Opinion and analysis of the day's music news.

Klosterman Essays Priced At 99 Cents
-- Following the lead of iTunes’ 99 cents-per-track model, book publisher Scribner has begun offering 69 essays by pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman for 99 cents apiece at the likes of Amazon.com, Apple and BN.com. Collections of essays will sell for $7.99 each. So, with these new essays and collection of essays, Klosterman now has 218 different titles at BN.com. It’s a lot to sift through and much more difficult than browsing through an equivalent number of music tracks at any of the stores.

Side note: a collection of essays is basically the album format for essays. Many unique titles all bundled together and priced less than each would cost if purchased separately. It is interesting that Scribner is offering both single essays and bundled essays. Perhaps they did not get the memo that the album format is dead. (Los Angeles Times)

Are VIP Packages Good For Fans?
-- The Chicago Tribune asks if VIP concert packages are a good deal for fans. The article is really about selling access to artists and not so much about the costs of the VIP packages.

“Jam Productions Vice President of Concerts Andy Cirzan said his company is contractually obligated to facilitate these ‘band-management-originated concepts,’ but he doesn't like them, and he suspects fans don't either. ‘This is not something that any concertgoer who goes to a lot of concerts doesn't resent,’ Cirzan said, arguing that true fans want a chance to get the best seats without having to buy a special leather bag or access to a reception. ‘I do not believe the message to send to these people is if you really like a band, here's a way to pony up and spend four times the amount.’”

What Cirzan is talking about is the way prime seats are bundled with value-added items to justify their higher prices. Music consumers should be used to this. Rather than drop CD prices, labels spent years tacking on value-added content such as CD-ROM features, DVDs, special packaging and bonus tracks. Some fans, however, just wanted the music at a lower price.

The Tribune goes beyond concerts and looks at plays and opera performances, too. The Lyric Opera, for example, is offering an opening night package that includes box seats, an intermission buffet and a ball table.

There are often questions about the merit of VIP packages, and it’s natural for these items to be questioned during a recession that has hit live events hard. There seems to be little evidence, however, that VIP packages are losing popularity. To the contrary, the rise of VIP packages over the the years indicates they have been quite popular with concertgoers.

Even in tough economic times, there will be a small percentage of fans that want and can afford special treatment and exclusive access. Promoters will need to take steps to segregate the higher value fans from the lower value fans. Artists already do this through special treatment to members of their fan clubs – that often means things like special access to pre-concert events.

The one question mark the Tribune brings up is the long-term impact of creating a caste system of fans. Some VIP treatment is unseen by the common concertgoer and is unlikely to create resentment. But some VIP treatment is far more overt. All in all, the jury is out on this topic.

Google Hires Content VP
Google has hired Robert Kyncl, formerly of Netflix, VP of content Ppartnerships. He will be "tasked with landing TV and movie deals, according to sources familiar with the matter." (A Things D)

Warner Nashville Preps Demo
-- Warner Nashville has an interesting project that is part cover song and part reissue. Next month Warner Bros. Records will release The Original Songwriters Demos Volumes 1 and 2, both collections of the demo recordings of popular country songs recorded by the songwriters. Martina McBride’s song “Independence Day” is performed by songwriter Gretchen Peters, for example, while Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” is performed by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin.

This project could go any number of ways. Some fans could be shocked to find out their favorite country artists don’t write their own songs. They could be indifferent to versions of songs that don’t feature the original, celebrity singer. Or they could even enjoy hearing the song being performed by the songwriter. Either way, Warner has a stack of songs it can release and is smart to put them to good use. After all, labels need to try just about everything these days to see what works. (Press release)

Assorted links
- 10 Ways Touring Bands Can Leverage Location Apps