MUSIC

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Music TV battles to survive in Internet age

MUSIC TV BATTLES TO SURVIVE IN INTERNET AGE

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Music television is the endangered species of the pop world, and is learning the hard way that it must adapt to the Internet age, or die.
The "Top of the Pops", the world's longest running weekly music show, will be declared extinct on Sunday when it is broadcast for the last time on BBC.
Two days later MTV, one reason for the demise of Top of the Pops and at the cutting edge of music for so long, begins to reinvent itself with a new interactive TV channel and Web site that will target the online social networking craze.
Young, Internet-literate listeners are not prepared to wait for a weekly digest of chart acts, and the pre-selected programming of 24-hour music channels is also losing its appeal in an age where music choice is greater than ever.
Television must compete with Robbie Williams beaming live images from a concert to fans' mobile phones and iPods playing downloaded tracks.
"I'm afraid to say that Top of the Pops won't get that audience any more," said Dylan White, director of Anglo Plugging which promotes bands to TV producers, referring to people aged between 16 and 30.
"They are eagerly downloading and getting their information far quicker and with a more focussed style than sitting there waiting for a programme to come around once a week on TV," he told Reuters.
White believes that the 42-year-old Top of the Pops can be saved for pre- and early teenagers, but its makers have made clear they do not share his confidence.
In Britain, people spend longer on the Internet than watching television, according to a Google survey, and the audience for Top of the Pops has fallen to around one million viewers compared with a peak of more than 15 million.
MTV EYES MYSPACE, BEBO
Meanwhile, MTV marks its 25th anniversary on August 1 with the launch of community-style Web site www.mtvflux.co.uk followed by a new channel called Flux both of which aim to challenge leading social networking sites like MySpace and Bebo.
"If audiences are spending more time away from the TV it is important for us to make sure we have a really compelling product," said Angel Gambino, vice president of commercial strategy and digital media at MTV Networks UK & Ireland.
"It's critical to our success to make that transition from a broadcasting company to a multi-platform media company," she told Reuters.
Viewers of the new channel will be able to control what is aired on the station and chat with each other live.
There are doubts over whether interactive television is the best way forward for MTV, and some question why it has taken the channel so long to take on the big music Web sites.
But Gambino is confident MTV has created a distinctive product that incorporates the best of the competition and harnesses the channel's powerful position in the pop world.
"I think it is a creative and business challenge for us to increasingly be distinctive in a very crowded market place."
Greg Walsh, head of the online music portal www.arkade.com, says traditional leaders in music, like the record labels and MTV, will struggle to keep up with changes in the industry that have given fans seemingly limitless choices.
"I think they will find it very difficult," he said. "Music is being driven by the public now and no longer by the industry. We see sites like MySpace becoming the home of breaking new music and suddenly Bebo launches its own service."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Music sales hit new low since 1994

MUSIC SALES HIT NEW LOW SINCE 1994

By Geoff Boucher, Times Staff WriterJuly 27, 2006

LOOKING to beat the heat? Visit a record store — the aisles are apparently both chilly and empty these days, at least if you use the Nielsen SoundScan album sales chart as a thermometer.Only one CD sold more than 100,000 copies in the U.S. last week — "Now That's What I Call Music!, Vol. 22," which sold 207,000 copies. Even that had a tinge of disappointment to it; it marked a 48% tumble from the previous week, when "Now" debuted at No. 1 on the chart. Billboard.com reported Wednesday that the malaise was one for the record books. The site said that overall music sales last week hit the lowest total since 1994, and that last low-point came in January of that year, a month when retail is expected to bottom-out after the holiday splurges.

The top two debuts this week have somewhat spirited titles: "Sacred" from Los Lonely Boys sold 67,000 copies to finish at No. 2 on the national chart while "If You're Going Through Hell" by country singer Rodney Atkins took the No. 3 slot with 55,000 copies sold. There were only two other debuts in the Top 30. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, the Florida quintet that has benefited from its Warped Tour stint, lands at No. 25 with the group's first full studio album, "Don't You Fake It," which sold 25,000 copies. At No. 29, country singer Eric Church joins the week's theme of religious imagery with his name and his new title, "Sinners Like Me," which sold 24,000 copies.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rock Music Menu: Whatever happened to ‘Survivor’?

Rock Music Menu: Whatever happened to ‘Survivor’?

The trailer for the film "Rocky Balboa" debuted this past week, and while the sixth installment of the South Philadelphia underdog who overcomes the odds doesn’t come out until December, the band most identified with the series is making news today.

Few bands benefit from a film the way Survivor did in 1982 with the song "Eye of the Tiger." That little slice of ‘80s cheese used as the backdrop when Apollo Creed helps Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) gets back the inner fire to take Mr. T and win back the title left an indelible mark on fist-pumping rockers everywhere.
The song won the band a Grammy Award for "Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal" and was voted "Best New Song" by the People’s Choice Awards and even received an Academy Award nomination.Sports teams everywhere adopted "Eye of the Tiger" as their mantra and, more recently, Starbucks picked up the song for a tongue in cheek advertising campaign.The band was kind of a B-list rock band, so most people didn’t notice when, at the peak of its popularity, Survivor did the lead singer switcheroo, and came up with another top 10 hit; "Burning Heart" which appeared in, surprise, surprise, "Rocky IV." The change of frontmen from the vocal-problem-plagued Dave Bickler to Jimi Jamison was complete, and totally under the radar.The band’s first album with Jamison, "Vital Signs," was a success for the band, peaking at number 16 on charts, thanks to the hits "I Can’t Hold Back" and "High On You." The record made Jamison an instant fan favorite, and the writing team of guitarist/keyboardist Jim Peterik and guitarist Frankie Sullivan were solidly footed into the business of writing hits.~ In the early-90s, the band re-teamed with Bickler after Jamison left the band to pursue a solo career.~The interesting part of this turn of events is that at one point, there were two versions of Survivor touring; Jamison was doing shows under the moniker, as was the original line-up. Peterik was so dismayed at the soap opera he left the group permanently.Fast forward to 2000, when Bickler left the group again and ultimately resulted in Sullivan re-establishing a partnership with Jamison to head up Survivor once more (Is it just me, or at this point does Survivor begin to sound suspiciously like a less popular version of Van Halen with its revolving door of lead singers?)This April, the band released "Reach," which, believe it or not, could be its finest yet. No trendy turntables were brought in, or a hot young producer to update the sound. Spinning the disc will transport fans right back to 1982. Standard 4/4 rock songs and ballads are what built the foundation of Survivor’s success, so smartly, they decided to embrace it.Sounds like the perfect way to go, right?Unfortunately, it ends up just the case of another bunch of musicians who can’t get it right.Details are murky, but as announced this week, Jamison is out again, and Robin McAuley of McAuley Schenker Group, better known as ‘MSG,’ has taken his place. Sole original Survivor member Frankie Sullivan is adamant that there are no bad feelings with any of his former bandmates, and that things are looking good for the current incarnation of the group as they tour this summer and prepare to release another CD next year.I guess if you consider playing Cornfest in Dekalb, Ill., next month as "looking good," the fact that Stallone is looking to fill a soundtrack to the sixth Rocky movie has to be extremely encouraging.
©DelcoTimes 2006