Saturday, March 07, 2009

U2's "No Line On the Horizon" -- An Instant Classic

It's the weekend -- so indulge me on some lighter news -- but major news for me.

For those who know me, they know that I am a passionate music fan -- and listen to music essentially 24/7.  And, my favorite all-time band -- without a doubt -- is U2.  I was first turned on to them back in my days at the University of Minnesota when a very prescient music store guru insisted I buy their "October" album when I asked, "which band will be the next big thing?"

Well, their album dropped Tuesday of this past week -- I bought it online immediately -- and I have listened to it non-stop since.  It is an instant classic.  Many of the tracks hearken back to the early days of "October" and "The Unforgettable Fire."  Haunting, textured, vintage ...  Interestingly, the first single -- "Get On Your Boots" -- is my least favorite song.  

U2 -- apart from being great musicians -- are brilliant marketers.  And, they canvassed the media this week in support of their release (which deserves such high profile treatment).  Uniquely, they performed songs every night this past week on "The Late Show with David Letterman" (also one of my favorite performers ... from back in the day of my Gopher-dom).

Buy it, stream it, and see the tour later this year -- they still are THE quintessential rock band of our generation.  And, the beautiful thing is that, unlike the Rolling Stones who lost their passion in their late 40s and beyond, U2 continues to write new classics.

Eminem Fails to Up-n-end the Music Biz's Royalty Structure (at least for now ...)

Very quietly -- yet terribly importantly for the beleaguered music business -- the labels won a major jury verdict yesterday against Eminem's producers that would have otherwise upended long-standing royalty models for the online and mobile sale of music tracks.  

Eminem's producers of "The Slim Shady LP" had sued Interscope Records demanding that they were entitled to 50% of revenues of songs sold online -- more than 4X the 12% customary and long-standing royalty rate/model they received for songs sold on CD.  Em's producers had argued that online and mobile sale of tracks were tantamount to the sale of music "masters" meaning, the sale of an infinite number of digital copies (rather than the sale of one track in the CD world ... although, Em's posse -- I feel silly even using that word [but it is Eminem after all] may have neglected to consider that CD sales also are digital copies that can be infinitely copied and re-distributed ...).  Oh well, details.

Let's face it, the music labels need every penny they get ... and those pennies have been dwindling to a slow trickle over the past several years.  Losing 38% of their revenues from the only promising and growing revenue stream -- online and mobile sales -- would have been disastrous indeed (especially if that kind of result would have been applied retroactively).

A temporary reprieve for now, since this federal court verdict will -- predictably -- be appealed.