Monday, September 11, 2006

BOOTCAMPS AND TRENDS

Chicago! Terry Young on 60s on Six, salutes the Great Top 40 Stations of the 60's every Friday at 4pm Eastern. This coming Friday he's doing WLS in Chicago and Ron Riley, the legendary early evening DJ from '63 to about '68 will be joining Terry. Ron brought a massive box of "stuff" from that era at WLS. Being from Chicago and an avid WLS fan, I was asked to contribute some advertisers that would help make the thing authentic. Karroll's Red Hanger Shop, Mr. Norm's Grand Spalding Dodge, U.S, 30 Dragway with drivers like Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick...the list goes on. EVERY city always had those great local advertisers. "Dennisons A Men's Clothier" had an ad on the WABC All Night show in every break. That was a weird sponsor---an all night Men's clothing store. I hear they were eventually shut down because it was really a front for a Whore House. Some of the charm of those old stations were oddly enough the commercials. They had character. Often so bad they were good. Anyways, this WLS salute will be amazing for anyone from Chicago and interesting for anyone from the 60's. Terry does an incredible job literally recreating these great stations.

Dylan CD debuted at #1. In a future blog I'm going to address a theory regarding "cycles" of music where we tend to go through cycles of music change, integrity and revolution and music based on fashion and formula. In a nutshell: Revolutionary in 56 with R&B and Elvis...Formula in early 60's with the Bobby's (Rydell, Vinton Vee, etc..)...Revolutionary in 64 with British Invasion...Formula in Mid 60's with Paul Revere and the Raiders--fun but not exactly world changing...Revolutionary late 60's, Formulaic in the mid 70's, Revolutionary again in the early 80's...Fashion and Formula in the mid 80. etc....You get the idea. Interesting patterns we'll explore later. There are always exceptions, and an aggressive underground prepping the next "revolution", but in broad strokes, I find the cycles pretty accurate in a mainstream /commercial acceptance way. Another interesting theory" is artist commercial success levels. This "chart" deals with artists that are commercially successful (must separate that from good/bad). Both of these are "theories" that no doubt will be mis-interpreted, piss people off or taken WAY too seriously, but I think they are good thought starters:

--Breaking: Breaking big but will they be here next year? A bad CD can close down their career
--Emerged: Emerged as stars clearly. Can make bad CD and recover
--Cycle: Tour/CD/Tour/CD etc...For life. Totally established Stars...as long as they maintain their sound and keep working, they're money machines and the popular pulse of mainstream America
--Renaissance: Classic guys who are bigger than ever, Could do 250,000 in Grand Canyon w/HBO simulcast
--Untouchable. Once in a lifetime Gods...Beatles, Sinatra, Dylan
--Special Interest. Relatively small Audience, but extremely loyal and long term fan base: Marley, Enya, etc...
--Fashion Driven. It's all about the publicity machine and look more than music. Tend to have relatively short but extremely high profile careers
...more detail on this stuff later on someday. This stuff might be pretty useless in many respects, but personally I find these sorts of things interesting to look at and think about---at least they help, for me anyways, get a handle on what happenned, is happenning and may well WILL happen. More people in music and media should look INTO things instead of accepting what everyone else is doing or has done and living in the sheep mode.

ARE I-POD THE NEXT "VAN"?:
There's an interesting article in the London Guardian that indirectly affects us. (part of it below) It's about how the I-Pod specifically is SO popular it risks losing it's cool. It's like Vans. In 1975 Vans were totally cool. Musicians, hippies and cool people had Vans. Every FM station had to have a station Van because it was cool. Nowadays, Vans are hardly cool...they are a utility for the mainstream--The standard family vehicle (of course FM stations STILL have Vans, usually painted like circa 1985 mobile station 'ads'). The point being the challenge in staying cool while simultaneously become a mainstream product.


Why the iPod is losing its cool
Apple has added ever more extras to its digital music-player in a bid to stem falling sales. But fears are rising that the device is now too common to be cutting edge David Smith, technology correspondent
Sunday September 10, 2006The Observer

The Mermaid, Puddle Dock, is not the first place you might go in search of the cool and cutting edge. That will not stop an expectant crowd gathering at the conference centre in London's Blackfriars this week for a live satellite broadcast from San Francisco that could make or break one of the consumer icons of the Western world.
The iPod, the digital music player beloved of everyone from Coldplay's Chris Martin to President George Bush, is in danger of losing its sheen. Sales are declining at an unprecedented rate. Industry experts talk of a 'backlash' and of the iPod 'wilting away before our eyes'. Most disastrously, Apple's signature pocket device with white earphones may simply have become too common to be cool.
On Tuesday the eyes of iPod-lovers the world over will be on Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, when he seeks to allay fears that it could follow Sony's tape-playing Walkman into the recycling bin of history
.

BOOTCAMP is coming. we're doing another famous XM Bootcamp. We get everyone together and get into it. Below is a recently de-classified follow-up to the crew summarizing an old bootcamp we did (Early 2002 I think) You had to be there as this is a follow-up...but...:


Here is a condensed review of our meeting on Friday. Please ask if there are any questions or confusing points

In the early70's radio changed forever. The old "rules" were challenged and new rules emerged....it was a whole new ballgame. Totally....because suddenly FM came out of the closet, did radio on 1970's terms and won. Today, the scenario is extremely similar, as XM is the new FM. BUT----There are some major differences from the FM vs. AM Battle.

The reality is that we are learning about these differences and it affects our game plan. Not the creative game plan as much as in the level and quality of play. An FM in a toilet facility could limp along with sloppy radio and score well......we can't. We gotta be SO on the game. SO on it...SO focused! Know that:

***The expectations for a pay service are HIGH. People expect crap from free radio, but demand excellence, imagination, musical credibility and a totally non-terrestrial sound from us.

***FM listening might be 6-7 hours a week for a good station...we're getting ten times that. People are listening at AQH levels that are unheard of in FM.

***We aren't alone. There's another player out there trying to revolutionize radio too.

***We are in defining times. Comparative times. Bad time to save the best for later. Pull out the best now and keep improving on it


We are at a state of heightened competition. A time where tactics, reaction time, inter-department coordination and co-operation, and AFDI the details has never been more important. It is also the fun part. as we are entering a new era of dirt chewing competition


We are first, we are in control, but we must execute flawlessly and adjust where necessary, as well as be on alert in certain areas where we are, to some degree, vulnerable.

YOU KNOW THE AREAS WHERE WE NEED TO BE ON TOP OF THINGS....So We must act:

*Quickly. Time is not an ally.

*Smartly. There are comments coming at us from every angle..every chat board..Good and Bad. No time for knee-jerking

*Noticeably. If we adjust something...adjust it so it's noticed. Otherwise why bother. No FM denial adjustment here.

The Big Picture reaction?

1. Improve our music so we are better on EVERY Channel

2. Tune up Production so it REALLY makes a positive difference. Kick it up so we are less FM than ever.

3. Tune up presentation so we're always on. Efficient power raps that nail the info without going into mindless chatter land.

4. Communicate. Teamwork.

No-one, including myself are immune from responsibility to excel and clearly prevail in the programming battle.


While everyone knows the direction, Don't be afraid to ask for help. We nail YOU when something isn't right, so if you need help in executing anything...ask. THIS IS NOT A TIME FOR GUESSWORK, ASSUMPTIONS or ANYTHING SHORT OF CLEAR, SMART PROGRAMMING.

XM HAS CHOSEN A STYLE OF RADIO THAT WHEN DONE RIGHT---NEVER LOSES

BUT--IT IS A COMPLEX STYLE OF RADIO...AND RELATIVELY EASY TO TRIP OVER OURSELVES

kinda like the U.S. Military. Gulf War---Organized, focused, coordinated, on plan. Great PR
Viet Nam----A mess. Unfocused. Unclear. Bad PR support

That's why:

*We gotta AFDI the details of our plan

*We gotta work at perfection.

*We gotta work as a team. Across our department...across the entire company.

With our style or radio, there's little room for creative errors


Remember the Big 3:

MUSIC PASSION--Complete stations, energy, celebration, positive, LOVE music, ON TOP OF MUSIC, features, clever mixes, surprises and B Sides.

CHARACTER--Clearly not a jukebox, but smart about it....mindless talk without focus kills. Most people think many FM DJs are idiots. Why would we sound even remotely like them?

MUSCLE---National events...Big stuff...Think MTV not local radio. This is XM not some station in Anywhere USA . Think XM Scale.
This is one of the reasons we must super co-operate with other departments. To maximize the muscle of XM to spread the magic

Frankly, I think we've beaten FM in the creative area. It's just a matter of time. Now we have another competitor, and it will be more difficult to beat them. We will. But it starts now.

They can beat us if you're out of your neighborhood: If XMU were musically behind...if Deep Tracks was repetitious...if 70's played stiffs....
Every channel is different...you need to LIVE in your neighborhood.

I wont repeat the neighborhood spiel as you should know that by now, but some keys for all neighborhoods--
(there are exceptions, and you know who you are, but in the big picture)---

Totally, ridiculously on top of music

Repetition aware/Powergold savvy

Genre features!

Dig for turn ons (fan visual: XM DJs carrying stacks of CDs home to figure out cool new stuff to turn listeners on to)

In control musically...the LEADER.

"Been there" Staff vs.. novices. Ooze experience & Passion. STREET experience, not Terrestrial. It's all about the streets.

Complete (features/concerts/artists in studio/callouts to industry figures)

THE MUSIC MIX IS THE HAMBURGER...Features as condiments. Need both.

Quality

JJ Cale factor (as in Cocaine song)

Shotgun Backsells

North America References

Cross Promoting XM Channels----Informing

"Selling" XM --- but selling through information and honesty not drilling it down throats.

Ear Candy

Organic Production


Never: (and LOOK for this...it can happen)

Goofy, Stupid

Insulting Music

Uninformed

Fake friendly

incomplete (not enough features/concerts/artists in studio/callouts to industry figures)

behind the music curve

Underestimating intelligence/intellect

CHR style audio masturbation....stuff only other DJs think is amusing

Stiffs. Think TV show analogy

We're getting better. We're almost there. But all of the above still happen, however sporadically. We are seeking 100%, not 95%

The biggest XM problem areas. Some are infrequent, but we strive for zero occurrence

Too much Talk (MAX-AMERICA) not terrestrial drippage
Sophomoric ----ok, there's place for it, but it's gotta be done well.
(remember: If you're targeting youth. Target 5 years older. a 14 year old respects a 19 year old....a 9 year old respects a 14 year old. A 14 year old hears ANOTHER 14 year old and it's jealousy. A teen radio basic!)]

Musically unaware

Not challenging enough (FM sedates...XM Challenges)

Repetition. Now remember that repetition is the cornerstone of winning radio. The repeated play concept. It's critical in every format. BUT---we are playing under different conditions. Every channel has different rules.We discussed ways to minimize it--AFDI

Musically:

Remember:

FM tightened music as far as you can go without alienating

XM loosens music as far as you can go without alienating



NEW MUSIC. Awareness is critical. While others talk about what’s out, XM talks about what’s COMING too….and we don’t just play ONE song…we play careers. (Though now and then there are indeed one song albums!)

WE GOTTA BE ON TOP OF THESE RELEASES. PLAYING THEM –LIVING THEM. If you dont play currents...that's fine--LIVE YOUR artists old or new.

Talk about it. Be in the loop. We have a real staff. We can really talk up the new CDs.
Where is it on YOUR chart? Call a record store in a cool or offbeat town and chat with the kid behind the register. GET CREATIVE IN SELLING NEW MUSIC. I cannot tolerate or fathom our competition beating us in the sell of new sounds. (You decades folks needn’t worry here), but, anyone focused on artists still alive, lets hear XM clearly dominate the air with information and EXCITEMENT about new and upcoming releases.
IT IS PART OF YOUR GIG TO INSPIRE EXCITEMENT
Now, song wise, unless you’re a decade station where the original authentic hit version is critical, look for imports, live versions, BBC versions…”different” versions of library songs. Some are bad. But some are gems. Again, we cannot let our competitor be cool because they are playing an odd version of a Hendrix song and we’re playing the same old greatest hits version.

THE BOTTOM LINE—Our “fans” must know tat we’re out there searchin’ for the BEST DAMN MUSIC on Earth and there ain’t no static play list sitting there dictating every song. C’mon—DIG INTO THE MUSIC. Listen to Franks Place…..Listen to The Loft, among many others—these guys are talkin’ music..Informing..And doing it in a concise and compelling way. In other words, let’s hear ENERGY…SPIRIT…AND FUN! Swagger, Information and “ownership” of your genre. Nothing less will a) be acceptable b) give us a clear musical victory.

TO WIN A MUSIC BATTLE—SIX THINGS-

-PLAYING THE BEST SONGS (remember “neighborhoods”. The BEST songs can be hits or experimental music or depth or....…depends on your musical neighborhood)

-TALKING ABOUT IT...BEING AN INTERESTING INFORMATION SOURCE

-BEING BLATANTLY FIRST AND ON TOP OF IT. WE DON'T WAIT FOR "THE INDUSTRY" TO CATCH UP. THINK FANS NOT TRADE PAPERS

-BUILDING FEATURES TO SUPPORT IT (in MOST but not all cases)

-THINKING LIKE A MUSIC FREAK (research geeks don’t “get” playing a lost Hendrix B side…we thrive on searching for cool songs to turn listeners on to). IT'S OUR JOBS TO BE MUSIC FREAKS.

-THE EXTRA MILE. Ben Smith is already contacting artists coming to Wolf trap in August. Some guys are "setting up" the interaction with artists releasing songs NEXT year. Max is working with Jazz Times for his chart.

If we do the above consistently…..we win.


Some things to remember:
BURN IN THE LARRY FAST LOGO--It's our signature
YOUR FORMAT IS A BRAND NOT JUST A CHANNEL. LIVING..BREATHING....
REMEMBER ORBITS....Work the Orbits (levels of rotation). Every channel has different orbits.
NUMBER EVERYTHING.
SPONTANEOUS CREATIVITY...Three camp Non-Zep off beat Stairway To Heavens back to back...or how about when Deep Tracks plated Streisand's version of Spiders From Mars (!?)
XM HAS LIBRARIES NOT PLAYLISTS. Use language to "describe" our limitless music access.
"NAME" EVERYTHING.

IN TERM OF ENGAGING ARTISTS:

*Six weeks in Front (for releases and visits). Create an interesting way to intract with artists instead of the old Cattle Call where you get a 10 minute "phoner" thats inevitably boring and unrewarding for artists and fans.
*Email YOUR chart weekly. Include all levels of label contacts, managers, format related press, etc..). Reach OUT...don't expect people to learn about your music stance from trades.
*Managers! It's a labels' job to promote us and that's great...but establishing personal rapport with managers is important in the big picture.
*Follow-up letters and post-artist event reach out---send the love BACK. Don't take artist co-operation for granted!
*Lunch...NEVER at gig. Sitting in line with the jock from k-107.5 backstage is pretty lame. If you have ideas to present an artist/manager/label, don't stand in a line at a show and expect to get traction.
*Name power. Find out who's name here will open the door. It's a name driven business.
*Make the Manager a Star...or label guys. Put them on the air! Our secret weapon! National airwaves..open it up to the guys who makeb things happen
*Backstage flowers or whatever it takes to show love.
*Tell them straight...advice not fawning. If an artist is making an error--tell them. You might get laughed at--then again you may make a point. We have unusual access to fans, share the info!
*READ! Study ALL music information sources from UK mags to College playlists to...everything. LEARN.

PRODUCTION: (separate review will be issued...but think non-terrestrial, organic, soulful, writing, "different").
We MUST EVOLVE "sound" and rid ourselves of the pure cliched' audio shit on FM.
PRESENTATION: We will discuss one on one.
BIGNESS: We are going for BIG. If you have ideas. Write them out. BRAND MANAGE. Prepare a proposal. Hand it to me and I'll route it to the right people. Eddie has an Ozz-Fest idea, Joey has a Miami Festival idea, etc.....write them out. They will get looked at and in many cases aggressively acted on. Back to the creative batting average--If 30% of your ideas are hits, you are a 300 hitter--an all-star.
OTHER STUFF: the purpose of this note is not to go through every specific...you know what they are. Now just AFDI.

FINALLY----Just remember that it's a new World of radio. Never before has it been so important to:
WORK AT "IT"..OTHERWISE YOUR CHANNEL WILL FLOAT BACK TO THE COMFORT OF OLD TERRESTRIAL WAYS.
SOUND UN TERRESTRIAL
PULL OFF THE XM SOUND FLAWLESSLY AND COMPLETELY
GET "IT" DONE
BE AWARE THAT WE ARE IN A COMPETITIVE WAR THAT WE CANNOT MUST NOT AND WILL NOT LOSE
TAKE THIS STUFF SERIOUSLY. THIS IS YOUR, OUR AND MY CAREER WE'RE DEALING WITH.
WORK THINK PLAN AND AFDI WITH FIRE IN YOUR SOUL
SET THE STANDARDS FOR YOUR CHANNEL ABSURDLY HIGH...AND MEET IT. THINK LIKE AN ARTIST MAKING A RECORD. ARE YO MAKING A CLASSIC? OR A STIFF?
STAY LOOSE. EVER SEE A TENSE ATHLETE PERFORM? TENSION IS THE ENEMY OF AFDI-STYLE CREATIVITY. LOUSY OPENING ACTS ARE TENSE......SPRINGSTEEN & JAMES BROWN ARE LOOSE.
Loose isn't sloppy! It's an attitude that allows you to focus, have fun and get it done

.....the battle goes on...

13 Comments:

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fight the good fight Lee..we do hear "it" out here in XM land.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger ai4i said...

Dennisons A Men's Clothier, route twenty two Union New Jersey where money talks nobody walks open ten AM til five the next morning. Dennison's is open now.
Charlie Greer kept me up many nights. I was just a kid back then. But a house of...no, was it really?

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got to say I really enjoyed reading some of the theory behind the music. One comment, I usually listen to Highway 16 during the workday. I know it's a Top Country type channel and will repeat popular songs, but the last couple of weeks it seems the repetition has increased. I've heard a song around lunchtime (1-1:45) and heard the same song again before leaving (around 4:30). Seems like there should be a rule that a song shouldn't repeat more than every 4-5 hours. Thanks for the blog - it's always interesting reading!

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous soundhound said...

I tried and tried to get my terrestrial co workers to GET so much of what you say in this blog. Radio has been one of the most life changing mediums ever to come along and most stations now are run like banks. Yes, making money is important, but who wants to feel like they're going into a bank when they go to work if they're NOT a banker?

This is show business, this is rock and roll and it should be the most fucking amazing experience for both the listener and the talent making it happen. Terrestrial radio could be painting with the entire rainbow and it's settled for a murky grey. Keep preaching it like it is, Lee.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger Billy Roberts said...

I enjoyed the latest blog entry.

I found it interesting that you mentioned XM being very different than FM. On many of the channels this is true. However, there are still some channels that I feel are not living up to their promise...and they are mainly the Decade channels.

Not too long ago, I considered XM's Decade channels to be just about perfect. I can't say that any more. While the 40's and 50's continue to be great (and, for the most part, the 60's channel as well), the others are not as good as they used to be. The playlists have been cut and they are just boring now. There are Top 20 songs that do not get played at all...why is this? Why were the playlists cut?

Even worse, the 80's channel did something I consider to be a sin in radio...they deceived their listeners. During the IT presentation the DJ's mentioned that people could send in requests for songs that were missing from the It playlist and they would be played after It finished. The songs that were played were the EXACT songs that were played the last two versions of IT! In fact, it was the same exact IT - all the PD, Rick Stacy, did was remove the old voicetracking of former PD Bruce Kelly. It is insulting to lie to your listeners like that. Shame on you XM!

I love XM. There are some wonderful things going on with your company. I like the "new" Top Tracks and Chrome is better than ever. But there are still problems and I feel that I should tell you about it. I hope that XM can one day get all of their channels to be the best that they can be. Just please...no more deception from the DJ's; it's not cool and it is an insult to the listeners.

 
At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

I agree - make sure a song isn't repeated often. It's difficult, but also have some balance. I know XM music has deep play lists but they sometimes dig way too deep. Music is by nature subjective, yes, but XM should never play bad run-of-the-mill songs (lousy or no melody, lousy lyrics, no rhythm - no nothing). There's just too many great songs out there - and most haven't been played on any radio. Too many times I shake my head and say "What do they see in this song?" And believe me, I am one person that love's to hear new stuff when it's good (the 2nd & 3rd layers on most albums) ... but leave the bottom layers out. Play the top layers of unknown bands instead. Every song should be played for a reason and be worthy of airplay.

Gripe 2: Lee ... please forward this to XM's MLB (Baseball) contract guy:
------------------------------

XM gets ZERO exposure on www.mlb.com

Sirius gets great exposure on
www.nfl.com

Please correct this agreement with MLB before it's too late.

And for the love of baseball will you please buy a few ads behind home plate! I see signs for Mom & Pop shops but never one for XM. You guys have the exclusive Sat radio contract ! Buy one inning for gosh sakes!

Other than that I love the service ... keep it up.

Thanks,

 
At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Mike's comments. Sometimes I listen to Deep Tracks and wonder if they are going out of their way to play the most obsure stuff. We have Top Tracks and Deep Tracks, maybe we need "Middle Tracks". Also, tell me why I have to hear 20 different covers of "Like A Rolling Stone" which has around 600 verses. The Loft, however, is the best radio I have ever heard and this is after listening for 8 hours a day for 3 years. Hats off to Mike Marrone, the man is a genius!

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Billy Big Rig said...

Dammit, I remember that 2002 memo! I miss the "boot camps" (didn't we start calling them something different in '03?)

I miss the vibe!

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee
You are "spot on" regarding The Loft. Mike and Kate are a godsend to listeners. I have learned about more great new music that I never would have heard but for them. I have heard tremendous "rare" versions of classic Loft tracks. And at least once a week they put a big smile on my face by playing a song I haven't heard in a long time.

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee.

When I read you blog I find myself outraged that there are people in the world who *don't* get what your saying.

You should run for president.

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger Scott Beddome said...

I used to work with Mc Bean at one of your oldest siblings- WLPX. He had Steve Dahl on LPX on a Saturday afternoon one week after the Disco Demolition. I've been writing a blog of old stories about those days that is getting good attention from Milwaukee rock fans and would like to gets Mc Beans take on that day. Among other things. Please forward this to him. Blog is at:

http://93qfm.blogspot.com

scottbeddome@yahoo.com

Thanks Lee.

PS- Do you know where "Tommo" Daniels is?

 
At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon Lee ! If only the good people who read this blog knew the truth about your perception and reality. Your stuff looks good on paper - sounded good in 2001/2002 -but now we all know you have ZERO to say with the operation of XM programming. TELL THE TRUTH !! You won't even post this.

 
At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its great, the passion you have and the ideas/ideals you preach about on your Blog.

With that said, i am annoyed at one thing that Ethel did recently. You guys played that snakes on a plane piece of bullshit nonstop before the movie came out and then quietly dumped it days later when the movie flopped. This was the most obvious promotional tie-in i have ever seen! it is crap!

Also, it was ok to play snakes on a plane with profanity on a non-XL channel but Ethel wont play most bloodhound gang songs because of the cursing? and when you do play them, you censor? What am I paying for? mark the channel XL and play everything! and stop with the blatany ads!

 

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