Archive for March, 2008


The Florida Room Is A Must Stop For WMC


I was chatting with my Ketchum colleague Shahrzad Nadizadeh about her weekend in Miami. She was a little disappointed because she didn’t get a chance to check out The Florida Room @ The Delano Hotel. Thanks to my “cousin” Jovar Andrews, I got a mid -week VIP run thru the room a couple of months ago and it is worth the drama. The room which was opened by Jovar and his cousin Lenny Kravitz was designed very well and mixes live music setup, DJ and lounge in a very fly Miami “speakeasy like” experience.


The design is 1950’s Cuba, Miami and Harlem and Jovan shared with me was done via Lenny’s company Kravitz Designs. Kravitz chose bronze mirrored ceilings, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and a Lucite grand piano that replicates the one in his home. The press release comments by Lenny echoed Jovar’s stories of a room he used to hang out with with his cousin as a youngster.

“My aunt had a place in her house where everyone played, hung out, listened to music and where all the fun was had, called the Florida room,” said Lenny Kravitz. “We decided to create a space with this theme in mind but that also had the feeling of the old piano lounges in the resorts back in the 50’s in Florida, Cuba and New York City. I love the rich musical history of Miami Beach. The Beatles, James Brown and Frank Sinatra all spent time here. We see the Delano as having this same kind of rich history and also took cues from this to envision the place I always wanted at the beach, but hasn’t existed here in a long time.”


So if you find yourself in Miami for WMC, go check out The Florida Room, tell Jovar you read it hear and maybe thru some “distant cousin” hookup you may even get a seat.


MF Sushi Buckhead Making Me Feel Like A Tourist


I went to go meet Dave Gates (Rowdy/Dallas Austin) and Dallas Austin at MF Sushi yesterday. They asked me to meet them at the Buckhead location. “Buckhead!” I screamed. “Come on now, you guys know I’m not a Buckhead fan.” Went ahead and took the trip up Peachtree and was pleasantly suprised by the newly launched MF Sushi located in this fresh new corridor/high end area at Peachtree and Piedmont. Everyone in Atlanta knows the other North Ave. MF was already the best in the city so I knew I was in store for some great food.


What owners Chris and Alex Kinjo have done to this location is amazing and you can be guaranteed to find me there often. Chris and Alex were the ultimate hosts and made the experience of eating sushi yesterday very VIP (didn’t hurt I was with the Rowdy crew). They made sure there was nothing that I could dream up that they couldn’t make. I found out that Chris is a trained and quite famous Sushi Chef and brother Alex has an art/design and web background which now explains the decor and ambiance. Of course DA didn’t show up, so in his stead, Gates and I went through plates and plates of sushi which seemed to arrive as fast as I could dream it up. For those of you who live outside of Atlanta and think that all we do here is eat fried chicken and sweet tea everyday, you should know that Atlanta and its eating scene is on fire right now. So next time someone comes to visit me, please stop asking me to take you to Glady’s Chicken and Waffles, and let’s go hang out with Chris and Alex who do Japanese with “southern hospitality.”


Truth About The Music Industry


I started this “invite only” reunion community called music1pointO for those of us who worked in the record business during the 80-90’s and I must say it has been great to reconnect with some legends of game. There would be no hip hop as we know it if not for most of the folks in this community. Came across a great post by David Paul from who is a SF legendary publisher of The Bomb Magazine.


The truth is that big business controls the types of music and artists that get exposure and become popular. The record industry is a $14 billion dollar business. The major record labels dominate 85% of the market when it comes to sales of Compact Discs. Leaving only 15% for the hundreds of independent record labels and thousands of artists out there. And when indies get too big or an artist starts making noise these major companies usually pick up the artist or label. This way they control the artist/label, get a percentage of the sales and keep competition to a minimum.

The Big Payoff (radio payola) : Ever wonder why you hear the same songs on the radio all the time? It’s because major record companies are paying radio stations thousands of dollars to play their records! That’s why you rarely, if ever, hear independent music on commercial radio. Most people don’t know that virtually all the pop and rock songs they hear on the radio have been paid for by the major record companies. The record labels pay millions of dollars a year to middlemen (independent radio promoters), referred to as “indies,” who in turn pass on some of that money to radio stations (they get a portion too), which accordingly play what the promoters ask/tell them to. In exchange for paying the stations an annual promotion budget ($100,000 for a medium- size market), the indie becomes the station’s exclusive indie and gets paid by the record companies every time that station adds a new song. Launching a single at rock radio can cost between $100,000 and $250,000. If the song’s a hit and gets played at hundreds of stations across the country (with added charges for multiple plays a day) the costs can skyrocket enormously. Mercury Nashville president Luke Lewis told attendees at a music conference that his label spent more than $1.5 million on promotion for a Shania Twain single that crossed over to pop radio! According to payola laws passed by Congress in 1960, it’s a crime for a station employee to accept payment for playing a song if the station fails to notify listeners about the financial arrangement. That’s partially the reason major record labels use huge indie promotion companies like Jeff McClusky and Associates and Tri State Promotions and Marketing, if shit ever happens the promoters will take the fall for it. But no one wants to rock the boat so everyone in the industry keeps their mouth shut and indies make tons of money for basically being nothing more than pay-off people. Overnighted packages stuffed with cash are shipped off to recipients with phony names, American Express money orders made out to programmers and sent to home addresses, travel and vacation packages… all of this is being used by major record labels and independent radio promoters to buy airplay of their songs on the radio. New and independent artists have no chance to receive airplay on radio and listeners are bombarded with the same music hour after hour. Who pays for all of this? The artist. Most record companies recoup their costs for independent promotion from the artist’s CD royalties – which of course would not be as high if they did not receive radio airplay. And, ironically enough, the radio stations pay as well, since money that might be used for promotions to build a larger audience is instead diverted into radio programmers’ personal bank accounts.

Big Fish Eat Little Fish (monopoly) : There are three companies that own most the radio stations in the US – EMMIS, Radio One and Clear Channel. Over the past two years the Clear Channel company has been on an acquisition binge, spending almost $30 billion on buying radio stations, concert venues and advertising companies. The company is building a “monopolistic multimedia empire” that has decreased competition, reduced consumer choice, and driven up ticket prices for concerts. Prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a radio company could only own 40 stations nationwide and only four in a particular market. Since that has changed Clear Channel now owns 1,170 radio stations nationwide! One out of every ten radio stations across the United States broadcasts under the Clear Channel’s banner and the company’s approximate 1,170 stations bill a full 20% of total industry revenue. Clear Channel broadcasts in every top ten market and in 47 of the top 50. These stations take to the airwaves across all 50 states, in almost every major market, reaching nearly every demographic. Clear Channel stations broadcast to over 110 million listeners every week. Clear Channel also acquired SFX Entertainment, the world’s largest promoter and producer of live entertainment events, including concerts, theater and sporting events. Clear Channel now owns 135 venues, producing 26,000 shows last year (attended by 62 million people) – 70% of the total “live concert” market! Buying entertainment giant SFX cost Clear Channel $4.4 billion, making it instantly the nation’s biggest promoter with $2 billion in live-event revenue a year. Clear Channel Outdoor owns over half a million outdoor displays (770,000 billboards) around the world. This gives them and their customers the ability to, as they state on the Clear Channel website “reach over half of the entire U.S. population and over 75% of the entire U.S. Hispanic population”. Outdoor is more than just billboards, other products they provide include; bulletins, posters, street furniture, airport displays, convenience store posters, mall displays, mass transit displays and mobile ads.

Product Placement (retail co-ops) : Isn’t it great when you can buy your favorite artist or a new CD on sale at the record store. Ever notice those special displays (called endcaps) at the entrance, window or at a prime location in a large record chain store. Guess what? It’s not the store that is putting it on sale, record companies have to pay to have it on sale in the store. This is what is called a Retail Co-Op and it works like this. For example if a label wants to put one of it’s new CD’s on sale in a ‘un-named’ chain store they would have to pay about $3,000 to have it’s CD in 100 of its’ stores. In exchange for the $3,000 the Chain store would bring in around 1,300 units and give them good placement in the stores, put them on sale and feature them in their listening stations in those 100 stores for one month. There are many different Co-Op programs with independent and major chain stores and they can be very expensive. There are a few problems with this system. First, for the record label it does not guarantee that the CD’s the store brought in will sell. And since stores do not ‘buy” but take product on ‘consignment’ it is all 100% returnable (see Retail Returns below). Second, major record labels spend so much money on Retail Co- Ops so that stores bring their product that stores aren’t left with much money in their monthly budget to bring in independent music.

the big “R” (retail returns) : Most people think that a ‘return’ means that someone returned a CD to a record store because of a defect. That is called a return but in the record business ‘returns’ means something else – death. Music stores do not buy CD’s and then sell them. They take CD’s, sell what they can and return the rest – only paying for what sold. And there usually isn’t a time frame so a company can return CD’s to a label/distributor even a year or more later, usually with cracked jewel cases and all stickered up. The problem with this is record stores/ chain stores can (and do) over-order a release because they can always return it. In January of 2000 Bomb Hip-Hop did a Co-Op program with Best Buy for the “Return of the DJ-Volume III” cd (catalog #BHH2040). The cost was $2,725 to have Endcaps (pricing positioning) in 34 West Coast stores (Region 8 – CA. and AZ.) with print ads in 6 weekly mags. They brought in a total of 1,306 units but returned 1,171 of those only “selling” 135 units. They returned 89% percent of the CDs! The distributor made money, the retailer made money and Bomb Hip-Hop lost money from the program. Returns can kill any record label.

Too Greedy (price gouging) : Major record labels and retail chains stores have become too greedy by charging $18-19 for a CD that usually doesn’t have more than 3 good songs on it. Universal priced Ja Rule’s album Pain Is Love with a sticker price of $19.98! But it is not always the record label overcharging. In the past Bomb Hip-Hop has found it’s releases in stores priced $2-$4 higher than the suggested retail price. The price to the store (wholesale price) is based on the suggested retail price. For example a $16.98 list price CD is sold to stores for $11 per loose CD or $10.79 per CD by the box (usually 30 CD’s in a box). These chain stores that price the CD at $18.98 will probably not sell very many because it is priced to high for underground hip-hop and/or a new artist. These stores do not care because in the end whatever they took is 100% returnable. If cd’s were sold in stores for $10 a pop I think cd sales would be doing okay.

In Conclusion (the end) : There are approximately 27,000 music titles released every year. Of the 7,000 “new” titles released every year by major labels less than 10% are profitable. Major record labels sign only what they hope will sell, jumping on the latest trend and flooding the market with sound-alikes. Everything radio and video shows play sound and look like they came off an assembly line. Major record companies focus on radio-friendly and videogenic acts and unfortunately exclude new and experimental artists and genres of music. Consumers have become lazy and in turn are easily brainwashed by what they hear on the radio, see on tv and read in magazines. People need to be more educated and take a pro-active approach to music. Seek out new artists and new types of music, don’t let big business influence and control what you think is good music or what you purchase. Take what you have just read and inform others of what you have learned – each one teach one. Much respect to all starving artists and independent companies, you are not forgotten and you are appreciated. Keep what you’re doing and have fun making music.


Nike + Black History Month + My Feet = Very Fresh!


I know, I know Black History Month ended, although I overheard a clearly clueless guy ask this woman, “isn’t that in March.” I mean, how do you not know it is Black History Month, the marketing alone is everywhere. I digress, so I was pleasantly suprised when I received my package from Nike last week with a fresh pair of Black History Month AF1’s. My letter read that these shoes are the “4th Edition of the Black History Month Shoe” and that this particular shoe was honoring “Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism.” The earthly mud colors and inspirational Carter G. Woodson words lasered onto the sock liners make this shoe a show piece. The letter was signed by my new (the other being Howard White) Nike “Uncle” Larry Harper (VP, US Regions). Somehow I feel like Nike’s V.S. had something to do with this as well. Whoever sent me these shoes I say thank you and Happy Black History Month.


Best Geek Hotels

Pod Hotel came out with the list of Best Geek Hotels in the world and I’m calling Dianne Preyor at HRG Travel now to make sure we get these on the list! The Pod Hotel has a social network that connects you with other guests in a social network (a tad scary, but slightly cool).


Make Your Own Obama Logo, With Your Face

Make Your Own Obama Logo, With Your Face

I just did an interview today where I cited how incredible of a job Obama’s campaign is doing utilizing the newest and greatest in tools. Whether it is FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook or now Logobama, someone is working behind the scenes to make sure this campaign is completely in step with current digital trends/toys/tools.



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