1. Michael Rapino
Is the fact that he’s too young to have experienced the golden age a plus
or a minus? Does the fact that he didn’t stay up all night listening to
underground FM radio and going to Grateful Dead concerts mean he just
doesn’t possess the soul, the DNA, or does it mean he’s not burdened by
history and he can innovate in ways the oldsters can’t?
Rapino sits atop the big kahuna, Live Nation. That’s where the money is
these days, touring. And he’s got the biggest operation. Rapino is where
you get paid.
Can Rapino break acts?
Can Rapino eliminate the heinous convenience/ticketing fees that hurt our
He’s the one with the power, let’s see how he executes.
As for the stock price and Artist Nation…
Unfortunately, Rapino and Cohl are looking to cash out. We wish they were
long term players, but that doesn’t decrease their power. And Cohl always
seems to resurface anyway. But if you’re looking for Live Nation to be
the new record company, I wouldn’t count on it. Because big acts don’t
need record companies and presently selling music isn’t a growth
2. Steve Jobs
I don’t really think he gives a shit about music. He seems to care more
about movies. Hell, he helped invent a new medium, computer animated
features, with Pixar. We don’t see him starting a new kind of record
But the iTunes Music Store is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where
the transaction happens. And that’s why he’s got power.
Furthermore, Jobs controls the player. The iPod dominates.
If Jobs suddenly said subscription rental was the future, and available
at the iTunes Store, where you sync your iPod, that formula would
burgeon, but it still wouldn’t dominate. Yet, he has the power.
3. Irving Azoff
When Irving was building the present Frontline empire he told me his goal
was to build a monolith so powerful that when the major labels wouldn’t
do something because it was "against their policy", he could counter that
a certain procedure/deal point was against HIS/FRONTLINE’S policy.
But who could foresee the slip in label power in this century. Now Irving
manipulates the label, when he wants to use one at all. He sold the
"Warner" piece of Frontline to Barry Diller and then up and sold Warner
With Irving it’s not a matter of trust, he’s just smarter than just about
everybody else. And accessible. And charming. And the other managers hate
him for it.
Irving’s got the power in an era where the manager dominates. Hell,
Irving’s partner Howard Kaufman has got Rapino tied in a knot. Rapino
NEEDS Howard’s acts, to fill his buildings.
You want to know the future of this business? Watch Irving.
And his artists trust him…
4. Randy Phillips
Touring can’t be stressed enough. AEG is perched at the absolute top of
the pyramid. They’re about touring guaranteed moneymakers. They’re not
full-service like Live Nation, but they’re very profitable, and a power
that can outbid LN.
Great work with the O2, turning a white elephant into a first class
venue. And now Coachella’s going to operate on the east coast too!
5. Rob Light/Marc Geiger/Chip Hooper
They couldn’t be more different, but they’re all extremely powerful.
You might not see Chip’s name in the paper, but he controls the jam band
world, starting with the Dave Matthews Band. And these acts might not be
sexy, but they have unending grosses, they can tour forever and people
want to see them.
Rob Light has built CAA into a monolith, even though many felt that when
the prior generation left, i.e. Tom Ross, CAA would falter.
Marc Geiger’s probably the most innovative thinker in the agency
business, one of the most insightful in all the music business. He lost
everybody’s money with ArtistDirect, but he didn’t lose his smarts. And
somehow he’s been able to rebuild Lollapalooza as a weekend, destination
Don’t curry favor with your A&R guy. Hell, your record label PRESIDENT is
less important than your agent. Your agent will get you paid. And your
label head might not even be able to break you. Acts are broken on the
road. And those acts that aren’t, that are build on Top Forty airplay and
television, don’t last and can’t do much business playing live, and
therefore make less money and are less important.
6. Guy Hands
If he runs the smallest label and his star acts are pissed at him, how
come he’s so powerful?
Because he’s the one angling for change. He’s got no history in this
business, no allegiance to anything, he’s starting with a fresh slate.
He’s the one who’s going to try shit that makes a difference.
Some of his ideas are stupid. Like branding a corporation with a
song/act. It shows he has no idea of the true power of music, of people’s
relationship to it. Yet, despite his stumbles, he doesn’t want to fail,
he wants to come up with good ideas. He’s less worried about Best Buy and
all the old powers the business has been beholden to. He’s looking to the
future, not the past. Watch him.
7. Ian Rogers
MySpace and Facebook get all the ink, but Yahoo Music is the number one
music site on the Web. And the Web is where you break records.
8. Music Blogs
We’ll even put Pitchfork here too. This business was built by, and is
sustained by, rabid fans. Rabid fans scour the Web for information on
their favorite acts and new acts. Too many sites are started with the
profit motive first, and that’s why they’re untrustworthy. Hell, that’s
why MySpace has got such a bad name. And Mark Zuckerberg is doing a good
job fucking up Facebook too.
Music bloggers do it for the love of music. They can be trusted. Profit
is secondary. Are blogs the new radio? If not quite, they show a pathway
to the future, where it’s about being turned on by love, not hype.
9. Pandora/LastFM/Net Radio
I don’t listen to any of them on a regular basis. I’m a firm believer in
satellite radio. I like pros picking my music. But it seems that most of
the public is not with me, they don’t want to pay. If XM and Sirius
merge, and they probably will, since the Whole Foods/Wild Oats deal went
through, there’s a chance satellite will become the new cable. Ultimately
dominant over time. But right now, it doesn’t look that way.
Traditional, terrestrial radio is toast. When it comes to music. It’s not
where the active music consumer goes. Because of the calcified playlists
and the endless commercials. Sure, you can break an act on terrestrial
radio, but that’s the old model, that’s payoffs and hype. It’s not about
the audience, but the powers-that-be. Those radio records have less
impact than ever and the acts have briefer careers. Sure, it can be quick
money, but it’s not the future.
The future is niche, narrowcasting. And you get this on Net
radio. The majors are fighting it because they don’t like its openness,
the lack of control. But it’s what the people want.
Ubiquitous Net radio is not in the immediate future. We don’t have either
WiMax or Net-capable cars. But both are what the public want. And
eventually the technology will catch up with what the people desire.
10. Doug Morris
If only he exercised his power for GOOD! Instead of being a bad traffic
cop wanting to write tickets for everybody going five miles an hour over
the speed limit.
Doug thinks it’s about breaking records on radio, seeing if they react at
retail. He’s old school, he hates the future. He and his compatriot Zach
Horowitz are single-handedly holding back the future of compensation for
recorded music. They just want a check. They don’t understand Google,
that you have to know where in the food chain to charge, that the most
important thing is hooking the public on your wares, then figuring out a
way to monetize.
NOT ON THIS LIST
Old school player massages records which ultimately sell the old way.
Clive’s got no business innovation, and all those acts he’s building are
selling ever less. If only he broke a plethora of acts, of all stripes.
If only he didn’t meddle in the creative process. If only he was about
the future as opposed to the Clive business, then he’d truly be powerful.
A story on the cover of the "New York Times Magazine" does not make you
Has done nothing, and probably never will. A bad mistake on the part of
Rob Stringer, who has to worry about Clive and the Germans breathing down
the neck of his unsuccessful business.
Live Nation pulls its ticketing and then you buy a reseller?
Whose side are you on?
TicketMaster is only about the money, it gives nothing back while
continually trumpeting how great its service is.
There’s no innovation at TM, just endless service charges.
Soon they’ll only be selling a handful of CDs, and then none at all. And
they failed with their online store. Stop being so afraid of them.
A sad, sad story. If only he were less combative and less about
announcing deals and more about putting points on the board.
There were only ten places. If there were twenty, Kevin would have made
it. The Warped Tour is a juggernaut that never seems to fade. It’s a rite
of passage for teenage boys.
Is it a celebrity magazine or a music magazine?
All print is dying. And "Rolling Stone"’s Website sucks.
Jann Wenner may swing his dick at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, but now
that Madonna’s being inducted, that institution has lost all credibility.
Shit, we need a NEW HALL!
One of the most innovative thinkers in the business, but then why did
Nettwerk need a cash infusion from MAMA?
Terry says that Barenaked Ladies made more money than if they were on a
major label, but their tour grosses are bad and their profile is
Keep watching Terry. But I’m not sure he’ll lead you to the future. Or,
maybe he’s just going to lead you there too soon.
The MTV tie-in worked for Rock Band, but not Rhapsody.
The public doesn’t understand it, doesn’t think it needs it, and the
interface and hand-held players suck.
There’s something here, but the public doesn’t know what it is, do they,
Zune… Have you been to the social?
Music, when done right, is cool. Microsoft HAS NEVER been cool.
A circle jerk. You don’t break bands there, you just show the usual
suspects what your priorities are. Stay home.
I’d almost want to put them on this list. Because they’ve illustrated
that what people want most is meat and potatoes rock and roll. But that’s
just not sexy enough for major labels. They need what’s hip, executives
need to impress their friends. Daughtry is Nickelback one step removed.
How come there aren’t a ton more Nickelback and Daughtrys? Maybe with
better material, but playing down home rock and roll?
Many no longer trust it. Its accuracy is in question. How well does it
track indie stores, how about gig sales…sales from Websites?
A barometer that’s losing power every day. Shit, one can just go to the
iTunes Store and see what’s hot.
They need to bring Timothy White back from the dead, it’s the only thing
that can save them. Certainly their endless conferences won’t do the
He’s no longer at DefJam, his album didn’t sell well and Steve Jobs won
With Jay-Z hobbled and Russell Simmons turning into a joke, as he
preaches new age bullshit, who will raise and fly the flag of rap?
Maybe Dr. Dre. He’s still got the cred, and he was never flashy. But we
need someone new…
It’s just not sexy. It’s purely utilitarian. It’s the big box compared to
Apple’s "indie" iTunes Store. Log on to iTunes and you feel a coolness.
There’s no coolness at Amazon, it will never dominate the sphere.
As for building a competitor to iTunes… If sale by track was the future,
the business wouldn’t be in such shit shape. But digital sales don’t make
up for the CD shortfall. There has to be a new way to monetize digital, a
bucket of tracks for a certain price, P2P trading licenses… Maybe Guy
Hands can show some innovation in this area.
Sure, music video moved to the Web, but once MTV was the heartbeat of
music, the powerhouse that broke acts. Now it’s endless reality TV, with
shit ratings, competing against every other outlet on cable/satellite.
They lost their soul. And soul is the most important element. You can
branch out, go for the easy money, but at some point you’re not going to
stand for anything anymore, you’re going to lose your specialness and
find that your hard core audience, that you felt was inviolate, that you
could depend on, is gone.