The Hot Seat: Jeff Price

Published  in The Music Network

 

Jeff Price is full of enthusiasm. The former spinART Records president just oozes it. It’s the stuff of people who are on a mission to change the world. And that’s precisely what this 42-year-old executive is trying to do. Back in January 2006, Price and two colleagues established the digital distribution service TuneCore. For a flat fee, the N.Y.-based venture will take an independent artist’s music and land it on the likes of iTunes, eMusic, Amazon MP3 and Napster. And the copyright owner takes all profits from the music sales. “It literally democratised the industry,” Price reckons. In the past 22 months, Tunecore has facilitated more than US$42 million in music sales. Price will share his enthusiasm with the Australian music community when he delivers a keynote speech at the August 20-22 AustralAsian Music Business Conference in Sydney.

 

Why does the world need TuneCore?

The gatekeepers who have popped up call themselves digital distributors, and they go by the nickname aggregators. They worked under the old business model but in the new world. When a record ships, the physical distributor takes a percentage of the money that the store pays for the CD, because they earned it. If a retailer buys it for $10, the distributor would take 25% of that, the band would get the $1.50 they do here and the rest goes to the label. In the digital world, they were doing the same thing. But all they’re doing is moving a file from point “a” to “b,” so why in the world should they get unlimited amount of revenue from the sale of music? That was the original crumb that got TuneCore going. Let’s create something where anybody could go, there was an upfront flat fee, and let people be their own record label.

 

Conventional wisdom has it that the only money these days is to be made from live performance, and releasing records is just a labour of love.

“That’s just wrong. A couple of million dollars went out last month to TuneCore artists and it’s not chump change. Its US$20,000 here, US$50,000 there. We have Australian bands who don’t tour here, do not do any traditional marketing here, and they sell music and they’re walking away with thousands of dollars. There are literally thousands upon thousands of artists that make tens of thousands of dollars on a quarterly basis. You’re getting a rising middle class of musicians. It used to be that you were all the way to the left where you were eking by, or all the way to the right where you’re multi-platinum. I’m watching on a daily basis artists generating thousands, something tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue just by uploading a song.

 

The naysayers reckon CDs are dead? Is there life left in the disc?

“I don’t think a physical medium delivering music will ever go away, but the marketshare it has will significantly reduce. In the U.S. the writing is on the wall. We have very few national chains left (that sell music). There’s limited shelf space. Next year, as bad as it’s gotten this year, there will be a significant drop in retail space available for physical CDs and I believe the majority of music will be consumed digitally. I think it already is, just there’s no metric to measure it.”

 

What do you make of the Australian music scene?

“From an American perspective, the Aussies are cool and the music is great. A friend of mine in college came back from Australia where he spent a semester abroad and introduced me to a band called TISM. Some of their tracks from “Great TruckinSongs of the Renaissance” made it onto my college radio show. I then ended up releasing You Am I on spinART records. I don’t think anybody can quite list of a huge number of fans, but you get the association that it is really fucking cool.”

 

Joe Cool

Published in Billboard Magazine

 

The Australian rock act Eskimo Joe struck gold when it came across an ancient Armenian/Turkish wind instrument—the zurna.

Impressed by its distinctive, strident sound, the band used it in the opening bars of its April single, “Foreign Land.” The snake charmer-style intro mesmerized Aussie radio programmers, who put the track in heavy rotation and helped it pick up synch deals on a slate of TV shows Down Under, including “City Homicide” and “Home and Away.”

That across-the-board exposure paved the way for the band’s fourth album, “Inshalla” (Warner Music Australia), to debut at No. 1 on the June 8 Australian Recording Industry Assn. sales chart. The album was certified gold (35,000 shipments) in its first week. The act’s previous album, “Black Fingernails, Red Wine,” topped the chart in 2006 and is now certified four-times platinum (280,000 copies).

Warner Music released “Inshalla” June 26 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. “Things are looking good for them in Central Europe,” says the Perth band’s Melbourne-based manager Catherine Haridy. “We’ve put a lot of time and energy into that territory and we’re talking to labels in other parts of the world presently.”

After playing Switzerland’s Gurtenfestival July 17, the band kicks off an extensive Australian tour July 29. European headline shows will follow in October.

Eskimo Joe is published by Mushroom Music for Australasia and booked in that region by IMC. The act is booked by UTA in North America and by ITB for the rest of the world.

The Hot Seat: Jon Satterley

Published in The Music Network

 

When Jon Satterley cuts himself, he bleeds metal. His veins are filled with Amon Amarth, Fear Factory and Rainbow, the hard-edged tip of music which rarely finds its way onto Australia’s airwaves. Back in 1995, Satterley found a suitable outlet for his passion when left a promising career in retail to join the ranks of Roadrunner Australia as general manager. Two years later he rose to managing director. In the 12 years that followed, Satterley played a role in shaping the careers of Roadrunner acts including Nickelback, Machine Head and Soulfly, and displayed a deft ability with the machinery of new media. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the top brass at Warner Music-owned Roadrunner Records.  In October 2007, Satterley shipped Stateside where he assumed his current N.Y.-based post as Roadrunner’s senior VP of new media and global business development. The Aussie executive will return to familiar ground this August when he delivers a keynote speech at the AMBC conference, which will run Aug. 20-22 at Sydney’s Acer Arena.

 

Jon, you’re something of an arch nemesis to ‘indie’ bands. What did they ever do wrong to you?

Metal and hard rock is my background in music appreciation. They are the standing giants in the room and, for me, ‘indie’ rock and punk are the pretenders. Our biggest band, Nickelback, who I really cherish and admire were the butt of jokes for a long time. The more popular they became, the more they were an object of hatred and ridicule among the ‘indie mafia’. Through most of this current decade, there seems to have been this reaction against traditional rock and metal. You’ve come to this insane situation where there wasn’t a single station left in the country which was a strict rock format. I would tell that to my colleagues in America or England, who have hundreds of options on radio to take new rock bands

You’ve got a law degree with honours, an arts degree and an MBA. How critical is further education to carving out a music industry career?

Formal education is invaluable, but it’s too often not part of the language of the company, whether it’s a record label or whatever. The failing of the industry is that that sort of thing isn’t encouraged. If you want to grow in any job — especially in the music biz — you should be doing some formal training to sharpen your skills. Being able to pick a hit song is still important, and there’s still a huge role for emotion and gut feeling and prediction. But perhaps the needle needs to shift a little more to the cool and calculated strategic analysis of the business.

What are your tips on how artists and execs should embrace new media?

They should carefully manage the constant assault of concepts, ideas and things that are being presented as the future. It’s important to ignore a lot of the noise, and figure out what are the things that you’re able to manage, what they are and managing them really well. And not worrying about the person next door who is blowing a gasket over some new thing which captured the social zeitgeist. There’s a herd mentality that when something like Twitter arrives, every band is worried they’ll fuck up their career if they’re not on it. That’s ridiculous. There are so many other things you should be doing to get your house in order in terms of new media. You shouldn’t be blowing in the winds of whatever the latest fads are. Twitter will probably be a bedrock of new media strategies, but you need to be very clear of what that strategy is.

It’s been nearly two years since you headed to N.Y. What have you learned from the experience?

It started off pretty tough but that would be the case for anyone moving their family and lives to another country. I was grateful because there was a lot of respect afforded to me as a person coming from the Australian industry. It wasn’t like, ‘we’ll teach this kid some tricks’.  It was much more, ‘let’s find out what you guys have been learning in Australia.’ There’s always an open channel to offer views and diverse opinions, and that’s refreshing. When I’m back in Australia, I may pick-up many things which I could apply in the U.S.