This Week In Music #5 – VEVO CEO Rio Caraeff

I first met Rio Caraeff in 1999 via Rob Lord. We’ve remained friends over the years and I wish I saw Rio more than our current schedules and geography allow; he’s one of the smartest thinkers in the space. But not only can Rio work through the problems and opportunities of the future media landscape, he’s one of the very few who has been successful connecting large media incumbents with the future in a practical way. He doesn’t sit around and shout about what *should* be done, from leading mobile strategy at Sony to digital at UMG through crafting the joint venture between the major labels and YouTube known as VEVO Rio has shown that he can get old and new media to sit together at one table and chip away at the problem in front of them together.

Rio joined us for This Week In Music last week via Skype. A few choice quotes:

“The origins of VEVO started with one thing: how do we take the audience that loves music, the billions of people on the planet who connect with music in a passionate way, and how to we provide them with access to the music any place they want it in a model that scales well and generates more revenue per view than ever before.”

“The root of the problem was no one was making any money. The audience that loves music wasn’t valued in the same way the audience that loves sports or television programming was valued. Advertisers were not willing to pay a premium price to be associated with the audience that loves music.”

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars here. We’re not trying to do something that’s a small business or a hobby. Fundamentally we’re talking about a business that’s going to generate billions of dollars of royalties in very short period of time. In only 18 months in the marketplace we’ve returned more than one hundred million dollars to record companies.”

“A very large percentage of our audience is still coming through YouTube but a fundamental strategy is placing our music videos everywhere. We have more than three thousand artist pages on Facebook where VEVO is the predominant tab. You can premiere videos on AOL Music, Univision or our iPad app. It’s like telling people you can drink from whatever faucet you want to, but some of that water is going to come from our well. YouTube is so large that most of our views come from there. About 30% of our videos come from YouTube in North America today.”

“Just because a video can be on the web doesn’t mean it’s innovative and interesting. It’s the same video that was on TV in 1981. We think the video should be aware it’s on the Internet. It should be conscious it’s on a two-way communications platform.”

“Sitting back and waiting for other people to solve your problems is not a strategy. Sitting back and saying ‘How come advertisers don’t want to pay for music videos?’ and then faulting the sales forces of your licensees or saying ‘How come this company isn’t paying me enough for my music?’ is a myopic approach. I wanted to build something and do something, not litigate or license. I felt this was a real opportunity for the music business to focus on a business that scaled to billions of people, that wasn’t dependent on selling recorded music, that was built upon partnerships and working with the industry in a collaborative way, was ultimate focused on what was best for the fan who loves music and could focus on generating more revenue per play than had ever been done before.”

Thanks, Rio, for taking the time. Hope to see you soon.

After Rio, Kickstarter co-Founder (and reformed music critic) Yancey Strickler stopped by to talk about what he’s been listening to. A few goodies were covered, but he led with a rad dub record I’ve since fallen in love with (thanks!) by Peaking Lights.

Tune in today (Friday August 12th at 4pm PT) when our guest will be lawyer to artists such as Will Smith and Beyonce, Ken Hertz!

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This Week In Music #4 – Manager Andy Gould

I’d had a dinner date with manager Andy Gould on the schedule for a while, since before I knew we’d be shooting episodes of This Week In Music. The plan was to film the show with Nathan Hubbard then head out to dinner with Andy in Venice. Since he’d be coming west anyway, I asked him if he’d mind stopping by the studio for an interview. He said yes, which I greatly appreciated. Since the show didn’t exist yet Andy was (like Nathan before him) really taking a flier and my word that This Week In Music would be anything he’d be remotely interested in being affiliated with. So thanks sincerely, Andy, for agreeing to drop by and chat a bit on camera.

For those who don’t know, Andy is Spectacle Management, currently responsible for Rob Zombie, The Monkees, and some brand new acts. Over the years his roster has included Guns N Roses, Morrissey, Lionel Richie, Danzig, Kool & The Gang and a bunch of other artists we all know and love. Please click above to hear Andy talk about his very first job in the biz (tea-getter for George Martin at Apple Records) and a whole lot more.

I’m just watching this episode and realizing I say “Producer” in the opening! Doh! I’m an idiot. I need a teleprompter. Sorry, Andy!


“So your first job was making tea for The Beatles?”
“For George Martin. It was already 1969, 1970 so…”
“So you were making tea for Badfinger.”
“That’s more true!”

“The power of the business is the manager. It’s being realized now, the manager is more important than the record label. I still believe whenever you see a really successful story, you can trace it back more times to the manager than to the record label. Not to say record labels don’t play an important part, they do…”

“I’m glad for Dr. Luke and whoever manages him but when I see he’s had his 23rd straight #1 record, that’s not good for the business. That’s 23 records that all sound basically the same.”

“If you make it quick you might go away quick. You’ve gotta work. You’ve gotta get those fans one by one.”

“As a manager, never work harder than your act is going to work. If you want it more than they want it for themselves, it won’t work.”

“If you’re given your career by the record label, when the record label decides to move on, you’re fucked.”

“I hated what happened with Amazon and Lady Gaga…”

“I’ve never worked with a band I didn’t love. Even though I don’t work with Axl or Morrissey anymore, I stand by their body of work — they changed the world. And somebody somewhere is playing one of their records as we speak, and it’s getting them through the day. Boy, what a wonderful business to be in. I recommend it.”

Points of clarification:

  • Andy Gould is a Manager, despite my fumbled intro.
  • What I meant about not understanding the point of employment contracts in the music business was that I’ve never understood why everyone in the music biz has “deals” with a long term rather than at-will employment. Is the supply/demand in the music space still such that these are needed?

At the end of the show Lyndsey Parker from Yahoo! Music came by to share one of her favorite summer albums, The Wombats Proudly Present…This Modern Glitch. Check the video at the bottom of this post.

Tune in this Friday at 4pm PT when we’ll talk to VEVO’s CEO Rio Caraeff and Kickstarter’s Yancey Strickler drops by to talk about his favorite summer albums.

Thanks for watching. Please subscribe on iTunes, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter!


Happy 21st, Zoe

Z and Me


Happy 21st! You were 3 already when I turned 21 and now here we are 17 eventful years later…

It wouldn’t be possible to be any more proud of you. In the face of parents with their own problems who were learning on the job, you’ve turned out to be a hard-working, thoughtful, empathetic adult well on your way to carrying the proverbial family torch far further than your mom or I could hope to run with it. Yes, I’m proud of your 5.0 GPA at MIT, your General Manager status at WMBR (click here to listen to Zoe’s radio show from this past Monday morning), your genetic data spelunking with Python at The Broad Institute and the fact that you’re a published genetic research scientist (wha?!?! who’dathunk?!!). I hope at this point those are things you’re doing in your own pursuit of personal fulfillment; you sure as hell have nothing else to prove with me. * I’m proud of who you are and while I always hope you’ll come to me for advice, what you do has been powered by your own drive and good decisions for a very long time. Thanks for being you. It’s been 21 years of joy being your Papa and truly an honor to be your friend.

Happy 21st birthday. I wish I was in Cambridge with you today to watch you buy your own glass of bubbly and celebrate it with you. We shall do that together in two short weeks. Daily Pint with Zoe on the 17th? Who’s in?! 😉

Please leave a happy birthday comment for Zoe below and send a tweet to @zmonster90. Thanks!


* ps – I recycled one of your old semi-colons for this post. I have a pile of them here in a keepsake envelope. I removed each of them carefully from the term papers I helped you edit in high school. :-)

“Life’s short, don’t make a mess of it”

Favorite albums of the 2011 so far

Early this morning Pacific time we recorded this coming Friday’s episode of This Week In Music. I interviewed VEVO CEO Rio Caraeff via Skype from his NYC office, then Kickstarter co-Founder Yancey Strickler Skype’d in to share his favorite albums of the year thus far.

At one point Yancey asked me what my favorite albums are and I did that deer-in-headlights mind-blankage thing that often happens when I get that question without an iPod in-hand.

So I thought I’d answer his question and share a few of my favorite albums of the year here. These are all must-listens in my opinion, so if you haven’t heard them yet definitely check them out. In no particular order, without much ceremony:

EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
James Blake – James Blake
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
Action Bronson – Dr. Lecter
Gillian Welsh – The Harrow & The Harvest
Les Butcherettes – Sin Sin Sin
Reks – Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme
Cults – Cults
Tony MacAlpine – Tony MacAlpine

There’s a ton of other great stuff but this is the stuff that grabbed me and I’ve had on repeat for one reason or another. Lots of “best of so far” lists out there and I just spent some money looking at a couple of them (Complex, NME). Whoops.

What are your must-listens for the year so far? Add ’em in the comments, plz!


Beastie Boys Dolls, er, ACTION FIGURES finally available!


Back somewhere around the turn of the century, Nigo from Bathing Ape made these incredible foot-tall likenesses of MCA, King Adrock, and Mike D, pka The Beastie Boys. But the dolls weren’t cheap to produce and the boys just couldn’t bear the thought of charging collector prices for pint-size versions of themselves, even if they were posable. So the dolls sat in storage, only to be occasionally broken out for a charity auction. As a fan of the band, the dolls, and ecommerce I’ve asked many times over the years if it dolls, er, action figures were of selling vintage yet, but the answer was always a stern, “No.”

Cut to 2011 and the release of Hot Sauce Committee. Following up the incredible cameo-laced video for Make Some Noise entitled Fight For Your Right (Revisited), Beastie Boys teamed up with long-time co-conspirator Spike Jonze for an equally absurd and perhaps more twisted video for Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win featuring, what else, the aforementioned action figures as the stars of the video.

So finally, it’s been agreed the wine-selling-time is prime and the action figures are now for sale on Beastie Boys’ web site. Since there are very few of these action figs in existence and they were not cheap to begin with, it’s been agreed these uber-collectible goodies should be sold for what they’re worth with the money going to charity, namely Pablove and Alex’s Lemonade Stand, two deserving organizations that work with kids with cancer.

If you’re interested in owning a piece of Beastie Boys history, these are truly the coolest and most collectible thing I’ve encountered in my 20+ years as fan, friend, and sometimes employee. Get ’em before they’re gone.