May 24, 2005
Steve Miller, Incorporated

There's something amusing about the concept of Steve Miller being the CEO of his own musical moneymaking empire.

He entered the rock pantheon as a joker, smoker and midnight toker.

But sitting in a business suit in front of 400 corporate executives, Steve Miller's message had more to do with knowing how to take the money and run.

"I love playing, but you can't get to the good stuff unless you keep an eye on the business," said Miller, immediately after speaking at a business conference put on by the Hackett Group, an Atlanta-based corporate research and advisory firm.

The singer known for hits like The Joker, Fly Like an Eagle and Take the Money and Run was part of a roster of presentations that included Benchmarking for Competitive Advantage and Generating a Return on Compliance Efforts.

Miller's speech underlies a truth that's become more obvious recently rock 'n' roll is big business and, hard-living stereotypes aside, the rockers who succeed over the long run are the ones paying attention to their finances.

Which would you rather hear, a presentation on Generating a Return on Compliance Efforts or Take the Money and Run for the one billionth time? It's a tough call. Maybe if there were donuts at the presentation.

One can make jokes all day about this. My real purpose for linking to this story is to vent about the following bit of media bias:

Experts say changes in the industry are requiring artists to be even more mindful of ways to market themselves, and their music, to the public. Thanks to Internet downloads, album sales have been dropping steadily for the past five years. Concert attendance is down.

Emphasis mine. This is pure, unadulterated industry spin. At the very least, the conclusion that downloads = reduced sales is controversial, and there's research which shows the opposite is true. Shame on the AP editor that allowed this to be stated as a bald fact.

I've ranted many times before about how the kind of station that Steve Miller fans would tune in to would never under any circumstances play any new music by Steve Miller, and how that in my opinion is at least as big a drag on new music sales as anything else. I'll leave you with this quote from an author of the study about downloading:

Our research shows that people do not download entire CDs. They download a few songs, typically the hits that one would also hear on a Top 40 station. This suggests that P2P is much like the radio, a great tool to promote new music. The music industry has of course long recognized that giving away samples of music for free over the airwaves can stimulate sales. The same seems to hold for P2P.

The problem with radio as a promotional tool is that it can be quite expensive for labels to get radio stations to play their music. P2P networks are promising because they make the market for music promotion more competitive. From the perspective of the music industry, the more competition among P2P services, the less costly it will be to promote music.

Draw your own conclusions. You know where I stand.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 24, 2005 to Music | TrackBack

What Steve Miller is doing is what Gene Simmons has been doing this for years with KISS. The band oversees all of its own marketing and licensing of products bearing its name.

To say that Internet downloads are hurting the music industry is somewhat similar to the film industry arguing that TV was hurting it in the early 1950's, or that baseball was being hurt by radio in the 1930's. In both cases, it turned out that the newer medium (TV and Radio) was actually an effective marketing tool for the older one (movies and baseball). I think the music industry is starting to catch on to this and is beginning to use ITunes and Napster to their advantage.

Posted by: William Hughes on May 24, 2005 8:56 AM

"The problem with radio as a promotional tool is that it can be quite expensive for labels to get radio stations to play their music". Ya mean they pay for play?? Kinda of like gatorade paying for shelf space at Kroger???

This reminds me of the line from "North Dallas Forty" where John Matuszak corners Charles Durning and yells "every time I call it a sport, you call it a business; every time I call it a business you call it a sport". Just substitute art or music for sport and there ya go.

Posted by: cacafuego on May 24, 2005 10:09 AM

Let's review: Exactly WHY did Kurt Cobaine commit suicide?

Posted by: Randy Scott on May 24, 2005 1:27 PM