Monday, July 16, 2007

A NEW CHANNEL, LIVE EARTH, THE FIRST RAP STAR AND RETAIL HELL

A NEW CHANNEL, LIVE EARTH, THE FIRST RAP STAR AND RETAIL HELL

We’re launching a new channel—XMX. It’ll be a central point for all of our exclusive music programming. Desperately needed! There is so much cool stuff from Dylan and Petty shows to Artist Confidential, and an arsenal more…It gets lost. With this channel, it’s practically on demand. We had some debates about the channel name ranging from the very lame “XM Spotlight” to the bizarre “The XM Sausage Works”. (I kinda like that). In any case, it’s XMX and that works well. I have a constant battle with names of things. There's an aversion in saome quarters to cool names. It's a fight worth fighhting. In any case, this will be a much needed resovoir of high quality programming you just cant get anywhere else...our secret weapon.

Then there was LIVE EARTH. I think we can give "LIVE (put cause here) Concerts" a rest. They are quickly becoming a parody of themselves...Despite that; XM’s Live Earth Coverage was amazing. All politics and "cause" aside (it IS kinda silly to see "green" artists talking the talk, but living about as green as US Steel), our guys did a first rate job covering every city and broadcasting every note. Our "superbowl" style coverage is what turned it into a musical event worth checking out and getting into. We even did an EARTHSOUNDS channel. Sort of the sound of Earth before Man screwed it up. Environmental sounds…audio valium. Pretty cool. An environmental channel to discover the natural sonic beauty of the Earth. From the serene sounds of dawn to temperamental thunderstorms, Earthsounds is a seamless cinematic soundscape that captures the majesty of sound that is the soundtrack of the planet. Actually a channel we almost launched back in '01.

As far as environmental or other political causes--I think these events are great fun but don't reach the people who they need to reach. They are cool events if you are there and on the air--but I beleve overly righteous fawning from "caring stars" has more of a global eye roll effect than a changing one. Does anyone really think Madonna can help? These people can cheapen causes rather than enrich them in the eyes of those who need to be convinced. Raise awareness? Yes of course—and commendable, but I think we'd have a better world if the artists would make better records and let causes be fostered by those who have a clue about these sorts of things and have impact upon the real power players in the world environment. OR--DO AS WILLIE NELSON DOES--Invests HIS money in a Bio Diesel company--and promotes THAT. Maybe these Hollywood characters and pop stars should invest in the economics of change instead of a 4 song set and shouting a few slogans before hopping into their jet. I'd guess that 90% of those in attendance or listening on Satellite or Internet are already keenly aware and commited to the cause. My whining aside--there was some good music and a wonderful Spinal Tap reunion (anyone who hasn't seen it--and I'm amazed at that number), but I don't think rock concerts that are designed to change the world here in 2007, have any prayer of doing so. Time for a new approach....or borrowing from Willie's book and doing something beyond a gig. With that said--I think the thought was there...

Interesting to see the ratings---TV was pathetic…but it broke all streaming records, and XM listener ship was high.

Cindy Sheehan running for office against Pelosi? Might as well throw in a Dixie Chick and make it REAL exciting.

Somebody sent me a link to a photo of me, an old Atlantic Records guy named Phil Rauls and Robert Walker, a cohort at the old WMYQ in Miami. From back in 1971. I guess I really did have a Black afro back then. http://philliprauls.com/photo4.html I used to put on a suit when I pitched stations---I had ‘em completely confused.


Bought a new Laptop and it was hell. STORE ONE: Horrible! Waited 30 minutes with no help. Then asked a guy and he said “I’ll be with you soon”…and disappeared not to return. Then saw two employees hanging out and asked them if they could help. They said no….but they’d find someone. Then they just continued chatting with each other. Finally I said to a guy “Look—I want to BUY a laptop”—he said he’d try to find someone to help…no one ever showed and I left. STORE TWO: Better…though the store was pretty empty. They had XM 70’s blaring on the store PA and outside. Was immediately helped, though the guy barely spoke English. I decided on a unit…went to check, and there’s no stock. Bought another one, but the store computer was down. Finally after about 40 minutes the trainee type who was checking me out figured how to do it. I left it with them to transfer files. When I called them using both Information and the Yellow Pages to find the number, both gave me the fax number. Then I looked at the sales receipt which oddly enough had the right number. Spent 20 minutes navigating the "push 2 for" and NEVER got a soul. In fact when I pushed 1 for the computer deptartment I got a no-one is available message that went BACK to the original message. Reason I called is that when I finally got my laptop back, the store had put their password on it and I was locked out. Had to drive back to the store since I couldnt reach them by phone. When they finally undid the password, about 1/10th of the files were actually transferred, but I decided to eat the $99 they charged me for the transfer because therre was no way I'll ever step into that store again. Both stores were incredibly inept, though I got the sense they were “trying” at store two, but the ineptude was laughable. Scary. Future purchases will be on line!

Got into a debate about the first rap artist. I guess it probably goes back to poets, but it forced me to bring out and re-discover my Gil Scott Heron vinyl. Man—this guy was WAY ahead of his time. The Revolution Will not Be televised is as chilling today as it was in ’70. Worth checking him out. Definitely angry and probably didn’t care for white people, but the man delivers some strong stuff. No "Red Carpet" or mindless after parties for this guy. Check "Small Talk at 125th and Lenox" album...or just Google the guy. Real.

FROM THE “ARE YOU KIDDING” DEPARTMENT: Study says radio airplay actually drives down record sales.University of Texas at Dallas Professor Stan Liebowitz says radio airplay can hurt music sales by as much as 20%. He finds the more time listeners spend tuned into the dial - the less likely they are to buy pre-recorded music. Liebowitz's study comes at a time when record labels have started pushing to nix radios' royalties' exemptions. So should labels pay radio to stop playing a record?

Well, historically there has been no more powerful vehicle to exposing music than radio. Even now, as wretchedly limited as most FM stations are, nothing will power a big seller better than radio. We certainly see the power of radio at XM, as SO many people feed back that were turned onto music by hearing it on XM. But there are different levels of being turned onto music where it translates into sales. Listeners with a more sophisticated ear can hear an artist one—become mesmerized, and purchase it. More mainstream listeners NEED the repeated play to finally go into the purchase mode. EVERY artist is different but the fact remains that IF something gets exposed on radio (a big IF)...it influences sales. Then you factor in cult/fringe. It’s complicated, but suffice to say that the best way to influence buying music is to hear it first (there are exceptions with “cult” bands where you are SO into an artist airplay is irrelevant—no one sat back and waited to hear the new Phish a few years back—they were in line the second it came out. Then there’s the whole sharing and word of mouth factor. As FM radio becomes less reactive to new music, this becomes ore of a factor—aided by technology facilitating this—BUT, once again, hearing something over the air in your speakers or buds off broadcast, satellite or Internet radio, has a powerful promotional effect. This Dallas Professor is completely full of shit---I read the report. I “love” all of these paid reports coming out that manipulate data for those who pay for it.

And WCBS-FM is back to oldies. Well, duh. Blowing up a timeless franchise for the latest new focus group format didn’t make too much sense. More “trying to be modern” when the old way worked just fine. In listening (hard to tell during its first week) they sounded like...a typical "oldies station". Pretty average. Nothing inspired. It'll probably do "OK" which seems to be what most oldies stations on FM strive to be. Same predictable "Respect" and 'Good Vibrations" every day...standard production etc...The thing that bothers me about that is that in New York--the Media Mecca of the Universe, and with the resources of CBS, you’d think it would be mind blowing. The kind of station you fly 1000 miles to tape. But, like most terrestrials, they are SO conditioned to average as being acceptable, that they'll never get there. They’re probably listening and patting themselves on the back about how great it's sounding, and sending around congratulations memos...

Central Talent Booking handles a lot of our Talent bookings---especially with our “Morning Shows”—Good bunch. They have a blog worth checking:
http://www.centraltalentbooking.com/Blog.aspx

24 Comments:

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, Lee, YOUR '60s channel plays "Good Vibrations" and "Respect" every day, too.

'CBS-FM's production may not set itself apart from other FMs in your eyes, but at least the station is LIVE in all dayparts and on weekends. Your channel is voicetracked much of the time and it has a PD who hates the request-show concept so much that he completely blew off this past weekend's show and left the channel on autopilot.

Methinks your decades channel people are tightening playlists and mainstreaming their music right under your nose -- perhaps in an attempt to survive the inevitable Mel Karmazin-led purge if the takeover, er merger, goes through.

 
At 9:23 AM, Anonymous EconCCX said...

EarthSounds was a gem of a channel. Will you please consider Sunday micro-channels on XMX? Since XMX is a weekly rotation channel anyway, it'd be idea for Sunday revivals of EarthSounds, Luna, Special X, On The Rocks, etc.

 
At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Live Earth...
Lee, you are right on the mark.(Even if Madonna could "help", she'd just get in the way of those who really can).

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Joe Shelby said...

reminds me of the Cartmel group's report/recommendation that because the two Sat radio vendors (XM and Sirius) didn't have any competition other than FM, they shouldn't be allowed to merge.

It even explicitly said that HD wasn't there and there weren't any mp3 options.

In 2006.

At the same time, WTOP had been advertising for HD radio since 2004, I'd had an fm transmitter playing mp3s since 2000 and was looking at car radios with mp3-playing cdroms (which had been in every Americna-made Avis car I'd rented since 2005), for less than $100 at Circuit City.

In short, this ClearChannel bought and paid for report to congress flat out LIED as to the state of the music in automobile industry.

 
At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question for Lee: Will XM support the NAB to get rid of performance royalties for ALL radio?

 
At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that you needed a channel such as XMX.. What I hope is that this new channel is programmed with music 24/7 rather than the easy out of a show every other day or whatever and the loop tape of "the show you are looking for has not yet started".. The old "XM Live" channel was great for concerts and "live" events, but when the channel stopped running concerts it could just as easily been deleted.. I loved listening to the music events when I could remember when and where they were on.. But a channel running these exclusive shows would be welcomed, even if they are repeated regularly..

 
At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the soul/r&b channels would play Gil more they very very rarely play him.

 
At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While CBS-FM is undergoing much criticism from the 50's music fans, I think they sound pretty good.

The production's fine and the jocks are at least as entertaining, or moreso, than what I hear on your 60s channel.

XM's 60s Channel, obviously uses a much bigger playlist of 60s music--some would say, it's too big. I hear a lot of music that were at best "turntable" hits.

I realize the need for a large library since you have no commercials. But as someone who knows his oldies pretty well, I'm surprised sometimes (not in an "oh, wow!" way) at what I hear.

As far as XM's production, it doesn't seem like it gets freshened very often. I've been a subscriber for over two years now--and last time I listened, I was still hear elements that were used when I first signed on.

 
At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding "retail hell:" If you think buying a computer is rough, try buying music. And the labels can't understand why sales are down. It's easier to buy manure than buy your favorite CD at a brick & mortar store. That's why everyone downloads today. If the labels want to fix the crashing sales numbers, they need to address the environment at retail.

 
At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee: Don't know per se about CBS FM, but our local oldie station doesn't play anything before 64 and covers well into the 80's. Trouble is there's no depth to the playlist - which to me is boring. Unlike the other anonymous writer I want to hear things I don't hear often. there's no such thing as too large a playlist. The 50's are the best at playing obscure songs, the 60's ok, and the 70's the worst.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Roland said...

Thanks, Lee, to you and XM for broadcasting all of the Live Earth concerts. The All Access Channel coverage was terrific, but understandably concentrated on American and British artists. I apprciate being able to hear the other concerts, especially South Africa.
Great job!

 
At 2:57 PM, Anonymous HWN said...

Lee-

A few thoughts for you and request for help.

Reception in Detroit
The reception around zip code 48025 is terrible. I know this is not your responsibility, but could you please pass it on? Thanks.

Programming
So far I have been pleased, but stop playing Steely Dan so much on XM Cafe...additionally, it would be great if XM could tie in with Paste Magazine for a channel...it is one of the best music mags out...

Thanks,

HWN

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I didn't listen to Live Earth, but LOVED the EarthSounds channel. I second the idea of putting it on XMX!

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Rockin' Rich said...

I had to laugh, reading your comments about buying a computer.

I've used Macs and PCs throughout the years, but have always favored macs because I like things... easier. And I can remember when IBM-compatible types used to make fun of me for using a mouse... but I digress.

Anyway, made my first visit to the local Apple Store today. I'll spare you all the oohing and ahhhing but just leave you with this thought: I'm going to go back there some time ...just to play. When was the last time you wanted to do that in a retail store (adult marital aids shops don't count, Lee!)

Oh, and macs can run windows just fine, so you connect the dots, pal.

 
At 6:36 PM, Blogger Chandler said...

First rapper? I'd throw out for consideration Lightin' Hopkins from the Last Poets out of Harlem. Hendrix provided guiter and bass on one a few tracks.

 
At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Webb Fan said...

Hey, Lee.

Check this out. It's from one of your old DJs. Looks like he is doing his own show or something.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=w6ZI4T3YWrw

This guy is so cool!!! Wish you'd bring him back.

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger tellio said...

Interesting that when I search "XMX" on the xm site I get nada. Why would that be? On as extensive and interesting site as xm has it would seem that a decent search engine would be in order. I did bump into a press release about xmx, but that was because my search engine was working properly ;)

 
At 6:35 PM, Blogger Chandler said...

I misspoke, mistyped, or whatever it one does when one puts the wrong name in a comment section. So I'm here to correct my goof. First rapper? Lightin' Rod from the Last Poets out of Harlem in the 1960s. There's at least one disc with Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles providing the musical backdrop

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger balthrop said...

Do we really need a channel dedicated to programing that exists elsewhere on the XM network? Will an all-artist confidential/Bob Dylan station be a good use of the bandwidth resources, especially since XM is planning on cutting Sonic Theater (on of my favorite stations) from the weekend lineup?

 
At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

L.A.,
These plane stories, are TOO Much, It is SOOOO true. I still think I would need a parachute.
Derrick

 
At 2:39 AM, Blogger sashi said...

hi I am unlucky because i live in india where i don't get XML radio

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an xm subscriber and while the music on xm 6 is great, the D.J.'s sometimes talk through intros and Terry Young acts immature Phlash Phelps also does too much talking.
The Psychedelic part of the 60's is not fairly represented as well.
GREAT RADIO IS ALL ABOUT PRESENTATION, not hype. I do love the "salute, remember and become" Friday feature.
CBS-FM always had jocks with GREAT personality.

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

Since we are on the subject of rap, you have to check out these rappers GRILLZ!

 
At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Term paper said...

It’s great to see good information being shared and also to see fresh, creative ideas that have never been done before.

 

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