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Perspective, pings and other things relevant to our world

Who says record stores are yesterday's news?

April 26, 2010

Music sales surged at America’s third annual Record Store Day, held on April 17th to encourage fans to rediscover local music shops. 

Compared to the prior week, overall U.S. album sales in the independent sector increased 12 percent, including a substantial 119 percent uptick in vinyl sales for the weekend and an even heftier 529 percent growth in vinyl single sales according to Nielsen SoundScan figures.  Acts from the Black Keys to Soundgarden to Bruce Springsteen released exclusive vinyl singles, part of the nearly 175 limited vinyl and CD releases offered in the U.S. for Record Store Day.  Nielsen SoundScan also recounted that overall album sales were up three percent on a year-over-year basis, while chain music stores saw a seven percent R.S.D. sales gain this year. 

Congratulations to everyone involved, including the 1,400 worldwide, and 800 U.S., participating stores, plus all the fans and bands who took part.  And remember, you don’t need a holiday to stop by a record shop and peruse new tunes.  Make any day Record Store Day by continuing to support local music retailers throughout the year. 

Liz Kennedy, Deputy Director, Communications, RIAA

Buy Local

April 14, 2010

April 17th marks the 3rd annual Record Store Day, a holiday held to celebrate and attract traffic to retail music stores.  And what, you might ask, does Record Store Day mean for you?  For starters, that this Saturday only, participating shops all over the country are offering limited edition vinyl and CD releases from bands like Ani DiFranco, Bruce Springsteen, MGMT and Neko Case, in addition to giving away various promotional products to folks just for stopping in.

Now we know that you love your iPod, Rhapsody and SiriusXM too (it’s all grand!), but why not get out and smell the roses this weekend by walking to a music store?  Perhaps you’re wondering if vinyl could work for you.  Or maybe you want a few new CDs for your car, or music videos for your DVD player.  Whatever the reason, consider stopping by a real record shop this weekend to celebrate music and the local retailers bringing it to you.

Beyond the chance of getting free giveaways (including some free American Apparel tee-shirts we donated) we also hear that  artists across the country (and globe) are planning  special in-store performances.  Bands like Alice in Chains at Gallery of Sound's Mundy Street store in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Drive-By Truckers at Harvest Records in Nashville, TN, Yo La Tengo at Rhino Records in Claremont, CA and plenty more. So get out, and be on the lookout for new music this Saturday at a Record Store near you!

Liz Kennedy, Deputy Director, Communications, RIAA

Is Touring Alone Enough?

April 09, 2010

Some industry observers like to suggest that efforts to address the theft of music online are somehow tantamount to efforts to maintain an “outdated business model” rather than to address forms of unfair competition based on illegal acts.  The suggestion is there are ample alternative mechanisms for generating revenues from music -- money from touring, selling merchandise like t-shirts, licensing music for commercials. 

Completely ignored are the pleas for enhanced copyright protection from artists and unions. Instead the handful of established artists for whom Internet anarchy works as an effective marketing tool are cited. Even more importantly, the reality of the marketplace is ignored in favor of theory. While touring and merchandise sales will work for some bands -- most notably big bands that “made it” in the 80’s, 90’s or earlier (and built on the back of touring support from music labels) -- it is exceedingly challenging for other bands to generate sufficient income just from touring, and touring support from the labels is rapidly disappearing.  Check out this article in BBC News about UK rock band Doves.  And of course, without brand/name recognition, merchandise sales are commercially irrelevant. 

One last question:  how is generating revenue from licensing of music to sell other products more socially useful than the sale of music itself?  It seems to me that this is the worst of all worlds, one in which all artistry will not be rewarded -- and one in which only music that works well in selling diapers and cars will be commercially produced. Is this supposed to sustain the diversity of music that we want? Would we have Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, the Sex Pistols under this kind of system for compensating artists? Not remotely. Exactly what kind of product licensing would have sustained the Smiths or Nirvana?  Was there anything on Springsteen's first record that would have drawn the attention of advertising companies? In fact, we never would have had Elvis (either one)! This is an alternative universe in which I would not care to live.

Neil Turkewitz, EVP, International, RIAA

Isn't He Lovely

April 08, 2010

Throughout the years the RIAA has been fortunate to team with some exceptional charities and organizations (Feeding America, Bread for the City and more) to do our part to raise awareness and funds for the important work each does.  Last month we did just that by hosting a kick off reception for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) on the eve of the group’s annual leadership gala in Washington.  Our event, held at the RIAA’s D.C. headquarters, featured guests such as famed fashion designer Betsey Johnson and celebrated 20 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the AAPD's 15th anniversary.  At the gala the next night, multi-Platinum music legend Stevie Wonder was presented with the first ever AAPD Image Award for acting as an example to help improve the way people with disabilities are perceived by society.  To learn more about the important work of the AAPD check out its website here.


Mitch Glazier, EVP, RIAA, The Honorable Tony Coelho, Chair, AAPD Board of Directors, Music legend Stevie Wonder, Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of AAPD, and Michele Ballantyne, SVP, RIAA

Credit: Paul Morigi/AAPD

Liz Kennedy, Deputy Director, Communications, RIAA

Video Tributes To Music's Value

April 01, 2010

A compelling collection of recently-launched web films from musicians and filmmakers in the U.S. and abroad share one common and important theme:  music has value.  Why now, why go legit?  Just look to the names of two campaigns for perspective: because “Music Matters” and “Stealing Music Sucks.”  

Music Matters (whymusicmatters.org) new music education campaign was introduced last week in England with noteworthy support from artists, legal services and other music community members.  The group introduced a series of short, creative videos on the work and lives of musicians past and present, all ending in the message:  “and that’s why music matters....”  What stood out about these films, and the stories they tell, was that we didn’t have to be familiar with each musician or band’s story to come to the agreeing conclusion that music, of course,  does matter.  Here are just a few:

Music Matters - Blind Willie Johnson (23-3-10) from Music Matters on Vimeo.

Music Matters - Sigur Ros (22-3-10) from Music Matters on Vimeo.

Music Matters - Louis Armstrong (23-3-10) from Music Matters on Vimeo.

Additionally, last fall the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) launched a Stealing Music Sucks campaign to encourage fans to think twice about where they get their music. As part of the project A2IM created two different but equally entertaining and influential short video PSAs.  We’ve posted them below.  If you like them and want to learn more about the campaign and musicians involved, visit a2im.org.