Industry Profile: Terry McBride
By Larry LeBlanc
This week In the Hot Seat: Terry McBride, co-founder/CEO, Nettwerk Music Group.
Nettwerk Music Group co-founder/CEO Terry McBride remains unfazed over the challenges faced by his entertainment conglomerate in the past two turbulent years.
Nettwerk Music Group is the umbrella company for: Nettwerk Management; the labels, Nettwerk Records, Artwerk (a co-venture with Electronic Arts), Nutone Records; and music publisher Nettwerk One.
With over 130 employees, the Vancouver-based Nettwerk Music Group has offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Boston, Nashville and Hamburg. The firmís principals are McBride, Mark Jowett, Dan Fraser and Ric Arboit.
Nettwerk handles the worldwide management of such artists as Sarah McLachlan, Martha Wainwright, Jars of Clay, Chantal Kreviazuk, Guster, BT and, recently added to the roster, Welsh classical crossover artist, Katherine Jenkins
Nettwerk Producer Management handles production heavyweights Don Was, Tom and Chris Lord-Alge, Howard Benson, and Mike Shipley.
Nettwerk Records is home to Delerium, Great Lake Swimmers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Thomas, Datarock, Jars of Clay, and Sarah McLachlan.
Currently, McBride is overseeing the launch of Polyphonic, a new music business model intended to provide funding for artists and their management to run their own businesses; as well as, along with Sarah McLachlan, Nettwerk Music Group president Dan Fraser, and Marty Diamond, East Coast head of music for Paradigm Talentóhe is working on the return of the Lilith Fair touring festival this summer.
Planned to date are 35 Lilith shows in North America, another 6-8 in Europe, then Asia and Australia in spring 2011. Then a return to North America in the summer of 2011.
The dates announced so far are: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Calgary, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Edmonton, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, London, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Montreal, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, D.C, and West Palm Beach.
Among the 100-120 artists announced so far are: Beth Orton, Brandi Carlile, Butterfly Boucher, Cat Power, Colbie Caillat, Corinne Bailey Rae, Donna Delory, Emmylou Harris, Erin McCarley, Erykah Badu, Frazey Ford, Heart, Indigo Girls, Jill Scott, Ke$ha, Loretta Lynn, Mary J. Blige, Meaghan Smith, Metric, Miranda Lambert, Missy Higgins, Norah Jones, Serena Ryder, Sheryl Crow, Sia, Sugarland, and Tegan and Sara.
With all of this activity, McBride has pushed aside any of the dark clouds that started appearing at Nettwerk two years ago.
Nettwerk suffered its first blow in December, 2008 when Canadian pop-punk star Avril Lavigne cut ties with the company, despite the fact that Mark Jowett, VP of international A&R/publishing, had initially discovered her.
In 2000, Lavigne sent demos to Jowett. He gave her a development deal. But when Aristaís then A&R rep Ken Krongard came by a New York studio where the two were writing, he was so impressed with Lavigne that he returned with then Arista president/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid. After she sang several songs, Reid offered to sign her. Later, he asked McBride to handle her management.
Under McBride, Lavigne sold over 30 million albums worldwide; scored six #1 hits worldwide; and 11 Top Ten hits.
Global shipments of Lavigne's debut, ďLet GoĒ reached 10 million units after its worldwide release by Arista in 2002, including 5 million units in the U.S.
ďThe Best Damn Thing,Ē her third studio album, released in 2007, debuted at #1 in over 20 countries. According the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) it was the 4th top-selling album worldwide in 2007, selling 7.3 million units in 8 different languages. The album racked up sales of over 25 million tracks in legal downloads.
In July, 2009, the Barenaked Ladies jumped ship to the new L.A.-based firm, CAM 8 Management. This followed a raucous year in which the group's co-founder and singer Steven Page was arrested on allegations of cocaine possession, and then decided to leave the group to pursue a solo career.
In Aug. 2009, Nettwerkís senior VP Pierre Tremblay departed the company with Canadian rock band Billy Talent as well as Silverstein, and Sweet Thing to set up his new venture, Vancouver-based Hive Management.
Tremblay was quoted in Billboard.Biz (August 14, 2009) as claiming Nettwerk had "lost focus." He added, ďBasically Nettwerk has been going in a different direction than the one I wanted. I want to build a branding and management company and Terry wants to create a 'future music company.íĒ
Operating from the living room of McBride's apartment in 1984, Nettwerk was founded as a production company with a $5,000 loan to relaunch the career of Jowett's group, Moev.
Soon after its start-up, the company established its multi-faced corporate structure and was recording, managing and publishing such Canadian acts as Skinny Puppy, the Grapes Of Wrath, Ginger, Delerium, and Rose Chronicles.
While Nettwerk primarily managed only acts on its label roster at first, its focus changed significantly with the launch of Nettwerk Management in 1995; with the signing of the Barenaked Ladies in 1996; and with the North American breakthrough of McLachlan's ďSurfacingĒ album in 1997 coupled with the launch of her annual high-profile Lilith Fair festival.
Lilith Fair reported 104 shows to Billboard Boxscore from 1997-1999 that grossed $52,937,965 and drew 1,616,500 people. The shows featured a wide range of acts including Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, Erykah Badu, the Dixie Chicks, Missy Elliot, the Pretenders, Nelly Furtado, Jewel, Queen Latifah, Indigo Girls, and Tegan and Sara, and McLachlan.
Lilith Fair earned plaudits industry-wide for being well-run, and gave McBrideóits co-executive produceróconsiderable industry clout.
By 2006, McBride had a message for his management clients and anyone other act that would listen: You no longer need to sign with a record label.
In 2007, Mama Group, the London-based music and artist management specialist bought a 20 percent stake in Nettwerk Music Group for $6 million.
This affiliation has led to Nettwerk Group, and the Mama Group recently joining with Radiohead manager Brian Message's company ATC Music to launch Polyphonic, a new music industry model aimed at giving emerging artists an alternative to label contracts. It has been launched with $20 million in seed funding for its first year of operation.
The Polyphonic model will provide funding for artists and their management to run their own business, with direction from Polyphonic. Unlike traditional record label deals, copyright is left in the hands of the artists but Polyphonic will take a share of any profits generated.
You are a music industry celebrity. Pundits like Bob Lefsetz slam you for continually flying to conferences around the world to speak.
I honestly donít care. I havenít read Bob Lefsetzís column. Ever. I wonít because if I care what Bob says than I am building a huge ego (for myself). This is not about being somebody elseís vision of me. It is about me being authentic to me; loving my life; and being happy.
Artists often do not like working with managers who are famous. Does it hurt your management business being so well known?
Well, thatís up to the artist. I am not out there consciously trying to make myself famous. I donít have a publicist. I do so much work not to have an ego. I am so non-attached to things that people would think I would be attached to. So when things happen, I am like, ďwhatever.Ē I have already moved past it. This is my personality.
How do you pick conferences to speak at?
People ask me and if it fits my schedule I go. I go in for the minimal amount of time I possibly can so I can be back (in Vancouver) and spend time with my kids.
Why speak at so many industry conferences?
Because they are put in front of me. Because I am curious. What am I going to learn? What little thing will I hear that may change my point view? Only if Iím open to (an idea) am I going to hear it.
Any speakers youíve heard that have impressed you?
There are a couple of people I like. Derek Sivers who started CD Baby and (author) Seth Godin. I like hearing people who arenít quite in my business to hear what they have to say that is relevant.
Vancouver seems to be an artist management hotspot with Bruce Allen (Bryan Adams, Michael Bublť); and Sam Feldman with Steve Macklam (Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones) also living there.
Is it random? Is it coincidence? Itís not by plan. We just prefer to live here. I tend to run into them outside of this city. I run into Bruce more in airport Starbucks than I do anywhere else. Thatís where he and I catch up.
You each worked on aspects of the 2010 Winter Olympics that began with an elaborate opening ceremony on Feb. 12, 2010.
It was because it was in Vancouver. Sam, Bruce and Dan Fraser (president Nettwerk Music Group) worked on that for almost three years. They went to gazillions of meetings.
[Bruce Allen, Sam Feldman and Dan Fraser were on the board of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Ceremonies Team.]
Sarah McLachlan performed at the opening. Were you there?
No. I went to the closing (ceremonies). Dan did the opening; I did the closing.
Did you watch the opening on TV?
Yes. I couldnít do both. So I opted to do the closing. Dan opted to do the opener. I canít say that I had the desire to be there (at the opening ceremonies). You have to realize that for Dan it was work. I stayed at home and watched it on TV. I had a nice glass of wine, and I had dinner. So it was really enjoyable. If Iím there, itís just work. If I go to one of my artistís shows, itís work. I can enjoy myself, but itís not the same as if I go to a U2 show where I just love it.
Like Queen Elizabeth II in 1992, last year was your "annus horribilisĒ with the departures of Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies and Nettwerk Group senior VP Pierre Tremblay?
Well, it was a different year. The really interesting thing for me is that none of that bothers me.
Pierre Tremblay was with Nettwerk for 15 years. When he left, he was quoted as criticizing the company for losing focus.
I think that quote is taken out of context. Plus I have a different view of the future than Pierre has. I wish him all the best of luck but I have a certain vision. If you are going to be in this company then you have to suit that vision. If you donít suit it, then, maybe, you are best elsewhere. I love Pierre. I wish him a lot of success. But he wants to do it his way. I completely get that because I like to do it my way.
His comment was that Nettwerk was moving more toward a branding and management company.
Well, artists are brands.
You worked with Avril Lavigne from the start of her career. Her abrupt departure must hurt personally.
No. It doesnít. I am not Avrilís manager. Iím Terry McBride. I donít value myself the other way. I love doing what I basically did. Avril and I had a great 7 or 8 years together. Sheís changed. Sheís LA-based, and with an LA manager (Azoff Music Management). Fine. Whatever. It is no issue to me. I honestly donít care.
A big block of income walked out the door with her leaving.
Itís a big block of new income. It doesnít affect the old income.
How is it new income?
I am still commissioning off past revenues.
The sunset clause in her management contract will end at some point.
Yeah, but by the time it ends I will have had a long enough run with it that I will have other things. Címon, I have Lilith Fair coming. Thatís bigger than BNL and Avril combined. Frankly, if we build (Lilith) in Europe, and if it becomes sustainable for the next 7 or 8 years, thereís far more money to be made from those concerts than from intellectual property. Guess what? I donít have all of the same drama with it. I donít have drug busts, drunken singers and all of the other shit to deal with.
What did you learn from managing a mainstream pop star?
They are all people; they all have to live their lives; and the media is always trying to find the negative there. It really hurts (the artists). It is one of the hardest things for a manager to deal with.
Look at the current media attack on Taylor Swift.
That media attack is going to happen when you get so high up. It happens to every single artist.
Avril certainly has had critical media.
North American media came after her heavy which is why a lot of my emphasis (in her career) was non-North America. Her income is about 70% outside of North America. Her career inside Europe and Asia is really successful. If she is smart, she will continue to work that and she will have a much longer career than what the average North American pop artist has. Avril just needs to be Avril, and she will be perfectly fine.
You have made the point that the independent albums by the Barenaked Ladies made them more money than all of their releases on Warner Bros. Donít the major labels still bring sizzle to the table in a career? As an indie, itís hard to retain that sizzle.
I think itís hard to retain that sizzle even if you are on a major. So an artist has to ask themselves, ďDo I want to sell another half-million units with Warners and make absolutely nothing? Have a bit more sizzle, but not sell any more concert tickets? How is that going to be economically beneficial? How is that going to make it so I can keep doing what I absolutely love for the next 10 years?Ē
If your strategy was so successful, why did the Barenaked Ladies leave Nettwerk?
Look at all of the shit that happened over the last 18 months. I am three weeks into working on a kidís record (ďSnacktime!Ē) and my singer gets busted for drugs. That band needed to go and do a bunch of changes to get their shit together. They needed to clean house. It was a 15 fun years. Awesome. I was out bowling with them the other night. They are really good friends, but the time had come for them to make some changes. They had to make it within. It wasnít us. They had their own issues that they had to go through.
Do you regret making the comment after Steven left that Ed Robertson had been the "driving creative force" behind the band?
That wasnít the full comment. That fucking asshole (journalist) pissed me off. I said ďSteve wasnít the only writer. Ed wrote some of those hits too.Ē Do you see what he did? Then Steve takes it, and runs with it (in the press).
Well, he was hurt.
But I had sent Steve a note within minutes of seeing that quote. Steve could of just backed off. The bottom line is that they are all really emotional, and they were all doing what they felt was the right thing for them to do at the time.
[Having been arrested for cocaine possession in Rochester, New York in late 2008, BNL co-founder and singer Steven Page split with the group in early 2009. His first solo outing, ďA Singer Must DieĒ with the Art of Time Ensemble, has since been released by Toronto-based Pheromone Recordings. Itís a cover album of songs penned by Elvis Costello, Radiohead and Leonard Cohen. Page is now working on a solo album with producer John Fields. The Barenaked Ladiesí first album without Page ďAll in Good TimeĒ is slated for release March 30, 2010.]
How proud are you of the growth of Sarah McLachlan over the past two decades? As a person and an artist.
Very. Sheís the closet thing to a frigginí angel that I have met in my lifetime. Sheís a normal person, and she gives and she cares. You donít see that a lot, especially with successful people.
What was her appeal to you when she was signed?
Her personality. She was a real cool person. There was no bullshit. She had that Nova Scotia personality. What you see is what you get.
You didnít see her musical potential at first? She had briefly fronted the rock band the October Game.
Not really, no. When she was signed she hadnít written a song. We signed her purely based on the fact that she could really sing, that she had this great personality, and that she had a desire to write her own songs.
There was nothing like her on the Nettwerk label at the time either.
We didnít look at it in that way. We are not that clinical with how we think. A lot of what we have signed that has been successful has been purely intuitive.
What is your favorite Sarah McLachlan album?
Iíd say ďSurfacingĒ (1997), but there are parts of every album. To me, the song that showed what she was capable of was ďBenís SongĒ from the first album (ďTouchĒ in 1988). That was the first time she wrote from the heart. She had babysat a young boy who had a brain tumor. When he died, she wrote the song, and she wrote in all in one day. This was something that affected her so emotionally that she had to get it out. That was her first touching what she now truly writes from.
ďBenís SongĒ was the precursor to ďAngel.Ē
It eerie how similar those songs are in their genesis.
Itís been 11 years since the last Lilith Fair.
We first started talking about doing this again in August, 2008. I started working on it in April, 2009. We forgot how much work this is.
What led to a Lilith tour being discussed again in 2008?
It is now 11 years later. Sarah is now a mom with two kids. Sheís only going to tour 6 or 7 weeks. At most. Sheís only going to do work during the summer. The fun thing for her is to do Lilith. For me as a manager, it has the most impact for a very short time period when Iím launching a new album with her. We both felt that the (musical) climate was beginning to shift. We both felt that there was a full pile of talent that hadnít played Lilith and there was a lot of talent that had played Lilith that was still relevant. So the reality was that we were looking at a different makeup.
Lilith ended in 1999 after three years. Why didnít it continue?
Lilith ended on a high note. We only did three years and the third year was the biggest year. It was so dominating. I think that we felt that if we had kept going (after 1999) it wouldnít have gone up (in quality). It would have gone down. We felt that we had capped, for the better part, a lot of the existing talent. We (then) felt that we would just be regurgitating things and (going on) would lose of some the excitement around it.
We also got burnt out. I wanted to get back to being an artist manager versus being a concert promoter. Letís face it, it was a different mood within North America (back then), and it wasnít one that really suited us. Sarah also needed a break. She was going to go away for 5 or 6 years anyway. Then when she came back, she wanted to do her own thing. Lilith is not really her own thing.
With the exception of the third year, there were no heritage artists previously. The lineups were made up of acts that had recently broken. Lilith 2010 has a mix of heritage and new artists
A lot of heritage artists--and I call Sarah one of those--still sell tickets, and are still relevant. They actually sell (concert) tickets better than the younger ones. The younger ones might sell more tracks and albums, but they donít sell more tickets, with the odd exception of someone like Miley Cyrus.
With Lilith from í97 to í99, 95% of those artists had only been around for five years. With the exception of the third year with Bonnie Raitt or the Pretenders, there were no heritage artists. This time around thereís a great blend of heritage along with new artists. This is a blend we didnít have the first time around.
Media coverage of Lilith then was restricted to VH-1. Now you have partnered up with ABC Entertainment.
With the exception of the odd support from VH-1, we didnít have a lot of TV with Lilith. The media did not want to know about it. Even on year three when Lilith was the dominant touring festival, period. We didnít have the Rolling Stone cover. The media couldnít get their heads around the fact that this was working. Face it. Rolling Stone Ė their readership is male. I completely accept that.
The world has changed a lot.
It is a lot more media savvy. The amount of information you have access to, and how you filter it has gone up. So marketing Lilith Fair this time is very different in how it was marketed last time. Radically different.
I do think that our ABC affiliation is going to change how a lot of people view these things. I think what we are doing with the whole charity angle is also a game changer. There are a couple of things that we are doing that are complete game changers. People are going to look at this, in retrospect, and go, ďHoly shit. Look at what they managed to pull off.Ē
[With the 2010 Lilith Tour, thereís a multi-platform media partnership with ABC Entertainment that includes featuring Lilith and specific artists across ABCís programming and online in the months leading up to and during next summerís tour, including ABCís physical presence at each tour date.]
This is a socially conscious and green tour.
The owners of Lilith are now a decade older. We are all parents. We are more socially conscious. We tend to view the world differently now. We now have the ability to get certain things across, like the i4c (denoting "i4c a better tomorrow"). Socially conscious, green-for-profit companies supporting socially conscious non-profit companies. What we are trying to do is to create an eco-system that lives beyond Lilith.
When Lilith ended in 1999 so did all of its charitable efforts.
That was a bit of a negative for us. At the time, we didnít see it, but a couple of years later we thought, ďThat really kind of sucks.Ē We had such a positive movement, and we didnít have the forethought on how to keep it going.
[The i4c (denoting "i4c a better tomorrow") is the brainchild of the TouchPoint Trust Group and functions as an investment model with a focus on "people, planet and profit."]
There was a naivetť there?
Absolutely. So I am aiming toward creating a supporting charity by tying all of these socially conscious things together. Iíve been working on the i4c thing for almost 14 months. I believe that if we pull it off, some major artists will look at it as a new model for their own charity efforts.
You have put off taking Lilith to Europe this summer.
I changed (the schedule). It is a matter of doing it right. We are going to get over there in the Fall. We are looking at indoors (then), and taking it outdoors next summer there. We are also going to Australia and Asia. It is my hope that by the end of 2011 that we will have about 20 international shows. We need to get the brand going in those markets, however. (Touring overseas) last time around would have been daunting.
You only did one Lilith date overseas. In London in 1998 at the Royal Albert Hall with Lisa Loeb, N'Dea Davenport, Beth Orton, Alison Moyet, Sinead O'Connor, and Sarah who didnít have the marquee name in Europe then.
Sarah doesnít have the marquee name there now, either. When we did the London show she wasnít the headliner. We had a couple of big names, including Sinead. So we really didnít have the desire to go ahead and do anymore dates.
This time around we know that we are doing two years of the traveling festival within North America. Then we are taking it from a traveling to a destination (event). We are going to pick two or three markets that we will be able to do each year. So we know (the time period of touring); we know the infrastructure of Lilith and what it takes to run it; and there is now an expertise we didnít have years ago to take it to Europe, Asia, or to Australia and, in essence, build 20 shows (annually). We now have the years (of experience), and have a very viable organization.
Working extensively overseas with Avril, as well with Dido previously, you learned about those markets in the past decade.
Once you begin to understand cultural codes, then you understand how to actually do (Lilith there). If I would have tried to do it 11 or 12 years ago with a North American-centric view. It would not have worked.
Your were also frustrated by your experiences in trying to break Sarah McLachlan in Europe then.
I had not spent the time there. Over the last decade, Iíve been able to build worldwide artists, and have a more worldwide view versus (having) a very shuttered, North American view.
How does that worldwide view impact Lilith now?
What I love about this now is the genesis to localize those (overseas) shows with a lot of local talent but also some international talent. That begins to build bridges to bring the talent from Europe, and Asia back into North America. We are kind of doing that already with booking La Roux or Corinne Bailey Rae. We are actively going to Europe, and pulling in some of those artists.
Iíd like to expand what we are doing. I would love to have the biggest Swedish or the biggest Spanish artists (on Lilith) But to make that happen I need to go to where they are and build the (Lilith) brand value.
You now have management and publishing affiliations overseas you didnít have previously.
But we arenít going to leverage that, frankly.
Still, working oversea markets with your acts, and being at international conferences has led to your perspective changing.
Absolutely. I have had my artists going there touring multiple times. So my knowledge of the marketplace has gone up tremendously. To break an artist in Europe is very different than breaking an artist here. Breaking an artist in Asia is different than breaking one in Australia. Itís a different ecosystem.
The major label system is still dominant in Europe.
Yes but I think itís crumbling.
American music is also declining in popularity in many European markets.
There hasnít been a lot of love for American culture inside Europe since Bush.
Why did you make the deal with London-based Mama Group in 2007?
Because they are like minded people. We spoke to them for probably three years before making the deal. (After the deal) we moved into their London offices which made a lot of sense for me. Some of their managers are in our LA office. The companies still work separately but the owners get along really well. And, Polyphonic has come out of it.
Do you view Polyphonic as a game changer in the music industry?
I donít know if itís a game changer but, based on the success that we are going to have, I think itís another option. Only time will tell whether Polyphonic is game changer. If we break four of our first five artists to a different level then people will look at it as a game changer.
Where are you in terms of testing Polyphonic with an artist?
Weíre very close. We'll probably announce the first artist in March.
Someone on your roster?
Iím not going to say.
Since 2006, you have been preaching that ownership of music can be meaningless because there are now so many parts of an actís career.
It goes back to my belief of having a series of best, and practice services around an artist which then gives them the best shot versus being locked into a system that is, maybe 60% at best, best in practice.
It comes down to who does what best.
You still need a team of services. The issue with any record label, even 10 years ago, was that not all of those services were top notch. So the concept behind Polyphonic, depending on the type of music, is to try to have top notch across all categories of services needed. Then, I think the odds of that artist having success go up.
Arenít the major labels becoming more accountable with aspects of 360 degree type deals? If a label wants to be an artistís merch company, it has to compete and deliver.
Yes but making them accountable versus having the infrastructure to actually execute, I would say, are two different things. Even Nettwerk is 60% best in practice. Thereís no one company that is good at everything. Itís jut not possible because (the market is) always moving. We were best at doing websites 5 or 10 years ago. We donít do them now because there are people that do them better. That is the kind of reality that you have to adapt to.
What does Nettwerk do best?
I would say internet marketing, film and TV, digital distribution and worldwide management. As well, our publishing has done really well. It works because of all of the infrastructure. It works because we have built up a fairly sizable film and TV division that works well, and because of the alliance with Electronic Arts (the game developer and distributor). Thatís why (publishing) has grown. Plus, we made it London-based. It probably works better than most major publishers.
Did Nettwerk really start in your apartment in 1984?
Yeah. Just with Mark and I. We wanted to release music that we loved.
Did you have any music industry experience?
Well, I was DJing at parties, at a local college radio station. and at dance clubs.
Were you any good as a DJ?
I did it for many years so I guess I wasnít shitty.
The alternative scene wasnít that big In Vancouver in those days. The city had mostly top 40 clubs, but there was the Luv-A-Fair where you were a DJ.
There was only Luv-A-Fair. That was it, baby. The punk kids were over at the Smiling Buddha. The goth and new wave kids were at Luv-A-Fair with any of the gay guys who wanted to dance to non-disco. That was the make-up (of the scene). It was so small. It wasnít big enough to have faction. Everything was blended.
Do you recall receiving the first physical Nettwerk record released by Moev ďToulyevĒ in 1984? It was a 12-inch single.
That was kind of cool, but I canít say that I was emotionally attached to it. It was when we did releases by Skinny Puppy, Grapes of Wrath and Moev all at the same time with concepts and all of that which was kind of cool.
In the late Ď80s, Nettwerk made a label distribution deal with EMI Music Canada. Any hesitancy being with a major after working with independent distributors?
I saw it as being very practical. Someone else was going to make the records at a cheaper price than what we were paying for. They were going to distribute them, and they were going to pay us monthly versus paying us when (retailers) needed more records. ďWow, now Iím going to have a regular cash flow. Awesome. And itís going to cost me less. Awesome. Iím in.Ē It was pure practicality. We were living from hand-to-mouth. The only way we got paid was if someone needed more records. Then they had to pay us for the ones that they had already taken. There was now someone would store my stock rather than it being in my apartment. It was step up to a more organized infrastructure.
The recently released iPad tablet was supposed to take the personal computer world by storm. That hasnít happened yet.
Think of when the iPhone first came out. There was an initial (sales) surge, and (demand) really cooled down. Sales flattened. Then the Apster (the application list generator) opened up to be an universal app store. Then brilliant apps got made which made you want to buy the iPhone. That is what is going to happen with iPad. All Steve Jobs is saying is, ďHereís is a fresh patch of fertile soil. Go have fun.Ē
It will be about what can be augmented onto it.
You can have two iPads and treat them like turntables. You can ďscratchĒ because now itís a surface that you can touch and feel. You can see the spin rates that are reading live. The set you are doing is automatically recording and streaming. It just changed the whole DJ world. Your fade meter doesnít have to be a straight across meter. You can angle it the way you move your fingers.
The economic model initially for iPads will be books and things of that nature, but with an iPad you can augment reality.
To me, the iPad is all about augmented reality. You can take an iPad and, depending on the angle you tilt it, it changes the way you are traveling through a home. Architects are going to love this. Doctors will use it for surgeries. It has so much potential it is absolutely crazy. The application are boundless. When the initial apps hit market, it will be mind blowing.
Larry LeBlanc was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record. He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, the London Times and the New York Times.