corruption Perception Index” (which ranks countries 1 to 10 on their perceived level of corruption, with New Zealand, Finland, and Denmark on top at 9.4, and Somalia and Myanmar on the bottom at 1.4) to important publications, distributors, charting organizations, and PROs.
Probably the aspect of this book that will be most helpful to students and teachers alike is Lathrop’s focus on planning. He gives sample charts of how to compare “apples and apples,” if you will, and gives even the inexperienced business person a way of thinking about his or her product. He is grounded in business practices and it shows. In short, this book’s basic approach could be used for many other kinds of industries.4
He strongly urges readers to know the customs and cultural differences as it relates to music, music packaging (some CD covers that work in the U.S. would never work in some socially conservative countries, for example), perception of time (American punctuality, called tiempo americano in Latin American countries, is not observed the world over), and even etiquette.
The book is also liberally spiced with “sidebars” that are highlighted and set apart from the ﬂow of the text. These often get into the nitty-gritty of international business, including tidbits on international commercial acronyms that one would commonly encounter in correspondence or contracts, comparisons of cost for so-called short supply chains vs. long supply chains, and a comparison of global online music services as of 2006, just to name a few. The research here and throughout the book is excellent, attributed, and cited, and it comes with the caveat that it is quickly changing and may be unreliable by the time we read it.5
Marketing globally is a brave new world for us in the music business. We have had the luxury of the huge market in the United States, the world’s largest by far, and we are behind other industries in understanding the potential beyond our borders. Thankfully, one who reads this book carefully will have the tools to do the research necessary to get up-to-the-minute information and know what to do with it; perhaps more importantly, a reader will learn that this kind of research and planning is essential to success.
DAVE KOPPLIN, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Commercial Music at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
1 An undated and uncited table, for example: Table 1.1 “Comparison of Record Sales in Various Countries.” We could assume the information was recent, but it isn’t until chapter six, when a dated version of the table reappears, that we know to what year this table refers.
2 The authors should know this, and probably do. Peter Manuel’s Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India, an important study of how the portable cassette player/recorder created a cultural tidal wave in 1980s India and broke a long-standing monopoly of the Indian music business by one record company, is cited in the bibliography for chapter seven.
3 Bernstein, et al., 88.
4 This could be construed as a very “uncreative” approach to music, but I do get the feeling that Lathrop genuinely enjoys music and the music business and chose to write in the area in which he excels: business.
5 Just for example, his take on satellite radio is pretty cheerful and upbeat, just like the authors of The Global Music Industry, though Lathrop’s treatment puts it in better perspective.
Carnegie Hall: A Journey by Folk Music. Palo Alto, Calif.:
Science and Behavior Books, Inc., 2008.
It would be difﬁcult to imagine two books with perspectives that vary as much as these two works. The late Erik Darling was a brilliant and original musician whose work is part of the fabric, not only of the American folk revival, but also of American popular music. Although his name may not ring a bell to many readers of the MEIEA Journal, his recording of the old jug band song Walk Right In with the Rooftop Singers re-intro-duced the somewhat dormant acoustic twelve-string guitar into American popular music. Years prior to that, he had a hit record with the calypso tune The Banana Boat Song, performed with his group the Tarriers. After the Rooftops disbanded, Erik replaced Pete Seeger in the Weavers, the folk-pop group that started the folk music revival, but was removed from the pop scene when several of its members were blacklisted.
Michael Scully is a lawyer and a folk fan who has a Ph.D. in American Studies. He brings an analytical and thoughtful viewpoint to a work that includes many interviews with people involved in the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance as well as the founders and a number of employees of Rounder Records. Rounder was started in 1971 as a project by three friends and folk fans who shared a house in Somerville, Massachusetts. It has gone on to become the most successful of the folk labels, largely due to the recordings of Alison Krauss. Rounder has also recorded many artists in the folk, blues, singer-songwriter, and folk-revivalist veins—artists whose music the founders enjoy without much in the way of commercial expectations.
Darling’s book is a blend of a memoir and a social history—not only of folk music but of American life. It is an absorbing story; Darling forged an original musical and personal style out of an existence that started out, as dozens of 60s folk musicians did, in Greenwich Village. What stands out is his willingness to reveal his personal growth and development, and his experiences as a person who came into the revival because of his love for the music. As an independent thinker, Darling did not share the same political agenda followed by many of the New York folksingers. He want-ed to develop his own musical interpretations of American folk music, and because he was thoroughly steeped in the blues and mountain music, he was able to create his own fusion of these styles. The book contains a CD of his work, including his original tune Train Time, which is a perfect example of where he came from, and where he wanted to go. Given his individual approach to music, it is amazing that he was able to ﬁt into the commercial music world and to achieve success with record labels that had little experience in the world of commercial music.
Scully’s book traces a number of controversies that have been an integral part of the folk music revival. The endless quest for authenticity, and the arguments about what is real and what is done essentially for commercial purposes, constitute a sizeable portion of his research. These controversies underlie both the growth of the Folk Alliance, which began in 1989, and the evolution of the Rounder business model. For the most part Scully’s description of the various controversies that both of these groups have undergone is even-handed. For this reviewer’s taste, I would have liked to have heard more from the Rounder artists who are less positive about the label than Scully appears to be.
He describes how the ofﬁce and warehouse workers at Rounder organized a union, which the label unsuccessfully tried to prevent. It is a marvelous irony that a label founded by what in effect was a hippie commune found itself ﬁghting against a union. When Rounder’s distribution became predominantly farmed out to Universal, the warehouse people were mostly gone, and the union became disenfranchised. It is interesting to note, as Scully does not, that a surprising number of the folksingers who pride themselves on singing radical protest songs are not members of the American Federation of Musicians. In Rounder’s defense, it is reissuing 150 albums recorded by Alan Lomax—and they are able to do this, essentially, because of the sales of Alison Krauss albums.
When it comes to the Folk Alliance, Scully lays out a number of the controversies that pervade the organization. He is quite accurate in pointing out that the singer-songwriters have come to dominate an organization that was formed primarily to promote traditional music. What he doesn’t mention is that the expense of attending the national or regional meetings (which includes registration fees, showcase fees, staying in relatively expensive hotels, and airfares or gasoline) has mounted to the point where it is simply not affordable for many musicians. This is largely because the model of all of these meetings, with the exception of one of the regional gatherings, involves building the whole conference around the ofﬁcial showcases.
It is certainly bizarre that folk music, originally a homemade product has become a part of the music industry. Erik Darling’s book shows that a musician can be an artist, and still achieve some degree of commercial success. The Rounder story seems less comfortable in the sense that the contradictions of commercial success and the workings of the music business provide inevitable conﬂicts with the goals of signiﬁcant artists who are not able to provide the label with commercially viable product. These artists are inevitably going to feel slighted by the promotional dollars devoted to Alison Krauss. Possibly Ani DiFranco’s model of owning her own record label is a better one for the future. As for the Folk Alliance, the relationship between its business model and the musical needs of its members may never be entirely compatible.
DICK WEISSMAN is a working schizophrenic who has split his life between writing, recording, and performing folk-based music, working in the music industry, teaching, and writing ﬁfteen published books about music and the music industry, including Which Side Are You On: An Inside History of the Folk Music Revival in America.
It seems like a “who’s who” of chart toppers from the late 50s to the mid 70s: Elvis, The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, The Byrds, The Association, Glen Campbell, The Mamas and the Papas, The Monkees, Richard Harris, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Rivers, The 5th Dimension, Sam Cooke, Captain & Tennille, Wayne Newton, Dean Martin, The Chipmunks, The Righteous Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Ike and Tina Turner, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, The Carpenters, Tommy Roe, The Ronettes, Paul Revere and The Raiders, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
What do all these stars have in common? The answer is, “The Wrecking Crew,” a band of highly-skilled musicians who played on many of their legendary sessions. These men and women were to the early L.A. studio scene, what the Funk Brothers were to Motown. To say they inﬂuenced music and pop culture would be an incredible understatement. They wrote and played the “soundtrack” for the Baby Boom generation. I am sure your twenty-something students still know, and can sing, most of the songs the Wrecking Crew played on.
This 95-minute documentary DVD was written and narrated by Denny Tedesco, whose late father Tommy was a key ﬁgure in the Wrecking Crew and has been described by Guitar Player magazine as the most recorded guitarist in history, playing on over a thousand different tracks. Denny Tedesco began the project in 1995 as a way of dealing with his father’s terminal diagnosis.
Although never credited on most of the records they played on, the ﬁlm primarily presents commentary from the living Wrecking Crew members who tell their stories in their own words. These players include drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, pianist Don Randi, bassists Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn, guitarists Glen Campbell and Al Casey, engineers Larry Levine and Dave Gold, saxophonist Plas Johnson, and several other musicians who sat in on the recordings. These musicians are ﬁlmed in an intimate setting (it looks like someone’s kitchen table) where they share old anecdotes and stories which appeal to musicians and non-musicians.
Through the informal interview process the audience is privy to humorous and honest insights about music and life. Some memorable quotes are Earl Palmer’s, “You should never say no to working until you are too busy to say yes.” Hal Blaine talks about how he went from a twenty-three room mansion to working as a security guard in a one bedroom apartment. Plas Johnson illustrates the difﬁculties with balancing studio work and family by saying the sixteen-hour days made him, “a better grandfather than a father.” Glen Campbell talks about his days as a young studio musician before reaching star status.
The ﬁlm complements this discussion with archival footage, still photos, and interviews shot in various formats. Tedesco also secures many of the original recordings for the DVD’s soundtrack. Many of the players interviewed have now since passed away.
I know I will be showing clips of this ﬁlm to my production class (along with The Language of Music, Standing In The Shadows of Motown, Some Kind of Monster, and a few others) Just as aspiring painters need to learn about art history, aspiring musicians and producers should learn about the Wrecking Crew.
The movie presents many eye-opening concepts for music business or recording technology students. It illustrates how many legendary artists the students thought played on the records, really did not. These session players could be sonic actors, playing as The Wall of Sound one day and the Monkees the next. In many instances, the Wrecking Crew “became the band” for groups like the Byrds, the Monkees, and the Marquettes, either replacing all of their tracks or serving as the musical support for their vocals.
It shows the quick-witted inventiveness of session musicians who would oftentimes come up with parts and record a whole album in a day. For example, Carol Kaye discusses how she and others spontaneously came up with the bass lines for These Boots Are Made For Walking, Mission Impossible, and Wichita Lineman.
It demonstrates the value of a jazz and classical musical background. It is a testimony to how an amazingly diverse group of people (women, african americans, whites, latinos) could come together and make great music.
The DVD is valuable to the aspiring student ﬁlm composer as it demonstrates how memorable TV and movie soundtrack themes such as Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Green Acres, M*A*S*H, Batman, The French Connection, The Godfather, Jaws, The Deer Hunter, Field of Dreams, CHiPS, and Six Million Dollar Man were created on the spot.
If I had one complaint about the movie it would be that a lot of weight is placed on the role and life of Tommy Tedesco. Musicians who worked with the Wrecking Crew such as Leon Russell, Phil Spector, and Burt Bacharach are not interviewed. However, the feature was written, produced, and directed by Tedseco’s son, so I wouldn’t expect otherwise.
Some of the questions I am going to ask my students about the ﬁlm include:
Jimmy Webb called the West Coast era of the Wrecking Crew, “a magical bubble in time.” Tommy Tedesco’s Requiem for a Studio Guitar Player describes how these magical musical moments can end without notice. This DVD is an important resource for any music industry library as it captures this “bubble” fairly accurately and concisely.
Unfortunately this ﬁlm is so new that it is not yet available at major media outlets such as Best Buy or amazon.com. However, you can pur-chase this amazing tribute on DVD for your school library by contacting Denny Tedesco directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAVE TOUGH, MBA, is Assistant Professor of Audio Engineering Technology at Belmont University. He has worked for Capitol Records, Warner Chappell Music Publishing, BMG Music Publishing, TAXI, and served as a consultant for WEA Distribution.
Prior to coming to Belmont University, Mr. Tough was an Assistant Professor and headed the Music Business Emphasis at Cal Poly Pomona in Los Angeles, California. He has also served as Instructor of Recording Technology at the University of North Alabama. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of North Texas, Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University, and an ADR certiﬁcate from Pepperdine School of Law. Mr. Tough is currently ABD, pursuing his Doctorate in Education from Tennessee State University. His research interest is in the area of recording arts curriculum development.
In addition to his university teaching, Mr. Tough has produced, engineered, and written for several independent artists in Los Angeles and Nashville. He also writes commercials for several area businesses. Mr. Tough operates his own music production company in Nashville (www. davetough.com). He is a member of The College Music Society, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. He serves as the online Ezine editor for MEIEA.
The Complete Guide to Starting a Record Company is a comprehensive text on the ins and outs of setting up a record company. It is extremely well put together and should serve as an invaluable resource for individuals or groups contemplating starting a record company, small record companies in their infancy, and music industry educators. Holzman gets into the nitty-gritty details, providing the reader with an in-depth discussion of many topics, additional reference information including useful web sites to explore, and simpliﬁed checklists to follow.
Each chapter of the book addresses a speciﬁc area, such as preparing a business plan, signing an artist, or recording the ﬁ rst project. The chapters are ordered in the same way someone starting a record company would need to address the topics. Holzman begins the book by urging readers to educate themselves about the music industry. The next section walks the readers through various start-up activities that pertain to any new business, such as hiring a lawyer and accountant, establishing a legal structure for the company, securing ofﬁce space, setting up a web site, and putting together a business plan. The rest of the book deals with subjects speciﬁc to record companies, including recording contracts, production, distribution, marketing, and royalties. As comprehensive as The Complete Guide is, the only request I would make of the author to consider for future editions is the inclusion of some ﬁnancial information. For example, how much money does it take to get a small record company up and running?
As a former record company executive coming from the administrative side of the business, I am impressed with the depth of material in this book including the U.S. ISRC Registrant Code Application form and example royalty statements. As an educator, I am excited to have ﬁnally found a book that can serve as a textbook for my record company operations course, and as a useful reference manual for the student-run record company I advise. Everybody interested in the recorded music industry should add this book to their libraries.
SERONA ELTON is an Assistant Professor at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, in the Music Business and Entertainment Industries Program. She also serves as a consultant to companies in the music industry including, most recently, Sony Music Entertainment. Previously, she was the Vice-President, Mechanical Licensing and Repertoire Data Services for EMI Recorded Music, North America. She is a licensed attorney in New York and Florida.