CDs May Be Dead, But Rock 'n' Roll Lives On

JUSTIN ROHRLICH  NOV 13, 2009 8:25 AM in Minyanville

Remember the good old days when bands made money from album sales? As a reasonably successful bassist who goes by the name Paul McCartney once said, “John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now, let’s write a swimming pool.’”

My, how things have changed. Scott Welch, manager of Alanis Morissette and LeAnn Rimes said, “The top 10% of artists make money selling records. The rest go on tour.” 

Other managers agree. “I look at a CD as part of the marketing of an artist, more than as an income stream,” manager Jeff Rabhan, told the Wall Street Journal. “It's the vehicle that drives the tour, the merchandise, building the brand, and that's it."

Album sales fell to 428.4 million in 2008 from 500.5 million a year earlier according to Nielsen SoundScan. But this is more of a worry big labels like Sony (SNE) than it is for Apple(AAPL), which recently exceeded one billion downloads from iTunes, or for the bands themselves.


New from The Red Clay Ramblers: "Old North State"

Red Clay Ramblers Old North StateThe Ramblers pay tribute to the great state of North Carolina in a new collection of southern songs and Tar Heel tunes, subtly titled Old North State. The boys cover the bases from Murphy to Manteo, with fiddle tunes, rare "old" songs, plus "new" classics and a suite for string band and NC State Toast sheet musicorchestra, if you can believe it. Download the free sheet music to the NC state Toast, give yourself something to sing and play in your parlour after supper!

Red Clay Rambler Artist Page / Free Sheet Music Download: NC State Toast artists to fans!

 Quoting a release in p2pnetnews:

p2pnet news view | P2P | Music:- The a2f2a (artists-to-fans-to-artists) site is coming along nicely.

It’s now pretty well set up and going through the tweaking process. With luck, it’ll be online by Wednesday.

A joint venture between artist-activist Billy Bragg and p2pnet’s Jon Newton, the idea is to bring artists and fans together, instead of keeping them apart,  which is corporate music policy.

Chris Ovenden is doing all the hard work customising the blog.

The slogan is Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman from Billy’s  ‘Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards’.

Meanwile, I just had a quick word with Billy. He’s in Basque country in Spain, as part of his current tour, and while we were talking, he mentioned his pet project — Jail Guitar Doors to, “provide instruments to those who are using music as a means of achieving the rehabilitation of prison inmates.”

It takes its name from the b-side of the Clash’s 1978 single ‘Clash City Rockers’.

This  is the kind of thing you never hear about from the major labels.

Another example is Bill Hudson’s Feel Good Music Network created to recycle and distribute musical instruments and healing with live concerts  in the storm ravaged Gulf Coast area.

You’ll read about these and other initiatives in a2f2a, showing how artists and fans can together make online music work for everyone, instead of a few venal vested-interest companies whose only interest  is in making their shareholders even richer than they are already.

Stay tuned.


Jon Newton – p2pnet


New Release: Malcolm Holcombe's "For the Mission Baby"

For the Mission Baby is a brilliant adventure into stimulating stories of unvarnished life expression full of heart, soul and mystery from a master. - Ray Kennedy, producer (Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson)

Ready for a September 29th release, Malcolm is offering a free preview to efolkMusic visitors- click here for full length preview of "A Bigger Plan", and go to Malcolm's efolkMusic page for more previews and info about the album. Great work, Malcolm!

Mike Seeger: American Folk Revivalist and Historian

From a Smithsonian Folkways tribute:

Old-time rural music remains at the center of my life. It's a tactile, emotional, aural pleasure — the words are my Shakespeare and my mysteries, the music is my Bach, my pastime, and it makes me want to dance...Classic, timeless qualities in this music endure. For me, there ain't no way out but nature, and I'll make the most of it. -Mike Seeger (from the liner notes to the 1997 albumThere Ain't No Way Out by The New Lost City Ramblers)

 Mike Seeger, who devoted his life to documenting, teaching, keeping alive, and carrying forth the sounds of traditional music of the American South, died from cancer August 7th, 2009 at the age of 75.

N.E.D.: No Evidence of Disease

They're six doctors you hope to never meet in a hospital. They are gynecologic oncologists, charged with guiding women (and their families) through cancer diagnoses.

But this conference would reveal another breakthrough — the creation of a rock band with a purpose: N.E.D. The name of the band itself-No Evidence of Disease-represents the hope that every gynecologic oncologist has for every patient: at the end of treatment the disease will be gone.

The mission of the band is to enhance knowledge about gynecologic cancers and bring hope through rhythm for women undergoing treatment. The doctors strongly believe music heals. In fact, more than 250 journal articles report findings investigating the beneficial effects of music on pain, anxiety or depression. In a recent study at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, investigators found that patients who received music therapy while undergoing chemotherapy reported 37% less mood disturbance than other patients and 28% less anxiety. Other studies have shown that music can assist patients in coping with difficult illnesses. N.E.D. is focused on using music to convey this comfort.

Bad News

CD SalesWoah! Here's a sobering stat for musicians: "According to data from the Recording Industry Association of America, since music sales peaked in 1999, the value of those sales, after adjusting for inflation, has dropped by more than half. "

That's from an article in the NY Times, chock full of sorry news for anyone in the music biz. Here's the worst of it: out of the 13 million songs for sale online, 10 million never got a single buyer. 80% if revenue came from .4% of the tracks.

Read it and weep. Then take a cruise around the listen/download section at efolkMusic, and consider supporting our efforts to keep the good music from being swept under the rug.

New and Notable: Levon Helm Releases "Electric Dirt"

Electric Dirt (Dirt Farmer Music/Vanguard Records) is the second album in the last two years Levon Helm: Electric Dirtfrom American musical treasure Levon Helm. Its predecessor, Dirt Farmer, his first solo LP in a quarter century, followed Levon’s near-miraculous recovery from throat cancer, and as such represented a new lease on life for the legendary artist, who rose to prominence as the drummer and vocalist for Levon and the Hawks, which later became The Band.

Levon enlisted his old friend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Allen Toussaint to join the Levon Helm Band. Toussaint first worked with The Band on 1971's 'Cahoots,' on which he arranged the New Orleans-style horns for "Life Is a Carnival." They followed up that successful collaboration with an extended partnership for 1972's double-live album 'Rock of Ages.'

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