Rap Coalition

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Friday, July 10, 2009

The TuneCore Deal
By, Bob Lefsetz

So what we've got here is a Universal alliance that allows the music
conglomerate a chance to pick up nascent acts, merging them into their system
with all its advantages. Huh?

That's the problem here. No one knows what acts are successful! We've got to
get that data, we've got to get inside, so we know what's happening. If
ANYTHING is happening everybody with an ear to the ground knows it immediately.
So I don't see the advantage to Universal here. Nor do I see the advantage to
acts. If you've got some success and you want to go with a major label is the
problem that you don't have a preexisting relationship? Are you kidding? Every
single major will take a meeting with anybody who can demonstrate sales success.
Their problem is wading through the wannabes who want to get signed, get a ton
of cash with NO track record. Furthermore, so many of today's acts with a track
record DON'T want a major label deal. Why give up all that action to be told
what to do, giving up the lion's share of the profits along the way?

As for selling CDs in Guitar Center... Wow, how eighties! We sell them at
Whole Foods, we sell them at convenience stores, that's the problem, that's why
revenue sucks, people have nowhere to buy CDs! Absolutely ridiculous. To turn
Tunecore into a backward-looking operation is like using your iPhone to
calculate when your typewriter ribbon will run out. Huh?

If only there were some true innovation here. What if Universal offered
something more than the usual "rich and famous" contract.
What if Universal was in partnership with ALL the bands on Tunecore and offered
unique opportunities?

That's how dumb Universal is. In order to truly enter the twenty first century
and profit they must be a distributor for ALL, skimming a tiny profit on each.
A great musician is usually a lousy businessman. Rather than try to rape the
player, offer him something he can't do himself. Like a Website where not only
do you sell his music, but you sell merch, facilitate contests and giveaways,
where you generate additional revenue beyond recorded music!

That's the opportunity. Stop crying in your beer about iTunes. Give me one
site where I can buy ALL my music-related stuff. That's what Ticketmaster wants
to do with its Live Nation merger. That's the play. Maybe even give away the
music with the sale of a concert ticket, but also sell merch as part of the same
transaction. But what if you're a wannabe band, just starting out, and
Frontline won't manage you and Live Nation won't promote you? Who's your friend
then? Some of these acts will be successful...who's gonna start out on the
ground floor with them and help them? Believe me, Universal is no help. Have
you seen one of their contracts? And now they want a piece of EVERYTHING, not
only recorded music. Blows my mind that they've got no vision of the future
other than saying we're best at selling music the old way! Isn't that what Doug
and Jimmy are doing? We'll get you in front of millions and make you a success,
and now not only will you get screwed on recordings, you'll get screwed on live
appearances...what a deal!

Someone's gonna roll up the new acts. And based on this Tunecore deal, one can
say Universal will not be the one. You're gonna need someone who can see the
future. Who sees that a ton of pennies is worth more than a few dollars. Who
sees the future is about partnership with the acts, with transparent accounting
and fair deals. Michael Jackson called Tommy Mottola the devil and he was
making more money selling records than anybody!

But he wasn't making as much as CBS/Sony.

As long as Universal believes it's entitled to the lion's share of the revenue,
while offering nothing new, nothing innovative, nothing helpful in this new
digital era, the company is laughable.


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