Archive for February, 2009

Under Pressure

February 27, 2009

I received a late night call from a friend last night.  As most can attest, I have a tendency to be awkwardly shy during first impressions.  In general, I don’t open up to many people and usually have a hard time putting my finger on why certain friends became more than acquaintances.

In high school, my group and I prided ourselves on being the “smart classes” kids that actually liked sports and having fun.  We thought we weren’t nerds (even though we totally were and still are) and valued afternoon pick-up games, late-night mooning, abrupt/strange noises, and GPAs.  College made me realize that there were a lot of people that fell into those categories.

As pompous as this might sound, I think that one of the more important characteristics of my closest friends is that the majority of them are slightly more immune to peer pressure.  The call last night reinforced this belief.  I hope that they would say the same for me.  Either way, I love them for avoiding the herd and thinking for themselves.

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Where There is a Sea, There are Pirates

February 27, 2009

After the TM/Live Nation post yesterday, I’ll continue with the music industry theme again today.  I was forwarded this interesting article by Jens Roland regarding piracy’s role in the decline of the record sales over the past decade.  Although I don’t think there is any way one can exclude piracy from the “blame game” discussion, Jens provides some thoughtful insight on other contributors that aided in the deterioration.

I have no doubt that the industry’s structure will drastically change in the next decade.  I wish that I had the solution now…

Merger Talks

February 26, 2009

With good reason, there has been a lot of discussion around my office lately on the implications of the proposed merger of our parent company Ticketmaster with Live Nation. About a week after the announcement, Congress (unsurprisingly) decided to getting involved, with the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee announcing a February 24 hearing to examine the deal and what it would mean for both end consumers and the future of the concert business.

If you’re looking for a way to kill two hours, you can stream the hearing and read the testimonies here; the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy has also announced a similar hearing scheduled for today, February 26.  A large portion of the first hearing centered around the Springsteen/Ticketsnow debacle, which anyone that knows me would know was a sensitive subject at the time (I got my Greensboro tickets for the tour so disaster avoided!).

Personally, all the recent drama has been very interesting to follow, considering that I’ve always been a huge fan of the concert experience, I now work in the industry, and I spent my last two collegiate years in business classes.  The merger raises both horizontal and vertical issues, and the potential horizontal costs of the merger will have to be weighed against the potential vertical benefits.

I believe the Springsteen incident highlighted how a large portion of the general public doesn’t fully understand how the ticketing process works.  Fans justifiably want their desired tickets at a reasonable price to see their favorite artist on tour and the only company seemingly standing in their way is Ticketmaster.  The Ticketmaster brand has suffered dramatically over the years as a result of being the final component facing the end user for the rest of the equally guilty group involved in the tour planning.  This process may not be entirely fair, but it was a decision Ticketmaster agreed to take when the decision was made to tack on convenience fees outside of the perceived ticket price instead of making them entirely inclusive.

I am not going to get into my personal opinion of the whole ordeal, but I thought I’d share some interesting takes that I’ve read so far that might help shine some light on the process to those with less of a background.  The official hearing video linked above provides a lot of insight from the panelists, but I got the vibe that the Congressmen involved didn’t do enough homework before coming to a fairly biased opinion entering the hearing.  Check out popular industry commentator Bob Lefsetz’s opinion on the newly appointed leader and the merger.  There was also an interesting article on Irving recently published in the Wall Street Journal.

For a scholarly take on the whole merger, I highly recommend checking out Vanderbilt’s Luke Froeb’s written testimony to the House Subcommittee.  Froeb is a professor at Vanderbilt’s Owen Business School and used to head the review arm of the FTC.  The House asked him to testify on the proposed deal, and his statement provides a really easy-to-understand look at mergers and acquisitions.

After watching the first hearing, Congress doesn’t seem head over heels about the merger.  Regardless, the industry is going to need to come up with some viable answers eventually…

Dancing It Up Across the World

February 24, 2009

I’m sure a lot of people have already seen this, as it was really popular like over six months ago…but I wanted to make sure I included it on the new site for my own reference. I definitely hope that traveling like this guy will be an option in my future. You should definitely read his back story before watching.

Magnificent

February 24, 2009

So as most of you have probably heard, U2’s No Line On the Horizon leaked last week.  There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the album after the first single was received with a lukewarm response. “Get On Your Boots” is one of those ridiculous first singles in the vein of “Vertigo” that the band has felt inclined to release for the last decade or so. In my opinion, these stupid early singles have resulted in a huge misconception of what the band is all about from a younger demographic.

Say what you want about Bono, but U2 is one of the most important bands of the past 30 years. They rocked harder than anyone into the early 90s and I will always have a special place in my heart for them. I’ve become somewhat frustrated with the past few pop heavy releases, and I was worried that No Line On the Horizon was going to be more of the same. I still need to listen to the album a few more times before I decide what I think of it as a whole, but the second track on the album (“Magnificent“) is definitely my favorite song of 2009 so far.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This song epitomizes why I fell in love with the band. Their Best of 1980-1990 is definitely my favorite greatest hits album by any band and “Magnificent” channels that famous old-school sound in a variety of ways:

  1. Bono is just a piece of the song’s puzzle, instead of coming off as some overwhelming, over-the-top leader. It reminds me of awesome Unforgettable Fire Bono.
  2. Edge rips it up (no big surprise) with one of the best licks he’s conjured up in years. The riff drifts in and out throughout the song with that euphoric sound he’s famously created, until an equally sweet, purring solo toward the end of the song. Nobody can touch The Edge’s sound…especially you, Angels and Airwaves.
  3. Larry is back! He’s drumming the crap out of the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” style. What a badass.
  4. Adam brings the thumping bass line that makes you want to dance and fist pump all at the same time. Yes, there’s a lot of heavy foot tapping going on as well.

CONCLUSION: I’m going to see this band on the next U.S. tour even if I have to drive several hours in the middle of the week to do so. Who’s coming with?!?

One Last Century

February 24, 2009

The Damnwells became a personal favorite with their 2006 album Air Stereo. Since discovering that album, I went back and searched their back catalog and enjoyed what I found there as well. I’ve anxiously awaited a new album ever since. Alex Dezen’s voice is one of the best in rock music today. It has this feeling of romanticism to it, but griddy at the same time (just like another rock musician I like to talk about)…

The band has had some member changes and Alex has moved on to teaching and studying fiction and creative writing. Fortunately, he hasn’t stopped writing songs…and for some awesome reason, the band is releasing their newest album One Last Century for free.

I definitely recommend downloading it.  It’s really cool that a band that I was legitimately waiting to buy the next album in stores decided to release it for free instead.  When asked why they decided to do this, here’s what Alex had to say:

I suppose the hardest thing to explain to people is why I’m giving this record away. “You’re just going to give it away?” seems antithetical to the human brain. “Is this just a bunch of b-sides or something? Some ‘give away’ material you don’t mind releasing into the ether?” No. Quite the contrary. I have never worked so hard or put so much of myself into a collection of recorded songs. It is for just this reason that I want to give it away.

To me it makes perfect sense. I just want people to hear this music, and I don’t want them to have to enter into some kind of contractual agreement with a third party to do so. Download the record, copy it and give it to your friends, lovers, and enemies. Whatever. It’s so hard these days just to get the actual music into people’s houses and cars, let alone their ears. Besides, I know everyone’s broke, maybe I can supply the soundtrack. So, I just want to give this music away because I want people to hear it. I should have done this years ago. I’m starting over.

Enjoy, Alex Dezen

Very cool. I hope you enjoy…and even if you don’t, pass along to anybody that you think might like it so the band can continue to gain more exposure.

I’m Ready, I Am

February 23, 2009

I’ve never done a very good job of documenting my thoughts, and I’m entirely too lazy to ever even consider maintaining a handwritten journal.

I do see myself as the kind of guy that will want to be able to go back years from now and look at what I was thinking and talking about during this new phase of life (the transition from college to whatever you want to call this stage that’s come after graduation).

When I’m down, my parents always tell me how this “chapter” was one of the hardest periods of their lives.  I can honestly see that holding true for me as well.  With that in mind, I don’t want to just say “you’ll get through it” and/or “things will get better with time” to my kids some day (as much as I appreciate hearing it from my parents right now).  In the back of my mind, I know that it’s probably true that things will get better with time though, and I will have forgotten about the day-to-day aspects of entering adulthood.  Essentially, that’s what this website is all about.

I don’t know what this will turn into, but I want to be able to go back and see what I liked, cared, and thought about during these “growing pain” years.  If I’ve sent you the link to this blog, it’s because I consider you a friend and hope to be sharing these “glory days” stories with you years from now.  Inspired by the words of one of my favorite bands, this will be me trying to find truth in words, in rhymes, and notes…

Thanks for reading.