Archive for the ‘News Items Comments’ Category

This year I’ve had the pleasure and hard work to travel to China,South Korea,England,Paris and Japan.

As a general comment it is getting more difficult and it’s as if airlines no longer care especially the US based airlines.

Travel on Japanese,Korean or China airlines is a totally different experience as they seem to want one’s custom.

I have to include British Air and Air France who are very caring.

I write this not just to be critical ,which it is,but because it doesn’t make sense.

And its not just myself who experience these travel nightmares.

I recently had a client of mine who went to London to play at the Ronnie Scott Jazz Club in London.

He left and got delayed by the airline and missed his connection in Atlanta to get his flight to Heathrow.

He waited 3 hours in one queue (Line) and never got to the front of the counter and jumped the line into Priority travel line for another 1 1/2 hours.

When he got to the front of the line all the flights to Heathrow that day were full and the airline had him on flight through Manchester which is some 200 miles from London.

I was in Tokyo Japan and through the wonders of modern communication we were able to get in touch and he ended up going to Manchester and catching a train to London then a cab and he got to his own rehearsal half an hour late.

He had to buy cloths as his luggage was long gone and it arrived late in the night after the performance the following day.

The gig went well and was well attended and he played on a borrowed instrument and he more than pulled it off.

The Airline are going to reimburse him for the cloths which is excellent.

But his main complaint was, it was as if the airline didn’t really care and having to wait in line all those hours to get an alternate flights was horrendous.

My experience on 2 different US carriers to Tokyo and back was equally horrendous with bad food,small seats and poor service.

The 2 flights on 2 different Japanese carriers were a pleasure and just so easy.

I guess we have no alternative but to use these airlines and if you are rich and can travel in Business class or above then I’m sure it is not the same experience.

I for one will insist on a foreign airline in future for all international travel but isn’t that a sad reflection on the state of US Air travel.

Maybe I’m getting old ( I am 66) and out of touch I don’t know but I found the MTV Awards TV show incredibly boring and extremely childish.

Besides NOT one memorable musical performance it was all about how one looked and what one said and just how many times you could use the F word it seemed to me.

Thank goodness for Sandra Bullock at least someone with acting ability and some class (I know the kiss) but who wouldn’t want to kiss Scarlett Johansson.

But the constant use of  F word …..what the heck is that all about?

We all (well not all) use it, I know I do, but it seemed like the total way to get off on the MTV awards was to use the F word whenever possible.

So what , so you know the F word and you said it on TV?  WOW!

Its like my 11 year old grandson who cracks up when he says it and his parents don’t here him (Heaven help him if they do hear him).

So it was, to me, just a bunch 11 year olds with no musical or acting talent (Tom Cruise and the girl from “Up In the Air” excepted) who have wonderful bodies and pretty faces and lets give them an award and let them swear on TV?

They are not musical awards or film awards at all unless one likes “Vampire” movies but just teenage style awards with the F word thrown in.

The irony is that those speeches that used the F word were unintelligible!!

One speech I heard was just a bunch bleeps and I have no idea what the guy said and I think it was a top film award.

“Whats the point?”

*Great staging and lights though and the camera work was brilliant and the dancers were amazing I’ve got to say that.

Here’s an article from the New York Times about Glen Barros and Concord Records acquisition of Rounder Records.

It struck me just how positive a viewpoint this is in light of all the negativity coming out of record labels these days

Here’s a very interesting article that illustrates what and artist makes from their music on line.

Its all based on earning the minimum wage and what one would have to sell to achieve that.

Its quite surprising.


Could be fun to vote in the American Smooth Jazz Awards

Here’s a good idea for an artists birthday to give away a free download.

If you go to Herbie Hancock’s Web Site and put in your E mail address you get a free download of a track off his new project

Post Courtesy of Smooth Jazz Network

Here’s an interesting article that suggests Digital Music sales have peaked.

It was thought that one day Digital Sales would compensate for the drop in CD sales but if this is true its not going to happen anytime  soon.

More good news?

From All things Digital:

Remember when people used to predict that digital music sales would make up for the disappearing CD? That’s officially over now: Last quarter, for the first time ever, the number of digital songs sold in the U.S. declined.

Article continued in the link

Here’s an interesting news story that reminds me of another personal encounter I had with Keith.

As a good friend of mine and fellow manager said “This is getting old with Keith, but on the other hand, maybe he’s just trying to cop a stick for himself. I know if I went to a concert to hear him play, and instead heard him rant I’d get pretty pissed”

Wise words my friend.

But my story takes place in Japan at the New Otani Hotel,Tokyo in an elevator to the 54th floor some 15 years ago.

We were on our way back to our boxes after the most amazing performance at the Tokyo Music Joy Festival of the Mozart Double Piano Concerto.

In those days we stayed at the New Otani at $600 per night and the hotel rooms were amazing with incredible views.

We called them “our Boxes” as many the night after weeks on the road thats what they felt like and someone made the comment one night “come on guys its time to go to your boxes (Hotel Rooms) and it stuck.

Its road talk and you had to be there.

Anyway by some fluke I found myself in the elevator with Keith and his wife  going up into the 50’s floor  levels.

I was a little “star stuck” as I love Keith’s playing and I think he’s a genius so I started to try to compliment him on his performance and say what a fantastic show it was and it “was” amazing.

But nothing…. no one said anything … response to my comments in fact Keith wouldn’t even make eye contact with me it was amazing.

They got off the elevator before me and never even said goodnight.

I felt like a complete idiot and very embarrassed having made a complete blubbering fool of myself.

So I guess Keith’s “good manners” don’t extend to long elevator rides either but at least I wasn’t coughing and ruining his performance.

Boy was I glad to get into my box!!

Lady Gaga is being sued by her long time Producer Rob Fusari for $30.5 Million

What is interesting to an Artist Manager is her defense as it brings up the very pertinent point for California Managers in particular that in California a manager is not allowed to act as an agent and get gigs for his artist.

He can’t be a manager and an agent its one or the other.

One needs an employment license to get some one in employment,a gig, in otherwords in California.

Other states have different laws and other than the fact, that doing both for an artist can be a conflict of interest ,in most states one can do both and be an agent and a manager.

The defense being put forth by Lady Gaga’s attorney is that he acted as an agent without an employment license.

The report in the Daily Telegraph in UK says:

“Mr Fusari claims that their business partnership entitles him to 20 per cent of her record deal.

He acknowledges that he has received $611,000 from her but says it is not his full share.

But Lady Gaga’s lawyer Charles Ortner told that court that the agreement between the singer and the producer was “unlawful”.

He said that Mr Fusari and his company violated statutes that prohibited them from “acting as employment agents without a license and charging Lady Gaga an unlawful fee for their purported services.”

Mr Fusari’s lawyer, Robert S. Meloni, called the claim “ludicrous”.

“Rob was no more of an ‘agent’ for her than she is a Roman Catholic nun.” ”

Like that last line good one!

I’m not sure where this lawsuit was filed but it looks like the UK so presumably they have a similar laws as California in regards to being an agent and any other function for an artist.

I’m not a lawyer of course but it is my understanding that an artist can sue his manager for all back management commission’s to be repaid if the artist can prove the manager got him employment as a manager in California which is pretty scary for a manager.

Because the problem is that most managers get their artists gigs that they then pass on to the artists agent (or not) as the case maybe to issue contracts as the employment agent.

One presumes there is some sort of conflict  existing between the artist and manager for this to come about and they are hardly getting along if this is happening but it has happened.

I understand, for instance ,there was a case  between Jefferson Starship and their manager and I believe Starship won and got their commissions paid returned.

The law stems from the old MCA company who were agents,managers and producers for their clients, the true 360 deal I guess.

They put their acts in their moves and concerts which was then considered as a “conflict of interest” and the law was passed.

Besides which no other agents could get their artists in MCA movies or ventures….not fair …. penalty kick!!!

I’ll give an example of how this could be a conflict of interest if I can.

The agent brings in a gig for an artist playing at Disneyland, the artist is an esoteric Jazz Pianist and the gig is totally the wrong place for the artist to perform. But the moneys very good and if the Hats of manger and artist are worn by the same person there is no one to say to the agent “hey thats wrong gig for this artist” forget it.

I’ve actually done just that and turned down a high paying gig from an agent as it was not right for my artist despite the money involved.

The manager is in fact part of a team and usually the General of that team that consists of the Manager,Agent,Producer, Attorney,Publicist, Business Manager (CPA) Promotion team,Record Label  etc. etc.

I lost a long term client one time by wearing all these hats and in fact the artist, in hind site, had NO manager in the end as its impossible to do all those functions with out creating a conflict of interest situation.

How can one be the Manager and the Record Company president.

What if the artist should be on another Record Label, is the manager going to take the artist off “his” Record Label to another label? I severely doubt it and if he did,  that would be pretty commendable if the manager could be that objective.What if he also has a fiduciary duty to run the record label to the best of his ability then he has a real problem.

It remains to be seen if Lady Gaga will prevail and the Producer (agent,manager?) what ever he is role was will get his $30 mill.

So there is an interesting scenario developing with the advent of Record Labels doing 360 deals with acts and wearing all the hats ,artist managers continually violating the California Agent/Manager  Law and getting their artists gigs and sometimes even writing the contracts. It would seem some change has to occur here on the legal level?

Not to mention with the declining state of the music business and with less income how long will artists be able to afford 10% to the Agent,15% to the manager and 5% to the Business manager,not too long I would think?

I submit to be practical these functions will have to be worn by less people and a more moderate percentage % taken from the artist as the their gross declines so they have some money to keep at least close to their existing life style!

But how do we retain the separation of these functions as they are all different and require there own expertise and if worn by one person present a “Conflict of Interest” situation in my opinion .

Plus if anything goes wrong the artist can sue and get his money back which is not bad deal for the artist at least in California.

I have a feeling there is a lot I don’t know here as I am not an attorney and this is turning out to be a frightfully boring post unless you are a manager or agent and they don’t want to hear about the problem anyway.

Interesting though if you are a manager and could be good news for artists who want to get rid of their managers and get their money back at the same time!

Further on the article about Universal’s proposal of  dropping their prices of CD’s.

My good friend Rich Denhardt (who was the Head of A & R at Narada Records before EMI closed them down) says this.

“Universal tried this a few years ago… reducing suggested retail price. big rebellion from retail. I hope it takes this time.”

So apparently Universal tried this before only to have it refused by the retailers presumably because of lowered profits for the stores and now where have all the retailers gone.

A lot of the comments I saw on the net and I thought for myself were that the labels were the greedy ones but apparently thats not true and the labels tried to drop the price and it was retailers that rebelled.

There’s always two sides to these  things and one has to get all the data.

Now there are so few retail stores selling CD’s its a great shame as the Music Buisness has disappeared at a retail level where one could go and browse the store and find music.

When I first came to the states from the UK in 1974 I remember being able to go to Tower Records on Sunset and with $20 I could bring home 3 Albums.

1 expensive one at $9.98 and 2 for $4.98 which was the usual price of the new releases at the front of the store.

Every day was like Christmas compared to UK prices of Albums in those days it was amazing or brilliant as we say over the pond.

Plus the selection of music especially in Jazz was very extensive at Tower in those days.

I sound old!!

On a sad note Herb Cohen passed , an old school manager from LA who managed Zappa and many LA artists over the years including George Duke until recently.

Whenever dealing with him it was always entertaining and different for sure as many people will attest to!!