The changing relationship between radio airplay, record sales, musicians and income
For at least fifty years of the 20th century, the relationship between music and radio airplay was fairly well understood. Record executives knew that if they wanted a hit record, they needed that song to get played on the radio, preferably as many times as possible. In fact, until 2000, radio airplay was essentially a prerequisite to selling significant amounts of recorded music.
Clearly, radio airplay is still critical – especially for genres like pop, country and urban/R&B – but in recent years both radio and the mechanisms for selling music have been upended. Traditional commercial radio, with its limited playlists and regional reach, has been challenged by new forms of radio: webcast versions of existing stations (including WFMU), pureplay webcast stations like Soma-FM or Pandora, and Sirius XM satellite radio. Then there are the interactive services like Spotify, Rhapsody, Last.fm, and Rdio, many of which mimic radio through playlist options or pre-programmed channels. And there's YouTube, now considered one of the most widely used sources of music discovery in the world.
The sale of recorded music has also changed. Prior to about 2000, the money that a musician could make from the sale or license of a sound recording was pretty simple: you could sell physical copies of an album or a single in a retail setting like a record shop, you could sell them via mailorder, or at shows/gigs. If you were lucky and your music was placed in a movie or TV show, you could make money from the synch license on the master recording. But that was about it. Since about 2000, these options have expanded to include digital sales on stores like iTunes and Amazon, digital performance royalties when sound recordings are streams on non-interactive services like Pandora or Sirius XM, and interactive service payments for streams on Spotify/Rhapsody. And there are more.
The average US consumer now has dozens of low-cost or free ways to listen to and discover new music. What has this done to the relationship between radio airplay and music sales? And, more to the point, are musicians benefiting from this changing landscape?
In 2010, the nonprofit Future of Music Coalition launched Artist Revenue Streams, a multi-method, cross-genre examination of musicians' revenue streams, how they are changing over time, and why. We used three methods to collect data: in-person interviews with over 80 hard-working musicians and composers; an online survey that was completed by over 5,300 US-based musicians and composers, and financial case studies that allowed us to fully examine musicians' income and expenses over time.
Quite an epiphany kicks off today's haul. Ever hear of Indian sax legend Braz Gonsalves? Me neither until the excellent Indian and Pakistani Vinyl blog dropped the stunner that leads off today's Motherlode. Gonsalves turns 80 this year and just stopped playing jazz for good (though not because of age. He has renounced it due to his religious faith and now only performs gospel.)
If you're a lover of Indian-jazz hybrid sounds like me—or even if you're not—here's a way to make yourself very happy in three simple steps: (1) Click the link below and devour the major delicacy, "Raga Rock," immediately. (2) Head over to the Inconstant Sol blog and download Hum Dono, possibly the greatest album in this style ever recorded. (3) Sit back and enjoy this hour-long special I produced for WFMU back in 2011: Audio / Playlist.
Ragas to Riches "Braz Gonsalves has made an international name for himself as a great jazz saxophonist. Fondly known as “The Grandfather” of Indian jazz, Braz was born in Neura, Goa and learned music at his father’s knee. He pioneered Indo-Jazz fusion and made an original album in Calcutta in 1970 called Raga Rock. Braz was selected by the Government of India, as India’s jazz ambassador to a numerable Jazz Festivals. He participated in more international and local jazz festivals than any other Indian musician." (Description taken from a page at TargetGoa.com)
[This version of "Raga Rock" has the intro and the ending faded out. A poorer quality but complete version can be heard on this video. Not shared in the download linked to above is the flip side of "Raga Rock," a number with Pam Craine singing "No Amount of Loving." You can listen to that track right here.]
All new and current Swag for Life members are eligible to receive our new messenger bag, and early pledgers get first dibs on adopting a WFMU DJ or fixture!
Yo La Tengo will be playing cover song requests in exchange for pledges on Thursday, March 14th (9am-noon) on Hello Children with Faye and co-host Gaylord Fields, and WFMU's Hoof & Mouth Sinfonia
close out the Marathon on Sunday March 17th with drunken live band
Don't miss out on our biggest on-air bash of the year!
Gamera was both a reaction to, and a reflection of, the genre Godzilla1 created. For better or worse, Gamera also helped shape the future of giant monsters (or kaiju2).
The character was supposedly created from a vision of a turtle in the
clouds on an airplane flight by Daiei Motion Picture Company president
Masaichi Nagata. But, it is just as likely an attempt by Daiei to get on
the bandwagon created by Toho’s giant monster over a decade earlier.
Nonetheless, “whether or not you think Godzilla is better, you simply
cannot deny that Gamera has successfully survived…to arrive at the point
that he is at today.”3 However crass and commercial the
intentions may have been in its creation, Gamera carved out its own
niche as a unique, unusual cultural icon.
Daiei studios first attempt at a giant monster movie was a
rear-projection based, Bert I. Gordon-esque, giant rat movie called “A
Swarm of Beasts,” which was scrapped. Nagata’s turtle idea was taken up,
and the decision was made to go with the Godzilla-like method of a man
in a suit, certainly helped by “the fact that men in suits are
infinitely easier to control than live rats.”4
The first Gamera film in 1965 is very much like the original 1954
Godzilla: a serious reflection on the toll nature can take when provoked
by man. “But even here, at the beginning, we can see his creators at
But I do know that I own a copy of an EP by Dora which appears to be fairly rare. While the songs on one side of the record (the first three heard below) can be found on one of Dora's children's albums, and can be had, if one searches, a few places online, the final three songs, from the flip side of the record, appear to be unique to this release - or at least, a web search turns up virtually no record of them appearing anywhere else.
They are not what I would consider Dora's finest work, or even her most interesting - the songs are cloying, and the final song features a fairly terrible child vocalist at the beginning and end. But still, Dora seems to have wanted more than anything to entertain and to be heard, and these songs should be out there with the rest of her catalog. And if nothing else, she sounds quite sincere and honest in singing these words for the very young.
Budding cartoonists and incurable doodlers take note: today's record will sharpen those skills!
From the front cover: "This amazing FUNograph record and cartoon course supplies countless hours of amusement for kids from six to sixty! Anyone capable of writing his name can learn to draw more than a thousand faces."
No foolin'! This 1946 record by Art Ross (on the Funnyface Records, Inc. label, out of Forest Hills, NY) and the accompanying instructional charts will show you how!
Below is the record itself, so get out your pencils and paper and get ready to draw yourself raw - instructions follow right after the jump!
I received a comment during my latest radio show asking if I was going to play any music by Butch Morris. Morris, the legendary composer, cornetist and group-improvisation innovator had recently died and the listener was, understandably, asking if I was going to be paying tribute. The truth is I have mixed feelings about producing "remembrance" broadcasts. Doing so is a perfectly reasonable thing to do (no station produces better memorial programming than WKCR in New York), and, in fact, I've been moved to present such programs on numerous occasions. But I just can't escape the feeling that this conceit comes tinged with an opportunism that diminishes the sort of tribute I aim to pay my my musical heroes in an ongoing basis.
I experience similar conflicts over the celebration of Black History Month. However worthy the respect and acknowledgment, the formalized segregation of its expression to this one month a year feels like a cheapening to me.
In the spirit of muddling my personal confusion further, please allow me to pay memorial tribute to these magnificent African-American musical genius who left us during the past year...
LAWRENCE D. "BUTCH" MORRIS February 10, 1947 – January 29, 2013 "…Morris has waxed several other albums that deserve canonization. First, there’s In Touch… But Out of Reach, recorded live in 1978 with a stellar ensemble. It showcases Morris’s more traditional abilities as a cornetist, composer, and bandleader. It’s still adventurous work, but might prove an easier entry for some listeners than the later genre-hopping offerings. In Touch offers key insights into his later work as well as plenty of unalloyed musical pleasure. 'Irin Sun' provides a rare chance to hear Morris as a key part of the band, in a decidedly non-epic setting. Primarily a vehicle for Eubanks, who borrows something of Abdullah Ibrahim’s limpid beauty, the track floats by briskly. It's a lovely, if brief, postcard from Africa. 'Lovers Existing' is a more significant statement, and its shifting arrangements and multiple instrumental combinations suggests the grand experiments in conduction to come. In his typical generous fashion, Morris lays out for much of the track, though his guidance is everywhere evident. Wilbur Morris covers a lot of ground in strong support of Moncur’s long solo, and beneath Morris's late turn about two-thirds of the way in." (Description by Chilly Jay Chill & Prof. Drew LeDrew, atDestination: Out)
Based on many conversations I've had and readings of articles and books that I've done over the years, it seems that "The Ballad of John and Yoko" is a relatively divisive song within the Beatles catalog, and particularly among their singles, when it comes to the degree to which people enjoy it. I've seen it dismissed as a throwback at a point when the band had moved beyond such simple genres, a throwaway put together quickly at John's insistence and reflective of that genesis, or simply one of their weaker singles. It's the one song my younger daughter skips on "The Beatles 1" CD. Others list it among the essential Beatle tracks.
For this Beatle and Lennon fanatic, though, it's always been at the top of my favorites list - once listed as my favorite Beatle track of all, and never, ever out of my personal top three Beatles tracks. With it's lilting calypso feel, "Don't Be Cruel" bassline and incomperable Lennon vocal, it's my idea of a perfect record. As a bonus, it's just John and Paul - and this at a point in their lives when they were supposedly at each other's throats.
However, one thing the song never seemed to be, in my view, was a likely candidate for remakes. Like certain tracks from the Plastic Ono Band album, it seems just too central to its creator's life for there to be an effective version by someone else. So when I became acquainted, in fairly quick succession, with three cover versions of the song, varying in style and entertainment level, I thought I'd share them here. Effectively avoiding that personal lyrical connection, two are instrumentals, and one is in another language, and that one seems to have re-written the lyrics.
The first one I heard, and by far the least appealing one, is by The Percy Faith Strings. If nothing else, it's worth a listen for the sheer looking-at-a-car-crash factor:
Next up, a version which came along with a bunch of other material in a massive download gift from a friend. It did not arrive with a group name attached to it (no doubt someone out there will know who this is), but this almost undoubtably comes from one of the myriad copycat groups that sprang up in the second half of the '60's, in the wake of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It's peppy enough and mildly enjoyable, within that TJB format, if more than a bit unoriginal.
Finally, the version that has quickly become my second favorite version of the song, by a group identified as Los Rockin' Devils. I find this endless entertaining - it's got just enough of the sound of the original to capture some of the magic of that record, while bringing it's own feel to the party as well. And I have retained just enough of my Spanish to know that the lyrics can't possibly be following the story of the original, at least not verse by verse. If anyone out there wants to translate it, I'd be much obliged.
Today let's learn about the song that killed! Not just
on the charts but really killed them dead, in several countries even.
I've had records that killed parties and DJ sets, but I generally avoid pieces that actually do murder.
Who composed this gem? What was the piece? All this and more (including how RIPLEY's caused 'The Star-Spangled Banner' to become our National Anthem) - right after the jump! And don't worry - there's no mp3 files or sheet music to accidentally kill you - WFMU wants you back at the blog for more future amusements!