Opinion and analysis of the day's music news.
ROCK IS DEAD? AGAIN?
-- BBC News has an interesting story about the lack of rock titles on the UK singles chart. Sales of rock singles are down nearly 18% in the first eight months of 2010. In contrast, urban and pop singles are up 33% and 30%, respectively.
A sensible explanation comes from Elbow singer Guy Garvey, who posits that “13-year-old girls have got better stuff to look at than boys with guitars at the moment.” That brings to mind a bit by comedian Bill Hicks, who in the late ‘80s looked at Tiffany and Debbie Gibson atop the music charts and wondered, “Is there that much baby-sitting money being passed around right now?” But they didn’t stick. Just a few years later, Nirvana would top the album chart and the pop-to-rock cycle started anew.
The streaming world is similar. There are a few rock songs in Spotify’s top 100, but not many. At #34, Journey’s “Don’t’ Stop Believin’” is the highest ranked rock song on Spotify’s top songs list on Tuesday evening. (It depends on whether or not Train, at #11 with “Hey Soul Sister,” is pop or rock.) Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Rise Against, John Mayer, Green Day, Band of Horses, Muse and MGMT have songs in Spotify’s top 100.
But it’s silly for the BBC to hint that a dearth of rock singles on the chart implies trouble for rock. (How many times has “rock is dead” been uttered? Google counts 209,000 mentions.) For rock, the better indicator is the album chart. Spotify’s top album list is pop- and urban-heavy but Muse makes an appearance at #17, The XX sits at #23 and Queen’s “Absolute Greatest” is at #31. Further down the list are the likes of U2, Rise Against, Kent and Linkin Park.
It’s ironic that questions about rock music’s strength looks only at recorded music sales and ignores live music. Would concert promoters say rock is dead? Not a chance. (BBC)
OURSTAGE RAISED $6.2 MILLION
-- Ourstage has raised $6.2 million in equity investments out of a $10 million round of funding, according to a SEC filing dated September 7. This current round of funding had recently been bumped up to $10 million from $6 million. Eighty one investors have taken part. In May of this year, the company finished a $2.6 million found of funding.
Founded in 2006, Ourstage is a music discovery and artist development web site. The company helps unsigned bands get exposure, often through competitions that place the winners at concerts with established artists. Ourstage has formed partnerships with MTV, Vibe, the Bumbershoot music festival and many others. On the company’s board of directors are Don Ienner (former chairman and CEO of Sony Music Label Group), William Turner (managing director of Signature Capital LLC) and David Moore (founder and chairman of 24/7 Real Media). (SEC filing)
IS HMV TOO BIG?
-- The Telegraph asks, Is HMV too big? Later this week HMV will release the results of its latest quarter. Same-store sales are expected to have dropped by 10-15% over the summer, according to the report. Rumors have been circulating that the founder of Waterstones, which HMV acquired in 1998, wants to take back control of the book store chain. Some analysts are concerned Waterstones does not create a synergistic relationship with the rest of the company. Others look at HMV and see a diversified company that is trying to tackle changes in how consumers experience and buy entertainment. Take the company’s involvement in live music through its acquisition of Mama Group in January:
“Live music and ticket sales are set to make £15m of profit in three years, up from £5m now, through ownership of venues such as the Hammersmith Apollo and Kentish Town Forum (which it has renamed the HMV Forum).”
HMV’s combination of live events and music retail is a bold tactic in its larger strategy to be a multi-platform provider of entertainment. But with the addition of live events, digital retail and cinemas (through a partnership with Curzon Artificial Eye), the level of the company’s complexity has obviously risen. Maybe the company has become too unwieldy. There are a lot of moving parts. But HMV is seen by many as the future of entertainment retail. Does that mean the future of entertainment is one where increasing complexity risks overall performance? HMV’s next earnings release may help answer that question. (The Telegraph)
-- The Justice Department has filed a notice of appeal in Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenembaum. (Recording Industry vs. the People)
-- A graph shows how iTunes app sales reached the same total as iTunes music download sales in less than half the time. (Asymco)
-- Watch the video demo of TrackDropper, an Android app created at the London Music Hack Day that allows people to “drop” songs in physical locations to be picked up by others using their GPS-enabled Android devices. (Vimeo, via Digital Noise)
Opinion and analysis of the day's music news.